Memorie.al publishes an archival document issued by the Central State Archive in Tirana (fund of the former Central Committee of the ALP), which contains the autobiography of Shemsi Totozanti, one of the prominent personalities of the Albanian Communist Party since its inception , and also during the Anti-Fascist War, who from 1945 to 1974, when he was arrested and served ten years of political imprisonment in Burrel prison and Ballsh camp, would hold several senior duties and functions, such as: deputy / Minister of Education, Chairman of the Committee of Culture and Arts, Ambassador of Albania in Paris and Sofia, Director of the National Library, etc. The whole autobiography of Totozan written by him in 1951. which reflects not only his personal life and career full of ups and downs, but indirectly or tangent, he also shows some of the darkest sides of the history of the Communist Party of Albania and The Anti-Fascist War, such as the role of Dushan Mugosha during the War, or the efforts of the Albanian Communist Party to join the Greek Communist Party during the War period, which, the official historiography and propaganda of the years before ‘ The 90s, he would never mention, as Enver regarded the Greek Communist Party and its leaders at the time as Trotskyists.
Immediately after the end of the War, by order of the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Enver Hoxha, an order was issued to all Party circulars, stating that all Party members and former partisans who had participated in the War, should to deliver to their cells or organizations, any letters, notes, reports, information, orders, diaries, documents or other manuscripts belonging to the period of the War (1939-1944) or had a direct connection with the “Anti-Fascist National Liberation War”. In this context, in those years most of those communists and former partisans who had such “documents” handed them over, because according to the order signed by Enver Hoxha, otherwise they would have serious consequences, that they “hid” from the Party those documents, which in the first place “would serve for the History of the War”, or “The History of the Communist Party of Albania”, etc., etc.
Shortly afterwards, at the suggestion of the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Colonel-General Enver Hoxha, another decision was made, stating that every communist (party member) should make a written autobiography of himself, where he had to record the whole history of his life, from the day he was born, his family origin, (his personal and his wife, who had started a family) schooling, studies, work he had done, participation, activity and duties of the functions he had held both during the period of the Zog Monarchy and during the War (1939-1944), the political views he had, the areas and towns and villages where he had stayed, the remarks and punishments that could have been given to him during Before and after the war, the evaluations and decorations, with the orders and medals that were awarded to her, etc., etc .. All these should have been specified for years and the dates and notes in the autobiography should have been until the day it was signed, ec ila was then handed over to the secretary of the basic organization, where every communist made the life of the party.
This autobiography was deposited in the personal file that each party member had and it accompanied him in every task or function wherever he was transferred and everything had to be written there “without hiding anything from the Party”, and what was written had to be very true, for on the contrary, he held heavy responsibilities, where at first he was expelled from the Party and dismissed from the duties and functions he held, and then there were other consequences. The autobiography of the Party member was done once in ten years, or more often, according to the orientations given by the basic organization of the Party (when it was suspected that the communist had hidden something), or by the Central Committee of the Albanian Labor Party and that practice , (ie making an autobiography) with the members of the ALP continued until the end of the ’80s when that regime would collapse.
All this practice originated from the “History of the Bolshevik Communist Party”, where under Lenin’s slogan, “every communist is a Chekist”, the Party controlled and monitored all its members, without having to controlled by the KGB, which Enver Hoxha strictly implemented in the Communist Party (later the ALP), until the end of his life. So, by checking the members of the Party even through the autobiographies that they were forced to write, which could not escape any of the high party and state officials, starting from Enver Hoxha himself.
In this context, Memorie.al is publishing the autobiography of Shemsi Totozani, one of the prominent cadres and personalities of the Albanian Communist Party from the period of the War and then, from 1945 until the beginning of the 60s, when he was fired from the diplomatic service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (where he had served as ambassador to Paris and Sofia), because he was a bastard with Bedri Spahiu, who was beaten by Enver Hoxha and imprisoned and interned for years, accused as “enemy of the people and of the Party.” After that, Totozani was first sent as Director of the National Library and then as a French language teacher in high schools, where he retired to the city of Elbasan where he was deported in 1967, after he refused to do self-criticism in the meeting of the basic organization of the Party, where he was asked to accuse Bedri Spahiu, but he indirectly accused Enver Hoxha.
The stay of Shemsi Totozani in that meeting would cost him dearly and he became a reason to be regularly monitored by the State Security, until in 1974 he was arrested and sentenced to ten years in political prison, which he suffered. mainly in Burrel and Ballash, from where he was released only in 1982, where he would go back into exile with his family in the town of Belsh, staying there until 1990 when he returned to the city of Elbasan, where he died after two months, from illness and torture he had gone through during his period of imprisonment and internment.
