By Petraq Xhaçka
Memorie.al / The purpose of this book is to unite the help in the efforts that are 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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Again, tense work day and night, with numerous and unfair criticisms in meetings, conferences, so much so that life became more than unbearable. The state’s leadership continued to lose sight of the reality of the country, that with that high intensity of research, potential prospective objects for oil and gas would be exhausted. At the party congress of 1981, they trumpeted that oil will continue to increase greatly and production will reach the level of three million tons per year, and of course none of the specialists could dispute these baseless figures, because and only for the footage that took the initiative some specialists, to tell the truth, ended up as enemies of prisons and exiles.
Evidence of the terror in which the oil specialists lived and worked was the unfortunate life of my close friend from high school, from the group of the first geological technicians in Albania, that of engineer Tomi Kristo. He worked for many years as a lecturer at the University of Tirana, at the Faculty of Geology-Mining and was one of the most skilled lecturers, the most communicative with students. At one time he was put on the list of geologists who had to circulate on the base. In addition to being an honest man, Tom was a very smart specialist. He knew two foreign languages, English and Russian, had a broad culture and horizons and exemplary behavior. According to some absurd and harmful criteria that were established for staff turnover, it was necessary that after ten years of work in an institution, the staff should be moved to another job.
The State Security, unfortunately, included Tom in the expertise group, to collect the material that would argue the sabotage of specialists and cadres, who had already been arrested in the oil asset in Patos in 1975. This group was created by the State Security and the investigation, after their arrest to help the investigation, which would find the guilt and the crime according to the dictatorial style. It was natural that these raised groups, after certain guilty persons had been arrested, would do their best, some willingly and some fearfully, to find some argumentative fact. Or they would be motivated to misrepresent real events, to present them as acts of sabotage. Their path was one-way. Return was out of the question; otherwise they too would easily be put in the dock.
Tom was different from the other members of the expertise group, who then became permanent associates of the State Security in these groups and even enjoyed the pleasure of this dirty work. These showed malicious tendencies, left justice aside and gave the facts some unfair, subjective interpretations, not seeing things as a whole, depending on the time when they happened and the opportunities that actually existed to act otherwise. It was their duty to exonerate the party leadership as much as possible in its criminal act against the oil specialists. They sparingly threw mud at their colleagues, when in many cases they themselves had been present at the approval of points, which they now described as sabotaged wells, because the party’s orientations had been violated! For anyone, the normal question arose, why these specialists did not say their reserves during the defense, but approved those wells without any remarks?
They had not had that conviction at all, that no one stopped them from showing it. In addition, in most cases, they judged on statements kept incorrectly in the minutes. We also felt this on our backs. After the fall of the dictatorship, two people from the so-called expertise team, for the activity of our group, came and apologized to me for what they wrote and signed. They excused themselves that they had been forced, even though they themselves were convinced that the accusations against us did not hold and were not true. We naturally understood very well how these toys were made. We did not hold a grudge against these colleagues who had the courage to tell the truth and apologize.
From this involuntary work that Tom did in the expertise group, he began to suffer spiritually, because he understood that they were fabricated accusations, and as a result of this internal struggle, he became seriously ill in the nervous system.
He was treated in the hospital, but still the disease was taking him down. The clouding of consciousness was extraordinary and aggravated his illness. The immediate consequence was also in Tom, the delirium of being chased and persecuted by the State Security, which you openly tell us, your close friends. It got to that point, how many times he said to the Security employees themselves: “You are following me. Why?” At this stage of his illness, he decided to break off his engagement to a student girl. Zhaneta, my friend, met Tom one day on the street, in Tirana. – “Why did you leave your fiancee, Tom?! We were surprised, – Zhan told him. – She was a very good girl”. He confessed to my wife: – “Precisely because she was a very good girl, I broke up with her. I loved her so much that I decided not to harm her life and future. I, Zhani, am not good at things”.
After some time, while working in his office, on the third floor of the Institute, he tried to jump from the window. At the time he was trying, fortunately, one of his colleagues entered the office and prevented him from doing this tragic act. They informed me what had happened and I met him and stayed with him for a long time, without telling him about the suicide attempt. I begged an officemate not to tear his eye out and guard it all the time, so he wouldn’t make a second attempt. Then we notified the hospital and very tactfully took him to the doctors, at the Tirana Psychiatric Hospital, where he received the necessary treatment. Meanwhile, I immediately made a complaint to the nomenclature bodies and they were convinced and helped Tom to return to the University of Tirana as a lecturer. We had the hope of his full recovery. So Tomi Kristo worked for more than a year. But one fateful day in 1980, after giving a lecture to the students, poor Tom returned to his room and ended his life by poisoning.
