Category Archives: History

This section contains articles on Albanian history

Veterans Day 2017 Remembrance: My Experiences During World War II

The following is the original text of an essay written by Van Christo in 2008, following A Joint Reunion of the USS Chaffee and the USS Pennsylvania, which took took place on November 7-10, 2008, in Lousisville, Kentucky.

USS Chaffee at Anchor

USS Chaffee at Anchor. Source: By Becklectic – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56730535

My ship is torpedoed by a Japanese “Betty” bomber during WWII
By: Van Christo
Quartermaster Second Class (QMIIc)

I was born in Albania and brought to America when I was a year old, so, I didn’t have an American birth certificate, I wanted to join the Navy at age 16 during WWII, after badgering my father, my father, Piro, he swore before a Notary Public that I was 17-1/2
the minimum age to join the Navy.

I served as a Quartermaster Petty Officer on board a Destroyer-Escort, the USS Chaffee, DE230, for almost 18 months in the Pacific. During the American invasion of the Japanese stronghold on Luzon in the Philippines, my ship was patrolling Luzon’s Lingayen Gulf on the night of January 23, 1945 at 11:15 PM, when a squadron of three Japanese “Betty” torpedo bombers was spotted by the Chaffee’s radar. Two of the bombers, or bogies as we called them, continued straight on, but the third plane turned back towards the harbor where my ship and other Navy ships including the battleship USS Pennsylvania that was anchored on the port (left) side.. As the Chaffee readied for attack, our skipper, A. C. “Ace” Jones, ordered the Chaffee to turn towards the oncoming Japanese bomber that dropped its torpedo and struck our ship up in the bow. Although the Chaffee was damaged, no one was hurt and the forward compartments were sealed off.

Back then, on most Navy ships over 1500 tons, there were two locations from which the ship could be steered. The main location was in the Pilot House located at the top front of the ship. A second location was called After Steering, below decks at the very end of the
ship. Because I was considered a good helmsman, my battle station on the Chaffee was After Steering, so I could feel the impact as the ship heaved and rolled lightly to one side when the torpedo struck. The After Steering station was fully equipped with a Gyro
Compass for steering instructions where on receipt of a horn signal from the bridge, I engaged a clutch, and after a shudder, I assumed steering control. This feature proved to be very important during WWII in the Pacific, as the pilot house on American ships was
the primary target of all Japanese Kamikaze suicide pilots.

I was proud as hell that the battle station chosen for me on board the Chaffee was After Steering, as I was only 17 years old and the youngest sailor on the Chaffee. That day as I was at my battle station in
After Steering, the Electricians Mate, Chuck Stroth and I suddenly heard the loud staccato rat-tat-tat of the 20 mm guns and the Thump -Thump of the 40’s right above our heads on the fantail. We knew we were under attack and my heart started pounding in my chest. We felt the hit as the ship heaved and rolled to one side. All that only took a few minutes. It was then quiet as we awaited further instructions from the Bridge.

On the following morning, two officers from the Chaffee boarded the Pennsylvania, hoping to acquire spare parts for temporary repairs. But when the Chaffee officers came on board, they were greeted like royalty since the crew of the Pennsylvania firmly believed that the
Chaffee intentionally intercepted the Japanese torpedo in a heroic effort to save it from striking the Pennsylvania that represented a fat, easy target. But that was not really the case since the Chaffee inadvertently got in the way of the torpedo! However, when our two officers returned from the Pennsylvania to the Chaffee, they also brought back 6 gallons of ice cream from the grateful crew of the Pennsylvania. For this actual wartime encounter between the Japanese torpedo bomber and the Chaffee, our crew was awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal with Bronze Star.

A Joint Reunion of the USS Chaffee and the USS Pennsylvania took place in Louisville, Kentucky, during November 7-10, 2008. Since the battleship Pennsylvania had a crew of some 3500 while the crew of the Destroyer-Escort Chaffee numbered only 212, present at that 2008 Joint Reunion were about 400 people and crew representing the Pennsylvania while there were only 25 of us representing the Chaffee including 7 crew members. Nonetheless, on one wall of the huge Reunion dining hall were two mammoth banners with
the names of the Pennsylvania and the Chaffee hanging side by side.

There, in a nutshell, you have heard a small portion of my own military experiences in the U.S. Navy during WWII.

AlbCon DataBit: Albania and the Albanians

Albanian Dancers, Watercolor.

Albanian Dancers, Watercolor

Contemporary sources show that 14th century Albanians were invariably identified as a tribal peoples, with no state of their own.

