By Petraq Xhaçka
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, together 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 are 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 was 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.
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The next morning, around eight o’clock, they called me. I showed them the drawing I had made during the night, under the few faint rays of light that came to me from the open hole above the door. Oh God, what was happening to us! What were these eyes of ours looking at, what was this prison mind of ours creating! Once they got to know the story I made up, they were still unhappy. So the same methods started again, which then became daily. I had promised them that I would behave like an obedient student, but it was very difficult for me to get into the tracks of the stories they had in their heads. We were leaders in the fields of imagination.
And they understood the difficulties I encountered, therefore every day they opened my horizons through questions, which simultaneously determined when and with whom I should build the event. This happened because they had already relied on a certain scenario, which they had done before with Mynyri. He had been imprisoned a few months earlier, and what you had arranged together with the investigators, were supposed to be the foundations for the building, where I had to bring my stones. But could my imagination reach what Mynyri had written in his script for our joint activity?! The investigators asked me to write when Mynyri was recruited and what I knew about it during the period when we lived together in the building of single engineers and technicians in Kucovo. I understood well, that I had to adapt to my colleague’s stories, but how?!
Even after accepting it, it was not easy, because the guesses of the two fortunetellers, who wrote in two separate dungeons, had to be reconciled. This was the reason why our investigation continued for months. It was for this reason that I was called to two or three interrogation sessions every day, in which as the head of the group, appointed by the investigator herself, I had to make contact with all these defendants. And with me they conducted not a few, but over three hundred such sessions! Their rage, beatings, tortures, insults, became more unrestrained: “Why are you not telling the truth as it is possible?! Are you still hiding”?!
It was a tragicomedy that went on for months. They rarely answered such questions with the string they gave me, and I had to grab it to start twisting it. Only at tuk did they say to me: “Why don’t you say it like Mynyri told us?” And they opened and read to me pieces from Mynyr Arap’s ghastly work, probably created under terrible violence. At that time, I could only find a little “wool” to spin, because I was convinced that the road would be closed to me again. – I’m sorry, – I told them, – and my memory is not helping me. Now I remember that it is exactly as Mynyri writes!
We were playing an ugly theatrical toy, with two opposing sides or, as they say, antagonists. I stayed in the dungeon and tried to understand with whom and how they wanted the event to unfold through the famous fairy tale that they gave me. I knew, but, that every day, I would hear their expressions of dissatisfaction, every day I would hear insults, every day my head would hit the wall. I knew that Rustem Ajazi, would show me the gun, would start counting the bullets in the magazine, in front of my face. That’s why I got used to this process, and it was not only painful, but also boring.
And so through the daily, prolonged sessions, them giving me “thread” and me spinning, constantly refuting what I had written before, we were getting to where they wanted to go, the masters of the Stalinist investigation. They often tore up what I had written and stormed at me angrily, because I wasn’t reacting like my arrested colleagues. But I understood that this was not the truth. So just to reach the elaboration that Mynyri had made, the starting point of his adventure, how “that agent of the Soviets was recruited”, it took me a period of three weeks of writing, with different versions, which were always approaching towards what was required.
Even now I am not very clear, how I finished this chapter of the script, for which many pages were written and torn. From the very request that the investigators made me, I was given the clue, how Mynyri was recruited by the Russians. They ordered me: “Now tell us: how Mynyri was recruited by the Russians in Kucovo, when you were living in the bachelor’s dormitory”? After this element was given to me, I created a variant that the act of recruitment was carried out in the canteen where we ate bread, where Mynyri had to come several times. In this canteen environment, there was also a Soviet, who had recruited Mynyri in my presence. This was not accepted and I was forced to “remember” the event better than I had forgotten! I made several changes and corrections, but I did not leave the border of the canteen. After long sessions, seeing that I was stuck and didn’t know what to do, they turned to me unsatisfied: – “Why don’t you tell us the truth, what happened with that Russian woman at home”?
Mynyri would have created some variant, which was recruited on the basis of relations with a Russian woman. I took paper and pencil and looked for myself in the dungeon. I had a hard time getting the woman in, but I got her: as if she had a birthday party, in the canteen where single engineers ate bread. Mynyri also came there. While dancing, he fell in love with the wife of a Soviet specialist. They broke away from the evening and went to the room where Mynyri lived, a room that he had not far from the canteen. The next day, they, as always, were angry and tore the sheets from my eyes and gave me the daily ration of torture.- “Mascara! Why are you lying to us, not telling us the truth that the incident happened in the house where she lived”?! Then I was forced to “drive” the couple to her house and start there, without waiting for her husband. Even this variant was not in line with what Mynyri had prepared for them. When they were leading me to the dungeon, I said to myself: “Oh, Mynyr, send me a message about how you tarnished your recruitment, because I died! My wounds are bleeding and I can’t find him”!