In this way, the young Albanian intelligentsia lost one of its sons, talented, honest and innocent, who could not withstand the violence and terror, which unfortunately he got to know closely, with the expert group of the group artificially created as hostile by Albanian communist dictatorship. According to the rules and norms established by the party in Albania, acts of suicide were severely punished, so the burial of our friend Fatzi was done without any respect from state bodies. The rulers, after making good use of him, did not care at all to bury him with honors. However, it’s good that they didn’t go as far as to condemn him as an enemy, because this happened often and could easily happen in this case as well. Another victim of this totalitarian regime was the mechanical engineer, Niko Goxhobashi, who, due to his wealthy origins, was included in the list of those excluded from the Institute in 1975. Three years later, he was arrested for agitation and propaganda because during a social conversation with one of his work colleagues, he said that Pali Miska, a member of the Political Bureau, of this highest body of the pyramid, was not capable.
His friend had denounced the assessment of the party leader and Goxhobashi was arrested and sentenced to ten years in political prison. Now even in our country, this event seems on the border of unbelievable, but it is completely true. This happened not infrequently in Albania, although the citizens of the free world, even then, would not be able to understand it, but imagine it. And all this measure of punishment was done to a specialist who grew up in the years of the so-called popular power, a pioneer of the Albanian geological service, who, without exaggeration, had thousands of times the values of the one who insulted. As a graduated mechanical engineer, Niko Goxhobashi stood out for his clean work with great contribution in solving mechanical projects, in the fight with life risk, in extinguishing the fountains.
In that period, great turmoil also occurred at the top of the pyramid of the communist dictatorship. The leader of the party, Enver Hoxha, condemned the grave mistakes of his comrade in arms, Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu. It was announced by the party press that Shehu killed himself, but later in the democratic developments in the country, several versions of stories from people who had worked in these government districts were published. It was said that he did not kill himself, but that he was killed, which I cannot say for certain. The Prime Minister, however, was described as; “the spy of American imperialism”, which they tried to document and never achieved.
The paranoid Enver Hoxha played with all of them like a cat and a mouse. He, like other times, raised one against the other. This is how Kadri Hazbiu was raised to condemn the hostile activity of Mehmet Shehu towards the party of the country and later, even this former Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Defense for many years, one of the most popular figures of the party, was arrested and they sentenced him to death, as an enemy and traitor to the motherland, just one year after Mehmet Shehu. He was the fourth minister of the interior who was shot as a traitor to the country, of course I believe without being such, because never for more than half a century, no real document was presented for these accusations. It is very difficult to believe that all these leading cadres of the state, of the most important organ of the dictatorship, which had perpetrated all those persecutions on the people and innocent people, were Enver’s enemies.
With our Ministers of the Interior, it happened exactly like with Stalin’s ministers and their fates were linked to the terrible secrets they knew and fell victims of the policy of disappearing witnesses. They knew better than anyone how dictators buried their old comrades in orders to fill the Politburo with new worthless and personalityless people. In the people, these events were received with surprise, because they were the most authoritative figures during the Partisan War and later during the communist rule, for decades. All the old cadres who had led the National Liberation Movement were shattered: some shot, some imprisoned for life, others suffered severe exile. There were only two or three military men, who had been receiving miserable premature pensions for years. After the party congress of 1981, one of these young men of the Political Bureau, Besnik Bekteshi, came to the oil industry for a few days, to familiarize himself with the work done by the institutions of this sector.
In his memories of Enver Hoxha, this boaster writes that; when he stepped into oil, with his “genius”, he understood what thousands and thousands of workers, technicians, high oil specialists, could not understand: that in the oil industry, there really was sabotage. Bektesh should only be recognized for the fact that, having espionage in his blood, when the dictator sent him to our sector, he read to the “Great Sick”, the desire to fabricate oil saboteurs. He only added fuel to this fire, which the leader had been burning for a long time.
It is understood that it was not his own conclusion, but the idea of the one who raised Bektesh from nothing, to the top of the pyramid. Anyone, except Bektesh, would notice how absurd and idiotic it is, to say that in three or four days, without separating his butt from the car, he reached this great conclusion. We, the last oil prisoners, heard stories about him during the imprisonment, from many other prisoners, who came from the camp of the Laç site, where Besnik Bekteshi once worked as an engineer.
They indicated that; when he came to see the work done, the prisoners feared the engineer more than the camp operator. That was the reason why this man, who for over two years avoided the hard work of the hydro plant, was surprisingly elected to the Politburo! And now, when nearly twenty years have passed without any new oil source being discovered, what does this loyalist of the dictatorship say?! Or even foreign companies continue sabotage?! This member of this crime, in the punishment of the group of innocent oil workers, in the period of democracy, surprisingly was not even punished “for the small expenses of the coffees”, like his other colleagues?! Maybe some politicians haven’t read these boastful “Bekteshian” memoirs?! Don’t those who today make politics in Albania stop to think about all those families who suffered from persecution for years because they had their people in the terrible prisons of the dictatorship? Don’t you feel sorry for the talented caricature artist, the honest oilman Enriko Veizi, who fell ill in prison from the bad conditions and died prematurely?!
Xhaçka can be arrested, but he doesn’t know anything!
