By Nazmi Berisha (Dyzi)
Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Nazmi Berisha, originally from the village of Llap in the Municipality of Podujeva in Kosovo, who was seduced by the propaganda of the communist regime and the programs provided by Radio Tirana for “socialist prosperity” and escaping the rank-and-file methods of the Titoist regime, in 1960, he decided to flee and came to Albania, crossing the Buna River by swimming in the great cold of that harsh winter. The rare testimonies of Nazmi Berisha, how he was received in his homeland, where the soldiers and border officers of the Shkodra district, after tying him with wire, sent him to the Internal Affairs Branch, where for 24 hours they did not even give him bread for eaten, and then sent to the town of Shijak where was the “Filtering Center” of Kosovar emigrants. The whole adventure of the 20-year-old boy from Kosovo that the State Security accused of: being a UDB agent, who had sent on a secret mission, Cedo Topallovic, the president of the UDB for Kosovo, to meet with the Rear Admiral of the Fleet, Teme Sejko and the inhuman tortures inflicted on him in the Internal Affairs Branches of Lushnja, Kruja, Tirana, etc., where he was kept in solitary confinement and asked to become a collaborator of the State Security, bringing out as witnesses, his compatriots from Kosovo, and his refusal, which made him spend a full 20 years in the prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Nazmi Berisha has been living in Sweden for years and the articles published by Memorie.al have been selected from his book, ’20 years in Enver Hoxha’s prisons’ published by the Publishing House “UEGEN”, Berat, 1995.
Note to the editor and publisher
Evidence of civic courage, living testimony of a completely heartless human suffering, an archive that is valid for today and tomorrow.
Prison scenes run in front of you, honest and cannibalistic characters, ordinary people and you are left stunned by such a low action, so without dignity and profane of the communist administration.
20 years in Enver Hoxha’s communist prisons! The author never equates the dictator with Albania. The total disappointment of a guy who ran towards the star of his love, is not obscured. Everyone had almost the same fate. An unparalleled patience, an unwavering will of a diverse psychology full of dramatic colors, a monstrous fatigue.
Here is this book by Nazmi Berisha.
The characters are real.
Let each one prays to the God of truth.
Continues from the last number
In the New Prison of Tirana, for the third time
The bus walked slowly, noisily and always raised questions of suspicion. Hyseni and I rightly guessed that they had decided to liquidate us somewhere invisibly on the street. But nothing happened. It was more of a vetterrorr. However, in Lushnje, i.e., took the bus and two ordinary convicts, had raped a woman and they knew well where they were going, towards the New Prison in Tirana. Except for our thoughts that kept popping up all the way, nothing else to note.
In the New Prison of Tirana, (I for the third time there), we would stay three days. Ordinary control. Room – barracks with 100 political prisoners. It was really something transient, of course to move to another prison. I met Qamil Hajdini, the poet, and then I met Muharrem Shala. This was a symbol of terror. If you wanted to learn how terror was sown, grown and reaped, it is enough to get acquainted with this man, already old, desperate, more tired, but never hopeless.
During the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War, Muharrem and his brother, Kadriu, born in Peja and coming to Albania, had been an important base, also known by Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu, as patriots and partisans. Muharrem worked as a private tailor in Tirana, while Kadriu worked as a junior clerk. In the 1950s, the Party decided to liquidate the CIA bases in Albania. The State Security, for this purpose, worked with sick fantasies. Halim Xhelo (Koçiu) once explained everything to me and I did not go to the Security because he took out the “Resistance Group” on the mountain and they went to the houses that were against the Enver dictatorship and invited people to join them, it was promised that aid would soon come from the West. Someone joined, someone did not report them and so many remained in the site of the “Resistance Group”.
Muharrem and Kadriu were arrested as if they were members of the group, although they had never heard of him. They both were convicted and would suffer in the famous bug of Gjirokastra. There were also 40 Kosovars in that prison, among them Ajvaz Bajrami, from Dimoshi i Llapit, who was the second to survive. Others did not even know where the tomb was. The horrors of that prison have no telling. On one of the days of God, with the spirit at the tip of his nose, Kadri Shala rises to the barred window and issues the vikam:
“People, I am Kadri Shala with my brother, Muharrem. I am a prisoner in your Gjirokastra Castle. “Tell people about it.” This call was successful. People listened. They came from those who knew them. So the family came to visit. The two are then sent to Vlora Prison. The family certainly suffered for a living and they sold everything. One day the prison commander suddenly comes to them, as if to solve great dilemmas.
