By Najada Pendavinji
Memorie.al / She were 14 years old when her father, Colonel Dilaver Radeshi, a well-known military historian, was sentenced to 10 years in political prison. After those ten difficult years, another period of revenge against the indomitable soldier’s family began, where the biggest test was passed by the eldest daughter, Tefta, who for days was subjected to the exhausting investigation, headed by Nevzat Haznedari. Those questioning sessions were so unbearable that the young woman tried to kill herself. Today she is over 70 years old, lives in the city of Korça together with her husband, Vaskë Kolaci. With the desire and passion that characterizes her; in 2005 she finished her studies at the Faculty of Economics with excellent results and is an important voice of her community in protecting the rights of the politically persecuted and different layers of society. In this interview, she tells in detail the sufferings of her family that started in 1966-’67, when they condemned her father and continued throughout the communist dictatorship, until 1991.
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Ms. Tefta, how do you remember that moment? What were the sensations that unconsciously ran through your body and mind?
I remember that day very well. The executioners of the State Security would knock on our door again. It was the turn to appear before the investigator and time to leave the house. A decision signed by Zija Çela. I had prepared my plan. At that time I was working in a printing house and I had taken home some kind of poison that was used in gravure printing. I had it hidden in the bathroom cabinet so I could use it when the moment came. It was morning. The door was opened by the brother.
I was upstairs in the room when I hear the same phrase; “We are looking for your sister, she must appear at the Department of Internal Affairs.” This phrase had tortured me for days. I go down as I was in my pajamas and say: Let me go change…! I turned quietly and then ran to the bathroom where I had hidden the poison.
When I open the cupboard, I see that the bottle was empty. It was poured by my brother, Kastrioti, who understood my struggle to end my life. As I was, in a state of despair, I jump from the balcony of my room…! I did what I told Kadri Hazbi! Eh… at that time I don’t know why death seemed sweeter to me…!
I jumped up with a rush of joy as if I were being taken to heaven and not as if I were going to death. I don’t know if I would call it luck, but below my house, at that moment, there was a neighbor, Kolec Gjoni, who saw me when I jumped and tried to ask for help. Thats it…! They took me and took me to the hospital where the consequences would be serious.
To summarize all this, I would say only one thing that a person can come out of himself only when his hope and faith are killed, when in conditions of deep despair he becomes a hero, wanting to lose his life that has been provoked by the macabre regime.
What happened to you and while you were in the hospital while your family was in exile?
I fell unconscious and when I opened my eyes I saw that I was in the hospital. I had damaged almost all parts of my body, most importantly; I had damaged the vertebrae of my spine. I remember that around me were the investigator, the hospital’s Security Operative, Ali Anadolli and the orthopedic doctor, Dr. Prof. Pigeon Karagjozi, of which I have the best memories.
He says to me: “What are you doing, my maid?” You have damaged your spine, you can be paralyzed.” While I, looking at the investigator and the operative who were at my feet, thought to myself: “How low they are!”, and I was not impressed by the doctor’s words.
He approaches me and grabs my big toe and lifts it up. I called! He tells me: “You have escaped paralysis, but you will suffer later.” While they turned to me saying: “You kept your word to the minister”…!
I felt proud, I had included them in the discussions since, at that time, and the whole opinion in Tirana was with me and “condemned” this fact. I had suffered severe fractures. I stayed in a hospital bed for almost a month, all tied up with plaster and boards. My family members were not allowed to come to the hospital.
The only one who took care of me was my friend, Johana Prosi, along with the nurse Aleksandra, who always brought me hidden under my armpit, clean gauze that I needed. Even today, I have the signs of that struggle, both physical and psychological, when I continue to be disabled and I have received the status of the former political persecuted of the A/1 group.
I want to tell you something that, while I was in the hospital, but also after it, I always kept a diary where I wrote down all the events. I want to read you a paragraph from that diary. They are memories that I have fanatically preserved to this day.
July 15, 1978, 9:00 AM, Saturday…! They came and two policemen took me. That day the decision of my internment was executed, although I still had to stay in the hospital because I suffered a swelling of my left leg and the doctors concluded that it should be put in a plaster cast, but that the Security officers did not accept and took me as painfully as I was, implementing the decision.
I was accompanied by a doctor named Tefta. They strapped me to the ambulance bed. The pain was terrible. My car took over from the shock. I could not make any movement. They had an order to guard me, so as not to cause another “scandal”.
We arrived at the place where my family was waiting for me. They took me out of the ambulance as I was all in a plaster cast in great pain. My father appeared in front of me and in the eyes of the policemen, he said: “Where are you, my father’s maid?! The invalid father of the Partisan War and the invalid daughter of the Class War. I was waiting for you “bride”, (dead), you are for tombstone…! However, a day will come for you, a tombstone will be erected”! But it is the irony of fate. People and crowds knock down tombstones. And that day didn’t come…!
