Memorie.al publishes some parts of the voluminous autobiographical book in manuscript “Beautiful land, ugly people” (memories from hell) by the author, Kasem Hoxha, originally from the village of Markat in Saranda and living in the USA since 1985, when he fled Albania after suffering ten years in the prisons of Enver Hoxha’s communist regime. The whole sad and painful story of Kaso Hoxha, from the life and hard work in his village in the southernmost part of the country, the dissatisfaction with the regime and the first poems of a political nature, how they fell into the hands of the State Security and who were his relatives who spied on him, the arrest in the office of the Chairman of the People’s Council of Markat village, by the State Security on June 21, 1973, the investigation in the Saranda Branch of Internal Affairs, the trial against him and the sentence with 10 years in prison for “agitation and propaganda”, staying in “Kaushin” of Tirana (Ward 313), and the prisoners he found there, being sent to Spaç and working in that camp with criminal and “soft” police officers, the accomplices of description of their “portraits” with positive and negative sides, release from prison and return to the countryside, escape to Greece and stay in the Lavros camp, gaining political asylum in the USA, correspondence with Amnesty International, e London branch, inf information with the data he sent to the prisoners of Spaç and the communist regime in Albania, to the creation of a new family and life and work in that distant place with the Cham community divided by the intrigues of the people of the State Security from Albania operating there.
Excerpts from the manuscript book, “Beautiful land, ugly people“, (memories from hell) of the author, Kasem Hoxha, sent by him exclusively for Memorie.al
Do not pay attention to the title I am presenting to you, I mean, if you are not patient to read this collection of memoirs, if you want to forgive the author, that his style is pale, uninspired before this drama of great, of my people, of my martyred nation.
My characters are not created by my imagination, but are real people, they are your brothers, your fathers, your relatives. The events are not fictional, but real and lived. You will convince yourself, only after reading this summary with memories. You will find something from your life, something real from the lives of your fathers, your mothers, your brothers, how they suffered and how they died.
I wrote this collection of memories about the legacy left to me by my friends, for the world to learn the truth, how innocent people were tortured, how they suffered, how they died, in the camps and prisons of the executioner, Enver Hoxha!
I go with the hope that any reader, Albanian or foreign, is not left with hatred, from criticism, beating opposing opinions, as it is the best way to find the truth. The title of the book, “Beautiful land, ugly people”, will anger the reader, but in the end, I will conclude that I have the right to call it “The 45-year era of the satanic communist regime of Enver Hoxha”: Ugly.
I, alas, for the misfortune I had, saw and lived the great drama that happened before my eyes. I am neither a poet nor a orator, I will need hard work to escape the literary mistakes in this historical book, which can inspire future poets and writers, on the tragedy of our time, of the darkest time of my nation !
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all freedom and peace…!
Llavrio, Greece 1985
Continued from the previous issue
Arriving in Saranda after 16 hours of travel, but we had nowhere to sleep!
Most of the released prisoners had relatives in Saranda and left. So, Stefan Pando and I were left without a hotel. It took us a while to find the hotel and when I got inside, I was holding a bag with some piles of old luggage! Many people were waiting in the corridor, hoping that the hotelier would not give them a place.
I approached the counter and while I was not looking for anything, he said to me: “Do not bother to ask in vain, the seats are occupied”!
People were impressed by our arrival, as we looked like ordinary people, maybe because they were badly dressed, maybe because our clothes were unwashed and also because we were unshaven!
We left the Hotel and made our way back to the Home Affairs Branch.
In the corridor of the Branch, in the office of the service officer, there were many other military men who were wondering what to do at that late hour!
“The hotel has no place,” I told him.
– “Go to Tourism”, he answered us seriously.
“Tourism is expensive and it does not accept unwashed people with lice,” I replied, pointing to my condition.
“Well, what can we do, you do not have any relatives here in Saranda”, the officer asked to appear.
“No, I do not know anyone” and after thinking for a while I continued: “It is possible to leave me a dungeon, enough to wake up this cold rainy night”, I asked him.
