Memorie.al publishes historical documents from the archive of the former Central Committee of the ALP with the minutes of the daily meeting of Enver Hoxha with the secretaries of the Central Committee, such as: Hysni Kapo, Ramiz Alia, Prokop Murra, etc., held on April 18, 1979, just three days after the strong earthquake that hit the districts of Lezha and Shkodra where 35 people lost their lives and there was significant material damage where hundreds of homes and socio-cultural facilities were destroyed or razed to the ground, mainly in the villages of Shkodra and Lezha. All discussions and debates in the senior leadership of the ALP regarding the disappearance and elimination of the consequences of the earthquake, as well as the concrete messages and suggestions given by Enver on how to deal with the reconstruction of Bahçallëk, Pentar, the cities of Shkodra and Lezha, as and his disapproval of Mehmet Shehu’s idea that the city of Lezha should be built on a mountain….
IN THE AREAS DAMAGED BY THE EARTHQUAKE CONSTRUCTIONS TO BE MADE STRONGER AND MOST BEAUTIFUL
From the conversation in the daily meeting of the secretaries of the Central Committee of the ALP
April 18, 1979
In this meeting, Comrade Ramiz Alia informed in detail about the situation in the districts of Shkodra and Lezha, damaged by the earthquake of April 15:
COMRADE RAMIZ ALIA: In the districts of Shkodra and Lezha we met with the people, with the people. To tell you the truth, comrades, when you saw that great calamity, those houses completely ruined on the ground, you were very sorry. But when you meet the people in these districts so badly damaged by the earthquake, they did not expect to give you courage, but spoke with optimism, with a great faith in the Party, with a great love and confidence for the defeat of the disaster, that to really lift weights. And where no calamity had befallen the people, they all said in one voice: “It is good that no one has been killed, without difficulty we will overcome them. The Party has always happened to us, we all feel close to the Party “. A mountaineer told me: “The party has been here with us since last night. Who brought us bread, who brought us the tents?
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: He expressed the true meaning of what the Party is.
COMRADE RAMIZ ALIA: Yes, the true meaning of what the Party is. “The Party came to us, Comrade Enver came to us from the first minute of the disaster,” said the highlander. The words were touching. Highlanders have a fluent and emotional speech.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: This is how the cadres should speak, Ramiz, simply, as the people speak.
COMRADE RAMIZ ALIA: I was impressed, Comrade Enver, by what the Party comrades in Shkodra told me. As soon as the earthquake had struck, all the communists, especially the old ones, en masse, had gone to the Party committee. “We are at the disposal of the Party, we are ready to go where the Party tells us”, said everyone, Shyqyri Hafizi, Nazmi Dibra, communists and those who are not in the Party. And all, together with the comrades of the Party committee, immediately went to the villages which had been most severely damaged. This is a very positive thing. The people of Shkodra have a good tradition of this. Meetings of the Party-based organizations were held in all the work centers in the city (because the work centers are patronized by the villages) and they immediately sent people to their village brothers, who asked them: “What do you need? You need manpower. for work tools, for money? “Tell us everything you need, we are ready to help you.” Bread was immediately provided to the villages by the city. All this readiness of the people shows the great faith he has in the Party line, the faith in the present and in his bright future.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: All these show the fiery revolutionary spirit that characterizes our communists. The party acts on its own. There is no need, so to speak, to blow the whistle to gather its members. Everyone immediately left where his duties called for him. Now it is important that things are well organized. It is necessary to coordinate the work between the organs of the Party and those of power. As soon as an order is given by the central headquarters for the elimination of the consequences of the earthquake, the Party committees of these districts immediately take measures and together with the executive committees, the mass organizations, the enterprises, take serious work to perform their duties, take measures to controllers are sent and deadlines and all others are set, so that the order given by the headquarters is implemented well and in time. Yes, at the central headquarters they had forgotten to appoint a comrade from the apparatus of the Central Committee of the Party. It is good that this is, that it would help to coordinate the work with the Party. The direction by the Ministry of Construction should be at the right height. For all the materials that will be sent to the districts damaged by the earthquake, for the staff and volunteers who will come to give their contribution there, measures should be taken not only to be well received, but also to be settled as soon as possible, not to waste any minute of time. In the damaged areas there should be a strong headquarters, under the Ministry of Construction, which will follow the works to the end. One of the deputy ministers of the Ministry of Construction to be there, but in the headquarters to direct all this work to be appointed capable people, directors or deputy directors of enterprises and not sleepy people, but energetic, tireless to take over the work there in Bushat, Velipoja, Dajç, etc., because there are working teams, they will put the materials there. So, in these places there should be people to wait and arrange the materials and direct the forces to where the work should start immediately. It is good that all those who will volunteer in these districts, will be specialists, carpenters, masons, etc. But I think there is also a need for architects, that houses in these areas should be made good, at least two-storey. Architects should think and work on new constructions. Create some beautiful and different house models. Take special care of the Garden. Baçallëku is the entrance of Shkodra, the neighborhood that gives you the first impression of this city. Therefore, pay special attention to it. Trees, pomegranates should be stored there, and not here and there, because for these it got the