Hollywood movie to tell Hoxha’s friendship story

Almost 50 years since his death, Laconia native Thomas Eftim Stefan might finally get credit for helping free Albania during World War II from the Axis powers while working with the forerunner of today’s Central Intelligence Agency. And, if Peter

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“We show you Albania before the Forties”

“Albania possesses an enormous wealth in photographic materials, unique to the Balkans, but despite this Albania does not exist in the world history of photography. Not a single reference, not a single name to indicate how many talented photographers this

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Albanians to receive new ID cards next year, says minister

TIRANA, June 6 – Interior Minister Bujar Nishani said that Albanians would be equipped with new digital identity cards next year. The lack of IDs has been a continuous problem, which has mainly affected the ability to conduct fair elections

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The Prime Minister hands his treasure over to the National Library

Last week, Prime Minister Berisha donated several valuable volumes from his personal library to the National Library, two of which are worth 15.000 Euro. “This treasure was immediately registered as part of the fund of antique possessions of the library,”

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The Dialectological Dictionary of the Albanian Language is published

In the context of the cultural agreements between the Academy of Sciences of Albania and the University of the Oriental Studies of Naples, the publication has finally been realized of the Dialectological Dictionary of Albanian, a magnificent work, directed by

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The Week of the Albanian Film in Athens, closed

The last day of the week of the Albanian Film organized in Athens, screened the film, “Letters on the Wind,” by the Albanian film producer, Edmond Budina. The film shows one side of the reality of the Albanians living in

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Ballet ‘Dead River’ to be staged in honor of Cesk Zadeja

TIRANA, June.4- The ballet, ” Dead River “, will be reenacted at the Theater of Opera and Ballet, 25 years after the well-known master, Cek Zadeja, gave life to the book of Jakov Xoxe which was censured under the communist

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Venice Biennale to host viewing of Marubi collection

Marubi in VeniceVENICE, June.7 – A special selection of photographs of the Marubi collection will be presented in an artistic series at the Venice Biennale. This is an important project of the National Art Gallery of Albania, coordinated by Rubens

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10.000 Albanians buy tickets for Budva Rolling Stones concert

TIRANA, June.5 – Despite rumors in Tirana that the icon music group, the Rolling Stones, were to perform in Albania this summer, the group will not be coming to Albania. Instead, the concert will be in neighboring Montenegro, in the

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Greek ambassador speaks of investment interest in Shkodra

SHKODRA, May.30- The Greek ambassador in Albania, HE Konstantinos Kokossis, visited the local governmental offices in Shkodra to become more familiar with economic investment opportunities in the northern district. During this visit, Kokossis was accompanied by the economic secretary of

