Memorie.al publishes some parts of the voluminous autobiographical book in manuscript “Beautiful land, ugly people” (memories from hell) by the author, Kasem Hoxha, originally from the village of Markat in Saranda and living in the USA since 1985, when he fled Albania after suffering ten years in the prisons of Enver Hoxha’s communist regime. The whole sad and painful story of Kaso Hoxha, from the life and hard work in his village in the southernmost part of the country, the dissatisfaction with the regime and the first poems of a political nature, how they fell into the hands of the State Security and who were his relatives who spied on him, the arrest in the office of the Chairman of the People’s Council of Markat village, by the State Security on June 21, 1973, the investigation in the Saranda Branch of Internal Affairs, the trial against him and the sentence with 10 years in prison for “agitation and propaganda”, staying in “Kaushin” of Tirana (Ward 313), and the prisoners he found there, being sent to Spaç and working in that camp with criminal and “soft” police officers, the accomplices of description of their “portraits” with positive and negative sides, release from prison and return to the countryside, escape to Greece and stay in the Lavros camp, gaining political asylum in the USA, correspondence with Amnesty International, e London branch, inf information with the data he sent to the prisoners of Spaç and the communist regime in Albania, to the creation of a new family and life and work in that distant place with the Cham community divided by the intrigues of the people of the State Security from Albania operating there.
Excerpts from the manuscript book, “Beautiful land, ugly people“, (memories from hell) of the author, Kasem Hoxha, sent by him exclusively for Memorie.al
Do not pay attention to the title I am presenting to you, I mean, if you are not patient to read this collection of memoirs, if you want to forgive the author, that his style is pale, uninspired before this drama of great, of my people, of my martyred nation.
My characters are not created by my imagination, but are real people, they are your brothers, your fathers, your relatives. The events are not fictional, but real and lived. You will convince yourself, only after reading this summary with memories. You will find something from your life, something real from the lives of your fathers, your mothers, your brothers, how they suffered and how they died.
I wrote this collection of memories about the legacy left to me by my friends, for the world to learn the truth, how innocent people were tortured, how they suffered, how they died, in the camps and prisons of the executioner, Enver Hoxha!
I go with the hope that any reader, Albanian or foreign, is not left with hatred, from criticism, beating opposing opinions, as it is the best way to find the truth. The title of the book, “Beautiful land, ugly people”, will anger the reader, but in the end, I will conclude that I have the right to call it “The 45-year era of the satanic communist regime of Enver Hoxha”: Ugly.
I, alas, for the misfortune I had, saw and lived the great drama that happened before my eyes. I am neither a poet nor a orator, I will need hard work to escape the literary mistakes in this historical book, which can inspire future poets and writers, on the tragedy of our time, of the darkest time of my nation !
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all freedom and peace…!
Llavrio, Greece 1985
In the office of the Chairman of the Council, bound with bars
“No,” I replied, “I have none of them.”
– “Then we are going to check according to the law of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the decision of the Prosecution. “As you can see, I am the Chief of Crime Investigation of the Internal Affairs Branch, Saranda, they call me Halit K”, – he said, giving importance to himself.
I did not want to know who this executioner was, my head was boiling, my hands were aching, my soul was in pain. I was sure they heard something to compile my charge. But I was more worried that they would scare the babies, spoil the mother’s blood.
Halit K… që, who was leading this mission, ordered the Security Operations and two other police officers to guard me until they finished checking the house.
Halit K…, with the two Operational Workers, left for the house, two policemen dressed in dark blue uniform with red stripes, entered the office, where I was tied up and looked at me with hatred as if I were a criminal.
More than two hours passed. I felt an unbearable pain when I moved my fingers. The cops talked to each other from time to time they laughed, I did not understand why ?! But as far as I understood later, they were talking about me, maybe they saw me stuck in bars, maybe from my rags all over the arna, hanging on the body weakened by fatigue and hunger, or maybe about my piece opings. I was the expression or embodiment of “the welfare of Enver Hoxha’s socialism.”
I had squandered my gaze from the window where the square in front of the shops and the neighborhood from the well of Qafa were visible. Everything seemed scared and frightened that morning. I saw the fans in the square of the shop whispering to each other, probably about this morning’s event, curious to learn, what had happened. Eight o’clock in the morning. They turned triumphant, grinning and laughing. Halit K…, was holding several notebooks. Addressing me, he asked me:
– “Are these writings yours”?
