By Petraq Xhaçka
Memorie.al / The purpose of this book is to join the efforts made to present the truths and horrors of the communist dictatorship in Albania. The main purpose of the book is not to show our people or anyone else, that we oilmen have been innocent, because this has become known from publications in our press, from foreign televisions, as well as from direct meetings with the International Forum and the Albanian Human Rights. The author’s desire, is that through this story, together with other stories, fight any manifestation in any form, even moderate, that he may have to create a communist society. I think that even through this bitter personal history, the cruel, treacherous and overbearing face of Enverism will appear, that for half a century, held the knife with the tip in the chest of the Albanian people, with a pine eye, intercepting the movements for salvation from the outside, or rebellion of the people themselves, ready to push the knife to the heart, at the first movement. The events are set in the economic fields where it has appeared most strongly, such as the oil and gas industry, where I was fortunate to pour my energies, for a lifetime, and become a participant and witness in those events. All the events that are written in this memoir are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I was able to present the terrifying force of the events that took place in that decadent system of socialism, where no there was no human feeling.
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My interventions in the fight against the extremism of things were useful for the subsequent work of the specialists, but unfortunately, it put me in contradictions with the predicate, who was unfairly making these misinterpretations. After that, he did not fight against me at every step of my work at the Institute, although in the above case I rather defended my friend than attacked him. Those days and weeks, the Institute buzzed like the Winter Palace of St. Petersburg, in the October Revolution, but instead of rifles, the battle was fought with the files of specialists who worked for years in this scientific institution.
In the technical-scientific direction we were given the order to review all the design studies done, all the wells designed for drilling and those that were drilling, in the prism that; to come up with relevant proposals, how to deal with them. Being detached from the meetings and discussions held by the employees of the Institute, to analyze; “hostile activity” and the biographies of some employees, I created working groups with geologists and geophysicists from the Institute and from enterprises, for each sector, in order to analyze with scientific seriousness and high work responsibility, all the technical recommendations, in order to it was concluded that they were right and based on factual and interpretive scientific material or not.
We did not start from the fact of who the author was, but judged everything right critically. For this, we worked with a very great tension and mobilization, never seen before by all those who were active in these technical groups and after a period of two or three months of work, we presented the conclusions with our recommendations for each well drilled and designed, and for any other study. Of course, we now looked at them with a higher demand for the quality of the complex materials that were included in these studies and as a result we came to the conclusion that, from the wells to the drilling, some changes should be made in their design depths, which as a whole, did not pose serious difficulties to be realized.
The most important was that in some wells, further drilling had to be stopped, as their deepening was unnecessary. Likewise, we came to the logic that in the designs of new wells, some of them needed complementary works with materials of the best seismic quality, with field geological surveys and interpretations of geological-geophysical material or the level of paleontological laboratory determinations. We asked to carry out additional geological-geophysical works and then to review the necessity of their drilling.
All these conclusions were discussed in cabinets, sectors and especially in the Scientific Council of the Institute, which at that time was completely reorganized, because this was the most competent body in the technical field for the approval of materials that designed wells, or thematic-study studies. In a short time, a large and useful work was done. Life later showed that these recommendations were technically correct, and as a result brought savings to the economy and the budget of the oil sector. This was an additional satisfaction for me. But unfortunately, the leadership of the dictatorship forgot it very quickly.
It should be emphasized that in all that work, there was never a case where a factual data was distorted in the material. Under this extraordinary tension, we drew up a new work program and returned to some geological structures that were not included in the work plans of the Institute. We even entered an area, which until then had been assessed as having no prospects, because the wells previously drilled in that structure had come out negative and had dimmed its prospects. But with a scientific deepening, with a more correct geological conception, we found it necessary to continue research in those regions, since their perspective remained.
Such was the region of Cakran, where no new study or design was foreseen, for the possibility of finding limestones covered by the superimposition of flish layers. For this, we, as the director, gave primary importance to the restoration of the seismic and surface geological works. After a short period of quite difficult work in the field for seismic works, it was possible to carry out the generalization by a study group, greatly assisted by our directorate.
