Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of the much talked about event of August 22, 1944, when five young boys, Ndoc Dedë Marku, Ndoc Mazi, Naim Gjylbegu, Hydajet Lezha and Ahmet Haxhia, members of the partisan gang “Pukë-Mirditë”, as they were going to the district of Mirdita, on a mission from the Communist Circle of Shkodra to spread communist ideas and to recruit young boys from that province to the partisan ranks, they were surrounded by the gendarmes of the Municipality of Kalivaç. Rare testimony of Mark Dodani, former senior officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the State Security organs and their comrade-in-arms in the “Puka-Mirdita” gang, regarding that sensational event where they were killed. 5 Heroes of Vigu”, from the house where they spent the night and were taken in trust by them, how they were surrounded by the gendarmes of Pjetër Llesh Gjegjani and who was the man who is suspected of spying on them, why“ Pjetër Mustakuqi ”did not accept to remove the ambush even after the elders of Vigu went there, as he argued the Kanun that the five besieged could not be taken in besa, the killing of five members of that partisan unit and the taking of dead bodies from their families, and until the revenge of the communist regime in 1948 against the accused as responsible for that event, killing 20 members of “Pjetër Mustakuqi’s gang” ?!
Full 76 years ago on the afternoon of August 22, 1944, a small partisan unit of the “Puka-Mirdita” gang consisting of Ndoc Ded Marku, Ndoc Mazi, Naim Gjylbegu, Ahmet Haxhia and Hydajet Lezha, who were traveling to towards that province with a mission charged by the Communist Party of Shkodra Circular, near the village of Vig, in a place called Buzabardh, were surrounded by the gendarmerie forces of the Municipality of Kalivaç commanded by the Mayor of that Municipality Pjetër Llesh Gjegjani, who ordered their killing after keeping them besieged for eight hours and they did not accept his terms for them to surrender their weapons. That event caused a great commotion and the next day the news of their murder spread throughout the North, and then throughout Albania, after a tract thrown by the Albanian Communist Party, which declared them “Martyrs of Atdheut ”, announcing that the 5 communists had fallen fighting with the mercenary forces of Gjon Markajoni. A few years after the end of the war, they were awarded the high title, “People’s Hero” and also many years later, they erected a large monument in the center of the city of Shkodra, which is known to all, as the monument of the “5 Heroes of Vigu”. But what is the truth about that sensational murder? Why was that partisan unit, consisting of five very young boys, traveling towards the highlands of Mirdita and what was the mission assigned to them? What was the itinerary of the movements they traversed on the night of August 20, and at what house did they take refuge to spend that night? Why weren’t the men of that tower in their house that night where the five communists were staying? Who was the person who discovered their movement on the morning of August 22 and why did he notify the Mayor of Kalivaç, who also organized their siege? Was the family of Mirdita Captain Gjon Markagjoni related to their murder and is the accusation attributed to them as implicated in that event true? Is the much-discussed version for years that the five of them were cut in besa by the Mirditas and according to the Kanun their blood remained at the door of Mirdita? How did the communist government react when it came to power with the people accused of organizing the assassination of the “5 Heroes of Vigu” and who was the man who discovered and organized the assassination of Pjetër Llesh Gjegjani and 20 members of his anti-communist gang in November 1948 in the mountains of Mirdita?
Regarding these and other events and facts from their lives, we know the interviews we received a few years ago from the retired lieutenant colonel, Mark Dodani, one of the former partisans of the “Puka-Mirdita” gang and then a senior Security officer of State in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, also known as the screenwriter of several films and author of many books on the subject of the State Security weapon during the years of the communist regime. With his testimonies that are published exclusively for Memorie.al, Dodani sheds light for the first time on that distant event, shedding light on many of the mysteries of the murder of the “5 Heroes of Vigo” that have remained an enigma for more than half a century. in turn.
Continues from the previous number
Comrade Mark, is it said that an old woman brought them water?
