By Petraq Xhaçka
The third part
Memorie.al / The purpose of this book is to join the efforts made to present the truths and horrors of the communist dictatorship in Albania. The main purpose of the book is not to show our people or anyone else, that we oilmen have been innocent, because this has become known from publications in our press, from foreign televisions, as well as from direct meetings with the International Forum and the Albanian Human Rights. The author’s desire, is that through this story, together with other stories, fight any manifestation in any form, even moderate, that he may have to create a communist society. I think that even through this bitter personal history, the cruel, treacherous and overbearing face of Enverism will appear, that for half a century, held the knife with the tip in the chest of the Albanian people, with a pine eye, intercepting the movements for salvation from the outside, or rebellion of the people themselves, ready to push the knife to the heart, at the first movement. The events are set in the economic fields where it has appeared most strongly, such as the oil and gas industry, where I was fortunate to pour my energies, for a lifetime, and become a participant and witness in those events. All the events that are written in this book of memories are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment of them, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I was able to present the terrifying force of the events that happened in that decadent system of socialism, where there was no human feeling.
Continues from last issue
I began to think about the serious situation in which the sick Jean was, too fragile to face all this tragedy that had plagued us. These experiences were repeated wildly day after day, until I could no longer bear them. Therefore, in order not to hear the boy’s cries, I used to take cigarette butts and put them in my ears.
But they didn’t save me properly from that voice that didn’t bother me, it almost drove me crazy. This was a terrible torture, even worse than those on the body. I saw what I saw, one day I was forced to tell the investigator Behar: In the dungeon in front of me, there is a child who cries constantly.
It seems to me that an adult child, with that love for his mother and sister, cannot be a street child or a thief. I wonder why you keep it? That it seemed to me to be Genci, of course, I did not tell him. He listened to me attentively and then asked me:
-You, do you hear that?!
– Every day!.
After that session, I no longer heard that wailing voice, which caused me days of severe spiritual suffering, tremendous stress, during which a person can go insane. All human suffering tears at the soul, but never like that of a young child.
Only after a year had passed, I found out that the one who broke my soul, those days in those dungeons, was not Genci. That trick would have been a commissioned voice recording, or it might have been another kid by chance. I can’t explain this to this day.
But I think more that it was a magnetic recording, made on purpose to break me. As I found out a long time later, they had known and eavesdropped on my family’s entire routine for over a year. So, they knew the details of the inner life in that simple apartment of ours, on “Enver Hoxha Street”, in the city of Fier.
From these interrogation-torture sessions, which continued for hours and with very little interruptions, I lost the feeling of day and night. I hardly ate at all. I only had a little dry bread in my mouth, which most of the time I found in the dungeon, because when it was distributed, I was always in “investigation”. My mind seemed completely clouded, my head and my whole body hurt from the effect of the punches, kicks and excessive tightening of the handcuffs.
But even in this difficult situation, I began to analyze all their statements, all their informational omissions on that “coup d’état”, all that harshness to make me admit that I had committed treason and sabotage against my country. to sift through all the names of the persons in the leadership that my investigators described as enemies and members of this coup d’état and who, according to them, were in a state of arrest.
I tried to analyze these and then make the connection between the separate elements of the process. For example, why were we, the oil specialists, as executioners in these dramas and farces of the Political Bureau of the Labor Party?! Those who tortured me often told me, among other things, that they had recently found three witnesses who had accepted and that all three agreed that Xhaçka was the leader of this group. Even, once they clearly showed me a manuscript of one of our colleagues, Mynyr Arapi. In it he talked about how he; “he was recruited by the Russians, in Kuçovo and how he then cooperated with Petraq Xhaçka, the mayor”.
With three witnesses, they said, as according to our laws, they could send me to that world, therefore if I loved myself and my family, I had to accept this indictment. I answered that accepting the testimony of others did not show that we were dealing with a true fact, but I was still worried when I thought that under the conditions of the dictatorship in Albania, they sentenced without having any facts at all.
It was perfectly clear that they needed my confirmation as well, so that the activity of this phantom group, spawn of their interests and fantasy, became even more convincing and complete. That’s right, alone, one cannot consult with anyone. What should I do? To continue to plead my innocence, which the more clearly, I made it, the more I infuriated those indefatigable executioners?
Or to let go, to accept the pre-fabricated charge to give myself the opportunity to live, maybe God would bring one day that this truth would come to light and I would regain my honor, my dignity. People, family, friends would understand me. They were heavy moments. I was at a crossroads where the two roads I was going to take were one more difficult than the other!
