The Representative in Albania ( Jacobs ) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 1.]
Sir: As several matters, as indicated below, had arisen requiring an interview with Colonel General Enver Hoxha, I have the honor to inform the Department that I called to see him on May 24, 1945. The nature of the subjects discussed and the results are set forth below.
I told the General that I had been in Tirana for two weeks and had interviewed all members of the Cabinet except Colonel Ramadan Citaku, Minister of Finance, who is absent from Tirana. I said that these conversations had been very helpful to me but several questions had arisen which I wished to take up with him. I wished first to state again that the purpose of my mission was to report on the situation in Albania as a basis for determination by the Department of State of the request which FNC had made of the United States for recognition, and to point out that I was really here at the General’s invitation and not because the American Government had sent me here on its own initiative. I said that all members of my staff, including myself and Mr. Fultz, who is an old friend of the Albanian people, had come to Albania in an unbiased frame of mind. In carrying out our mission, however, we would have need from time to time to obtain certain information about the activities of his government and that we would endeavor to obtain that information from members of that government whom we expected to assist us and if they did not we could only have recourse to recording that fact in our report. I said that, while I expected to make several trips about the country, the purpose of those trips was to observe conditions gen [Page 29] erally and how his government was functioning. I said that neither I nor members of my mission would attempt to go around behind his back seeking out members of the opposition alleged to be in hiding in the mountains. I told him that I had to speak frankly because rumors had come to my ears that I had been asking too many questions of members of the Cabinet.
I then said that it would be very helpful to me and my staff and I believe that it would likewise be helpful to him and the members of his Cabinet if he would designate someone, preferably from his office and preferably someone who spoke English, to act as a liaison officer with my mission. As matters now stood, even with regard to the most minor matters, I was compelled to invoke the assistance of the OSS representatives who spoke Albanian to contact the various government offices.
Here the General interposed with a remark that indicated that I was always free to call on him personally. He expanded on this point, apparently indicating that he preferred to keep all of my activities centralized in his hands.
I replied that I felt sure that he was perfectly willing to see me but I did not wish to trouble him about a lot of detailed matters concerning which from time to time we might wish to inquire. If the liaison officer whom I suggested were to be appointed from among his own staff, my mission would always in reality be contacting him. General Hoxha, thereupon, promised to give the matter consideration and indicated that he would appoint someone for liaison purposes.
U.S. Treasury Representative:
I next proceeded to the question of the entry of U.S. Treasury representative, Mr. Gardner Patterson, remarking that there appeared to be some misunderstanding somewhere along the line. I told the General that I knew in Caserta before arriving in Albania that my government wished to send this representative to Tirana for a brief, temporary period to confer about certain matters. I thereupon explained to him in detail what Mr. Patterson was doing and that he was visiting all Balkan capitals for that purpose. I had not, however, raised the question of Mr. Patterson’s entry. The question arose because Mr. Kostas Boshnjaku, President of the State Bank of Albania, had called on me together with the Vice President of the bank Mr. Kol Kuqali, to inquire whether something could not be done to arrange for a bank in New York, preferably the Chase Bank, to handle a deposit for the State Bank. At that interview, I mentioned to Mr. Boshnjaku that one of our Treasury representatives happened to be in this area and we all agreed that it would be an excellent [Page 30] idea to have him come over to confer about the resumption of financial arrangements with the United States and my own official financing problem. I mentioned the question of permission to enter and Mr. Boshnjaku said that he could arrange that. I also said that Dr. Nishani, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, had mentioned to me the question of the desirability of resumption of communications so that Albanians in the United States could resume remittances to friends and relatives in Albania which had been broken off during the hostilities. Accordingly, I telegraphed our office at Caserta to contact Mr. Patterson and ask him to come to Tirana, but suddenly and unexpectedly, in view of what had transpired, the General himself telephoned Captain Stefan that the Cabinet had definitely decided that Mr. Patterson could not enter the country.
The General replied with some evidence of irritation that the officials of the bank had no right to agree to Mr. Patterson’s entry and that the Cabinet had decided that, until the question of recognition of Albania by the United States had been decided, no Treasury representative could be allowed to enter. He then added that there was no need for expert advice because ML86 and UNRRA had promised to furnish experts in that line.