– “Oh… no! Not allowed. “You are a free citizen,” said the officer.
“Where can I wake up tonight?” I asked.
Another officer intervened in the conversation.
– “But you should not sleep at all tonight out of joy, you have been released after so many years, you are afraid of a night that will pass without sleep” ?! added the service officer.
– “What did you say … do you know what prison means, or have you only heard its name. “Prison means to tire you, to weaken you, to make you sick, to exhaust you physically and spiritually.”
“Ooo, as far as I can see, you are very scared of prison,” he replied with contempt.
– “No, sir, but I’m telling you to know what prison is. “You see it from the outside, and you do not know what is inside,” I replied, irritated by his ridicule.
“Get in this covered car, get up as you get up tonight,” said the officer, who was looking for a solution to my problem.
– “As you said, … you want to die today that I gained freedom after 10 years. “I am tired from the road, I have been traveling in the rain for 16 hours, I am wet, I am sick.”
“Then if you are sick, go to the hospital,” the officer replied, apologizing.
Guest at Saranda Hospital, where I was received as no better!
I had a fever and a fever, as my chronic lung disease was exacerbated by the cold.
“Where is the hospital?” I asked, as I liked that advice, adding to my hope that they would not lay me down to relax and dry my dried gums.
“Go straight on this road, it is not far,” he said.
It was midnight and there was no traffic on the road. After 10 minutes I reached the door of the hospital where the door slammed, I glanced inside the building. No movement, everyone was asleep and there was an absolute calm. I knocked on the door with a little shyness, but no one was there! I waited a little and knocked a little harder for someone to hear, but again silence. I knocked again and this time a young girl, dressed in a nurse uniform, approached the gate.
Noticed who was behind the gate, as the darkness of the night made it difficult for the nurse to discern who it was! I approached closer to the glass to look at me. She trembled when she saw my face, unshaven and scared and disappeared into the hospital corridor! I lost hope thinking that even this door did not open for me! Meanwhile, when I turned my back to leave, the door opened and a man’s voice asked:
-“Who are you”?
I turned back, approaching the door.
“I’m sorry to disturb you in this late hour,” I said to the man in a white uniform.
He, astonished by this guest since his unusual appearance, wet porridge, with torn clothes, made curious, asked me again.
– “What do you want here, where are you from”?!
“I am sick, sir, I come from Spaç Prison,” I replied to assure him that I had no ill intentions. He invited me inside and I followed him down the long corridor. He took me to his office, as he seemed to be the night’s doctor. He offered me a chair to sit on and I put the bag I had in my hand in the corner of the office and sat in the chair.
– “You are wet”, the doctor asked me, a tall man, not very fat, middle-aged.
“I was traveling for 16 hours with a car discovered, and my tongue is wet,” I replied.
“But the worst thing is that I have a fever,” I continued. The doctor saw how miserable I was. Meanwhile, two nurses approached the doctor’s office. He was told that the newly arrived patient came from Spaç Prison and ordered the nurses to check my temperature. The nurse picked up my soaked clothes and put the thermometer under my armpit. After a minute he pulled it out and read 39 and a half!
Smiley, the human doctor who treated me like I had a brother!
The astonished doctor said, “You are really sick when the fever started,” he asked to learn something from my health history. The nurses noticed me with curiosity and in their facial expression, they showed regret.
– “Doctor, I suffer from a chronic bronchitis, the prognosis is not good and as far as I understand, we may be dealing with a possible bronchiectasis. Every time I get cold, the condition gets worse. “I have been treated several times in the hospital, but the ‘worm’ has entered and sooner or later it will eat the head of its victim,” I concluded.
“No, you are young, do not be pessimistic,” the doctor comforted me. He ordered the nurses to bring me some warm soup while he listened to me with a stethoscope infected lung. He gave me a morphine injection to calm me down and gave me a dose of antibiotic along with some vitamins.
They took me to a single room to make sure I did not have any infectious diseases. They gave me hospital clothes and I took a warm bath. I felt better and lay down on the warm bed. Although feverish, I fell into a deep sleep.