The same thing is true, seeing that the five comrades of the unit had been surrounded for about eight hours, and from the great heat they were burning with thirst, nearby together with the villagers who had gathered to see what was happening, was and an elderly woman, named Drane Jaku, who was the mother of the partisan Gjon Jak Cera, of the “Puka-Mirdita” gang from the village of Gomsiqe. Mother Dranja took a pitcher of water and entered the perimeter of the ambush, despite the pressures of Pjetër Lleshi’s people who tried to prevent him from going to them. Dranja replied to the people of the ambush, that they had friends of the boy and friends of the boy, and he did not stop the step even though the people of Pjetër Lleshi threatened him. She went to the five comrades of the unit who were surrounded and gave them water. By the time mother Dranja went to them, it must have been four o’clock in the afternoon. She said to them: Blessed are you who do not surrender, but beware that they will kill you. At the moment when Dranja was going to leave, they told her that if she had the opportunity, she would perform a task for you, sending you a letter about the “Puka-Mirdita” gang, where her son Gjoni was also, or to Shkodra. After Dranja assured her that she was taking over, they quickly wrote the letter that is already known to everyone and after she put it in her bosom, she left the siege for her house.
What happened to the five besieged after the departure of that woman who gave you water?
After the departure of mother Dranes, when the clock was ticking around four or five in the afternoon, Pjetër Lleshi’s people who had organized the ambush from the positions they had occupied, once again called on the five partisans of the unit to surrender, or else they would to kill them. After this warning given to Pjetër Lleshi’s people, the five besieged partisans, not believing for a moment that they would be killed, replied to them that they would not surrender, as they were in trust with Gjin Lleshi’s house.
What was the reaction of Pjetër Lleshi and his people after this response they received from the besieged?
Immediately after these words the rifle batteries started.
Who started the rifle in the first place, the five besieged partisans, or Pjetër Lleshi’s people?
This is not known exactly, not only by me, but I also believe by those who were at the scene that day, because in that forest it is difficult to know where the bullets came from.
How long did the armed battle between them last, because it was said that there was a big war?
As soon as the first rifles were fired, the five besieged partisans fired at Pjetër Lleshi’s men, with all the weapons they had from the positions they had occupied. The gun battle between them did not last more than half an hour, because the place where the five besieged partisans were was completely naked and they had no opportunity to defend themselves. That place is called Papardhoku of Buzabardhi of Vig-Caster, on the bank of the river Voma. For this reason, the armed struggle did not last long, as the people of Pjetër Lleshi who had organized the ambush were many and knew the place by heart.
Who was killed first of the five?
It is not known exactly who was killed first of them, but it is said that Naim Gjylbegu together with Ndoc Dedë Markun, were the first to attack in the direction of the ambush people to break the siege and they were both killed in the beginning. But this is more to be heard, because the truth is not known who was killed sooner, and who later.
What happened after their murder?
Immediately after their murder, Pjetër Lleshi’s men approached them and took their weapons, bags and what they had and left, ordering that no one bury them, but leave them there, eat the dogs without buried.
During all that time of eight hours, the five of them remained surrounded, where the “Puka-Mirdita” squad was located. Did she know that they were surrounded and why she did not come to their aid?
Çeta “Pukë-Mirditë” which at that time was commanded by Kozma Stefi, which included the delegated comrades of the Shkodra Region, such as Frano Jakova, Emin Reshiti (Emini) and some well-known local partisans, such as Mat Doda i Gomsiqes, Pren Llesh Çuni i Kalivaçit etc., on the day of August 21, 1944, when the siege of five comrades took place, took place in the village of Buzhalë, which lies between Mnelë, Vig and Korthpula, where five comrades were waiting. There was a part of the gang, as the gang acted fragmented. This place is located about an hour and a half away from Buzabardhi, at a distance where gunshots are heard.
Were gunshots heard by the gang partisans that afternoon when they were killed?
Yes, all the partisans who happened to be in that place heard the gunshots, but they did not know where those guns were coming from and what was going on in Buzabardh. That same evening, after the batteries of the rifles stopped, a local villager named Nikoll Preng Rrasa, from the village of Bushal, who was a close friend of Mat Doda, was activated by the gang command to verify what those rifles had been. After that, the squad waited all night to find out what had happened, because they were waiting for many comrades who would go to join the squad, according to the tasks they had received from the Shkodra Regional.
When did the squad learn the news of the murder of five comrades?
