By Bashkim Trenova
Memorie.al publishes the memoirs of the well-known journalist, publicist, translator, researcher, writer, playwright and diplomat, Bashkim Trenova, who after graduating from the Faculty of History and Philology of the State University of Tirana, in 1966 was appointed a journalist at Radio- Tirana in its Foreign Directorate, where he worked until 1975, when he was appointed journalist and head of the foreign editorial office of the newspaper ‘Zeri i Popullit’, a body of the Central Committee of the ALP. In the years 1984-1990, he served as chairman of the Publishing Branch in the General Directorate of State Archives and after the first free elections in Albania, in March 1991, he was appointed to the newspaper ‘Rilindja Demokratike’, initially as deputy / editor-in-chief and then its editor-in-chief, until 1994, when he was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the position of Press Director and spokesperson of that ministry. In 1997, Trenova was appointed Ambassador of Albania to the Kingdom of Belgium and to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Unknown memories of Mr. Trenova, starting from the war period, his childhood, college years, professional career as a journalist and researcher at Radio Tirana, the newspaper ‘People’s Voice’ and the Central State Archive, where he served until the fall of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, a period of time when he in different circumstances became acquainted with some of the ‘reactionary families’ and their sucklings, whom he described with a rare skill in a book of memoirs published in 2012, entitled’ Enemies of the people ‘and now brings them to the readers of Memorie.al
Continued from the previous issue
“Enemies of the people”
At the organization meeting I was accused of accepting gifts from Nils and Renée Anderson!
Nils and Renée Anderson, despite the treatment they received during their stay in Albania, being foreigners, were always suspicious. In Albania, every foreigner was seen as an agent of the secret services, working against the leadership of the Labor Party, plotting to overthrow this leadership and turn Albania, this last bastion of socialism, into a capitalist country. Thus, companionship, no longer friendship with foreigners, was also viewed with great suspicion. She, at least, to declare herself as a potential agent of the secret agents of the capitalist-revisionist world, but also as recruited by them, as sold to foreigners. To get here, of course, my former foreign radio bosses had to look for and present evidence. They found and served this “evidence”.
Kiço Pandeli in a meeting of the basic organization of the Party of Foreign Radio, stated that: Bashkim Trenova received gifts from Nils and Renée Anderson, when they came on vacation to Albania. He further adds that they sent me, from the place where they lived, a TV set. Not these, but even a lighter if accepted as a gift from foreigners, was unforgivable for the ruling regime in Albania. When I say this, I mean a concrete fact that happened a few years later, when I was working in “Zeri i Popullit”. The organization of the “Voice of the People” Party also included the well-known writer and poet of the Anti-Fascist War, Shefqet Musaraj, a wise and modest man, although he had something to be proud of. He was also a friend of the dictator. At least that is how it was known that the dictator really had no friends.
As far as I remember, on the nightstand next to his bed, he also kept a photo he had taken with Enver Hoxha and his dedication. One day he met with a delegation of Kosovar writers, who had been invited to visit Albania by the League of Writers and Artists. One of the members of this delegation, before parting, leaves him a lighter or a very ordinary pen as a gift, as a souvenir. For this, the organization of the “Voice of the People” Party was given the orientation to gather and take action against Shefqet Musaraj, until the expulsion from the Party. Then came another orientation that nullified the first. Shefqet was a well-known figure, a personality. His sentencing would be detrimental to the Party itself. Apparently someone understood this and did not allow measures to be taken against Shefqet Musaraj. Another in his place would never forgive how.
About 30 years later, I told Nils Anderson everything about the “gifts” he and his wife, Renée Anderson, had given me. “I understand everything,” Nilsi told me, “but one thing I still can’t chew.” Why did they give us the high decorations as “Friend of Albania?” They had no obligation to do so”!? Nilsi was right. Even, at least, suspected of being a Foreign Service agent, even decorated as a great friend, as if he was not going….! This means a sound logic, but it is foreign to a sick logic, such as that of the regime and all those who served it in Albania without any reservation. This kind of logic was set in motion by making my private life the subject of rumors as well. Anything that served the Radio executives to throw mud on me was helpful.
The accusations against me, why did I ‘split’ with the daughter of the famous general!
