By Uran Kalakula
Memorie.al publishes some parts of the memoirs of the former political prisoner Uran Kalakula, who in 1960 was arrested by the State Security accused of being part of a group of five people who were part of: Tanush Kaso, Pjetër Arbnori, Riza Kuçi and Zeqir Koçi, who aimed to form a political group with a social-democratic tendency. After a long time in the investigator, he, along with other members of the group, appeared before the trial that took place in Tirana, where Pjetër Arbnori and Uran Kalakulla were sentenced to death, by shooting, while the others received sentences ranging from 15 to 25 years political imprisonment. But then the Presidium of the People’s Assembly spared the lives of Uranus and Peter Arbnor, reducing them to 25 years in prison. After the pardon of life, Urani suffered 21 years in the camps and prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, which he suffered mainly in Burrel Prison. After the ’90s, Uran Kalakula wrote his memoirs about the period of serving his sentence by publishing the book “21 years in communist prisons”, where some parts of it, Memorie.al is publishing starting from this article.
For more than 45 years, from the end of November 1944 until March 1991, when Enver Hoxha’s communist regime remained in power, alongside thousands of politically convicted Albanians who suffered in open camps and prisons across the country., there were also hundreds of foreign nationals, who were hit by bad luck in our country. Most of those hundreds of foreign nationals of different nationalities who suffered in Albanian prisons, were from Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, etc. This was then kept secret by the communist regime of Enver Hoxha and his successor Ramiz Alia, and it became known only after the 1990s, with the fall of the communist regime, when many of the former Albanian political prisoners or foreigners, began to write their memoirs. One of those former political prisoners who in his memoirs wrote about the tragic fate of foreign nationals in Albanian communist prisons, was also Uran Kalakula. Some of these memories, Memorie.al. is publishing them in several issues starting from this writing, where only the subheadings are editorial.
Continued from the previous issue
Memoirs of Uran Kalakula, former political prisoner who suffered 21 years in Enver Hoxha’s communist prisons
Montenegrin Velko Stepanovic
He had even managed to create a special kind of pyramid sim bi the construction of this ideal state, as well as on its functioning. In a word, he had almost imaginatively approached the “Sun City” of the Italian philosopher Campanella, not to mention that his statist theory had many reminiscences of the utopian paramarkist socialism of Saint Simon, Owen or Fourier, to whom s he had read their works, but was based on Engels’ references to the well-known work of the communists, scholars of Marxism, of the latter, “The Development of Marxism from Utopia to Science.” I left him for days to put forward his theory, without intervening, whether out of consideration or for politeness, even though I was curious to find out to the end, he began to exhaust, I reminded him that a theory more or less such, had been presented by Plato since his time, in his work “Republic”, a work which Velko, to my surprise, was hearing for the first time.
I say this to my surprise, because how was it possible that at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, this great philosopher of classical antiquity was not mentioned at all, moreover, the father of idealism, that Marxism had at the top of the spear, of course why? Is it because, as a faculty of philosophy, closed by the fanatical communist ideology of Plato’s “Republic”, this treatise of his theory of the state (and the ideal one) did not suit the communists at all, but elaborated the concept on the idea?” Platonic? From my brief submission, of course based only on my memory (the work was definitely missing where we were), Velko remained both surprised and utterly dumbfounded. And after that, such a topic was no longer touched upon between us.
Velko after the ’90s in Tirana
But, the good thing is that years later, when we met in Tirana, in the time of democracy, already two free citizens, he came from Tuzi, where he already worked as a teacher, gave me (with a very flattering dedication), his book published in Serbian and in his own country (a language I do not know at all), exactly on his theory of the Sajantist superpower! Even equipped with plenty of sketches on the architecture of this state and on the interrelationships of its parts. Of course, I did not read it, because I do not understand what is said in it, but I carefully preserve it as a fond memory of him. But I would have been very happy to know what that book already contains and whether it has included in it, at least for reference, Plato’s “Republic”?
As I said, after being released from prison, a few years before the collapse of the communist dictatorship in our country, Velko was repatriated. And he had wandered not only through the then Yugoslavia, still unopposed as today, but also in Western Europe: Germany, France, I do not know where else, while I had not crossed an inch of the Albanian border. But, in the above, I asked him what that part of Europe he had seen had looked like. His response did not show much admiration. It seemed to the square that the influences of his Scientology had remained very much alive in him. The beauty lies not only here, but in another fact, which surprised me even more and why not even made me laugh with all my heart, as a man laughs when he hears something not only unexpected, but almost very funny.
And this is exactly what happened when he expressed to me a very intimate thought of his: “Do you know, Uranus ‘- he told me-‘ that wherever I wandered around Yugoslavia, even in Western Europe, I did not find in the intellectuals there that I met any to be equal to Albanian intellectuals, especially those I met in prison here!” The other surprise that was caused to me was his determined desire to obtain Albanian citizenship, even the great desire to come and live here in Tirana! A ka se si? In a country where he had gone through suffering and undeserved torture at all in the best years of his life? Such was my dear friend Velko Stepanoviçi from Montenegro!
