Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of the Artistic Ensemble of the People’s Army of Albania, who traveled from Tirana to North Vietnam in 1965, where he performed for three months for Vietnamese “brothers” fighting the Americans. Memoirs and diary of Osman Dylgeri, formerly in charge of the ensemble section, for the tour and the band’s 8 members who, as Communists, volunteered to give concerts on the front lines, where US bombs dropped like hail.
“Tar, kerosene and song.” This was all the internationalist aid that Enver Hoxha’s communist Albania offered free of charge to the “brother” people of North Vietnam, in a period of close friendship between them, in the 1960s and 1970s, under President Ho Shi’s leadership. Min, the North Vietnamese were fighting the Americans. Although it was one of Europe’s poorest countries, the Communist government of Tirana did not hesitate to find Vietnamese “brothers” with what they had: tunnel-lock insulation, and kerosene for torches needed to move in the dark. them. Following the decision of the Political Bureau of the ASP Central Committee, which charged the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for implementation, it did not delay the departure of the first two bitumen vapors from the Selenica mine, kerosene wells, to the faraway Asian Communist country. Kucova and the People’s Army Artistic Ensemble, which would perform not only in some liberated Vietnam cities, but as far as the front line, where American bombs rained down on Vietnamese soldiers’ heads. As for the “great help” that communist Albania offered to the Vietnamese “brother” people, at that time the Voice of the People newspaper wrote and echoed a great deal about the tour of the People’s Army Artistic Ensemble. the memories, photos, badges, posters, leaflets, albums and diaries of Osman Dylgeri, the former head of the ensemble section, which are preserved with great fanaticism by his family, as rare relics and remembrance of a time gone by. Dulger’s relatives testify for the first time exclusively to Memorie.al, all they know is remembered by the little confessions of their father, who has been living for years.
First tours outside the Ensemble country
The People’s Army Artistic Ensemble, which was set up before the war ended in 1944, giving its first performances at Lavdar in Korça under the direction of master Gaqo Avrazi, made his first tours abroad in the early 1950s. At the time, as part of a program endorsed by the Political Bureau of the ASP Central Committee, that ensemble traveled and performed in several cities of the “People’s Democracies” (as the Communist East countries were then called): Moscow, Prague, Constanta etc. A few years later, in 1955, other tours and trips to Europe would be launched for the Army Ensemble. Eastward departures to China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea. These tours usually lasted from three to six months, and travel to these Communist states was usually by ship “Vlora”, which lasted from 18 to 22 days. There were times when the journey was even by plane to the former Soviet Union, and then traveled by train for days in Moscow. During those trips from Moscow to China, as a result of lack of funding, Albanian artists were often forced to malnutrition. They were traveling in civilian clothes, and in their luggage they wore ensemble military uniforms of the appropriate rank. Among the main members of the Army Ensemble who regularly participated in those tours were well-known singers and songwriters, many of whom were “People’s Artists”, such as: Gaqo Avrazi, Mentor Xhemali, Spiro Kristo, Avni Mula, Xhevat Dalipi, Pandi Peleshi, Ibrahim Tukici, Hysen Kocia, Shaban Maleshka etc.
Secret tour to Vietnam in 1965
Given that: North Vietnam, Cambodia or and Laos were at war at that time, the tours of the People’s Army Ensemble in these countries were kept secret. And all the trips were made to those places, his members should not in any way tell even the people of their families, who had the clear message to tell them: we are going on tour to China. This is also confirmed by members of Osman Dülger’s family, who stated: “At that time we as a family knew that they would go to China, and many years later we learned that Osman and other members of the ensemble had went to Vietnam ”. According to what Osman told them years later, after arriving in China, the Chinese authorities were considering introducing the ensemble members clandestinely into the territory of North Vietnam. As in China, when Albanian artists were constantly greeted with a magnificent and very warm welcome, beginning by Prime Minister Chu En Lai, Chu De, Ten Sia Pin, etc., and in the visit to North Vietnam, members of the Army Ensemble The people of Albania were initially welcomed in Hanoi by the country’s communist president, Ho Shi Mini, who regarded the visit of Albanian artists to their country as an extraordinary event. Not only in Hanoi, but in all the cities of North Vietnam where Albanian artists went, they were warmly welcomed and given a magnificent reception by the people and high state authorities.
Ensemble members working with Vietnamese
During that tour (in 1965) that the Army Ensemble made in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese authorities sent them to visit and visit many provinces, cities, villages, work and production centers, schools, gardens, nurseries, agricultural farms, etc… After a concert in the city of Hua Jong, Albanian artists sent them to see an American plane shot down by Vietnamese fighters, which was a pilgrimage to many other visitors, friends of the Vietnamese. In the many photos of Osman Dylger’s family from that tour, there is also the ensemble members posing with a young girl who had shot down two American planes with an old rifle. Behind that photo Osman noted that for that great patriotic gesture, that girl had been proclaimed the “Heroine of Vietnam”. Given that the People’s Army Ensemble was entitled to stay for up to three months in Vietnam, some of its members who were (Communist) party members according to the rules of the basic party organization, they had to do one month’s work in the field. production. And according to these rules, not only Osman Dylgjeri, but also some of the other members of the ensemble, well-known names of Albanian folk, operatic, music over the years, honored with the title “People’s Artist”, such as: Mentor Xhemali, Ibrahim Tukici, Hysen Kochia, Avni Mula, etc., in addition to their concerts in various villages and towns of Vietnam, worked for a month between rice fields or livestock complexes in Vietnamese villages, and eventually received from the brigadiers the certification they had completed. complete physical work days. This is best confirmed by some photos taken by the family of Osman Dylgeri, where well-known Albanian artists are seen working in the rice fields of Vietnamese villages.
