Memorie.al/publishes the unknown story that happened on November 28, 1944 in the village of Xhan in the deep province of Dukagjini, where a partisan unit of the VI Assault Brigade commanded by Commander Jaho Gjoliku and Commissar Haki Toska, executed a group mountaineers from the village of Bruçaj, who, traveling at night to their homes after shopping in the city of Shkodra, encountered a partisan ambush of that brigade commanded by the 15-year-old pioneer, Çelo Sinani, (“People’s Hero”) who was killed during an exchange of fire between them.
The rare testimony of Prek Sokol, originally from Dukagjini and living in the village of Rranxa in Bushati, which tells the whole story of that painful event, where in revenge for the partisan pioneer who was mistakenly killed by those migrant highlanders in the ambush they had set up the unit of the ‘Cleansing Battalion’ by order of the command of that brigade, a young partisan, ‘sister’ of Çelo Sinani, executed ten innocent mountaineers: Tom Martini, Pëllumb Sokoli, Kol Vata, Pal Pëllumbi, Nikoll Mirashi, Mëhill Vocrri, Pal Vata, Shytan Deda, Prenush Zefi and Lazër Vuksani.
Rare testimonies of some of the families of the victims, related to the tragic event, where after the execution, the partisan unit of the VI Assault Brigade, naked stripped the ten killed mountaineers, taking the clothes they needed for their comrades partisans and disfigured the corpses by hitting them with rifle bayonets!
Testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Arif Bizhga, former company commissioner in the VI Assault Brigade and participant in that event, (former senior military with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Ministry of Defense and Interior) and Reis Sinan, (brother of Çelo Sinan, who holds the high title “People’s Hero”), former military, graduated in Electronic Engineering in the former Soviet Union.
“As soon as they arrived somewhere in a stream, Çelo Sinan’s ‘sister’ pulled out a revolver and shot Nikol Mirashi two or three times in the head, leaving him dead on the spot. When the group of partisans of the Clearance Battalion of the VI Brigade, Attackers together with the eight tied highlanders arrived in Qafë-Thanë where the brigade headquarters was located, according to the promise they had given to the ‘sister’ of Çelo Sinani, eight the men lined her up in front of her. At that moment, she pulled the pistol from her belt and started firing at the mountaineers, hitting eight of them with two bullets to the head. When she was about to shoot at the last one, 17-year-old Mëhill Vocrri, some partisans begged her to forgive him, but she continued to shoot at him, saying: ‘Let him be the same age as my Çelo’. After leaving the nine mountaineers dead in the ninth place (along with Nikoll Mirashi who killed him along the way), Çelo Sinan’s ‘sister’ ordered the other partisans to strip them quickly and take their clothes. the bodies of those killed, as they were needed by the partisans of the brigade, who were marching towards Montenegro”. This is how Prek Sokoli recalled that distant event that took place on November 28, 1944, the last day of the War for the partisan forces of Enver Hoxha who were marching in the province of Dukagjini, in the direction of Montenegro, where a partisan young woman, executed seven innocent men, in revenge for the murder of Çelo Sinan, the partisan pioneer (“People’s Hero”) whom she considered a brother. But how did that event happen, who were the ten highlanders who were executed by the hand of the sister of the martyr Çelo Sinani and why did she commit that macabre murder that has not yet been forgotten in that remote area of Northern Albania?!
Regarding that event, in addition to the testimony of Prek Sokoli and three other families where their members were in the tenth group of highlanders shot, in this article we are bringing the testimony of Arif Bizha, former company commissioner in the VI Brigade -Attacker and participant in that event, who until 1981, served as a senior soldier with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, reaching the position of Deputy Chief of Staff of that ministry . Likewise, in addition to the interview with Mr. Arif Bizhga, we are also giving that of Reis Sinan (Çelo Sinan’s brother, “People’s Hero”), a former military graduate in Electronic Engineering in the former Soviet Union.
