By Dr. Uran Butka
Memorie.al / Mirash Ivanaj, is an extraordinary personality, among the few chosen people, to strongly express himself, the cultural elite and the Albanian nation. A polyhedral figure: patriotic leader, giant of Albanian thought and action in the 1930s-’40s of the last century, creator and reformer of national education, model statesman, one of the most knowledgeable intellectuals of the time, researcher, poet, publicist, chronicler, translator, unbroken opponent of the fascist occupation of Albania and the communist dictatorship, martyr of the nation. He left his homeland together with his brother Martin Ivanaj, a prominent jurist, president of the Dictation Court, as well as his friends, the architect Qemal Butka and the philosopher Branko Merxhani, as a rejection of the Italian occupation of Albania and as a rescue for their lives. He himself explains this exile in the extraordinary diary “We, who found salvation in running away”, after the anti-Italian civil and student protests, which Mirashi also supported.
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Fascist Italy, after its aggression against the defenseless and unsupported Albania, attacked, now recently, Greece, to cause moral and material destruction there as well, which it also brought to us. In order to hide his criminal intentions towards the Albanian people, whose military forces he wants to use for his own account, the aggressor has invented pretexts to make him believe that this is in the interest of Albania…! The aggressor, who took the Albanian people’s independence and exiled his best sons to the shores of Italy, has no right to speak on behalf of the Albanian people…!
The Albanians, who, on that Black Friday of 1939, were the first to make an armed resistance to an aggressive power, protest energetically against this new Italian aggression. They wholeheartedly wish the victory of the Allies and are ready to make the greatest sacrifices for the triumph of the Allied cause, which is also the cause of Albania.
In the name of Albanian refugees
Mirash Ivanaj Ing. Qemal Butka
Chairman of the Public State Council
Former Minister of Education
Former Mayor of Tirana Municipality
Istanbul, October 30, 1940
Even the return of Mirash Ivanaj to Albania, in October 1945, is, first and foremost, a patriotic act. He was one of the few well-known intellectuals who returned, with the unquenchable desire to continue the work started in the field of national education. Of course, Gjergj Kokoshi’s effort to bring the great cultural potential of Mirash Ivanaj to Albania also had an impact in this direction. In the letter he sends, he begs Ivanj to return, saying that after the war, Albania needed education and culture more than ever, promising him the guarantees of the Albanian state. When they told him that communist terror ruled Albania, he replied: “I have never been involved in politics. I’m going to Albania to work as a teacher, because that’s what she needs most”.
He kissed the ground at the border and after many adventures he arrived in Tirana
“All roads led me only here” – he says. “I did not come to Albania, but I came to my homeland. The ghost of this homeland never called you. I obeyed this fairy. In spite of my old age, with very difficult means of communication, they dusted and snarled, so that neither I nor others knew me, I came to the Motherland…! I do not deny that one of the reasons for my return are also books, i.e. my library…! Don’t think that I came for their value as money, not at all, I came for their scientific and linguistic value. I had some rare, even unique texts”.
Dr. Mirash Ivanaj, one of the nation’s most knowledgeable people and one of the richest people in books, had a dream to create land with Mit’hat Frashëri, an Institute of Albanian Studies. “Years ago, in a conversation with Mit’hat Frashëri, we discussed the creation of an Albanological Institute. That’s when we agreed with Mit’hat, who, as a true patriot and as a worthy leader of Frashërllinje, would make available all his capital and his entire library, so large and so rich”.
When he returned to his homeland, he did not find the only treasure of his books, documents and manuscripts. This was Mirashi’s greatest pain, after the death of his brother in Istanbul.
“Among the manuscripts, I also have some original documents and a lot of correspondence, which, if found, will clarify some important moments in the history of Albania…! I hope that a part of these materials can be in the State Archives. If these are there, then I hope that something will come to light.”
His prediction was correct. In the State Archives, a real treasure has been preserved, in the five boxes of the Ivanaj fund and in other funds. Among the original documents, the diaries and the poems entitled “The Epic of Man”, the play “Saint Elmo’s Fire” – joint works of the Ivanaj brothers. Laura’s two theses are missing, as well as his historical work, “Albania at the time of Byzantium”.
Andrea Xega says that, when he had taken him to be operated on, Mirashi had begged him to be interested when he was released for this important study in the field of Albanian history.
The hospitality given to Mirash Ivanaj by the real intellectuals who were still alive, as well as the greetings that came to him from his former students from Shkodra, Tirana, Vlora, Korça, etc. they warmed his tender and sensitive heart. Skender Luarasi, his close friend, with the illusion of a new democratic state, invited Ivanaj to run for deputy, as he himself would do in Cologne, but he was quickly disappointed. Mirash Ivanaj refused, saying that he would be shamed by the voters, because he did not deserve that great honor because he had not contributed to the country’s freedom. Then he had so much work to do in the field of education, without which no democratic state could progress.
The Minister of Education, Gjergj Kokoshi, proposed several tasks, but Mirashi accepted the most important one, that of lecturer at the Women’s Institute, which he had founded himself.
The state reserved a hypocritical reception. “They took me straight to the ‘Continental’ hotel. I knew this hotel well and it seemed to me that they were honoring me. Later I found out that that hotel belonged to the Ministry of the Interior and that every movement and word there was controlled and reported to the right place”
(From the conversation in prison with Gjergj Buban).
“Enver Hoxha also welcomed me and told me that I would be given all the necessary facilities to work for the good of the country…! Here you have not only old friends, but also old associates like the honorable minister and deputy, Gjergj Kokoshi, he told me. Only in prison could I understand the depth and meanness of this irony. Immediately after uttering these words, it was as if he lost his naturalness and as if under the mask of that glaze, something ghastly was hiding. I realized later that he was targeting Kokoshi…! And not only Gjergj Kokoshin”.
