Memorie.al publishes the unknown history of the demolition and destruction of the Church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës in early June 1969, which was a cult object of rare value for the Albanian cultural heritage, since it was built in the XIII century – and was considered as one of the only buildings still standing since the period before the Turkish occupation, which made it unique, not only in Albania but also in the Balkans as such, was introduced and included in the catalogs of European cultural heritage magazines. How the director and at the same time the founder and legend of the Institute of Cultural Monuments, the famous architect Gani Strazimiri (graduated in Italy and the Soviet Union) reacted, denouncing to the Shkodra Prosecutor’s Office and the General Prosecutor’s Office, all the perpetrators of that vandal act, such as the director of the construction site, Muhedin Muço, the brigadier, Hashim Zyberi (“Hero of Socialist Labor”), the director of the State Construction Company of the Hydropower Plant, Emin Musliu, etc., considering them as the main culprits and demanding the release of before the trial for the crime they had committed, as well as the dismissal of the criminal case a few months later by the Prosecution, which concluded that: “the director of the construction site did not know that the church was a cultural monument, as he had not seen it. the sign on her door, where it was said that she was protected by the state ”?!
Although more than half a century has passed since the demolition and demolition of the Church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës, which was built in the 13th century and was the only object of worship held by those belonging to the period of before the Turkish occupation, even being considered as one of the objects of cultural heritage with rare and unique values not only in Albania but also in the Balkans, still continues to this day to be discussed and discussed, not only for its great importance. that it had that facility that was protected by the state as a Cultural Monument, but also for the way it was demolished and who were those who ordered its destruction ?! Since the beginning of June 1969, when that rare object of Albanian cultural heritage, which was included in the catalogs and various European magazines, came out, the “black smoke” has circulated and still continues to spread various legends and testimonies. , never “reconciling” in a concrete name, as for the real author of its destruction and those who hid behind it… ?! This event, which has been rightly considered by many cultural heritage personalities, various scholars, etc., as one of the biggest vandalisms of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, in the “great action for the fight against religious beliefs” that led to the destruction of dozens of cult objects of great cultural value. Regarding this unique event, from the day when the news was just learned, or more precisely “the way”, that it no longer existed, the director and at the same time the founder of the Institute of Cultural Monuments in Tirana, the famous architect, Gani Strazimiri, ( educated and graduated in Italy and the Soviet Union), otherwise known as the “legend of cultural monuments”, made the denunciation to the prosecution and sued the state. And after a long ordeal of his, knocking on the highest offices of the communist state of that time, where he made denunciations with concrete names for the perpetrators of that masquerade, as well as with letters, telegrams, reports, information, etc., etc. that case was closed by the General Prosecutor’s Office, with the banalest possible argument that: “the director of the construction site who ordered the destruction of that church did not know that it was a cultural monument, as he did not see the sign that was at its door.” ?!
In connection with this event and the whole history of the destruction of that cult object that has already remained only in the memory of those people who have had the opportunity to see it up close, or in some film images and rare photos, we know some archival documents that Memorie.al has provided them from the fund of the former Central Committee of the ALP, which clearly and accurately proves the true “face” of that regime, which, although it took the decision to demolish that church, did not have the courage to God forbid that action, but he hid behind some workers and leaders of a construction site who were working on the construction of the Vau I Dejës Hydropower Plant, saying that: “they demolished it with initiative in the framework of the fight against religious ideology” ?!
Urgent telegram from the Institute of Monuments addressed to the Shkodra Prosecutor’s Office, where it denounces the demolition of the Church of Vau I Dejës.
Shkodra Prosecutor’s Office, for the information of the General Prosecutor’s Office in Tirana
We are informed that the 13th-century church of Vau i Dejës, which is legally protected by the state, has been blown up by mines. Please pursue legal action.
Institute of Monuments
Minutes of the demolition of the church, held by the representative of the Institute of Cultural Monuments
P R O C E S – V E R B A L
Held today on 12/6/1969 in Shkodra by the inspector of the education and culture section of the Executive Committee of the People’s Council of Shkodra district, Agim Kodraliu and the representative of the Institute of Cultural Monuments, Miltiadh Papa on the destruction of the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës, which has been declared a cultural monument.
