By Petraq Xhaçka
The twentieth part
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 informed me that they had talked with their minister and relayed his request to me, that if possible, I would look into the possibility of going to the well, to get to know concretely the factual material and give my conclusions. This was important for them, because with the variant of my explanation, the costs of the second well were charged to the Romanian side, with a value of about four million dollars. After consulting with the representative of the embassy, I agreed to go on the condition that the whole group of our oil workers, who were in Greece those days, would come there.
After a very nice boat ride, starting with the Corinth Canal, we went to the well. I got acquainted with the factual data and as a conclusion I gave the same assessment. After a few days, the adviser to the Greek minister hosted a lunch in a beautiful restaurant for our whole group and expressed the minister’s thanks for my help, which brought a great profit to the sector he was leading. They also asked me how much money I wanted for this opinion, but I, a typical student of our communist school, spoke categorically against such rewards. From their side, they kept sending me greeting cards for different holidays, but I was never able to answer them. I knew exactly where I was. I knew that this was not a correct attitude at all, but it was not the only time.
Even the many postcards or letters that I have received at work from various Western oil companies and scientists, I have not responded. Our dictatorial system did not allow us to have contact with foreigners. Ignorance, terror, backwardness, had covered the entire Albanian sky for half a century. If I had the opportunity to communicate with these company presidents and esteemed colleagues again, the first thing I would do would be to apologize for the lack of response to their letters. But at the same time, I would also explain the reason. It wasn’t a lack of education or knowledge of etiquette, but a bigger reason, they wouldn’t let my cards go out of bounds. Even if I started to explain it to them, would I be able to? And would they understand me?!
I thank those oil workers who, both before and after my arrest and now that I am away from the country, have found opportunities to express the high regard they have for me. There are many people who call me. They warm me and give me strength with their candid words. In a warm letter sent to me by a geologist from the Institute, he emphasized, among other things:
“You were an honorable teacher and leader for us, the other engineers, and we will not forget that. You were alien to displays of prepotency, arrogance and violating the dignity of others. All the time, you tried to help the specialist’s young people about their work problems and problems, such as passporting or housing and even transfers to other jobs, when they had family problems. And you did this with the opportunities you had and of course as much as the nomenclature bodies listened to you. While you, you never found that support, from the bodies you depended on…!
For these qualities in your attitude towards people, you generally enjoyed a clear respect from the oil workers, except for any individual or secret collaborator of the Security, who were also in the Institute. But better than anything else, the fact that we were in the workers’ collectives speaks for the appreciation, the considerations that the oil workers had for your hard work and your valuable contribution to oil research and in general to the development of the oil industry in our country. that we have proposed to you for receiving all those work decorations and Awards of the Republic, with all the relevant motivations. In these times, in the discussions of Enver Hoxha in the Political Bureau, or in the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party, there were more frequent remarks and criticisms about oil research. He went so far as to use the expression: “There is silent sabotage in oil”.
A new tide started again in oil. Thus, all that great success with the discovery of the Cakran kollos source, all those good words that were said to the geologists, were forgotten very quickly and, as usual, the language was changed. From good, we became bad again. No, no, the leadership of the Party would not depart from the ridiculous, equally tragic practice in its work, which today praised people, oil specialists in particular, and tomorrow, changed its position, criticized and condemned them. The dictator got up once good, once back. All his life he kept people, with two cards that opposed each other for the same period, when once he called them “heroes” and the other time, he turned them into “enemies and traitors”.
What Enver Hoxha had said yesterday, he shamelessly licked the next day. And here we are not talking about a few words, praise or criticism. There is talk of taking the lives of many people who had worked for that nation, there is talk of the destruction of tens, hundreds and thousands of innocent families, who have been persecuted in the most brutal way. We at the Institute did not understand what the leader of the Party had in mind with his expression of “silent sabotage”! “Sultan”, seeing that his life was coming to an end, his dreams were getting worse and worse and he did not have to leave this world without a new, serious crime, so that hell would give him a place privileged, as a high-class criminal”.
With my dismissal as director, I began to notice that a different environment was being created for me, even from people I was convinced appreciated and respected my work. Now, when there were team meetings, it happened that no one came to sit next to me. Two or three chairs on either side of me were empty. It was incredible! During nearly three years, until 1986, in the consultations organized by the director of the Institute, Drini Mezini, who moreover was not a geologist or an oil specialist, he never called me to assist in them, to give my opinion and experience. for the specific study that was done. Only individually, geologists and geophysicists came, seeking to exchange thoughts on their topics. In the office where I worked, I was brought in as a technician in the subject group we had, a young man who had been in the Security School of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for two years.
