By Petraq Xhaçka
Part twenty three
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, along 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 have been 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 have been 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.
Continues from last issue
My name was also coming up. I of course did not know these details, but I also had plenty of other indications. Those inside the interrogation halls continued to suffer all kinds of torture, asking them to mix Petraq as well, and apparently the group would be large. And what would a black man do, inside the four walls, without any protection, without anyone to give him courage and advice?! After a long period of almost three months, the investigation reached the boiling point, which was required by the previously constructed scenario, on the existence of the “large group of dangerous enemies in the oil industry”.
The files of those people that the State Security had prepared, at the request of the leadership, Hekuran Isaj, were on the table. Now the investigation, using these two specialists who were coerced into admitting their guilt as “springs”, drew up the connections with the other persons, previously planned.
This is how our arrests were prepared, but even we, as it was said, were not the last, but there were others, even many others. The party and its organs had a lot of windmills in front of them and the match would be bloody. Towards the end of February 1986, early one morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, there was a knock at the door of the house and I went to open it. In front of me I saw the well drilling engineer, Fatmir. He was pale in the face and his body, fingers, and voice were shaking very visibly. He says to me in a broken voice: -Petraq, I am very sick from nerves. Please I have come to help me. You suffer from nervous diseases and you can advise me something.
Although I had many work encounters with him, I still felt bad when I saw him in that miserable state. I invited him inside the house, to give him advice from my experience. I begged Jean to make us both a coffee, although I never drank coffee in the morning. I took my co-worker to one of the rooms where we could hang out and talk. Did he also have a bag, which he usually carried at work, that’s why it didn’t attract my attention when he took it into the room, behind him?
I listened to his complaint of nervous disturbances and watched as he continued to shake. To tell the truth, I could not judge whether they were tremors that perhaps he really had from some internal nervous disturbance, or were artificial tremors, which a cinematographer could perfectly produce: I created the conviction, that he was not in good health, with the stresses that he might have had, that they often do not confess to other people, and therefore to his request, what kind of medicine I was using, I fully answered.
In addition, I advised him, before it was too late, to go immediately, even that day, to the neurological hospital in Tirana, where there were good doctors and they would give him the appropriate treatment. I made it clear to him that the doses of the medicines I had been using for several years were too strong and he should not take them in the same way. It was important for him not to dwell on the disease, because it would only get worse.
He suddenly stopped the diversion of advice and said to me in a low voice. – Petrac, I’m worried! I am afraid that Mynyri, there in the investigator, will have said something about both of us, who are responsible for the negative wells! It surprised me. I thought that maybe he was suffering like our friend; engineer Tom, who was driven to commit suicide by the disease of persecution. It did not occur to me that this was a provocation suggested by the State Security…!
I was taken aback, but I thought I would give him a formal answer – If you, in your conscience, feel that you have done something wrong and hide the responsibility for some well, then that is your business, judge for yourself! As for me, Mynyri has nothing to say, I am completely calm, because throughout my life, I have worked without saving, and with honesty. Every geologist has negative wells, and so do I. But this is completely normal, for all geologists of the world. Therefore, there is no need for Mynyri to accuse me of this, in the investigator.
I feel sorry for that man, because I thought he was sick, but from the investigation, as early as the first hours, I learned that he had been sent by them. He was instructed on what to say and was equipped with a tape recorder, which he carried in his bag, to record his provocation and my response. The investigator was paying for her incompetence, to find something more subtle, or she thought of all this to create an impression on the other specialists who were following me. He was waiting for me to show some concern. But I controlled myself.
In the later years, the post-dictatorial ones, I learned that the State Security had placed a surveillance device in my home for a year, to follow my words at any moment. And they never found or heard anything that was related to the accusations or the scenarios that they thought, because they themselves knew from before that they would not allow it to enter their work. But this failure did not deter them from their treacherous plan to arrest me. They didn’t mind the fact that they didn’t get anything related to the accusations or the scenarios they were thinking about, because they themselves knew beforehand that they wouldn’t get arrested. But any resentment or cursing, it was natural that could be fished out, and by introducing it into the article of agitation and propaganda, they would make my arrest more convincing.
