Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of a group of intellectuals from various fields and professions who had studied in Poland in the late 1950s returned to their homeland and were assigned high positions in some sectors of the economy. Albanian. How they were arrested by the State Security in early February 1973 after being surveyed, prosecuted and tapped for years since returning from their studies, accused of being the “Polish Agent Group” that consisted of the 10 former Albanian students coming from families very closely related to the communist power of that time. After one of the most prominent members of the group who was Director of the Ali Kelmendi Food Factory in Tirana, had a martyr father, a brother to the “Hero of the People”, and a brother-in-law in the Presiding Judge, he lost his life in extremely mysterious circumstances while serving his sentence at Ballsh Prison. … ?!
At the beginning of February 1973, throughout the city of Tirana, news emerged that a “large, very dangerous hostile group” had been detained and long monitored by the State Security and had participated in their arrest. the highest directors of the Tirana Department of Internal Affairs. What impressed the group at that time was the fact that: the 12 detainees were not from the families considered to be “reactionary” and the sucker of “overthrown classes”, as was often the case, but quite the opposite ?! After all, they came from power-bound families who had studied abroad and held leadership positions and responsibilities responsibly according to the branches where they had graduated. For example. the Alibali family in Tirana and Durres, with four military brothers, the Nurja family in Shkodra with 9 brothers, 7 of whom were party members and two military, etc., all the way to Vedat Buzi, who had a martyr father, the brother of the People’s Hero and brother-in-law, Kristaq Ngjela, President of the Tropoja Court! But who were the other members of this group, what activity did they have, what were the charges against them and how much were they punished? In connection with this and others, we have interviewed some of the members of this “group” who, with their testimonies, shed light on almost all the backgrounds played at their expense at that time and the true reason for their arrest and their condemnation, which we publish in some articles exclusively for memie.al, beginning with Mr. Ylli Alibali, one of the leading members of the so-called “Polish Agents Group”
Mr. Alibali, at what time did you study in Poland and how did your schooling abroad become possible?
It was 1956 and you could say that I was “lottery” because they were very high school graduates all over Albania. To be honest, it was not only the “lottery”, but also the desire of those who ruled and governed us at the time. I was told to go to Poland, my name was called, but Poland was not a place heard of by Albanians, as we were greedy for the glorious Soviet Union, and I did not feel well after going to Russia rather than Poland. .
But you did not refuse the right to study and went to Poland…
Nor was it a question, because these were just conjectures. When we left, we sailed from Durres to the Black Sea, to Constance, and then by train all these students were dispersed to the designated states. When we went to Poland, we found a noble, suffering people there, still more than half of Warsaw destroyed and people living in ruins. Yes, they are a working people and they succeeded, today Warsaw is one of the beautiful cities of Europe.
How many students were you total when you went and under what conditions were you accommodated?
We went to some 40 students and found some 20 people there, ie. We could have 60 people in different faculties. We lived in student homes and the conditions were relatively good compared to ours. But the reception was warm too. It is a very hospitable people and as it were, eating with the hospitality of Albanians.
Were you given any orders there before you left?
Even though we were chosen because we all came from War families and traditions, and understood things because we were grown-up boys after adversity, we were given many messages, telling us: be careful not to provoke, do not, d.m.th. some things that we did not encounter there as they were very friendly people and willing to help with anything.
All that group of students, did you know each other?
We did not know each other before, as we came from different schools and different cities but the Albanian became friendly immediately after we were all on the same level.
What was your first impression of the Polish people when you went there?
The first impression we created was that they were an anti-conformist people. Because Poland is by nature a very demanding people, when you like a thing, it doesn’t praise you. Because they had those plans for the Agricultural Cooperatives, because they were close to the “Great Mother”, the Soviet Union, but didn’t like collectivization, so there were reactions. But the farms were very organized and better, as they had agricultural mechanics and so on.
What was the political situation when you went to Poland?
When we went, it became the 8th Plenum, and Gomulka from a man in jail became the first secretary of the Polish Communist Party. For us, the Polish Communist Party was a Democratic Party, as it had open affairs with the people in all its affairs. We had a meeting at our embassy in Warsaw once a week, and we even heard and discussed any talk and opinion. But we knew more about the Albania-Poland divergences than those of the embassy.
Why did you know more… ?!
Because we read the newspapers and knew where their friction was. Moreover, we found out that Kazhimierzh Mijal had arrived in Albania, but the reasons for his arrival in Albania we students did not ask the Polish authorities.
Were you afraid?