We organized consultations for the exchange of opinions in the interpretation, especially in the tectonic aspect and overcoming a series of difficulties that a part of the geologists went through themselves, related to the quality of the preparation of the structures, now, after the punishment that had been done to some previous works. In conclusion, we managed to combat the mistrust that individual geologists had towards some studies of their previous colleagues. Further research was deemed necessary, except in other more optimal positions and with a greater project depth, about 4000 meters.
No matter how much someone tries to deny my great contribution in the choice of this structure, in the interpretation of its tectonic style and in general in this geological interpretation, it would be in vain, because they are argued in documents and with living witnesses. This control analysis that was done to all the studies was fruitful, since they were re-examined with a more critical eye, with a greater seriousness, with a wider debate. We were not pushed by any pressure to drill as many wells as possible or to have high drilling mileage for that year and the next year.
It must be said that due to the high numbers that were planned by the party leadership, in geologists, most of the time, we were forced to face a very big, difficult and difficult dilemma, to find the best solution.
This was due to the fact that the capacity and level of the seismic devices could not cover a large volume, which would correspond to the figures of the footage that were planned. Consequently, in regions with rugged terrain, their volume was small, which itself affected the quality of the design. And geologists were not to blame for this.
We were between two fires and tried to find the best solution. Specifically, we geological specialists could not forcefully oppose the inflated planning, because we always risked being taken for opposition to the party’s teachings and duties. So the geological workers in the hilly and mountainous areas designed the geological material with priority. It was a reasonable solution under those conditions, as it created the possibility to clarify regions with such difficult terrain in a shorter time.
If we were to wait for the completion of more seismic works, with the technical level we had, it would take many, many years. The government did not listen to our voices, the specialists, that we had been talking about, for the necessary strengthening of seismic, especially with eyes from the western countries. They even corrected our requests with ideological nicknames, and they also demanded a high length of research! Then they encouraged us to show courage! They required geologists to; the meat should be cooked and the skewer should not burn, as a popular proverb says.
So, in many cases, this rather difficult dilemma forced the geologists and their bosses not to choose clearly the position they would hold, that is, to say “yes” or to say “no” in the design work! mistakes were objective, forced by the stresses of the evil politics of the party leadership, without scientific thinking. She herself put the specialists in a dead end with her terror and herself punished them when she wanted, for those things she pushed and was totally responsible.
There are many designed wells drilled with an insufficient amount and level of seismic material, but with the advantage of geological material, as an important method of the preparatory complex, to judge the construction in depth. In these designs, positive results have been obtained, discovering new places-resources. This is how the most important sources have been discovered in the limestones of Cakran, Gorishti, Visoka, Ballsh and other areas. In these cases, the party leaders, who were obsessed with oil, unjustly interfering in many technical issues, gave very positive evaluations to the geologists and leaders who had boldly designed it.
But in these cases, none of them asked for an account that; why didn’t you have enough seismic data and gave priority to geological factors?! But when the wells came out negative, then the criticism was chilling. Such wells served as the most sought-after evidence to qualify hostile work. So, when the wells discovered new reserves, the party said “protect us” and when they went missing, you said “protect you”! This was a brazen attitude of the leadership of the Party of Labor of Albania. But, let everyone know that, if oil had not been studied and searched only with the data and possibilities that existed, if people had not thrown themselves into battle, with scientific courage and dedication to solve the country’s economic stresses, these resources also to this day, they would not have been discovered.
Our country would not have provided that great currency and the shortages in the market would have been much worse. The prison and capital punishments suffered by these honest and capable specialists, during the entire period of the brutal communist dictatorship in Albania, were unparalleled crimes. These martyrs in the field of economics should and should be evaluated as the most honorable figures and not enemies, saboteurs, traitors and, with many other nicknames, that were attached to them in the courtrooms and in the dark basements of the investigation.