It was clearly noticed that there had been a split, a clan war in the leadership of the Party. From the very beginning, the investigators openly told me that some of the members of the Political Bureau had been arrested. I judged that under normal conditions, the investigators would never have talked so dirty and played with their names, in our presence.
So, I was convinced that they were really arrested. Later, it dawned on me that they hadn’t been arrested yet, but our court process was needed to lead to their arrest. Thus, the evidence that was required of us, would be used as accusations to remove them from the ranks of the leadership.
To carry out this coup at the head of the party, Ramiz Alia with his closest collaborators, created the situation of a hostile activity in oil. This was also done by Enver Hoxha. This artifice was found because it was easier and more convenient to find saboteurs in fields with large currency values, such as oil.
Then I began to notice that it was very easy to connect our group of specialists with members of the leadership who were scheduled to be punished: most of them had already climbed the Politburo ladder, or had worked directly in the oil sector, or had directed this sector, as a logical consequence, their contacts with us, as oil workers, were acceptable.
Yes Yes! This should be the only one! I was led to this conclusion by the road, if you blacked out the road by the names they mentioned. Thus, for example, Simon Stefanin, from a welding worker, was promoted and made director of oil, where I worked as a chief geologist. Later, he moved on to major party posts, up to secretary of the Party Central Committee. In that post, he held the keys to the Ministry of the Interior and the entire Army. This was Ali’s rival candidate for Enver’s seat, immediately after the latter’s death.
Another one was Prokop Murra, who also worked for many years as the general director of the Oil Plant, in the fifties, and later several years as the director of the Oil Extraction Company, in Patos. Later he was appointed to the post of secretary of the Central Committee for the economy and minister of Industry and Mining, which included the oil industry. This is how this cadre, for many years spent working together with the oil workers and knew all of us who were now members of this group, being sent to hellfire in the investigation offices of Fier.
Another name was that of Pali Miska. He worked for several years as Minister of Industry and Geology. In addition to being a member of the Political Bureau, Miska was also the First Secretary of the Party Committee of Fieri, the city where the main oil institutions were concentrated, and as a result he knew us oilmen well.
So, the scenario predicted “the discovery of a hostile group, now not only saboteurs, but also traitors”, in the oil industry. This was told to me several times by the investigators themselves, noting that they were part of a new-style investigation, which would not be mistaken, as the old investigator was, that the members of the hostile group in the oil, brought out only saboteurs.
So, the investigator assigned them themselves, subjectively, in advance what settings they would have for the type of their “crime”, the cadre specialists who would be arrested, regardless of whether or not they were really like that. If they were real, there was no way the first investigator could make a mistake, because the facts should be the ones that determine the crime and not the investigators. Through the arrogance of megalomania, they brought out the essence of the arbitrariness of the Albanian political investigation.
Oil, oil…! What was that star that determined my connection to this tragic area of the Albanian economy, where more than anywhere else people were betrayed, talents were wasted, sacrifices were forgotten…?!
My first wanderings through the oil fields
After finishing the eight-year school, in 1947, I enrolled in high school, at the “7 November” Polytechnic, in the Electrical department. Shortly after we had started the lessons, the Ministry of Education directorate decided to open a new branch for mining. Very few people responded to the directorate’s call to transfer some students to this branch, because they understood that it was a branch with difficult working conditions, and as a result there was a risk of not opening. My friends, Asti Papa and Tomi Kristo, talked with me and invited me that the three of us, as friends that we were, go to this new branch, since the country needed it.
Starting from the youthful patriotic spirit, I also left the lessons in the Electrical branch and switched to the Mining branch. In the first year, there were a total of fifteen of us, but the four years together, we ended up with only thirteen. Thus, we formed the first contingent of Albanian geological technicians. Of them, a dozen were boys and one was a girl, who represents the first Albanian geological technician.
Our class was made up of an excellent team that you can rarely find in schools. We had a clean company with each other, we joked and never got angry, we never heard anyone talk bad about the other, even behind their backs, as they say. We all considered the only girl in our class, Veronika Todri, originally from Elbasan, almost a sister.
As a class, in the school program we also had geological excursions through the mountains or through mines for weeks and months, we lived there in tents or empty school grounds, which brought us closer to each other. With this action, Veronika broke an important concept of conservatism that existed, especially in those years.
Very close to our class was the Jewish teacher, Marko Menahen, recently released from political prison. His culture and ingenuity shined as he gave us all the subjects and specialties of geology, drilling oil wells and extracting it, because in Albania there were no cadres prepared in these fields. The ability of this man becomes clearer if you take into account that he had not done a year of school in this field, but in a self-taught way, he studied and taught us.
