By Petraq Xhaçka
Part twenty five
Memorie.al / The purpose of this book is to unite the help in the efforts that are 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 memoir are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I was able to present the terrifying force of the events that took place in that decadent system of socialism, where no there was no human feeling.
Continues from last issue
They were all boiling in one cauldron, and this was not the work of the investigative group alone. Reluctantly, I decided to return to the miserable role of the culprit, as an obedient actor of this tragic play, which was played in the so-called happiest country in the world. They immediately asked me to rewrite the story and date that day. They considered me to owe them their courtesy when they tore up the denunciation that I made in front of the chief investigator and that they had made me write. But in fact they tore it up, because they didn’t want to keep such a compromising document on file. Now I had become “wise” again, as the investigators said, and so demoralized, scarred by their beatings, morally killed by their injustice and offenses, more hopeful than ever, the policemen took me to my cell.
The usual sessions began again. I don’t know if this was related to the visit of the chief investigator and the instructions and remarks he might have left, but the investigative group now demanded that I, my connections with the Soviets, had started since I was a student at Moscow. Later dates for them had become unacceptable. It had to start from Moscow, since when I was walking on the old “Gorki” Street, I could hardly stay up at night translating the lines of “Mosfilm”.
It took me two or three days to think about how to build such a scenario from that time on. I tried to ignite the spark to start the story of recruiting a student, but it was difficult, because in my mind, beautiful memories of student life, of the life of a young man who radiated health, who did not need to sleep, passed through the magazine to see beautiful dreams. I remembered the times when I came for the sport of ice skating, or when I went skiing, I remembered the well-known theaters of “Ballshoj” or “Mallij”, I remembered experiences from football matches in the big stadium in Lluzhnjiki, where I often came for watching my favorite team “Spartak” reminded me of those magnificent Moscow metro stations; I remembered the different museums of figurative arts, in Moscow and Petersburg, with those world masterpieces, which gave me a pleasure that was never repeated in my life. Oh, how many memories suddenly came back to me! I remembered the evenings of entertainment of Albanian students, on the occasion of national holidays; I remembered the evenings with my friends from our institute…!
It was impossible for me to create a scenario in my mind that this dirty work, which the investigator asked me to do, had happened in these clean environments, so expensive for me! That’s how low I’d have to go, damn it?! There are some things that can’t be part of the bargain, where you are divided and divided endlessly. I had to sell these too? Now I had to invent a novella with a dirty event, which I hated with all the ashes of my soul. I had to carry this heavy stone around my neck. This was a terrible thing. In these moments, I turned to God in heaven, with the prayer: “Oh, Great God, free me from this horror, where these black souls have put me”!
With a deep sigh, coming from the soul, I started to write. The only environment where I could create an agency connection would be the Higher Party School in Moscow, where I worked for four years as a translator and which didn’t give me any good feelings. Yes, I could spoil the memories there; they were not dear to me.
I created a character with a Russian name and surname, which in all that endless country, it is no wonder and by chance, really exists, even without meeting me. He paid my monthly salary in the accounts office, which was the only office I frequented in that building. He was able to recruit me. Even now I don’t remember how I built this scene, but, as I said, it didn’t matter, because the investigators knew very well that it was fake…! But the investigators asked for the password that he gave me. This detail had not occurred to me and I was stuck. I begged for time to think, they allowed me and I came up with something. All the members of the group were stumped when they were asked for the slogan we used among ourselves. The two of us could not have said the same thing, not even close.
This is understandable: different minds in a language of fifty thousand words would come up with different slogans. But this did not bother the investigators and they were prepared for it. In their usual no-nonsense style, they pushed the inmates to match a common denominator. One of the reasons why I was included in this group was that I had worked in this school, where important cadres had studied, who were then placed in party and state positions, as ministers and leaders of powerful parties. The dirty work at the top of the pyramid required that they have strings in hand, to hit these people as servants of Moscow, whenever the policy of exclusion and purges wanted. They were interested, that I had met with them in the Russian spaces.
So they asked me to accept connections with these people, such as with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nesti Nasen, who at that time was a prisoner or dozens of others who had been in that school and later fate had brought them to the sectors of oil. They had quarrels with me and especially me with them, when I, despite all the pressure they put on me, did not accept the relationships, because they were out of logic. And since logic was an unknown instrument for them, I had to return to it from time to time. Even for the students who had finished their studies at the “Gubkin” institute and who were not a few, but 40 people, the investigators told me that they had all become agents of the Russians. – How is it possible, – I screamed once, paying dearly five minutes later, – that all of us have not been so weak, and not a single man was found to love his country?!