– “Yes, mine are”! – I answered you.
He ordered one of the drivers of the “Jeep” (who was called, Vangjel) to approach the “Jeep” near the office, at the same time he ordered the police to take me. Two policemen grabbed me by the arms, dragged me to the yard in front of the Culture Hall where the “Jeep” would come to pick me up.
The dazzling light of the morning sun blinded the light of my eyes, everything seemed black to me, people, houses, trees, the sky everything.
Why did she cry MOTHER?
I could hear the voice of my mother crying in the garden behind the house, from where the center of the village could be seen. I turned my head to look for the last time, she was holding the 3-year-old baby in her hand, the shy Luljeta, she had grabbed her grandmother by the chitjans, she was holding the iso of her touching wailing, not yet realizing what misfortune she had found. My mother’s cry was heard throughout the village. An oiii… with sobs.
– “Oiii… Son, what did the raven find me, what did the poor man find me, where did my son leave me…? where do you leave the babies…? Where is the bride…? Son oiii… where was this black day for me wretched… ?! ”
My heart trembled because I could hold myself back, my eyes filled with tears when I heard my unfortunate mother with the two babies crying.
As the police put me in the “Jeep”, I saw Mejdon standing at the walnut tree next to the headstone with a blanket and a pillow in his hand. She was crying, tears were flowing down her cheeks, she approached the “Jeep”, but the police stopped her. They took the blankets and the pillow from her hands, telling her to leave. I saw him leave with his eyes fixed on the “Jeep” – where I was locked. Halit K…, full of excitement sitting in the first chair, laughed and was proud. The laughter was followed by the four policemen sitting on either side of me. It was not too late for them, their hearts were not broken because their mother was crying, why were those two babies crying, why was the bride crying ?! If the beast has mercy when it tears its prey, so much mercy did these savages in human form have.
After another “Jeep” with a policeman was following us, Halit K. Had to be completely safe, so that nothing would happen to the headstrong brand.
In Qafë, I turned my head once more to capture this gloomy landscape of my village, on that memorable morning. Both jeeps were rushing downhill. Young, old women, rushing to work with the hoe, the sickle, the bag with the loaf of bread and the gourd of water, walk barefoot, their whole calloused feet did not want to know from the prelate of the plakotis, who quickly broke the opings. This is why these women walk barefoot with opings under their armpits, as they had to work 15 days to buy a pair of rubber bands.
They were mothers with children, the June sun had slipped their faces, fatigue and hunger had weakened them, they looked spiritually murdered, numerous wrinkles on the forehead, talking about great troubles, these creatures have been disfigured, they have lost every feminine feature , from suffering heavy physical labor. There is no greater crime to tire and torture the mother. The mother is the source of life, they want to give birth and raise healthy children and not rickets. Enver Hoxha always spoke about the emancipation of women, but according to him, emancipation means slavery of women.
Living close to this miserable condition of the people, my hatred for the regime of Enver Hoxha boiled in my soul, this is the reason that in the summer of 1972, after the death of my father, I could not stand it anymore. (He tried so hard, bringing 50 kg of wood on his back every day, to have a little fire in the winter). This was also the reason why he had fat, (it is an easy operation to save his life, but the village nurse and Enver’s party did not even cut his head. My father was in great pain for two days and I felt his loss a lot, after two days I wrote the verses, “I hate you”.
The two “Jeeps” passed quickly to the cooperative’s warehouses (cottages) raising a large cloud of dust from behind and the villagers realized that something bad had happened. Anxious, they watched the “Jeeps” rushing to the main road, a place called Gojdor, on the other side of the river, near the village of Vagalat. Most of the villagers of Vagalat rushed to work. Young women and girls, they did not let this time go to waste, so until they got to work, someone was knitting a sweater, someone was pulling fur.
– “It is a harvest campaign,” the chief told his subordinates, “according to reports, so far it has high yields. “The party is fighting to provide bread in the country”, – continued the conversation Halit K….
-I did not even want to know what was happening, or would happen. The aching hands numb from the excessively tightened irons, became unbearable. Halit K…, ordered the driver to stop the “Jeep”, in the middle of the river, where there was a lot of water.
