Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Major General Halim Xhelos, former Director of State Security at the Ministry of Defense, who in 1966 wrote an anonymous letter to Enver Hoxha, regarding the catastrophic situation where Enver was leading the Albanian people and the senior leadership of the ALP, as well as the issue of abolishing ranks in the Army, according to the Chinese model. The full letter of the rebel general from Vlora and the testimony of Colonel Ahmet Mehmeti on how it became possible to find the author of that letter and how he was arrested in the Hotel “Sazani” in Vlora where he had gone with his son in an attempt to did you escape?!
“While Major General Halim Xhelo left for Vlora, a few hours later, in the office of the Minister of Defense Beqir Balluku, three senior servicemen (one of the Army and two of the Ministry of Interior) were called and by order from above, they were informed of the order to leave immediately for Vlora, traveling by plane. As soon as they arrived in Vlora, they discovered that Halimi and his son were in the Sazani Hotel (formerly the Moscow Hotel), and upon receiving that signal, they immediately went there to arrest him. “After arresting him, under strict security measures, they immediately brought him to the Tirana prison, where after the accusation was communicated to him as the author of the anonymous letter, the investigation immediately began”. This is how Colonel Ahmet Mehmeti remembers the arrest of the former Director of State Security for the Army, Major General Halim Xhelos, in 1966, after the anonymous letter he had written to Enver Hoxha. What did the famous Vlora general write in that letter, how was it discovered that he was its author and how was it possible to arrest him in a hotel in Vlora, where he had gone with the intention of escaping? For all these and other unknown facts from that distant event, we know the exclusive interview for Memorie.al of Ahmet Mehmeti, a former senior military officer in the Planning Directorate at the General Staff of the Army in the Ministry of Defense in the years’ 60, who knew the rebel general closely who disagreed with the Politburo’s decision to remove him from the ranks.
Mr. Mehmeti, how was the decision of the Politburo to remove the ranks received at that time by the large mass of the military?
Before answering your question directly, in parentheses I wanted to add that with the announcement made by the senior leadership of the ALP at that time on the decision taken by the Political Bureau for the further revolutionization of the Party, the Government and the Army, in it all the Party-based organizations, from the Ministry of Defense down to the unit, discussed extensively what had to be done with the Army in relation to the orientation coming from above. In this context, the opinion of the base regarding the abolition of ranks was discussed and withdrawn. There were many reactions to this problem, for and against, but all the reactions that were against, were argued with the fact that the removal of ranks would weaken the discipline in the army. One of the senior militaries who most opposed the removal of ranks, was Colonel Dilaver Radëshi, who wrote a letter to the senior leadership of the ALP, and at the same time with that letter was made another anonymous letter, where he objected categorical removal of ranks in the army. That letter, which was personally addressed to Enver Hoxha, as it was later learned, was made by the Chief of Army Security, Major General Halim Xhelo. While Dilaver’s letter was by name and did not constitute a major hat (although Dilaver ended up in prison), what was sent anonymously set in motion all the links of the state and the relevant Security and Intelligence bodies took the work very seriously for him. made possible the discovery of its author.
On whom did the first suspicions fall as the author of that letter and was Halim Xhelon suspected?
I am not mentioning specific names, but there were many doubts at that time. But, until the truth was revealed, Halim Xhelon was not even thought of.
You personally, did you ever meet Halim at the time he had made the letter and did you discuss this problem?
During the time the whole army was discussing the issue of demotion and that of the anonymous letter, I met with Halim two or three times. Like all other military, and we normally discussed the problem of the letter, but without knowing that Halimi was its author.
What did Halimi say about the letter?
I still remember Halim’s words when he said to me: “Dilaver was a man at least and made the letter open, but what is it that has made him anonymous and is bringing us around and we cannot find him. There are many Dilavers who do not appear on stage “, and then cursed again and again what he had written. After this meeting, I met Halim the day before he was arrested, as he came there to the ministry to get an authorization to go to Sazan Island. Since he did not find the Chief of General Staff in his office, General Petrit Dumen (who had the right to issue the authorization to go to Sazan), when he was leaving the ministry, Halimi returned to the office where I worked and asked me if a map had been prepared that he had requested for the territory of Albania where the border areas were located. He also instructed me that when General Petrit came, I should take his authority to Sazan, telling me that he had talked to him himself. As he was leaving, he said to me: “Come with me to Vlora and Sazan”.
Did you get the authorization according to the order he left you?
When General Petrit came, I presented him the message that Halimi left me, telling him that he had asked me to go to Vlora as well. Petrit immediately ordered the formulation of the authorization, which he signed and sealed immediately, but he told me: “You will not go to Vlora, as we will leave together in Burrel, because we have a problem.” That afternoon Halimi came to the ministry with his car “Popjeda” and after receiving the authorization, he immediately left for Vlora, together with his son who was with him in the car.
How did the events unfold after Halimi left for Vlora?
While Halimi left for Vlora, a few hours later, three senior military officers were called to the office of the Minister of Defense, one of the armies and two of the Ministry of Interior. By order from above, they were informed of the order to leave immediately for Vlora, traveling by a flying vehicle. As soon as they arrived in Vlora, they discovered that Halimi and his son were in the former “Moscow” hotel, and upon receiving that signal, they immediately went there making his arrest. After arresting him, under strict security measures, they immediately brought him to the Tirana prison, where he was informed of the charges as the author of the anonymous letter, and the investigation began.
