By Petraq Xhaçka
Memorie.al / The purpose of this book is to join the efforts made to present the truths and horrors of the communist dictatorship in Albania. The main purpose of the book is not to show our people or anyone else that we oilmen have been innocent, because this has become known from publications in our press, from foreign televisions, as well as from direct meetings with the International Forum and the Albanian Human Rights. The author’s desire, is that through this story, along with other stories, fight any manifestation in any form, even moderate, that he may have to create a communist society. I think that even through this bitter personal history, the cruel, treacherous and overbearing face of Enverism will appear, that for half a century, held the knife with the tip in the chest of the Albanian people, with a pine eye, intercepting the movements for salvation from the outside, or rebellion of the people themselves, ready to push the knife to the heart, at the first movement. The events have been set in the economic fields where it has appeared most strongly, such as the oil and gas industry, where I was fortunate to pour my energies, for a lifetime, and become a participant and witness in those events. All the events that are written in this memoir are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I have been able to present the terrifying force of the events that took place in that decadent system of socialism, where no there was no human feeling.
Continues from last issue
I don’t know who else, but I was called to the special investigation in Tirana. They told me to appear at the entrance of the New Prison at a certain time. The place where they called me seemed ominous. However, the shock I had when they told me was nothing before what I felt and saw when I entered the heavy and scary building of the New Prison of Tirana. They let me in through the big iron door and escorted me through the corridors of the second floor of the prison. There I passed through several other iron doors, mounted along the corridor, at a distance of several meters from each other. Each of these gates was guarded by a soldier. The gloom there filled me with a sense of dread, which engulfed my whole being.
In an office with windows reinforced with thick bars I was greeted by two investigators whose names I never learned. One of them, with a large body, let it appear that he was the one in charge, while the other was of a small stature and a little like Ezmer. I was told to sit down. With the feeling of innocence, thinking however that I was not called the guilty subject and many that I would be asked, to clarify some problems of technical debates with the imprisoned specialists, I went to a free chair, which was near the window and made me sit next to the investigator’s desk. He immediately intervened and told me that I had to leave that chair because it was not for me. He pointed to another chair, opposite the table, against the wall.
It resembled a school uniform, too small for someone with a physique like mine. It was made of wood and stuck to the floor.
It was the first time in my life; I entered an investigation environment, which I found not at all pleasant. From this and from the way they directed the questions to me, I understood that roughly, I was also in the position of a semi-accused. To them, it seemed, anyone involved in oil extraction was part of the enemy contingent. The questions went on for a long time, almost three hours. The essence was the inflated and unfounded planning of research and the level of oil extraction, drawn up mainly by the state and party authorities, for which I had shown objections, this is a right position, which I defended there.
I also called the investigator; plans that are not technically well-founded, especially for the works and inaccurate assessments of oil and gas reserves, in the Saranda area. These truths were also scientifically proven, but you got the chills when you looked at those people, while they carefully wrote them down on paper and asked you to sign all the answers at the end. Only after that, I was released. I emphasize once again that during the whole time, they did not offer me a single cigarette or a glass of water, and they did not exchange any free words with me, except for questionnaires, such as about time and health, which, no matter how formal they are, would show that they do not they were about an accused.
I returned to my home in Fier, oppressed by the weight of that heavy environment. It seemed to me that my mouth was still dry from that session of questions, for which, mostly, they were looking for answers, in order to draw the conclusion that interested them. They did this more easily when, for example, my clash with one of the imprisoned specialists came into play: Let it have been a professional technical debate! They came alive, pushing the event towards a political meaning, and giving the group’s position a color of sabotage. All the time that day, I had seemed like a bird in a cage. And it didn’t end there. I was called to the New Prison three more times. Hours, same environment, same total lack of courtesy, almost total hostility.
It was a real investigation, with the only difference, that I left the house without handcuffs and still without them, I returned to Fier. From one point of view, it seemed reasonable that I should be asked, because I was mentioned in Hoxha’s speech. But I was mentioned there, for my trouble, very positively, which in the eyes of these people, this detail was not standing out at all. This meant that; or the great paranoid Enver Hoxha, in the meantime, had changed his mind, or these “hunting dogs” hunt in the lists only after the names, and not after the qualities?! But I soon realized that you were the first guess.
I was convinced of this after a year, when the trial of the group, which Enver Hoxha decided to sacrifice, was already underway. I was called to appear in the office of the First Secretary of the Fier District Party Committee, Nimet Can, who had come to that post, after the suicide of Pirro Gusho. He received me quite coldly. He invited me to sit down and got straight to the point, deadpan as he was. – Look, – he told me, – for you, from the trial of the group of saboteurs, ten question marks have emerged. You are also accused of not acting according to the guidelines and teachings of the Party in the field of oil research.
