By Gjergj Titani
Memorie.al / for the first time, we have been able to provide the witness account of many historical events. The conversation with Pandi Kristo, a senior figure of the Communist Party of Albania and the Albanian state, took place in Tirana, in the house of his son-in-law, Robert Vullkani, where he was forced to live, when he was released from exile, since the Albanian democratic state, never gave him a home. The regime, for which he fought, targeted him to liquidate Pandi Kristo, placing him in the group of Koçi Xoxes, convicted for “hostile activities”. For 42 years in a row, I would wander the prisons of the communist dictatorship and successive exiles, until communism was overthrown forever, at the beginning of the 90s. The interview was conducted in the years 1992 – 1993 and over the years, it was completed, according to the memories and family archive of Pandi’s daughter, Assembly Kristo (Vullkani), sister, and veteran of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War, his son-in-law, Robert Vullkani and the memories of many contemporaries. Here is Pandi Kristo’s confession.
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Mr. Pandi, for many Albanians, the physical liquidation of Niko Xoxi, one of the most active members of the Communist Group of Korça, who became the head of the Communist Group of Shkodra, has remained an enigma. How do you remember this interesting and mysterious case?
Niko Xoxi, was a shoemaker-owner, as were many of the members of our group. Niko had a sufficient initial Marxist culture, was resourceful, an active organizer and had very rational, independent thoughts. I remember that this fighter of the communist cause was an old friend of the leading core of the Communist Group of Korça. He was not separated from Sotir Vullkani, Miha Lako, Pilo Peristeri and the rest of us. Niko, there were some powerful reasons that made him part with our group.
This communist insisted that, before the expansion of the communist and labor movement, theoretically capable cadres with organizational leadership skills should have been created, and then the leadership of the working class and its leadership staff, the Communist Party of Albania, should be taken over. Was Niko Xoxi not right with this idea of his? Of course yes. Then, for whose sake was this cadre, so distinguished and with several years of revolutionary experience, liquidated?
Although he was married with two children, he moved his activity to the Communist Group of Shkodra. Upon arriving in Shkodër, Niko not only became active in a vigorous manner, but there he was also elected to head the Group. In the trial against the communists, at the beginning of 1939, in which I was tried and convicted, Niko Xoxi was also convicted and sent to Mbrezhdan in Berat.
It must be said that Niko’s attitude, not only during the interrogation, but also before the arrest, was dignified. Immediately, as soon as we got out of Mbrezhdan prison, Niko, Zef Mala, and many others, were arrested by the Italian secret police and interned in Ventotene, Italy. The greatest misfortune, for this pioneer of the Albanian Communist Movement, was that, according to an old and secret decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Albania, an assassination was organized and he was physically liquidated in Korça, accused as: “element archeo-Marxist, spy, and enemy of the Party”. This macabre murder was carried out with the order and insistence of Miladin Popovici, Dushan Mugosha and Enver Hoxha, who alone directed the work of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Tirana.
Knowing Niko Xox well, I always thought that; why this attitude towards him? Why this sectarianism so extreme, towards a communist like him?! In the same way, the same attitude was maintained with the tailor worker, Taqo Plaku, originally from Hoçishti, a veteran of the Albanian Communist Movement. Taqo Plaku, was killed in an assassination attempt organized by a guerrilla unit from Korça, in front of the door of his house, for the same charges as Niko, leaving two daughters orphans, who lived, grew up and lived under the pressure of this murder, very unfair. These terrorist methods, for the liquidation of revolutionary cadres and comrades of an ideal, regardless of which city and province they were from, or which Communist Group they belonged to, until the arrival of the Yugoslav group near the Albanian Communist Party, had not had any kind of practice such.
This great damage, which followed step by step the development of the Albanian communist movement and the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War, came as a result of the Balkan Byzantine forms and methods imported by the Yugoslav Communist Party, but also from the subjective attitudes of the Yugoslav representatives, in general, Miladin Popović and Dušan Mugoša, in particular. Therefore, I never agree with what Enver Hoxha writes in the book “Kur Lindi Partia”, because for his ambitions and inferiority complexes Enver and Miladini, many of our friends I mentioned above, put them in a row with enemy elements, like Zef Ndoja or any other, what is there is unforgivable.
How did you wait in Korça on November 8, 1941, which coincides with the creation of the Albanian Communist Party?
We were eagerly awaiting the news of the formation of the Party. In those days, Koçi Xoxe, former vice-president of the Communist Group of Korça, was with us to organize the only anti-fascist demonstration, which would mark the first combat baptism of the Albanian Communist Party, which was expected to be formed from moment to moment. . On November 8, 1941, in the center of the city, under the nose of the invaders, a powerful demonstration organized by the communists broke out.