Thus, depending on their location and to which civilization they subscribed, they could be identified under the following criteria:

Arnaut (Turkish)
Arbanas or Arbanensis (Greek)
Epirotarum or Albanensis (Italian)
Arber, Arben, Arberesh, Epirotas (Native peoples/Albanian)

According to a report by historian Shefqet Pllana, Sami Frasheri in his Kamus-al-Alam maintains that the wording “Dhu lKarnejn” (owner of the two horns) was an appellative attributed to Alexander the Great of Macedon, the very name which Skanderbeg bore in the Islamic form. This second explanation may be the truer, since the theory of the Macedonian-Albanian and Epirot-Albanian continuance is strong not only among Albanians but among all the peoples of Europe.

This opinion agrees with the work of Marin Barleti who writes: “When the people saw all those young and brave men around Skanderbeg, then it was not hard to believe that the armies of [Sultan] Murat were so defeated by the Albanians. Indeed, the times when the star of Macedon shone brilliantly had returned, just as they seemed in those long forgotten times of Pyrrhus and Alexander.”

Origin of the Double-Headed Eagle
The double-headed eagle is a symbol used by several cultures. It is broadly associated with the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, among other civilizations.

The two heads are understood to represent the sovereignty of the leadership (secular and religious) over both east and west areas of the world.

Several Eastern European nations adopted it from the Byzantines and continue to use it as their national symbol to this day, the most prominent being Russia.

Famous Modern Albanian Painters

Frosina is pleased to acknowledge the work of four great Albanian painters, whose life and work was  mostly placed outside of the country.

diaspora

They are:

1. Ali Rasih Dino [1913 – 1993], originally of Chameria;

2. Lin Delija [1926 – 1994], of Shkodra;

3. Lika Janko [1928 – 2001] of Sofia, Bulgaria, but originally from Gramsh, Albania, and

4. Anastas Arthur Tashko [1901 – 1994], of Korça.

In 2009 the Albanian Postal Services dedicated a special stamp series to this group of great painters, called the Albanian Diaspora Painters, shown in the above image. We will write more about their work in the future.  Stay tuned

Pages of History 2 – On Fan S. Noli and VATRA in 1918

ON FAN S. NOLI AND VATRA IN 1918

[From the American Archives]

From a report of Agent V. J. Valjavec of the Bureau of Investigations, we learn about another little known Albanian newspaper in America at that time.  The report, apparently made out of New York City, was based upon the information obtained casually from an Albanian restaurateur with the last name of Karameta and with the address on West 37th Street. The report mentions also Fan Noli’s visit there, and where to obtain more information about the leader.

The partial copy of the report is below:

“V. J. Valjavec for August 27, 1918. Albanian.

Up until recently the Albanians of New York had a weekly newspaper, which was published in this city. The name of the paper was “Schipetaria” or “Albania”, but the paper, as well as the publishers and editors, moved now to Worcester, Mass. The manager of said paper is a certain Tsaro Kallarati, while the secretary is D. Baba.

Father Noli, mentioned in Agent Weiss’ reports, visits New York only once in a while and stops in Hotel McAlpin or Navarre for one or two days. His activities and connections in this city are not known to Karameta. However, some more information might be obtained from the Albanian leaders in Boston. Their names are: Kol Tromara, Ndreka Stavro, Goni Katundi, M. Bitincku, Angelo Sotir and Kosta Papa. Their addresses are not known to Karameta. However, they are well known among the Schipetars of Boston, Mass”.

Frosina welcomes the contributions of its distinguished readership to shed more light into the very interesting events and circumstances of the amazing efforts of the Albanian-American leaders and movement to preserve the independence and integrity of Albania at the end of WWI. Contributions form the descendants of the above mentioned individuals are most welcome.

 

 

Pages of History 1 – the Birth of the Republic of Korça – December 1916

THE BIRTH OF THE REPUBLIC OF KORÇA

[From American Archives]

 

American archives provide some useful information on the situation in Korça during the First World War.  Curiously, such information comes up within the files of the Bureau of Investigations, which preceded the FBI and which, at the period between 1917-1919, was investigating VATRA, Fan Noli and all Albanian activities in Boston. As we can see from the document below, Korça was under Greek occupation for most of the time between May 1913 till December 1916, when the Autonomous Republic of Korça was proclaimed under the Presidency of the revered national leader Themistokli Gërmenji.

In a report by agent Feri W. Weiss, dated November 6, 1918, this information is found:

Since the first Balkan War, the following governments have been in effect in Korytsa (Korça).

