From Lek Pervizi
Memorie.al / One day in prison, two mountaineers from the area bordering Yugoslavia were brought to Valentin’s room. One was about 1.90 tall and lean and muscular, with a regular face that expressed a good and proud nature. While the other, a little smaller with a stern face that showed great ferocity. The first was called Gjergj Luli and the other Gjek Marashi. Both from Koplik, the main center of that mountainous province. In the room was the one who knew them well, whose name was Pjeter, who had seen them a day before they were interrogated in the prison office. He said that they were two very brave and faithful men, which are rarely found in today’s world. They had fought with great bravery against the Serbian Chetniks in Kosovo when they were part of the Albanian army. Especially Gjeka, who used to go by boat to the positions of the Serbs, where he was suddenly taken to his feet and mowed down with his machine gun? Whereas Gjergji had a completely different nature, gentle, but in battle he was brave and brave.
When the communists came to power, they went to the mountains. After several months, one day, the operational commander of the area brought word to them that he had received the order from above, to deport their families and burn their houses. They were given 48 hours to think about how to decide: either surrender me or let me escape. For the second case, the measures against their families would be strict.
That’s why they decided. They, in order not to allow the deportation of their families and the burning of their houses, decided to surrender on the condition that they would be shot, but that no one would touch them with a hand or a finger. The partisan commander had immediately accepted the condition that no one would wave at him. This is what they had told their fellow prisoners, adding:
– We are waiting to be shot. As we die, we will die with a clear conscience of saving our families and homes. Will there still be such people in the world, with such moral strength and such a tempered character?
One day, two policemen came, informing them that they were looking for them in the director’s office for some questions. After a while, a group of partisans came upstairs, holding hands and started dancing and singing in the boarded-up hall. With those iron-studded shoes, guess what noise they made on the wooden floor. They danced in a circle like wild men of the African jungle, shouting to the rhythm of a now familiar song:
-“To the bridge, to the bridge, to the bridge in Drashovica…! It roars, it roars, the ball of Italy roars…”! So deafening that the prisoners could not understand each other. That’s how they always acted when it came to torturing and beating the convicts.
After an hour, the door was opened and two human forms were thrown between the rooms, as if they were two bags of jelly, those two deserts were so bad that they didn’t even recognize their friends. Unable to stand, they went to their seats. That’s why those barbarian hordes had created all that noise, so that no one could hear their screams. They had beaten them with sticks, until they had laid them on the ground, as if they were dying. After only a few days, they started to move a little. In an instant, Gjeka approached Valentin, telling him if he heard a song coming from outside. And in fact, a distant song was heard.
– That is a sign with which a cousin of mine informs me that tomorrow morning, we will be shot.
When night fell, he asked his friends to play a game of four dominoes. Valentini called Professor Angjelin Saraçi and Gjon Harusha to join in that game. They played until late at night, until Gjeka told her friends to forgive her, because she wanted to sleep with me. Later he spoke to Valentin:
– Look at Gjergji how he is sleeping in Katandia. George, as he was lying down, looked all red and we covered him with sweat. Who knows what terrible dreams tormented him. Valentine wanted to rest, but he couldn’t sleep that night, because he had a great pain in one ear. Several times, during the night, he had seen Gjeka go and take leave, to go to the bathroom, which was leaning on the wall of the enclosure. But in vain.
Even if he had the flats, he could not have done anything, because on the terrace above, there were guards with machine guns in their hands. They came and took them before dawn. When one of the guards read the names, everyone stood up to say goodbye to them for the last time. They hugged with tears in their eyes. Gjergji took off the beautifully made woolen sweater he was wearing and gave it to Valentini, thanking him for the gift.