I called it just a coincidence, but he was assigned by State Security to keep me under control throughout the workday. As I found out later, the director was aware that my arrest was being prepared and therefore he fought me in all forms. For sure, to his loyalty to the Party, he added the fight against me and did not find anything about the very poor results at work. On the contrary. He managed to become a minister and deputy of the People’s Assembly. A few years later, I learned that the Security had spread rumors about my arrest, that’s why it was the fear of my colleagues, who didn’t dare to approach me for free conversations or work. The interested party is the last to know. I think that fear, only fear, prevented them from informing me of the horror that awaited me.
At this time, a proposal came from the Mining Institute in Tirana to be given to me again for the third time; “First Class Republic Award”, for my scientific contribution to the compilation of the Tectonic Map of Albania, as a member of the drafting group of the Tectonic Map of Europe. I was the vice-chairman of this map study group, for which we worked for nearly five years. The director submitted to the collective for approval, only the other two members of the group, while I was excluded without giving any explanation, without notifying the collective that the proposal included Petraq. The proposal coming from another institute was hidden from the collective.
In this way, I was now working as a prisoner under house arrest. They were convinced that I now had enough indications and out of fear I would discover oil sources, as if I had them in my pocket and took them out every time I felt the knife in my throat. I was a geologist like everyone else and I had no way to keep reservations in myself about the perspective structures. The studies and positive or even negative results were the result of a joint work of geologists and geophysicists at the Institute, and not of one or a few people. The ability of one or the other specialist, at the level of treatment of the study, is another thing. But it was absurd for someone to recognize perspective structures and keep them hidden. With this vicious judgment, the incident with the Minister of Geology and Mines, Pali Miska, is explained. He came to a meeting of our entire team and addressed me, in an arrogant tone:
– “Listen, Xhačka! We know that you know the bowels of our underground, but you must understand well, what we do with you and without you”! Apart from the technical idiocy, this statement also contained a direct political threat. In a word, you good boy, you don’t want to discover oil and gas, but we can put you in jail and work without you! This nonsense was later repeated to me many times in the interrogator’s office. – “You didn’t want to discover new places-sources of oil and gas, because you wanted to sabotage the economy, so that it would go bad. Your goal was to overthrow the leadership of the party, to overthrow the people’s power”!
This was the leitmotif of the investigators. But no one should be surprised at this level of judgement, at this nonsense. They thought the same way at the head of the state, the investigator, and the State Security. With these signs. I was realizing that black clouds were swirling around me. But just like the person who is drowning who still has a glimmer of hope that he can be saved, that hope dies last with the person, I also could not believe that the state would manage to commit such a criminal act against me. I was looking at every day, aspects of incorrect and human attitudes towards me, but again the mind could not agree that anything bad could happen.
Because, among other things, I must admit that before it fell on me, I did not fully know the dictatorship, because no one dared to show or speak, about the mass imprisonment of innocent people throughout our country, the whole variety of the crimes of Enver Hoxha’s Security. Among the many cases in this intervening time, I am mentioning another incident, very similar to the first. One day in 1985, after the dictator had died, in a meeting of the sector where I worked, the instructor of the economic department at the Central Committee of the Party, Kristaq Papa, came, as they often came to the Institute.
In front of everyone, he approached me with an unexpected proposal. – “You, Xhaçka, decide: Either take a study topic, for a region that you know has prospects and design a well, which will definitely yield oil, which would thus discover a new source-site, or to write, breaking down in detail, all the hostile activity in oil”!
I don’t think this judgment was the only one. However, such a provocation was not allowed for a senior oil specialist, who asked the geologist to discover a new source with the first well. Every person must preserve his dignity, human and scientific, and not issue ultimatums with the logic of the ignorant. This ultimatum, made openly, shocked me, because I understood that it was added to the warning that Pali Miska had also given me, in front of the entire staff of the Institute. -So, I had already become like a shooting board where everyone, to protect his post, launched any kind of projectiles, without thinking that I was human and without the slightest concern, lest they overdo it or trample it. It seemed clear that they had clear orders not to be reserved towards me.
Of course, I could not agree with such a provocative proposal, as it is devoid of technical criteria. – “I,” I said amid the general calm, “I am a geologist like everyone else.” I am neither a prophet nor a fortune teller to find for sure where the oil is underground. All over the world, they have a success rate. Why is a 100% guarantee required of me, with the threat that if I don’t reveal it, I will have serious consequences?! Who is that geologist who agrees to design under such conditions”?! – “You are an outstanding geologist,” the instructor began with the style that the more he brags, the more he burdens you. – “This is a task…”!