The murder of Çelo Sinan by the mountaineers
Regarding that event, among others, Prek Sokoli told us: “On November 26, 1944, my 25-year-old brother, Pëllumb Sokoli, had gone to the city of Shkodra to buy food, as we needed it for the feast of St. Kolli, which fell to us to celebrate a few days later, on the fifth of December. Together with Pëllumb, that day another group of highlanders had gone to the city of Shkodra, who after buying what they needed, had taken the road back to their villages in the Dukagjini area. Since that road was about eight hours away from the city of Shkodra, the group of pilgrims spent the night in the village of Bruçaj in Dukagjini, where a part of them together with my brother Pëllumbin, stayed there in that village to spend the night, staying in the homes of highlanders. While the rest remained, he continued on his way to the village of Xhan, hoping to follow the mules, which followed the road without any difficulty even at night. In this group that continued the journey towards the village of Xhan, was also Lulash Gjoni i Xhanit, who was the only highlander of that province, who was engaged in trade and had his own shop. Along the way, traveling through the dark night from the village of Bruçaj towards the village of Xhan, in a place called Shtruga, which is located on a small mountain pass, the group of highlanders faced a partisan ambush commanded by partisan Çelo Sinani , the third person, who was the courier of the VI Partisan Brigade, commanded by Jaho Gjoliku and Haki Toska. Partisan Çelo Sinani, called on the group to stop saying: stay, but the highlanders did not understand his word and lay down all the boats in the snow, occupying each from a position, as the whole group was armed. Since Çelo could not see where they were, he fired at them with his machine gun, and his volleys were fired one of the highlanders answered with fire, firing also from where the shooting came from. After that rock of fire, the wealthy highlanders stood for a while lying in the snow, and when they heard no more gunshots in their direction, they continued on their way through the dark night, unaware that any of their shots had been left unattended. killed partisan Çelo Sinani “, recalled Prek Sokoli regarding that distant event of November 28, 1944, when near the village of Bruçaj in the deep area of Dukagjini located in the highlands above Shkodra, the courier of the VI Brigade was killed Attackers, partisan Çelo Sinani from the village of Picar in Gjirokastra.
Arrest of highlanders by partisans
But what happened next to the group of highlanders who had exchanged fire with the 15-year-old partisan who was acting as a courier in those partisan forces, who did not know that day marked the end of the war? Regarding this, Prek Sokoli told us: “The other two partisans who were in ambush together with Çelo Sinani, as soon as they ascertained that their friend no longer had any signs of life from the bullets he had received, immediately went down to the village of Bruçaj, where he was the command headquarters of the VI Partisan Brigade, together with a battalion of that brigade, which had been left there in the village of Xhan for purges. Also, there in that village that night was a part of the group of highlanders who had returned from Shkodra and had stayed in the houses of the highlanders to spend the night. The brigade command together with the partisans of the battalion that had been left there for the purges, had no knowledge of the nomadic highlanders who had lodged in that village, nor did the nomadic highlanders have any knowledge of the partisans who were in that village. As soon as the news of Çelo Sinan’s murder came, numerous movements started in the village and the partisans of the purge battalion received orders to make a complete siege of the village, so that not a single fly would come out of it. After that they started checks in all the houses where they had information that they were sheltered to accommodate a part of the group of travelers. During searches of houses in the village of Xhan, partisans of the ‘Cleansing Battalion’ took the weapons from a group of migrant highlanders, who agreed to hand them over after the partisans told them they would return them as soon as go to Qafë Thanë where the brigade command was located. The commanders of the ‘Purge Battalion’ partisan groups promised the migrant highlanders that they would return their weapons the next day, November 27, as soon as they met with their command. The next day, as soon as day broke, the partisans of the ‘Cleansing Battalion’ gathered in one place all the highlanders who were in the village of Bruçaj, to join them with those of the other group who were in the village of Xhan, since it was near that village. killed Çelo Sinani. The purpose of the command of the VI Brigade, was to make their selection, to find out who were those who had shot and killed the brigade courier, partisan Çelo Sinani. The group of highlanders who had stayed in the village of Xhan included a 17-year-old boy named Mëhill Vocrri, who also had three probats (brothers who drank blood with each other) from the same house. When the partisans learned that Mëhilli was from the village of Shosh, they told him to leave, but he did not leave, telling them that he could not be separated from his probates. According to the order of the brigade command, the partisans of the ‘Cleansing Battalion’, of which Çelo Sinani’s ‘sister’ belonged, selected the migrant highlanders and left some of them free to leave, while the other group, of which they belonged: Tom Martini, Pëllumb Sokoli, Kol Vata, Pal Pëllumbi, Nikoll Mirashi, Mëhill Vocrri, Pal Vata, Shytan Deda and Prenush Zefi, they took him with them to go to Qafë-Thanë, where the Brigade headquarters was located “, recalled Prek Sokoli , regarding the arrest of nine migrant mountaineers by the partisan forces of the VI Brigade battalion, which had been left in that area for clearing.
Çelo’s sister shoots the bound mountaineers!
