New president

Here’s a photo from the January 14 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of the newly-elected president of Albania.

The new president had been born Ahmed Muhtar bey Zogolli in 1895 and changed his name to Ahmet Zogu in 1922, since this sounded more Albanian. When elected president, he was given dictatorial powers, but in 1928 decided to go one better and proclaim himself King Zog I of Albania.

As president and monarch, he helped unify Albania into a single country but turned it into a police state where political opponents were imprisoned and killed. About 600 blood feuds existed against the king, including one with the father of his former betrothed; he reportedly survived more than 55 assassination attempts. He formed a close alliance with Mussolini’s Italy, which rewarded him by invading Albania in 1939. The king fled to France, England, and eventually Egypt, taking most of the country’s gold with him.

King Zog reportedly smoked about 200 cigarettes a day, which quite probably shortened his lifespan. He died in France in 1961 at the age of 65.

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