Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of the much-talked-about event of August 21, 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, with a mission from the Communist Circle of Shkodra to spread communist ideas and to recruit young boys of that province to the partisan ranks, remained surrounded by 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 Gjegjan 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, their killing and taking of dead bodies from families, until the revenge of the communist regime in 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 homeland ”, 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 Vig”. But what is the truth about that sensational murder? Why was that partisan unit consisting of five very young boys traveling towards the Mirdita highlands 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 peoples from Mirdita 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 Vigo” and who was the man who discovered and organized the assassination of Pjetër Llesh Gjegjan 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” Çeta 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 Vigu” that have remained an enigma for more than half a century.
Comrade Mark, what do you have to do with the “5 Heroes of Vigo” and under what circumstances did you meet them?
From the beginning of 1943, after returning from Korça where I was a student at the Lyceum of that city and organized in the Anti-Fascist Movement as a young communist sheltered in the house of Vangjo Vangjeli which was the base of the Korça district, I joined the partisan gang ” Pukë-Mirditë ”, when she was at the moment of her reorganization, in the village of Laç-Susaç of Vau i Dejës. In the period 1943-’44, I first met Ahmet Haxhina and Naim Gjylbegu.
Where and how did you get to know them?
My acquaintance with these two came after the delegate of the Communist Circle of Shkodra, Nuri Llazani and Bardhok Biba (“Hero of the People”) who were in the “Puka Mirdita” Çeta, at different times during that time sent me on duty to Shkodra to their houses in the “Zdrale” neighborhood, to mother Gjylafja (of Naim Gjylbegu) and mother Laja (of Ahmet Haxhia). When I first went, since I did not know the basics, Nuriu and Bardhok Biba recommended me to meet a friend named Fadil Hoxha, nicknamed “Sedita”, (after the war one of the main party leaders of Kosovo and former Yugoslavia), who would accompany me to the homes of Gjylafa and Laja. In those two houses I often met Osmani and Nazen (Ahmeti’s brother and Naim’s sister) as well as Arif Gjyli, Haki Lazani, Xhavit Gjylbegu (“Picirruku”), Filip Vaso Peja, etc. Whereas Ndoc Dedë Marku I knew through Preng Gjin Lleshi from Rrasi e Butë i Kashnjetit who was my aunt’s husband. I did not know the other two Ndoc Mazin and Hydajet Lezha personally.
What was the purpose of those five communists going to the Mirdita area?
By order of the Shkodra Party Circular which included Sadik Bekteshi, (political secretary) Arif Gjyli, (organizational secretary) Qazim Kapisyzi, Qamil Gavoçi, Seit Bushati, Tuk Jakova, (delegate of the Central Committee of the SNP), Nuri Llazani etc., it was decided that Ndoc Mazi, Naim Gjylbegu, Ahmet Haxhija and Ndoc Deda, would go on a mission in the area of Mirdita. The messages given to them by the Circular were: They would help the Puka-Mirdita partisan Çeta to increase its ranks with new partisans, with the aim of becoming a battalion. They would meet with the most prominent families of Mirdita and Puka, making them propaganda to attract mercenaries who collaborated with the German Nazis in the partisan ranks. And their main goal was to prepare the ground, so that when the regular partisan formations and the brigades of the National Liberation Army to liberate the North passed there, there would be no reaction and the fratricide would be avoided at all costs. These were the main tasks that the group had, because separately, they had other tasks assigned to you by the Communist Circle of Shkodra, especially Ndoc Mazi and Naim Gjylbegu, who had the main weight in that unit. These tasks had as a strategic goal the Çeta “Puka-Mirditë”.
From which direction did they start to go to the province of Mirdita and what itinerary did they traverse?
From the house of Sheuqet Beg (Sitki’s father who was a partisan in the “Perlat Rexhepi” battalion), which was the base of the Shkodra Party Circular where they usually took refuge, Ndoc Deda, Naim Gjylbegu, Ndoc Mazi and Ahmet Haxhija, on 19 August went to the city of Lezha, where they participated in a communist youth activist of that city. There they were always accompanied by Hydajet Lezha and Refik Resuli and in the evening they took refuge in their house, which were the bases of the War. On the morning of August 20, the four of them took Hydajet Lezha with them and set off in the direction of Mirdita, passing in the Manatia Gorge and then towards the Vela mountain. On the evening of August 20, they arrived in the village of
Rras i Butë i Kashnjetit and there they discussed with each other where they would spend the night.