But what happened next to the group of highlanders who were arrested by the partisans of the ‘Cleansing Battalion’, as suspects in the murder of the brigade courier, Çelo Sinani? Regarding this, Prek Sokoli, who still had fresh in his memory that macabre event, where his brother was also killed, continued the story by saying: “Since one of those highlanders, named Nikoll Mirashi, he was ill and could not walk, the ‘sister’ of Çelo Sinani who was a partisan in that battalion, told her commander that she would stay with Nikolla, to help him walk, until they reached Qafë-Thanë. But as soon as they arrived somewhere in a stream, Çelo Sinan’s sister pulled out a revolver and shot Nikol Mirashi two or three times in the head, leaving him dead on the spot. When the group of partisans of the ‘Cleansing Battalion’ together with the eight mountaineers tied up arrived in Qafë-Thanë where the brigade headquarters was located, according to the promise they had given to the ‘sister’ of Çelo Sinani, the eight mountaineers lined up to tie in front of her. At that moment, she pulled out a pistol from her belt and started firing at the eight men who were tied up, hitting each of them in the head with two bullets. When she was getting ready to shoot at the last of the group, which was 17-year-old Mëhill Vocrri, some partisans begged her to forgive her, but she continued to shoot at her, saying: ‘Let her be the same age as my Çelo ‘. After leaving the nine mountaineers dead in the ninth place (along with Nikoll Mirashi who killed him along the way), Çelo Sinan’s sister ordered the other partisans to quickly strip them and take their body clothes. of the slain, as they were needed for the brigade partisans who were marching towards Montenegro. As they carried out her order, stripping naked the eight lifeless bodies that had been breathed on the frozen kalkan snow, some of them started hitting the corpses again with rifle barrels and bayonets, disfiguring them badly… After stripping them of their body clothes and leaving them naked in the snow in a small field, Çelo Sinan’s ‘sister’ and all the other partisans continued on their way to reach the brigade forces that were marching towards “Montenegro”, recalled Prek Sokoli, regarding the macabre event of the shooting of nine innocent highlanders, which took place on November 28, 1944, where among the nine highlanders who were shot twice in the head by ‘sister of Çelo Sinani, one of them was Preka’s brother, 25-year-old Pëllumb Sokoli.
They also kill Lazër Vuksan!
The macabre murder of nine innocent highlanders who were executed in revenge for the murder of the brigade courier, 15-year-old Çelo Sinani, did not end there. This is what Prek Sokoli said, who continued his story about that tragic event, saying: “After ‘Celo Sinani’ sister ‘along with other partisans continued on their way to join the rest of the brigade, in the direction of the place where the dead bodies of the eight highlanders were, the villagers of those parts began to go, who had heard the gunshots, but in fact knew nothing over the great woe that had happened there. The first to arrive at the scene were the men of Halil Zeneli’s house, who returned to their house and took with them some blankets and other clothes, to wrap the eight corpses, as they were naked, they could not transport them to their villages. While Halil Zeneli’s family was dealing with the dressing of the corpses, Çelo Sinani’s ‘sister’ along with other partisans who were traveling to join the other forces of the VI Brigade, on the way met a mountaineer from the village of Bruçaj named Lazër Vukasni, who was coming from his village, riding a mule. As soon as they confronted Lazri, the partisan group together with Çelo Sinani’s ‘sister’, immediately shot him, leaving him dead on the spot. They killed him with the intention that he would not go to the scene where the dead bodies of the eight highlanders were, because if he went there, he would give the conquest and the villagers of those parts, according to the custom of those parts, would grabbed rifles and would go out in search of the killers. So, in order for that event to be kept secret, until all the partisan forces left from there, Çelo Sinan’s ‘sister’, along with other partisans, also executed Lazër Vuksani, who was traveling on his mule. to the village of Bruçaj, where he had his house “, recalled Prek Sokoli, regarding the continuation of that event, which marked the tenth victim by the highlanders on that side, by the partisan forces of the VI partisan Brigade commanded by Jaho Gjoliku and Haki Toska.
Arrest of 37 highlanders!
But the shooting of ten Dukagjini mountaineers near the village of Bruçaj did not seem to satisfy the leading staff of the VI Brigade commanded by Jaho Gjoliku and Haki Toska, as the numerous forces of that brigade returned to the village of Xhan e Bruçaj, where he arrested 37 other villagers. Regarding this event, Prek Sokoli, originally from Dukagjini and living in Rranxat e Bushatit of Shkodra, testified: “After the shooting of those ten men by a partisan who was said to be the ‘sister’ of Çelo Sinani, the partisan forces , led by Jaho Gjoliku, returned to the village of Xhan and arrested 37 other villagers, who were tied up and lined up on a hillside to shoot them all. At the moment when their shooting was expected according to the order given by Jaho Gjoliku, the decision was reversed and all 37 bound men were able to escape certain death. All that miracle, their forgiveness, happened after the intervention of the Commander of the partisan Division, General Gjin Markut, who was subordinate to the VI Brigade, who stopped Jaho Gjolik from carrying out that massacre. According to those men who were present in that place, Gjin Marku said this to Jaho Gjolik: ‘Tomorrow we have the celebration of the liberation of Albania and it does not make us celebrate this long-awaited day with blood! “After those words of Gjin Marku, those 37 innocent men were released to go to their homes”, concluded his testimony, Prek Sokoli, the brother of one of the ten men shot in the village of Xhan, who adds that : ‘from that day until 1990, his family was called reactionary and the murdered brother was constantly mentioned’. “Because of that, we could not beg for anything”, said Prek Sokoli, whose family in 1971, was removed from the village of Xhan and sent there to Rranxat e Bushatit, where they still live today. But even though they moved from their village, they have not forgotten that tragic story, where 76 years ago, their son, 25-year-old Pëllum Sokoli, was killed by partisan bullets. Memorie.al