Likewise, after leaving prison, I had the chance to meet engineer Fatmir, who had come to my house that morning as a sick person. – Why did you do this? – I asked her. He told me openly: – They called me to the Internal Branch and forced me to do that dirt! I apologize, Petraq! Despite the fact that with the interception through the devices, they had no result, despite the fact that the step-by-step pursuit did not lead them anywhere, they had decided and made their evil film. On March 6, 1986, at ten in the morning, Enriko Veiz was arrested. After five hours, the chief investigator Rustem Ajazi entered my office and called me with his finger. – Come with me in the corridor! And in the corridor he threw me handcuffs.
Liars are tired
So I judged that it was more reasonable to accept what I had not done and to participate in this tragic game, built according to the scenario of the high leadership of the Party, which you had trampled underfoot, and was martyring my poor country. The lost was known: Me! And the end of the game, when? Just finish it as soon as possible! After I had made this decision, I went to the morning session the next day, I immediately told the group of investigators that I would accept the charges and sign. But only on one condition: not to deport my family to other deep areas and not to remove my children from schools.
They agreed to my requests. Man always lives with hope for his life and that of loved ones. Hope is what dies last. Their promise was enough to pass the queue. My children were brutally persecuted, just like all political prisoners. Indeed, they did not remove them from Fieri, but the doors of the schools were closed in their faces. Pleased with the information I gave them, the investigators immediately typed a short protocol form in which I admitted my guilt. This was one of the most disgusting moments of my life.
I signed, put my head down on the small piece of board in front of me, and for the first time during the investigative process, tears filled my eye sockets. I stayed like that for a while, and then I raised my head and started looking out the window. They rushed over and gave me a cigarette to smoke, for the first time. The investigation room was warmed by a tin stove, where some willow wood was burning. When I finished the cigarette, they called the police, who escorted me to the dungeon.
As I scurried down the corridor between the two policemen, it occurred to me that they might be tricking me again. They had told me that; if I accepted, they would no longer torture me and my punishment would be lighter, but they were treacherous. When I went to the dungeon I sobered up and only then did I become aware of what serious charges I had accepted. What a shame! The unbearable tortures could really rest and my exhausted body could fall into peace, but…! How dearly had I bought that peace!
The tortures stopped from the outside and began to suffocate me from the inside. I cried so hard that I could not rest. The clothes had wrapped around my shoulders and were shaking me all over. It never occurred to me that such a day would come. I never dreamed that a moment would come for me to display my heroism. There are millions, millions and billions living in the world, who are not heroes and no one asks them to become one. Couldn’t I be right to not be like that? Doesn’t a person have the right to ask heaven and God not to subject him to such a wild test, where you are required to be either a hero or a humiliated coward?!
When a person commits a punishable act, he is also aware of the consequences, that one day he may have to pay. But when he has not done it and says he has done it and signs for it? I never would have guessed how severe this new strain would be. I had spent about two or three hours, in this depressed state in the dungeon, when I again heard the footsteps of the constables and the noise of the door latch. The police tied my hands in front of me, because of the pain in my wrists and shoulders; I could no longer put my hands behind my back. I was pierced again in the usual place.
There were only three people in the room now satisfied that I had already surrendered. I noticed immediately that I had surrendered in vain. And I had signed in vain, because already, not having the idea of these affairs, I had lost an advantage: a day before, both parties knew that I was innocent, and now, I had given them the right to they believed, even formally, that I was immersed in crime. Now only I could return to my innocence. Threats, insults, beatings began again, to force me to tell, all the harmful activity, concretized that practically, it was a big zero.
– Here is the paper and the pen, – Pajtimi told me. – Now write us there, how and when he was put in the service of foreigners! With a cry of surprise, and with a voice that suddenly came out from the depths of my soul very high, I asked: – What?!.. Yes, you know that I agreed to do as you say! I don’t know what to say anymore because I have no idea about these things!