Briefly, he presented to me, those that were charged to me. After listening to them carefully, I felt that they did not hold at all. They were said irresponsibly, and especially unsubstantiated in facts. It clearly appeared that they were malicious interpretations, by the people who were involved in this work, in the expertise group and by the employees of the State Security. For a couple of wells that were mentioned there, that they were drilled far away from the existing sources, I told him that there was a confusion of periods and that those wells were drilled before the Party’s guidelines for the drilling policy came out.
Likewise, several drilled wells were also mentioned with an insufficient amount and level of seismic work, for which I, in the Scientific Council, had agreed to be done. I tried to argue to them that in the areas where these wells were drilled, seismic could not be introduced and we had many other wells drilled in such conditions, which had not only been positive, but had become a starting point for discovered new places-resources. So, they had to be judged together, not separately, because without those negative wells, these places-resources that we currently have would not have been discovered.
– I’m sorry, Comrade First Secretary, – I told him wisely. – The party has highly appreciated the result of the wells drilled with that insufficient seismic level. How is it possible, that now they report this works to you as bad, even harmful and almost sabotaging?! Even more so, friend Nimet, if we want to compare with the years before ’67. At that time, we had no Party orientations on how and how much we should drill in limestone, how much in sandstone and how the complex should be. But we, as specialists, evaluating all the real possibilities of the country and the terrain, judged among ourselves, whether the well should be drilled or not.
And these have been done with extensive discussions in collectives and have been approved in the ministry. So this is not the action of just one man, or just a few people. They are the conclusion of all specialists who deal with this work. Here they have reported things to you, for which I cannot be responsible, because in those years, I did not work at the Institute, I was not a member of the Scientific Council and I had no connection or knowledge about these wells. How can I be held responsible?! He looked at me confused, how I was defending my work.
– I say this, Comrade First Secretary, – I continued insistently, – that those remarks, not only do not hold up, but are taken detached, one-sided and some are completely absurd. Of course, I felt it difficult to tell Nimet Can that those were wrong orientations, made by incompetent people. Especially after those horrifying events of March 5, 1975, we oilmen could not say that the government itself was to blame for this, which never accepted the need to purchase advanced seismic equipment from abroad, but let us work with a technology, completely backward soviet.
“I didn’t call you here to discuss whether or not these issues stand,” Secretary Nimet Cani replied. – I trust these letters that I have in front of me and I called you to warn you, to work carefully and to seriously implement Comrade Enver’s orders and teachings about oil. We value you as a very good specialist who works hard. You have contributed to the discovery of new sources, therefore we are confident that you will work better, having very clearly in mind the remarks I made to you at the beginning of our conversation”.
I learned that such shocks had also been inflicted on specialists and other oil executives. They were also summoned to various bodies, the remarks about them were pointed out to them and the warnings were made clear to them. That all were commanded not to tell another man the warnings they had received. I, for myself, was very worried. From this time, insomnia became common for me. I was already fully convinced that in our country, the life and destiny of man could not be safe for any year, for any day, not even for an hour. Depending on the interests of the party elite, very quickly, white could become black and vice versa.
A great internal war was taking place in me, and I often asked the question, that; what I should do under these conditions, when I knew that, officially, I already had an open file, from the Security side. Three, there were the possibilities, to do my best to leave this job, which I had been looking for for years and they did not allow me, to end my life, in order not to create difficulties for the children in the future, which is not an everyday thing, extremely heavy and with uncertain political results and the third that remained, was to work flexibly, of course not only conscientiously as before, but with a special care in the implementation of the orientations, no matter how unintentional and unscientific they were .
This third solution that we made, most of the intelligence in oil, was at the same time the most unpredictable, the most uncertain, and experience had shown, was showing and would show, that you had the colors of a lottery, on which you itself, it does not affect at all. People continued to see dignitaries, directors, ministers, members of the Political Bureau of PPSh, who dealt with this nerve-wracking sector of the economy, to whom the car doors were opened with respect, they traveled by plane to the capitals of the world, but they never they saw the cold muzzle of the revolver, which did not separate from his nape.
Almost a year after that day in March, the high court finally sentenced two geologists, Koço Plaku and Milto Gjikopulli, to death for political reasons. Others received sentences ranging from fifteen to twenty-five years in political prisons. The powerful earthquake that hit the oil industry had its epicenter at the Institute of Petroleum Scientific Studies. In addition to the specialists convicted in this trial, many other specialists were interned or sent to work in the oil sectors, as simple workers, under the constant supervision of the State Security, as candidates for arrest, in the most first, at the slightest expression of displeasure.