On the occasions when I refused to include in my writing the names that persisted in them, calls to the investigator were more frequent, not only during the day, but also at night, to induce me to agree to write about them as well. And I noticed that the tortures and beatings had a quality; todays were more painful than yesterday’s. Yesterdays belonged to the past. When I succeeded in winning over my interrogators, and they did not persevere, I had a double joy; the satisfaction that I resisted and the ever greater certainty that the situation outside was not as serious as Rustemi described to me. So they weren’t arrested as much as he says. The request to stop at every name that came forward was a planting campaign. These three men who, with their sleeves rolled up, led me to that world and brought me back, throwing “things” for future enemies. These “planted” the windmills, for their crazy Don Quixote.
My duel with the investigators took place in two forms. He had the visible form in their kicks and punches that hit me mercilessly, and the invisible form that I, with my resistance, noticed their weaknesses. They were scared and I was happy when I revealed to them the fear that they had, that if they had not achieved everything, they could be turned to dust. They were afraid that even with these excessive demands, they could make this toy in their hands break completely and not work forever. They noticed that I stood my ground, and didn’t take a leap forward, and put it all aside, and go back to the real world, cling to the truth.
I had not lost all hope and that worried them. So one day, I decided to make a major effort to defend my right: I decided and wrote a letter from the dungeon to the leader of the party and the country, Ramiz Ali. In the letter I explained that I was innocent and everything I had admitted and written were just lies, made up in accordance with the inhumanly violent demands that the investigator was making of me. There I asked him to send a man so that I could explain everything to him in detail.
But this attempt also failed. No one listened and no one came. So now I was thoroughly and conclusively convinced that Ramiz Alia, himself, was the main man in preparing this scheme for our doom and later on other persons, among the clans in the leadership of the party. I reached the conclusion that I judged right then, on the reasons for this terror, on a group of innocent oil specialists. But now with this letter that I sent him, I thought that even if one day the situation changed, President Alia would not be able to shake it, as he used to say, that he did not know anything about what was going on with this group, from oil intelligence. Investigator Rustemi informed me of the words of Ramiz Ali’s answer:
“My men are the inquisitors. I have no reason to send other men! This answer contained a great truth, for he, as well as the inquisitors commanded by him, were equally barbarous. They, all of them, condemned innocent people were persecuting him. They all had one common denominator; – they were all criminals. According to the rules of the prison regime, during the investigation we were not allowed not only any meeting with the family, but no information about their health or condition. So that I was constantly tormented by anxiety, how I could act to convey to my family the truth that I had committed no reprehensible act, that I was entirely innocent, though you had no doubt that they were fully convinced of this. But I wanted to point it out to them again because I wasn’t sure what might happen next during the investigation.
Taking advantage of the fact that I was holding Ajaz’s scripting pencil in the dungeon, I decided to send a signal to my family. From the daily ration of cigarettes, I broke two of them, removed the tobacco and carefully tore them open. On both I wrote these words: “I am innocent and I embrace you!” worn for several months without taking them off my body for a minute. They stank, but we were taught to put up with these kinds of smells. I checked them and they were indistinguishable at all. To give him reason to think the woman, in order to see my message, I undid the cuffs a little. Surely, I thought, Zhaneta will want to sew them before washing them and will notice them. If she reads the writing my on the cigarette papers, I would feel myself more relieved.
I waited in vain for several months to get these pants back from home, to see that they were sewn and to be able to visualize something. I did not see the pants during the entire period of the investigation, so I was afraid that my family had been exiled to remote swampy or mountainous areas, as they did with many other political prisoners. So, the desire to communicate led me to create even greater anxiety for myself. No one said a word, despite my frequent requests to the investigators. Only after I received the sentence from the court, when they returned me some things that were taken from me on the day of my arrest, they also returned my pants, unwashed and with torn cuffs.
But my short message on the cigarette papers was not there. They did checks so fine that even the cigarette leaf could be seen, and of course the investigators had read it. But they were not impressed by this, because they knew this truth very well and they did not want to open the door, lest I change my mind again, and start new efforts to tell the truth. Silence was best for them. The investigators were delighted to have “successfully” completed this important mission, and would surely be rewarded with further increases in responsibility. This logic was normal, in the progress of the organs of the dictatorship in our “socialist” Albania.
