Walled in the house of Ismail Qemali's son? The mystery of the lost document of the Declaration of Independence

2023-11-28 17:17:33Histori SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
The mystery of the lost document of the Declaration of Independence

Maybe not everyone knows, but the original document declaring Albania's Independence on November 28, 1912 is missing. The version circulating today is a reproduction of this document that was published in 1937 by Lef Nosi on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of independence.

Historian Kristo Frashëri has probably left the best testimony regarding the location of the original, but unfortunately he did not mention his name during this testimony.

Walled in the house of Ismail Qemali's son? The mystery of the lost
"In Vlona, ??on 15/28 of the third autumn 1328/1912. After the words spoken by Mr. President Ismail Kemal Bey, with which he showed the danger of the math in which Albania is today, all the delegates unanimously decided that Albania from now on you will be free, free and unvarnished." Pictured: copy of the Declaration of Independence, once part of the Lef Nos collection, now considered lost.

In an interview for Dita newspaper before he passed away, Frashëri said that a person showed him this document in 1962, but refused to hand it over officially:

"This document came to light in 1962. The one who had it, its owner, said that he had handed it to Ismail Qemali with his own hand. He also had a letter from Ismail Qemali that said: "Be careful. This is a big document, of extraordinary importance". He held it and didn't want to give it away. In 1962 he was probably afraid...

I have spoken to this person myself and tried to get him to donate to the Museum for a reward. Then it was passed, and he submitted only a few documents. This is the story of the original. I can't say more, I can't say more.

That document probably still exists today, maybe it still exists today. Who knows, one day it may suddenly come out, because it is a document of rare value. Whoever took it, there's no way they messed it up. He will have saved it. Even from the material side, it has colossal values...", Frashëri stated.

Walled in the house of Ismail Qemali's son? The mystery of the lost
Kristo Frashëri

And after that regarding the person or persons who possess it, Frashëri says:

"...They are not here in Albania. They are not in Albania. It seems to me that they are not. I do not know it well. The problem is this; that if we don't have the original document, we have it reproduced..."

Historian Paskal Milo also claims that the document is still being sought, but finding it has turned out to be a difficult process.

During a scientific conference a few years ago, Milo said that "we are also doing research in foreign archives, but so far there is no concrete trace of where this fundamental document of the Declaration of Independence can be found".

"It is possible and the coincidence and the misfortune that could have disappeared and that unfortunately we will not have it. We have not given up, we will continue to look for it, but it is still a difficult process", said Milo.

According to him, from the research so far, it is believed that this document may have ended up in the hands of Ismail Qemali's family members, specifically one of his sons who lived and died in Struga.

Historian Ilirim Dervishi supports this version. He says that the year of the loss of traces of the document of the act of independence coincides with the year when Qazim bey Vlora, the second son of Ismail Qemali, moved from Albania to Struga, where he lived the last 17 years of his life.

"Qazim bey Vlora was Ismail Qemali's personal secretary, while after the declaration of independence he was also the chief of his cabinet. Qazim bey Vlora brought a large part of the documentation of the Albanian state to Struga", says Dervishi.

Walled in the house of Ismail Qemali's son? The mystery of the lost
Qazim Vlora

From the witnesses of the time, after the death of Qazim bey, a large amount of books and documents were taken out of the house by the municipal cleaning workers.

In 1975, the house became the property of Ramazan Aziz, who made some small repairs, especially on the roof.

"From the conversation with the current owner, we learn that a quantity of books with Arabic writing were found on the roof, which he threw away. He then continues that on the first floor he broke down a thick internal wall, inside which he found books and papers in the Arabic language placed on a shelf inside the wall, which he also threw away.

The owner of the house suspects that valuable documents can still be found in the thick walls of the house, among them perhaps the document of the Act of Declaration of Independence of the Albanian state", historian Ilirim Dervishi told the Albanian media in Macedonia.

The Act of Independence of Albania was signed by about 40 delegates from all parts of Albania on November 27-28 in Vlora. But not all firms are in the "Nosi" version of the statement circulating today.

This fact has also been affirmed by the historian Kristo Frashëri:

"...It was the declaration of independence reproduced in the zincography of that time, very clean, very clear, but with one deficiency. I don't know why that absence happened. The declaration of independence filled two pages of the letter, its front and back. The first page did not bring out all the signatories. Some of them have signed on the back of the document. This page was not published by Lef Nosi. I don't know why..." he said during the interview.

There is also a thesis that says that the original document of the Independence of Albania may have been given to the former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and the document is located in the Serbian archives. Someone else takes the Act of Independence farther west, where it may be locked away in one of Europe's archives or donated.

According to historians and documents of the time, the National Assembly that produced the Declaration of Independence opened its proceedings at 15:30 on November 28. It was attended by 37 delegates, who were later increased to 63 people and represented all the Albanian provinces. In this assembly, the Provisional Government was created, as well as the Eldership, or Senate, was appointed. Further procedures continued with the signing of the act of the Declaration of National Independence.

Walled in the house of Ismail Qemali's son? The mystery of the lost


At 17.30, Ismail Qemali went out to the balcony of the building raising the flag. This building was one of the two mansions of the well-known family of Vlora, of which Ismail Qemali was also the eldest son. These garages existed until 1925, when they were demolished to make way for the construction of Lulishta e Madhe, in today's Flag Square in Vlora.