The shirt was his, but as a good man that he was, he gave it to him in a way so that the guards would not understand that he was leaving it as a memory and trust, because otherwise Valentini could have suffered a mistreatment. Kishin decided to shoot them in a place near Shkodra, precisely in Koplik, where Llesh Marashi had fought against Mehmet Shehu’s partisan forces. Since it was not more than 7-8 kilometers, they had taken them on foot, because the day before, they had notified all the partisans and the surrounding residents to come to see what “animals” they were.
They were lined up on both sides of the road, all partisan young men and women, with ragged uniforms, shouting and cursing like crazy, against those real heroes, who, for their part, did not keep their mouths shut, but they answered with a vocabulary full of insults, directed especially at the Bolshevik regime and those stupid girls. When they had been taken to the place of execution, where all the people who knew them both had gathered, they had supported them against a wall, so shackled. Gjeka was bent in the first shots, while Gjergji held him in his strong arms, until they both fell together, their bodies riddled with bullets.
At the time of the Italian occupation, a magazine was published, in which more than once Gjergji’s photo was presented, as an exemplary prototype of the Albanian race, not only for his athletic body, but also for the beauty of his face, with regular features and perfect. But the communist system was against everything beautiful and noble, is it human dimensions or historical, cultural dimensions and the best Albanian traditions. It was completely shown as an anti-Albanian and anti-human system.
Not two weeks passed and in Valentin’s cell, before the day came; three more candidates for shooting came and took him. Among them a villager named Hasan Bërdica. As soon as he heard his name, he went to his feet and got dressed quickly. Then he turned to his friends:
– They told me the truth; I did not expect such an end. I don’t feel guilty about anything, because I haven’t hurt anyone. But as far as I understand, in my book, it is God who has put an end to the word. Forgive me if I have bored you. Goodbye to the other world!
This was the usual greeting of all those condemned to death. In the courtyard, six others were waiting for him to be killed. They were escorted by strong guards to the place where they were to join six others, brought from the old prison. They were put into a truck as they were tied, two by two with handcuffs. Hasan, who was left alone and the last to get into the car, with a quick movement to the left, broke away and gave it a run.
The partisans, armed to the teeth, were taken by surprise, but immediately started shooting at him, barrages of bullets. But he deftly, getting into the alleys, had escaped them. It was a miracle, because not a single bullet had hit him out of the hundreds that rained down on him. After this scene, the car started and the other 12 victims were sacrificed to the communist idol, according to the macabre rite that was performed almost every day, on the roof of Kiri. Two Catholic priests were among those shot.
As for Hasan, it was learned from other mountaineers brought to the prison that after six months of being in the mountain, the Pursuit Forces had surrounded him in a corn field, where he had raised a rifle and deserted Hasan, after a fight strict, there was a dead end.
Beauty and the Beast…
One day my wife came with me to meet Valentin, as he was writing the biography of his whole life, until the day of his arrest, which was to be addressed to Mehmet Shehu and a copy handed over to the director of the prison. Valentini got to work and managed to compile his autobiography. Why did this work have to be done and why so urgently?!
An agent of the Security, had told a friend of his, who was a friend of Valentini’s family, that the special bodies of the Security, had the intention of concocting a fabricated process against him, to severely punish him, and possibly eliminate him. Of the many accusations raised, one was completely ridiculous: He had been sent to Albania by some political exponents in exile, of the Legality party.
According to the accusation, Abaz Kupi and Mehdi Frashëri called him to Rome, to propose a special mission, that of going to Albania, to join the nationalist forces in the fight against communism. He had been accepted and had just arrived in Shqipni, he had gone to Kelmend, Dukagjin and Mirdita, where he had participated in bloody battles against partisan forces, etc. With such an accusation, even if he had a hundred heads, they would have cut them all.
Of course Valentini couldn’t help but be upset and afraid of those criminal methods of the communists. His condition was like that of Damocles, with his sword hanging over his head by a string. He had never shown such tragic thoughts to his Italian friend, Gori. While his prison mates encouraged him. They did not believe that those plots would achieve their goal, because they were too ridiculous and even, no matter how wild they were, the communists were wary of some actions that could discredit them in front of the world.