The next day, on the morning of August 22, 1944, Mat Doda’s son went to the place where the detachment was staying, who had received the letter (written by five friends before the murder) from his grandmother, mother Mrika, which he had given to Drane. Jaku, to hand over to Mat Doda or her son Gjon Jaku. The letter was handed over to the platoon commander, Kozma Stefi, who read it in front of all the comrades who were there, announcing their murder. Along with that letter came the other news that in Gomsiqe, five other partisan comrades of the gang were surrounded, accompanied by Gjon Jak Rasha from Shkodra.
What decision did the squad led by Kozma Stefi make after learning the news of the murder of five comrades?
As soon as that was learned, the platoon command took on several tasks. The first task was to send the letter of the five comrades to the Shkodra Region and the partisan Rasim Reshiti (Emini) was in charge of this. Secondly, the post of the gendarmerie of Kalivaç had to be attacked and burned, along with Pjetër Lleshi, and the five comrades who were surrounded in Gomsiqe had to be rescued, who escaped.
What happened to the five dead bodies left dead in Buzabardh?
The day after their murder, on the morning of August 23 or 24, some villagers who were burning tiles on the banks of the Voma River, after seeing the event and knowing that the five bodies were there, approached and took care that they did not they eat the savages.
When did the relatives of the five partisans hear the news of their murder and did they come to the scene to retrieve their bodies?
The event of the murder of our five comrades in Vig, echoed loudly throughout the North and of course that was also learned by the families of the five communist partisans who were killed there. Two or three days after the event, the first of their family members came to the scene, Hydajet Lezha’s uncle, who pulled his nephew’s body and buried him in Lezha.
But after him, who came?
After him came some sons of the family and tribe of Ndoc Ded Mark from Milot, all armed. These, according to the Kanun, first addressed the Post Command of the Gendarmerie of Kalivaç and Pjetër Lleshi, telling them: not to be harassed during the retreat of the body of our brother, Ndoc Deda. After that they took his body and took him to Milot, without any problems with Pjetër Lleshi’s people.
What happened to the bodies of Naim Gjylbegu, Ndoc Mazi and Ahmet Haxhia. Did anyone come to get their corpses?
The bodies of the three remained provisionally buried there, under the care of Dan Velia and the Dodani family. Our family took care of their graves, because Naim Gjylbegu’s uncle from Shkodra, Rakip Gjylbegu, together with Tefik Bekteshi (Naim Gjylbegu’s son-in-law) went to Vaun e Dejës to Fadil Hoxha, with the nickname “Sedita” and they asked him to help them, finding people to take care of the grave of his nephew, Naim and his two companions.
Did Fadil Hoxha help them?
Fadil Hoxha together with Rakip and Tefik Bekteshi, went to Mjedë to Dan Velija who was the Chairman of the National Liberation Council (illegal) and asked him for help and support. He recommended them to the Dodani family, since I was a partisan of the “Puka-Mirdita” gang. After that, Dan Velija and Rakip and Tefik came to the house of my father, Lleshi, in Naraç and asked for help and support for the care of the three graves that were in Buzabardh. My father, Lleshi, took over their request, after the decision of the fraternity, where the decision was approved by Cub Dodani, Ndreca’s father. After this decision, my father, Lleshi, with his cousins, Ndreca and Cub Dodani, together with Rakip Gjylbegu and Tefik Bekteshi, went to the murder scene in Buzabardh and there they secured and covered the three corpses, provisionally providing them , with the thought of getting them as soon as possible.
Why did they ask for the support of the Dodani family, the family of Naim Gjylbegu?
Rakip Gjylbegu, Naim’s uncle, asked for the support of our family, Dodani, also for the reason that our uncle, Gjon Dodani, was the commander of the gendarmerie forces in Krep e Naraç-Mnela and his name and authority should be used as a friend of the Bajraks of Mirdita, especially of Gjonmarkaj. Those who sought our support knew the character of John Dodan, that he would never violate the Kanun to entrust his house (Lleshi and Ndreca).
Since you mentioned Gjonmarkaj, do they have anything to do with the murder of the “5 Heroes of Vig”, as has been said repeatedly during the years of the communist regime?