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                    [post_content] => Almost 50 years since his death, Laconia native Thomas Eftim Stefan might finally get credit for helping free Albania during World War II from the Axis powers while working with the forerunner of today's Central Intelligence Agency.
And, if Peter Lucas has his way, Stefan, who appeared to have a golden future ahead of him after graduating from Laconia High School in 1936, may have in death what he couldn't have in life: a happy Hollywood ending.
In fact, Stefan's life story, as told by Lucas in "The OSS in World War II Albania/Covert Operations and Collaboration with Communist Partisans" (to be released by McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers in July) ends very badly on Sept. 6, 1959 on a sidewalk in Tinseltown, where Stefan collapsed and died poor, unknown, far from home, and alienated from his wartime comrades.
Born in Laconia on March 21, 1917 to Eftim and Emma Stefan נAlbanian immigrants who came to Boston in the early 1900s from Korce, Albania and who then moved to Laconia נTom Stefan, as he was known, was the eldest of four children. He had three sisters, Ethel, Dorothy and Mary.
According to city directories, the Stefan family operated a grocery store from 1916 to 1939, first at 744 Union Ave. in Lakeport (now the home of G-spot Music and Clothing), and later at 610 Union Ave. where the Cantin auto dealership has a used vehicle lot.
At Laconia High School, Tom Stefan was a big man on campus.
In the school's Class Annual 1936, Stefan lists his life's ambition "to enter the consular service or law." Judging by his biography, he had the skill set for either.
A four-year member of the National Honor Society, student council and International Friendship Club, Stefan was the epitome of a student athlete, having played football, basketball, baseball and tennis at Laconia High.
His official high school yearbook photo shows a handsome young man with dark, intense features, while in another picture, he stands with the senior members of the high school's basketball team, looking more like a wrestler than a cager.
Stefan enrolled at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio but returned to Laconia two years later after his father died. In 1939, he moved to Boston where he worked several jobs while also attending Suffolk Law School. Four months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Stefan enlisted in the U.S. Army and eventually was promoted to lieutenant. He attended the Army's military intelligence school and joined the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, in November of 1943.
The OSS assigned Stefan "to be in charge of operational and intelligence activities in one of the Nazi-occupied Balkan states." That state was Albania, whose native tongue, and more importantly, its Tosk dialect, Stefan had spoken back home in Laconia.
It was no coincidence that the OSS wanted to take advantage of Stefan's language skills since his ultimate mission was to get close to Enver Hoxha, the leader of the Communist partisans and a fellow Tosk speaker.
Stefan worked with Hoxha because the partisans were, for much of the time that Albania was occupied by Nazis and Italian troops, the lone Albanian group that actively fought the invaders.
Nonetheless, Stefan's OSS handlers, Lucas believes, also ordered him to keep an eye on the Balli Kombetar, anti-communist nationalists, and the Legaliteti, hill tribes that supported the return of King Ahmed Zog who fled Albania when the Italians invaded on Good Friday, 1939.
Hoxha and Stefan developed a good relationship, although Hoxha distrusted Westerners in general and despised the British in particular, who, Lucas writes, Hoxha worried were working more against the partisans than the Nazis and Italians.
A sign of Hoxha's esteem for Stefan was that Stefan was one of the few people he allowed to be photographed alone with him. When Tirana, the capital of Albania, was liberated on Nov. 28, 1944, Stefan was front and center with Hoxha in the reviewing stand.
Along the way, there were other characters like Sterling Hayden, a U.S. Marine and film actor and also an OSS man, and Maj. Anthony Quayle, who went on to write a book about his World War II exploits as head of the British Special Operations Executive in Albania.
The Guns of Navarone, a motion picture in which "Quayle played Quayle," said Lucas, was modeled on Seaview, the coastal cave complex where both the British and Americans had camps.
