By Belina Budini
-The unknown history of Qirko Ciko’s “Wolsvagen”, which was taken from Sulo Gradeci and returned to Sali Berisha-
Memorie.al / It are a truly photogenic car. He has also “played” movies, but he is not one of those acting machines of the former Kinostudio. In fact, it is an old model “Wolsvageni” and a common car for the thirties. It seems as if he has just woken up from a long sleep and has not yet shaken off the dust of time that first covered him in the basement of a house in Durrës and then in one of the premises of “Pyramid”, after being exposed for a while in the Museum of Enver Hoxha, it was like the car he had used during the War. Qirko Ciko, to whom his car was returned, after many years, believes less than anyone else in that museum caption, where it was written that it was the car that Enver Hoxha drove with during the War.
Passionate about cars, but not rich enough to have collections, the elderly man from Durrës, who worked as a driver during the communist regime, seems reborn behind the wheel of his small car, which he has finally managed to get back , after a really long wait.
Recounting the history of his car, he says that he has been waiting for 16 years for it to be returned to him, while he had stored it for more than 20 years without using it in the basement of his house. Of course, in the hope that one day he would be able to use it.
Although this hope of his assumed, in fact, the overthrow of the regime or at least a fundamental transformation of it until the return of private property, because only then he would be able to use his car, which after the law of 1967 , for private property, he was forbidden to use it.
But it had never occurred to him to abandon it and continued to guard it carefully, unable to take it out of the backyard.
It didn’t cost much when he bought it in 1964 in “Stalin City” (Kuçova today) for 62,000 ALL! “It was not a small amount then, especially since he, who had sold it to me, had bought it quite cheaply in the state, maybe for 5 francs, while he sold it to me much more expensive, of course. I had a cousin in “Stalin City” and she told me about this car that was sold by a driver back then. He himself told me that he had bought it in the state. In fact, at that time, the state sold old cars to replace them with new ones”, – the driver of the “Wolsvagen” confesses.
“Now I don’t know how much it might be worth, but I have no intention of selling it. I will use it myself and walk with it with my wife”, says Qirko Ciko.
Model “Wolsvagen”, 1 100, its date of manufacture, according to its owner, is 1935, and it ran very well at the time, but it still runs, although it needs some repairs, which Ciko says he can do it himself. It is so simple; it looks like a car from the playground.
All the charm is on the outside and especially on the front, where the two stops, when lit, seem to be used to orient the ships. It has lost much of its former dark olive color, apparently.
You have to lower and raise the windows with some help, since the mechanism no longer works, but the engine and everything that is more important, continues to work properly. That’s all it takes for Qirko Ciko to get back behind the wheel of his car, much older, but satisfied that he fulfilled that old hope of his…!
“I had a brother who was shot by the communist regime and I could not say no to his request to exhibit it in Enver Hoxha’s museum”, he says.
“How did Sulo Gradeci take my car?”
When Sulo Gradeci invited him for a coffee, Qirko, who had a brother who was shot, couldn’t help but feel bad. But not for a moment in the “Wolsvagen”, which had been locked in the basement since 1967. Thus, when he learned that it was a car, he was a little relieved, but also froze an old hope.
“When Sulo Gradeci asked me for the car to exhibit in Enver Hoxha’s museum, as the car Enver had traveled with during the War, I had no way of saying no. Even more, if I took into account the circumstances of my family, since I had a brother shot by the regime”, – Qirko tells the story of 1988, when he was forced to hand over his car.
But he never abandoned it in his mind, and had gone to see it in the museum several times, with the increasingly secret hope that one day he would get it back.
SMS Berisha, regains the car-museum
After he had tried several times to get his car back, which was still kept in a warehouse on the top floor of the “Pyramid” (International Culture Center), but to no avail, Qirko Ciko didn’t leave him like that again. Persistently, he sent a message to Prime Minister Sali Berisha on his phone number.
And what had been delayed for many years, arrived with the speed of an SMS. By order of Prime Minister Berisha, Qirko Ciko, the car that belonged to him since 1964 was returned (with a ceremony at the KNK premises).
RELICS OF ENVER
Enver’s daughter-in-law, Teuta Hoxha, asked for the construction of the family museum, but it was not granted!
Enver Museum, now in the basement of the Pyramid
The “Wolsvagen” is just one of the objects of the former Museum of Enver Hoxha, which is stored in a basement of the “Pyramid”, where you can discover other relics, which may or may not have been his, but at least as such they are exhibited in his museum.
From the mattress filled with straw, where it is assumed that he slept or the village stilts, to the tables and chairs where he sat; his tobacco box, chairs, caps and canes. Some of the objects preserve the identifying notes, while you also find paintings with the painter’s name erased. (Are you saying it was the painter himself who did this afterwards?)
The warehouse worker tells us that one of her colleagues claims to have done that painting she when she was a student. While the one who created the small sculptures, which he finds in an alcove of the basement, is happy that they have survived and went to take a look at them for the nostalgia of his own work, or of the image he immortalized, perhaps.
Other strange objects are preserved, such as, for example, many small sculptures of cows or a tractor and some factory images, as gifts to Enver from different people. A large sculpture of him, only the lower part of his body is left, while other severed heads of him are found thrown here and there.
A part of his objects have been transferred to the War Museum, which is in the National Historical Museum, while Enver Hoxha’s daughter-in-law, Teuta, also submitted a request for the objects, claiming that the family needs them to build the family museum. But her request was rejected. Memorie.al