From Fatos Daci
Memorie.al / After the strong blows, in 1948, against the “hostile Titist” groups, in the top leadership of the Communist Party and the communist state, Koci Xoxes and company, not only could there be no talk of a “honeymoon”, in the relations between Yugoslavia and Albania, on the contrary, the situation precipitated into a state of war. Albania already saw Yugoslavia as an agent of American imperialism, as a dangerous threat to its sovereignty and as sworn enemies of Marxism-Leninism. And, from time to time, it accused him of interfering in its internal affairs, through agents and subversive actions of the UDB. While Yugoslavia saw Albania as its potential enemy, even more so when it suspected that Albania; encouraged the “irredentist” riots in Kosovo!
And this period of open front warfare continued until 1971, when bilateral cultural contacts organized on the basis of genuine state agreements were established. These cultural, educational and academic relations continued for 10 years, until 1981, when the demonstrations of the students of Pristina, the workers of Trepca and all the citizens of Kosovo broke out, for freedom and independence. The first cultural contact was that of mutual visits of high schools and folklore ensembles, of Great Dibra and the city of Peshkopia, in 1971…!
In the spring of 1971, Dibra was visited by a large cultural group, consisting of students and teachers of the gymnasium of Great Dibra and the Cultural and Artistic Society “Liman Kaba”, which brought as a gift to the director of the gymnasium of Peshkopia, a black and white television, which was the surprise of the time. This great cultural group gave performances in the city of Peshkopia and then also in Tirana and Durrës.
In response to this visit of Great Dibra, it was up to the high school “Demir Gashi” of the city of Peshkopia and the Ensemble of the House of Culture “Haki Stërmilli” of Peshkopia to return the visit on June 23-25 of that year. Yes, this was not easy. The “young” people of Socialist Albania would go to the revisionist Tito’s Yugoslavia! Therefore, this activity was considered by the communist state as a very important thing and for this urgent and multiple measures were taken.
The first thing that had to be done without fuss was the list of those who would go. Normally, all high school graduates and all members of the folklore ensemble had to go, but some of them did not meet the class criteria, did not have political beliefs, therefore they did not have to go. And these were removed in a very sophisticated way. The communist state did not announce a list of who would go and exclude those who would not go, nor a list of who would not go and those who were going to come out.
But, in the Internal Affairs Branch of Dibra, they called some students, whose parents were members of PPSh and worked in trusted institutions, and some singers and dancers with political and ideological beliefs and gave each of them lists of 5 – 6 people, to announce them quietly. This way left out, with tricks and fun, those who were unwanted on this trip. I was among the excluded, even though I was one of the best students and secretary of the Youth Organization of the class.
I waited in vain until the day before, so that no one would notify me, yes no. I was expelled, for the political “guilt” of my father, that he had completed his military studies in Rome, Italy and before the liberation he had served as an officer in the Border Protection of Zog and in the Guardia di Finanza of Italy, denying his contribution to the Anti-Fascist War of National Liberation and in education as a teacher, from December 23, 1944, when he opened the school in Kalis, until 1953, when he was dismissed from education for political reasons and was expelled to another district!
I waited for them to notify me too, but no. That’s why I decided to go and complain, why I was excluded from this trip, to Selim Alli, my high school principal, a real scientific personality, the leader of the most prominent in Dibra, then “Teacher of the People”, who e page, was designated as the head of the delegation, but in fact, in the composition of this delegation, there were three deputy ministers, such as: Education, Interior and Foreign.
As soon as I knocked on the door of his office and entered, director Selimi asked me: “Did you come, Fatos?” – Yes. – I told him. – Get ready, you will leave tomorrow! – he told me. Neither did he ask me why I had gone, nor did I tell him what I was looking for, but the conversation was straight to the point and we got along very well. This gave me the impression that he was aware of my exclusion from that trip and that this could have been discussed at length.
I informed my family in Slovakia that I was going too. Therefore, the brother, Ibrahimi, had left home at 12:00 at night and came to Peshkopi in the morning to bring me a better suit than the one I had. But, at that time, it was late, because we had boarded the bus and were waiting to leave, and I didn’t have time to change clothes. However, I also went…!
It was the first time that the entire team of two buses traveled abroad. We cannot hide that our insatiable eyes were surprised by the market of Great Dibra, with so many goods and so many stalls. That’s what we did in Struga, where everyone was looking for fake children’s classes, ready-made clothes and real classes, etc., etc. There were also those who left the conscience aside and, with various tricks, encouraged the hosts to give them something. So did the students, so did our professors, so did the artists and musicians. We feel very low, because we were low!
Everything there seemed more beautiful, more interesting to us. It seemed to us that the people there were less tired, that they were happier, that they were happy, white as snow, smiling and their faces were washed and shining. Let’s face it, the bureaucrats of the regime, were tired of giving us orders, how to behave and had tried to fill our minds, that what we were going to see, were not the truth of life there, because; “there, only the naked women belong to us, then everything else, you are not theirs, because everything is built on the basis of a big debt, of capitalist loans, which brought political slavery”!
But the sun was not covered with a sieve. There we found a lot of goods, a lot of cars. The market was busy. We left a few goods, a few cars, only for the institutions. Even the reception that was given to us was magnificent. Our main task was to give some artistic performances with folk song and dance, with rhapsody, etc., as well as to visit some industrial and cultural centers. The concerts were given in the Palace of Culture of Great Dibra, which was built with the aid of the powerful earthquake of 1967.