Front line concert, between bombs
According to the testimonies of Osman Dülger’s family, after many performances during that tour in North Vietnam, eight members of the ensemble who were party members, including Osman himself, as communist, took the initiative and volunteered to go to the front line, to give performances to Vietnamese fighters who face daily downpours of American bullets and bombs. Their initiative to face the sacrifices on the most difficult front was well received by the Vietnamese “brothers” who began to give Albanian artists the necessary instructions and instructions on how to act there. the war where American bombs and bullets were raining. As a start, besides the musical instruments they had with them, the Vietnamese also gave them all the necessary military equipment for the war, teaching them how to get around the barracks. In those cases, there was also a first aid kit, as in the huts where they would live for days, there were many snakes, lizards, and very dangerous poisonous insects that, if bitten, had deadly consequences. After giving them the necessary supplies, the Vietnamese became the necessary instructions on how to use them. In the first aid kit there were some dried tartabiks wrapped in cotton stickers, which, according to the instructions, Albanian artists should eat if flies were bitten. After many preparations and instructions, the eight Albanian Artists of the Army Ensemble traveled to the front line where, for several days, they performed some performances for Vietnamese fighters. This is also evident in some of the photos of the albums of Osman Dylger, one of the eight Communists of that ensemble who embarked on the initiative and at the same time the dangerous adventure of singing in the jungles of Vietnam. For the heroism shown by them in the context of internationalist assistance to the North Vietnamese “brothers”, the Albanian Army Ensemble was decorated with the highest medal given by the People’s Front of Vietnam, while after returning to Tirana, the Ensemble was decorated by the People’s Assembly with the first class Naim Frashëri order.
Artistic groups going to Vietnam were camouflaged as Metallurgical specialists
Throughout the period that Enver Hoxha’s communist regime maintained close relations with North Vietnam, various delegations from Tirana occasionally traveled to distant Communist countries in Southeast Asia, such as China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and North Korea traveled mostly by air, passing transit from the former Soviet Union, where they then took the train and traveled for days to the Far East. But after the beginning of the 1960s, when official Tirana cut off relations with the Soviet Union, this route could no longer function as before, when there was a golden age between the two countries. So from that time until 1978 when Communist Albania finally broke off relations with Mao Zedong’s Communist China, all the various delegations (excluding those of the senior LSP leadership recognized), mainly those groups of servicemen, but also of engineers, specialists and artisans departing from Tirana to China, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea, were forced to camouflage themselves as metallurgical specialists, in order not to have problems during their transit journey through the Soviet Union. .
Memories of Osman Dylgeri: “During the Highland tour of Shkodra, we reported about Vietnam”
In addition to the tours that the People’s Army Artistic Ensemble used to do in the communist Albania’s friendly countries, such as China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam or North Korea, he toured around the country almost year-round, mainly in remote border areas where they were giving performances to the frontiersmen and cooperatives of those areas, and also reporting on tours they had made overseas, in the friendly countries of communist Albania. Related to this is the diary of the artistic leader of the Army Ensemble, Osman Dylgeri, who has kept with astonishing precision all the concerts given by that ensemble in the border areas of Albania, where there are also marked been the number of spectators who attended those shows. For this, in his journal, among other things, Dylger writes: “At 17.00 in Vermosh we start the show. About 350 people attended the show. There were frontiersmen, peasants, and pioneers. We had a lot of success. Peasant Jack Martini said: Let the white page go, and may the halal bread be on you, men of the earth. Before the show, the border command for our honor organized a picnic where we were with their families. We had to eat all the good things, from cheese, chicken, lamb to baklava and revani. We spent two hours with them. Toast for the Party, sh. Enver and for our ensemble. At dinner I have a conversation with the villagers, the officers and their families. I talked about the war in Vietnam and the successes of Chinese industry. We stayed until 11pm. I was thanked for this warm family conversation”.
The friend spoke Mao Zedong
Comrades I’ll say two words’
that came out of our hearts
words i will confess,
are set up in the village of Zhej.
They beat the wires all over,
what Mehmeti said in Tirana
and our bright party
for the filthy treaty.
happy my word party bullet,
the word bullet you have
But the unexpected enemies,
They were shocked by this news
The treacherous betrayers,
They have become a rabbit stand
We burst right in the middle
with the unfaithful treaty
And now they desolate
Some like foxes and some like wolfes
Complex plans as always,
Kosigin and Nixon,
But everyone’s eyes were spoiled
And we suffer evil
That we are bones and knives!
The other world news shook,
friends spoke Mao Ce Duni
I trust Albania is a start
who touches you
i’m gonna make my feet dyer!
Have a nice party
what a great friend you forgive us
o what a great friend o what a great friend
The cultural-proletarian revolution
Text: Koço Uçi
Music: Gaqo Avrazi