By Kastriot Dervishi
Memorie.al/ An internee in the infamous Tepelena camp has chosen an original way to show his protest against the living conditions in this camp, through a letter written with irony, addressed to the communist dictator Enver Hoxha. The internee does not complain, but “praises” the “good” conditions of this camp, where he says that he did not miss anything there, that the food was very good, that he was eating meat, tea, pasta, that he was dressing well, etc. For all this, he writes that “now he knew the party and the government well”, an expression which is repeated several times. The detainee’s letter, unlike others of this type, does not ask for anything, but only praises the good “conditions” of the camp, at a time when the situation in this camp was very difficult. If the internee wrote the situation in its true form, this action could be taken for agitation and propaganda and he could be sentenced to political prison. For this reason, this disguised form of revolt is among the rarest observed in the letters of the internees, almost unique during the entire period of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha and his successor, Ramiz Ali.
The barbed wire camp of Tepelena (1949-1953) was one of the most notorious of its kind that operated in communist Albania from March 1945 to October 1953. Camps of this type were isolated places, almost prisons, composed mostly of women, old people and children. They were not forced labor camps, despite the fact that in certain cases internees were used for labor. Such camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards were not formed with the intention of using the people held there for forced labor, but rather to keep them isolated. The splitting of wood, their transport, separate work in agriculture, roads, etc., are not features of a forced labor camp. Work camps designed for reclamation works, construction and later in mines, such as those set up in: Jubë, Beden, Maliq, Shtyllas, the Peqin-Kavajë canal, Tërbuf, Tirana, Bulqizë, etc., have been set up at the workplace , had a different character and should not be confused with barbed wire camps.
The letter of the internee Fezo Dajlan Llënga from Bozhigrad i Korça, sent to Enver Hoxha from the Tepelena Camp, where he was serving his sentence
Dear commander Mr. Enver, the leader and the light of the Albanian people’s eyes.
I, the internee Fezo Dajlan Llënga from Koshnicë village, Bozhigrad locality, Korçë district, take the initiative to write to you regarding the following:
I was arrested by the State Security bodies on August 20, 1950 and without being interrogated, I headed to the camp. Of course, I was guilty of the party and the government, but I will be grateful for my life to the party and the government, because I was not capable of either my family or the party and the government, because now I know the party.
What is the party because I never drank tea at home; I ate meat three times a day. But in the camp, we have daily tea, meat, rice, pasta, wheat bread, clothes, and shoes. Besides these, according to the work we are also rewarded with money.
The doctor comes to us (every) week. I say with full conviction that we are not at camp, but at a wedding. We hear what the outer camps are asking for a piece of bread.
Here it gives us to understand who the party is. It’s just that I’m worried about my family, since I come from a poor background, I don’t have any support. I have a 70-year-old mother, I have a wife and two sons, and the eldest is 4 years old. That I did not have this food for myself.
When I am released, as long as the party comrades in the village tell me what the party is, I will tell them, because here in the camp I knew very well what the party is, since I served in the National Army on July 15, 1944 and I was released on February 15, 1947, but I did not know well what the party was.
But in the camp I got to know the party, for the sake of the party and our beloved government, my heart wants to participate in the Mat River, where the hydropower plant will be built.
Let me participate as well as all the Albanian people.
Long live the dear commander, who removed the Albanian people in the war and today removes him for happiness.
Long live the glorious communist party!
Long live the great Stalin, the mast of peace in the world! Memorie.al
I remain and honors and obedience,
The interned Fezo Dajlan Llġenga