I can’t help but think of that fiery and patriotic atmosphere, which ignited the performances of the Dibran folklore group. From the reaction of the citizens across the border, it was not difficult to understand that something was about to explode. Every time our singers and rhapsodists articulated the words “Motherland”, “Flag”, “Albania”, “Skënderbe”, “Liberty”, “Independence”, etc., and others similar to them, the hall erupted in applause and oil. A sea of tears flowed in that modern theater. Especially the rhapsody Haziz Ndreu, lifted the weight of the hall…!
Longing for Albania, the mother country, as they called it, had captured their hearts and burned their souls. Therefore, our symbols were in their hearts and minds. The names of our cities were given to their sons and daughters. Their eyes were from us, from Albania! Abdyl Sturce, Melita Shehu, Muharrem Zajmi, Skënder Cala, etc. also sang quite well. One cannot forget the beautiful dances performed by Dali Hoxha and Misim Daku, as well as the other dancers of the dance group.
Among the industrial centers we visited were the Carpet Factory and ‘Gyps Radika’. In both, we noticed the high discipline at work and we were surprised how much their workers used their working time, while in Albanian enterprises, work interruptions were a common thing…! In the bars of the city, we saw a lot of color television monitors, when Albania didn’t even have a state television signal, no more television in the family or in the bar. What a luxury and what an extraordinary thing it seemed to us, when we saw the first color television, with a big screen, in a bar, where Tito was speaking!
How interesting we found a small harvester mowing a farmer’s alfalfa! How impressive was the motorboat ride on Lake Dibra! On the other side of it, from the meadows, we rested and drank coffee and refreshments, such as: “Coca Cola”, “Pepsi”, etc., which we had not seen and we had not even heard the names of, that we only knew the seven lekse arrangement. Meanwhile, at the “Cami” Bar, owned by Dan Cami, an abundant and generous dinner was served by the hosts. There they rose and toasted and said words of friendship. However, everywhere we were on the lookout for “revisionists”.
Each of their words had to be carefully analyzed and sifted, lest they be provocations, and then we would respond. This is what happened in Sollokic, in the family of the honorable man Shaban Daci, who was my and Malik Duman’s host. Shaban’s wife was Maliq’s aunt, the sister of the honorable Rasim Dumani, from Shupenza. But neither the aunt had seen the 20-year-old Maliq until that day, nor he the aunt, because the borders were hermetically closed in 1948, even though Shupenza and Sollokić were face to face, no more than 2-3 kilometers away, but the border has become an iron door, for both sides.
When we went to Shaban Daci, the whole village came out to meet us. The room we entered was full. I, as with Jabanxhi, took the head of the country. We stayed like in the “thorns”, because we didn’t know any of them and we didn’t even know their habits. Then we were very young, with no experience in the ode and at banquets. But, Shabani, the owner of the house, took away this trouble from us. “This is Mr. Velko, the head of UDB”! – he pointed his finger at a pale, thin man. The other didn’t love himself.
“And this here is a UDB officer”! – he pointed his finger at him. And that’s where our conversation ended. We didn’t talk, nor did I answer anyone, although the questions continued even after this presentation. Nor did we drink brandy, beer and wine, which were plentiful. Yes, we ate as much bread as we wanted, because we were young and tired, walking all day, visiting here, visiting there. I also ate a ram’s head, as much as a bull’s head.
Shabani told us that in the mountains of Kirçin, there were about four hundred sheep and the shepherds, who stayed in the tent with them. We were impressed that even the dessert there was eaten healthily, like how we drink brandy over here. For example, in those days, Shabani’s son, Rasim Duman’s grandson, was released from military service, and we were forced to eat sweet rations for his health. The second surprise was that after the baklava, the sultiashi came to us! However, the hospitality was exemplary and both parties enjoyed themselves…!
When we left for Great Dibra, we were told that we would go to Tetove, Gostivar, Skopje and Pristina and that we would stay there for about 10-15 days. But the plan changed very quickly. When they saw that we lost Torua from homesickness, from well-being that was different from ours, they decided to send us back for three days, and so we went on the 23rd and returned to Dibër on June 25th, 1971. However, with high school peers we also exchanged addresses.
I also got the address from a high school student, as far as I remember Faik Ballance, and he got mine. In fact, when I returned, I sent him a letter, from which I never received an answer, because the letter never went to where I started. The letter, probably kept in the Internal Branch, a well-known practice in Albania, to avoid contact and communication with foreigners at all costs and to “save” humanity from the “bourgeois revisionist infection”.
Therefore, often times, it seemed that a “rabbit”, a saboteur, was sleeping in every bush. I was surprised when a few years ago, now in democracy, Maliqi told me that the year we returned from Yugoslavia, he was called several times to the Department of Internal Affairs, where he was provoked and psychologically pressured, showing him the photos in the family of Shaban Daci, in which they had put their finger on, the two UDB officers and a fugitive, for whom neither he nor I had the slightest responsibility. But thankfully, they had not been able to punish him…!
And a few things, gifts, were taken by the students, professors and artists. When we arrived at customs, my Marxism teacher, L. Manjani, asked me to give him a Darvill brand watch. And a watch was an important thing for us, because the few who had watches, they had cheap watches, anyway, from the “Ruhla” and “Umf” brands of East Germany. I took it upon myself to pass it on, because I didn’t even have a watch on my hand. And, I passed it unnoticed. I kept it for about a month, then gave it to my teacher.
But the other things, which had been taken by others, had come to the attention of the state and State Security authorities. Analyzes began in Party organizations for communists and in collectives for cadre employees. Punishments began for all those who had violated the norms of communist morality! Professors and communists were reprimanded in the Party, as well as a warning for layoff, some others were transferred to agricultural cooperatives, to be educated in the spirit of the working class! Eh, how did this work go…?! Memorie.al