Things began to fall apart for Stefan, as well as the American and British missions in Albania, as Hoxha, perceiving he had been snubbed, increasingly turned to the Soviet Union as a benefactor and began consolidating his power internally. Stefan's contacts with the Balli and Legaliteti in Italy were a liability in his relationship with Hoxha and when Stefan married a Balli woman and smuggled her out of Albania in September 1945, Lucas said the bond was irreparably broken between the men. In 1946, Hoxha sealed Albania's borders and ruled the country for the next 45 years as a Stalinist police state. Meanwhile Stefan and his bride, Lulu Vrioni, came back to the U.S. and settled briefly in Laconia.
Stefan was discharged from the Army in May 1946 with the rank of captain. He had earned the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star and hoped to parlay his experience in Albania into a career with the U.S. State Department. When that did not happen, he took a job at the Veterans Administration, but as Lucas notes, neither Stefan nor his wife was happy.
Stefan began drinking heavily and Lulu left him. Dressed in his increasingly frayed military uniform, which he was legally forbidden to wear since doing so constituted impersonating an officer, Stefan set out on a quixotic cross-country trip to visit his OSS colleagues. Lucas said Stefan got a reputation among the OSS fraternity for passing bad checks; when Stefan died in Los Angeles in 1959, Lucas thinks Stefan was looking to find Hayden, his friend and former drinking buddy.
"It's a very sad ending," said Lucas during a recent interview with The Citizen. "I didn't set out to write a story on Tom Stefan, I started out to write a story about Enver Hoxha."
A resident of Westford, Mass., Lucas is a political reporter who worked for 25 years for the Boston Herald and has been at the Boston Globe for the last three years. He has covered conflicts in Vietnam and Northern Ireland and has met Fidel Castro.
Lucas acknowledged that Albania was a mere blip on the international radar in World War II. Nonetheless, he was curious about Hoxha, and in the course of researching his subject, he ran across a photo from the Tirana liberation and was struck to see Stefan in it.
"And that set off a bell. I didn't think Americans were there," said Lucas, who then began to track down Stefan, eventually ending up at the Laconia Public Library where he found Stefan's obituary in the Sept. 10, 1959 edition of the Laconia Evening Citizen. Later, he located Stefan's grave at Union Cemetery. The marker indicates that Stefan was a major when he died, although Lucas could verify only his promotion to captain.
"I think Tom promoted himself. He should be a major," and maybe a posthumous movie star, too, said Lucas, who has begun writing a screenplay about Stefan for Stan Dragoti, the director of films including Necessary Roughness, The Man with One Red Shoe, Mr. Mom and Love at First Bite.
Of Albanian descent, Dragoti is very interested in the Tom Stefan story.
"He read the book, he likes the book, he wants to do a movie," Lucas said of Dragoti who plans on shooting some scenes in Albania.
Lucas said the movie would tell the tale of "Tom Stefan, the young, naive American OSS officer in Albania, who is probably in over his head dealing with Enver Hoxha" and about Hoxha's resentment of their "older brother, younger brother relationship." Hoxha was about ten years older than Stefan, said Lucas, and having been educated in France, was much more worldly.
In the movie, Lucas continues, Stefan gets "key intelligence for the Allies" while eluding Nazi patrols, and arrives victorious in Tirana where he meets and marries a woman who is Hoxha's sworn enemy.
The ending of the movie is still up in the air, Lucas said.
"If you have a good idea, let me know."
Even though Lucas is willing to entertain the thought of some artistic license with Stefan's life in the movie, he also wants to maintain as much fact as possible.
When Dragoti suggested that Brad Pitt could play Hayden, Lucas shot the suggestion down.
"Too short," he recalled telling Dragoti, because Hayden stood in at an imposing 6 feet 5 inches tall. Hayden was a Hollywood leading man in westerns and film noir and portrayed Gen. Jack D. Ripper in "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
Like Stefan, Hayden had a colorful war record. He ran guns and agents from Italy to Albania and also served in Yugoslavia. Impressed by the partisans he worked with, Hayden later joined the Communist Party, albeit briefly. He eventually "named names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee. 
"The OSS in World War II Albania/Covert Operations and Collaboration with Communist Partisans" opens a window on a little-known chapter in America's World War II history, said Lucas, and also represents what may be the first opportunity for many Albanians to learn about it, too, since Hoxha in his official account of the war expunged references to the American effort in his country.