Croatian Mihaillo Prebeg
Through Velko, I got to know and get closer to some of his compatriots: the Croat Mihailo Prebeg, the Macedonian Ljubo Strezovski and the two Serbs Jovica Crvenko and one named Boro (I forgot his last name). Of these four, the most charming was Prebegu, while the “most emotional”, not to say the honest, seemed to me Strezovic. Mihajllon, all his fellow citizens, called him by the nickname “Straçe”, which in Albanian means “old man”. In fact, he was the oldest among them. I got along quite well with him. He in his own language and I in my Russian, poor and lame. It seems that after a while we both used common words of the Slavic language. Thus, our conversations were not distinguished for their elegance in speech, nor for their vocabulary, nor for their stylistic figures.
Tarcja was a tall and slender old man like a billiard cue. He had a half-smoked head, a narrow forehead, a large nose, thin lips, and a mouth without teeth at all. His eyes were blue like whey. His voice was as thick as a baritone. In his speech, there was always a tone between joke and cynicism. As Starçja seemed, he often mocked the bitter reality, as well as his fate sea and sludge in which he was after a life full of adventures. This old man was not there as an “enemy of popular power” but as an ordinary prisoner in the Lushnja camp, where he had been sent.
He had stabbed a fellow villager after the latter had fallen on his neck. So Starcjen, you should not harass him too much, because he knew how to preserve his dignity for beauty. He only allowed himself to be ridiculed for his being. And that I say was his basic feature. He had created for himself a two-line verse as it is called in stylistics. In Slavic he sang, “starçe, starçe, veliko magarçe” which in Albanian translated “old man, old man, o big donkey”. In fact, Mihaillo Prebregu was not an ass at all, but a very shaky man, as the people of Shkodra say, a man who would give water to the tail of a spoon. But lo and behold the wave had hit him badly wave after wave without ever bringing him ashore. He had been a metallurgist in his own country. And as such in a developed country like Croatia, which is close to Europe, with major political and social movements. And he had not been left out of this current, even in his youth he had been a hardened anarchist.
Arrest in Poland
For this reason, he had spent several years in prison in the Kingdom of Karadjordjevic. In prison he, having met hardened socialists and communists, had “turned” to Mihaillo that the place “with absolute freedom” was the Soviet Union. That country was ruled by the “great” Stalin who had a burning heart for the world’s poor and who ruled with “wisdom, compassion, and that he was the Lord of all the proletarians of the world.” And Starça, poor all his life, after finishing his sentence, was thrown to Hungary and then from there to Poland, where he had kept running on the Soviet border. But there he was captured by the Polish guards of Marshal Pidzulski and prison after prison, straight to Belgrade. And so Starçja had known that part of Europe, from underground.
And so, the “Soviet sun” had remained an unfulfilled vision. He could not pronounce my exact name, but told me Hurran, which seemed to me like a Cossack or Mongolian name. Of course, out of pity for him, I did not try to correct him. After all, what was wrong with me?! From the anarchist thoughts he had in mind, it seemed that he had not had any luck with his wife either. I say that because in addition to prison as an anarchist, he will have been badly influenced by Bakuin’s ideas about family. According to him, the family is a bourgeois prejudice that hinders the freedom of the individual. It was therefore long separated from it, and was the only beginnings. And now he was there with me in the cell guarded by barbed wire and armed guards, adding to the experience of Solzhenitsyn’s Soviet gulag.
Rape of a Macedonian woman
Macedonian Ljuba Sterovski was a man in his 70s, removed from his face due to hunger. After the war, he served in the UDB organs in Macedonia, mainly in the border area near Albania, with the rank of lieutenant. But then, they fired him as it turned out he was very fond of women. Already a civilian, he had crossed the water border of Lake Ohrid, in a boat in which he was with a beautiful woman. He was not thinking where the border of love lust was leading! Thus, he had fallen into the hands of the Albanian guards and then the investigator, in the Internal Branch of Pogradec.
There they kept him for over a year in those dark dungeons with the well-known “dietary” food. What girl?! He was released after being handcuffed by all the Branch Chiefs. At least that’s what Ljuboja told me. Then I asked him “what about the first secretary of the Party”?! “I don’t know about that, he told me”. “Why don’t those Security bulls who tortured me, as you see me, look so lustful.” “Our security had avenged Tito properly.” class “.
With Ljubon we shot to work long enough in that damn prison camp. We worked and talked, even though he knew very little about the history of our country, to say the least. And since he was asking me, I explained many things to him but carefully so as not to go into the situation and time we live in today. Because I suspected that he, as a former UDB member, could have been left with poison in his blood, espionage. But talking to him about the past before the communists came to power, I had my eyes a little open. And then I blew the whistle on Serbian chauvinism against Albanians for centuries, pointing to cases where Albanian blood was shed, not only of men, but also of women and children. /Memorie.al