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
My attempt to convince Telin not to end his life!
I got up and took my massacred friend by the hand and lying on the blanket, I spoke to him, but he was unconscious! I had nowhere to massage her, as all her gums were sore and bruised from the blows.
Did the mothers know what they were taking away, what their children were suffering, who had raised them with misery and toil, and with a thousand troubles?! Did the world know that this was happening on earth and in a country that called itself a socialist, an Enver and a party that taught the world and the world proletariat, how to gain freedom?!
This is freedom, this is democracy, this is humanism?!
I warmed my exhaled gums, rubbing them for hours, until it was mentioned. The wire opened its eyes halfway and gave me a sweet, grateful look. That look seemed to express gratitude for the care and service I was rendering in those tragic moments.
The wire moved a little and a groan came from the depths of his chest.
– “Tel”, I spoke slowly over my head, to my friend, my brother, with whom I lived the most difficult moments of life!
Teli told me: “Kaso, I do not want to live like this anymore”, and started the hunger strike!
“Kaso,” replied the fat man in a voice as if speaking to God. “Kaso, Thank you, I do not want to live like this anymore”!
“No Teli, courage brother, do not let go, you are 24 years old, your life is ahead”, I tried to encourage him.
“No, brother, this is unbearable, I want to die, I want to give peace to the soul and bones, I have no strength, I understand that I am dying”!
-Can I free him from this pessimism that had gripped his whole being?! It was impossible, Teli was a determined man!
Teli refused to eat bread anymore, going on hunger strike in the cell! Was there nothing more terrifying to see a 24-year-old boy dying?! Two days passed, five days passed, and on the seventh day, the Prison Command took him out of his cell.
I do not know how it was during those days that I was still in the cell?! When I came out after a month, I had turned into a ghost, but with a strong spirit, I found Telin in the prison yard, walking on foot, and completely naked! I approached you, took her by the arm, raised her and asked her, why did she do that?!
“I do not want to be human anymore,” he replied. “If the police are people, I do not even want them to dress, but if these are people, I will accept that I am better as an animal and as an animal, I will sit and walk”, he continued to walk in the yard!
Any light-hearted prisoner laughed, not realizing how significant the action of this great man was!
The police, as soon as they heard that a prisoner was making gestures insulting the system, came running and rushed on his naked body, with black whips, and dragging him, put him back in the cell. But the Commissar called him a madman and ordered his release.
The wire came into the room murdered, tired, hungry, with no hope, and lay down on his bed, where there was a torn hull mattress. He plunged into the straw and lay down.
At lunch, I begged him to come and eat some bread, and after much prayer, Teli laughed:
– “Thank you, Kaso. “I have made a calculation,” he continued.
– “As long as I go downstairs and go to the canteen and go up to the third floor again, it is not worth it, because this fatigue will take at least 500-800 calories. And I will eat 200 grams of bread, which does not make even 300-400 calories! Even to eat ‘, continued Teli,’ even if you do not eat, it is still the same, to die than to die. It is better that I do not eat at all, that I may die sooner from these sufferings!
Teli did not want to know about our prayers, he had decided to die and we could not stop him…!
No matter how much I and his companions prayed for him, he decided to die! The command, when he saw that he was dying, allegedly took him to the hospital. The bus left Tel in Tirana Prison (Ward 313), to wait for the ambulance to pick him up and take him to the hospital. The wire was laid half-dead in a corner of “Kaushi”, which was full of prisoners. The wire did not rise, neither to eat nor to go to the toilet, or ventilation, but covered with a blanket upside down, waiting for the last beat of the heart to come!
The prisoners looked at him and woke him up, begging him to get up and eat, but he cut them off and begged them to leave him alone. So, the prisoners did not speak anymore, because they thought that this man was like a psychopath and could give a box to his face!
A prisoner sleeping nearby had more than 20 hours to see that this man did not move at all! He approached you, discovered him, and was horrified when he saw his bloodless face, his eyes closed forever. The mouth with the jaws tightened excessively and the body was frozen!
He told his friends that: the prisoner who came from Spaç, had died! The prisoners silently approached his lifeless corpse removing his hats and their eyes watered before that drama!
A prisoner called the police, who came and took the body with a blanket. The prisoners said goodbye to the grave, which did not know where it would be!
How and why I started a new family in the USA, with the girl I met in Greece!
