By Gjergj Titani
Memorie.al / In the first three parts of this interview, published in previous issues, Assembly, the only daughter of Pandi Kristos, talked about her early youth full of contempt and insults from her friends and about the disgust of to the leaders of the Committee of the Union of the Labor Youth of Albania in the capital. The meetings with her father in prison and the deportation of her family from Tirana to Lushnja. The gloomy life of the family of the former close friend of Enver Hoxha and the hard work they did during the exile, in the Agricultural Farm of Çerma. The monstrous behavior of the powerful State Security and others. How Enver sent a letter to Nexhmije Hoxha, to continue his higher studies and the reactions after this letter, which added even more to the family’s misfortunes. And in the second part published in the previous issue, Mrs. Assembly Kristo Vullkani, with her interview, introduced us to the vicissitudes of the family, after the imprisonment of her father, Pandi Kristo, and the great help given by her uncle, (Pandi’s brother), Koço Kristo, who as a second parent took care of his brother’s family and together with them, often went to the Burrel prison to meet Pandi, also sending them bags of food, which he carried on his back, since no car would accept to take them they, as they knew they were going to Burrell prison. Likewise, in the second part of the interview with Mrs. Assembly Kristo, she also told us about the many vicissitudes of her family during the time when they were internment in the Çerma sector, as well as the Lushnjar doctors who were very humane with her mother, treating her themselves, or sending her with ambulance for treatment in Tirana, etc.
Continues from last issue
Ms. Assembly, in August of 1968, the intervention of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia took place, so the revolt called “Prague Spring” took place, did your father, Pandi Kristo, have any illusions about the intervention of the Soviets in Albania?
I’m telling you from the beginning. My father had no illusions about something of this nature, while I and my peers, why hide it, listening to words up and down, had full of illusions, why not even hope. Father was not an adventurous man. Pandi Kristo, was a man who had passed through the prisons of two prisons, of different regimes, of King Zog and the brutal dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. I remember, from his analysis, he had come to the conclusion that; The artificial ups and downs of political and military tensions were Enver’s well-known games and tricks. He even said: “…Albania has not been threatened by anyone with invasion, nor is it being threatened”. “But why”? I told him. And he answered me: “…because for this there are conventions, there are strong international laws, which do not allow anyone to make such jokes, which have a considerable cost. Enveri knows this fact very well”.
In the summer of 1968, my father’s brother-in-law, Pandi Kristo’s sister’s husband, fell seriously ill. Both with my father, we urgently left for Tirana. At this time, as a result of the harsh Czechoslovak-Soviet contradictions, where democratic winds had been blowing for a long time, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Aleksandr Dubçek, was summoned (I am using the word “summoned” and not invited, because my father used to say), in a “diplomatic friendly”, outwardly very peaceful meeting, at the “Čjornaya nad Tisoj” (Black on the Tisa) railway station, by the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, which, in fact, was not a friendly meeting, but a devilish meeting. After this high-level meeting, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Russian armored and paratrooper troops, and the consequences are known.
Did you notice feelings of worry or euphoria in your father?
I had not even noticed a change in his way of living. Those days, we noticed the increase of military units on the coast, the approach of tanks and artillery, which came from the road of Lushnja. The reservists were called to military mobilization, and others. These signs gave hope to us young people, but not to Pandit! He said that: “… I know Enver well. He is an adventurer, he wants military intervention, but who cares…! No one has military interests in the invasion of Albania…”!
What about Czechoslovakia, why did the Soviet troops occupy it, what did Pandi say about this?
According to the comments made by my father then, who followed international developments, there were several reasons why this invasion took place. First, Czechoslovakia’s work with our country is very different, since it is a country that entered the zone of Russian occupation. There, as in East (Democratic) Germany, Hungary, etc., Russian troops were located, commanded by Marshal Jakubovski, there were greater continental interests. Therefore, according to the father, the Soviet Union did not want to open another tense front in Albania.
“What about all these troops that are coming from Lushnja, father, they are not in vain, what do you say”? “Of course, they are not in vain. But I said it once again, Enver Hoxha, I know that no one threatens him. He knows that he is outside the realm of big interests. But, in this case, he checks the internal situation once again, artificially raises the tension, measures the pulse of the Internal Affairs bodies, makes some arrests, etc. That’s what I say and I think I’m right.”
Those days when you and your father went to Tirana to visit your aunt’s husband, did you notice any new symptoms of persecution?
First, I say that my father had long since left the high sphere, but still the State Security was present everywhere and any movement around us was clearly noticed. In Tirana, the general situation was extremely tense. Pandi was followed step by step by State Security agents in those days. The question arises, how did we find out that Pandi was being followed from behind in a “GAZ” type car, one of the Soviet ones? Here’s how we learned this fact. Below the first-floor window of the house of the well-known pharmacist, Jelal Rusi, who had studied in France and spoke the French language with a special aristocratic elegance, were the agents of the State Security and their “GAZ”.