I do not know what time it was when I saw a nurse who was at the head of my bed. She woke me up and, to blame me, said in a low voice, “Excuse me for waking you up!”
“Nothing,” I replied. She held a plate in her hand and prayed and asked me: “Do you have an appetite, I brought you some home-baked fish from the oven”, said the nurse who surprised me with her generosity. Meanwhile, the news inside the hospital was like lightning: a prisoner has come from Spaç!
The nurse, the sister of my co-sufferer, Spiro Nasho
The shy nurse asked me again: “Do not know Spiro Nasho, … I am his sister”, said the nurse through sighs.
“Yes, sister, I knew him, my friend Spiro Nasho and Dhimitër Nini, both from Saranda, but unfortunately I believe you know. “Spirua was convicted again in the May 1973 Revolt,” I told her, assuring her that I knew her brother. She left unnoticed talking to an “enemy of the people” as the class struggle continued.
They did some blood tests and x-rays to make sure I did not have any contagious disease. All the hospital staff visited me out of curiosity. Dr. Smiley put me on treatment with antibiotics, vitamins, and good food to normalize my health. I prayed to the nurse who served me, if it was possible to inform my family in the village, that I was hospitalized. She promised me that they would call Markat. I knew that my family, mothers, sisters, granddaughters, grandchildren, my daughters, were waiting for me and had become worried. It was not long before the nurse returned to the room where I was hospitalized and she informed me that my middle sister, Vitua, was on the phone and wanted to talk to me. She asked me if it was possible for me to get up and go down to the hospital headquarters.
I was very happy, ran down the stairs, and entered the office. Dr. Smiley, and some nurses were inside.
– “Your sister Vitua is on the phone”, the doctor tells me and extended my phone.
– “Hello, who are you”, I asked the person on the other end of the phone.
“I am Vitua, to sacrifice them, I will come with Belen,” she said, mentioning the name of her son, who was 12 when I was arrested. He loved me very much, but I loved him even more and he came every night to sleep with my grandmother. Now he had become a man, and was serving in the army in the Saranda Leather.
My sisters’ visit to Saranda Hospital
I had nothing to say on the phone. I told him I was alive and moreover we would talk tomorrow. I hung up the phone quietly because everyone knew I was in Saranda hospital. All the hospital staff showed care for me, as if I were an important person and not an “enemy of the people”.
The next day Sister Vito came. I had seen him for 10 years, behind her stood a boy wearing a soldier uniform. She threw her arms around me and kissed me and cried. I cried too. I do not know how long we remained embraced! I was heartbroken and do not remember meeting the soldier, Belen, who was my beloved nephew.
I parted with my sister, assuring her that by the end of the week I would be coming home. The next day Idriz Hoxha, my second cousin, came to see me. I was sitting on the balcony of the fourth floor, to get some fresh air, when I looked down on the elderly man in the hospital yard, with a bag of oranges, shouting: “O Kaçi, o Kaçi”. “!
I had almost forgotten this name and suddenly I remembered that only he called me that.
“Where are you, Ceço?” I replied. I knew him by heart because he had a large family: 5 daughters and two sons. He suffered a lot to raise them, and now the youngest was 14 years old. Idrizi came up in my room and we hugged longingly.I asked him about all the family members.Idrizi was old prematurely, as they do not tell jokes to raise 7 children!
He had no knowledge that I knew, that all the villagers with bad biographies, under the pressure of the State Security organs, had been put at their service! Even famil’s family members! These were the well-known tactics of the communist regime, throwing them against each other. These poor people did not know that my mother informed what I… said, with V…, and they both informed what H… said, with M…, and so did the whole village! This was told to me by the dictator’s officers after they were imprisoned, after the fall of Kadri Hazbi, Feçor Shehu, etc.
Finally, after a week, Dr. Smiley told me I could go home and continue the treatment there. I felt a little better physically, packed my things, and thanked the nurses for all the care shown to me. I went to the Home Affairs Branch, where I asked for a document to travel south. There are a border area and the police stopped all trucks at the Bistrica bridge and the Bogaz bridge.
