By Filip Guraziu
Memorie.al / All over the world, the day of May 1, commemorate the sacrifices of the workers, in the tireless efforts against the exploitation of the owners, in order to gain their rights, economic and human. During the mass protest of workers in Chicago on May 1, 1866 (commemorating the victory of the 8-hour work schedule), there were clashes with the police, where two workers were killed and many others were injured. For this reason, a decision was made to commemorate May 1st in honor and respect of those who gave their blood for the victory of workers’ rights. So, May 1st is not a holiday, but a commemorative day, and I personally respect it, precisely for this reason.
Continues from last issue
How do I remember May 1st?
The 1st of May is commemorated or “celebrated” all over the world, but I don’t know, just as it inadvertently comes to my mind, the organizations that the communist dictatorship did in Albania.
By order of the Party, “big and small”, they were forced to parade in front of the leadership, who was sitting on the tribune, with republican hats on their heads, who had to be greeted with unprecedented enthusiasm and hysterical shouts (the leadership), as thanks , for the life of the “bright”, which they had assured the people!
The greater the hysteria of shouts and applause, the greater was the success of May 1st, and the happier were the friends of the leadership!
Is there anything more shameful; is there anything more humiliating that was done to the Albanian people?!
A people, which was transformed only “into living beings”, from the oppression and lack of freedom, without right thinking, they were orphaned in the extreme (the peasant in the cooperative was paid 30 old ALL per day, and he had no right to he kept not even 1 chicken for his living. There was a lack of meat, milk, cheese, bread, kerosene…; even potatoes were missing, but there was no question of citrus fruits, apples, etc….).
Think, a people, who lived in physical and psychological terror; shootings, imprisonments, deportations without trials even for completely idiotic motives, such as liking foreign music, dressing in western fashion, corresponding with a person from Europe, talking about the quality of the bread…etc.!
Think, that a completely starving people, with a high-profile personality, without the right to speak and think, in extreme poverty, turned into slaves by the immoral class war, had to cheer as loud as they could and greet and thank the bloodsuckers his, his criminal murderers, who had brought him to that condition! No more black pages, no more humiliation, no more rape!
This is how I remember the “holiday” of May 1, during the communist dictatorship.
Easter celebration during the dictatorship
“The feast of ‘Easter’, for Christians, is the feast of the ‘Resurrection’ of Jesus, i.e. the most important and joyous feast for believers. The crucified Jesus Christ passed away on ‘black Friday’, and after three days, that is, on Sunday resurrected”.
The date of the celebration of this event is related to the calendar based on the “lunar” month system, it changes from year to year, but it always falls on Sunday.
The name of this holiday is derived from the name of the Jewish holiday ‘Pesach’, quoted in the Old Testament by Moses, when it describes the liberation of the Jews from the rule of the Egyptians and has the meaning of ‘passing over’, from slavery to freedom.
“In the Christian faith, this moment is taken to explain the ‘passing over’ of Jesus Christ, from human death, to the heavenly, eternal spiritual resurrection, which is accompanied by the symbolism of the ‘purification’ of human sins, towards a second life , true, with “spiritual purity”.
Since ancient pagan times, the egg has been considered by different peoples as a symbol of life, as a symbol of the rebirth of life. In the Christian period of Rome, for the celebration of ‘Easter’, they themselves began to be painted (as a sign of joy and beauty), they were prayed as a gift among friends and relatives, to wish them hope, for a better life and happiness. This popular tradition accompanied the celebration of ‘Easter’, until our days.
During the period of the communist dictatorship, it was strictly forbidden to dye eggs, and it was also punished, as propaganda hostile to communist atheistic principles. But this terror did not stop Christian families from coloring eggs on the Easter holiday; of course this remained within a close family and friendly circle. In that period, churches were closed and religion was forbidden. The party took place within the walls of the house.
As after the ‘resurrection’ celebration, congratulations were given to each other, for the revival of hope, for a free life, in Albania ruled by the communist dictatorship. Like any occasion of joy, the celebration of ‘Easter’ was summed up in the cooking of selected foods. Tradition called for cooking lamb meat, roasting it with venison, but at that time of poverty, few could afford this type of food.
Before the lunch started, under the guidance of the elder, the family members prayed ‘Christ resurrects’, for a better life and finished it with a cross. The joy was shared with relatives and friends, and whenever possible (in secret), visits were made between each other.
It was a tradition, a game (usually used by children), called “egg drop”, where two eggs fought, the winner was the one with the strongest egg. The colored eggshells were secretly thrown in the trash, or buried inside the courtyard of the houses, understandably out of fear of the “order” of the party.
The communist dictatorship did its best to destroy any initiative to celebrate Easter; it invented mass activities on Easter Sunday.
In April 1979, on the day of ‘Easter’, the communist leaders of Shkodra decided to organize the mass action of the population in the village, for the collection of wild pomegranates on the mountain, near the field of Torovica! Unheard of action, funny and absurd! It was understood that this was done only to guarantee, at any rate, the celebration of ‘Easter’.
Exactly, on that day, at 7:20 a.m., the devastating earthquake (1979) occurred, where about 48 people died, under the ruins of the ruined houses. This number would have been many times greater, if the people had not gone to the action, but had stayed at home.