Exactly on this floor, above these windows of Jhelal, Pandi’s brother-in-law lived, who was living the last days of his life. But who was Jelal Rusi? He was the most charming francophone pharmacist in Tirana, who when he drank (because he drank a lot), became even cuter, even more charming. The Rusi family was an entire anti-fascist family, connected to the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War. Xelal, although he knew Enver Hoxha personally and sometimes went to visit him, was deeply dissatisfied with Enver Hoxha’s communist regime, so he spoke ironically against him. Skender Rusi, highly educated agronomist, graduated abroad, early partisan and anti-fascist. Munever Rusi, partisan of Korça District, wife of Irakli Vakëflliu, also partisan and veteran of Korça District, were Xelal’s brother and sister.
The hokatar pharmacist and his son had faced a fierce family battle with the State Security people, of course on orders from above. Asllan Rusi was the most talented volleyball athlete in Albania. Whose name bears the hand games palace in Tirana today, who was adored by the entire capital. Xhelali, it seems to me, was married to the granddaughter of the great Albanian national poet, Naim Frashëri. In these circumstances, Jelal Rusi, psychologically tortured by the fact that an enigmatic car, which was clearly identified as one of the State Security cars, had been standing under the windows of his house for several days, went to the car in question and addresses the agents: “Why don’t you come and arrest me, because you broke my hand, you have been torturing me for three days in a row”!?
The State Security officers, dressed in civilian clothes, were surprised by the words of the well-known pharmacist and told him: “…Dr. Xelali friend, please don’t worry, we are not here for you, but for Pandi Kriston, whose brother-in-law lives here above you.” The next day, early in the morning, the most charming pharmacist in Tirana could not bear it, but went straight to Pandi Kristo’s sister, Vangjelia, his neighbor, who worked at the only optical shop in the center of Tirana and he says the same words that the State Security officers told him.
Did Dr. Xelali say anything else to your father’s sister?
Xelal Rusi was the most atypical and strange man that Tirana had and he could not help saying these words to Vangjelia: “Listen Vangje! These, being the cowards that they are, it seems to me that they have filled their panties well this time. The radios say that in the Czech Republic, havoc is being made. A boy, called Jan Palash, a student they say, set himself on fire in “Vaclav” square in the center of Prague. The Czech people welcomed the Russian soldiers with demonstrations. Foreign TV stations say that the Russian soldiers were surprised to see that the Czechs greeted them with indignation. I mean, Vangje, they were lying…! That’s how things are…!
They even say that some students, who came from Europe, have seen some military maps on private televisions, where the other country marked to be invaded by the Russians is Albania. “Vangje, cafes are full of people and they open their ears to catch some cironka, because the big fish have been swallowed by the wolf in time”! Tirana was really boiling, the university too. Everyone says, let’s see what will happen. And the most expected event to happen was the exit of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania from the “Warsaw Treaty” community with much fanfare. But my father and I had the problem of my aunt’s husband, who died after a few days. Thus, even in cases of death, the State Insurance was not shared with us.
Why do you speak with unrestrained slander about the figure of Nexhmije Hoxha, who, years ago, spoke so wildly about the children of political convicts of communist origin, that is, about the children of political convicts within the species, but also about the children of other classes from the political opponents of Enverist monism?
Of course. My legal husband has expressed himself for this reason as well. The moral and illegal attitude of Nexhmije Hoxha still seems inhuman and monstrous to me. She does not have the civic courage even today, after so many years, to apologize to the persecuted families of former LANÇ fighters, who were shot by the brutal and falsified trials of the Enverist dictatorship, which is not the responsibility of small, says the speaker of the above statements, or the instigator of a “sui generis” genocide, ‘Alla Nexhmije Hoxha’, inspired by her husband “beloved and immortal leader Enver Hoxha”. I want to tell you that my grief or anger and that of my generation, is minimal or nothing, compared to the disasters she caused to her, her husband and his henchmen, my friends and hundreds of cadres of NPSH- of, the army, the ministries, the Democratic Front of Albania, the Union of Albanian Labor Youth, Professional Unions, non-party intellectuals, the University and High Schools, etc.
How can I not remind Nexhmije Hoxha, the small children of her former War comrades? Of the generals, ministers, members of the Politburo or the Central Committee of the KPSH and ALP who were maimed, shot in the back without trial, or imprisoned, exiled to prison camps or interned without time limits, even exiled for half a century, in the recesses of Albania!? No, cure cure! Me and my generation, the generation that lost, not only parents, but also often lost life, youth, education, joy, toys, parental love and caresses, love and joys of life, sincere smile, free civil and social communication, etc.. How can we forget the macabre deaths of our friends, in camps, prisons, mines, in swamps, in investigations, etc.?!