1st.     Until December 1912, the Turkish regime;

2nd.    Until May 1913, the Greek Military Regime;

3d.    Until March 1914, the Greek Civil Regime;

4th.    Until July 1914, the Albanian Regime of Prince Wied;

5th.    Until October 1914, Greek bands;

6th.    Until December 1914, Military regime by Greece;

7th.    Until the end of October 1916, Civil Administration of Greece, Royalists;

8th.    Until November 23, 1916, Civil Administration by Venizelists;

9th     Until December 10, 1916, French Military Authority with Greek Employees;

10th    Since December 10, 1916, Independent Albanian Republic under French Military Protectorate.

The reason that the Albanian Nationalists objected to France was on account of France’s friendship with Greece. When a French officer talked to Sali Butka in order to ask him why he was fighting against the French, the Chief of Guerillas answered him: “France, at the Conference of London, was opposed to my country. She tried to give to Greece most of middle Albania. Austria on the contrary, sustained our rights. That is why we were for Austria.”

Alexandra Chako – Malisory of Voskopojë, Albania and Southbridge, MA turns 105

The Worcester Telegram carried today the wonderful story of Alexandra Chako – Malisory, a native of Voskopoja in Albania and resident of Southbridge, MA, who turned 105 on Wednesday, March 6, 2014.

Frosina wishes Ms. Chako – Malisory all the very best for this remarkable anniversary.

Southbridge has been one of the most important centers of the Albanian – American community in the past 100 years. VATRA had a very active branch there and an important Orthodox Church  was founded around that time under the leadership of late Archbishop Fan S. Noli.

Nee’ Alexandra Chako, Ms. Malisory met her future husband Spiro in the mid 1930s during one of the latter’s visits to relatives in Albania. The last name Malisory means in Albanian language “a native of the mountain” or “Malësor”.

Asked by the Worcester Telegram about the secret to her longevity, “the native of Voskopoje, Albania, said she often eats cheese and yogurt. If she doesn’t have feta cheese and toast for breakfast, “I’m no good,” she concedes.”

An avid Red Sox fan, her family brought Ms. Malisory to enjoy a Red Sox game at the Fenway Park five years ago for her 100 anniversary.  She recently complained to the Worcester Telegram that “that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury had defected to the Yankees for more money.”

Ms. Malisory has three children, five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

It is an unwritten custom in the Great Britain that the Queen sends personal wishes to people on their 100th anniversary.

According to the Worcester Telegram, Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick will send an official citation congratulating Ms. Malisory on her 105th “milestone birthday”. Perhaps U.S. President Barack Obama and Albanian President Bujar Nishani may wish to follow suit.

The full story from the Worcester Telegram is here:

Worcester Telegram

Albania to honor Albanian-American WWII Veterans

Ndërsa kërkesën e veteranëve shqiptaro–amerikanë të SHBA-ve nga Bostoni për ngritjen e një përmendoreje për amerikanët e rënë gjatë Luftës së Dytë Botërore në Shqipëri, kryeministri Berisha  e vlerësoi shumë të drejtë dhe premtoi se në bashkëpunim me Bashkinë e Tiranës do të diskutojnë ngritjen  e një përmendoreje në nderim të tyre.

“Zoti ministër i mbrojtjes, veteranët shqiptaro-amerikanë, të SHBA-ve nga Bostoni kërkojnë me shumë të drejtë që Shqipëri të ngrejë një përmendore për amerikanët e rënnë gjatë Luftës së Dytë Botërore në Shqipëri. Ajo që është e veçantë, shumica  etyre kanë qenë shqiptarë amerikanë, pra duke e parë me pozitivitet këtë kërkesë, duke  e vlerësuar si një detyrim, ata kanë dërguar dhe listën e tyre. Në tërësi, ata kanë qenë oficerë të shërbimeve strategjike, të marinës, ose trupa të tjerë amerikane. Për këta ne duhet të ngremë një përmendore në nderim të kujtimit të tyre, nderim të veprës së tyre. Ata kanë rënë në Shqipëri, për tu bërë të pavdekshëm dhe për të mbetur ne memorien e kombit shqiptar dhe atij amerikan. Ndaj dhe së bashku me Bashkinë  e Tiranës, do të diskutojmë të ngremë  Albanian government discusses the raising of a monument honoring Albanian-American WWII veterans

Bratko Museum of Oriental Art in Korça in danger

http://www.balkanweb.com/gazetav5/artikull.php?id=131781

 