In 1983, I was fired from the position of director of the Institute and assigned to work at the Institute as a simple specialist. It was the most suitable moment to fulfill my only request, which I had made for years, to leave me free to work as a teacher. It was time to finally return to Tirana, to my beloved hometown, where I spent my childhood and youth. The state bureaucrats did not give me this pleasure again! My dream of spending an old age near my relatives in Tirana has already been completely extinguished. All my friends who surrounded me knew my love for Tirana, although I lived over thirty-five years away from it. I continued to be an ardent supporter of the sports teams of the “17 November” Club and this remained until the end as a pledge of loyalty to the country with the most beautiful memories. And my son, Genci, preserved this “inheritance” and followed the teams of this club with furious passion.
(And now as an adult, the son, who graduated as a computer science engineer in America, continues to wear to picnics and gymnastics runs a good sports suit, which he was able to secure recently from the sports- capital club). However, being fired from the position of director did not bring anything bad to me, on the contrary! I looked forward to this with joy, because I thought I would be more relaxed at work and would have the opportunity to deal more with scientific studies, which were my passion. Until that time, I had written three books for university students in the field of oil reserve calculations, where as early as 1974, I had also derived a formula of my own.
For the first time, the formula of an Albanian scientist was published in foreign literature. It was completely justified many years later with the methods of mathematical modeling, made by professors of the University of Tirana for the oil resources of our country. From the literature on oil in the United States of America, an article was published after nearly ten years, where scientists from this great industrial country reached almost the same conclusion. But no, the masters of evil did not dismiss me because they were sorry for my plans. They had other plans in mind that I couldn’t even imagine, thinking myself protected by my high scores over a lifetime of work.
It is difficult for a person to speak for himself, but due to the circumstances and the baseless accusations that were made to me later by the communist leadership; I am forced to say some aspects in self-defense. Thus, during the defense of my dissertation topic, one of the senior geologists with experience and great contribution to strengthening the work in oil research, among others, in my address, emphasized: “It was an undeniable fact that starting from 1960, until now, in 1980, we have discovered new oil and gas sources, only during the time that the geological service of oil and gas research was directed by Petraqi. Each new source, bears the sweat, his outstanding scientific contribution, has the correct and well-argued scientific orientation of the places of spreading and carrying out geological-geophysical works, and of well designs. In every study, it is his great influence, with the consultation of scientific discussions.
Everywhere is his signature, the starting point and approval of the study. He has always shown, not only in geology, but also in oil extraction, a high scientific preparation and has given the right solutions to many cases of difficult and delicate moments in the oil sector” accepted even by those who actually did not want me. In this book of memoirs, I am forced to give only a few important aspects of my contribution. Would they alone be enough to prove my honesty and fruitful work for my country? I want to mention that even when I went to some other countries to exchange experiences, or to international conferences and congresses, I tried to defend with dignity the scientific level of Albanian oil workers.
I am mentioning only two cases from them: In 1964, a group of five people, we went as an oil delegation to China. There we exchanged the experience of our two countries, with mutual actions. One day, the heads of geology of the ministry of this state were telling me about their research works, not many in the limestone rocks, where until that time they had only had negative results. It was a structure where they had drilled two or three wells and found neither oil nor gas. After I was informed in detail along with the relevant maps, my opinion was that they had not placed the research wells correctly and therefore, I presented my thoughts.
I hardly remember the year, but it must have been around 1973-’74, when a delegation of Chinese oil workers came to Albania, headed by Deputy Minister Tan Ke. At a banquet that was held in his honor in the beautiful tourist spot of Dhërmi, in his speech of greeting, among other things, he said:
– “On behalf of the Chinese government, I thank the chief geologist of Albanian oil research, Comrade Petraq Xhaçka, for the outstanding contribution he made during his visit to our country. Under his advice, we drilled and discovered the first oil well in limestone rocks in China.
Another time, we were a large delegation of the Petroleum Institute, at the International Congress of Stratigraphic Studies, in Greece. We had the opportunity to meet and talk with some Greek leaders and geologists.
In one of these meetings with the Chief Geologist of the Greek Public Corporation, near the Ministry of Economy, the doctor of geological sciences, Dionysios Monopolis, he also informed me about a well they had drilled in Patras – 1. This had fallen into disrepair and now they they would drill the second well. Incidentally, he also informed me about the causes of the breakdown. Since the Greek side had agreed with the interpretation made by the Romanian side, for the causes of the breakdown, in accordance with the criteria of the contract, when the breakdown was objective, the costs of the second well would be paid by the Greek side. I called the conclusion on the causes of the accident unfair and wrong: “on the basis of spontaneous underground explosions”, and I explained to Dr. Dionysios that under those conditions, that type of explosion does not occur, but other conditions are required. The chief geologist was very interested in this opinion that I expressed to him and begged me to meet again the next day. I was ready to fulfill his request. The next day, like the first day, and as usual, in the company of the Secretary of our Embassy, I went to the office of the general director of the corporation, (DEP). Memorie.al
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