ALBANIANS IN AMERICA
Nature has placed the Albanian nation in one of the most important points of the Adriatic coast.
Thanks to the agricultural pursuits, the Albanians lived happily in the midst of plenty until other nations began to invade their country.
First of all the Romans made Albania into a battlefield, during the wars of Julius Caesar and Pompey. Later, one after another, came the Byzantines, the Slavs, Bulgarians and Serbians, the Normans, the Angevins and the Turks. These last remained, without interruption for five whole centuries, until the Albanians declared their independence at Valona in 1912. After that came the first World War and Albania was trampled by the Austro-Hungarians in the north and the Allies in the south. That was the first time that the Albanian people saw Chinese, Annamites, Egyptian fellas, and other peoples from countries of which they knew little. During the last war, still other peoples crossed Albania, and now they have the Russians!
The greatest misfortunes for the Albanian people have always been those that come from the East.
Albanian territory could feed several million inhabitants. Unfortunately however, the people have had to abandon the country, fleeing in terror from the invaders, or forced to leave because of abject poverty, the result of destruction. In this way, five centuries ago, some two hundred thousand Albanians, faced with the Ottoman invasion, emigrated to Italy. Still other invasions have obliged the Albanians, with tears in their eyes, to abandon the land of their forebearers.
But in spite of everything, our people have known how to bear up under all the sad misfortunes which have been their lot, and they have never bowed their heads.
Emigration of Albanians to the United States began many years ago, but it was towards the end of the last century, and even more, that this emigration assumed large proportions.
In the United States the Albanians have found a country that has given everything that could be desired: it has given them work which is honor, culture which is progress and above everything else, liberty, the liberty which is one of the most noble conquests of man.
Working continuously to become free economically, they have always remembered their faraway country. That is why they have joined together to found charitable associations which, full of the enthusiasm inspired in them by the country of George Washinton, have done much for the freedom and the independence of Albania from centuries old yoke. In 1909 the Albanian Federation “Vatra” and the newspaper “Dielli” were founded. Supported without reserve by all the Albanians of America, Vatra has played a part of great importance in the cultural field and in the national awakening. All the Albanian people are grateful to the sons of Albania living in America for their activity. And since figures speak clearer than words, let us here mention the economic contribution made by the Albanians in America to their mother country: before 1939, the three southern provinces alone (Korca, Gjinokastra and Berat) received more than $800 a month from Albanians residing in America. One can readily see the importance for our people and our country of the benefits derived.
What is the attitude today of Albanians in the United States? In this war as in the one before, the American Albanians have fought with honor in the ranks of the American Army. They have paid their debt to their great adopted country with the blood of their best sons. They are honest men and tireless workers. Albania considered them the ‘elite’ of Albania’s workers, who abandoned their own country in order to assure to their families bread, honor and human dignity.
They have always kept alive in their hearts their love for the homeland far away. They received with joy the news of the end of the last war, especially when they heard that their mother country had been liberated and that the country was governed by a ‘democratic government’.
Unfortunately, the first Albanians to set foot in the United States immediately after the end of the war were some Red representatives of Tirana. These emissaries of Communism carried out their mission as best they could with the most astute and false propaganda among the Albanian colony. Their task was greatly facilitated by the attitude taken at once by the Albanian Federation ‘Vatra’ and its organ ‘Dielli’, as well as another newspaper ‘Liria’, founded in Boston in 1942.
The communists of Tirana understood immediately that in order to hold the Albanians of America in their hands they must necessarily secure the support of these papers.
The few unscrupulous persons who managed the papers ‘Dielli’ and ‘Liria’ or were at the head of the ‘Vatra’ Federation, gave way easily; perhaps because they are persons who lived with the work of others. So, in a short time they placed themselves at the disposal of Communism, thanks also to the high salaries that the Tirana Government generously paid them.
With a servility never seen before and by means of a campaign of lies, they set to the task of convincing the Albanians of America to give their unconditional support to the Tirana Government.
But for us the saddest thing, as regards to the Albanians of America, is the attitude taken by Monsignor Fan S. Noli in favor of the Communism in Tirana.
Bishop Fan S. Noli is at one and the same time head of the Orthodox Albanian Church in America and honorary president of the ‘Vatra’ Federation. We cannot deny this great learning and culture nor the services rendered by him to Albanian literature and to the Church. But we cannot understand how so learned a prelate and one holding such a high position can stoop to the level of the anti-religion, anti culture and anti-patriotism of the Communists.
Monsignor Fan Noli and those few Albanians in the service of Communism have stained themselves by contributing consciously to the diffusion among the Albanians of America of a propaganda that is in all ways contrary to the true interests of the Albanian people. Our people today are in danger of being destroyed by that same irresponsible that is sustained and supported by men like Fan Noli. Death, deportation, depravation and squalid poverty are the only true reality in Albania.
On the other hand, since Bishop Fan Noli and his close collaborators have American citizenship, they should have trembled when the Communist of Tirana were declaring the American nation the greatest enemy of Albania!
This false propaganda cannot, however, last very long. So we must note that in America too there are many Albanians who, in spite of those who still work for the Reds, have begun to open their eyes and to demonstrate that “to take the part of the Red Government of Tirana harms not only the mother country but also the United States”.