With all the sordid dungeon life, with all the incessant worry about the fate of the family, I would laugh at this never-ending tragicomedy. If it weren’t for the torture! Oh, no, torture excluded humor altogether! In conclusion, we didn’t hold the event in the canteen, because the adventure didn’t happen there at all. Not even at the birthday party. The lovers had been at her house, when suddenly her husband came and caught them. Myniri panicked, opened the bathroom window and threw himself behind the house to leave. But he, the Russian, had seen it and recognized it. So the Russians went and found Mynyr, called him to an office and told him: – “Mynyr, agree to cooperate with us, or we will report to the Party committee. We will show there that you raped a Soviet woman – (in 1960!) – and they will imprison you as an anti-Soviet”!
The investigator liked this completely childish version. My imagination, between threats and beatings, with the “help” of the investigators, worked very well. Gradually we managed to come up with this story, completely different from what I started. All the sheets written by me, for three weeks in a row, were torn up and submitted, and in the end the final version was saved, such that whoever reads it concludes that the depositions have been matched very precisely. This was the dirty work the investigation was doing, to hide its nefarious methods. This was the reason why the prosecutors never participated during all our sessions. This allowed the criminal investigators to have a free hand to make combinations, so that in the end, they had everything in order, except that in the process that belonged to them, they flagrantly violated the laws.
According to the laws in force, for each investigation session, the protocol had to be kept and signed by the deponent, the investigators and the special prosecutor. In all our sessions, this was never done. After the depositions were over, we wrote them down on clean paper and were ordered to read them into a microphone so that they could also record our guilty pleas. As I learned later, after our trial and conviction, this version was also the final one, but it was not the only one. At first Mynyri and then Enrikoja, had built other variants.
Since these two had been together in Italy in the 80s, to gain experience in the electronic center for the processing of seismic material, near AGIP, they had built the story in Rome. Mynyri had admitted that he was recruited by the Italian secret services. He thought this would be the most reliable case to put in the depositions file. Inspired by different movies, Mynyri presented the event as if they were sleeping in a hotel together with Enrico; at one time they had opened the door and some individuals with guns in their hands had suddenly entered them, they had told them: “Don’t move”? The strangers had stuffed rags in both of their noses, from those with substances to make them fall asleep. When he opened his eyes, he saw that he was in the Soviet embassy. Further elaboration led to where the Soviets had told him: “Either agrees to work for us, or we will report that you have come to our embassy on your own and joined us, and so prison or death await you, decide and take it”! In conclusion, Mynyri had accepted.
But no one in this testimony asked the question, not only how they found out in that big city, where the Albanian specialists were staying, but also how these two big men were carried out on their shoulders and how it happened that the hoteliers, didn’t they see what was going on in their hotel?! But these did not matter, because neither the prosecution nor the court would ask such logical questions. For these bodies, it was important that you yourself were accepting and giving a story, where you were at fault. While when they started the investigative process with Enriko Veiz, they asked him to testify, based on his friend’s fantasy: “Tell us what happened to you and Mynyri that night in the hotel, with the Soviets”?
Enrikoja immediately understood that a story had to be created with the Soviets and with the hotel. And he elaborated the event like this: “We were sleeping with Mynyri in the room we had taken in the hotel. The door opens and two women enter us wearing nightgowns; one went to Mynyri and the other came to me. They told us in the end that they were Soviet that they had previously placed hidden cameras in the room and we had already been photographed. They gave us the ultimatum that; either we agreed to work for them, or they would start filming in Albania, showing our authorities that we had broken the rules by sleeping with Russian women. As a result, I agreed to put myself in the service of the Soviets…”!
Stories more naive than these cannot even be imagined. In the middle of Italy, with hidden cameras, in a private hotel! Mynyri, as a Vlonjat from a military family, chose the version of the cobweb, of putting him to sleep, while the desolate Enrikoja, as an outstanding artist of Albanian caricature, from the most popular figures of this genre, winner of international awards, with an artistic-liberal imagination, like a handsome boy, built the script with women. The antiquity of these tragicomic episodes should not cause any smile, because time cannot completely heal wounds. In order to come up with the creation of these stories, Mynyr Arapi had gone through excruciating sessions of psychological terror and severe physical violence. Enriko Veiz had his teeth pulled without a single milligram of anesthetic and suffered inhumane torture by the staff of the Fier investigation, which did the violence more as a passion than as a duty.
