By Nazmi Berisha (Dyzi)
The third part
Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Nazmi Berisha, originally from the village of Llap in the Municipality of Podujeva in Kosovo, who was seduced by the propaganda of the communist regime and the programs provided by Radio Tirana for “socialist prosperity” and escaping the rank-and-file methods of the Titoist regime, in 1960, he decided to flee and came to Albania, crossing the Buna River by swimming in the great cold of that harsh winter. The rare testimonies of Nazmi Berisha, how he was received in his homeland, where the soldiers and border officers of the Shkodra district, after tying him with wire, sent him to the Internal Affairs Branch, where for 24 hours they did not even give him bread for eaten, and then sent to the town of Shijak where was the “Filtering Center” of Kosovar emigrants. The whole adventure of the 20-year-old boy from Kosovo that the State Security accused of: being a UDB agent, who had sent on a secret mission, Cedo Topallovic, the president of the UDB for Kosovo, to meet with the Rear Admiral of the Fleet, Teme Sejko and the inhuman tortures inflicted on him in the Internal Affairs Branches of Lushnja, Kruja, Tirana, etc., where he was kept in isolation and asked to become a collaborator of the State Security, as witnesses, his compatriots from Kosovo, and his refusal, which made him spend 20 years in the prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. The articles published by Memorie.al are selected from his book, ’20 years in Enver Hoxha’s prisons’ published by the Publishing House “UEGEN”, Berat, 1995.
Note to the editor and publisher
Evidence of civic courage, living testimony of a completely heartless human suffering, an archive that is valid for today and tomorrow.
Prison scenes run in front of you, honest and cannibalistic characters, ordinary people and you are left stunned by such a low action, so without dignity and profane of the communist administration.
20 years in Enver Hoxha’s communist prisons! The author never equates the dictator with Albania. The total disappointment of a guy who ran towards the star of his love, is not obscured. Everyone had almost the same fate. An unparalleled patience, an unwavering will of a diverse psychology full of dramatic colors, a monstrous fatigue,
Here is this book by Nazmi Berisha.
The characters are real.
Let each one prays to the God of truth.
Continues from the last number
– In Kruja –
A police car. Three cops in the yard. Sali Shatri-Security officer, from Peja and Remzi Berberi, also Security officer, also from Dibra e Madhe. Sali was exactly my man. And as far as it was, except with a smile. I will never forget those faces. The driver was getting ready. Then the road, the fields, the hills that peeled off, the poplars by the side of the road, the working people, weak, naked, and with a joy hidden somewhere deep inside.
Where were we going like that? In Kruja! Oh, Kruja! I would finally see Skanderbeg Kruja. It is this balcony of the Adriatic, even of the whole northern coast and of the plains. Beautiful place, magical, stubborn. But I did not have time to deal with the wonderful beauty of the place. All my worries, doubts and despairs were revived. Many more have already been added. I blamed myself, my guilt and yet I could not find a dark spot in myself. You will find your destiny as you seek it. I too fell from the rain into the hail, being utterly ill of national romanticism.
The “Reception House” in Kruja was better than the one in Shijak. There was a toilet, it was two-story. It was built in a sanctuary for the Bektashis – it was called Sarisalltëk. Brought to eat and drink by the driver. Meanwhile, I thought what I did not think. I was ready for a new psychoanalysis. I knew that the next day, it would be the new round of questions. And so, it happened: Sali Shatri and Remzi Berberi, both. Where was I born? Ati? Mom? Grandparents? Brothers and sisters? Their friends? Their acquaintances? My friends in Prishtina? Mixha? His friends and acquaintances? Dajat? And, of course conversations with them? What about the Labor Party? What is being said about Albania? For Enver Hoxha? For imperialism? About Revisionism? What about Tito? UDB names? The most famous professors in Kosovo?
I cannot remember them all. Everything in the form of a simple, almost family-friendly conversation. Sometimes I saw the work done by fellow patriots as a very professional thing, sometimes it seemed like a very funny thing to me, but I did not have time to meditate on the work of others. In their clutches, it was my destiny, my life intertwined in the political networks of the time, which I knew as if through smoke.