“We are cool here,” said the chief of police, “we will have a bite to eat, because we are fainting.” I have since yesterday evening without putting anything in my mouth, this stinking enemy left us sleepless and without eating. “I will kill this dog with my own hand, but the law does not allow me to do that,” he said with hatred.
He opened a package wrapped in newspaper, handed out a piece of brown cheese bread to the police and the driver.
They started chewing, I do not know why I had a craving for the white wheat bread they ate ?! Maybe it was why I had never tasted the kind of bread that seemed so delicious to me, just because of the aroma. I watched with my own eyes every bite they put in their mouths. Their faces looked bloodless to me, their corpses soulless. They are well dressed, and I am ragged, they are healthy, and I am torn, wasted, they are happy, I am desperate. They would return in the evening near the families, I like no worse, my family would gather near the hearth crying, without a father. No one comforts them to stop crying, to keep those tears for a darker day. The village, the people, still do not know why that mother cries, why those babies cry, why that bride… ?!
In the “wasp nest”
After an hour of travel on the unpaved road Vagalat – Saranda, we went to Qafë i Gjashtës, where the bay of the sea suddenly appears, the whole city of Saranda on the rocky slope of the bare mountain. It was my greatest pleasure, when I went to Saranda on any occasion, I liked this picturesque landscape, but this time not, I did not even want to know that it existed.
This time I went to Saranda with rags all over, with handcuffs on my hands, upset. The “jeep” blew its horn when it entered the city, stopped in front of the door of an orange three-story building. This was the Department of Home Affairs. Every time I came to Saranda, I do not know why, I was afraid to go in front of the door of this house.
Haliti (Chief of Crime Elimination), came down and ordered the police to take me. They opened the door, grabbed me by the arms, dragged me, and dragged me into the hallway of this house filled with police and soldiers. Haliti ordered them to take me to the room of the guard officer, who was sitting in a chair and talking to someone on the phone, but even though he noticed me, he did not interrupt the conversation. I stood, watching the interior of this “wasp nest”, which carried a heavy odor of lack of cleanliness.
On the wall in front of the door hung a large photograph of Enver Hoxha, while on the other side, photographs of members of the Politburo of the Central Committee, in a word, all four walls of this office were filled with photographs from Enver’s life. Hoxha and his slogans and quotes. In large letters, in a conspicuous place, I noticed the slogans “Vigilance, Work, Physical Clay” and “The most dangerous enemy is the one who is forgotten”, etc., etc.
Haliti stopped behind a door that had neither a number nor a sign. Knocked…, his knocking seemed scary to me. Even this man, I thought, is scared in front of his superior ?! How badly it is built, everything in this system is based on lies, fear, servility, from below to Enver Hoxha!
A thick voice was heard from inside and answered. Halit opened the door, he pushed me as if I were a prisoner of war.
Two elderly men were sitting in front of them, at a long desk laden with files that occupied most of this office. Fresh wind came in through the open window facing the sea. Beyond the blue on the horizon, the island of Corfu seemed. Ah …! if I were a bird, I thought, to fly out of the window, to escape from the clutches of these beasts, I do not know why this island seemed so close to me, in concrete and in freedom… ?! Both men watched me curiously.
– “He is the Chairman of the Branch”, – Haliti tells me, pointing to the man who was sitting at the top of the table, – comrade Bajram M…, and the other friend, Abaz B…, the chief prosecutor of the district. “Tell the truth what you did,” Haliti continued.
The two men were well-dressed in ties, they were men of comfort and merriment, they had no calluses in their hands. The mayor ordered Halit to remove the irons from my hands, already numb and blackened. He browses the file with materials that Haliti found at home during the search.
– “You are a young boy, you cut days, who pushed you on this hostile path”? asked Bajrami.
– “Let us know how it is not too late”! – shouted!
– “This is the state of Enver Hoxha”, – intervened Abaz B… (the chief prosecutor of the district) who had not spoken until then, – “that all the enemies of the people have broken their heads. Open your stomach, tell the truth to the Party, you will have an easier punishment “- he said, taking a letter from the materials that Bajrami read, in that leaflet that was written in big letters:” New years, dark days “.
– “Come on, open your mouth, don’t be like a zombie to me! Talk about your activity, about your friends and everything you know, do not waste our time “, – shouted the President of the Branch, Bajram M…. What do you mean by these words “dark days” ?!