How did they decide, where did they spend the night?
Ndoc Dedë Marku proposed to his friends that they go to stay in the house of Preng Gjin Lleshi that Ndoci had the probation (blood brother, byrazer). The wife of the owner of the house, Gjin Lleshi, was called Margjela Gjoka and she was my aunt (mother’s sister). The five of them went to that house and found only the women, the two sisters-in-law, Margjela and Mrica, as well as the small children, Frroku and Ndreca, etc., because the men of that house, Gjini with their son, Prenga, nephew Peter , have been hiding in the mountains, because of an enmity. After having dinner and sleeping there that night, the next morning, the five comrades of the unit discussed with each other and Ndoc Dedë Marku who was from Kurbin, well acquainted with the Kanun of the customs of the country, asked Margela and Mrica an escort to accompany them. Since there were no men to accompany them in that house and the children were still small, Mrica and Margela told them that if someone asked them on the street, they would tell them that they were Gjin Lleshi i Rrasit’s bread friends. . They were also told that according to custom, when a house had no men to escort friends, they should tie a handkerchief by the women of the family, on top of a broken tree branch from their yard, or at the muzzle of the rifle. It was also a sign that they were friends of a house that had no men to accompany them.
Did they carry out the orders given to them by the women of that house according to the Kanun?
It is not known exactly whether they tied a handkerchief around the muzzle of the rifle, as ordered by the women of the house, but on the morning of 22 August, they left Gjin Llesh’s house in the village of Rras, to go to the meeting point where the Çeta “Pukë-Mirditë” was waiting for them, a place that only Ndoc Dedë Marku should have known. This place is called Buzhalë and is located between Mnelë and Korthpula and face to face with Vig. Walking that morning of 22 August, somewhere between the villages of Rras and Vig, towards the river Voma, the horn of Buzabardhi known as the place called Stanavere, a person named Dod Marka Gjoka, from the village of Rras, met five friends of unit. This meeting with this one is not known to have been accidental, or he approached them with some definite purpose.
For what purpose?
It is possible that their movement as partisan and armed units such as those with rifles, automatic weapons and bombs, was dictated by someone and Dod Marka Gjoka approached them with a specific purpose to find out who they were and for what purpose had gone to those parts, where the influence of the bayraktars of Mirdita was very strong as anti-communists. Coincidentally or organizedly, this person named Dod Marka Gjoka, who accompanied them, was a mercenary of government forces, under the command of Pjetër Llesh Gjegjani, who was the Mayor of Kalivaç of Mirdita.
What did the five of them talk to Dod Marka Gjoka and how far did he accompany them?
It is not known exactly what conversations Dod Marka Gjoka had with the unit, but along the way, he apparently learned that they were partisans. Walking, the unit reached a place called Buzabardh, located next to the Voma River. At this place they were stopped to rest and it is said that there, Doda offered them help to accompany them, but they did not accept, as they may have suspected him from the conversations they had on the way. In that place, Doda left them and went to the post of the Militia of the Municipality of Kalivaç, himself or may have sent someone else who found him on the road and within a very short time, the mercenary forces of the Municipality of Kalivaç, led by Mayor Pjetër Lleshi, have surrounded the country. After the first siege, as time passed, the siege was strengthened even more by the people of Pjetër Lleshi, until a complete siege of the whole place where the five partisan unit was located took place. After the complete siege was carried out, it is said that Pjetër Lleshi, through some of his men, sent word to them that the five of them should hand over their weapons and only after that they were free to leave.
How did they respond to the word sent to them by Pjetër Llesh Gjegjani?
To Pjetër Lleshi’s speech, the five communists responded by saying: “they were in the trust of Preng Gjin Lleshi’s house and in his bread”. Meanwhile, someone who was with the people of Pjetër Lleshi, or Pjetri himself, told them that they were on a high road and according to the Kanun on a high road without a guide, no one was taken in trust. After the words of Pjetër Lleshi that they were on the main road and according to the customs of the country and the canon, on the main road they could not be in anyone’s trust, the five communists repeated the words, that they were in the trust of Gjin Lleshi’s house of Rras, who had given them bread, and of the Vigas in Vig.