Living in inhumane conditions
In order to help achieve the goal of the investigators, in the Department of Internal Affairs of Fier, a harsh living regime was adapted, in harmony with the torture and pressure in the questioning sessions, the arrested person would surrender and accept his guilt. Waking up was at six o’clock in the morning. All day long, you had to stand or sit cross-legged on the floor, because there was no bench or board bed of any kind in the cell. You had no right to cover even the tips of your toes with the only blanket you had in the dungeon. There in the winter it was bitterly cold, full of humidity, with only a small window near the ceiling, without glass, so that the rays of the sun never managed to enter, up to the prisoner. I was lucky that on the day I was arrested, I had a thick fur coat on the inside, which I wore when I went to work in the wells.
She helped me to overcome that cold, disgusting life a little. Between the cold and the high humidity, we had no heat of any kind, either direct or from the prison corridor. A small tin stove was only for heating the policeman or policemen, as the case may be, who served in the prison corridor. Although they were well dressed, they still froze, and their hands and feet were numb from the cold, so they approached her and most of the time of the service, they stood on the stove, because she did not have the strength to warm the air even a little, the whole of that corridor long. For us, sitting down, it was impossible to imagine the heat. After I pleaded guilty, the investigator was generous with my request and I saw that they brought me two more blankets, in the same condition as the smelly blanket they had given me from the beginning. What should I do with three old and thin blankets, from years of use?!
Should I use them as a mattress form or cover myself with them? They were insufficient, both for the one purpose and for the other, and still more for both purposes together. After many trials on sleepless nights, I finally decided to fold the three blankets into four and use them as a mattress. This is because the pain in my bones became unbearable from the hardness of the floor. Making four, the surface of this bed was about half a meter by one, which was enough for a small child. So I would curl up and curl up, to reduce my body, so that at least part of it would fit inside the surface of the bed, made of blankets. But again for my big body, that surface was very little and from the middle down, I almost always went out on the board. As a cover, for about a year of living in the dungeon, I used my sweatshirt, which when I took it off my body and used it as a cover, it warmed me more than when I was wearing it. From long-term use, the jubilee began to smell bad.
These were the sleeping conditions. No other items, no sheets, no mattress. While my arm served as a pillow, which I placed under my head. Of course, to the exclusion of all others, but only with such a rare “convenience”, I could not stay awake many times during the night, from ten o’clock in the evening until six in the morning. My hand was numb under my head, my knuckles hurt from the hardness of that kind of mattress I created, while my legs were full of scars, both from the torture and from their contact with the boards all night. My body was exhausted, exhausted, weak and weak.
I was surprised myself how I was able to survive in those inhumane conditions. In the morning, after being checked by the guard officer and the accompanying policeman through the window of the door, we were given breakfast on the floor, of course without any paper or a clean board. Breakfast consisted only of tea and bread. The tea had very, very little sugar. You had to drop the bread on the floor, where you stepped on it with your shoes and which were used everywhere: in the corridor, in the torture room and even worse in the toilet. When I recall them now, I wonder how strong we were, in the face of the diseases of dirt.
At lunch, we had the so-called soup, but in fact, it was more of a stew of boiled water, with only ten or twelve beans or a few strands of pasta, and sometimes a few grains of rice, without any fat. It served only to soak the bread, which could be eaten dry, because the supply was only once a week. Only on the first day of supply, we felt the taste of warm black bread. At dinner, we again had a cup of tea, like in the morning. So, practically, we were fed from the prison, only half a pound of bread a day. I usually finished it by lunchtime, and had none left for dinner tea. For nearly a year, I saw neither meat, nor eggs, nor any thread of greens.
Once a month, the people of the family came to the big gate of the Department of Internal Affairs, brought change and cigarettes, which they gave us with a norm: eight cigarettes a day, a pound of sugar and only a few cookies, and nothing. other. They were allowed to bring this food supplement to family members. We took them as we wished, during the supply of food given to us by the prison command. Under these conditions and limitations during the investigation, I lost twenty-five kilograms, or approximately one-third of my body weight, the more I could hardly stand. At the end of the prison corridor, next to the door of the dungeon where I lived, or rather I survived, was an iron door with a large lock. During the initial period, I often heard that door opening and the voices of police officers, but I did not understand where it led. Only after two or three months of investigation, one day that door was opened for me as well.
She led you into several compartments like rooms, built of walls but without ceilings. A dense net of barbed wire served as such. There was a small corridor, with four doors, with two on either side of the corridor. Above the corridor was a ceiling, which served as a place for the movement of the guard, who controlled every movement of the prisoners, who were taken out to these special compartments. These were the ventilation rooms, which served for the arrested person to stay in the fresh air for half an hour every day. Since a good part of my time was spent in the investigation, I often missed the long-awaited airing. So only after a few months of investigation, I saw the sky for the first time, I was able to breathe the fresh air, which in that half hour, came directly from the sky, without letting anyone, to ration or pollute me. Memorie.al
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