– “What can I talk about, Comrade President”, – I answered shyly. But he interrupted me by shouting.
– “You address me with the word ‘friend’: Greyhound, enemy puppy. You are the enemy and the enemies have their place in the trash. “Speak of your hostile activity towards the popular power.”
-I was paralyzed, I had no way to explain it to you?
– “Come on, do not push as if you do not know anything”, – intervened Prosecutor Abaz B…
– “You want to know about misery, misery, hunger, my suffering and my family, sir…” ?!
– “Shut up! “No one is suffering in our state,” he interrupted, rising to his feet in anger.
– “Tell us about what you wrote, who encouraged you” ?!
– “What I told you before sir! “Suffering haunted me,” I replied in a low voice.
“He does not intend to speak, he is very stubborn,” he said to Haliti, “take it, take it, bring it down, and you will know.”
Halit grabbed me by the arms with all his might, squeezing both my arms from behind, inserting the irons that he squeezed until the last screw. He pushed me up the stairs to the basement of the Branch, muttering through his teeth: “Let me fix the fun, let me tell you, do not care.”
– “Where is Beqo Sulua”? asked the guard officer, who had not moved at all.
“I believe it will be down,” he replied.
– “Speak to come up”! – Haliti ordered. He got up, opened the small counter at that iron door, spoke to Beqos, his voice echoed as if he were at the end of a stream. The guard officer opened the iron door, a policeman dressed in dark blue clothes, appeared in the corridor. Surely this was Beqo Sulua, the prison guard of the Saranda Internal Branch prison, a tall man, fat with crooked eyes, extremely red, I believe sick, he was twisting a bunch of keys in his hand.
– “Take this, and as I told you, do not forget”! – ordered Haliti, Beqon.
Cell no. 4,
Saranda, July, 1973
“Darkness covers me, like a black shroud /
I lie in pain without hope /
Farewell! O violated life, O man /
My soul does not lift me up, I wait for death ”
Kaso Hoxha, Saranda 1973
I engraved in my mind these verses in cell no. 4, were the most difficult moments of my life. Praise be to God, who gave me the courage to face these horrors.
Saranda, Biruca Nr. 4
It was 10 o’clock in the morning, the “Jeep” that was bringing me from Markati, stood in front of the door of the Internal Affairs Branch. The two police officers who accompanied me, together with the two Security Operatives, Halit K… and Niko Zh…, satisfied with the success of their mission to arrest me, laughed and laughed, at the same time that my heart ached, blood dripped for the great spiritual pain of my two babies and my mother who cried, shed tears from the pain of my great loss, the babies lost for life the man who would caress, kiss and bring the stinking bread of communism.
I tied, with my hands behind my back, waited, my hands were numb from not circulating blood, it hurt so much, but I did not want to give in to this physical pain. The greatest pain was the one that stabbed me deep in the soul, the suffering of the mother with both babies from the corner of the garden, a wailing that the whole village heard. The suffering that froze that small world around, the monotonous noise of the village that morning of June 21, 1973, froze, no bird chirping, no cattle barking and even the stones weeping for the pain of this old woman.
The police pulled me by the arms, pushing me out of the “Jeep”. A group of big-bellied policemen, some with mustaches, were waiting at the door. Everyone was happy with my arrest, it took a long time to open a door, leading to the basement of that building, or better to say in that “wasp nest”.
I went down the stairs to that black basement, a policeman was trying to open the cell door, it was so dark that the policeman could not find the door hole. He opened that heavy door of dungeon no. 4, with a scratching noise. They pushed me inside those cold walls without removing my handcuffs and my hands hurt a lot. I saw myself at the bottom of hell, I was surrounded by darkness at the bottom of this windowless cell, dimensions approximately 2 meters long and 1.5 meters wide, the height could be more than 4 meters. Above the heavy door, approximately 1.5 meters, was a hole covered with an iron grill where there was a dim lamp that was turned on and off by the cops from the outside. Darkness was a form of torture, psychological torture.
– “We do not remove the irons, nor do we turn on the light”! – the policeman told me that I did not know his name.
– “When you decide to confess, knock on the door and tell the police officer that you will talk to the investigators. I heard more “, repeated the ignoramus and closed the heavy door with anger./Memorie.al