For Catholic believers, this was a clear sign of God’s help, which filled the mind of the communists, infidels, to organize the action, exactly on the day of Easter.
During the month-long visit to the USA
The seriousness with which the Department of Foreign Affairs of the American State prepared the project of familiarizing and updating the mayors of Albanian cities with American life and democracy was understood a year before the project was developed.
The USAID organization based in Tirana, through a questionnaire, received information from our participants, foreseen in the project, in which areas and sectors of the social, cultural, legal and administrative life of American democracy were interested for recognition and updating, and on this basis, they programmed, down to the smallest details, the monthly visit of the delegation of Albanian mayors to the USA, which took place during the month of February, 1993.
As the mayor of Shkodër, at that time, I was lucky enough to be a part of that project, which was carried out with complete success, where we all benefited from new experiences and concepts, which helped us a lot in our work. Today, I find a new opportunity to thank, with all my heart, the organizers and financiers of the project, even though many years have passed.
During the first week of our stay in Washington DC, Radio VOA (‘Voice of America’) invited us to its studio, to interview us. We went with great desire, because for us Albanians, Radio VOA had always been the source of hopeful news outside of communist censorship. They welcomed us politely. There were eight mayors, I was the only one from the north, and I don’t know why, I thought they would interview me at first, but it didn’t happen like that.
The mayors of Berat, Durrës, Fier, Vlona, Korça, Gjinokastra and Elbasan were called in turn and, when it was finally my turn, they told us that I had to leave the VOA office as soon as possible, because they were waiting for us for a meeting at the Department. Foreign of the State.
Not interviewing myself, I considered deliberate undermining, not in the personal sense, because there, I, did not represent myself, but for the city of Shkodra, the city of Albanian culture, the city martyred by the communist dictatorship, and the initiator of the first democratic movements !
I spoke to you, because I had lost my composure: It’s too bad that you didn’t allow the interview of the mayor of Shkodra, just like everyone else, at a time when the city of Shkodra…!
It seems that they proved me right, because they immediately invited me for a quick two-minute interview! A proposal that I did not accept, you argued that it is better not to give me the interview than to develop it as I passed the turn! Then, they decided to keep me longer in the studio for an interview and took it upon themselves to accompany me later to the State Department, where the others were leaving at that moment.
I entered the interview booth and showed, in my opinion, the real political situation that Albania was going through, as well as I remembered the endless crimes of the dictatorship, I also accused the former President Ramiz Alia, as being responsible for the 56 cases of murders during the transition illegal crossing of the border in 1990, contrary to the law of the time.
That same night, I did not call my family to follow the VOA program the next day, where my interview would be, but neither the next day nor any other day, nor ever, VOA Radio did not broadcast my interview?! No comment!
In the penultimate week, we visited the city of Austin, in Texas, where we had contact with the families of Albanian immigrants in the USA before the Second World War.
I remember that we were invited by a family, originally from Gjirokastria that someone said were Enver’s cousins, to spend Saturday night together at their house. We welcomed the invitation and thanked him.
On Saturday morning, I received a phone call from my family in Shkodër, who with great emotion gave me the happy, but at the same time sad news about the discovery of the “crime pit”, where 22 innocent intellectuals had been shot and buried. , from the communist dictatorship, including my father, Pjerin Guraziu.
This phone call completely disconnected me from the reality I was experiencing in Texas, and plunged me deeply into the memory of my family’s tragedy, in which I lost my father when I was 7 years old.
I immediately communicated the news to my group mates, who congratulated me, but also consoled me. I thanked them with all my heart, for the understanding they were showing, for my pain.
In a special way, I remember with great respect and longing, the friend of the group, the former mayor of Elbasan, the late Emin Haxhiademi, who stayed close to me that day. He was very emotional, and in a conversation he told me, with more pain than his father, the famous Albanian playwright, Et’hem Haxhiademi, who had changed his life as a political prisoner, in the prison of Burrel, was left without a grave, because the communists they had disappeared the traces of his grave…!
Although Emini and his family had made continuous efforts to discover the place of his father’s burial, until that moment they had no results. I thought that evil never ends…!
On Saturday, I communicated to my friends that I was not in the mood to be part of the evening, where we were invited. I had their understanding and out of solidarity with me, they decided to cancel the visit to that family, which was not serious and I did not want it. Thank you, – I answered, – but, no, you don’t, you have to go because you gave your word!
I had a dizzying desire to be alone, alone with my thoughts, with my memories, with my misfortunes. Emini, who had heard the conversation with the other friends, said to me: – I didn’t leave you alone tonight, I’m not going there, I’ll stay with you!
Understand me, Emin, – I answered, – I am and will be very grateful for your attitude. I thank you profusely, – I continued, – but, please, believe me: Tonight I need to be alone with the memories of my father, so it should be me and my father; which, as of today, after the discovery of the grave, seems different to me, closer, calmer and happier!
Emini understood me, hugged me, got excited, and got wet…!
That night, in Texas, I did not close my eyes, it was the night of my father, the family man, patriotic and honest, whom the communist dictatorship massacred, exactly why, and it was so. Memorie.al