By Ylli Tabaku
The third part
Memorie.al publishes the memoirs of the former prisoner and political internee, Ylli Tabaku, originally from Tirana, suckling of one of the rich families of the capital, where his father, Ramazan Tabaku, after giving aid and large financial amounts for Peza’s gang during the period of the National Liberation War, after the end of the War, for his contribution, was appointed as Chairman of the Collection Office and in 1947, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the trial of the “Group of Deputies”, which which had come after a debate he had had with Enver Hoxha at the Hotel “Dajti”, where he had asked him not to seize the assets of those who had helped the War. Ramazan Tabaku’s long ordeal in communist prisons and the brutal persecution of his entire family, from his wife and almost all the sons and daughters of that family, who ended up in prisons and internment camps, until the fall of that regime , or they could escape from Albania. All these are described in the memoirs of Ylli Tabaku, (published in his book “Escape”, published by the Institute for the Study of the Consequences of the Crimes of Communism, with foreword by the scholar and historian Kastriot Dervishi), who suffered for 26 years, 8 months and 24 days in the prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha and managed to leave Albania in 1990, (with the events of July 2 of the embassies), living in Germany, until 2021, which was suddenly separated from life, without first seeing the publication of his book!
Memories of the former prisoner and political internee, Ylli Tabaku, who suffered 26 years, 8 months and 24 days in the prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha
Continued from the previous issue
Escape from Fushë-Krujë Camp, with Maksut Xhomaka originating from Margëlliçi of Chameria
And so it happened. The policeman jumped to the side and we crossed the post-block, although it was pretty thick iron pipe, it flew like a matchstick. Of course this would happen, because the cars with all the trailers had a very high tonnage, so the tube broke immediately. The bodyguard, who was on the driver’s side, was very close to the siege door, unable to open fire. As he was on my side, he immediately fired volleys and three bullets penetrated the door and fell at my feet. We passed the door and entered the road that continued parallel to the siege of the camp. During this siege, there were 6 armed guards with “DP” type machine gun with two legs.
In front of us appeared a roller, from those paving the roads, which had occupied half of the road, but ‘Babushi’ avoided this obstacle and passed the car on the other side, but the trailer slid into the canal and gradually pulled the car from behind , so the car overturned. The first windows were broken and we do not know how we got out of there, like with a catapult.
‘Babushi’ started running towards a cultivated land, while I, decided not to follow the same road, because it had rained a little and I thought I could stay in the mud and I continued to run on the asphalt, parallel to the guards.
Immediately all six machine guns opened fire in my direction and while running, my fur was open and I could smell the sweat of the sweatshirt burning from the bullets. I was running very fast and the barrage of bullets was coming to my right arm. My goal was to catch the turn – because in front of me came a turn, because if I got there, they could not look at me anymore, but at the moment I saw three bullets that passed between my legs, that pierced the asphalt.
At that moment, I felt threatened and said to myself: – Now that everything is over, they will kill me. This was a difficult moment and in the hundreds of seconds, as in a movie, in front of me, my mom’s face appeared on the asphalt and then with her granddaughter Raunella, holding hands. I said to myself: – They came to separate from me.
Of course death was certain, but in the meantime, I heard a voice calling: – Fire, stop! I looked up and saw a car coming out of the turn. So I realized they could no longer shoot and I kept running. When I got close to the car, I started to walk, so as not to be noticed. When the car approached those who were following me and passed them, they started firing again, but this did not last long, as the same voice was heard: – Fire, stop!
An officer was running was coming in front of me. I stared at him and attacked him. He jumped the canal and started running. To him an escaped prisoner, it looked very scary.
Meanwhile, the command car with some officers and policemen came in front of me. An officer put the machine gun in my chest and said: – Stop killing me! I scolded him that I really wanted him to kill me, that as a young man I was ashamed, to go back to camp.
They took us in front of the car and showing it to us, they said: – Look how you made the car. After that, we were put in a camp, beaten and tortured a lot. They tied us to the cross-shaped wire fence and started hitting us with bricks and wood. As violence was being used against us, across the street fence were passing some young girls, factory workers, indignant addressed to them saying: “What are you doing more criminals? You are killing them! ”
Then the commissar and orders to put us in the dungeon. They tied us, very tightly with bars. They brought the doctor there and the escort officer ordered him: – Check that he did not take any bullets that he does not feel anything.
After the doctor checked me, he found that I had a crack in the back of my head and said to the officer: – There is only a crack in the back of my head, apparently he took a bullet and there is bleeding, let’s treat it.
- “Let the dog die, get out,” the officer ordered.
Really, I started to feel something warm piercing my back. As I was standing, with my big toe, I started to collect that lime that builds up at the bottom of the wall on the floor. With difficulty I carried that lime in the middle of the dungeon and lay on my back, with all the great pain of my hands, I managed to rest my head on the small pile of lime, in order, to block the flow of blood. When I got up, I noticed that it worked.
We were then taken to command, on the second floor we were forced to sit on the cement cross-legged, while a group of policemen and officers surrounded us. Among them was the commander of the same camp. They were all armed with a pickaxe and started shooting at us and, at the same time, attacking us with questions: where would you go? – Who else knows about your escape to the camp?
Our answer was just this: To commit suicide. Because we had done it verbally from the beginning, before we left, and we stayed until the end, if we did not resist and accept fleeing abroad, they would sentence us to be shot. ‘Babushi’ was very impulsive, while cursing one of the officers who were beating us, and then I saw a boot that got up and shot ‘Babushi’ in the face. When the officer lowered his leg, his boot was covered in blood, while I was silent and thoughtfully said: -If a wall falls and not the man!