In the end, "the United States helped the communist government come to power in Albania and later walked away from it," said Lucas, who offered the following theory for that action: "We didn't want to acknowledge the fact that we were responsible for this mean little communist tyrant (Hoxha) taking over a country."
At the time, however, it was a "no-brainer" for the OSS to be supporting the partisans, he said, because they tied up Nazi divisions that could have been deployed against the Allied invasion of Italy.
Tom Stefan helped in the takeover of Albania, but overall, "it was probably not worth the investment for this country to make" Lucas summed up, noting that Albania eventually righted itself and is now very pro-American.
Tom Stefan shouldn't be forgotten, he said, and in fact should be celebrated.
"I hope Tom gets the recognition that I think he deserves now," said Lucas, "I think he deserves a little better than he got."
(Adapted from "The citizen of Laconia")
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                    [post_content] => "Albania possesses an enormous wealth in photographic materials, unique to the Balkans, but despite this Albania does not exist in the world history of photography. Not a single reference, not a single name to indicate how many talented photographers this country has had over the years. Not even the unprecedented dynasty of the Marubi family ranks alongside the big names of universal photography." This is the conclusion two French researchers have drawn Lolc Chauvin and Christian Raby, who will keep their exhibition open until 10 June. Their exhibition is called "Historical View of Albanian Photography," which has opened at the National Gallery of Arts. At this Albanian photography exhibition, there are not just exhibits from the Marubi collection, but by other photographer-artists as well, such as Mio, Sotiri, Xhimitiku etc. The exhibition was organized by the researchers themselves Chauvin and Raby, helped by "Albimazh". The National Gallery of Arts also supported this interesting project to exhibit Albanian photographs of the forties', as well as other central and national institutions such as the Ministry of  Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports, the State Archives, the Museum of National History, the Marubi Photo Center and the families of the artists. The majority of the sixty photographs on display have never been shown in public before.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 6 - Interior Minister Bujar Nishani said that Albanians would be equipped with new digital identity cards next year.
The lack of IDs has been a continuous problem, which has mainly affected the ability to conduct fair elections in post-communist Albania.
The government said they would seek international bids for the production of digital IDs and passports for all Albanians, with plans for the process to be concluded by autumn 2008.
This has been a long-made promise by all governments in the country.
But this also means that the country should compile a correct civil registry, which it lacks, following the migration of large number of Albanians from the poorest areas of the country into the cities.
Opposition lawmakers were doubtful that this pledge would be respected by the government. They said that from the start, the amount of money allocated for the project, some 2 billion leks, was not enough.
                    [post_title] =>  Albanians to receive new ID cards next year, says minister 
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                    [post_content] => Last week, Prime Minister Berisha donated several valuable volumes from his personal library to the National Library, two of which are worth 15.000 Euro. "This treasure was immediately registered as part of the fund of antique possessions of the library," stated the Director Aurel Plasari. Amongst other volumes there is a book of Scenderbeg by the French author Lavardin, another by Marin Barleti, again on the Albanian National Hero and a third by Paganeli, these volumes date back to the years 1500-1600. Plasari says that the volume on Skenderbeg by Jacques de Lavardin could be worth between 10-15 thousand Euro, based on the current market rate for very rare books, which is certainly the category of the ancient volume on Skenderbeg of the year 1604. Although Albania lacks the expertise to accurately assess the value of such rare volumes, Plasari said that an approximate value can be made relying on current market rates, in the same manner Marin Barleti's volume in Italian which dates back to 1568 could also be worth up to several thousands of Euros, although it exists translated into several languages, chiefly translated from the Italian version. A little less valuable because it dates back to the year 1830 and is not classified as an antiquity if "Skenderbeu" by Camille Paganel, which is interesting, Plasari says because it has been translated into the Hungarian, and as such, it is a unique edition. It appears that its public translated into this language is linked with the heroic participation of Hunyadi in the battles of the Turks in the XV Century. Plasari stated that for a precise evaluation of these three volumes, the expert opinion of the antique book dealers of Europe must be acquired. The National Library has not had funds for a long time now to expand its fund of rare volumes. Plasari was optimistic that perhaps this example set by the Prime Minister could encourage other possessors of valuable books to donate them to the National Library.