I, in the early ‘70s of last century, had known a girl. Liza Fejzo, her name was. She was a good, kind girl; she had graduated from the Faculty of Medicine. Her father, Abaz Fejzo, held the rank of army general and was the commander of the ‘Tank Brigade’. He was known as the inventor and creator of the theory and regulations of tank fighting on Albanian soil. Lisa and I parted quietly one day, in peace. We both realized that we could not go on together. I was not the “prince” of her dreams. She does the same for me. We were neither engaged nor married. Our families welcomed our decision, but respected it. On the Radio, on the contrary, they sought to derive the benefits of the case. It was discussed behind the scenes and it was decided that I should be brought to justice for the concern I had created for the family of Abaz Fejzo, who was known both for his connections with the communist dome and for his high position near this dome. In appearance they thus came out in defense of a high party cadre, in solidarity with him, against an “adventurer”, as I could be.
It did not last long in this venture, not that the Radio realized that it should not be continued, but that the events flowed not in their favor. Abaz Fejzo, a wise, erudite man, for whom I always have full respect, was arrested and charged as a conspirator. He was described as an “accomplice or member of a high-ranking Bonapartist military group” who had planned to overthrow the dictator and the leadership of the Labor Party. This was the official version, which went in line with the dictator’s paranoid dreams. The Foreign Radio ‘troika’ now had to turn the sails in the direction of the wind. They attacked Abaz Fejzo, demanding the heaviest sentences for him, as well as other senior military officials. General Abaz Fejzo was severely punished and did not see any days off after this sentence. He died in the terrible prison of Burel. Even after this failure, the leaders of the Radio did not lay down their “weapons.” They wanted, at any cost, to take revenge, to make me pay dearly for them, at least not to see my face anymore.
My acquaintance with Liza Fejzo was treated in the same style about 15 years later by some anonymous people, in an article they published in “Zeri i Popullit”. At that time I was working for the “Democratic Renaissance” and I was constantly publishing articles against the dictatorship. Anonymous recalled writing that I had been married to Liza Fejzo and that I had split up with him because I had valued my career more, which was jeopardized because Lisa’s father, Abaz Fejzo, had been imprisoned as an enemy of the Party. The anonymous people, who used as a Kalashnikov against me the newspaper founded by Enver Hoxha, did not fail to describe me as an Enverist, i.e., a fanatical sympathizer of the dictator. I published an answer in “Democratic Renaissance”. Like 15 years ago, I reiterated that I had never been either married or engaged to Liza Fejzo, that our separation had taken place several years before her father was arrested. For the “enverist” designation, they were shifted in time. I have never denied that I loved Enver Hoxha that I saw in Enver Hoxha the great ideal of communism, as I valued it at the time. I was not a dissident. The problem was not with me, but with those whom Enver Hoxha himself kept close to him, who worshiped him, enslaved him, served him as a slave, without conviction, without dignity. They never accepted me anymore as an Enverist, but if we speak the language of that time, not even as students of Enver’s teachings. I believe they had their reasons. They knew Enver Hoxha better than I did, but let’s go back to Radio Tirana.
By order of the chiefs, the Radio policeman took my entry card and did not return it to me!
Despite working at OAN, I was always a staff of Foreign Radio. As such I was also provided with an entrance card to the Radio building. All employees were required to show this card to the police, who guarded the entrance to the building. One day the policeman, Muharrem, asks for my card. After I gave it to him, he did not return it. Muharrem told me that he was ordered to do so. This was the decision of the communist leading comrades of the Radio, towards a colleague of theirs who would become a communist! They did not even want to communicate with me anymore. For this they had chosen the policeman. I also did not want to have anything to do with them anymore. During that period I worked three days in the Construction Vehicle Office and three other days a week at Radio Tirana. At the meeting of the collective for the IV Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party, I requested that my service as a party candidate in this office be complete, i.e. that I work there all day of the week. Here, it seems to me, for the first and last time, the troika and I have been of one mind.
I continued my internship at OAN. Foreign Radio, my friends, my colleagues, analysis and comments on international events I would miss very much. Never before had I been so detached, for such a long time from work and friends on the Radio. I had only left once for three months in 1969. In the middle of the winter of this year, I was sent to take a course as a reserve officer in Uznova, a village near Berat, a town in central Albania. At that time in Albania, all those who graduated from university were also reserve officers. I, then, was like that. On the Radio from the Military Branch dealing with recruitment, came the request for this course for some of its employees. Eventually the Directorate decided that only I should go away from Tirana, to Uznova. Albert Shala did the same course in Tirana. The others, at the request of the General Directorate of Radio and Television, were released from this obligation, continued their daily work.