name Baçallëk. There is a place where houses with two floors can be built, but, if there is no possibility, let them be made with one floor and two or three entrances and not all of one type, but of different types. Some of them stand on the side of the road, some others in the middle of the gardens. In a word, such constructions should be made there to give Bahçallëk the appearance of a truly flourishing garden, as it’s its name. In the villages it is good to get away from the city model. I mean, let’s not take out all the houses on the street now, one after the other in a row, like soldiers. In the place where there were two-three or four houses, so do them, together. The houses there usually have gardens at the back. But let us start from a new spirit, so constructions should be made to give lungs to the village, to get air. And this is accomplished with greenery that should not be just behind, but somewhere in front and somewhere in the middle of houses. Now, as we make these houses new, using the funds we have allocated, then the issue of architecture should also be looked at. In other inhabited centers, beautiful constructions should be made, such as in Pentar, which is almost completely flattened. Take measures to make this whole village beautiful, not so much as to get electricity, if we choose and plan good constructions, carefully studied, that once we do. If there has been any good garden or vineyard, these should be preserved. I am not talking only about this village, but about each new center that will be built. To foresee in the project all the factors, even the winds, and the place, and the style of the house, that the people have always had in mind these requirements. Also, seismic issues should be kept in the spotlight. To recover all materials that have not been damaged, such as stones, bricks, beams, etc. The bricks for Baçallëk, which is on the road, should be taken from Barbullushi and for the houses that will be built here, red bricks should be used. Houses built with these bricks in the middle of the greenery, will surely give this place a very beautiful view. Why do you insist on these things? Because the people of Shkodra have made a big mistake that I do not forgive. They have destroyed the Old Shkodra, the Old Bazaar, of which Barleti also speaks. They broke them, but what do they do now? To fix them, as was done in Gjirokastra? What is this obsession of flattening traditions?? Traditions must be preserved especially in the style of constructions. I am not talking about all, but about some traditions in Shkodra, such as some colonnades. Finally, we can make two houses close to each other and connect them with arches, with several columns; the windows should be old but beautiful, let’s plant some vines there, etc., etc. Especially in Baçallëk, I emphasize, to keep in mind the tradition in constructions, but also in other centers. All this work for the liquidation of the consequences of the earthquake must be done through a large-scale action on a national scale. In the damaged districts come, in an organized way, volunteer specialists from all districts of our country, not only from construction companies, but also from the villages, because we also have construction specialists there. Immediately after their collection, the technicians who will direct them should be appointed, the construction plan should be given, how and where they will start the work before, etc., etc. Everything must be recovered, everything must be in order, time should be used as best as possible to shorten the liquidation period of the earthquake consequences and the materials should be used with hospitality. So, good organization is required, that specialists are specialists, but organizers play an important role in this regard. The situation is such that work on this great action starts at six o’clock in the morning and is left late in the evening, that people should be sheltered as soon as possible in the new houses. Also, find the materials where they are and where they are not, provide them in a timely manner and take all necessary measures so that the work on the construction front is not interrupted for any moment.
COMRADE RAMIZ ALIA: We were also in Lezha, Comrade Enver. The city has been damaged, especially the part where the Party committee and Skanderbeg’s burial ground are. Most of the houses demolished there should be flattened, because almost all of them are out of use.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: To prepare a regulatory plan for the city of Lezha. Here we are dealing with a city with ancient history. I was told that some thought of leaving the garden damaged by the quake. But I do not agree with this opinion. To charge two or three skilled architects to get the job done and make the plan for its regulation. And Skanderbeg’s tomb should definitely be there. Before getting into this damaged part, where the Party committee was, etc., one should think carefully, that there is a slope. So, I think something should be done there, for example, stairs should be made and the road should remain where it is. So, in this place up to the tomb of Skanderbeg to become a square. This should be a place for rallies, a place for walks, where a summer theater will be built in the future, where a stage will be set up and some stairs will be used to sit people. City houses to be built according to plan. I am of the opinion that these constructions should not go up to the river. It’s a nice thing for a city to have near the river. And this river that runs through the city, to block it with walls and houses, artistically does not go. Does the city of Lezha need an afforestation, an airy place, where its inhabitants can go to relax and have fun? Yes, there is not. Then, if the side of the Drin becomes a beautiful, wooded promenade, wouldn’t it be good? To decorate Lezha, by planting beautiful watering willows and other decorative trees. To get water with irrigation pumps and to create a big greenery in the city, to beautify the streets. As for the stair amphitheater, it should be done as the architects think. Predictions should also be made for Skanderbeg’s tomb. Now it is a question of houses, how and where we will build them. We should not occupy arable land. However, if we start from this thought, then there will be no greenery in the city. It seems to me that the city of Lezha has enough place to develop. New houses for the inhabitants to be built at the entrance, from the right wing onwards and from the left wing, which is a bit like a hill.