Let’s not forget that the day before, on November 7 of the same year, was the commemoration day of the October Socialist Revolution, so the fascist secret police and willing local spies smelled everything we were doing. Meanwhile, since the founding meeting had started in Tirana, in the city of Korça, we, with Koçi Xoxen at the head, equipped with patriotic banners and the national flag at the head, burst into the central boulevard from the monument of the National Warrior, towards the monument of Themistokli Gërmenji.
In the center of the demonstrators, was Koci Bako and Muharrem Butka, who symbolically, dressed in a beautiful black gown representing the patriotic people, held the flag of the demonstrators in his hand. Precisely there, where the monument of the famous warrior, the renaissance Themistokl Gërmenji, was located, the clash with the forces of the fascist militia took place. From this clash, the old communist Koci Bako, the first martyr of the “People’s Hero”, was killed, and the flag bearer, Muharrem Butka, was seriously injured. The demonstration was widely attended by workers, peasants, students, various revolted citizens, protesting against the occupier and at the same time celebrating the establishment of the Albanian Communist Party.
Immediately, I and other comrades, did everything we could to withdraw the body of Koci Bako and the guerilla unit, directed by the boy originally from Dardha e Korça, the future general, Vaskë Gjino and the students of the Technical School; Dino Kalenja (“Hero of the People”), Abaz Fejzo, future general of the People’s Army, successfully completed this task. My sister, Vangjeli Tona (Kristo), along with my mother, provided a special help, filling the house full of demonstration participants, mostly students, who could not return to their homes or dormitories. With the measures taken to close the demonstration, Koçi Xoxe, as a delegate of the Communist Group of Korça, at the founding meeting of the Albanian Communist Party, started with the sihariq that the people of Korçë taught the invaders a good lesson.
All other boasts, which Enver Hoxha unscrupulously slanders, are untruths and fabrications. As if this professor, who didn’t depend on anyone and accidentally, found himself in our meeting, was the epicenter of this headquarters. Enver Hoxha, perhaps because of our negligence, unforgivable and the terrible mistakes of the chairman of the Communist Group of Korça, Koço Tashko, who had an inexplicable affection for this man, who ironically, using all the opportunities and opportunities that gave time, destroyed us all, putting Koço Tashko in prison, exiled for a long time, and snatched his own party from the hands of the Albanian working class.
What can you tell us about the first active consultation of the KPSH, which was held in Tirana, from April 12-14, 1942?
An advisory asset at the national level was necessary, since Miladini and Enver, especially after the arrest of Koçi Xoxes and a large group of veterans of the Communist Party of Albania, was more necessary. It had been a long time, about 5 months, since the Communist Party had been formed. The first armed detachments and powerful guerilla units were created in the cities. New war tasks and party leadership bodies had to be recycled. One of the main tasks of this consultation, the first active one of the Communist Party of Albania, was the election of new members. These were: Ymer Dishnica and Nako Spiru. In vain, Enveri complains, in the documentary materials of this conference, about Gjin Marku and Bedri Spahiu, who had set fire to Skrapar and the First Operative Zone, Vlorë-Gjirokastër and fought neck to neck with the invaders.
Gjin Marku, had raised Skrapar, the nahija of Berat, Fier, Kuçova and Lushnja, having wonderful fighters around him, for the issue of the homeland such as; Karahman Yllin, uncle Hysen Zaloshnjen, Skënder Malindin, Hysen Rogun, Neshat Hysin, Sokrat Bufin, Mafuz Lazen and others, while Enver Hoxha was wandering around the illegal bases in Tirana and accused that he had not gone to the Party Consultation. If Gjin Marku abandoned the war, then why were the members of the NPSH gathered?!
Bedri Spahiu, strongly assisted by the patriots of Kurveles, Labëria, Vlora and Përmet, such as: Islam Radovicka, Shefqet Peçi, Abaz Shehu, Dashnor Mamaqi, Hajrulla Muhametaj, and others, had organized the armed struggle in the District of Gjirokastra and Vlorës included, Tepelën, Përmet and Mallakastër, while Enveri, as the supreme and general secretary of the NPSH, who led this great war, fired the thunderbolts of the god Mars, from the Olympus of Tirana, as if these events had happened today , while half a century had passed.
And the worst thing is that these rumors were not only believed by the one who made them up, but believed by the entire Party of Labor of Albania. The main purpose of the consultation was to carry through to the end the idea of cleansing the Albanian Communist Party from the undesirable elements of Miladin and Enver, at a time when Koçi Xoxe and many key members of the leadership of the KPSH were in prison. It should be noted that the “Youth Group” had its important bases in the cities of Tirana, Korça, Vlora, Berat and others. For example, the Technical School of Korça was completely under the influence of this group, even Anastas Lula, as far as I remember, was sheltered for years in the house of Vangjo Vangjeli, a correct and good Korça intellectual.