Not that we were afraid, but because they didn’t even care about the job at all. In my opinion, convinced of these things, the Polish Intelligence Service in Albania has not been active. Our regime was primitive and the Polish regime wanted to fix the primitive heads of our leaders, but no, they could not be regulated.
Back to the Albanian students in Poland, what kind of relationships did you have there with each other, so were you in harmony and who did you personally associate with most?
We’ve gone extremely well with each other, about 60 people while we were there. I had many friends with Vedat Buzi that he was in a school with us, he was in Agricultural school, but he also had Food Engineering and Vedat was a technologist there for wines and drinks, but we met often because we Albanians longed for man. And they were very good guys in general. I have known Vedat as a man who has rare friends very clean and sincere. He was not ambitious and blushed when we were opposed to any idea of his own. Then we were very impressed with the environment that was, to put it, Poland has a very high level of citizenship. There you speak of “You sir”.
While you were in Poland with Vedat, did you have any doubts that they were following and surveilling you?
I and the Vedas at that time had no doubt they were watching us, at all. But I have now also received those Security Documents from the Files Authority and it turns out that they have been surveillance and thundering from behind wherever we went. But again, we have gone very well and there have been no contradictions with any other Albanians. We were boys who also represented the nation with dignity.
But when you returned to Albania, what was the situation like?
When we returned to Albania, the requirements were high for people with qualifications as we had not only culture but also strong practices. So we buy profession, everyone went to their own place. We had a lot of engineers for agricultural mechanics, for railroads, for construction, while I was for Veterinary.
Where were you named when you returned to Albania?
When I returned to Albania, I was assigned to the Kruja district, and worked there for almost 10 years. We used to sleep in families sometimes because when they needed they would call us often and the veterinarian is very fond of the villager. The private economy was good at the time, but when the collectivizations took place, the situation worsened. I then worked at Thumana’s farm
But when you came back here did you keep up with Poland’s former student friends?
Here, too, we often met with each other, as we had been taught there in Poland where once a week, once every two weeks, we met at the Albanian embassy there. And here, when we came back, we often met. And we used to talk and discuss ordinary things. But these discussions turned out to be extraordinary.
Because everyone works with science, but also the State Security, more precisely the Internal Directorate, so she worked with science, who speaks and who doesn’t speak. But we were free people. But we had no claims to power, as we had claims to ourselves, as only my family had 3 effective officers: Xhevati, Agimi, and Besniku.
So even after you returned to Albania, you continued to maintain that society and even discussed the difference between the two countries …?
But of course, that was the main topic of our conversation and we talked to each other without any hesitation, as the friend remains a friend. We came here and met and drank some beer and coffee to the best of our ability. My luck was there in Poland, where we saw a lot and practiced in food combos and had an experience…
But when you came here, what reality did you face professionally?
This is where the Meat Combine started, it was a very modern combine and the project was Austrian if I am not mistaken. Also, the combine didn’t go away, the sausage went white and was not bought. But those in leadership and government said: how to do it now, as foreign specialists left and the people needed the sausage, since it was not bought and the scarf came out ?! Then who among the engineers was out in the combine, it was said. And when we first came in, we did practice at the food lab, but we noticed things weren’t going well professionally and we started making a lot of remarks. But a few times the director came to us and told us not to take too much notice.
So you seem to have given your mouth a lot …?
Of course, this was a reality and so the director warned us. We seemed to be in the “circle” there, but we were in the “circle” in some way, since coming from Poland seemed to look at us differently from those we had studied elsewhere.
Why was this happening?
What if Poland was a place not much desired by the communist regime in Tirana, as there was much change there, Gomulka came and that old generation of Stalinists fled and some reforms were made regarding democracy. But these other places were quieter. So Poland had a bad reputation, after Gomulka had come out to oppose Khrushchev and it was these clashes between the parties. Now, since our leadership had some contradictions and had been slightly disrupted, as we could understand by the Polish leadership, we were treated worse than our peers in other democracies.
But when did you come back here …?
When we came back here we were watching, I speak of State Security as if we had gone there to get them their power to overthrow the popular power here. In fact we were dealing with science, as these were our jobs, but those of the Tirana Department of Internal Affairs had made their relations unfavorable to us. They were following us, but we did not understand as they were all our people, I was with three officers at home, Vedat Buzi was the brother of the “People’s Hero” Haqqmet Buzi who was killed, and for the martyrs day and the first visit, Vedat’s mother went there, as his father was a Martyr of the Fatherland.
Didn’t you understand that you were being followed and monitored by State Security?
