From Skifter Kelliçi
The first part
– Behind the scenes of the 11th song festival in RTSH, (December 22-25, 1972): From Enver Hoxha and Nexhmija, to Ramiz Alia, Todi Lubonja, Nefo Myftiu, MihalI Luarasi, etc.-
Memorie.al / It is the fourth time that I am writing about the 11th National Song Festival on Albanian Radio Television (December 22-25, 1972), as much as I wrote some time ago about the Tirana Conference (16 -April 20, 1956). And this time for the same reason: for the lack of historical accuracy of some events related to this festival, which Ramiz Alia, former first secretary of PPSh, after the death of Enver Hoxha, described in the book his last “My Life” (2010), although there are objective, honest statements in it, especially when he testifies about the serious mistakes that led to the failure of the communist system in Albania, led by Enver Hoxha, for which he apologizes. But in the description of his figure, Ramiz Alia is often contradictory, especially in the chapter; “The fight against liberalism”, where it stops at the 11th Song Festival on Albanian Radio and Television (December 22-25, 1972).
“Different people,” he writes in this book, “have asked me the question: “Did Enver listen to his friends and ask them, or did he act on his own?” Such questions are asked because the propaganda of political opponents, especially after the events of 1990, describes Enver as a brutal dictator. My answer to the above question is: “Yes, Enver listened to his friends, consulted with them on various problems and acted according to the decisions that were made collegially”, (page 166).
However, in other chapters of the book, which I will analyze in this dossier, willingly or unwillingly, Ramiz Alia claims for the first time, as well as about other actions of Enver Hoxha, at least after 1956, so after the Tirana Conference, that they were not at all collegial, not at all thoughts presented at meetings of the Political Bureau or the Central Committee, which during this period became even more instruments that he wielded in his hands as ‘t’ he enjoyed it, but decisions made by him and only him, thus proving that he was nothing more than a wild dictator of the Hitler-Stalinist type.
And this, as we will see, after the tragic events of the Tirana Conference, he clearly demonstrated with the 11th Song Festival in RTSh (December 22-25, 1972), which also had tragic consequences, because he did not just hit this festival, did not only hit art, literature, artists and writers, but then the sling in the hands of Enver “Goliath” turned, equally deadly in the field of the army, the economy, sacrificing members of the Political Bureau, (among whom as he claims it himself, it could have been him, but… he was forgiven by the dictator), of the Central Committee, ordinary communists, sowing terror in ordinary people, with imprisonment and exile, or with the so-called cadre turnover.
And about these consequences – writes Ramiz Alia in his book “My Life”, where he even reveals that Enver Hoxha suffered, as he says; “from a certain paranoia, justified by me”, (page 199). However, from the medical point of view, the word “paranoia” (paranoia) means a psychosis characterized by a chronic delirium (cloudy mental state), based on a system of beliefs that do not coincide with reality, as a result of persecution or greatness that appears to the patient. (This word comes from the old Greek “paravous” – out of mind, madness). (“Webster’s & Dictionary and Thesaurus, United States World Atlas”, page 574).
This is what state of mind Enver Hoxha was in for years, which Ramiz Alia himself affirms. What then was this paranoia, (always according to Ramiz Ali’s definition), that ignited his brain and mind even more after the end of the 11th Song Festival in RTSh? Why the blow that he brought to this festival was not immediate, as it had happened and would happen in any case after that, when his “vigilance” had been lightning-fast even in the field of art and literature, to annihilate any phenomena that violated according to him; “the teachings of the Party and the principles of socialist realism”? Why…?! Let’s explain this phenomenon, completely contradicting the expression of Ramiz Ali, that; “Enver listened to his friends, consulted with them…”, so he was not a dictator…!
In the light of some facts…!