How do you remember the moment of your relationship with your husband, Mr. Kolaci Vaskë?
Life is full of surprises. I had heard about the persecution of the Kolaci family from my close friend, Johana Prosi, when I was in the hospital and suffering the consequences of my “rebellion”. She had Vaska’s first cousin, Vaska Kolac, who when I used to visit my grandmother in Korca, I had seen as a boy who always carried a violin under his arm.
Our acquaintance was an unusual acquaintance, our love even more so. We fell in love blindly, only hearing about our misadventures and beyond. Vaska has always told me that during the long nights of exile, he fantasized about the heroic acts of the events during the “Hungarian Revolution” and with his imagination he united me with that youth, who gave him hope that freedom would come to us as well.
And he said to me: “How did that youth leave you in Tirana and not grab you in her arms like a heroine”? This act, for me, was decisive for our union. A love that with a seed sprouts and blooms even on a wild rock.
This was later intertwined with a thousand twists and turns and grew into a powerful tree, where it bore fruit with our union and the birth of two daughters, Mikaela and Efigeni, in the village of Lozhan in Korça, where we were exiled. .
Ms. Tefta, you are the sister of Kastriot Sulçe, the former champion and record holder in athletics. Can you tell me a bit of his story?
Ah, my late brother! I was very close to him and knew the dreams and passions he had. Initially, his desire was to become a soldier and follow in his father’s footsteps. Every time dad came home from work, he put on his clothes even though they were too big.
When the communist persecution of our family began, he was small, only 7 years old, and he could not understand the cruelty that we would face. But growing up within the communist regime, even his dreams began to change. In this isolated place, he already wanted to run free, feeling the force of life.
So when he was 14-15 years old, he became part of the “17 November” Club in Tirana, starting the path of athletics where he immediately showed his talent. This road would remain in the middle as a result of the exile of our family, but even under the conditions of a communist exile, Brother Kastriot Sulçe would continue to run as if to show that no one stopped him.
And so it happened, he did not lose his passion for athletics, continuing it even after the end of the exile. Upon his arrival in the city of Korça, he became active with the “Skënderbeu” team, where he broke two records on the running track and the people of Korça started calling him “Mëz”.
I want to remind you that brother Kastriot Sulçe was one of the first signatories of the Democratic Party, participating in the student hunger strike in Tirana in February 1991 (since in 1990, when my father was released, he gave the norms and at the age 31-year-old, began his studies at the Institute of Physical Education).
But after the events of April 2, 1991, in Shkodër, he foresaw that the dreams of this youth would not come true, he emigrated abroad, until the end when his life ended. Throughout his sports career, he won many medals and titles, with which his spiritual strength triumphed.
He has been named by the Albanian Athletics Federation, “Recorder and Champion in fast running competitions in National and International activities”, he has been announced and decorated by the President of the Republic as “Master of Sports”.
For all those who knew him, he will remain “the champion athlete who proved the greatness of talent and extraordinary character and was not defeated by the storms of time”, while in my heart and that of our family, he will forever remain our little brother.
Ms. Tefta, after the 90s and until today, you have always had the desire and will to be part of the activities of the associations for the protection of the rights of the class of former Political Persecuted and not only. You are convincingly committed to a democratic culture in Albania. Do you think that in Albania throughout all these years, a proper attitude has not been taken regarding the punishment of communist crimes? What is your message to the relevant institutions?
The communist system in Albania went beyond the phenomenon of dictatorship, taking the credit of a violent totalitarian regime, perhaps one of the most unique in the world. We were destined to experience that nightmarish regime, which created divisions in society, where on one side were the executioners and on the other were the victims.
Immediately, with the political changes, I embraced the democratic culture where, first, I participated in the Governing Council of the Association of the Politically Persecuted and later I was appointed the chairperson of the Forum of Women, former Political Persecuted in the city of Korça.
I worked for many years in the State Archive in the Korça district, where I can say with full conviction that the Archive is quite rich in documents on properties, but I am really sorry that I still see people with papers in their hands, tried to gain their right of ownership, so the directives of Gorbachev and Ramiz Ali were implemented, where it was emphasized that; We will spend our whole lives with cards in our hands.
Years have passed since that system, but even today, here in our country, that collective awareness has not happened to understand and face the past, no matter how bitter it was. I have always thought and believed that a democratic system would be established in Albania, which would recover the wounds of communism, but unfortunately the opposite happened!
In this country, evil can be as cruel as ever. Being present for a long time, it manages to escape our judgment due to the inability to create a “moral” justice at least, no more. It is necessary not to forget history, since evil, when forgotten, repeats itself, and the coming generations must know about the crimes committed against humanity.
Remembrance and change must come from us. There are many who lived that ordeal of persecution and persecution, whole generations of convicts who were born and grew up without freedom, feeling the communist crimes under their skin. The change must also come from you who are reviewing and rewriting that dark history that proved fatal for the fate of our people…! Memorie.al