                    [post_title] =>  The Prime Minister hands his treasure over to the National Library 
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                    [post_content] => In the context of the cultural agreements between the Academy of Sciences of Albania and the University of the Oriental Studies of Naples, the publication has finally been realized of the Dialectological Dictionary of Albanian, a magnificent work, directed by the Institute of Linguistics and Literature in Tirana.
The promotion of a research project on a dialectological dictionary of the Albanian Language is the merit of Professor Mateo Bartoli (1929); later on it was followed by Professor Carlo Taliavini (1940) and was continued by Professor Eqerem Cabej, who formulated the questionnaire on the matrix of the atlases by S. Xhileron and Bartoli himself. This cultural document was realized, from the practical viewpoint, by the Institute of Linguistics and Literature of Tirana and was further developed, beginning in 1970 up until 1990, in the process of the difficult, but beneficial work over two decades. The crisis of the nineties' did not offer possibilities for publication in Albania, and on the suggestion of Professor Romano Lazeron, at that time the President of the Research Commission, the Oriental University of Naples, the CNR sponsored the editorials, including this in the agreement of cooperation between the two institutions, and in this manner, ensuring the initial support of the CNR itself.
This publication was made possible by the Oriental University of Naples and specifically by the Department of East European Studies, which apart from financial contributions, invested energy and devotion. The Region of Campagna, the Zone of the Co-ordination of Social Activities and historical, cultural and folklore heritage of the Albanian-speaking Community, the Commune of Greci in Avellino Province, Italy.
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                    [post_content] => The last day of the week of the Albanian Film organized in Athens, screened the film, "Letters on the Wind," by the Albanian film producer, Edmond Budina. The film shows one side of the reality of the Albanians living in emigration, where the fate of individuals is woven out in some of the most absurd games. The other film screened was the cartoon, "Les Fauves," by artist Stefan Taci. This was followed by "Liberty" produced by Saimir Kumbaro.
The Week of the Albanian Film in Athens had a major impact on Greek film producers. One of these producers, Janis Lliopulos, the Director of the Cinematography Center in Greece, said that this film festival was most important. "If I had my doubts before about working with the Albanians in the industry, I actually verified that to work with them is very favourable and farsighted. This was the first step towards a new epoch of cooperation between our two peoples because we have so many things in common. I saw that the Albanians are great art lovers and hard working," the reek producer said.
                    [post_title] =>  The Week of the Albanian Film in Athens, closed  
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June.4- The ballet, " Dead River ", will be reenacted at the Theater of Opera and Ballet, 25 years after the well-known master, Cek Zadeja, gave life to the book of Jakov Xoxe which was censured under the communist dictatorship. This work combines the characteristic dances of Albania in their majestic diversity from the Myzeqeja field to the Kosovo high plains. 
The new ballet troupe of Albania will stage the work to honor the 80th birthday of the master. 
Director Bujar Llapaj, choreographer Agron Aliaj, scene designer Taulant Pustina, and music composer Gjon Simoni have prepared the dancers, who include:  Ezdalin Gorani, Erisa Gina, Ledian Agalliaj, Manjola Hasani, Evis Nallbani, and Dion Gjinika. 
The banned love story 
Vita and Adili, two youngsters living in a village in the south, fall in love, thus breaking all taboos of their locality, as well as taboos of religion and social class difference, and challenging all establishments withVita coming from the Myzeqeja plain and Adili has emigrated from Kosovo. 