“At the performance of the drama ‘White Circle’, which was given last night in Korça – the writer Naum Prifti explained to me one afternoon in February 1964, – Comrade Enver was also present. – I was also in the theater hall. During and after the show he applauded, but when he came out into the hall, he looked downcast. Talking to the comrades of the Party Committee who surrounded him, he told them that the drama had great ideological flaws, so it should not be shown anymore. In addition, he added, even criticism had to take a stand against the author and director Pirro Mani”! And so it really happened. This play was banned and criticism in the literary press, as I recall, followed Mr. Naum for years. At the beginning of November 1969, Mihal Luarasi, with the drama “Njollat e murrme”, by the playwright Minush Jero, staged ironically again in the Korçar Theater, had won the first prize at the National Festival of professional theaters, which had finished a few days ago. Even the prime minister himself, Mehmet Shehu, had given the flag to the “Çajupi” Theater, calling this drama; “with great ideo-artistic values”.
In the book “When I remember that I am”, (1997), the well-known poet, Fatos Arapi, writes about this drama: “The Prime Minister, Mehmet Shehu, raised a toast, but first he thanked the author, Minush Jeron, who was by his side, he praised drama… he drew an arc through the air with his right hand. “This is the skill of the writer. He knew how to capture the essentials…”! And spoke long and freely. In its issue of November 9, 1969, the newspaper “Drita” published an article written by the editor-in-chief himself: “A black spot” and it was quite understandable for us, more than for the author of the drama, that the blow the public insult was given to the Prime Minister, Mehmet Shehu, who was not allowed to enter “so deeply” into the circles of the artistic world, (page 266).
What had happened?! After a few days at the People’s Theatre, Enver Hoxha saw this performance and described it as; “work with obvious ideo-artistic flaws”. Then why did Enver Hoxha not act in the same way with the 11th Festival, which he was also attending on that night of December 22, 1972, in his comfortable villa in Vlora?! We are trying to reconstruct this conjectured scene, which I have also described in my novel; “The Eleventh Festival”, published in 2003. Enver Hoxha, closely follows the first night of the festival. He must have his closest friend and collaborator for all problems, Nexhmija, next to him.
The two leaders of the festival, Bujar Kapexhiu and Edi Luarasi, the wife of Mihal, who is also the director of this festival, appear on the screen. Then, singers come on stage dressed somewhat differently, with long dresses, rings and bracelets on their hands and big earrings in their ears. Most of the songs are driven by lively rhythms. The singers also try to best adapt to these rhythms. Suddenly Enver Hoxha, frowning, turns to Nexhmia, also frowning, like two Siamese brothers: “What are these clothes, these jewels, what are these songs”?! -“Really, what is happening at this festival”?! – Nexhmia is surprised. Logically, this is how it should have happened, as it was later found out that; the great leader had not liked the festival.
Then the question rightly arises. “Why didn’t he act as in the two cases, when he saw the dramas “White Circle” and “Brown Spots”, he ordered that they not be shown for the reasons we mentioned, although Mehmet Shehu himself liked the second drama? ! Why, after the end of the first night of the 11th Festival, did he not immediately call Ramiz Ali, who was the head of propaganda in the Central Committee, and tell him: “Ramiz, did you see the first night of the festival”? After his affirmative answer, he would continue: “But how did you allow this black hata”?! So that tomorrow all the singers come out in simple clothes and the rhythms of the songs should be softened as much as possible”? Was it possible for the dictator to do this? Of course. What happened in this case?
Ramiz Alia would have immediately notified Todi Lubonjë, the general director of RTS at that time, his close friend since childhood, so that the above measures could be taken. As a result, the next morning, the artistic director of the 11th Festival, Nikolla Zoraqi, the director, Mihal Luarasi and the other organizers, with Todi Lubonja and Nefo Myfti, director of Radio (wife of Manush Myfti, member of the Political Bureau), would have taken the most possible measures, to save what could be saved in the other three nights of the 11th Festival.
Then, after meetings and discussions, which would start from the basic organizations of the party, the Party Committee of Tirana and above, some measures would be taken for the leaders of RTSh and that would be the end of everything. What could these measures be? Many, Todi Lubonja could be given a severe warning, or he could be transferred to work somewhere in another sector. The same thing could happen to Nefo Myfti, director of Radio Tirana, Mihal Luarasi, director of the festival…! That’s all.