Around 30/5/1969 (the exact date was not confirmed) the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës, at the gate of which was placed the table of cultural monuments, was blown up with dynamite. After we met with the director of N.SH.N. Hydroelectro, of Vau i Dejës, and the secretary of the Enterprise Party Committee were told at first that the workers, on their own initiative, to destroy the influence of religion, destroyed the monument. The director then told us that he was aware of its destruction and that this action seemed perfectly normal.
Today the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës is completely destroyed and no trace of it is preserved except the pile of stones.
Representative of the Institute. Mon. Cult.
Education and Cult Inspector. Near K.E. K.P. Shkoder
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA
INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL MONUMENTS
It turns out that it is the same as the original
THE PRESIDENT OF THE PLAN-ADMINISTRATIVE Body
Letter from the Director of the Institute of Cultural Monuments, Gani Strazimiri, to the Shkodra Prosecutor’s Office, denouncing the perpetrators of the church demolition
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA
INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL MONUMENTS Tirana, 16/6/1969
SH K O D Ë R
T I R A N Ë
Following our telegram No. 5/13 dated 11/6/1969, we explain to you the circumstances we commented on the destruction of the Church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës, which has been declared a cultural monument.
As will be seen in the minutes, to which we attach, the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës was completely destroyed by explosives, together with the large church near it, which was not a cultural monument, but was adapted for kino-club.
At the gate of the church declared a cultural monument, the relevant sign was placed and it was known by all that it was placed under state protection. Even after the study of all religious monuments by a commission set up by the Ministry of Education and Culture and their selection, the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës had remained a monument. The final list of religious monuments was sent to the Executive Committee of the Shkodra district with a letter from the Ministry of Education and Culture No. 68/7 Prot. Dated 30/5/1969, but the Church of Vau Dejës has already been declared a monument and there has never been any question of its removal from state protection, so there was no place for any misunderstanding in this regard.
After learning of the destruction of the monument, we sent our representative to verify this fact and met with the director of the N.SH.N. Vau Dejës hydroelectric power plant comrade Emin Musliu, who, although fully aware of the action to be taken, initially claimed that the monument was blown up by the workers’ initiative, in the context of the fight against religious ideology, but from the conversation of It was further implied that he was the main cause of the destruction of this monument, while he said that “even if there are other religious monuments in the territory of the hydropower plant, we will destroy them.” The claim that the workers, without the knowledge of the directorate, blew up the monument, seems completely unfounded since no explosives can be used by anyone, especially in the territory of Vau Dejës, which is densely populated.
The monument was destroyed not only because it was necessary for the construction of the hydropower plant, a fact that was not denied by its leaders, but also if this variant was accepted for a moment, it had to act in accordance with the regulation “On the preservation of cultural monuments”, approved by the decision of the Council of Ministers no. 130. Dated 9/4/1955.
The Church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës was a monument of great architectural and artistic importance, built in the XIII century and the only Roman style that was preserved in our country, therefore its destruction brought a great loss. the legacy of the past in the field of material culture.
We think the main responsibility for the destruction of this important monument lies with the director of N.SH.N. Vau Dejës hydroelectric power plant, comrade Emin Musliu and we demand that criminal proceedings be instituted under the second paragraph of Article 265 of the Criminal Code. We emphasize that this is not the only case of destruction of monuments in the district of Shkodra, so the punishment will have the effect of protecting other monuments in the future.
D I R E C T O R
Gani Strazimir’s complaint to the General Prosecutor’s Office, for the dismissal of the criminal case by the Shkodra Prosecutor’s Office
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA
INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL MONUMENTS
Nr. 5/25 Prot. Tirana on 30/8/1969
GENERAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
T I R A N Ë
Shkodra District Prosecutor’s Office with letter no. 192/3 Prot. Dated 15/8/1969 sends us the decision to dismiss the criminal case regarding our denunciation made with the telegram dated 11 / VI / 1969 and with the letter of Prot. Dated 16/6/1969 for the destruction of the Monument of Culture, the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës. We do not agree with this decision for the following reasons:
The decision to dismiss the criminal case based on the article of K.Pr.P. is not argued and there are contradictions in itself. The circumstances surrounding the destruction of the monument are first described in detail, the fact that the director of the construction site of Qyrsaq Muhedin Muçua gave an order for this, finally with unfounded reasoning by applying without applying Article 98/5, he is dismissed from criminal responsibility… In this case, the illegal actions of Muhedin Muço, or any other person, contain approximately an element of the figure of the crime provided by Article 265/2 of the Criminal Code.