                    [post_title] =>  Ballet 'Dead River' to be staged in honor of Cesk Zadeja 
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                    [post_date] => 2007-06-06 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => Marubi in VeniceVENICE, June.7 -  A special selection of photographs of the Marubi collection will be presented in an artistic series at the Venice Biennale. This is an important project of the National Art Gallery of Albania, coordinated by Rubens Shima and Riccardo Caldura, called "Atelier Albania - Ritratto di un paese nelle immagini della Fototeca Marubi". The exhibition was opened at the Cultural Center "Cardiani" and will last till June 15. 
The scope of the Marubi photographs is striking and, placed in its historical context, portrays the roots of artistic endeavors in Albania. Rediscovering the Marubi tradition has been an inspiration to many artists, and for the first time was seen in video-art by Anri Sala "Dꫥuner avec Marubi" (1997). The collection of negatives is extremely important for Albanian art in general, and for Balkan art in providing a historical perspective. It is considered a collection valued as part of our world heritage. The original glass plaques are safeguarded in Albania and have been registered electronically. The founder was Pietro Marubi, a pioneer of world photography and a participant in the regiment of Garibaldi. He was forced to leave Italy in the mid-1850 and was hiding in the city of Shkodra where he created his atelier. He changed his name to the more common Pjet철and, after his death in 1940, his work was carried on by his collaborators, Mati and Kel Kodheli. After the premature death of Mati, Kel Kodheli made the archive well known and began to receive offers form the Montenegrin royal court for portraits and group photos. The business was inherited by his son, Gege, who studied in the 1920's in Paris near the Lumiere brothers. He receives many prizes and closed the studio only after the creation of the Communist regime in 1944. In 1974. Geg롍arubi left the entire archive to the Albanian state.
                    [post_title] =>  Venice Biennale to host viewing of Marubi collection 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June.5 - Despite rumors in Tirana that the icon music group, the Rolling Stones, were to perform in Albania this summer, the group will not be coming to Albania. Instead, the concert will be in neighboring Montenegro, in the beautiful tourist destination of Budva. No fewer than 10.000 tickets have been sold in Albania for people who are going to travel north in order to enjoy these legends of rock music.  The agency, "Music Star", will bring the Rolling Stones to Jaz beach on June 9, while the city is preparing to allocate parking space to those attending the concert. The demand for tickets has been incredibly high. Organizers Ivan Ivackovic, handling public relations for the Rolling Stones in Belgrade and Budva, Raka Maric, owner of "Music Star" and Dejan Maksimovic, director of the firm, have explained that the intense interest in the concert has resulted in 10.000 Albanians buy tickets so far, while 8000 have been sold in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, another popular tourist pot.  Considering the ticket price of 100 euros, which is high for students and young fans, the concert organizers have said they will begin offering tickets for half price given the high demand which has exceeded their investment. Offiials said the final 2,000 tickets will be sold for 34 euros. 
The VIP ticket, which includes a parking space and a reserved spot on the beach where the concert will be held, costs 500 euros. The group will first visit Montenegro and relax in its tourist sites for two days and have a 2.5000 m2 space to themselves on the beach, before their fans arrive. 
The miracle
According to Maksimovic, the concert is a technological and biological miracle because of the high technology used in the concert and given the combined age of the group, which is 250 years, though their performance and energy can match those of 18 year old passionate singers. This is the first visit of the group to Montenegro and their concert is expected to stimulate the tourism industry there.
                    [post_title] =>  10.000 Albanians buy tickets for Budva Rolling Stones concert 
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                    [post_date] => 2007-06-01 02:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-06-01 02:00:00
                    [post_content] => SHKODRA, May.30- The Greek ambassador in Albania, HE Konstantinos Kokossis, visited the local governmental offices in Shkodra to become more familiar with economic investment opportunities in the northern district. 
During this visit, Kokossis was accompanied by the economic secretary of the embassy, Panagiotis Zaragas. Discussions with the mayor of Shkodra, Lorenc Luka, focused on the work of the local agovernment to create a strategy for the economic development of Shkodra. 