Would they forgive me today, if I did not mention the children of General Dali Ndreu, Colonel Islam Radovicka, General Hulusi Spahiu, the beautiful self-sacrificing daughter of Biserka and General Zoi Themeli, the wonderful daughter of the member of the Political Bureau, Liri Belishova and the Minister of Agriculture, Maqo Çomo, who died in the Oncology Hospital of Tirana, without letting his mother near him to give him a glass of water, because his father was imprisoned in Burrel prison. And the six children of Koçi Xoxes, Bedri Spahi, Tuk Jakovo, the three “Heroes of the People”, of the talented general Vaskë Gjino, the sons of general Muhamet Prodani “Hero of the People”. The children of the Minister of Trade, Kiço Ngjela, of the wonderful general Abaz Fejzo, of the “Hero of the People”, of general Sadik Bekteshi, one of the founders of the NPSH, of general Arif Hasko, of the member of the Central Committee of the APSH, General Halim Ramohito, the children of the brave colonel and historian, Dilaver Radëshi.
The wonderful daughters of the “People’s Hero”, the talented general, former chief of the General Staff of the Army, Petri Dume. The children of the “Hero of the People”, the passionate general, Hito Çako, of the wise general, “Hero of the People”, member of the Central Committee of the ALP, Rrahman Parllaku, of the Minister of Defense, member of the Political Bureau, colonel-general, Beqir Balluku, of the Minister of Industry and Mining, member of the Political Bureau, Koço Theodhosi, of the member of the Political Bureau and chairman of the State Plan Commission, Abdyl Këllezi, the director of the Deep Oil Refinery Plant, Andrea Manço. The unborn children of the engineers of the General Directorate of Oil and Gas, the “Hero of Socialist Work” Lipe Nashi, Beqir Aliaj, Koço Plaku, Petraq Xhaxhka, Spiro Konomi, Enriko Veizi, Dhimitër Stefa, etc. The unborn children of General Gjin Marku and the wonderful cadre and friend of my father, Xhavid Qesja, of the communist veteran Koço Tashko, Major-General Panajot Plaku, chairman of the State Geology-Mining Commission, members of the Central Committee of the ALP: Todi Lubonja, Fadil Paçrami, Manol Konomi, Teodor Heba, etc.
Children of Kadri Hazbiu, Minister of Internal Affairs and member of the Political Bureau, whose son blew himself up with dynamite. Feçor Shehut, Elhami Hado, the good daughters of the commander of the Albanian Aviation and deputy of the People’s Assembly, Colonel Edip Ohrit, the good and talented sons of the Prime Minister of Albania, Mehmet Shehu, the children of Mehmet Shehu’s head bodyguard, the wise man Gani Kodra, Iliaz Ahmeti, Peço Kagjin, Colonel Pandeli Varezi, Dhimitër Kotefa, General Halim Xhelo, economist Fehmi Frashëri, General Mihallaq Ziçishti, Minister of Health, Llambi Ziçishti, talented engineer Miço Veshi, experienced doctor, Miço Konomi, and many others. I am convinced that, because a lot of time has passed, I must have forgotten many of my friends, to whom I apologize in advance. This list would be endless if it were to be an exhaustive list. Here, this is the reason why I speak with anger about the “former first lady of the country”, the worthy successor of her dictator husband.
Were there State Security agents who supervised you or cadres, to whom you appeared, with good behavior and character?
Yes, of course there was. For example, the new head of the sector Petraq Tashi, who was the nephew of Themije Thomai, and who was diametrically opposed to the nephew of Lenka Çuko. Petraqi was the first person to raise his voice, that all the employees of the field brigades should be paid equally. This fell like a bomb on the unpunished workers of other brigades, who were used to being paid more for our work, which until then they did not pay us. Why? Because there was the principle that; political exiles should not be paid more than free workers. On this occasion, the Security Operative, Bujar Peza, became a beast, but the grandson of the Minister of Agriculture, did not even crack his head at all. When Operative Bujar Peza saw that he could not break the responsibility of the sector immediately, he put into action the provocative tricks of the State Security “war” arsenal.
And here’s what happened! In our sector, they had brought a girl named S.V. These types of girls always remained ready contingents of the police and the State Security, at least this was the opinion of the officers and employees of the Security. Under these conditions, the operative instructs S.V. to approach the head of the sector, to provoke him as a man and enter into an intimate relationship, since Petraqi was young and a handsome boy. But Bujar Peza was left with a saw in the nail, because S.V., not only refused to fall into the trap of the State Security Operative, but also reported it to the head of the sector. On this occasion, Petraqi, the head of our sector, severely punished the Operative, without being late at all, by firing his fiancee.
Why are you highlighting this fact in these memories?
Because among those who persecuted us as slaves, there were also good people, even people with big hearts, who felt sorry for our suffering and that of our parents. So, contrary to the character of the grandson of Lenka Čukos, who, as I pointed out, was a doctor with a police spirit, the grandson of the Minister of Agriculture, was not only an honest and principled man, but also a fair man, who did not the right to workers, even if they are interned. After that, we were paid more, as after the work we did. Memorie.al
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