My delicate procedure lasted a full month. I remembered it would end soon, but no, it had been full of money work. It was like preparing a watermark. The magical fatigue of my officers, was rather a sting. I forgot Lushnja and Sali Shatri’s questions there. Already, he was beating my shoulders, smiling at me, treating me well. I was not looking at the claws but the fingers. By nature, I believe easily and this leads me to the doors of myopia or naivety, I do not know well. But one of the two is for sure.
Once, at the beginning of the month I was given some letters to sign. It was, as I was told, a mere formality of what we had talked about in those days. Formality? Maybe and I should not have doubted. I know what I said. It has become a cliché in my head, both the questions and the answers. My sincerity had always been my motto. Then why not sign. Then both officers were by my side. On the other hand, on the last day my arms clapped thanking me for my sincerity. Thus, I not only signed but also thanked them for the care shown to me.
Meanwhile, I could rejoice in myself for this act. I could dream that right here, in Kruja and in Tirana, I could enroll in school! But…!
The next day, before I woke up, two other Security officers came to see me for the first time.
– You have not risen yet, O agent of Yugoslavia! -, they told me.
The hot, huge slap fell on my face. O God. What is being said like that!
– I agent?
– Yes, Yes you. And do not pretend to know nothing. You were sent by Cedo Topallovic, the president of UDB for Kosovo. We know this well.
My forehead was filled with big bubbles of sweat. The thoughts left me completely. What was happening like that? Were these people on their own? They, of course, were on their own. Their seriousness could be admired.
– You are provocateurs! – I said – You are bad people. I am an honest patriot.
– Nor are you the guy who signed yesterday’s statement with Remzi Berber? Well, there you openly admitted that you are a spy.
– You lie in the lowest way I told you, nervous and overly affected. Otherwise bring me here Sali Shatri and Remzi Berber. Then we will see your face.
After a few minutes, as they came out, came two others whom I had never seen. These too, the same avaz. They put their heels on the tops. My persistence apparently, did its own thing. I was brought by Ajet Haxhiu from Mitrovica, together with Sali Shatri. I told them all that was boiling inside me. I did not neglect to tell them that I trusted the Albanian State Security, so I signed it without seeing what was written, because Remzi Berberi told me that what we had talked about was written there. But we were both cold and distracted as if we were listening intently.
– You boy, – they intervened, – you have to tell things as they are.
Who sent you to spy against Albania, who escorted you to the border, what task did they leave you with, who do you meet here, plenty of profka?
– U ngurzova. I could not believe my eyes and ears. I did not know if it was a dream or a nightmare.
– Sit down boy and write it all well and beautifully. We cannot wait any longer.
What should I answer?! You have nothing to say to cruel ridicule. The self looks like a grain and nothing catches your eye. Everything around you are shrouded in an impenetrable fog. Where did my pride, oath, and loyalty go? I was surrounded by a screaming silence that took on tones of folly. Waiting for someone? But who? The honest man?
I saw the bread knife well. Why not expect myself, but even the knife was blunt and did not want to commit the punishable act. I wanted to write to Mehmet Shehu, about whom I had heard legends in Kosovo. I asked for an appointment with him. Let him listen to the monstrosities that were carried out at the expense of Kosovars. After that, he helped top leadership. Who needed these snakes? Not everyone, except Albania.
The next day Mehmet Shehu sent me a general. So, I was someone for as long as the prime minister moved from the chair. I even wondered, I even killed my mind. This general, still without saying a word, told me “The Voice of the People”, where he wrote about the Yugoslav revisionists who were hypocritical, just like their agent (me) who yesterday admitted the accusation, while today he denies it. I saw quite coldly the situation I was in. My arrival in Albania, according to this newspaper, was related to Teme Sejko’s group. My energetic protest in front of the general did not help me. No one heard from him. My words were like playing the flute in a hole.
Truly in this turbulent time I had come ‘like a goat to the butcher’! Somewhere in the safes of the Albanian Security, a certain scheme was filled that was filled with vacuum, and being someone’s balls, they played with us as they pleased. And what surprised me the most was the scheme with Teme Sejko’s group. I had come to Albania to collaborate with this group, and I knew nothing? Surprise me too, pair with others. Maybe some Greeks came for a win-win, and we would definitely get in touch with the 6th American Fleet in the Mediterranean. Sometimes unbridled fantasy works wonders.
I was young, and I hated Yugoslavia with all my heart and soul. I also loved Albania, my first dream and love. Even though it happened so badly to me, the love was not lost. It had penetrated so deeply into my wounded heart.