Absolutely nothing. I slept quietly and went to services without any problems. I didn’t feel that I would be arrested at all, and the chases were a story in itself.
How do you remember the day of the arrest?
On February 1, 1973, they come and tell me: in the name of the people you are arrested! I come to the office, because that job is like that of a doctor, who when she gets into the ambulance she wears the white apron to get to know the others. And so this job, the Security guards come to where I worked and enter with authority. The bars were on us as if we had done something great.
Who was one of these Security Officers who arrested you?
It was the Director of the Tirana Directorate, Kadri Gojashi. I didn’t even know I had any business with them, but I saw the arrest warrant letter with his name that had signed my arrest.
And where did they lead you …?
9 months in cement with two thin blankets making us the investigator.
What were you asked there by the investigator?
In the investigator, the question was: “Talk about your hostile activity”! But where was our hostile activity, when we were fighting from morning to evening over plans that had a professional duty and a state duty? Now all our affairs were multiplied by zero because according to the accusations being made against us, we had carried out the hostile activity by working to overthrow the popular power. That was the “formula” that was communicated to us.
How many of your group were you arrested?
We were arrested, 10 people. Vedat Buzi, Director of the Ali Kelmendi Food Combine, who had great success, was arrested with me. Then there was Sofokli Lulo, land engineer, Spiro Nikolla from Vlora, chief engineer of Tirana Trade Park, Burhan, and Shuaip Nurja, two brothers from Shkodra, Faik Gojani. We were 12 people in the group.
How were they treated during the investigation, was physical violence used against you?
The treatment at the investigator was not bad, as they saw that we were not the ones to be tortured, but it was inhumane treatment at the dungeons. Being arrested in February and sleeping on two blankets in cement, for a man who had lived well all his life, was no small feat! The investigators also found out how valuable it was for our skin to be there, as both the chief and the others were themselves under pressure from someone else. Indeed, they sometimes found it difficult to ask questions, since we were all in the Party. Vedat Buzi was the brother of People’s Hero, Hyqmet Buzi, and it was not normal to ask questions about hostile activity against popular power ?!
When was the trial against you?
The trial took place 10 months after we had left the room to take us to the investigator. Going to the investigator was a great joy, as we would sit like people in chairs. The trial was a military trial and 5 of those members of the trial were collaborators with my brother Xhevat, they were in a Directorate, the Political one. They were ashamed to see his friend in the eye, as they knew who he was. Now though it should have been given credit to this “Group of Poles” who studied there. Poland and so, besides Xhevat, introduced another pilot, the brother of a very good friend of ours in Shkodra, the Nurja family.
Who was more condemned by your group?
The most important Spiro Nikolla took 24 years. Sofokli Lulo with 15 years, Vedat Buzi with 15 years, I with brother, Xhevat with 10 years and so is Adem Nurja with Faik Gojani with 10 years. The charge was; “Agitation and propaganda against popular power” when we ourselves were of popular power ?! How could the director of the Food Factory speak out against himself ?! How could I speak out against my work when I had an enormous success ?!
Was the trial public or closed?
The trial became a closed and airtight door so that no one would hear no one hear.
But who was the witness?
Witnesses did not come out, because they had nothing to say. We were supposed to be on trial for 3 days, but for half an hour we stayed and talked to each other. They were ashamed to see us.
While you were arrested and convicted, what happened to your family?
After my conviction, my family was treated badly, after my wife was at the Design Institute and after I fell into prison, she was transferred to the Construction Company in Tirana as a simple implementer. The War pension of the elders was stripped.
Where were you sent to serve the sentence?
My brother, who was an officer, Xhevat, was taken to Spaç, and me to Vedat Buzi and some other friends to Ballsh. We worked hard there, what else could we do ?! That is where the Vedas died!
How do you remember his death?
I remember it very well as it happened now since we were close friends and in Ballsh prison. We were watching a movie because once a week we were given a movie to watch when we broke up with the Vedas saying good night to one another. When in the morning, we are told that; Vedat died. How did I say I died ?! At night, I was told, there was intestinal confusion, but I do not know the exact diagnosis that was given to him. They took him and took him to the hospital, but it looks like the road is dead… ?!
But how was his sentence and death commented at the time that he was the brother of the “People’s Hero”?
At that time it was said as under the ear that; Hysni Kapo did not absolutely agree that Vedat be punished, as Hysniu had patronized his family, as Vedat’s brother was a People’s Hero. But here it happened, as there were others on Hysni Kapon… Memorie.al