I continued to protest, cutting him off. – “You, with your technical background, understand that it is not a normal task. But what about the other task you put to me, in terms of hostile activity?! The state set up working groups, expert groups, held trials. What else are you looking for? What can I say, except what you have told us? All the more so that in those years, I did not work at the Institute, because you removed me as unsuitable, for foreign concepts, since I asked to receive geophysical equipment from the West…! As you know, the leader of the Party himself condemned my departure from the Institute. I don’t understand why you ask me such a thing? I am neither an investigator nor have I worked in expert groups. You take the pen and write these things yourself. Why are you asking me?!
It is known by all the oil workers that my position in this period regarding oil production planning was right in the interest of the rational use of the country’s resources and I had the courage to oppose the former leaders of the party and the state and life proved me right. So, look for this, too, from those cadres who supported inflated plans, which damaged our country-resources, damaged the economy. Do not ask me that I defended them, when I could have remained silent, like many others. Likewise, my right attitude, my contribution to not making baseless investments in Saranda is known. I am a specialist, and my duty is to protect the technical rules. Politics is done by others”.
With my strong objection to this foul provocation, the meeting was closed. I continued to work on study topics, but I did not manage to do any well design, because I did not create complete conviction. Now I began to think more seriously about the position I was in. Those repeated and arrogant attacks were not accidental. Of course, they knew all my merits, but as it became clear a little later, through this fog, which the leadership of the Party purposely spread in the oil, hid from behind the very low and criminal objectives and plans of the dictator of young man from Albania, Ramiz Ali.
In a gloomy atmosphere of terror in Albania, in April 1985, the leader of the Communist Party of Albania, Enver Hoxha, who led the party and the state for nearly four decades, died. Many people, including me, thought that with the death of the dictator, his close and loyal friend, Ramiz, Alia, would be more liberal, and would correct the many mistakes of his now dead friend. But this hope turned out to be wrong! Later life, the family connection he created with the Hoxha Family, made him follow the same path and the same forms as his predecessor, even in some directions, things went darker. He was not as overbearing as the first, but much more demagogic and much more treacherous. Before Enver Hoxha died, Sigurimi took on the task of arresting our oil group. Ramiz Alia did not spare a single comma in this dirty task.
We, the new appointees
With the dismissal from the position of director of the Institute, I thought in vain that I would be calm in my academic work. The years 1983-’85 were years of severe psychological stress, from a silent persecution, which made me feel an icy hollow inside me, which destroyed my nerves. Now, I, for the first of the work, was no longer a specialist, which apparently had to be respected. Recently, I was treated as a very capable specialist, but from above and below, it was openly said that I did not want to contribute to the people’s power. And this was often accompanied by blackmail and the weekly mention that they; “they did without me”.
I tried to keep myself when these things were said to me. I realized that I was in a not very pleasant vortex, I was spinning in the middle of it. The boat of my life, now you had gone down to the lower part of the wave, and from the shore, it was no longer visible. The one steering the boat of my life was no longer me. It was run by command, the bureaucratic and dictatorial state. Especially in those last years, the smile no longer visited my face. I had forgotten that in the city, there was a theater and a cinema, that Fieri had a nice beach, I had forgotten that in Albania, every year, there was also a light song festival. My mind was boiling with unanswered questions: Why were they giving me all these ultimatums?! Why are my friends and colleagues, recently, with youth further and further away?!
I tried to connect some small events, which on the surface seemed to be unimportant, but which in essence were not so. So one day, a colleague, with whom I had always had good relations, came to my office. It was already the third time that he was inviting me to go and drink a glass of brandy at the tourism restaurant, which was the best in town. I didn’t have any particular desire to drink, especially since I didn’t enjoy alcohol, on the contrary. Since the insistence this time was great, I accepted his invitation.
In an annex hall of Hotel Turizmit, he told me that he wanted to hire me and ordered a double shot of brandy and a steak with garnish. I was initially impressed by his generosity, which was not so common, but I paid no attention to it. After we drank the ordered glasses, he took out a bottle of brandy from his pocket and asked to refill my glass. I objected, telling him that I drank the first one with difficulty. But the insistence was too great and to accompany him in his pleasure, being in a somewhat depressed state of mind, I left my concern and agreed to drink the newly filled glass.
All the time we talked about the sports events, about the stage with the design theme that I had in hand, and others. He, for himself, had drunk the third glass, when he asked me a question, which went far beyond the goals of our daily conversations. – When you read the works of Enver Hoxha, don’t you wonder how all the predictions he made for the oil sector and for our country as a whole turned out, huh…?! What do you think, Petraq, did he say and write these before the events? Or were they written later during the compilation of the works? The question, even if it wasn’t provocative, was a stupid one. But now I understood that it was malicious. He thought that I, clouded by the brandy, would put aside the self-control that we all had built into the system and let out some opinion, from those that Security was looking forward to, to make it easier to put handcuffs on me. Memorie.al
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