In order not to spoil the atmosphere, this would not happen before the New Year, but right after it. But it didn’t happen like that…! In the chapter “The fight against liberalism”, which is included in the book “My life”, (published in 2010), Ramiz Alia, focusing on the 11th Song Festival in RTSh, writes as follows: “On the night when the festival took place, I I followed him straight into the hall of the Opera and Ballet Theatre. My attention was drawn to the “new” way of standing on stage of the artists, their clothing and especially the mannerisms in the execution of the songs.
During the break of the first and second half, I talked with Todi Lubonjë, then General Director of RTS. I told him that the festival had crossed the line and contradicted the party line, either in terms of the way the songs were performed, or in terms of the clothing of the singers. He partly contradicted me, partly agreed with some ‘exaggeration’. The next day I also talked with Hysni Kapo and Mehmet Shehu and nobody had any special remarks”. (Page 262). However, in his book “Under the weight of violence”, (third edition, 2010), Todi Lubonja presents this event completely differently.
“On the last night, – he writes, – Ramiz Alia assisted. We were sitting together in the loggia. During the entire show, he made only one remark: “Do you like this dress?” Indeed, there was a singer who wore a dress that did not fit her at all…! When the performance ended, upon leaving the Opera House, Ramizi uttered a word that neither they nor now, I can’t understand: – “Aren’t these bonbons coated with sugar, which contain poison”?! – “No, I don’t believe there is anything malicious here.” – “No”, he also answered and ran away. It was the first time he spoke Chinese to me. Without disturbing the peace, I didn’t make any assessment about the festival, but I didn’t call it a national cataclysm either” (pages 303, 304 of the above work).
That Ramiz Alia asked such a question after the last night of this festival, that is: “Aren’t these bonbons…”, Todi Lubonja himself confirmed this to me personally. This happened when in January 1991, when I was visiting him at home, to learn from him the events related to the 11th Festival, which I would need to write the novel of the same title, which I mentioned above.
Even Mihal Luarasi stops at the analysis of this question, in his article; “Face to face, with the black widow”, (Unintentional reminder of the 11th Festival…after 30 or so years”), when he writes: “The above phrase of Ramiz Ali also expresses the permanent doubt-disbelief, high party officials towards artists and writers, the fear that at any time, they could do something wrong to the party, put water under the rug”. (“Memory that never sleeps”, page 205). I also have the conviction that when Ramiz Alia asked this question, in one way or another, he had this intention, but he did not continue it, even more so when he claims that after he had talked with Hysni Kapo and Mehmet Shehu , “no one had any special remarks”!
So, it turns out that apart from the conversation above, Ramiz Alia has not said anything else about the 11th Festival, because if it had been different, that is, if he had made harsh remarks about this festival, in other words, if he had said that: “He goes against the party line”, then what I wrote above would happen: From the next day, Todi Lubonja and all the organizers of the festival, we would have taken immediate measures, to these defects should be removed. Well, then, as if Enver Hoxha himself had made a remark from Vlora…! But that didn’t happen!
One more thing: Ramiz Alia, as we saw, writes in his book that he saw it on the last night of the 11th Festival in the TOB hall (Opera and Ballet Theater), with Todi Lubonja, to whom, in the break between the first and second half, he had said that; “The festival contradicted the Party’s line, either in terms of the way the songs were performed, or in terms of the clothing of the singers”!
According to this statement, it appears that Ramiz Alia, unlike Enver Hoxha, did not watch the first three nights of this festival on Radio-Television. If it had been seen, the above remarks, which I repeat, are refuted by Todi Lubonja in his book; “Under the weight of violence”, he should have done it immediately after the first, second or third night of the festival. But it hardly happened like that. He must have followed the first three nights from the RTS screen and did not make any remarks, except for the ones above. Memorie.al
The next issue follows