These recollections, I believe, are sufficient to extinguish any spark of amusement which any of the pages of this book may have caused. Let’s get back to the script. None of the initial versions remained standing, because the event in Italy was too late and did not allow space for extensive activity with harmful consequences of our group, which was calculated to be much hated. He definitely had to be connected with the activity of enemy persons, who had penetrated to the Political Bureau, but who were now scheduled to be arrested. Important for the investigators were that they achieved victory, since we, the prisoners, accepted our guilt. Then the others could meet again, removing something else.
So Enriko, they forced him to change the time from the 80s to the 60s, right after he finished his higher studies in Tirana. Among other things, the late Enriko told us that the moment of his “recruitment”, as a member of this group, since the investigator asked him to connect him with me and Mynyri, he presented it as if one day, we had informed him since Fieri, where he worked, to come to Kuçovo, in the General Directorate of Research. You have shown that at the appointed time, he entered one of the halls where we had gathered over twenty people. At this moment, I, who led this gathering of enemies, introduced Enrico to them, as a new member of our saboteur group, as if this group had been a sports club and as if I were introducing people to a young football player, from now on from now on he would play in our team!
Enriko Veizi, you had drawn up this story both lazily and with a bitter sense of humor, which was developed by the art of caricatures and which could pay dearly, when they noticed the irony, and ripped it off. But they neither noticed nor tore it, and if I’m not mistaken, that’s how it ended up in his depositions, which are still in the court archives today. The entire investigative process from start to finish was just an endless lie. They rejected our nightly drafts, not because they weren’t true, but because they weren’t lies that worked well. I don’t know which one to show first and it’s not worth it that it would take volumes if I lined them all up.
Over the heads of the investigators
In one of the sessions in the afternoon, when the investigation was continuing, the door opened and a man entered the room, which I did not know, although he seemed to me to be a familiar face somewhere. In those moments, I could not concentrate and strained my memory to find where I had met him, but later in the dungeon, I remembered that I had seen this face sitting on the sofa, that day that the Minister of the Interior, he called me to his office in Tirana. Chief investigator Rustemi, who was accompanying him, ordered me to stand up to respect this authority coming from the capital and introduced me: – “Comrade is the head of the General Investigation of the Republic! The great head of the investigation was dressed in good clothes, but I have a banal detail left in my memory; he was wearing a pair of military boots with collars and his trousers were rolled up over them. It seemed as if he had come, or was going to a muddy field. His face was smiling and surprisingly had a friendly look.
The chief investigator addressed me saying, among other things, that it was a good thing for me and for my family, that I had finally accepted and after that, together with my fellow investigators in the district, I would do well to elaborate on all events, all nodes of hostile activity of our group. Man, having the inherited illusion that in this life, in the end, the truth always comes to the shore, that it sinks but does not drown, I thought that the man in front of me might be deceived. These investigators who beat me from morning to dinner, would have failed, because they had not investigated anything, because they had not moved a single meter outside these cellars and because they had not found any fault in me, if I, out of fear of the wood, I would not have admitted to myself that I did it. I had to tell this to the chief investigator. I thought, however, that it was good that the kind man knew what was going on here. I couldn’t possibly find a better opportunity than this to get out of this cobweb.
– Mr President of the Republic’s Investigation, – I told him. – I admitted my guilt, under the torture and pressure of the investigative group. I didn’t really do those vile acts, even though I admitted them. I have never thought and acted against the people of my country, I have never dealt with those things that I wrote on paper. What they can give you to read is pure imagination, in favor of some people, who prepared my arrest. I would still continue to denounce the dirty process and the criminal work done by the salarymen and the chief investigator, but he, upon hearing my words, became like a madman and in a loud and clear voice addressed the investigators with these words, that I will never forget:
– “I order that all the most severe types of torture that we have be used against the arrested Xhaçka, until he accepts and does not oppose our accusations”! Thoroughly dissatisfied with my attitude, after giving this order, he stormed out of the room where the inquiries were being made. The inquisitors, enraged by the confession with which I tried to send the truth to the higher spheres, feeling myself violated, ordered me to write down on paper all that I had said to their chief, that is, to deny in writing what I had previously accepted. Immediately after that, the tortures began, with extraordinary ferocity, with a greater zeal than before, as if they had before them not a real man with flesh and bones, but a plastic imitation of him, a puppet. This torture went on for hours, hours that had no end. The first attempt to defend the truth turned out worse for me. And it should have been in vain. Memorie.al
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