“Choose, one of you will be released. I have an order and I am communicating it to you. ” They both said with one voice, “You were condemned, and you would both suffer the punishment in vain.” Neither of them was guilty. “Then you, Muharram, work as a tailor in prison,” the director suggested. Why? To embarrass him: ace? Muharrem is horrified when he thinks it was a provocation. In prison they were all the same. Thus, in the presence of the prisoners, Muharrem slapped the commander. Surprisingly, the commander turned out to be a mature man.
“Listen, Muharrem Shala, for this humiliation you did to me, I have the opportunity to kill you on the spot and not burn at all, even to be rewarded. But I know you well, I know that you have given a lot to the War, I know that you are a patriot and brave, so to hell with my sedra. “Thanks for what you did to me.”
Muharrem, embarrassed by the surprise, agreed to work as a tailor. It was, indeed, an event to be noted, two men of character.
And here I find Muharrem again in Tirana Prison in 1980. Again 10 years in prison for agitation and propaganda. The desolate Kadri, had not gone long, had died. However, he had left a word. I am sorry that I am dying without seeing Enver and Mehmet dead. This was the call of the soul of kjushedi than the prisoners. Prior to his arrest in 1979, Muharrem worked as a tailor in Tirana. He waited like us to be sent to another prison.
Why did that man, that family fight, why?
Certainly not to fall victim to the savage communist terror. That brave old man, however, had hope. Hope that the relatives in Kosovo knew where he was, hope for another life, hope for freedom. After three days, we traveled by the same bus to Burrell. You could understand this with intuition, although so killed by the savage terror of a decile, of a story, of a life, by the terror of the air, of the word, still with the long hope that it was burning in the chest.
The last days
In Burrell Prison, the third and final time
And how did I know they were really the last few days? I had no faith and the State Security would be left empty-handed, no matter how much the West’s wind began to blow. We were isolated from life and could not see the catastrophe where the Albanian economy was plunged. After that victory in Ballsh, although like Pyrrhus, I could not think of anything but possible traps. However, I gave myself wings because I was not alone, I was with Hysen Bukoshi, and he had given proof of bravery and loyalty.
I often thought that in Albanian prisons those who suffered double the sentence were us Kosovars, innocent, desperate, disillusioned, suddenly caught in the most challenging circle in the world: patriotism.
We passed the control, the questions, we found the old acquaintances (Jovica Cervenko, Hashim Toplica, Selim Xhakaj, and Idriz Zeqiri), we asked about the youngest, we smelled the conditions, the changes and the high policy of the state was necessarily noticed there. Man everywhere, instinctively, understands the politics of the state, his condition, diseases, vortices, winds and even in a fist and is able to do the autopsy.
By the way, Fezliu i Çaberit of Mitrovica from Kosovo, sentenced to 10 years in the second prison, escaped illegally in the 60s. His masterpiece had been in Ballsh prison, it was a revolt that was not easily swallowed: he pressed the microphones that transmitted the voice of the reader of the works of Enver Hoxha. Was he not the one who put him in prison without guilt and now all hypocrisy pierced his ears with those written broccolis? Could I forward the will he left me to Kosovo to inform his family? No one could have imagined in those days what might happen the next day when the unexpected was the king of the day.
I was hoping to meet the writer Kapllan Resuli one day. I knew he was in Burrel, but at that time the discipline was severely strengthened by restricting even the “freedom” of the prisoners, each room was confined separately, the large room was confined and turned into a kitchen, inter-room communication was hampered excessively. Idriz Zeqiri had been linked to Kapllan Resuli, through a barber, who had “violated” him from the money that came to Kapllan from his brother in the West. I learned from Idiz that Kapllani was threatened with life in a dungeon and torture. Through the barber, Kapllani sent me some photos of his brothers and their children. Instruct me, as soon as I return, to do what I have to do, that is, my duties.
As soon as I got back! I was becoming obsessed, sick. It is not in vain that they say that man often falls into the lap of folly, just in the last days. In another room was Sytki Hoxha. His message was to return the bones to Kosovo. At least to be free as dead. He was extremely sad, but a very strong man morally. On the other side was Tefik Dednica from Leshkosic, Pristina district. He had come to Albania in 1957 and was sent to Çermë, then to Lushnje there and was employed. But one of his cousins, with whom he had fled to Albania, had fled Fier to Yugoslavia.