Note: I learned later from the ML representatives that they had agreed to bring in an expert from Caserta to work out a rate of exchange for the payment of ML personnel’s expenses in Albania and to decide how, when, etc., the supplies brought in by ML should be paid for. ML denied that they proposed to bring in any expert on general financial matters.
I told the General that, in the circumstances, I would not press the matter but wished to point out that if Albanians in the United States should raise the question of remittances with the Department of State, the reply would now be that he had refused to allow our representative to enter Albania to discuss that matter. This seemed to have no weight with the General who indicated clearly that his mind was made up on the subject.
Accordingly, I reported the matter in my No. 21, May 25, 1945, 7 p.m., suggesting that we allow the matter to rest in abeyance.87[Page 31]
I then mentioned to the General that there was another similar case which might come up, namely the proposed visit of General Fox of the United States Typhus Commission. I said that when I called on Dr. Ymer Dishnica, the Minister of Public Health, he had mentioned the desirability of having General Fox visit Tirana to confer with him on the typhus question. I had told the Minister of Public Health that General Fox had already stated he would be glad to come to Albania if he received an invitation. I said that I was not pressing and would not press for the entry of General Fox; I merely wished to point out that he was actually in this area and had told me personally that he was in a position to help if needed and that the present time was an excellent one to handle the situation before further outbreaks next winter. If, therefore, the Albanian authorities do not wish General Fox to come, I should like to be informed so I could in turn inform him.
Hoxha replied that there might be some need to have General Fox come to confer but he would have to discuss the matter further with Dr. Dishnica indicating that he knew little about it. He then expressed a little irritation that everybody who wished to come into Albania was a General or a military officer, raising a query as to why so many military men wanted to come into Albania. I replied that General Fox was really a doctor handling typhus control as a war measure and that I was sure that he was not interested in anything but typhus. Hoxha then said that he was a little tired of so many people coming into Albania promising things which they never seemed to deliver, as for instance, ML had promised to bring in medical supplies and yet after more than a month of operation no such supplies had arrived. He again said, however, that he would take up the typhus matter and let me know.
Note: With regard to the General’s allegation that ML had refused to bring in medical supplies, I conferred later with ML representatives who flatly denied the charge and said that the Minister of Social Assistance88 had definitely asked ML to postpone medical supplies in favor of wheat and flour which they claimed were more urgently needed. Medicines had, therefore, been postponed and only yesterday 13 tons of medicines and medical supplies had actually arrived at Durazzo, brought over on ML’s own initiative as they felt that such supplies were needed. Accordingly, I asked Captain Stefan to telephone General Hoxha and inform him of this fact in order that his mind might be disabused of the idea that ML had refused to bring in medical supplies.
Freedom of Movement:
I then raised the question of my freedom of movement, stating that under the present regulations of his regime, I could not go from Tirana to any other city without special permit. I referred again to my opening remarks to the effect that I was not here to try to carry out my duties behind his back and I hoped he would issue to me and my staff passes so that we could move about freely. I said in a joking way that I needed to take my cars for exercise; that without exercise the batteries would run down; and that as matters stood, I could not even do that without a pass. The General seemed amused and said that he would issue passes for my staff for the Tirana area and give me a pass for travel in the Tirana and Durazzo areas.
Note: Although there is a general restriction on the movement of foreigners from one city to another, I have already on three occasions been able to pass the barriers for short trips in the late afternoons. This permission is given by the guard on duty at the barrier after my chauffeur, an Albanian formerly in our employ, explained to the partisan soldier who I was and that I was merely taking a ride for pleasure. I prefer, however, to have a pass in order to avoid any incidents.
