Ekrem Bey Vlora:

Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule

in Albania

Among the works that Ekrem bey Vlora (1885-1964) left unpublished at his death is a long and com- prehensive volume of history in German entitled Beiträge zur Geschichte der Türkenherrschaft in Albanien: eine historische Skizze (Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule in Albania: An Historical Sketch). This important work of Albanian historio- graphy is being made available to the reading public here in full for the first time – 1,200 typed pages, complete with handwritten notes and maps. Who was Ekrem bey Vlora? Ekrem bey Vlora was born in the southern Albanian port of Vlora, the son of one of the wealthiest landowning families of the country. He was educated at the Theresianum in Vienna, 1899-1903, and studied law and religion in Istanbul, 1904. After working for the Ottoman administration for a time, including a three-month tour of duty at the Ottoman embassy in St. Petersburg in 1907, and years of travel in Europe and the Orient, he returned to Albania and joined his father’s cousin, Ismail Qemal bey Vlora (1844-1919), in the movement that led to Albanian independence in November 1912. That same year he was made deputy president of the senate. Ekrem bey Vlora was kept under arrest in Italy during the First World War but subsequently became a promoter of close relations between Italy and Albania. He was elected to parliament in 1924, representing a conservative wing and, in 1925, became a senator for a short period of time. His relations with the autocratic Ahmet Zogu (1895-1961) were tenuous, though he served the latter on various diplomatic missions abroad. He was a close, longtime friend of the Bavarian baroness Marie Amelie, Freiin von Godin (1882-1956), with whom he translated the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini into German. In contrast to most Albanians, Vlora welcomed the Italian invasion of April 1939 and had close links to the Italian fascists. In 1942, the Albanian Prime Minister Mustafa Kruja (1887-1958) appointed him minister for Kosovo, which had been reunited with Albania during the Second World War. In the summer of 1944, he was made foreign minister and minister of justice before going into Italian exile during the communist takeover. As a writer, Ekrem bey Vlora is remembered for his German-language monograph Aus Berat und vom Tomor: Tagebuchblätter (From Berat and Tomorr: Pages of a Diary), Sarajevo 1911, and, in particular, for his two-volume memoirs, published posthumously as Lebenserinnerungen (Memoirs), Munich 1968, 1973, which give fascinating insight into the world of an early 20th-century Albanian nobleman. They have recently been translated into Albanian as Kujtime (Memoirs), Tirana 2002. Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule in Albania Ekrem bey Vlora’s main work, of no less than 1,200 pages, was never published. He wrote his “Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule in Albania” in German in the years 1955-1956 in close co-operation with Baroness von Godin. Both of them were over seventy when they began the project in Rome. On 22 February 1956, however, the Baroness died in Munich, a terrible loss for the author. Vlora carried on alone and finished the remaining 910 pages of his monumental work by himself. Unfortunately, Ekrem bey Vlora never found a publisher for his work. The main reason may have been the fact that the final version of the typescript, with its many handwritten notes, additions and subtractions, was not well ordered and was far from ready for publication. The elderly Vlora never got around to a final revision of his substantial material. Despite its evident weaknesses, the “Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule in Albania” is an important work of Albanian historiography, not least because there are still no other substantive works on the Turkish period in Albania, which lasted a whole 500 years. There are virtually no historians nowadays with a scholarly interest in Albania and Turkey who know how to read both Albanian and Ottoman Turkish. Armin Hetzer of the University of Bremen, who had access to a copy of the typescript in the years 1984-1985, made the following, perhaps not overly kind but generally accurate assessment of Ekrem bey Vlora and his great undertaking: “In his activities, Ekrem bey Vlora gives the impression of being a melancholic bon vivant who administered his lands and was looked upon by the simple people as a scholar. Specialists would today regard him a lively “causeur” who is unable to disguise his dilettantism whenever he expresses himself in writing. […] It was in the mid fifties that Ekrem bey wrote his book on Turkish rule, which he wanted to have published under his name and that of Baroness Amelie von Godin. The part played by the elderly lady, who had visited Albania in 1912 as a journalist and made friends with the Vloras and other leading families of the age, cannot have been great. In a note stuck behind page 289, the author informs us that Amelie died in Munich on 22 February 1956. On page 290, Ekrem bey writes: “The following part of this sketch was written by Ekrem bey Vlora alone – 15 March 1956.” In other words, from Chapter 7 onwards we must assume that Amelie no longer played any part in the book. […] According to Ekrem bey’s