In the old prison of Tirana, for the first time
The general left, and my words were blown away. Then I sat down and cried out loud. What a miserable fate I had. Why did I take this path that broke my tender heart? I know, everyone means that man pursues love. Cursed be he who has taken me by the neck. The same wolf cub knows that the curse does not catch him and sow’s wickedness every day. It happened to this day. Cursed be all who saw my tragedy cooked up in their magic, and stood heartless before my youth. Cursed be those who do not have human feelings!
After a few days, Sali Shatri came to me, the third person and in a police car, sent me to Tirana Prison. Again, stupidity procedures, investigations, responses, comings and goings. I was asked to connect with Teme Sejko’s group. The investigation was conducted by Nazif Shehu, a relative of Mehmet Shehu, together with Nazmi Kraja from Shkodra. Both were with the rank of captain. From the beginning, I was asked to sign the decision of the General Prosecutor, Aranit Çela, for the crimes never committed. I never do this shame again. And I meditated on all those who would see my folly. Parents, friends, and then the whole of Kosovo. And who was the one who would forgive me for this. Now with my signature I could not satisfy the appetite of others. I was so wrong!
I was 23 years old and could call myself an inexperienced person. Nowhere was my wandering mind waiting for me. My judgments had not yet gone to the blacksmith to become sharp. However, I had a glimmer of hope that the truth of my folly would be revealed. And this twinkle kept me alive even when my investigators tortured me, with forced insomnia, into unscrupulous insults by thugs. Maybe this hope was calling to me out loud, do not give up! Against the unprecedented monstrosity where my consciousness and unconsciousness had been carried.
Whole nights of investigation, monotonous and exhausting days. My only sentence was: ‘Remzi Berberi deceived me in Kruja’! Their persistence was terrifying. They necessarily demanded the statement, as it was the justification of their work. Shouldn’t you feel sorry for them? They worked like clockwork, convinced that their hour would come. I certainly was not the only one in their cells. Hear their cries, O people, though so late. There have been men better and bigger than you! … We do not imprison you without facts and evidence!
The biggest torture for me was not the physical one, but their fixed and unmistakable thought that I was an agent. O God! One day their boss came, a Rexho Hyseni from Konispoli.
– Look! – he cried. – Yes, we have experience with anyone like you. We know, we know well, the tricks of Tito’s agents! Everyone, like you, did not accept the deed, but later legislated like whistles!
– Eh, eh so and Teme Sejko!
When a thought, like the point of refuge, is always repeated, it creates the conviction that this is the truth. And this folly was now rising to the pedestal of truth. And what is worse, the first paradoxical doubts arose in me that I was Tito’s Yugoslav agent, and I did not know!?
Torture! There have been even more terrifying ones in the world but everyone gives the experience with what he has tried on his back. I was handcuffed to a chair stuck in the concrete. They punched me and punched me in the throat. And when they got tired of it, they called on others to keep up the good work. They left me without sleep, without water, without food, and sent me to the bathroom where it was quite cold and cement. I was sent to a dungeon where a guard came and tortured me with an all-Turkish technique. I was then sent back to the cement, where I was tied with German bars. Meanwhile my thought had grown like grass on top of the rock.
After all these rapes, even if they gave me food, I could not eat. Could I sleep even if I was laid on feathers? Questions and not punches hit me like a hammer in the gall!
The torture continued for a week. Then they sent me to a dungeon where they left me alone, without anyone asking me anything. My thought, like grass growing among the rocks, grew hatefully, against whom? Against yourself!? I did not even bastardize the bastards anymore. They were the fortunes of the Albanian nation. They were, the nation’s most painful pheasant, and the balls in someone else’s hands. Their black soul, perhaps suffered more from my soul. How did I know what was going on in the executioner’s mind?
The newest question for me in those days was whether I would be able to cope with the exhaustion, the physical and spiritual fatigue, even if this continues for years?
Of course, their thin minds worked only for the devil. And so violently I was told openly. Does anyone in Albania know you, Nazmi Berisha? Fertilizer! Behold, we are taking someone, bringing him to trial and punishing him! Is this how your company drinks water, daily?! … Oh god! How far did they go? If he told me who I would never believe. In Yugoslavia these were done, I knew. So, I had forgotten that both here and there, both sides had done devil school.