Another job that came out in these circumstances was the presence of the Italian wife in Albania. That presence complicated his condition. For that reason, they would not release him, with vain pretexts, but even if they thought of interning him, they still did not honor Gori’s presence in Albania. So he was held hostage by his own wife. What’s more, she was conspicuous everywhere. Not only was she beautiful, but also from her clothes, from her manners and all the displays of a high culture and education, which could not be accepted by the ignorant communist dominant class of the country.
From all these circumstances, advised by some friends, she decided to go towards Mehmet Shehu, who had come to Shkodër. When he showed up for duty, the guard officer who knew a little Italian told him to wait and went to inform Mehmet that an Italian woman wanted to meet him. Mehmeti had accepted, and Gori was found in his office, where he was sitting behind a large desk, huddled in a chair.
When Gori entered the office of the number two of the regime, he did not move at all from the armchair where he was sinking. He knew Italian well because he had studied at the military school in Naples. Then he took a look at the beautiful woman who was sitting in front of him, had politely invited him to sit down and asked him what had prompted him to come.
– How is work, lady, what’s your problem?
– Sorry for the inconvenience. As you can see, I am Italian, married to an Albanian. It hasn’t been two months since we came to Shkodër from Italy. I followed my husband, with whom I was attached for better or for worse. He himself did not live in Albania because, until he became an officer, he completed all his schooling in Italy and was assigned to serve there. Since he escaped from a German camp and was in danger, we decided to come to Albania, to find salvation and live normally. As soon as we found a room to live in temporarily, the big disaster happened, my husband was arrested, completely innocent. Now he is in prison. This is a great injustice, and I have come to beg you to release my innocent husband.
Mehmet Shehu had listened attentively to the words of that beautiful and elegant lady. He guessed that something unfair had been done to her, but under the conditions of the curfew, injustices could also happen.
– Like…?! Excuse me Madam, what is your husband’s name? The question was fair.
– Valentine. It was Gori’s answer, with a fairy tale.
– Valentine? And who Valentine? Mehmeti added curiously. If only he had heard this name.
– Valentin Pervizi, Gori had pronounced, with great anxiety.
– Valentin Pervizi? Is he the son of General Prenk Perviz? Mehmet Shehu, frowned and leaned against the armchair, to wait for the answer, full of curiosity.
– How do you command the general, his eldest son, whom I married?
– Honorable lady, instead of thanking us for not shooting him, come and ask us for his release, – Mehmeti had spoken with a haughty expression.
– How dare you answer me like that? I did not expect such an expression from you! I demand justice for my husband, completely innocent and you ask me to thank you for not killing him! This is unbearable! As she spoke like that, tears of despair flowed from her.
– Don’t you remember that you will miss us with those tears of yours?! The answer was very cynical.
Gori didn’t have much patience and talked to him all the time:
– In a way, I had guessed such a reception, worthy of a man like you heartless. As soon as he said those words, he left, slamming the door, while Mehmet Shehu was laughing loudly from behind.
This event became known and made an impression on people for the brutal behavior of Mehmet Shehu towards that unfortunate woman. But on the other hand, Mehmet’s answer expressed a truth, because Valentin could have been killed by the partisans, without asking anyone, not even their commander, and not Mehmet himself. Someone explained to Gori, but she didn’t want to hear the name of that criminal.
After finding out how the meeting had gone, it occurred to Valentin that Gori should be repatriated as soon as possible, for a while. Maybe some improvement was coming. Otherwise, they would never have released him from prison. He didn’t say anything to her, because he knew it would cause her great pain. He thought he was waiting for an opportunity.
She too had been advised by some family friends that her temporary departure was in the interest of both parties. She didn’t have courage either, her husband’s told her. Time passed and did not give good signs. The ferocity of the communists, instead of decreasing, kept increasing. Memorie.al