Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Ramazan Beliu or as he is known by the surname Mëniku, former commander of Tirana guerrilla units and partisan in the 3rd Assault Brigade, who immediately after the end of the War, was sent to study in Yugoslavia and then in Poznan, Poland, where after encountering the intrigues and machinations of the Party organization of which he was a member, he left its ranks refusing to be a communist anymore, even after many prayers were made to him by ambassador Nesit Nase. The arrest of Ramadan by the Polish Secret Services at the behest of the State Security from Tirana, where after passing through several Eastern European countries, with the steamer “Veliko Pjotër”, from Constanta, Romania, they brought him handcuffed to the Port of Durrës, where he was received by the General Prosecutor, Xhavit Struga, with the senior State Security official, Shim Kolli. The long Ramadan investigation in ‘Selvija’ and in the cells of the Old Prison until he appeared in the Military Court in Tirana, where he was sentenced to death, but then with the intervention of Mehmet Shehu, his life was spared and he suffered only three years. prison, after Abudlla Mëniku, former owner of the “Balkan” Hotel in Tirana, had helped Sheh Ismaili to get the right to study, Mehmeti, at the American Technical School of Fultz.
“After a few days of debates I had with friends of the basic organization of the Party where I was militating, while I was eating, a door knocked on me and a person told me that they were looking for me downstairs. I went down to see them and two people told me to follow them. “I realized that they belonged to the Polish secret services, as they immediately put me in a car and sent me to the Security Branch (Polish Secret Service) in the city of Poznan.”
This is how he remembered, among other things, his arrest in Poland in 1951, the tyrant Ramazan Beliu (or Meniku as the real surname of this family), former commander of the two Guerrilla Units of the capital and former partisan in the III Brigade. of the Attacker, who after refusing to stay in the ranks of the Albanian Communist Party, interrupted his higher studies in Medicine in Poland and brought him to Tirana, where after keeping him in solitary confinement for a long time, the court initially convicted him with death, with shooting. Regarding this and the whole life of Ramadan, from the origin of the family, the friendship of his father, with Sheh Ismaili, the father of Mehmet Shehu, his contribution and the whole family Mëniku in the War, who and how saved Ramadan from being shot , etc., introduces us to his exclusive interview that we are publishing in this article.
Mr. Ramadan, where were you appointed to work after the end of the War?
Immediately after the end of the War, I was appointed to the position of Chairman of the People’s Council of the “Ali Bey” neighborhood here in Tirana. I served in that position until 1947, when I was sent to study medicine in Yugoslavia. But after 18 months, we were sent back to Tirana, due to the breakdown of Albania’s official relations with Yugoslavia.
Who else do you remember from your friends who were with you at that time for studies in Yugoslavia?
At that time, Bajram Preza, Shyqëri Basha, Hasan Shehi, etc. also studied with me. After staying for a short time in Tirana, at the end of 1948, we were sent to study in Poznan, Poland, to pursue studies left halfway through Yugoslavia. In that city in Poland, we were six Albanian students, where three were studying Medicine and three were studying Agronomy. I studied for two and a half years, until 1951, when I was arrested and sent back to Albania.
Why did your arrest happen?
My arrest came after some fierce clashes and conflicts I had in the Party organization which consisted of six students I mentioned a little above. Three of us were Party members and three others were candidates. I was a candidate, because I never wanted to become a member of the party, because I could not stand the discipline of the Party and most importantly, that I liked to be free.
How were you accepted as a Party candidate, when you had no desire?!
Even as a Party candidate, I was accepted against my will in 1945 and I regretted it a long time later, but it was too late.
What conflicts did you have in the Party organization?
The clashes and conflicts I had in the organization where I did Party life did not arise overnight, but they came gradually. The reason for this was the numerous machinations and behind the scenes that took place within the ranks of our organization. For this reason, every day more and more I was disappointed by what I saw and heard, as we had fought for other ideals and our dreams of youth were not being realized as we had been told and propagated greatly since the time of the War.
Apart from these, specifically for what reasons did the clashes and contradictions with the Party organization come about?
My biggest clash with those who run our organization came after a meeting, when one of the friends, made self-criticism saying: that the secretary had pushed him to attack me. When I heard those words, I was overwhelmed and desperate, as I did not expect it, and immediately got up and argued fiercely with them. After I did not leave anything unsaid, calling them “gangsters”, “herd of villains”, etc., I became aware, so that they would not inform me about the meeting, since at that moment I had left the Party.
What was their reaction after your words and accusations at that meeting?
That day, the meeting broke up, but the next day our ambassador to Poland, Nesti Nase, came urgently, who after analyzing the situation in our organization, took my side, telling me not to leave the Party. But I refused, telling him that: I can no longer stay in that organization and I kept my word until the end.
What happened to you afterwards, how did the events unfold after that conflict?