The psychological terror in those of us who remained outside unpunished became unbearable. And we couldn’t even confess this to anyone, – to the other. The shadows of disbelief had covered us all. The mistakes we could make, as any human being could make at work, in our own heads, translated into crimes. As I mentioned above, in the oil industry, with the vicious logic of the dictatorship, you could find these types of crimes month after month. Technically, it is accepted and recognized all over the world, that in research, in addition to the positive wells, which in the advanced countries of Europe and the American continent, were on average in the values of thirteen to fifteen percent, are the negative ones, as the most frequent cases, of this group of wells.
It was easy, that is, to analyze some of these wells, find some technical glitch in them, and lo, the accusations of sabotage were ready. Although it was discussed and accepted by all, that negative wells are technically necessary to be drilled, then people who knew well this practical probability, ordered the expertise of the possibility of sabotage, Enver Hoxha himself, when talking about oil in the Political Bureau, or in the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party, he emphasized that he accepted that in our country, there should be a ratio of one to three, or one to four, between positive and negative wells, and taking into account the concrete conditions of our country, he encouraged the geologists, who to design with courage.
We practically stood higher than Europe and the American continent: while those positives had thirteen percent, we had miraculously reached the average figure of eighteen percent! But the “legendary” leader of the Albanian state wanted us to have even higher indicators for the positives, up to twenty-five percent! At a time when with a geological construction like our country, the advanced countries would almost never deal with it, they wouldn’t ask for it at all. Let’s not forget that we had a technique and technology of seismic work, much more backward than that of other countries. They, up to a depth of 2000-4000 m. they provided often poor information. We had to drill wells as deep as 4,500 m and in some cases, even deeper. So Albanian geologists were put by the party in front of an absurd request.
But Enver Hoxha, with his requests received, never guaranteed us that he would free us from his “sniffing dogs” of sabotage, the operatives of the State Security. If even in a hundred wells, one, only one, we had it negative, they would look for the hostile hand and there! The leadership of the party was well aware of the lack of difficulties. The call to design boldly never ceased, but the infidelity was so clear that the call became mere words in the wind. They didn’t want to understand, nor did they agree to talk, that negative wells and in the most perfect work that can be done, again in the research of new fields, have always been and will be. Security and investigation had more advanced demands than their boss, Enver Hoxha. They knew only one refrain:
– If the teachings of the party and Comrade Enver are applied correctly, all the wells will turn out positive! This was an even greater absurdity than Hoxha’s, but this was exactly the essence of our many years of insomnia. To be clearer, what these orientations of the Party represented, in addition to what I emphasized above, regarding complex and bold preparation, as well as the high ratios required for positive wells, we were also assigned the tasks of others. So we were asked that over eighty percent of the research wells were within the prospective square, which constituted an area of only twenty, times forty kilometers. While the footage was oriented to be distributed, sixty percent for limestone and thirty-five percent for sandstone.
These were only handcuffs, in the direction of geological research, that if you drilled one better outside the square, although he could have all the indicators to prove, you would enter the red circle of the Security. For the sandstones, we objectively did not have regions for such footage, so you had to drill more wells than were technically necessary, just to maintain the ratio, so as not to end up under the iron. I, personally, have fought a great fight, not to set such figures as mandatory, because they had no scientific basis, and when I was called to the government, I insisted on not approving them. But my voice was not heard. The Prime Minister even appealed to me: “Give it up, Xhaçka, and accept the figures that tell you”! But I, with full professional conscience, answered: – No, friend Mehmet, I don’t give up!
Another formal and unpleasant aspect of these orientations was the involvement of workers in design studies and obtaining the opinion of the brigades, for the drilling of new research wells. They forced us to include as members in the design study groups, not only company geologists who, let’s face it, could help in the process, but also workers! This was a bureaucratic formalism, not at all fruitful. According to the demagogic trumpeting of the working class in the leadership of its state, the well, before being approved in scientific and administrative instances, had to be sent to a drilling brigade and argued that; why this exploration well had to be drilled, in other structures.
The approval had to be initiated by the workers, the mechanics, the surveyors, who were often hands-on with their jobs, but who were in no way able to judge whether the exploration well should be drilled or not. Because they didn’t even have the most elementary knowledge of the science of geology and geophysics! If the drilling crew did not agree, no one could dare to approve that well. And what became more serious, if the well came out negative, the account had to be given again to the brigade, which drilled that well and which had previously approved it. Memorie.al
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