Muzeu oriental në Korçë, drejt rrënimit

 (Dërguar më: 24/04/13) Enkelejda Skënderasi

Muzeu Oriental “Bratko” në Korçë me objekte artistike orientale, kryesisht japoneze, kineze dhe indiane po shkon drejt rrënimit. Reshjet e këtij dimri sollën rënien e suvasë të jashtme të ndërtesës, ndërsa lagështira ka depërtuar në brendësi, veçanërisht në pjesën e tavanit, duke rrezikuar objektet me vlera të veçanta kulturore. Gjithashtu edhe mbulesat e verandave të kësaj ndërtese kanë lëvizur nga vendi, duke e bërë situatën në fjalë edhe më problematike. Jonilda Trebicka, përgjegjësja e muzeut oriental “Bratko” në Korçë thotë për “Gazetën Shqiptare” se ndërhyrja për restaurimin e këtij objekti, që është jo pak i rëndësishëm për qytetin, është emergjente, me qëllim që ky monument t’i rezistojë degradimit të mëtejshëm. Sipas Trebickës, aktualisht është duke u punuar për të kontaktuar me ambasadat e vendeve orientale apo fondacione të ndryshme, me qëllim sigurimin e fondeve dhe restaurimin e godinës. Ndërtesa në fjalë ka relike të rralla të grumbulluara ndër vite dhe të lëna amanet për Korçën nga shqiptaro-amerikani Gjergji-Dhimitër Mbroja (Bratko), ndërsa aktualisht është në varësi të Qendrës Kulturore “Vangjush Mio”. Kanë qenë pikërisht vitet ’90, kur muzeu i sapondërtuar iu bë dhuratë Bashkisë së Korçës së bashku me 400 reliket e çmuara. Në këtë muze gjithashtu gjenden fotografi të ndryshme që datojnë rreth 200 vjet më parë me rëndësi të madhe historike dhe kulturore jo vetëm për Korçën, por edhe për vizitorë të ndryshëm. Fotografi i njohur shqiptaro-amerikan Dhimitër Mborja pati një karrierë të shkëlqyer në ushtrinë amerikane si dhe në Hollivud.
Muzeu oriental “Bratko” është dëmtuar së tepërmi. Nga se ka ardhur dëmi?
Ka pasur një dimër të ashpër në Korçë, dëbora dhe shiu kanë bërë punën e tyre dhe sigurisht kanë sjellë dëmtime të godinës muzeale, por fatmirësisht jo në dhomën ku ndodhen objektet. Megjithatë ne po punojmë intensivisht për të filluar sa më parë rikonstruksionin e godinës muzeale dhe kthimin e saj në gjendjen e mëparshme.
Cilët do të jenë financuesit e këtij muzeu?
Për momentin ne po përpiqemi të gjejmë kontakte me ambasadat e këtyre vendeve orientale, me qëllim që këto të na ndihmojnë me financimin e restaurimit të godinës, nisur edhe nga interesi që kanë këto, që kultura e tyre të njihet më gjerë. Por gjithashtu po përpiqemi të mbledhim fonde edhe nga fondacione të ndryshme, që ta kthejmë në identitet këtë vlerë të madhe për Korçën.
Cilat janë vlerat e këtij muzeu?
Ka ndoshta shumë pak njerëz që e dinë se në Korçë është hapur 13 vjet më parë një muze me objekte artistike orientale, kryesisht kineze, japoneze, indiane, koreane etj. Janë objekte nga më të ndryshmet, duke filluar nga veshjet e këtyre vendeve pse jo edhe orendi të ndryshme. Natyrisht që mbartin në vetvete dhe vlera të mëdha kulturore dhe historike. Gjithashtu krahas këtyre relikeve në këtë ndërtesë muzeale gjenden edhe fotografi të ndryshme, që u përkasin viteve 1800 dhe janë mjaft të rëndësishme.
Ka pasur më herët ndonjë restaurim të pjesshëm në këtë muze?
Në fakt ky muze është hapur gati 13 vjet më parë, por fatmirësisht nuk ka pasur nevojë për ndërhyrje. Këtë herë dimri i ashpër ndikoi në degradimin e godinës, ndaj është e nevojshme restaurimi i saj. E rëndësishme është që të ndërhyhet në kohë, pasi nëse lihet në këtë gjendje, pasojat sigurisht që do jenë të pariparueshme.
Sa i rëndësishëm është ky muze për Korçën?
Muzeu oriental “Bratko” është shumë i rëndësishëm për qytetarët korçarë dhe për turistë që vijnë nga rrethe të ndryshme apo edhe nga jashtë. Kështu, të gjithë kanë mundësi të njihen me kulturën e vendeve aziatike, vlerat historike dhe fetare të tyre.