The three months in Uznova would pass very quickly. Friends and colleagues did not forget to write to me full of humor and with stories from the most incredible for me. Such was, e.g. also a letter from Lulzim Hana. Before I went to military training, I was assigned to direct the “form of education” with the youth of the Radio. It is actually a monthly meeting, where various subjects were discussed. Through them was aimed the ideo-political formation of employees, according to the teachings of the Labor Party and Enver Hoxha. When I left, they charged Lulzim with this task. Here is what he writes: “Together, your absence is costing me dearly to usurper Brutus. To tell the truth, I am quite tired, even weakened, but still I do not give up. On the contrary, I have put some people in “trouble”, especially your friends, who are eagerly waiting for you to return, because apparently, our revolutionary, our knight, used “cardboard swords” in his relations with women. !! However, respect for the weaker sex should be and that justifies you. So I look forward to seeing you again.
My return to Radio came about two months after the letter Lulzim sent me. Return from OAN would only take place after about two years and to stay there no more than two weeks.
The return of Thanas Nano as General Director of the Albanian Radio-Television in ’73
After the IV Plenum of the Central Committee of the Labor Party, Thanas Nano returned to Radio, as general director of Radio Television. As it appears from the original minutes kept on April 28, 1971 in the meeting of Enver Hoxha with the deputy of one of the communist youth, Agim Meron, the dictator Hoxha said: “Apparently Comrade Thanas is not able to understand the right demands of youth ”. Enver Hoxha himself, in February 1972, removed him from Radio Television. Todi Lubonja took his place. Now that Todi was declared an enemy of the Party, Enver Hoxha himself restores Thanas Nano as the general director of the Albanian Radio Television …?!
In April 1973 Thanas Nano returned to Radio Tirana. Never before had something like this happened, i.e. to return to his previous post a cadre removed there by order of Enver Hoxha. It was the dictator himself who was “correcting” himself. Thanas thus landed on the Radio as an irreplaceable leader, as the man to whom the paranoid dictator himself had the fullest confidence. In the decision signed by Enver Hoxha for the return of Thanas Nano to Radio Television, the dictator has placed this note: “Thanasi should return to Radio-Television. “In the professional field, we may have shortcomings, but, as a prodigy like Todd, he will not do it”.
Kiço Pandeli and the whole group of serviles welcomed Thanas Nano with great joy. When he left Radio-Television, he stated: “I worked, but I also made a mistake, so forgive me.” Now he was back as a triumphant with the great sword. Radio-Television employees knew of Thanas Nano’s revenge. Thanas himself knew this. To “calm down” them, in one of the first meetings he had with the team, he said: “Do not you think that I have come to take revenge? Do not you think that I have kept a note of the names of those who did not discuss in the meetings against Todi Lubonja? You are wrong! Thanas, in addition to having a tyrannical spirit, was also a perfect demagogue. Even this feature of his character was well known by the employees of Radio-Television. He was the one who was wrong, thinking that others would believe his words.
Thanasi fired my two colleagues, Lulzim Hana and Bardhyl Zekia, from Foreign Radio
Very soon, after Thanas’ return, everything began to be viewed with suspicion. The editorial offices of the programming were “cleansed” of shows, films, concerts, foreign and domestic music recordings, which were considered hostile to the communist ideology. This led to great poverty in daily broadcasts. At the same time, the punishment and dismissal of many employees began. Bardhyl Zekia and Lulzim Hana would leave the Eastern Editorial Office of Foreign Radio. Bardhyl, during the big sweeps on the Radio, was not there. He continued his studies at the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Party School. Upon graduation, he was appointed cultural instructor in the Tirana Party Committee. Radio executives, such as Thanasi and Kiço Pandeli, did their best not to return Bardhyl to Radio, but when they heard of his new appointment, they did their best to remove him from the Tirana Party Committee, as unworthy of the post. .
Lulzim Hana, after leaving the Foreign Radio, started working at the Institute of Economics, near the Academy of Sciences. Here he defended and received the titles of doctor and professor. During the years of democracy, he also held the position of rector of a private university in Tirana, from where he left to retire. For people with such preparation, they did not need Radio Tirana. Lulzim was the only young economist journalist on Foreign Radio, so the only one who could do analytical articles, serious in the field of economics. For Radio executives, the skills and work capacity of journalists were not counted as values, but as a concern, as an obstacle from which they should be freed as soon as possible.
Both Bardhyl and Lulzim tried the path of emigration. Bardhyl went to Italy, while Lulzim to the United States. Both returned to Albania. Bardhyl returned after suffering a car accident and stayed for a relatively long time in a coma. Lulzim returned because, as I think, his family could not cope with the crisis that every immigrant goes through during the months and, why not, during the first years of emigration. After all, neither one nor the other was old enough to cope with emigration with all its difficulties.