He, just for the fact that; Anastas Lula and other friends of the “Group of Young People” were seen with suspicious eyes in his house. Also, Neki Çakërri was otherwise called by the nickname “Vangjo”, due to the fact that the lady of the house, Frosina Karapanço, could not pronounce this name. However, both of these boys and dozens of their friends, from the same group, were also connected through their cousins or relatives. Under these conditions, I was well aware of the activity of this group and the connections of its members in the city of Korça, and I was constantly impressed by the reprehensible persecution and physical liquidation that was done to these wonderful boys of the Technical School.
After the first consultation of the KPSH activity in April 1942, three months later the extraordinary conference of the Communist Party of Albania was called, what situation did this conference create in the Party?
The extraordinary conference was convened on June 28-29, 1942 and considered the work that had to be done to eliminate the factional current of the “Young Group”. At this time, when we had lost many cadres, arrested, interned in Italy and other internment camps, as well as very valuable leadership cadres, who had given their lives for our great cause. For many of our comrades, the most extreme measures had been taken by the foreign invaders. At that time, Hamdi Mëzezi, Ferit Xhajko, Nikolla Tupi, Muhamet Gjollesha, were sentenced to hanging in Tirana, and then Midhi Kostani, Kiço Greço, in Korçë and many others. Meanwhile, we gathered in Tirana to liquidate the leaders of the “Youth Group” and other leaders, calling them: “enemies of the party, snakes, vipers” and others.
I have expressed above and I am expressing again, that it was not at all necessary, that at the time when we had lost: Qemal Stafa, Jordan Misje, Branko Kadina, Perlat Rexhepin, Sotir Nokë and the friends who were executed by hanging by the invaders, erupted within the party, without the collegial decision, of any major body of the NPSH that did not exist, I repeat, we had not yet elected a General Secretary, or an Organizational Secretary, to liquidate an entire communist group such as the “Group of Young People”, against whom organized terror had begun from within, by the decision of Miladin Popović, Dušan Mugoša and Enver Hoxha, because the other comrades of the Provisional Central Committee, of the KPSH, were on the ground of war or in the districts their respective
How was such an almost bandit-like action of a third of the party members, who had voluntarily joined and accepted our program and statute, possible? In order to justify these actions, Miladin and Enver had to quickly co-opt Ymer Dishnica and Nako Spiru, Gjin Marku and Bedriu, they did not participate in this extraordinary conference, because they did not have time to deal with chatter, but fought together with their effectives, where they were brave and brave commanders and were described in combat communiqués issued by the party, Koçi Xoxja, and others, were arrested and threatened with life in the new prison of Tirana, then the logical question arises that; What Central Committee and with what right did Enveri and Miladini convene this high party forum, without any prior decision?!
Who called the Plenum of the Central Committee to a meeting, Miladini, who was not even a member of it, or Enveri, who had no attributes, to carry out such an action? I continue the question; how could Enveri with Miladin create the majority of the Central Committee of the NPSH, when Qemali was killed, Gjini and Bedriu, did not participate, Koçi was in prison, Vasil Shanto, Kristo Themelko and Ramadan Çitaku, were also mostly in the areas of the war, than in the “offices” of Miladin? In these conditions, don’t I have the right to ask these questions?! How is it possible that; a Central Committee, which had not even been elected for eight months, decided with such persistence, the massive cleansing of the Party and its “fatness” by its own fighters?
At a time when the First Country Conference was being prepared, which took on the dimensions of a small party congress, because it would elect the permanent Central Committee of the KPSH and this committee would function henceforth with full attributes and legal, would elect the General Secretary and the Organizational Secretary, and would then carry out the duties of the War Headquarters, of the left forces for the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War.
Precisely when the war was taking on larger and larger proportions, when the national attack against the invaders was being prepared, such as the general attack and destruction of the national radio-telephone network of the Italian invaders, the attack and destruction of the organs of the Albanian Fascist Party, such as: offices, police and gendarmerie commands, in cities and localities, and residential centers and others.
At this time, Miladin and Enver, we were filled with the idea that this new party, which needed as many pious people and anti-fascist sympathizers as possible, had to be purged, even after an Extraordinary Conference?! There is no logic for this action; terrorist I would say, to “stand”, even more, to boast that these actions are the foundations of the history of the Communist Party of Albania. This was the balance of the initial period of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War and the activity of the NPSH…! Memorie.al
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