What was Pjetër Lleshi’s reaction after the response of the five communists that they were in trust with Gjin Lleshi’s house?
After they insisted that they were in trust with Gjin Lleshi, the Mayor of Kalivaç, Pjetër Lleshi, who had organized the siege, in order not to compromise with the Kanun, sent words and called the elders of the village of Vig. One of the main leaders of the village of Vig who came there was Preng Marka Gjini, who insisted on telling Pjetër Lleshi that: those five who were kept surrounded, should be allowed to pass, as they were in the besiege of a mirditori who had given you bread and according to custom, in no way should the allegiance and honor of Mirdita be tarnished.
What did Pjetër Lleshi do after that?
After the words of Preng Marka Gjini of the elders of Vig, Pjetër Lleshi again insisted on his own and clung to the fact that the place where the five of them were located, Buzabardhi, on the bank of the river Voma, was a big road and according to the Kanun, there no one had the right to trust anyone.
But how was this resolved?
The debate between the elders of Vig and Pjetër Lleshi and his people lasted a long time, until they conditioned Pjetër Lleshi to implement the Kanun, where a member of Gjin Lleshi’s house, Gjini himself the master of the house, or his son , Prenga, or cousin, Peter, to come there and declare, proving that those five persons who were kept besieged, were his friends who had eaten his bread. Vigu’s elders conditioned Pjetër Lleshi that without a man coming from Gjin Lleshi’s house, the five of them should not be touched.
Did Pjetër Lleshi accept the condition set by Vig’s elders?
Pjetër Lleshi accepted the condition of Vigu’s eldership because he could not act outside the laws and customs of the Kanun and announced that he was waiting for the arrival of the representative of Gjin Lleshi’s house, who would declare, proving that they were in trust. of them. After that, the representation of Vigu’s elders sent the special person to the house where Gjin Lleshi was staying, to ask him to come there. After sending word to Gjin Lleshi, he consulted with his sons who were sheltered and they in another house, because of the enmity they had and they authorized their father Gjini to go to the scene to clarify the situation where they were 5 persons who had eaten the bread of their home. But Gjin Lleshi’s going to the scene in Buzabardh could not be easily realized, because he was in enmity and his enmity was in ambush with Pjetër Lleshi’s people.
How was this problem solved, did Gjin Lleshi go to the scene?
The problem of Gjini’s enmity was indeed a great obstacle, but it was solved, because Vigu’s elders asked for the trust of Gjini’s enemy who was in ambush, and he promised that Gjini could come there without any problem. Several hours later, Gjin Lleshi arrived at the scene, at a time when debates between the unit’s five partisans, Vigu’s elders and Pjetër Lleshi’s people, were still ongoing to resolve the situation. As soon as Gjin Lleshi came there, he met Pjetër Lleshi and his people and openly stated to them that: those five boys who were kept surrounded were friends in his bread and one of them, Ndoc Dedë Marku, was a friend of the house. For this reason, he told them that the five of them, in no way could be touched by anyone, that otherwise they would fall in blood with his house.
What happened after he was told, did you agree to remove the ambush?
In the words of Gjin Lleshi, the whole eldership of Vig agreed, saying that the five besieged were in his trust and should not be touched. While Pjetër Lleshi insisted even more fiercely, on the fact that he had been caught from the beginning, that the five of them were on the main road and Gjin Lleshi had no reason to leave them.
After Pjetër Lleshi’s insistence, did Gjini withdraw from taking the pledge he made to the five partisans who had eaten the bread in his house?
Not at all, Gjini not only did not retreat, but he, with the help of the elders of Vig, who came to his defense, was caught in the Kanun according to custom, fiercely opposing Pjetër Lleshi. Gender was kept in his speech, saying that it was the Kanun that determined that: the friend who left the house had to be escorted until he was handed over to another friend in besa and by no means could he be left in the way of great.
But after that, did Pjetër Lleshi withdraw from his decision?
After this heated debate that lasted a long time, Pjetër Lleshi, very nervous, insisted that he was the government and as such, he did not know the Kanun and the friends who were on the main road, therefore, Gjin Lleshi should not to trust the fifth.
After Peter’s pressure, how did Gjin Lleshi act?
