By Ylli Tabaku
Memorie.al publishes the memories 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, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Collection Office and in 1947, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, in the trial of the “Group of Deputies” , 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, starting with his wife and almost all the sons and daughters of that family, who ended up in prisons and internment camps. Until the collapse of that regime, where 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 then lived in Germany, until 2021, when he suddenly passed away, without seeing his book published!
Memories to read
Ylli Tabaku is one of the political prisoners who left his memories. He was unlucky enough to see the book published because he passed away unexpectedly in Nussloch, Germany, on March 25, 2021. Although, positive is the fact that, Ylli did not leave without writing the worst period of his life, the three sentences that cost him 26 years, 8 months and 24 days, imprisonment. Add to this the fact that he was ill with diabetes; it becomes an even more bizarre case, which shows how cruel the communist dictatorship was, in the face of what he called “enemies of the people.”
Ylli was born on 24.8.1942, in Durrës. His father was convicted of the ‘Group of Deputies’. In 1951, his family came to Tirana and in 1956; he was interned in Savër (because his sister escaped). In addition to the father, he had two brothers, convicted of political issues. The star was convicted three times. He was once re-sentenced inside, while serving his first sentence, for attempting to escape. He served his first sentence, in the years 1960-1979, serving a full 18 years, 1 month, 17 days in prison. After his first release from prison, he resided in Baldushk. It was not necessary to leave him alone. He was convicted again and suffered in the years 1980-1989, doing 8 years, 7 months, and 7 days. He went to jail at the age of 18 and came out from there 47 years old. The regime took the most beautiful life, the youth. The star immigrated to Germany, with the exodus of July 2, 1990 and lived in this country, until he passed away.
Memoirs of former prisoner and political internee, Ylli Tabaku
“MY LIFE BEFORE INTERNATION AND PRISON”
“Live to show me”, just like Padër Zef Pllumbi, he said, I thought, to show the ordeal of my family’s sufferings.
I was born on August 24, 1942, from a family of merchants in Durrës. My father, Ramazan Tabaku, also had a brother, Hamid Tabaku, who was 15 years younger than him. My father, while attending high school, also helped my grandfather with the shop. He attended even after graduating from high school, while his uncle attended Harry Fultz’s Technical School and emerged as an excellent Mechanical Engineer. I say engineer, as he directed all the engineers graduating from schools in the countries of the Communist East.
In 1947, my father was arrested and convicted by the House of Representatives. This “group”, created by the State Security, as such, consisted of 24 people. It also included 6 deputies, which was “headed” by Shefqet Beja, who was also the son of my father’s uncle. He was a very intelligent man; he had completed his higher studies in France. The others were intellectuals too, only my father was in high school.
Their trial took place in one of the city’s cinemas with loudspeakers, for everyone to hear. When he was given the floor and stood up to speak, Shefqeti did not open his mouth at all, but only showed the wounds that had been inflicted on him, by the horrible and inhuman tortures that the infamous Security had used on him.
16 people were sentenced to death. Shefqet Beja, Riza Alizoti and Sulo Klosi were sentenced to be hanged. The father was sentenced to life imprisonment and confiscation of property.
One day, early in the morning, I had just turned 5 years old, I looked at myself on the floor and surrounded by some boots, – I said, I’m not dreaming, – but, a voice, which seemed to me to come out from a gorge of hell, brought me to myself.
He said: – There you have the place to be a reactionary puppy, in cement, the bed is ours, – he continued. They began to take what was in their hands; plates, spoons, cups and knives, mattresses, sheets and quilts, beds, shelves and dressers, so a raid up to even the underwear. They also opened a large sap, – as we called it, – from which they took out all kinds of underwear, men and women, and calculated to leave us with only one pair of underwear.
Like I mentioned, at this time I was small. Together with my brother, who was two years older than me, we went out on the balcony and watched the line of trucks being loaded at our warehouses. This lasted all day, until the warehouses were raided at all. At the main door of the house, a sheet of metal was stuck, which read: “State property”. In a word, they took everything we had.
In 1949, the Port of Durrës was to be built, currently; it is now a large dam, which surrounds the entire port, which we called “at the stones”.
They took all the children of the ‘reactionaries’ – as they called us at the time – from the age of 14 and up and sent us there as convicts. With this exhausting work, two of my sisters, Dhurata 14 years old and Nevrezja 17 years old, were also sentenced, while my older sister had graduated in Economics and worked in administration, so she had escaped this torture. Drita, the youngest of the sisters, was only 10 years old at the time, while the three of us boys were small.
Dear reader, will you say how it is possible for a reactionary girl to work in the administration, in that terrible class war situation that the party was developing?! At that time, most of them were illiterate and had no cadres. By the time I speak, with four elementary grades, you become a principal.
