Memorie.al publishes the interview with the Italian citizen, Terrencio D’Alena, residing in Rome and with the profession of military doctor with the rank of colonel in one of the Special Units of Rapid Intervention at the Rome Police, who is the nephew of Dr. Terenc Toçi, of Arbëresh origin, former Secretary of State, Minister of Economy and Speaker of the Albanian Parliament during the Italian occupation of the country. Rare testimonies of Mr. D ‘Alena regarding the story of his grandfather in Albania, the functions he exercised, the passions and friends he had during his stay in Albania, as well as his refusal to leave the country at the end of the War, when the communists were taking power! How D’Alena learned in Italy the news that in Tirana, at Kodra e Priftit, the burial place of 17 people who were executed in that place was discovered on April 14, 1945, where among them was his grandfather, the Calabrian Terenc Toçi , one of the most prominent personalities of Albania since the Declaration of Independence in 1912.
A few days ago near Burrel Prison, the relevant state structures began excavations to find the remains of convicts who lost their lives in that infamous prison from 1945 until 1990, when on the verge of arriving in Albania of the US Secretary of State, James Baker, the convicts held there were transferred to the Kosovo prison of Lushnja. It is said that the reason for the resumption of the search for the missing in that prison was the Italian citizen, Aldo Renato Terrussi, whose father, Giuseppe Terrussi, is one of the former convicts of that prison, whose bones are said to be lying somewhere near Cherry, along with many other convicts who died in that prison and their bodies were not allowed to be taken from their families. By z. Aldo Renato Terrussi, is not the only Italian citizen who after the ’90s come to search for the remains of their parents and relatives in Albania, who died during the communist regime in various camps and prisons, located in several districts of the country. One of them is Terencio D’Alena, who in 2004, came to search for the remains of his grandfather. For more information, we know the interviews we received at that time, Mr. D’Alena, which we are publishing in full for Memorie.al
Can you tell us who Terencio D’Alena is and what blood relationship you have with Terenc Toçi, one of the 17 shot by the Special Court?
I live in Rome with my wife Elvira, of Italian nationality and citizenship. My father Nicola D’Alena worked in the office of the Council of Ministers in Rome. I graduated in Medicine, also in Rome in 1982. I currently work as a doctor in the Rapid Intervention Unit of the Police in Rome and I have the rank of Colonel. I am the grandson of Terenc Toçi, as my mother Jeta (Rita) was one of his four daughters.
Where were your mothers and aunts born?
I will start with my grandmother, Terence’s wife named Clementina, who has been Italian. My grandfather, Terenc Toçi, met him in the USA at the beginning of the last century. He was there for the Albanian cause. My mother Jeta (Rita) was born in San Cosmo di Albanese, Calabria, while the other aunts named: Italia, Rosa, and Maria-Kristina, were born in Salerno, Shkodra, and Tirana, respectively.
How long has your grandfather lived in Tirana and where has he lived?
As far as I remember, from the stories of my mother and aunt Maria-Kristina who still lives in Rome, my grandfather Terenc Toçi came to Albania in 1911. Then he left and returned in 1920, never to leave again… He called himself Albanian and lived together with his family in villa no. 4 which is located behind the hotel “Rogner” and in front of the Albanian Radio Television, (the intersection of the street of Radio-Tirana). He built and furnished that mansion himself in the years 1926-’27, together with an Italian architect.
What functions did Terenc Toçi have during the years he lived and worked in Albania?
He has held many positions, but some of the most important ones have been: Secretary General of the Republic in 1922, Minister of Economy, and Speaker of Parliament in the ‘40s. I want to add that since he held this post, during the War, he was against the nationalization of some Albanian companies by the Italians, so that they remain part of Albania.
Besides politics, did your grandfather have other passions?
My grandfather Terenc Toçi entered politics in order to help the Albanian cause, for which he dedicated his life. In addition, he studied Italian, Albanian, and French. He adapted the Italian Civil Code in Albanian, after graduating in Law. He also challenged the death penalty which was in the Criminal Code of the time. Toçi compiled an Italian-Albanian dictionary for all those Italians who wanted to learn Albanian. He also dealt with botany.
Who have been his closest friends in the last years of his life?
Among his closest friends were Generals Jakomoni, and Pariani, lawyer Thoma Orollogai, and Dr. Simonidhin.
In the years of occupation 1939-’44, with whom did he live in Albania?
During those years he lived with his wife Clementina and one of his daughters, Maria-Christina, who was born in 1931.
Was it possible for Terenci to leave Albania at the end of 1944, and not be arrested by the communists?
My grandfather had every opportunity to leave the country, he even had offers, but he did not accept. He called himself completely clean and that he had not dealt with anyone but had only made every effort to contribute to the Albanian cause. Once, my grandmother told me that some Germans came to our door, knocking incessantly. She told him to open the gate as they could tear it apart. When Terence came out, they told him if there were partisans in that house, and he replied, no. Then they went in and stayed up all night drinking champagne. On this occasion he had had the opportunity to escape, but did not.
When and how was he arrested?
He was arrested in November 1944, at his villa, quite quiet. Some partisans went there and told him to go with them, for “an explanation up to the command”! He understood and calmly handed the pistol to the table and left with them.
