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
Continued from the previous issue
Return from “Kaushi” of Tirana, to the Spaç camp
This time I returned to Spaç a little better from my health condition. Although the military doctor at the Prison Hospital had issued the statement “physically incapable of working”, I was afraid that Spaç’s command would put me back to work in galleries full of smoke and poison. I tried to avoid any movement inside the prison, spending most of my time studying. I read every kind of book I could get my hands on.
Friends as always were near me. At my side I had Dr. Vasil Zoga, a wise and generous man. I find it difficult to express in words the greatest sympathy for this kind man. Next to him slept Muhamet Karremi, another wise man, who hardly spoke to people he did not know. His sermons became a reality. He looked at the prisoners’ cups almost every day.
One day I asked him “Uncle Muhamet, you read the cup to everyone but not me”?!
“Bring the Kasem cup with great pleasure,” he told me.
Doctor Vasili, made me a coffee and I drank it, despite the fact that it was not a cup for that job. I turned it upside down and after wrapping it in newspaper, I came to bed. Uncle Muhammad was busy with the other prisoners, and after he was left with the last two, I gave him the cup.
He began to study the dried coffee stains in the cup and told me: “Kasem your family is very poor, your father has long since died. Your mom cares a lot about you. She is coming to Spaç to meet you. Also, your three sisters, want to come meet you but cannot. “It turns out that you have a brother with another father.”
I was surprised and said how it is possible for this old man to see something in that cup that I had never talked about intimate things of my family. This made me suspect that this old man saw something so far away that the rest of us could see!
“Uncle Muhamet, my mother has been married twice, and from the first marriage, she had a daughter named Dilo, and a son named Laze. What you have told me so far is true”!
Uncle Muhammad continued: “Kasem, you have two little girls who can’t wait to see you, but their joy will be short. You will give birth to a boy; you will name him a Christian and humanity will “They will take revenge on you. But you will be far away from home. This is where the great suffering for these orphans will begin.”
He saw that I was shocked by this fateful future, especially for those two misfortunes that had not yet been born. But Uncle Muhameti continued: “Do not worry Kasem, what is going to happen will happen. You personally will not do the whole prison. I see for you that you will be very far away with new family. You think your life is over, but you are wrong. You will raise three more children, two daughters and a son. With your help you will take them with you. But one big girl will stay here, where she will get very tired. You will be the father of seven children. Your first wife will be seriously ill and will die, with the grief of losing you!
I was stunned at the bottom of the bed and rubbed my eyes as if I were awake from a heavy sleep! As if I saw a dream of my past and future, a dream that scared me more about the dark future of my family. I was amazed by Uncle Muharrem’s sermon on my past, which were all true. I asked him if it was possible for him to teach me his science lessons astrological. He smiled and with that wisdom said to me: “Why not Kasem, with pleasure, because you are a man eager for knowledge”.
The next day, he gave me the first lessons in this science, both mysterious and interesting! It was not long before Uncle Muhammad’s first prophecy came true. The mother came to Spaç with great difficulty. It took four days from Mark to here. She told me all the vicissitudes of that trip, four days without eating or drinking, until she arrived in Lac, at the train station.
No car took that blind old woman to bring her to Spaç! At night around 12 o’clock, sitting with the bag weighing about five kilograms. food, mother was crying. There he was approached by a man who had seen him and apparently regretted it. He had asked her and her mother had told her through tears that despite the prayers, no car had taken her! He had asked him where he wanted to go and his mother had told him: ‘I want to go to Spaç, to see the sick boy for the last time, because my eyes are leaving me’.
This man, named Myfit Sala, had taken his mother to his house. According to custom, his wife washed her mother’s feet and laid them to sleep on the best mattress. The next day, this good man took his mother to the intersection of four streets, where he drove her to Spaç. She told me this story without breathing and told me that: ‘you have a brother in Laç, named Myfit Sala’.
In that meeting with the mother, we cried more, looking at each other, than we talked! She left crying and I was very worried about how this blind old woman would find her way to her poor hut hundreds of miles away! In a letter I received some time later, I learned that she suffered greatly and had slept at the crossroads, for whole nights!
In other letters I wrote to him, I begged him not to make that trip for me anymore, telling him not to send me money and food packages. My mother ate nothing to keep me alive. She was made of bone and skin and weighed no more than 30 kg! This miserable condition of hers, made me sadder.
How did I meet Nazmi Berisha in prison, from Kosovo?
One of these days in Spaç, I meet Nazmi, who was telling me his painful story.