At first even the officers of the Army did not remove them, left them in their work, until they brought out their own cadres and then, all these officers and officers, threw them in prisons, on the most monstrous charges, with various sentences; most even by shooting. Later, it happened to our sister that she no longer worked in the administration, but as a construction worker.
These young people who worked “on the stones”, at lunch time gathered in groups to eat something small, which they had taken from home. Two sailors, young boys, often approached and had various conversations. One day they tell my sisters that they intended to escape and ask them if they wanted to go too. Of course for the age they were, in no way, could they leave the house and they responded negatively. A few days later, it was heard that a fisherman, with a group of sailors, had been caught in neutral waters, attempting to escape to Italy.
A week later my two sisters came and arrested me, who after torturing them in a more inhuman way, (which only they knew how to do), because they wanted to know, if there was anyone else, who had knowledge. Finally, for not denouncing. Nevrezen was sentenced to one year in prison, while with Dhurata, three months of investigation were enough, since he was only 14 years old. The others were convicted, both by firing squad and killed.
They would have fled that day, but a sailor, who betrayed them, put water in the engine and they got stuck in the middle of the sea. There, as by chance, border patrols passed and arrested them.
As I said at the beginning, I also had an uncle, Hamid Tabaku, who could not escape the class war. He was imprisoned and convicted on the grounds that he had remained indifferent during the war and had been neutral. After several years in prison, he was released because it was more convenient to use his engineering knowledge than to keep him in prison.
He was a very good engineer and participated in the creation of all hydropower plants and industrial works, which were built in Albania. He was so dedicated to his profession that one day, an Minister of Industry at the time said to him: – If you had not been in prison, you would have been declared a “Hero of Socialist Labor” three times!
When the sisters were arrested, the uncle took his family and went to Tirana, where he found shelter with his wife’s people. True we were separated physically, but never spiritually, though they were compelled to keep some distance, for reasons known, so we were connected. My uncle would secretly give me a package of “Partizan” packages every month and tell me: “Take it to my father, be careful that no one listens when you tell him that I sent it to him”.
He had three sons: Bashkim, Besnik and Ilir. Bashkim graduated from Mechanical School and worked as a bus driver, for a long time he also worked as a taxi driver. Union was a very kind and loving man to everyone. While Besnik was a very studious and intelligent boy, he was a student of excellence, managed to enroll and started university studies.
But. A terrible day for him, his dream was cut short, after he was called by the dean and said: “We are the power of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and we are waging a class war, you had a father in prison and you come from a family declassed, so you do not deserve to be educated in our schools, from this moment you have to leave here “.
While Illyrian, he finished an Industrial school and most of the time he worked as a welder, but he was a real master. All three were very kind boys and were respected by the whole neighborhood. That same year, in the ’50s, my mother was arrested. The State Security had noticed that we were seven children, the eldest was my 18 year old sister and the youngest, I was 8 years old.
Their question was: where did we find our income and how did we live?! Then they doubted that we should have gold, otherwise we would starve to death. Based on this fact, they took the mother and after torturing her for six months in the investigator, managed to get a piece of gold. Mom had hidden them in two different places.
In 1951, the government issued a law requiring all citizens to return to their countries of origin. Since we were originally from Tirana, we had to return to Tirana. We were regular in paying the rent in our house, however we were ordered to go to Tirana, because that is where we originated. With the few things we had left, one of our uncles sheltered us, clearing a room in the basement of his house.
My three older sisters and my mother worked in construction, while the other four of us were in school. Although we employed four people, the salaries were so small that they were not enough to feed nine people, plus we children needed to buy school supplies. So my dear mother, who I loved so much, has sacrificed so much, (she has taught me to speak, word for word, she has taught me to walk, holding my hand step by step even when she cried and kissed her dear, made me happy), to meet our needs, was forced to break some gold.
At one of these moments, she was spotted. He was certainly under surveillance, so he was arrested. At this time, I was in school. In the homework, the teacher gave me a good grade and I did not put the notebook in the bag, but I held it in my hands, to tell my mother that she was very happy when I was evaluated. When I entered the house, I saw that everyone was silent and almost did not speak at all, and then I asked: Where is moma? “He went to my aunt,” someone replied.
This time the tortures were even more inhuman! Moma had some gold-plated teeth. They plucked it all out with pliers and put it in an electric shock, spread it on the ground and pulled it by the hair around the cell, until the scalp caught two fingers of pus. They tortured him almost daily, as he told us.
The most horrible torture from which moma finally surrendered, was when they put a pair of dimits, (they call it çitjane from the South) and put a cat inside, and after they tied the knot well, that terrible investigator started beating her with a birch. Imagine what bites and bites my poor mom’s feet suffered. With that everything ended, mom surrendered and gave her, the little gold she had left. They were no matter what, they were little money, which each family keeps for daily use, as the gold of the shop, they had received in time, with the entire safe. Memorie.al
The next issue follows