Anton Logoreci (1910-1990): Torchbearer of Democracy

My wife Jane and I had the good fortune, many years ago, to meet Anton Logoreci in London during our visits to that historic city where we quickly became good friends with him and his lovely, wife, Doreen. They invariably found interesting places for us to dine in London, and also entertained us in their home located in Disraeli Gardens. During one of our visits, Jane and I were pleased to learn that Anton and Doreen met at the BBC where they both worked during WWII. They were very proud of their son, Philip, who is a lecturer at Queens College in London.

Jane and I have remained in contact with Doreen over the years especially because she always asks about our son, Zachary, who was only 4 years old when we first met the logorecis, and who always accompanied us during all of our London visits.

Anton Logoreci was a well-informed man, and his book about Albania, described below, remains as a valuable resource of informative and little-known data about Albania.

Anton Logoreci was born in Shkodër, Albania on July 19, 1910 and died in London on September 23, 1990. He was the latest treasure to be given to the world by his Albanian Catholic family. Others included the Archbishop of Shkope, Mother Teresa’s parents, and Logoreci’s uncle Mati who worked to preserve Albanian culture in Kosovë, and assisting in the formulation of an agreed alphabet for the Albanian language. Logoreci attended the Franciscan elementary school in Shkodër during his childhood where he served at the altar of St. Anthony’s church. He regularly served Mass for Fr. Gjergj Fishta, the great Albanian author and poet laureate. At the encouragement of his uncle, he transferred from the Jesuit College Saverianum to the AmericanTechnical College in Tirana which was established by the American Red Cross in 1922. The College was an important addition to Albania — in its classrooms, a cosmopolitan group of young men were formed with the education essential to make Albania a full member of contemporary European society, and Logoreci was one of its brightest pupils.

While studying at the Technical College, Logoreci was editor of the school magazine Laboremus. There he developed a distinctive prose style which he would later use to great success working for the BBC in London. He graduated with honors in 1927 and worked first as a teacher in the mountain villages of Albania. King Zog appointed General Jocelyn Percy to organize a gendarmerie, and he chose Logoreci as his interpreter. This work gave him a first-hand knowledge of the political eccentricities of Eastern Europe which he would use the rest of his life.

In order to better serve his homeland, Logoreci went to study at the London School of Economics (LSE) and while finishing his studies there, Mussolini invaded Albania. Unable to return to Albania, Logoreci was spared internment and gained a post as head of the BBC’s new Overseas Service. There, beginning in 1940, Logoreci’s reports were broadcast into his homeland bringing news to his countrymen when it was unavailable elsewhere until the BBC ended the service after the war. He was one of the best-qualified Eastern European commentators and, later, he became a program writer on Central Europe and remained a valuable commentator for the BBC for years afterwards where he specialized in Eastern Europe’s human rights problems as well as developments in Albania.

Logoreci was single-handedly responsible for most of the attention Albania received after the war. He condemned Hoxha early in his dictatorship, stressing that Albania’s future must lie in Western democracy rather than communism. Logoreci was a vociferous defender of Kosovë’s autonomy, culture, and traditions. His commentaries were insightful and often prophetic.

But all of Logoreci’s political expertise and knowledge were accidents of his trade, and not his greatest love. Literature was his great passion. His distinctive style in Albanian prose and poetry was admired for its sharp beauty. He introduced his countrymen to Europe’s contemporary writers with his literary essays. He likewise introduced Europeans with Albanians in his 1977 book, The Albanians — Europe’s Forgotten Survivors (Victor Gollancz, London, 1977 ASIN 0575022299).

Excerpted from the Albanian Catholic Bulletin, San Francisco, California, Volume XII, 1991

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In 1993, Albania awarded Logoreci the medal “Pishtar i Demokracise (Torchbearer of Democracy).”

The Award read as follows:

REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA

The President of the Republic awards Anton Pjeter Logoreci with the medal
“Torchbearer of Democracy”

An outstanding many-sided personality of Albanian culture, a staunch
anti-communist and a brilliant champion of the entire national cause.

Tirana, August 2, 1993 Decree No. 616

(signed) Sali Berisha, President

 

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