Proposed Albanian Delegation:
I then mentioned to the General the note90 which I had received the previous evening asking me to request permission for the entry into the United States of a delegation of three to four persons. I inquired further with regard to the purpose of sending such a delegation and whether it was to be civilian or military. The General said that it would be a civilian mission; that the actual personnel had not yet been selected; and that the purpose was just that stated in the note, viz: to acquaint Albanians in the United States what had happened in Albania and the activities of the FNC. He said that due to lack of communications all kinds of evil rumors had been spread about concerning FNC and he wished to have a delegation go over to explain what had actually taken place and what the aims of FNC were. I told the General that I would transmit his request but I was not hopeful that the Department would approve the request, especially as I had not even submitted a preliminary report on the situation here. The attitude and manner of the General was such that Mr. Fultz, Captain Stefan and I all got the impression that, in addition to the reason given by the General, he is trying to establish a bargaining position with us to set off the various requests we are making for the entry of our representatives. My report on this matter and recommendation that the request be granted was communicated to the Department in my No. 22, May 25, 1945, 9 p.m.[Page 33]
General Hoxha then said that he wished to take up something with me and assumed a rather belligerent attitude by pounding the desk but without appearing to be hostile to me or to Americans. He said he wanted to bring up the matter of Albanian war criminals who were in Allied hands in Italy and who, according to reports he had received were being treated “royally”. He said these criminals were definitely known to have collaborated with the Italians and Germans and that they were free to move around and plot and intrigue against this regime. He felt that the Allied powers should treat them as war criminals and not as favored protegees and that some official declaration should be made as to how the Allies propose to punish them if they were not going to turn them over to his regime for punishment. He mentioned something about British members of ML going around the country asking political questions and his demand made yesterday of ML that these offending members of ML personnel be sent out of Albania at once. The inference, as Mr. Fultz, Captain Stefan and I got from his remarks, was that General Hoxha was very much worried about British support of the opposition in Albania. The General knows of the group of 120 Albanian political refugees (whom he calls war criminals) now in a camp at Santa Maria di Lucca, south of Brindisi, a point in Italy nearest the Albanian mainland. He fears that the British may have planned it thus so that some of this group could escape and return to Albania to stir up organized resistance. He said he was thinking of protesting to the United States and Great Britain. I replied that if he did wish to make an issue of the matter, he should take it up not only with the United States and Great Britain but also with the Soviet Union which was equally concerned in the whole question of the treatment of persons charged with war crimes. I did not tell him that I would report to Washington on the subject but I did inform the Department in my No. 20, May 25, 1945, 5 p.m.91
In submitting this despatch, I wish to add that I am laboring under no illusions as regards the officials of the FNC regime. They are as I have described in my telegrams a sincere, patriotic group of individuals who are going to be difficult to deal with. They are ignorant of the science of government, know little of international [Page 34] relations, and are highly sensitive over the fact that, after fighting a common enemy, they have as yet failed to receive any recognition except from Yugoslavia and possibly secret sympathy from the Soviet Union. The relations between the regime and those two countries are as yet an enigma to me. I feel that a certain amount of secret pressure is being brought to bear on the FNC regime but I have not been able to put my fingers on any concrete evidence. In their conversations with me, Hoxha and members of his Cabinet rarely mention the Soviet Union although frequent mention is made of Great Britain.
Foreign Service Officer of the United States of America
- See footnote 40, p. 10.↩
This telegram suggested that there were other reasons than the question of recognition for the refusal to allow Mr. Patterson to enter Albania; mentioned were the general suspicion over entry of more American and British representatives, unwillingness to have an expert discover the chaotic condition of Albanian finances, and possibly secret advice by the Soviet and Yugoslav Missions in Albania (875.51/5–2545).
Later, following agreement by the Albanian Government, Mr. Patterson visited Tirana between July 25 and August 1, 1945, during which time he conferred with various Albanian government officials regarding the securing of information needed by the United States Government before a decision could be made on the matter of the resumption of American-Albanian financial relations.↩
- Maj. Gen. Bedri Spahiu.↩
- See supra.↩
- Not printed; in it Mr. Jacobs recommended that in order to clear up all uncertainty a declaration of Allied intention be made concerning the alleged war criminals and the Albanian group be removed to some remote place where they had little or no opportunity to escape or establish communications with the Albanian mainland or Albanians elsewhere in Italy (740.00116 EW/5–2545).↩