In September 1988, I decided to start a family, as I lost all hope that the political situation in Albania could change. Selfua and Rexhepi pressured me to give up the Greek girl I had known. I went to Greece and married that girl who was waiting for me, a holy man to me then and will remain for life forever. I got married in a beautiful ceremony in the town of Igoumenitsa and a few days later, I got my visa at the US embassy.
I returned to America with my life partner, where we gave birth to three children. My cousins and my villagers, got angry, did not speak to me and I did the same, abandoning them without saying goodbye! I live calmly and hope that someone will understand me who I was and who I became?!
Blessed be Albania, that beautiful land with its people, excluding ugly people!
Nations will prove that democracy is not a form of government for the way of life, associated with a great tradition, tradition based on morality. I knew, I was clear, that America has been and remains: a free world. But what amazes me most, which made me fundamentally a good American citizen, but also controversial in the country where I was born, is why I took the side of Western civilization, rejecting the totalitarianism, radicalism and mentality of the medieval centuries, which prevented the integration of my people into the civilized world.
I was very impressed, amazed, by the tolerance of freedom, of thinking, of free expression and free to believe in that god who is closest to the truth.
This has been a heavy stone in the foundation of my beliefs when I studied Theology in Spaç and it remains now that I swore before the judge, to be an American citizen.
An unforgettable day for me and my new family. With a new name accepted by the world around me.
I abandoned the past by publicly declaring that I could not live in a place where the people were not free and could not express what they thought. I knew how right it was that I chose America as my country. The beauty of America in the tolerance of every man’s idea, without fear of what will happen tomorrow, as it happened in the communist regime of Enver Hoxha!
The deep appreciation for America, of the essential value of life, helped me explain why I wholeheartedly accepted, abandoning for life, all those people who looked so much alike, in the way they think.
I think I have written in general, what happened to some extent, I did what was possible, even to the most intimate aspects, of this collection of memoirs, which is a sincere story with historical values.
However, I found myself obliged to talk about this drama of my people. I was not careful to avoid mistakes! However, this is how it happened and it is true…?!
May that beautiful land be blessed with its people? Excluding ugly people!
Chicago 1987 Kaso Hoxha
Who were I and my family?
(In my own words)
Kazmaxhiu and shepherd from the village of Markat in southern Albania. Although uneducated, I was extremely curious about life and the world in which I was born. My desire to learn surpassed the imagination of an ordinary man, of this backward society of the civilized world!
My parents, Çerçiz and Honja, were illiterate but simple and honest. They did not answer my questions, curious about the world and life, they just answered: “God has done it”!
My mother, the daughter of Sadik and Shabane Kola. My father, the son of Kaso and Shabo Hoxha, my grandmother, a girl from Pashakaj. The father, at the age of 27, along with several other boys from the province, took part in the 1924 Fan Noli Revolution. Later, he married Hona, my mother who would bring me into this world.
My mother was widowed with two young children, Lazen and Dilon, in the village of Pandelejmon, not far from the village of Markat. In 1939, as World War II began, her mother, Shabua, was worried about her daughter, who was left without a man.
She begged her brother-in-law, Ali Kola, to bring her to Markat. Mother Shabua was also a widow at a very young age. My mother’s father, Sadik Kola, died young from a severe flu. Mother Shabua had stayed at home with Qemali, who was the youngest of her children.
Ali Kola, an honest and respected man in the village, my mother’s uncle, thought that it would be better, for his granddaughter, to marry Çerçiz Hoxha, if he would accept this woman with two orphaned children!
Ali put people to ask Çerçiz if he wanted to get married, even though he was in his 50s. At that time people lived with the mentality and fanaticism of the Middle Ages and marriages were mediated by people! So, it became my mother, even mine!
Çerçizi accepted this marriage, married Honen, and raised the two orphans without separating them from his children. My mother gave birth to five more children, two sisters and in 1951, I was born who was named Kasëm Hoxha, my mother gave birth to two more children, a son and a daughter, who died as children, due to of epidemics and lack of vaccines! Kasem, was my grandfather’s name.
I came to this world in the middle of winter, whoever comes to this world, does not know his fate, I did not know that my life would be eternal winter!
Inevitably, no one escapes, what will happen, as it is going to happen! It was not a coincidence that I came into this world, coincidence paves the way through necessity, things may or may not happen!
It was no coincidence that this man named, Kaso Hoxha, a man whose fate was to take all the depths of the ocean, of human suffering in the land called Albania!
Here, on January 14, 1951, began the long odyssey with such great and tragic suffering.
GLORY TO GOD, who had saved a few good days in my life.