Investment opportunities
Luka spoke to the ambassador about the many natural resources within Shkodra, such as its rivers, the lake, tourist sites such as the castle, its proximity to the border and to the sea. More work is being done to attract foreign investors and it was stressed that the new projects in the industrial park in the Koplik area are focused on addressing the unemployment issue. Given these resources, the mayor asked the ambassador to use his influence on Greek investors to consider Shkodra as a potential investment site. 
Kokossis has talked about the new interest within Greece to shift investments from the public sphere, where it has financed projects in education and infrastructure, to the private one where businessmen have expressed their interest. Already, the public investment by the Greek government has renovated a school in the area of Ana e Malit, and also financed a small generators for the aqueduct. "The Greek government has in its projects a development program of 1.5 million euro, which will include the area of Porto Romano and Shkodra," Kokossis said. The Greek ambassador expressed his confidence that soon Shkodra will experience a boom of Greek investment as he said he would return for another visit.
                    [post_title] =>  Greek ambassador speaks of investment interest in Shkodra 
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            [post_date] => 2007-06-15 02:00:00
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            [post_content] => Almost 50 years since his death, Laconia native Thomas Eftim Stefan might finally get credit for helping free Albania during World War II from the Axis powers while working with the forerunner of today's Central Intelligence Agency.
And, if Peter Lucas has his way, Stefan, who appeared to have a golden future ahead of him after graduating from Laconia High School in 1936, may have in death what he couldn't have in life: a happy Hollywood ending.
In fact, Stefan's life story, as told by Lucas in "The OSS in World War II Albania/Covert Operations and Collaboration with Communist Partisans" (to be released by McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers in July) ends very badly on Sept. 6, 1959 on a sidewalk in Tinseltown, where Stefan collapsed and died poor, unknown, far from home, and alienated from his wartime comrades.
Born in Laconia on March 21, 1917 to Eftim and Emma Stefan נAlbanian immigrants who came to Boston in the early 1900s from Korce, Albania and who then moved to Laconia נTom Stefan, as he was known, was the eldest of four children. He had three sisters, Ethel, Dorothy and Mary.
According to city directories, the Stefan family operated a grocery store from 1916 to 1939, first at 744 Union Ave. in Lakeport (now the home of G-spot Music and Clothing), and later at 610 Union Ave. where the Cantin auto dealership has a used vehicle lot.
At Laconia High School, Tom Stefan was a big man on campus.
In the school's Class Annual 1936, Stefan lists his life's ambition "to enter the consular service or law." Judging by his biography, he had the skill set for either.
A four-year member of the National Honor Society, student council and International Friendship Club, Stefan was the epitome of a student athlete, having played football, basketball, baseball and tennis at Laconia High.
His official high school yearbook photo shows a handsome young man with dark, intense features, while in another picture, he stands with the senior members of the high school's basketball team, looking more like a wrestler than a cager.
Stefan enrolled at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio but returned to Laconia two years later after his father died. In 1939, he moved to Boston where he worked several jobs while also attending Suffolk Law School. Four months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Stefan enlisted in the U.S. Army and eventually was promoted to lieutenant. He attended the Army's military intelligence school and joined the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, in November of 1943.
The OSS assigned Stefan "to be in charge of operational and intelligence activities in one of the Nazi-occupied Balkan states." That state was Albania, whose native tongue, and more importantly, its Tosk dialect, Stefan had spoken back home in Laconia.
It was no coincidence that the OSS wanted to take advantage of Stefan's language skills since his ultimate mission was to get close to Enver Hoxha, the leader of the Communist partisans and a fellow Tosk speaker.
Stefan worked with Hoxha because the partisans were, for much of the time that Albania was occupied by Nazis and Italian troops, the lone Albanian group that actively fought the invaders.
Nonetheless, Stefan's OSS handlers, Lucas believes, also ordered him to keep an eye on the Balli Kombetar, anti-communist nationalists, and the Legaliteti, hill tribes that supported the return of King Ahmed Zog who fled Albania when the Italians invaded on Good Friday, 1939.
Hoxha and Stefan developed a good relationship, although Hoxha distrusted Westerners in general and despised the British in particular, who, Lucas writes, Hoxha worried were working more against the partisans than the Nazis and Italians.
A sign of Hoxha's esteem for Stefan was that Stefan was one of the few people he allowed to be photographed alone with him. When Tirana, the capital of Albania, was liberated on Nov. 28, 1944, Stefan was front and center with Hoxha in the reviewing stand.
Along the way, there were other characters like Sterling Hayden, a U.S. Marine and film actor and also an OSS man, and Maj. Anthony Quayle, who went on to write a book about his World War II exploits as head of the British Special Operations Executive in Albania.
The Guns of Navarone, a motion picture in which "Quayle played Quayle," said Lucas, was modeled on Seaview, the coastal cave complex where both the British and Americans had camps.