During his time at the investigator, was he allowed to meet with his wife and daughter?
Clementina and her 14-year-old daughter, Maria-Kristina, were allowed to visit him three or four times during his time in prison. They went to meet him at the prison at six o’clock in the morning, and after waiting for two or three hours for the gate to open, they went inside with the families of the other detainees. At the time they were communicating with their relatives, partisan guards were present, who mocked, laughed and insulted them.
Did they participate during the court hearings?
No, they did not.
What about the place of their execution, could they learn?
They learned the place of execution the next day, after it was shown to them by the Italian priest, Kijezo, who was allowed to perform religious rites before the shooting. He knew my aunt, Maria-Christina, and told them the last words of Terence before the shooting, who told him: “I have nothing to regret. “I only apologize to my family, but politically I have nothing to blame myself for.” So, two days after the execution, Clementina and Maria-Kristina went there to Priest’s Hill and placed a bouquet of flowers and a cross near their grave.
How did they find out who his grave was, when there were 17 people shot?
The Italian priest showed it to them, telling them that when they were shot, Terenci was in the front row, (on the east side) handcuffed to Fejzi Alizot.
After the execution of Terenc Toçi, Klementina and her daughter, how did they leave Albania?
Their departure from Albania is a chapter of suffering in itself. But their vicissitudes began while Terence was under investigation, when they removed them from their villa, which was seized by the communist state with all the furniture inside. After that they lived with their friends in Tirana, especially with the Dino, Libohova and Toptani families. Faced with that difficult situation, they went to the Albanian state offices seeking a visa to flee to Italy for some of their work, but were not allowed to do so, although they gave some guarantees that they would return here again. After finding it impossible to leave Albania legally, they spoke with a British military pilot, who took over their transportation outside Albania. That journey, he undertook in return for a reward of a very valuable gold item, which grandmother Clementina, had been able to hide in her body, at the time of the control of the villa by partisans. So, they left Albania for Bari clandestinely, a few days before Christmas 1945.
How long did Clementina live in Italy and where did she live?
Clementine lived until 1971, and she was short and weakened by the sadness of her husband’s murder. Clementina lived in a house in Rome with her three daughters, one of whom was married and had children.
When did you learn that your grandfather, Terenc Toçi, was executed by the communists in Albania?
From a young age I was educated and raised in such a family climate, with a great hatred for the communist regime. Ever since I was alive, my grandmother used to say to me: “When you grow up, go to Albania and fight against communism”
Before your grandmother died, were you ever interested in the remains of Terenc Toçi in Albania at the Albanian embassy in Rome?
Our house in Rome was very close to the Albanian embassy, but we never communicated with them. They constantly sent us the magazine “Shqipëria e re”, which was full of lies.
Before the ’90s, did you have friendships with Albanian families living in Italy?
Our family before the ‘90s had close friendships with brothers Asllan and Kapllan Libohova, who lived in San Remo.
How did you learn the news about the burial of the bones where your grandfather, Terenc Toçi, was also executed?
I learned the news of the remains from an Albanian named Sokol Borshi, who lives in Pamezia in Rome, who also had his grandfather executed along with the 17 executed, at Kodra e Priftit. Later, we also met by email sent to us by his granddaughter, Aurora.
What did you do when you learned the news?
As soon as I heard the news, I immediately told my aunts, but they were very skeptical. My aunt, Maria-Kristina, said, “Surely this news has something behind it.”
What was your aunt talking about?
My aunt was skeptical about the fact that Terenc Toçi did not yet have the status of Political Persecuted. This is a shame. It is also inexplicable that even in the magazines published in Calabria, there is no mention of Terenc Toçi at all.
March 2004, “Gazeta Shqiptare” and News24, revealed the burial place of 17 people shot by the Special Court
On March 24, 2004, in the northeast of Tirana, in a place called Kodra e Priftit, the burial place of the remains of 17 victims shot on April 14, 1945, was discovered, with the decision of the Special Court, where among them was the brother-in-law of Enver Hoxha, Bahri Omari. Apart from Omar, in the list of those 17 people who were executed 75 years ago, among the most famous were: Javer Bej Hurshiti, Terenc Toçi, Fejzi Alizoti, Kol Tromara, Aqif Përmeti, Dik Cami, Beqir Valteri, Shyqëri Borshi, Ismail Golemi , Gustav Mirdash et al. All these persons had high positions such as prime ministers, ministers, deputies, generals, diplomats, prefects, mayors, etc. In all Albanian governments from that of Ismail Qemali to that under German occupation at the end of 1944. Their arrest by the communists who were on the verge of winning the war and taking power, had begun in the autumn of the year 1944, before the end of the war, and continued until January 1945, when the last members of that large group of 73 people were arrested, who were then isolated in the old prison of Tirana. All that large group of detainees, after being held for three or four months in the investigator, in the cells of that prison, were brought before the Special Court, which was presided over by the President, Lieutenant General Koçi Xoxe and the Prosecutor, Major General Bedri Spahiu. After almost a month and a half of court hearings, that sensational preoccupation that took place in the former Cinema “Kosova” and was followed by autopolant outside the hall by thousands of residents of Tirana, closed its doors on April 12, when issued the decision and the death sentence was communicated without the right to appeal for 17 of them./Memorie.al