In addition to the work in the scientific direction that we did as the director, the party organizations continued for weeks to draw up lists of “Scapegoats”. There, the specialists who had to be fired were sorted out; their past and that of their families, the views expressed in meetings and in free time, all of which were given a first-hand historical significance. The State Security, worked in three shifts. A long list of oilmen was finally drawn up, who, although qualified in the country’s faculties and foreigners, with twenty or thirty years of experience, had to say goodbye to work in the oil sectors. The vast majority of them, worried about this kind of climate that was getting tougher, had been trying to leave for years.
But no, by no means, they did not want this kind of departure, which in these weeks was being followed with narrowed eyes by the entire opinion of the country. Leaving now had strong motivations and consequences for them and their relatives. This is very difficult for those who have not lived in Enver Hoxha’s Albania to understand. At the Institute, a third of the scientific staff were designed to be excluded. The final list arrived to us from the party and the man who brought it to me told me that I should call the people and inform them of my departure. My whole body was filled with sweat, and so confused I sat down at the table, lit a cigarette with my trembling hands and began to look at the list carefully. The man sent from the center took a seat in an armchair some distance away, crossed his legs and kept his eyes on me.
I have known many of the people on the list at work for a long time. They were good and honest specialists, correct and few words, like Skënder Elbasani, Fatri Kadilli and many others. On one of the pages of the list, I found my childhood and school friend, with whom later work connected us with close family friendship, Niko Goxhobash. The list had the evidence of a not hastily drafted, but certainly treacherous, full of dirty backstabbing. Niko, for example, was probably put in there, based on his family’s past of being persecuted as kulaks, and with people who had spent long years in prison.
I should have done it on my face too. It is one of the memories that my forgetfulness cannot digest even if I lived for centuries. I handed him the package.
– I don’t drink it, – said the man coming from the Party with surprising calmness. And immediately he asked: Huh?! – There are names here, – I said as if guilty, – but there is no reason for each of them, why they should leave.
– You won’t tell them anything about the cause. Just tell them to leave.
-And how will I respond to their request to know the reasons?
The person who had brought me the list could barely contain his nervousness.
– You will tell them briefly, that other bodies know this work. You are only the communicator of the list and not its creator. The list is none of your business. It’s not even mine. Seeing me in a miserable state, he stood up and went to the door with the implication that he didn’t want to prolong the conversation with me. Then, he changed his mind and from the door he said to me: – Comrade Xhaçka, I don’t know what you call it, but I call it that we are at war. Do you know how to act in war, with superior orders?
He opened the door and left without greeting. We were at war. We were in the craziest war that I don’t think humanity has ever seen anywhere else in the world. We were at war with the figments of Enver Hoxha’s imagination and his friends! Everywhere people worked with a rope at their throats, but no sector of life in dictatorial Albania can be compared to the terror that wreaked havoc in the fields, institutes, laboratories and offices of leaders who were engaged in oil production. In no other sector of the economy, this continuous terror for decades did not cause as many victims and did not destroy as many families as in our sector.
The disregard for human lives was wild and merciless, and this historical account, this turn of the dictatorship, is not demanded by the ideological opponents or the so-called inverted classes. The vast majority of those oil workers, who saw their family nurseries destroyed, who were tortured, humiliated, imprisoned and shot, were communists and fighters of the war for freedom and equality. They were from those layers who should pay the deserved tribute, who joined Enver Hoxha and his samples, from the moment they made the request to join his Party, until the moment when this party was dissolved.
It was the most deserved reward for a poisonous and monstrous life in the meetings of organizations, it was the heavenly punishment for our silences, for human disgrace, for our military service in the ranks of the party, for our prolonged duplicity, for the stifling of our cries that were born in that part of the being, which was still pure, still young and childish…! This book is an accusation, but on no page of it, it does not cease to be a self-accusation of me and my friends, that in our measly accounts, to escape the storm, we resolved by closing our eyes to those who this torrent drowned day by day in its waves. Memorie.al
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