But what did I do? I lowered my head as much as possible and observed the boots in front of me, who would get up and what direction it would take. Meanwhile, a huge boot was raised that was running towards me. Seeing that he was in my direction, I directed my body and he could not hit me in the face, but in the chest. I fell on the cement and he put his foot on my face, and weighed on one foot: – thank you – I said to myself, – that he did not shoot me, that he would have cut my skull. He was a very big, tall and very healthy man, this was the commander of the ordinary camp.
Meanwhile, a civilian entered. He took everyone out, except the commander, and introduced himself to us: I am Rexhep Kolli, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, – and he continued, with the same questions, – where would you go and who knows about this plan of yours and, we, with the same answer: – Suicide!
Then he came out and entered the kennel of officers and policemen with spears in their hands, to continue torturing us. After half an hour, an officer came in and talked to them, and they stopped immediately. They did not hit us anymore. But in the meantime, a policeman was breaking my irons (handcuffs) with boots and saying to his friends: – Look how his face is doing. You cannot imagine it, but the iron bars tightened to zero, if you touch them a little, give them an unbearable pain.
Maybe I was blushing or turning yellow, as he was about to faint, while he was playing with the colors on my face. It was not long before a policeman, Captain Sabriu, said to him: – Leave Arif, do not harass him, – why? – he answered, with a question, why do you feel sorry that he is from the tat camp? – No more, because it hurts me, but, as long as the deputy minister gave the order not to touch them anymore, you have no right to touch him! There I realized that the wood would not go on anymore.
After leaving us in a dungeon for a month, they sent us to the Internal Affairs Branch of Kruja, where they removed our bars, and we did not have any pressure, only that they called us a couple of times to the investigator, and after two months, they took us out in court.
The trial took place in the camp, in the presence of ordinary prisoners, that the political prisoners had returned to Elbasan, to continue the construction of another factory.
The Kruja District Court, with decision no. 10, dated 31.1.1967, based on article 229/1 (escape from the place of serving the sentence), found me guilty and sentenced me to 3 years in prison. Combining the sentences, the court sentenced us to 12 years in prison each.
During this time, when we were kept tied up and naked in the camp dungeon, all the commanders of the camps and prisons of Albania came to visit us, among them came the commander of the Elbasan Camp, Hysen Kapllani. As soon as he saw me, he turned to the officer holding the dungeon keys and asked him: – Who did this? “Officers and policemen,” replied the dungeon officer. – But why didn’t you kill him? – The commander spoke again. “The bullet did not catch him,” said the officer. The commander went on to say: – How does a man become like this? Even his mother who made his head does not know this, as you did! Why did you have to do that? The state has laws, it is taken to the Prosecutor,. They send her to Court and she gives the sentence again.
After about four months, the commander of the Elbasan camp was given a lightning bolt, calling him: “liberal and gentle with the enemies of the people.” Then they stripped him and, I do not know how it ended. Apparently, his speech at a meeting in the camp yard, when all the prisoners were gathered, became the reason. In this case, after he laid out the work plan, he addressed the prisoners: Does anyone have any questions or requests, order and speak.
A prisoner stood up.
-I have been here for 10 days and they left me with a blanket, according to the regulations I have three. How will my grief be done? – He said.
-Where did you come from? – spoke the commander.
-From Belgium – replied the convict.
-Aha, – said the commander,
-You did not plan for you. How did we know you came from Belgium and kept blankets for you? But I promise that we will make a request and once we are supplied, you will be the first to be supplied.
The whole camp laughed at the commander’s jokes, because we were aware, that we were not there, that we had committed some crime, but we were planned by the State Security and the Communist Party. This man was a true patriot, a man of order and law that, as Greek philosophy says, “Better with a bad law than without law at all.”
7- In Department no. 303 Elbasan, years 1966-1967
Later, from there they took us to the Tirana prison, 313, they told him, we stayed there for a couple of weeks and then they escorted us to Elbasan, to our camp. Initially we were out of work, because the factory was nearing completion. The head of the Technical Office, who was later shot, was called Vangjel Lezho.
He had completed his studies in the Soviet Union for Journalism, together with Fadil Kokoman. The two, together with Xhelal Koprencka, wrote a letter to Lugat Enver and he ordered the three to be shot.
But after a few days, my friends told me to go to work, and I told Vangjeli to register me.
– What do you need, – he told me, – stay comfortable that you are fine? I was assigned to the iron-clad group. After a couple of days, while I was eating bread at work, because it was a rule, that we took a half hour break, and consumed what we had taken with us, meanwhile a couple of friends come and say to me: -Why are you taking a break here you? – Yes – I said – why what? It’s good here.
-Come on there on the terrace, all our friends are gathered there, – they told me. After they insisted, I was half-convinced that in fact, I was comfortable there and I had work close by. When I got on the terrace, I saw that some 30 or 40 people had gathered there. Meanwhile, one of them stands up and starts talking: – Now that Ylli Tabaku is here among us, whom we have elected Commander of Central Albania…!
I listened to this nonsense and took a look at the environment, even the group of people, where I found that among them, some five or six, were spies, while the one who spoke, was in fact a very good guy and with character. More is this on his own, or did he play from the mind?! All this that he said, in the evening will go to command, – I thought.
Meanwhile, they began to explain to me that a big revolt was being prepared in the camp. Gasoline bottles would attack all the troops of the siege guards, at the same time take up arms of the army, and provoke a general revolution. Memorie.al
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