How was the discovery of the letter made possible, so that it was written by Halim Xhelo?
As I said above, the competent Security and Intelligence bodies immediately started working to find the author of that letter that had disturbed the senior leadership and personally Enver Hoxha. Relevant expertise was initially done to find the typewriter with which that letter was written. After comparing the papers, it was concluded that the letter was not written with the typewriters available to the Army Security branch, but it belonged to a typewriter of the Ministry of Defense, which was sent for repair to the Army Barracks Branch. After finding the typewriter, the first suspicions were cast that the letter had been written by that ministry and several people were placed under surveillance. Simultaneously, all entry-exit registers were verified in the Barracks Branch and it turned out that the car, which belonged to an office in the Ministry of Defense, had been taken for one day by the secretary of the Army Security Directorate, where she was driving. Halim Xhelo. She had been looking for that car for a day, telling her hers was broken. After her signatures were found for receiving and handing over the typewriter, she was called and questioned, where she admitted everything. The secretary claimed that, at Halimi’s request, he had written the letter in another typewriter, in order not to be discovered. This statement of hers coincided with a day and a time when Halim Xhelo was traveling to Vlora. So, this was the reason why the three senior military men who had been called to the office of the Minister of Defense, received orders to travel by flying to Vlora, as they suspected that Halimi tended to escape through Sazan. It was said at the time that Halimi found out about the arrest of his secretary and therefore left for Vlora to escape.
It is said that Halim Xhelon was poisoned in Burrell Prison after he started telling State Security crimes?
No, Halim Xhelo drowned himself in a cell, exactly the day Beqir Balluku was arrested in Durrës. This happened after he held out hope that he would be released one day with the intervention of Beqiri. In 1966, even Beqiri and Petrit were against the abolition of ranks, and even forced Petrit to make self-criticism in the Party organization. And many years later it was rumored that General-Halim Xhelon had pushed Beqir Balluku to make that letter. I do not know how true this is, but it was rumored even before Beqiri’s arrest and this was known by many officers of the Ministry of Defense.
Letter from the general who died in Burrell Prison in ’75: “Enver, this is how you are massacring this people.”
Dear friend Enver
We are a group of military and civil communists who have fought, we love our party, our power and our people, but seeing that these are being endangered, we decided to write to you to resign before it is too late. You have decided to make a host of reforms: such as reducing salaries, sending cadres to the barracks, removing ranks, dressing in Chinese uniform, etc., etc. The peasantry is being robbed of everything and they have become a point of sorrow for the bread of the mouth. Workers have to work from morning till night to achieve high rates. In short, all sections of the population are being strangled. Why all this after 22 years of liberation? Now everyone is thinking about what will happen in the future. No one has a safe tomorrow. Enemies surround us but with this wave of discontent that has engulfed the entire population, it is difficult to defend power. Why risk a power and party that does not care about us at all? You have put silent silence. Bread, oil, pasta, cheese, etc. are given only on the basis of the register. But do not forget that the dissatisfied are no longer the enemies of the classes but us the people of power, we who until yesterday fought and sacrificed and who thought that we would be like that until the end. If you are so aware of the savings in the interest of the people, you are the first to set your personal example in everything starting from yourself. Leave the many luxury cars, comfortable villas set up in every city for you, pay the rents, heating, food, water, electricity, remove the many guards in New Tirana and you will see the great difficulties of life. Take your wives and relatives away from the big responsibilities first, put them first in production and there you will see the wave of dissatisfaction that exists. You, your wives and your children go out in the morning gymnastics, run the streets of Tirana and then we will run after you.
Thus, a good personal example is set. Then go to the villages without notifying them to wait for you, and you will see where our villager has become, how badly the people live and the officer who will defend the Republic. Not with conferences but if you do not want the true opinion of the masses, put these reforms in the army and the people to a secret ballot and this is where you will get what the people think, the support that you trumpet. In open conferences, people cannot freely say what they think because they do not want to be put in jail or in internment camps. What matters is that people everywhere are talking and worrying about what will happen to us tomorrow. People are being filled with hatred and every patience has a limit. Our children do not want to live and grow up with the comforts of your own children, but with the necessities of life.
The military thinks: Why rejuvenate the military tomorrow? Or for a treatment like being. And tomorrow give the head first. Why this? All those who accuse us of dogmatism are right. It was the Yugoslavs and we did what they wanted, the Soviets came and we did what they ordered, the Chinese came and we men became Asians. The Chinese put in the physical work and us right away, the Chinese do street gymnastics, should we do the same?! The Chinese take away the ranks, oh men, let us take away them too. If the Chinese eat you … we will surely eat too. These are the culmination of servility, copying and burying of everything national, of everything national. We are losing everything, every pride as a people and as a nation. These are not told to you openly but everyone talks to them among true friends where they have confidence.
Only you, the leadership, should think deeply about these issues and not let our victories be jeopardized. These reckless steps today, perhaps tomorrow will be irreparable. Give up before it’s too late. Do not underestimate these thoughts that your friends tell you. These circulate mostly to communists and especially cadres. If you react correctly, we will never think that “they withdrew from the pressure”, but we will say that the leadership listened to the voice of the masses. No wonder you laugh at these thoughts. One day you will give us the right! With honor and respect. A group of military and civilian cadres / Memorie.al