COMRADE RAMIZ ALIA: Yesterday, Comrade Enver, we talked about these problems with the comrades of Lezha. What was the opinion of the Lezhians? Their opinion matches what you say. They expressed the opinion that houses should not be built on the banks of the Drin, but at the entrance to the city.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: Let it be so.
COMRADE RAM1Z ALIA: But Mehmet cut them off, telling them to climb Lezha to the mountains. They did not agree with this opinion.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: To climb the mountain! And why do this? Such hasty thoughts should not be given. The opinion of specialists should be considered on these issues, that Lezha is a city of historical importance. We make this city exactly as it deserves, as a center associated with the history of Skanderbeg. Now that the city plan will be done, it must be considered where the railway will pass. The station can be made at the entrance of Lezha and the train to Zadrima. In this way a bridge is built and the city is left clean from smoke and all other harmful pollution for the city. Let’s look at the problem of constructions in Lezha carefully. Eliminating the effects of the earthquake will cost us millions. Yes, these millions are materials, which we must provide with a plan, except to be sure that we will leave something missing somewhere else. Getting this job done right is not easy. This requires study. So, where we will remove, where we will leave and where we will replace or where they will make new ones so that they can be compensated, all of these need to be well thought out. The district of Berat, for example, will be required to produce so many bricks, another district, so many tiles. The district of Durrës should not be asked for volunteers, but should be tasked with the Nail-Bolt Factory, for example, to produce so many tons of nails on the plan with the necessary dimensions and within a certain time; that of glass-glass be required to produce glass above the plane. Likewise, Korça should be told that it needs so many thousands of hinges within two months; wood combine doors and windows and others, and so on. Production must be strengthened, all brick factories to work in three shifts, while those factories that are under construction, with concentrated shocks to be completed and put into operation as soon as possible, within the deadlines to be set.
COMRADE RAMIZ ALIA: Immediately, Comrade Enver, since the earthquake that struck on Sunday, secretaries of the Party committees of different districts, from V1ora, Korça, Durrës, Elbasan and as far as Saranda and Lushnja, had gone to companies in Shkodra.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: This shows that our people are with initiative, will, energy, people who know the laws, know the opportunities. Everyone knows them, so let them act with initiative. This does not mean creating anarchy. No, to set up commissions, agree, give them orders, but to be sure that they will overcome the difficulties. No one informed them, all those people stood up and told the comrades of the affected districts what they should do to help them.
COMRADE HYSNI KAPO: Since that day, Comrade Enver, a comrade of the Party came to me in Vlora and told me what they had done: “We have gathered the secretaries of the grassroots organizations and told them to be on alert; in the villages, based on areas, we asked them to let us know how many specialists they have. Now we are waiting for the requests to come, how many of them should be sent to Shkodra and Lezha “.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: So, there is a full readiness. They got involved in this work themselves. This shows that the Party comrades at the base are mature, experienced people, so they know how to act in this or that case. We can have a broader, more general experience that, being in the function of Party leader, we are informed and learned by all. Yet even the leading cadre of the Party in the district is not a close man, that he leads an entire district. Great mobilization is now required on every front of work to come to the aid of the Republic to face even the natural disaster that occurred in some districts. (Below the conversation continued about the organizational structure of some institutes and enterprises). For the development of our economy at the required pace, we need to stop and look at some issues, such as that of our organizational structures, to make them as efficient as possible. All fellow executives, ministers, deputy ministers, directors, etc. should think about this. The organizational structure in the oil sector, for example, is old. I have said this once again, to reconsider this issue. The Ministry of Industry and Mining should have a strong directorate for the issue of oil, to direct all work in this sector, from drilling-exploitation, transport and all other branches, directorates and the Petroleum Institute and of Gas. Now the institute has taken over all the competencies and the five people that the ministry has there do as the institute says. In fact, the opposite should happen. It should function not independently and not be imposed on the ministry, but take tasks, orders and implement them creatively. For such an important sector, such as the oil sector, there should be specialists in the ministry who should be able to guide and hold the institute accountable for any problems. He should do the task and be accountable to the Ministry of Industry and Mining for the accomplishment of the tasks assigned to him. We cannot allow one or the other to work as they please, but as the interests of our socialist economy demand.
COMRADE HYSNI KAPO: These days while I was in Vlora, Hekurani [Isai] talked to me about the condition of the machinery and the production of spare parts for the oil sector. Our mechanical workshops that they have to produce, hinder because they are charged with making large devices, such as probes. So, they only deal with these, and since the plan is being implemented, they neglect the small replacement parts and other equipment needed for the oil sector.
COMRADE ENVER HOXHA: Well, you got Comrade Hysni, how much does the probe that these will produce cost 2 million, 2 million and a half dollars?! Is it right that during this time they stay without using so many probes to give, for example, 400-500 thousand tons of oil? Here, it seems to me, must be considered. Why do we do these things, for fame? This is not the way to act./Memorie.al