Where was my place of my youthful ideal? Thus, the constant question with unparalleled ferocity came to my mind. Meanwhile, ironically, I was fascinated by sadism, heartlessness, torture, lies, deception, institutions …!
Would we do less with me Serbian UDBs? Where was the difference between what I called the homeland, Socialist Albania; and that other country that enslaved us – Yugoslavia? Where? And I found no change. At least I understood the truth of my stupidity! But …, when the daughter in the clear consciousness I trembled: not in your country the storm will pass, while in captivity, it never passes.
Neither the investigators, nor the torture, nor the cruel attempts to kill my consciousness can extinguish my hope. I had realized that what was happening to me was not a coincidence but a whole vertical and horizontal mechanism that worked perfectly. Who was the inventor of this car in Albania? It was He, Enver Hoxha, the inventor of woe for Albania. It was he who was burying it slowly but surely. He was the master craftsman. I was opening my eyes to the great truth. It was he himself stupidity and I was seeing him sitting in the armchair of infinite truth. I was sorry for Teme Sejko, the Admiral of the Albanian Fleet! Black he, so he will have suffered like me, like thousands of others, sitting in endless torture until they blocked the thought that on the day of “trial” he was so strong that he could not open his mouth for him speak a word!
In a word, I had to make superhuman efforts and live, to once testify to the deadly storm that Enver Hoxha’s Albania was experiencing. It was a difficult thing for me, the great worshiper, to reach this conclusion. After this analysis, follows that of another superimposed. What you reasoned yesterday does not apply to today. Today is different, it is more credible. However, I call it luck when you get rid of illusions. This process was happening to me! I do not know what day or date it was that forgave me the new and cold-blooded judgment.
All yesterday seemed ugly to me, while today was beautiful, magnificent, visionary. I had a fortune hidden in my heart and no one could snatch it from me! (I saw in Enver Hoxha’s prisons even the rare Stanilists. Strong communists remained. They loved Stalin like a god. And meanwhile, they rotted in prison. where Albania stood out to those before Stalin!)
I no longer excluded my misfortune from others. Meditation in solitude and in complete isolation. And the constant contemplation, though sometimes destructive, made me with judgment, strengthened me, enabled me for so many things to face even the terror of hell. Dignity, even when bound to trample on, is in your mind, in your relentless soul. Meanwhile, you live trustworthy and with an intact personality, even though your artificially planted name may fly violently into the gray sky of your homeland. What did I do?
Consolation myself? I was instinctively protected by a gigantic force, and that was enough for me to live, and once to witness. My soul, invisibly, was violently hardened in the blacksmith shop of Tirana Prison. Another 7 days had passed and it seemed to me as if I was old there. New tortures were quite common. I did not feel anything physical. I did not eat or drink. And the investigator tells me that I was doing an anti-state activity again! These were the binoculars with which they viewed the world. However, I calmly told the investigator that: when I do not eat, I do not eat, when I do not drink, I do not drink, when I do not sleep, I do not sleep! Like you who accuse me of an act that is not mine, right?! Like that? That was the question, then again, the beatings and tortures.
When I entered the dungeon, I found a man inside. Shefqet Kadiu, from Kavaja, as introduced to me. He said he was jailed four days ago as a member of an anti-state organization. Meanwhile, the murmured Shefqeti did not know how to act, to admit the act he did or not, that he had been tortured to death, and he had not accepted anything, etc. Without finishing his speech, the guard came in, grabbed him by the throat, punched him, tied him to the German bars, and pulled him out. Shefqet’s screams pierced my ears. It hurts. I did not know that this was a Security trap, although it sparked in my mind as I saw Shefqet.
They brought him back to my dungeon. He did not even have the strength to speak, and at times he looked frightened by the guard beyond the door. One night he told me that they were charging him for things he had not done, that he would never accept even if they skinned him. My pain for him increased. Another fatzi like me. However (as if I knew) thanks to the excuses that came to me – wave incessantly, that I am being charged with acts that I have not even seen in my dreams, that they are torturing me inhumanly … This time what was interrupted was my phrase. Again, to the Investigator: beatings, sleeplessness, various blackmails, hunger, thirst, everything at a time that passed without being felt, on an endless day …! Memorie.al