The autobiography of Shemsi Totozani, (an idealistic communist, as he was a good part of those communists and former partisans who were educated and graduated in the West), was written by him in 1951 and reflects not only his life and career full of decline. the rise of a party member, but indirectly or tangent, it also shows some of the darker sides of the history of the Communist Party of Albania and the Anti-Fascist War, such as, for example, the role of Dushan Mugosha during the War, or the efforts of the Communist Party Albanian to join the Greek Communist Party since the war, which, historiography and official propaganda before the 90s, would never mention, as Enver considered the Greek Communist Party and its leaders in at that time, as Trotskyists.
For more about this and the above, we know the autobiography of Shemsi Totozani, which is an archival document extracted from his file located in the Central State Archive (Fund 14, of the former Central Committee of the ALP), which Memorie.al publishes for the first time and in full.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE PARTY MEMBER
I am from Gjirokastra and I was born in Delvina on December 30, 1910 from a middle-class employed family who had no income other than a salary. My father, who died in May 1924, was a judge, investigator, police commissioner, deputy prefect, and when he lost his job, he dealt with tithes. He has had progressive views, has been anti-Zogist and pro-Fan Noli, against religious divisions. In the family I got a good upbringing, why and my mother was by nature very wise. I graduated from the Lyceum of Korça in 1931 and attended higher studies at the Faculty of Literature in Strasbourg, France, but I stopped them in 1935, and in 1937, definitely due to a difficult operation in the eye of right.
From March 1932, until September of this year, I served as a student in Gjirokastra and from November 1937, until February 1942, I was a professor at the Vlora Commercial Institute, then I was transferred to the gymnasium of Gjirokastra where I stayed. until July 1942, the date on which I was definitely thrown into illegality. Everywhere I served I did my duty conscientiously and propagated against the Zog and fascist regimes.
After the liberation I was Secretary General of the Ministry of Education (January 1945-October 1946), Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice (October 1946-December 1946), Director of the Pedagogical School “November 17” (January 1947 – December 1948), Director of Schools in the Ministry of Education (December 1948-January 1949), and since January 1949, Assistant Minister of Education.
I know how to speak and write French well because I learned it in school for years, in practice I have learned to speak a little Italian and Greek. The education I received in my family and at school from the progressive French professors, the sufferings of our people, made me hate from a young age, the regime of Ahmet Zogu. In 1928, together with some other friends, I refused to participate in the National Entity in Gjirokastra and I tried to sabotage it, for this I risk appearing in court.
In 1931, I was arrested for three weeks for some writings of Fan Noli and Halim Xhelos, in 1932, I was arrested for a few days as an anti-Zogist, in connection with the “Vlora Organization”, in 1935, with the “Fier Movement” , I take an active part in the preparation of the uprising in Gjirokastra, in 1937, in the “Movement of Et’hem Toto”, I take part in the funeral of Xhelal Shtëpani (whom I knew as a communist), against the order of the local authorities. In the Lyceum of Korça, from the dissatisfactions we had in the boarding schools, we learned to organize and demand our rights with strikes. In France I was enthusiastic about the creation of the Popular Front and I was consistently a good sympathizer of the communists, but that was all.
The days when I was accidentally given the opportunity to meet a group of organized communists, I had to return to Albania. Here I started to be interested in communist issues and I had my first contact with Aristidh Qëndron (in 1938), through my friend Shemso Çelo, who promised to connect me with other friends in Vlora. From the desires for work, it seemed to me that a whole world was opening before me, so much so that I did not listen to the words of Qemal Stafa, who tried to attract me to his group, this is understood due to the conspiracy of the rot that existed. Since I did not get any connection from Aristidhi, I started working with my two students from the Commercial Institute, Hysni Kapon and Sinan Gjoni, until I finally connected in Vlora with the Youth Group, led by Sadik Premtja.
Here I found a healthier, more organized job and my enthusiasm increased. In time, many reasons made me not go well in this group, such as: the excessive authority of “Pocket” (Sadik Premtes), Sinan’s arbitrary decisions, the moral point of view and the need for theft. On the eve of the formation of the Party, in addition to the political work I did at school, I participated in the demonstration of November 28, 1941, together with the students. My attitude has been good during those two hours that I was arrested. I have always been for the unification of groups, but no one listened to me from the friends of Vlora.