– “I will tell you what happened to me 15 years ago”, said Nazmiu, shaking a small bag he was holding near his mattress. He pulled out a large piece of sausage, made a few pieces with the tail of the aluminum spoon. He offered me a piece, saying: ‘the family sent it from Kosovo’. I was only satisfied with the good smell it emitted, for I had never tasted such sausage in my life until that day! I thanked him for his generosity and asked him to continue the conversation.
– “Yes, I was young, 18 years old, when I came to Albania, thinking that our brothers would educate us in schools, to become someone in life. But the opposite happened, the government of Enver Hoxha, exiled us to the farms of Lushnja, punishing us with hard work, to earn a living! I could not stand that life and I said to a friend of mine from Kosovo, ‘it is better to go to Yugoslavia and go to prison there, than slaves here in the mud of Lushnja’.
We decided to return to Kosovo. We took a bus to near Tirana, then a car to Laç, and from there another car to Shkodra, where we arrived late in the evening. It was summer, we had no money for a hotel and we stayed outside at the car agency. We decided to walk towards the border with Montenegro. We asked a villager to cut the road shorter. But this man informed the Security organs, who did not delay to catch us, not far from the border. They took us to the Internal Affairs Branch in Shkodra and from there to the Internal Affairs Branch in Lushnje. We were locked up in solitary confinement during the investigation.
I had more than a week in the cell of the Lushnja Branch. No one came to ask why we were prisoners! I complained and went on hunger strike. Finally came a Security officer, who was the investigator, who would draft the indictment “Attempt to escape.” He ushered me into the office, where desks and chairs were stuck on the office floor.
“Well,” said the investigator, “speak, where did you want to go in that border area?” He continued to ask.
I did not answer you at all, and I did not want to know what this man was asking of me, as I was fed up with Enver’s socialism.
“Will you talk or not,” he said angrily.
I sat like a zombie and did not make a sound!
He approached, grabbed me by the shirt, shook me and shouted: ‘Will you talk or not’?!
I was silent, my soul was disturbed, hunger is a great torture, but it is a greater torture, when you smoke and you do not have cigarettes to poison your brain with nicotine!
“I will speak,” I tell him, “if he gives me a cigarette, it has come to the tip of my nose, I cannot stand it anymore.”
He took out the pack, handed me the cigarette and lit it. I inhaled it so deeply that half of the cigarette burned and the second time, the cigarette ran out! I exhaled the smoke accumulated in my lungs, plump after plume.
– “Are you satisfied? “Speak now, I made the shroud”, said the Security officer!
“Sir, I will speak, if he gives me another cigarette, I will keep it in my mouth,” I replied.
He noticed me with remarks, realized that my nose had cracked for nicotine and took out the pack again, giving me another cigarette, and after lighting it he said: ‘Speak’!
– “Sir, I was a high school student in the fourth year and I listened to the Albanian news on the radio. I loved Albania, and that added to that spring day, to decide to go to Albania, for a better life, as in Kosovo we were persecuted and oppressed by the Yugoslav government. I came home from school but could not find my mother! I ate some food and waited for my mother to come back and tell her that ‘I am leaving for Albania’.
After a while, she came back crying. It hurt my deep soul; what misfortune had my mother found?! I begged him to tell me.
“My son, my mother told me,” I prayed, crying with him.
– “My son, what did I suffer where I washed my clothes on the edge of the Drini i Bardhë ra (genitals) fell in the abrupt flow of the river…!
“Palaço,” shouted the investigator, “speaks banalities,” the nervous officer continued.
“If you want to hear it, sir,” I replied.
“Go on,” he ordered.
– “You should know how sad I was for the loss that my mother suffered. I comforted him, I promised I would find him. I said goodbye to my dear mother, I took a stick in my hand I went to the bank of the Drini i Bardhë, where my mother washed her clothes, I took the shore along the river, looking for what my mother lost, I went to the Drini all over Albania, but I found nothing. I fell on the side of the Albanian land, I got tired, I got bored, I was disillusioned, I did not find “P…. of Mother “, now I want to return to Kosovo, to tell my mother, do not die of grief, because I did not find her! This is my crime sir; I want to go back to my house!
However, there was a trial and I was sentenced to 25 years in prison. I have been lying in the prisons of the dictatorship for years. I’m seriously ill with tuberculosis, Kasem. May God save us “, Nazmiu ended his story with a sharp irony, about what he had suffered in life.
I was impressed by Nazmi’s confession and the next day, he left for Ballsh prison. I wished him a speedy release knowing we would never see each other again!/Memorie.al