As a result, Tefik was imprisoned and accused of trying to escape with his cousin. Plus, he was stolen and raped. Certainly, false accusation. 21 years in prison. Relentless torture. Would I be able to go and tell him everything if I were free in his family? I do not know. I would also hear this story of my last days in Enver Hoxha’s prisons. One more shock. One more suffering, one unbearable pain.
In Çermë for the third and last time
My release was accompanied by a Russian police officer with a pistol. Burrel – Durrës – Lushnje. We entered the Lushnja Branch together. The policeman handed the officer a sealed envelope and said a few words. It seemed to me that the envelope was my shroud. And I was moving inside him. At the top of my tongue came sarcasm, but now we were used to burying ideas and beautiful things.
Towards evening I was taken by truck to Çermë, in the same room where I had been five years ago. So, I could not rejoice in my release from prison, for this was my new exile. According to the order, the next morning I showed up at the Lushnja Internal Affairs Branch. The officer waiting for me was Zalo Mejdani from Lushnja. As a rule, he gave me 200 new lek and ordered me to start work the next day.
– “No, I want to go to the Yugoslav embassy in Tirana. “I will seek my return to Yugoslavia, of which I am a citizen.”
In fact, I was told that I would not have any obstacles from the Yugoslav side. I showed the letter to the family, to the officer. Zalo Mejdani could not act on his own. He walked into several offices and told me to come back whenever I wanted.
A few days later I went to the Yugoslav embassy where they gave me a ten-day visa. I rejoiced immeasurably, but it did not last long. The new worry swirled around me like a hawk. Where would I go, river and stream. Whatever happened to me in Yugoslavia! I knew my father had done 1 year in prison for my cause.
As a rule, I went to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to legalize my visa, but they took it from me and did not return it. So, another concern. O God! What about the common man? “We know when to release.” That was a threatening response. So, I took the road to Çermë. Neither in heaven nor on earth! I waited 10 days of mourning, but nothing. I cut off the hopes of my black fate. I tried to find the strength within myself to do something, not to be idle, not to be caught up in a new process, which surely remained completely invisible to me.
My life, naturally and my visa, walked on the knife blade. Everything was in the hands of the cops and was conveyed through their thick and slightly cynical smile. My blind fate. Yes hope, was hope dying for me?
At the end of September, I was informed that I had to apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Albania to obtain a visa. I was approved to return to Yugoslavia. After anxiety, there are no more crumbs of joy. Thus, in the meantime another anxiety began:
Would the Yugoslavs approve the ten-day leave of the Ministry? Yes. They did not stop me. The unfortunate man, like a fly is crushed, without mercy, like a fly is treated even when he goes to the office. O God. The classic cry of misery, of pain: the call of a living stove. The joy returned to me instantly. And people tasted them not as they were, but as I loved them. And for me this joy, although paid dearly and like no other, was something human, which warmed my somewhat tortured, desperate and so badly wounded soul.
I returned to Çermë where I was told I would be allowed to leave on the last day. O God. What happens? All the black clocks for me, are rabid. I packed up and settled in a hotel in Lushnja to be close to the Interior Branch. How and how they wanted the deadline to pass me by. But already laughing accustomed to the infidelities of the State Security. I was denied a visa by the Branch, and although I could walk away, I still had to be careful. Albania’s prisons had forgiven me 20 years older and more mature.
On October 8, 1980, I was found in a random car traveling to Kukës. They bought me some clothes and sent me away. They cut my new suit. They gave me the visa and together with the driver, who was probably one of them, we went to Kukës at 12 o’clock at night. The driver told me that he had to hand me over to the Kukes Branch. That’s how it was done. The branch took me to the hotel. The next day I showed up at the Branch, always on order. I had to wait for a man who would pick me up and take me to the border. Every minute seems like months. An unbearable reception. The civilian officer and his “Volga” were not long in coming. He also took me to the border point without delay. I stayed in the Albanian post-block until 11 o’clock in the afternoon. Strict and meticulous control. An officer then escorted me to the border. Live procedure. Strong fever of insecurity and a new horror pierced my back.
The wonder of honor between my being and the space around me narrowed like tongs. The border, an invisible line, an unbreakable will of security. The limit of a joint loss. Border a scary deadly fever. Endless questions. I was already across. I had overcome Golgotha. And hope was alive. Memorie.al