With the formation of the Party, I left the group with great pleasure and since the day of the organization of the Party in Vlora, I found that we were entering a really serious job. I do not know why, then, Dushan and comrade Shule, (Kristo Themelko), left me the impression that they did not look favorably on the intellectuals in the party. They told me such a thing later in Gjirokastra. I was elected at that time a member of the Central Committee, charged with working with the nationalists. As a result of the demonstration of November 28, February 26, 1942, I was arrested and held for two weeks in Tirana prison, where with Fejzo Gjomemo, Gaqo Naston, etc., we formed the first collective and organized conferences. On his initiative, the Italian director of the Commercial Institute, Geennaro LIONETTI, (who seemed to me and my friends as an anti-fascist element), became interested and released me from prison.
On March 9, when I returned to Vlora, ‘Bread Strike’ was being prepared, Mënyr Xhindi, a member of the Regional Committee, instructed me not to take part in this strike, as I had just been released from prison. The next day, together with other friends (Hysni Kapo, Naun Hondro, Mënyr Xhindi, etc.), I went underground in the province of Mesaplik. I did not like the illegality of best friends, because we were at the beginning of work. Two weeks later, with the interest of some of my friends, nationalists and hoping that it was still worth staying in the city, with his consent, Hysni Kapos and Mënyr Xhindi, (all three members of the Regional Committee, Comrade Hysni was secretary), I landed in Vlora, to continue working illegally with the nationalists.
At this time, the Minister of Education, Xhevat Korça, called me to Tirana and I requested in vain three times in a row the meeting of the Regional Committee, to decide whether I should go or not. Finally, the organizational secretary, Sinan Gjoni, informed me with a ticket that I could leave for Tirana. Here I asked for the transfer to Gjirokastra, or resignation, because to stay freely in Vlora, that is, to fall into the hands of the fascists.
I referred the matter to the Central Committee (Comrade Shule), who replied that Vlora should solve this matter. Here I found only Comrade Manush Myftiu, while the other members of the Circular were outside the city. We both agreed that I should go to Gjirokastra. I remembered that even two comrades of the Regional Committee, in the absence of others, could decide, regardless of whether this is right or not.
In April 1942, I joined the Gjirokastra organization as a simple member and without any party affiliation. Months later, my friends from Vlora called me for clarification, I refused to go, not only because I was sick from my stomach, but even though I was convinced that I was right. That was a mistake on my part. For this, the Vlora organization has requested my expulsion from the Party for a month. In Gjirokastra, I did political work especially in school until its closure (in May 1942), outside school, I maintained regular contacts with the nationalist element, such as Faik Quku, Naço Kuka, etc., according to the instructions of the Party. I worked with different layers, I sabotaged the recruitment of soldiers and militias. At this time, I opposed in the basic organization the decision of the Party, for a demonstration that seemed unusual to me, later canceled by the Regional Committee itself.
On July 16, 1942, due to a document of the Vlora organization that had fallen into the hands of the enemy, I was thrown into illegality. In the autumn of 1942, I was elected a member of the Regional Committee, democratically and not from above, as Comrade Shule (the delegate of the Central Committee) had insisted, who in this case was fought by the old Regional Committee and by me. During the nine months (July 1942-April 1943), I spent the illegality continuously in the city of Gjirokastra, even in the most difficult days of the reaction, because I was very sick from the stomach and because I was entrusted with all the work in the absence of other comrades of the County Committee.
I also worked for two or three months in the Party technique. As an illegal I have taken refuge where I could, from the poor to the aghallars. I went wherever there was a need for work, I organized extensive illegal conferences in various neighborhoods, meetings of gendarmes and police officers. I have always held a fair stance towards the nationalist element and later towards the ‘National Front’ with which I have not made any compromise.
In April 1943, the District Committee decided that the most outlawed illegal comrades should leave the city. After a short time, in Libohova and Labova, I went to Polican, which became for a long time the center of all our activity. Here I worked in the areas of Lunxheria, Zagoria, Dropulli, Pogon and Përmet. Although fair, I have been rude several times in these areas, where you do not feel the dynamism required by the war. At this time, I was also a member of the County Council and Assistant District Commander.
After the capitulation of Italy, on September 14, 1943, our forces and those of Balli entered Gjirokastra. I was charged by the Regional Committee to unmask ‘Balli’, as a traitorous organization, in front of the people of Gjirokastra and the forces of both sides. My view was that we should stay in the city, oh we, ‘Balli’ and the accounts should be divided by guns, but the Regional Committee decided that both sides should stay and respond to the speech of Ali Bey Këlcyra. This compromise continued for two weeks until German forces arrived.