niece, the division of labour was such that Ekrem bey dictated the text in German and Amelie typed it on the typewriter. [...] The text in the form we have in the typescript was never published. The Südost-Institut in Munich realized right away that Ekrem bey was on slippery ground here and that the fundamental character of the work would have to be altered for it to be published by the Institute. Felix von Schroeder therefore persuaded the author to do exactly what he did not want to do: to write his memoirs. This was a wise decision for we now have the two volumes of his memoirs “Lebenserinnerungen,” published posthumously in 1968 and 1973, which are a priceless testament by an intimate observer of old Turkey. Perhaps, one day, when the political situation in Albania changes, they will be accepted as a prime contribution to the literary and cultural heritage of the Albanian people. Ekrem bey was at his best in describing events and situations that he witnessed personally. […] The manuscript on Turkish rule in Albania is preserved as a copy on 1,082 numbered pages. In fact, there are 50 pages more because Ekrem bey added and subtracted parts by sticking handwritten notes into the work. The original version of the typescript, probably preserved at the Südost-Institut in Munich, certainly differs in many details from the two bound volumes, which I picked up from Ekrem Bey’s sister-in-law, Advije Hanëm, in August 1984, while I was on my way back from Hungary. [...] In November 1944, Ekrem bey Vlora was forced to leave Albania in great haste and his library, which was already packed in wooden boxes in Tirana and ready for shipment, was left behind. The Germans obviously had no intention of encumbering themselves with superfluous ballast during their withdrawal. It is therefore evident, later in exile, that Ekrem bey Vlora had to quote many things from memory that he could no longer verify. This is the weak point of all of the writings he left behind. The publication of the memoirs, “Lebenserinnerungen,” by Felix von Schroeder is no replacement for the wealth of information in the “Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule in Albania,” […] which was a tremendous achievement, both physically and intellectually, for a man who was almost 80 years old at the time. […] It would certainly be worthwhile to make this work available to the public in a proper form. However, for various and sundry reasons, an integral edition would seem impossible. […]” (1) After much consideration, we have decided to present the “Contributions to a History of Turkish Rule in Albania” to the public and in the German form in which the author left it. The reader can decide for himself/herself what profit is to be had from it. Thanks go in connection with the presentation to Tanush and Afife Frashëri of Villach, Austria, and to Bejtullah Destani in Rome, Italy, without whose assistance and patience this work presentation never have seen the light of day. Ekrem bey Vlora: Geschichte der Türkenherrschaft in Albanien  |  Teil 1 PDF 12 MB Ekrem bey Vlora: Geschichte der Türkenherrschaft in Albanien  |  Teil 2 PDF 8,6 MB TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface     1 Chapter I The Territory of the Albanians and Ethnic Relations in the 14th and 15th Centuries   23 Chapter II The Albanian Nobles of the Pre-Turkish Period   40 a) The Despotat of Janina   44 b) The Zenebishi   53 c) The Rule of Valona   55 d) The Muzhaka   61 e) The Gropa   67 f) The Thopia   68 g) The Dukagjin   73 h) The Balsha   86 i) The Matranga   97 j) The Zacharia, the Jonima, the Span, the Pulati, the Dushmani,   the Kastoria, the Scura, the Shrezi, the Nuzhani, the Margariti   97 Chapter III The Turkish Invasion 100 Chapter IV The Conquest of Albania by the Turks: the Battles of George Araniti and Scanderbeg (Castriota) 122 a) The Araniti 127 b) Scanderbeg 137 Chapter V The Military Administration in the Early Turkish Period in Albania 207 Chapter VI The Final Establishment of a Turkish Military and Civilian Administration 230 Chapter VII Events in Albania up to the Second Siege of Vienna 290 Chapter VIII Historical Views of the Years 1650-1750 360 Chapter IX Beginning of the Greek Struggle for Freedom and Events in Albania at the Time 437 Chapter X The Period of the Collapse of Central Administration 463 Chapter XI Views from the Time of Ali Pasha Tepeleni to the Tanzimat 570 Chapter XII From the Tanzimat to the Independence Movement 669 Chapter XIII Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and the Division of Land: Land Ownership in Albania 766 Chapter XIV A Few Words about Culture and Life, the Arts and the Literature of the Albanians during Turkish Rule 846 Chapter XV The Young Turk Movement and its Influence on Albania 888 Chapter XVI The Collapse: from the Balkan War to the Independence of Albania        1014 & 10 maps. (1)  Extracts translated from: Armin Hetzer: Ekrem bey Vlora - Die Eroberung Albaniens durch die osmanischen Türken. Ein Auszug aus der unveröffentlichten Nachlaßschrift 'Beiträge zur Geschichte der Türkenherrschaft in Albanien (Rom 1955/6). Bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Armin Hetzer. in: Balkan-Archiv, Neue Folge, Hamburg, 10 (1985). pp. 301 311.
Robert Elsie Texts and Documents of Albanian History
Ekrem bey Vlora (1885-1964)
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