Midhat Frashëri

(1880-1949)

Biography of Midhat Frashëri

Midhat Frashëri poet

Mit’hat Frashëri (also known by his nom de plume as Lumo Skëndo; March 25, 1880, Janina, Janina Vilayet, Ottoman Empire – October 3, 1949, New York, Long Island) was an Albanian diplomat, writer and politician. The son of Abdyl Frashëri, one of the most important activists of the Albanian National Awakening in 1908 he participated in the Congress of Monastir and in 1942 became the president of Balli Kombëtar (National Front). He is considered by many to be the father of Albanian Nationalism.

Early life
Mid’hat bey Frashëri was the son of prominent Albanian politician and statesman from 19th century Abdyl Frashëri(who initiated the movement of a wide authonomy from Othoman Empire) and nephew of the poets and nationalists Naim Frashëri and Sami Frashëri. Born in Janina (present day Ioannina) in 1883 and was raised in Istanbul. In Istanbul, his family organised the Albanian nationalist movement. Giving up his studies of pharmacology, he worked for the Ottoman administration in the vilayet of Salonika from a period from 1905 to 1910. Using the pen name Lumo Skendo, he began publishing the weekly newspaper “Lirija” in Salonika, which lasted until 1910. He participated in the Congress of Monastir in 1908, and in January of the next year, he began editing a monthly magazine entitled “Diturija”, a magazine based on the cultural, literary and scholarly interest of Albania.

Congress of Monastir
Mit’hat Frashëri was one of the fifty delegates who helped form the modern Albanian alphabet. Mit'hat Frashëri became vice-chairman of the commission. Mit'hat Frashëri was also elected chairman of the congress and Parashqevi Qiriazi chairwoman of the commission of the alphabet, which was responsible for the organization of the various alphabet proposals.

Albanian Declaration of Independence
Mid’hat bey’s political views took on a nationalist character during the Balkan Wars and in the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire when Albania was on the verge of being carved up by its Balkan neighbours. Mit’hat Frashëri was one of the eighty-three leaders meeting in Vlorë in November 1912. He was one of the signers of the declaration of independence and became the Minister of Public Services in the Provisional Government of Albania. He later became the Albanian consul general in Belgrade and postmaster general. At the beginning of World War I, Met'hat was interned in Romania for a time, but after he was released, he returned to publishing. Mid’hat resided in Lausanne for a time with his cousin Mehdi Frashëri, where he was author of a number of newspaper articles and essays. On 25 November 1920, he was appointed chairman of the Albanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, where he remained until 1922. In Paris, he continued his journalistic activities in the French press to publicize Albania’s position in the postwar restructuring of Europe. He subsequently held other ministerial posts and was Albanian ambassador to Greece and to the United States from 1922 to 1926.

Quiet period
Under the Zog regime in 1925, Mid’hat left public life and opened a bookstore in Tirana. He himself possessed an exceptionally large private library of some 20,000 volumes, the largest collection in the country at the time. With the rise of Germany and World War II looking inevitable, Mit'hat began forming the National Front (Balli Kombëtar) to use in the war to create Ethnic Albania.

Balli Kombëtar presidency
He was the leader of the Balli Kombëtar nationalist movement during the Second World War. Balli Kombëtar was a political organization that mainly fought for an Ethnic Albania.

After World War II and death
In 1945, the communists won the war in Albania. Mit'hat escaped the communists by fleeing to southern Italy. The early years of the cold war found Mid’hat Frashëri in the West trying to patch together a coalition of anti-communist opposition forces in Britain and the United States. In August 1949, he was elected as head of a Free Albania Committee. He died of a heart attack at the Lexington Hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York and was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in New York.

His cousin, Mehdi Frashëri, served as Albanian Prime Minister under a German-backed Albanian Government. One of his biggest contribution as Prime Minister was the refusal to execute the Jewish people that lived in Albania. The result of this decission was that Albania became a safe heaven for jews and after WWII the number of Jews in Albania was significant higher than before WWII.

Frashëri's entire library of some 20,000 volumes, the largest in Albania at that time, was confiscated by the new regime. The library included significant albanological works inherited from Franz Nopcsa von Felsö-Szilvás.

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