Historian Skender Rizaj dies

3 min read

Well-known historian Skender Rizaj died today.
The news of the death was announced by his nephew Arion Rizaj through a Facebook post.

“Rest in peace, Grandpa! Close your eyes on November 28, for Flag Day! You dedicated your whole life to the history of the Albanian cause and on a historic day you passed away! We are proud of you! ”, Wrote Arion Rizaj.

"The funeral will take place tomorrow (Monday) at 12.00 at the city cemetery in the Arbëria neighborhood. "Because of the pandemic situation, we will not see you."

Skender Rizaj was born in Peja on March 14, 1930. During the years 1941-1945 he completed the primary school and the semi-graduation school in Peja, while during the years 1946-1947 in Prizren the Normal school with two Pedagogical courses.

As a student of the Normal School, he engaged in the illegal patriotic movement, as part of the organization "Besa Kombëtare", for which in 1946 he was sentenced to one year in prison by the then Yugoslav regime.

He started his educational-pedagogical career as a teacher in Peja and the surrounding area (1948-1952) and then as a professor at the gymnasium of Peja (1956-1961). At the University of Skopje he completed his regular studies at the Faculty of Philosophy - Department of History (1956) while at the University of Sarajevo he completed his postgraduate studies where he defended his doctoral dissertation (1965) on mining in Kosovo and neighboring areas in the XV centuries. XVII. At that time he was the first doctor of historical sciences in Kosovo.

He started his scientific and university work in the Kosovo Archive (1961-63) to continue at the Faculty of Philosophy in Prishtina - Department of History (1965-1987). He was one of the first founders of the Department of History with teaching in Albanian language at the Faculty of Philosophy in Prishtina, as well as one of the initiators of launching administrative procedures for the establishment of the University of Prishtina. He excelled as a teacher and lecturer to many generations of historians. Due to his publishing activity that did not correspond to the concepts of Serbian historiography on Serbian-Albanian relations, he retired prematurely by order of the then regime (1987).

During his professional career he conducted systematic scientific research in archives and libraries of the former Yugoslavia, Albania, Italy, Germany, Turkey and England. As a long-experienced Ottoman scholar, he was hired in 1989-1990 by the General Directorate of State Archives of the Turkish Government (Başbakanlık Arşivi), as a specialist advisor to that archive.

He participated with lectures and presentations in many national and international congresses and conferences. He was the author of over 300 scientific papers and dozens of monographic publications published in Albanian, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Slovenian, English, Turkish, Italian, German and Arabic.

He was the laureate of a series of recognitions and awards, in honor of scientific and patriotic activity.

Professor Skender Rizaj was distinguished as a personality by his strong professional and moral integrity. Despite the many life challenges he faced, especially in the political field, he never knelt before the daily policies of the regime, fighting persistently in the scientific interpretation of Albanian history and the sublime demand for Albanian national unity. As a personality, he was distinguished by his imposing modesty both in the way of life and in the communication with his compatriots wherever he met them. Therefore, the legacy he left to his family was that after his death, his last funeral be done in the most modest way, without ceremonial and only with a friendly homage in the cemetery, reports Telegrafi.