The day the Germans entered, I was in Greece to join the Greek Communist Party and the E.A.M., near the 15th Regiment. When the VI Brigade was being formed, Dushani appointed me as a member of the Political Section, but after the first Operation this decision was annulled and I was appointed as the head of Ajit-prop, near this brigade. The reasons given to me for this reduction were not appropriate at all. Of course, I was not satisfied and my performance for those two or three months I stayed in the brigade was not good. On May 2, 1944, by order of the General Secretary of the Party, I went to the General Staff in Helmas, as head of Ajit-prop.
Only after the Përmet Congress, when Comrade Enver explained everything to me, did I change radically and get to work every day better and better. In Helmës, Odriçan and Berat, where I participated in the Staff Conference, I was in charge of the basic organization. After the liberation I was the cell secretary in the Ministry of Education and in 1945, a member of the Committee of Digesters. In this committee, where the first secretary was, comrade Teodor Heba and the second secretary, comrade Kahreman Ylli, the three of us often raised, in verbal and written reports, issues that did not seem right to us and that were not right, for this, we have been advised from time to time by Pandi Kristos and finally deliberately, Koci Xoxe, has ordered us to separate from each other: Comrade Teodor was transferred to Durrës as Party secretary and Comrade Kahreman, went Minister in Paris.
I raised in a close Party asset, the lack of democracy in the Party, the lack of criticism and self-criticism, the issue of the fear of Party members to raise the issue, the issue of MPs Riza Dani, Selaudin Toto, in 1945. I also addressed these directly to Koci Xoxes, who did not call them rights. Understandably, after these, came the successive blows for me. In October 1946, he went to the Ministry of Justice as Secretary General and in December 1946, I was sent as the director of the Pedagogical School, “17 November”. No reason is given to me for this treatment and no strong reason could I find it in myself. I remembered until the 8th Plenum, these were the source of Nako Spiro, with whom I had once quarreled in the Ministry of Education and why I did not go properly with my friend Fadil Paçrami in the Ministry of Education.
Before I started working at the Pedagogical School, I talked at length with the Secretary General, Comrade Enver, but again I did not clarify. I did not have three weeks in the Pedagogical School, when in the presence of Comrade Xhavit Qesja, (as a delegate of the Central Committee), the Tirana Regional Committee removes “serious remarks with a warning with a note in the biography”, because I had spoken against cooperatives ”,“ I had gone against the decisions of the Regional Committee ”and“ I had refused the admission to the Party of my wife Qibrie Ciu, in Gjirokastra (1943), according to the decision of the Central Committee ”.
I did not accept the first two charges in any way, I was subjecting you to the sentence, as for the third, this was an outdated case. From that date, I was looked down upon, my name was mentioned in various Party organizations, as an enemy and anti-party element, old comrades dared not speak to me, slander against me was on the agenda and in every meeting of the basic organization of the school, some delegate of the Committee of the Region, or of the city, would come to strike me, for I was a “dangerous element.” Even the Ministry of Education, through it, tried to hit me. These persecutions have continued against me, until the 9th Plenum of the Central Committee.
Throughout this period, of course, I was unhappy that I was hit in vain, I had formed in time the conviction that things were not going well in the Party, but I never lost faith in the party and the hope that everything would go in the right direction. A good test has been my work in running the Pedagogical School. On the threshold of the 9th Plenum, I addressed a letter to Comrade Enver and the issue was resolved, after the First Party Congress. I was not at all happy that the transfer to the Ministry of Education, as Director of Schools, was communicated to me by Comrade Haxhi Kroi, who, the Assistant Minister of Education, had not looked me in the eye for two years. That’s why I did not start on duty, until I clarified with Comrade Tuk, on my whole matter.
For my work during the National Liberation Movement and during the War, I was awarded the ‘Medal of Remembrance’, the ‘Medal of Liberation’ and the ‘Order of the Flag’.
Tirana, February 15, 1951.
Until 1953, Chairman of the Arts and Culture Committee
1953 – 1955, France
1955 – 1957, Bulgaria
1957 – 1962, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1962 – 1965, Director, National Library
1965 – 1967, taught French in Elbasan
1967 – 1974, pensioner in Elbasan
1974 – 1982, imprisoned in Burrel and Ballsh
1982 – 1990, interned in Belsh, Elbasan / Memorie.al