Things began to fall apart for Stefan, as well as the American and British missions in Albania, as Hoxha, perceiving he had been snubbed, increasingly turned to the Soviet Union as a benefactor and began consolidating his power internally. Stefan's contacts with the Balli and Legaliteti in Italy were a liability in his relationship with Hoxha and when Stefan married a Balli woman and smuggled her out of Albania in September 1945, Lucas said the bond was irreparably broken between the men. In 1946, Hoxha sealed Albania's borders and ruled the country for the next 45 years as a Stalinist police state. Meanwhile Stefan and his bride, Lulu Vrioni, came back to the U.S. and settled briefly in Laconia.
Stefan was discharged from the Army in May 1946 with the rank of captain. He had earned the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star and hoped to parlay his experience in Albania into a career with the U.S. State Department. When that did not happen, he took a job at the Veterans Administration, but as Lucas notes, neither Stefan nor his wife was happy.
Stefan began drinking heavily and Lulu left him. Dressed in his increasingly frayed military uniform, which he was legally forbidden to wear since doing so constituted impersonating an officer, Stefan set out on a quixotic cross-country trip to visit his OSS colleagues. Lucas said Stefan got a reputation among the OSS fraternity for passing bad checks; when Stefan died in Los Angeles in 1959, Lucas thinks Stefan was looking to find Hayden, his friend and former drinking buddy.
"It's a very sad ending," said Lucas during a recent interview with The Citizen. "I didn't set out to write a story on Tom Stefan, I started out to write a story about Enver Hoxha."
A resident of Westford, Mass., Lucas is a political reporter who worked for 25 years for the Boston Herald and has been at the Boston Globe for the last three years. He has covered conflicts in Vietnam and Northern Ireland and has met Fidel Castro.
Lucas acknowledged that Albania was a mere blip on the international radar in World War II. Nonetheless, he was curious about Hoxha, and in the course of researching his subject, he ran across a photo from the Tirana liberation and was struck to see Stefan in it.
"And that set off a bell. I didn't think Americans were there," said Lucas, who then began to track down Stefan, eventually ending up at the Laconia Public Library where he found Stefan's obituary in the Sept. 10, 1959 edition of the Laconia Evening Citizen. Later, he located Stefan's grave at Union Cemetery. The marker indicates that Stefan was a major when he died, although Lucas could verify only his promotion to captain.
"I think Tom promoted himself. He should be a major," and maybe a posthumous movie star, too, said Lucas, who has begun writing a screenplay about Stefan for Stan Dragoti, the director of films including Necessary Roughness, The Man with One Red Shoe, Mr. Mom and Love at First Bite.
Of Albanian descent, Dragoti is very interested in the Tom Stefan story.
"He read the book, he likes the book, he wants to do a movie," Lucas said of Dragoti who plans on shooting some scenes in Albania.
Lucas said the movie would tell the tale of "Tom Stefan, the young, naive American OSS officer in Albania, who is probably in over his head dealing with Enver Hoxha" and about Hoxha's resentment of their "older brother, younger brother relationship." Hoxha was about ten years older than Stefan, said Lucas, and having been educated in France, was much more worldly.
In the movie, Lucas continues, Stefan gets "key intelligence for the Allies" while eluding Nazi patrols, and arrives victorious in Tirana where he meets and marries a woman who is Hoxha's sworn enemy.
The ending of the movie is still up in the air, Lucas said.
"If you have a good idea, let me know."
Even though Lucas is willing to entertain the thought of some artistic license with Stefan's life in the movie, he also wants to maintain as much fact as possible.
When Dragoti suggested that Brad Pitt could play Hayden, Lucas shot the suggestion down.
"Too short," he recalled telling Dragoti, because Hayden stood in at an imposing 6 feet 5 inches tall. Hayden was a Hollywood leading man in westerns and film noir and portrayed Gen. Jack D. Ripper in "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
Like Stefan, Hayden had a colorful war record. He ran guns and agents from Italy to Albania and also served in Yugoslavia. Impressed by the partisans he worked with, Hayden later joined the Communist Party, albeit briefly. He eventually "named names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee. 
"The OSS in World War II Albania/Covert Operations and Collaboration with Communist Partisans" opens a window on a little-known chapter in America's World War II history, said Lucas, and also represents what may be the first opportunity for many Albanians to learn about it, too, since Hoxha in his official account of the war expunged references to the American effort in his country.
In the end, "the United States helped the communist government come to power in Albania and later walked away from it," said Lucas, who offered the following theory for that action: "We didn't want to acknowledge the fact that we were responsible for this mean little communist tyrant (Hoxha) taking over a country."
At the time, however, it was a "no-brainer" for the OSS to be supporting the partisans, he said, because they tied up Nazi divisions that could have been deployed against the Allied invasion of Italy.
Tom Stefan helped in the takeover of Albania, but overall, "it was probably not worth the investment for this country to make" Lucas summed up, noting that Albania eventually righted itself and is now very pro-American.
Tom Stefan shouldn't be forgotten, he said, and in fact should be celebrated.
"I hope Tom gets the recognition that I think he deserves now," said Lucas, "I think he deserves a little better than he got."
(Adapted from "The citizen of Laconia")
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