Gjini did not move from his word, and as he was leaving for the tower of isolation, assured of the trust of the Vigas, he repeated once more his last words, saying that: those five boys who were surrounded there, were in his trust and whoever touched them, would fall in blood with him and his whole tribe.
Why did Gjini leave the scene and not stay there to protect his friends who had eaten his bread?
Gjini was called there only to declare that the five who were surrounded were his friends and he could not stay any longer in that place, for for so long his enmity which was with the people of the host, gave allegiance to the elders of Vig. It was enough that he trusted the friends who had stayed in his house and according to the canon, he had no more obligations, as he was himself in blood.
How did the events unfold after the departure of Gjin Lleshi?
After Gjin’s departure, Vigu’s elders discussed how that problem could be solved. There among those men of that eldership, it is discussed, whether the fifth of them should be taken into Vigo’s trust or not. Vigu’s elders were divided into two parts and most of them thought that they should be trusted by Vigu because they remained Vigu’s friends. But this was increasingly opposed by Pjetër Lleshi, who continued to say that they were on the main road. In those discussions, there were rumors that the government had its own laws and did not act with the Kanun, so they had to withdraw from the decision to trust the fifth.
How was it decided after these two thoughts that were discussed in Vig’s eldership?
Since the problem was very complicated and was not finding a solution, according to the customs of the country which were clearly sanctioned in the Kanun, to solve that problem one had to ask the first house of that province, which in this case was the princely door of the Gjonmarkaj, Captain of Mirdita. Only she had full powers to solve that problem.
Were the Gjonmarkaj asked about that?
For the very conditions and long discussions that have been going on since the siege of the five communists, I do not know if they were promised the time to ask the door of the Gjonmarkaj. In the place that was the way of passage, some villagers had approached and you had accidentally fallen your way there. Among the Mirditors who passed there, among them were men who were devoted to the besa and the kanun.
Did those travelers who happened to be there intervene to solve the problem?
Some of those villagers, after seeing what was happening there, took advantage and passed the ambush and entered the middle of the siege and went and met the five besieged communists. They suggested to the five partisans that they take a few steps towards a place called Kroi Lugjat, under the pretext of drinking water, and after going there, move only a few steps further and enter the forest of Stanavera, and came out on the border of Mnela.
But why did these moves have to be made?
For if they had taken a single step in the land of Mnella, in the name of the Mnelas, they would have taken them in trust and no one could touch them. These people who suggested this to the five communists were from the tribe of Bibaj, and some other tribes of Mnela, and were all armed. I have known some of them and I have talked to them personally, such as Frrok Llesh Gjini, Ndue Lazër Markagjegja etc.
Did the five besieged communists implement what those Mnela villagers suggested?
The five besieged partisans told the Mnelas that they had full confidence that the Mirditors would not kill them and would not take them for granted. After that the Mnelas told them again that no matter what happened, they would wait for them at the place where they told you. At this time the clock was going around 13.00 and it was making a great heat like rarely ever. From this the five of them were burning with thirst for water. At this time a gendarme from those of Pjetër Lleshi’s ambush, wandering around the ambush people, entered the siege area and went and met with the five partisans of the unit. Two of the five of them walked with the gendarme to the place where Kroi Lugjat was located, which was a hidden place covered with foliage of Stanavera. At this moment, after drinking water, the gendarme told the two partisans of the unit, that they should flee the hill through the forest, towards the border of Mnela. The gendarme also suggested that they start firing at him, and he would pretend to shoot at them, in order to create the idea that they were fighting among themselves. I do not remember the name of that gendarme, but it is well known that he was a Mirditor. For the first time, a close friend of the “5 Heroes of Vigo”, Frano Jakova, spoke to me about that man, who at that time was in the “Puka-Mirdita” Çeta waiting for those five communist comrades who were surrounded by forces. mercenaries of Pjetër Lleshi.
Did the two members of the unit act on the suggestion given by the gendarme?
No, those two members of the group who it is not known who they were, because not only the gendarme, but none of the people who had set up ambush there did not know them, did not act as the gendarme told you. They replied to him, that they could not do so, as they could not be separated from the other three companions. After that, the gendarme left, it is not known where, and the two comrades of the unit went back and joined the other three comrades who were waiting for them and were burning with thirst for water./Memorie.al