I do not know the details that the Gjonmarkaj were the masterminds in the murder of the “5 Heroes of Vig”, but since Pjetër Lleshi and his mercenaries followed the orders of the Gjonmarkaj and other leaders of Mirdita and knowing that they were furious anti-communists, and also linked to the Nazi German occupier, this has been attributed to them. But I do not know that Gjonmarkaj were implicated in the murder of “5 Heroes of Vig”, I say that Pjetër Lleshi did that in his own head, maybe without asking Gjonmarkaj at all.
According to the canon, to whom did the blood of the “5 Heroes of Vig” remain “at the door” and was revenge taken for their murder?
To find the main culprits of the murder of our five comrades who were martyred in Vig, several comrades were appointed, among whom I as a local who was. The blood of those five, first remained to Pjetër Lleshi of Gjegjan and the person who killed them, who was Dodë Marka Gjoka. I learned this from Kol Preng Lleshi, who was a cousin of my uncle, Ndrec Marka Gjoka, as well as from Preng Marka Lepri, Kaftalli and Preng Marka Gjini, whose testimonies made him guilty of killing five of our friends, Dod Marka Gjoka e Rrasit.
What about the family that had taken them in trust, that is, where they had slept last night, sought revenge for their murder?
From the day of their murder, on August 22, 1944 onwards, knowing that the five of them were in the trust of the family of Preng Gjin Lleshi, it is remembered that Prenga and his brother, according to the Kanun, definitely sought revenge. Theirs. This was also demanded by the partisans of the “Puke-Mirdita” gang that circulated densely in that province. A few days later, Prend Llesh Çuni killed one of Pjetër Lleshi’s mercenaries, in revenge for the murder of five of his friends. In their revenge, Pashko Curri, Pashko Shyti, Pal Gjoni, etc. took part, who organized the fight at the Brahnjeza bridge in Fush-Arrëz, for the elimination of those who had a hand in the murder of “5 Heroes”. Also, according to some testimonies, for the murder of five of our friends, one of the most prominent families of Kalivaç, that of Përgjonëve, was accused. For this, when the VII partisan Brigade came, commanded by Musa Daci, he burned down the house of the Pergjones. But the involvement of the Eavesdroppers in that murder was not true. They were victims of various intrigues and that was later corrected by my intervention with Musa Daci, who issued a written statement that the Pergjons had no hand in that event.
Only with the murder of that mercenary of Pjetër Lleshi, did the revenge against the “5 heroes of Vig” remain, or did it continue further?
The murder of that mercenary by Prend Llesh Çuni was just the beginning. From October or November 1948, a mirditor from Kaçinar named Z.D. under the pseudonym “Gymnasium”, together with and under the leadership of Bardhok Biba (“People’s Hero”) and Sulejman Manoku, Chief of Security of Mirdita, discovered and organized the siege of the anti-communist resistance forces of Pjetër Lleshi of Gjegjan and Ludovig Saraçi, former -The governor of the Shkodra Gendarmerie. In that siege, apart from the Pobër Lleshi gang who in the movie “Operation Fire” I, as the author of the script, called “Pjetër Mustakuqi”, 20 other members of his gang were killed, thus being crowned with multiple revenge. for “5 Heroes of Vigo”.
What about the bodies of Ndoc Mazi, Naim Gjylbegu and Ahmet Haxhia, when they were taken from Buzabardhi to take them to Shkodra?
A few months after the liberation, in April 1945, a group of family members, including the three mothers of the martyrs, together with some of their comrades-in-arms, went to Vig of Mirdita and exhumed them, to send them to Shkodra in Martyrs Cemetery. Both in Vig and in Shkodra, where a big ceremony was organized for their burial, the words of the occasion were given by comrade Nuri Llazani, the delegate of the Communist Circle of Shkodra in the gang “Puke-Mirdita” and at the same time their friend and comrade narrower. If I may, at the end of this interview, in memory of those “5 Heroes” who did not surrender even knowing that they would be killed, I wanted to recall four verses, which have always been sung with the couple, where it says: “On top of the crest sang the whistle / over five graves left on the lawn / It bloomed on the pink ridge / the fifth sealed immortality ”./Memorie.al