After a few days of debating with friends of the organization, while I was eating, a doorbell rang and a person told me that they were looking for me. I went down to see them and two people told me to follow them. I found out that they belonged to the Polish Secret Service, as they immediately put me in a car and took me to the Security Branch of the City of Poznan, where they held me for eight hours and there I realized that I was in the hands of the Polish Secret Service.
Where were they sent afterwards and did they tell you why they were brought there?
They did not say a word to me as to why they had taken me or where they were taking me. After I was picked up from there, I was put on a train and sent to the Polish capital, Warsaw. Before I got on the train, two Polish Security men wanted to tie me up, but I objected and the work went almost into physical conflict. During the train journey, they made me various provocations, such as: leaving my pistol hanging on the belt near me, etc. In Warsaw, I was detained for a day and a half, and from there I was taken back by train to Czechoslovakia. At the Prague station, I was handed over to an Albanian officer, who introduced himself as our ‘military attaché’ in Czechoslovakia. He accompanied me to the border with Hungary and on the way did not say a word to me.
But on the border with Hungary, who was received?
He handed me over to a Hungarian Secret Service person, who took me to their headquarters in Buda, where they held me for 16 days in very difficult conditions. The Hungarian Security then escorted me by train to Romania, where I was detained for 40 days at the headquarters of the Romanian Secret Service. Even when I was in Hungary, even there in Romania, while I was being held in solitary confinement, I was put in a cell by a provocateur, which I understood and did not say a word to. After 40 days of isolation in Bucharest, I was sent to the port of Constanta where I was boarded on the steamer “Veliko Pjotër”, which would travel to Durrës.
They were kept isolated in the steamer and who was received in Durrës?
Even on the boat I was kept isolated and when we were crossing the Dardanelles I would be checked by the official Turkish authorities, so that the Turks would not look at me because I was isolated, but also for fear of jumping into the sea, in the room introduced some Albanians who were returning from a theatrical tour, to have me under surveillance. So we overcame that obstacle in the Dardanelles Strait, which could bring them problems. At the Port of Durrës, after being checked, I was handed over by Shim Kolli, but then I learned that for my problem, the General Prosecutor of the People’s Republic of Albania, Colonel, Xhavit Struga, had also come there.
Did you know them both?
Definitely, I had both had many friends during the War period.
Where did they send you?
Shim Kolli sent me to the State Security Branch in Durrës, where I was kept tied up for 24 hours and also, chained, accompanied by an armed policeman, they sent me to Tirana, riding me in a machine transporting lime. That journey was extremely difficult, as the wind blew and the lime dust entered my lungs.
What about in Tirana where they were sent?
In Tirana I was handed over to the General Prosecutor’s Office, which was at the Begejave House, which is still located at the beginning of Dibra Street. From there I was taken to the Country Command and to dinner at the “Old Prison”, isolated in one of the Investigation cells.
How long were they kept in the investigator and what were they charged with?
I was kept in that cell for almost ten months and the accusation made against me was: “Hostile activity against the people and the Party”. The investigator interrogated me only once and told me “Speak, enemy of the people.” I did not accept the accusation and telling him what harm I had done to the people and the Party, but he continued to call me an “enemy” and asked me to sign the indictment. I refused to sign it, as I was convinced, how I had done nothing wrong to the people and the Party. But I was forced to sign it, after a policeman told me that I could not be taken to court without signing the indictment.
When were you brought to trial and how many were sentenced?
In a closed-door trial, I was released after nearly ten months of investigation and the trial panel was that of the Military Court, while the Prosecutor was a young man with the rank of captain. Although I did not ask for a lawyer at all, the state appointed me to defend me, the well-known lawyer, Totozani.
Do you remember by name that was on the jury?
I cannot remember the names, as all that time has passed, but I remember that in the court was one of Tepelena with a severed hand, since the time of the War. While the prosecutor could not wait to convict me, the whole court looked at me with regret.
What was the prosecutor telling them?
After communicating the indictment, the prosecutor told me: “Accept the defendant that he wanted you to escape and that you were caught at the border.”
How did you respond?
I told him where I wanted to escape, mentioning all the countries bordering Poland, which were also, like us, communist countries. He remained embarrassed and watched from the courtroom as if to seek help from them. After that, I told them that I was not interested in that trial at all, even if it turned out to be innocent, as I had been put in prisons and taken out tied up in the streets along the bazaar, discrediting me as an enemy of the people. My words were harsh and I did all this in order to sentence me to death, as I was bored with life, there in solitary confinement.
In conclusion, how many were convicted?
In the end, the Prosecutor requested my death sentence and the court upheld his claim for the death sentence. When I was asked for the last word, I said: Implement the decision.
How did the forgiveness of life happen and when was it communicated to them?