“To be honest, I was lied to. Naivety is not forgiven! I knew that I had not taken any action against the Movement; I knew that the partisans and some of the leaders were my students. You knew yourself clean; I said I’m coming back. When I grew up in Elbasan, a small partisan stuck behind me and didn’t leave me until they threw me in prison…! Even Gjergj Kokoshi was more naive than me. Now I understand that he did not understand anything about communism, especially this Albanian communism! Without any harm at all, he came one day and told me that the Prime Minister himself (Enver Hoxha) had allowed him to create an opposition. He was also preparing to publish a newspaper. With what my eyes were seeing all around, Gjergji’s words seemed to me not only utopia, but completely absurd, unbelievable. In the dungeon, reflecting on this matter, I came to the conclusion that these were maneuvers devised by the dictatorial communist regime, to put Kokoshin and others in a bracket”
(From the conversation in prison with Dr. Lazër Radin)
Enver Hoxha also played this game with Mirash Ivanaj.
-“You see, how well I am waiting for you,” he continued very cordially, even though you cut off my school scholarship in France.
– “I don’t remember such a thing. But if I have cut the scholarship, I would have been told that you were not doing well with the lessons…”!
No more than six months had passed since his return, enough time to realize that hypocritical and criminal scenario of dictator Hoxha.
However, Mirash Ivanaj put his heart and soul to work, but he noticed something, or everything, that was not going well. He failed to understand how many well-known and honest intellectuals were put in prisons and killed, among them his best friend, the patriot Gjergj Kokoshi. For this he would write in his diary: “I never believe that Gjergji has betrayed those ideals, for which he went to the mountains to fight…”!
An internal spiritual war was shaking the faith, calmness and balance of the eagle of free thought, towards those who sacrificed the nation’s most prominent, starting with staged military trials throughout, in the ‘Special Trial’ of 1945, with the trials against the ‘Group of Deputies’, with the trial against the clergy, with the trial against the resistance groups and the war against communism, with the trials against Anglo-American “saboteurs” and “agents”, and others and others, as well as with the murders without trials, with the unprecedented murders by the investigator that reach thousands themselves, with the mass deportations and imprisonments without end and without sides that have no other example in history.
Precisely at this time of terror, Mirash Ivanaj was arrested as well as many other completely innocent intellectuals. However, his arrest is also special, because there was no pretext and at the same time he did not present any danger. An old man, around 60, who didn’t mix with anyone, who didn’t deal with politics, a wise man, taciturn and soft-spoken, calm and cultured who only dealt with books and his students. Or since he was dealing with books and students, he was considered dangerous for the government?! In the documents we have, as well as from the witnesses, it appears that no such version was forwarded to the government, because Mirash Ivanaj enjoyed great love and respect among the students and teachers of the school.
But even he was engulfed by the waves of communist terror against the patriots and democratic nationalists, he was engulfed by the grudge and revenge of the dictator, to whom Mirash Ivanaj owed a debt and which he had to pay. When he was the Minister of Education, Mirash Ivanaj, he cut Enver Hoxha’s scholarship.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
Please note that at the end of March 1934, the student Enver Hoxha will definitely receive a scholarship in France.
Minister of Education
He was arrested on May 15, 1947 by Skënder Kosova by order of Koçi Xoxes, who persecuted intellectuals, while the official detention order was issued on May 19, 1947, that is, two days after he was imprisoned by the public prosecutor, Xhevit Struga. This same prosecutor, on 21.5.1947, orders the imprisonment of Mirash Ivanaj, “for criminal offenses against the people and the state for an indefinite period in the prison of the enemies of the people”.
The investigative process begins on 11.2.1948, i.e. after 270 days of inhuman torture in prison. Llambi Llambiri, former political prisoner together with Mirash Ivanaj, says about him: “Even when he himself was tortured, he did not complain and his words were a relief and courage for us. He would magically remove the pain and pain of humiliation or revenge. Only once was he indignant and despairing beyond measure: a criminal warden from the villages of Tepelena, a certain Selami Sula, comes one day to our dungeon, with a long stick in his hand:
– What were you? – addresses Mirash Ivanaj.
-Albanian, – Mirashi replied.
– You were also a Minister! – exploded the guard and hit him on the head with as much force as he had with the thick stick. Mirashi fell to the ground bleeding and unconscious. When it was mentioned, he asked us with the naivety of a child:
– Why do you see me, sir?
When they tortured him in the cell to force him to tell and accept his “crimes”, he endured them with stoicism and silence, but, beaten like this, in vain, he did not understand and could not calm down. He asked for a cigarette. It was the first time he had asked. He smoked a lot when he could find it, but it was very rare and there was no one to bring it to him. I often, when I was younger, remembers Llambi, I used to collect the cigarette butts thrown by the guards and make some cigarettes. I asked to give it to Mirash, but he wouldn’t accept it: “You get tired, drink for yourself – and he wouldn’t take it.”
The tortures were so unbearable and the demands so absurd that many sensitive intellectuals could not bear them. Dhimitër Pasko, the great writer, Mirash Ivanaj’s co-sufferer in prison, in a moment of desperation, tried to cut his veins with a nail but could not find the vein, while the nail was forcibly removed from his hands. But the mountaineer Mirash Ivanaj did not break.
Almost a year passed like that. Finally, in the Security section of Tirana, on 11.2.1948, the minutes of the investigation were drawn up by the investigator, First Captain Beqir Ndou. After two months, on 3.4.1948, the Military Court of Tirana started the judicial process against the defendant Mirash Ivanaj. The jury consisted of: Abdyl Hakiu-chairman, Shaban Rexha-member, Sali Çela-member and the military prosecutor, Petrit Hakini, who also read the claim. Memorie.al
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