He had not directly seen the drilling wells with his own eyes, because he, as a man with a dubious political attitude in those years, was not allowed to enter Kucovo. He knew each of us very well, both in terms of abilities and characters, and knew how to treat each student. During the lesson, he was quite strict and there were few jokes.
It may seem strange, but he translated the specialty subjects into Albanian from Russian, which he mastered very well in prison. He put them in university level textbooks, which I partially had the chance to repeat when I went to study at the university in Moscow. This influenced that the level of our preparation as technicians was higher than what was usually provided by secondary education.
Some other lecturers remained unforgettable in our memory, such as the professor of mathematics, Mr. Babamusta, who had a special sympathy for our class. He taught the subject very competently and comprehensibly for us and all the time, he kept us attentive through the humor with which he combined the lesson. We looked forward to when maths class would come and what pranks that day would bring, which as usual, Babamusta would start by misreading our first and last names, transforming them on purpose. He often called me Zhan Kipura, while he changed the name Protoko to Patoku, and others.
We all respected and loved him so much that everyone was ashamed not to prepare or do the homework in his subject. In this pleasant and healthy environment, the professor of history, Mr. Petraq Pepo, also conducted lessons with pleasure. These lecturers and others like them, positively influenced the preparation of our class at a fairly good level, as geological technicians, which was shown later in practical life itself.
All of us, as a class, were assigned to work at the Oil Plant in Kucovo, which was then called Stalin City, in honor of the Russian dictator. Some were appointed geologists, some oil well drilling technicians, and others, oil extraction technicians. I was assigned as the chief geologist at the Oil Extraction Company in Kuçovo, which at that time provided the main oil production in our country.
From the first year and later, all of us young technicians left the best impressions in the tasks they gave us, both for the sacrifices at work and for the skills in solving technical problems. In those years, there were very few Albanian engineers, and those who had just finished their studies abroad, such as; Ramiz Xhabija, Rexhep Reka, Hamdi Kruja, Servet Pasho, and others. Everywhere from the oilmen you heard the best words about all of us beginners coming from school and it filled us with pride
Servet Pasho, was the head of the geological service at Kombinat in those years. He was a calm, wise man and did not harm people. Mr. Reka and Kruja, the extraction engineers, became very close, dear and respected to us. Hamdi Kruja was the chief engineer in the company where I worked. He had been an active participant in the Anti-Fascist Movement and an old communist, but since during his studies in Poland, he married a Yugoslav political émigré, she was not allowed to return to Yugoslavia, after the conflict that began between the Yugoslav communist leaders and Stalin.
Husband and wife Krujat, were unjustly persecuted by the communist regime of our country. I worked with them for three years and saw in them honest, hard-working people who were not compatible with the mistakes that were noticed, which they criticized and pointed out in order to improve the work.
They were later taken to the small and isolated mining center of Selenica. Hamdi’s wife was a smart woman and very close to the family. Already in the first years of the communist regime, it did not look at the concrete work of people, but judged on the basis of the files that they opened for the specialists and leaders based on biographies.
With us, the first Albanian geological technicians, the opportunity was created to form the Albanian Geological Service in the oil industry, in July 1951. These were years of intense work and relations at work were relatively cleaner. People worked not out of fear, but they felt it as a duty to the people and the country. So, we, in the enterprise, as well as in others, had no vehicles and were forced in the rain and the big mud of the area of the wells in Kucovo, to walk all the way across the river Devoll, in the mountain sector of Kozara.
For hours we would stand in the strong sun, extreme heat or rain, wind and mud, especially during the winter, either day or night to help and control the normal work on the drilling probes, or the work of tractors and extraction wells. oil. So, for example, for Tom Kriston, there were frequent occasions when he walked back and forth for hours, from Upper Patos on the hill, to Ardenica mountain, where he had the drilling probe. We often slept in the probe barracks.
I used to sleep in the office where I worked, since I worked until very late hours and in bad weather I found it very tiring to come to the barracks where we Kuçova technicians slept. We wore some boots, which held a lot of moisture, and as a result our feet and socks became porridge. So, I was forced to take off my boots, dry my feet and socks next to the fire lit by oil well gas and sleep for a few hours on the work table.
The physical and mental fatigue was very great, but none of us cried or said that we were tired, that we couldn’t do it, or asked to leave the job. This increased the respect of the workers and managers towards us, the young technicians. Memorie.al
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