The investigation of the case is not complete, because we think that the main culprit for the destruction of the monument is the director of N.SH.N. of Vau Dejës Hydro-Electro, Emin Musliu, who was not even questioned by the investigator. The employee of our Institute, who was sent to verify the location of the monument, met with Emin Musliu, who, pointing to a significant underestimation of the monuments of this genus, told him that he was not only aware of the issue but even if there are other such monuments in the territory of the hydropower plant they will be destroyed! But more negligent expressions, which have infuriated the entire team of this Institute, have been partially fixed in the minutes that we have sent you on the occasion of the denunciation. But the very fact that in the center of the Vau Dejës construction site preparations were made to blow up an object with explosives leaves no doubt that the main executives of the company if they have not ordered such an action, at least e have approved. Even our opinion is that in this case it should not have been done without the knowledge of the leaders in the district.
However, as long as Muhedin Muçua takes the blame, as we think, to hide the main perpetrator, because, as has been said, it is impossible for the director of the enterprise not to have approved of this action. That he should be held criminally liable.
Also, although it took three months, the investigation of the case was one-sided, while only the persons who committed it or have anything to do with the crime, were questioned, and the employee of the Miltiadh Papa Institute, who went to his country, was not even called to the investigator. event and met with the main executives of the Hydropower Plant, who did not deny at all the fact that they were aware of the destruction of the monument.
Based on the decision of the Shkodra district investigation, the reason for the cessation of the criminal case is the fact that Muhedin Muçua did not know that the church of St. Mary was a cultural monument. This conclusion is refuted by the reasoning of the decision itself, while it is accepted that the relevant sign was placed on the door of the church. The verdict shows that Muhedin Muçua himself did not know the reason for this, and in order to escape criminal responsibility, he says that he did not order the demolition of the church, which is refuted by Ingj’s deposits. Vangjel Paskos, technician, Gani Beqiri, and brigadier, Hazhim Zyberi.
At the beginning of the works for the construction of the Vau Dejës Hydropower Plant, we were interested and found that the church of St. Mary was outside the territory of the works and did not hinder their performance. The fact that it was a cultural monument is impossible not to know from the employees of the Hydropower Plant and especially from the leaders of the works, such as Muhedin Muçua. Even if his statement is accepted for a moment, then the engineer, the technician, and the brigadier who studied the placement of the church in the wind instead, at least have seen that the table of cultural monuments was placed on its gate and this must be done. have told the director of their construction site.
Two years ago, on the occasion that the big church, which was not a cultural monument, was adapted for a cinema-club, it has definitely become known, and otherwise why it was not given up in the small church. Also unbelievable is the claim of Muhedin Muço, that he has never been to the scene, that as it was said, the big church next to the cultural monument, for a long time has served as a cinema club for workers and he is construction director. However, the People’s Council of the village of Vaut Dejës, as a body of local government in the country, has been warned that the church of St. Mary is a cultural monument with our letter no. 6/11 Prot. Dated 1/4/1966. We reiterate to you that the existence of the sign on the door of the monument is the main fact that refutes the claim of its destroyers and the justification of the decision to dismiss the criminal case.
The claim that the church of St. Mary in Vaun e Dejës was destroyed to eradicate the influence of religion on the villagers seems completely baseless and for these cases, Comrade Enver in the report “On the role and tasks of the Democratic Front in the fight for the complete victory of socialism in Albania ”, 14/9/1967, said:“ The misconception that religion is the church, the mosque, the priest, the imam, the icons, etc. must be fought, and that these are disappearing, the religion and its influence on people”. Our people are aware and very well differentiate between cult constructions that have been declared cultural monuments and religious institutions. This distinction is very clearly and practically in Vaun e Dejës, while, a few years ago from the two churches, adjacent to each other, one that was a cultural monument was not touched, while the others were adapted for a cinema club. These things have been very clear, definitely, like the workers, especially…/Memorie.al