Then those who really knew things well put their entire criminal experience into the dance. They expelled me from the community of “screenwriters” and left me in the role of the culprit, just as I had accepted, with my signature. They now wanted me to prove my guilt. The more I protested, the wilder they became and the more frequent their punches and kicks. Especially Rustem Ajazi and Pajtim Lame, they didn’t leave a chance without getting up from the place where they were sitting like winners, they grabbed me by the throat and slammed my head against the wall. It was really impossible to go on like that.
– Okay, – I finally said. – You tell me and I will write them, the way you want them. I wish I hadn’t told them that. I was insulting their craft. And their bloody trade dictated that for no moment from now on, they would not admit that it was the torture and the threats with the fate of the family that had pushed me to admit that I was an agent of foreigners. Shamelessly they would not admit it. From now on, they would say that I confessed without any coercion or abuse. This was the first betrayal and since the establishment of this body, it must have been the basic betrayal, where now I became the ten thousandth victim. Or the hundred thousandth?
In response to my proposal, they rose up insulted and revolted and rushed at me all at once, with insults and blows of all kinds. But, really, I could not imagine, with whom I was bringing the mines to their homeland and when, at what time did they want to lay the first mine? They could be angry as much as they wanted, I was not for them! But it was important that they understood me, that I needed help and through their swearing and venting, full of hatred, like true masters, they started to help me, guide me and guide me, where my answers should be, where Petraq Xhaçka’s imagination had to be ignited, to charge Petraq Xhaçka, so as not to annoy them with his naïve expressions; “I’m not guilty, but I’ll do as you say!”
I thought of creating a scene, when I was on duty in the West, in the period after the events of 1975. And I wrote this in a few words, on the spot, in a letter. They waited for me, smoking or sometimes making circles from cigarette smoke. They talked about movies, about television shows that had left an impression on the whole country in those days, about the next week of the football championship, about small topics that made up that small but dear happiness, outside those walls. I tried not to listen to them and concentrate as much as possible on my strange creative process.
They took the letter I wrote and after reading it, they looked at each other with displeased eyes. Their experience of subduing prisoners had taught them that it was much easier now that the ice had broken. They could move forward more easily now. Hand in hand, we would now arrive at the point where other groups were then required to continue the next series of this film script, with members of the Politburo. – Tell us now, when did you start cooperation with the Soviets?
Now it became clear to me that they wanted me to write about the time I was put into the service of the Russians, although it was not reliable, as that period was too short for me, about a year. Not only that, but everyone knew my contradictions with their head, at Kombinat. But my logic was out of place, since the truth now had no value. It was important to create and create constantly, material of betrayals and episodes of sabotage. Ganxha, with the presence of the Russian specialists, wanted the investigation to be able to connect more easily the people of the party’s high leadership, former oil workers, who she already had plans to convert into enemies.
I then asked them to let me think and “refresh my memory,” to use an expression which I found with difficulty, but which they greatly enjoyed. The investigators agreed, gave me paper and pencil to write in the dungeon and let me go satisfied. All their lives, they had fabricated lies, but since 1945, it had been many years and they had exhausted their imagination.
Crushed physically and morally, I tried to imagine myself a film scriptwriter and to imagine how such an event could develop, having now as orientation, not the West, as I started at the beginning, but the Russian specialists, working in Kuçova Oil Plant, in 1960, during which I was appointed to the position of chief geologist. Now it didn’t matter how filling the scenario was, it mattered only to build events of this activity.
With this request to myself, I created several episodes of meetings in the engineers’ canteen, where Soviet specialists also ate. There I decided to start the relationship, how they proposed me to work for them, to overthrow Hoxha and how I immediately accepted. And the Russians did this recruitment so simply and so easily, as if they were proposing to go together, to see a sports match or a movie show, things that I had never done with them either.
I am convinced that a script professional or an honest investigator, no matter how beginner, would reject that nonsense from the very first sentences, and would understand that the ways of elaborating the events were very banal and naive. But when a person has not committed such acts, there is no question that memory will help him. This is where imagination had to roll up its sleeves, and I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t have it perfect. Memorie.al
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