The officer on duty told me that I had to get a passport. He instructed me on where to go, to an office where I had to make a request and two pictures. The clerk of that office told me: “After two weeks, we will send the passport to the village” and gave me a permit – to pass for two weeks.
After finishing these works, I went to the Transport Agency to buy a ticket to Bogaz, by Konispol post office. Thankfully there were seats and I bought the ticket and sat on the bench to rest. When I see that Drita, Dasho’s daughter, my cousin appeared at the door of the agency together with Mejdo’s brother, Metin.
I knew them both, though I had not seen them in 10 years. They recognized me, came over and looked at me with remarks, saying: “We went to the hospital”!
“I went out this morning,” I told them, shaking hands. They were children when I fled the village, Meti had already finished the army, while Drita was married and had a child. Her husband was Mejdo’s brother. Melja was a loving man I respected and had sympathy for this wise man. I learned that the marriage was made by my mother. The light, was overjoyed. We went down to Shalsi villa at 4pm and for more than an hour, we walked to the Markati placet.
In Markat near the family, where my mother welcomed me dancing
Matt and Light helped me and I did not feel abandoned when I saw that I had two of my people by my side. People who met me on the street pretended not to know me! Probably because they were afraid that someone who met the “enemy of the people” would see them!
When I got to the Neck Well, the girls were waiting. My sisters’s daughters, Flutura, had been 2 years old and had now become a woman. Entela, who was not born when he left the village, was now 10 years old. Lida, was 14 years old. Mirela was 10 years old, while Luljeta was 13 years old. Nezimja was also 6 months old. All these girls did not fly away from the joy of seeing their father and uncle. They were all thrown around my neck and I did not know who I had kissed before!
When I got to my poor hut, my sisters, Dilo, Vito, and Bardha were waiting for me. When the door opened, I saw my mother dancing with joy. They hugged me and kissed me all in turn. They asked me how I felt. I was out of emotion, which after 10 years God made it possible for me to see them again, as if something was squeezing my chest and I barely uttered the words: “Thank God I am alive”!
They sat me down by the hearth in the broken stone chimney of that poor house, built over the cemetery! My wife, Mejdo, brought me a bowl of warm shoulder. I had to eat it quickly, because people would come, but I had no appetite and ate a few tablespoons with difficulty. My little granddaughters, Entela, Mirela and Flutura, were sitting next to me, arguing over who should sit on my lap first.
At dinner the house was filled with relatives, to welcome me, but none of the villagers approached, except for two honest men, to whom I remain grateful for the rest of my life. These were: Rexhep Zane and Duro Emini. Their arrival made me think: there are still people in the village who love me! The party in the village, led by Petrit Agako Astrit Myrtaj and some other communist hounds, waged a fierce class war!
At the entrance to the village, a large slogan was written on the neck, written in red ink: “THE MOST DANGEROUS ENEMY IS THE ONE WHO IS FORGOTTEN”.
People who had been charged by the Inner Branch, to monitor me
Petrit A…, together with his brother, Nazif A., Made the law in the village. Maybe Petrit was not in the communist party organization yet, but he served the Dictator regime with fanaticism, with all the other larvae. My arrival had disturbed them and they already had to guard me, observe me with whom I spoke and where I was going! This order was given to them by the Department of Internal Affairs.
When I went out in the center of the village, the younger generation surrounded me, as they were curious to learn something from my past in prisons. This new generation with those boys, became my friends and I want to mention some of them, from the best, such as: Simon Haxhiu, son of Sado Haxhiu, Simon’s brother. Agron was the candidate for party member, but not Simoni, he had other beliefs for life persuasion, he was not afraid to stand by me and listen to my conversations!
Jasim Emini, the son of Duro Emini, a sympathizer who never left me. Fatri Rexho, son of Lesko Rexho, a dirty communist, but not his son, Fatriu, who respected me. Kujtim Çiço, Navrron’s son, and many young boys who sympathized with me. Every evening, Kaso Bejkua, Mejdo’s brother, and Ali Kola, Dojko Osmani’s son, came to my house. /Memorie.al