I have met several times in recent years in Tirana with both Lulzim and Bardhyl. We talked about the past and the present. Lulzim always reminds me of a summer evening, when he wanted to say something to me, an anti-regime opinion. We were sitting on a bench in the city center park. Lulzim spoke in such a low voice that I could not hear any of his words. I told him to raise his voice, while Lulzim raised his head to check, lest anyone had climbed the tree, which was jumping behind our bench and could eavesdrop on us! Today our thoughts, those of Bardhyl, Lulzim and mine, are not always in harmony, but this does not affect our friendship. This today can be seen as something more than normal and it is so. During the dictatorship, opposing views, especially in politics, determined not only the fate of man, but also that of social or friendly relations. I, apparently, being unaware of this reality, in many cases ignored it.
I remember when I was working at Radio Tirana, Vincent Vuillemin, a Swiss student, Rennée Anderson’s brother, came to Albania for a vacation. I accompanied him during his stay in Albania, talking to him, of course, about the superiority of the socialist system over the capitalist one, as well as about the revolution. After his return from Albania, we exchanged regular correspondence. In a letter he sent me on April 17, 1969, after returning home, he wrote, among other things: “I think with nostalgia for the sun of your country and the tranquility of the olive groves by the river. My 15 days in Albania were extraordinary. I sincerely thank you for considering me a friend even though we did not agree. ”
Many years later, Enver Muça, a friend of mine with whom I worked at Radio Tirana, recalling some of my similar behaviors, would say to me: “With what you have done, you have deserved prison” in the dictatorship . Maybe he is right, but in the dictatorship, it happened, for many reasons, in isolated cases, that even such “merits” were not hastily given the place that “belonged”. It never even occurred to me that I “deserved” to end up in a cell, as a somewhat disturbing element. Also for any of my friends or colleagues I have not thought of this serious mistake.
Director Thanas Nano, ‘cleaned’ Radio-Television in ’73, removing 266 employees!
From my friends from Radio Tirana, Gramoz Mborja or Glinka, as we called them, there would be a truly tragic fate. So did many of the translators who worked at Foreign Radio. The fist would fall mercilessly all over Radio-Television.
According to the official documentation already published, only a few weeks after the IV Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party, 126 people would leave the Albanian Radio and Television and this was not the end. The wave of layoffs and layoffs would continue in the years to come. On April 28, 1975, Thanas Nano published an article in the central organ of the Labor Party, in the newspaper “Zeri i Popullit”, in which, among other things, he wrote:” Always referring to the official published documents, in 1975 another 140 people left, or, according to the official term of the time, “circulated” by the Albanian Radio-Television. Decades later, on the eve of his death, in an interview given to the Albanian press, Thanas Nano tried to justify all this nonsense with the words: “Yes, I was harsh, or rather strict, but I was against deceivers, sloths, to anyone who did the tail of work …”! I have heard that on the verge of death, many atheists, fearing the mystery of the afterlife, return to faith in God. Perhaps Thanas Nano thus sought to alleviate some of his sins though by committing a new sin, this time deceiving even God himself!
The tragic fate of colleague Gramoz Mborja, who was arrested after leaving Radio!
Gramoz Mborja was not one of those who “circulated” or simply left the Foreign Radio. He was imprisoned for years because he was the nephew of the Chief of General Staff of the Albanian Army, Petrit Dume, shot as a conspirator and traitor. He was handcuffed because he was the son of Koli Mborje, commander of the Military Academy, a good man, whose only fault was being Petrit Duma’s brother-in-law.
Gramozi, or Glinka, as his parents and later his friends called him, came to Foreign Radio after finishing his studies in Political Science at the University of Tirana. He was always smiling and quite friendly, ready to offer his help. Glinka had a muscular and compact physique, for which he showed great care. At home he practiced barbells regularly. He lived very close to my house, so we went to and fro. He had called me to take a shower with him. On two or three occasions I even took advantage of this invitation. In those years, the shower had not yet been introduced into our homes. We continued to bathe in socialism, like our grandparents and great-grandparents in feudalism.
Glinka had many dreams in life. Feeling temporary in the Foreign Radio editorial office, he did not even show much zeal to fight relentlessly American imperialism, or social imperialism as the rest of us did. His dream was to go to an embassy, to work in a diplomatic mission of Albania somewhere in the outside world. The rest of us dared to only dream of a one- or two-week trip abroad, even if only once in our lives. Albania was then totally isolated from the world. You could go abroad either on an official mission, who was quite rare, almost impossible, or crossing the border illegally, which was paid for with life in most cases. The border guards had a strict order to shoot and kill anyone who would try to leave Albania. They were even rewarded for every murder committed at the border. Moreover, it did not end there. Memorie.al
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