After I was sentenced to death, I was sent to a cell, where for months I waited for them to pick me up and execute me. After about a year in the cell, I was sent to the Craft Prison at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where I remained for another two years. So for three years in a row, I was anxious when they would come to pick me up and shoot me. I learned the pardon of life from a convict, but I did not believe it, as I remembered that it was just words, as was often the case with prisoners, and only when I got out of prison did I go home and realize that I had not been lied to. Upon being released from prison, I was able to learn the truth about who had intervened to spare my life and that was Mehmet Shehu.
Why did Mehmet shehu intervene to spare your life, was there any acquaintance or connection with him?
My father, Abdulla Mëniku, (Deliu) was the man who had intervened to obtain the right to study Mehmet Shehu, for the American Technical School of Fultz in Tirana, in the early 1930s, during the Monarchy of Zogut. In those years, my father had rented the hotel “Balkan”, which was once very close to the former Executive Committee in the center of Tirana. When Mehmet’s father, Sheh Ismaili, came to Tirana to inquire about his son’s right to study, he had slept in our hotel for several days. My father was by nature a man with a big heart, who tried to do good to everyone. This was also the case with Ismail Shehu, whom he told to return to Mallakastër, that he would take care of his son’s right to study, through the many friends he had in Tirana. And indeed, the father managed to deprive Mehmet Shehu of the right to study at the American Technical School of Fultz. In addition, my father took over from Sheh Ismail, who would take care of his son, Mehmet, as well as his sons. So during the period that Mehmeti was studying in Tirana, my father was interested and gave him money, which he never agreed to take from Sheh Ismaili, when he came to Tirana to see his son. Based on this friendship, at the time I was convicted, my father, Abdullai, told his brother, Sali, to go to Sulo Shehu, Mehmet’s uncle’s son, who was in the military. Saliu immediately went to Sulo, who was very ready and after meeting Mehmet, telling him about the problem he had, he came to his father and said: “Abdulla, that job is done”. Mehmet had taken it upon himself as a token of gratitude for what my father had done, and so my life was spared and I was released from prison, only after three years.
When you were released from prison, where did you settle for work?
After leaving me without a job for 11 years, it was difficult for me to get a job as a worker in the Construction Company “21 December”, where I worked non-stop in mortar and brick until the day I retired in 1982. During those years, I was looking for to get a job as a Hospital Morgue nurse after I had studied four years of high school for Medicine, but even there I was not allowed to work. But that was half the battle, as my four children benefited and graduated from high school, and I am comforted by the suffering I went through in my life.
Ramzan Beliu: How did I get Fiqret Shehu and Drita Kosturi out of prison?
Ramzan Beliu, or as he is also known by the surname, Mëniku, (which is their real surname), was born in 1921 in a rich Tirana family, where his father, Abdullai, in the years of the Zog Monarchy, rented the Hotel “Balkan” in the center of the capital. In addition to the hotel, from which he made a lot of money, Abdullai owned six houses in Tirana (four after the Ministry of Education, one at “Mine Peza” and one in Kamza), which he rented out. Although he did not interfere in politics at all, Abdullai had a special sympathy for King Zog. His son, Ramazon, (as he was called in the Tirana dialect), after finishing 7th grade, attended the Fultz American Technical School for a year and dropped out after English was abolished he liked it very much. After that he attended the gymnasium of Tirana and in the last year when he was graduating, he was accepted in the ranks of the Albanian Communist Party, together with Todoi Lubonja and Muharrem Çorati, where in that meeting as a delegate from the SNP, was Misto Mame and Hysen Begeja. After joining the ranks of the SNP, Ramadan became closely associated with the Anti-Fascist Movement, becoming the commander of two guerrilla units in the capital, where he took part in two actions. At the time he led those two units, Ramazani says that he took part in an action where, together with his friends, they released from the Old Prison of Tirana, Fiqrete Sanxhaktari (Shehu) and Drita Kosturi, the fiancée of Qemal Stafa. Likewise, all the houses of Abdulla Mënik became important bases of the Anti-Fascist War and some of the well-known names of the Communist Movement were sheltered and gathered there, such as: Misto Mame, Vojo Kushi, Liri Belishova, Qazim Vaqarri, etc. Based on this, in 1944, the Germans burned two houses of this family, and wanted to shoot all the women and children, putting them in front of the machine gun. In 1943, Ramadan went to the village of Priska and by order of Gogo Nushi, enlisted as a partisan of the III Assault Brigade, taking part in all its fighting. In 1944, by direct order of Enver Hoxha, Ramazan and Astri Lekë went to Kosovo to buy grain for the partisan brigades. At the end of 1944, he fell ill and was ordered to return to his family in Tirana, where he was found and the end of the war. After 1945, the Menik tribe was persecuted and some of its sons and husbands were imprisoned, exiled, and shot. One of them was Ramazan’s uncle, who was shot in 1946. Memorie.al