A PAINFUL ANNIVERSARY
This June is the fourth anniversary of the tragic death of Mark Gjomarkaj, hero of the anti-communist resistance. He succumbed after having fearlessly faced, for eighteen months, the triumphant march of the red militiamen launched to subjugate every corner of Albania.
In November 1944 the new Soviet brand regime was officially established in Tirana. When the last German occupation troops abandoned Shkodra, while the most famous exponents of nationalism were forced to find shelter in Western countries, Mark Gjomarkaj, determined to oppose at all costs the consolidation of Bolshevism in Albania, perhaps hoping for a hoped-for landing of Anglo-American troops, climbed the steep paths of the Mirdita plateau and mobilized the most spirited men of the Twelve Flags, of which, in the course of history, his ancestors were supreme magistrates and leaders. At his side was his younger brother Sander, who assisted him with epic intrepidity in the anti-communist struggle and succeeded him in the command of the nationalist guerrillas in the native mountains, where he also fell a year later hit by adversary fire. Around the two Gjomarkaj gathered from all the regions of Albania other staunch opponents of communism, considered by genuine Albanians a masking of the centuries-old Moscow expansionist aims. The impending danger of Russian imperialism, always heralding the small nation of mourning and revenge, especially since the beginning of the nineteenth century, was already prophesied by the Poet Fishta in the restless and nervous stanzas of his lyrics and in the vigorous songs of his main poem “Lahuta and Malsis”.
Alerted by that deep instinct that especially in small peoples never fails, precisely because the incessant suffering refined their political sense and the faculty of foreboding, the Albanians immediately understood that the red hordes, drunk by reflex for the victories of the Reds, directed by emissary skills of Moscow, proposed to break down with iron and fire the skeleton of the peculiar virtues of the lineage, the only support of its ancient ethnicity and the first obstacle to the slavism process. The young chief of the Mirditi intended to hinder, with the strong nuclei of his men and relying on the feelings of solidarity of the populations, the extension of the governmental authority of the Reds until the moment in which the Peace Conference, considered imminent and inevitable, confirmed the integrity of the territory and the independence of Albania and the right of the people to choose a Western-style democratic regime through free elections. Unfortunately, he ignored the nefarious agreements between Tehran and Yalta. The steel curtain, this modern Chinese wall, slowly descended, and the country was isolating itself in an atmosphere of terror, the gloomy silences of which only the groans of the innumerable tortured in hideous prisons and the dry crackling of the firing squads that mowed down the best children of the country now enslaved.
Hence, Mark thought to deal an extreme blow to draw the attention of the West to dying Albania. He summoned the representatives of the entire armed residence of the northern regions for mid-June 1946. The meeting was to take place in Prosek, where his brother Sander, with the bulk of his forces, was taking care of the necessary preparations and the delegates of the various lineages were already arriving. Mark was in another part of Mirdizia. He started the conference with his entourage made up of about thirty chosen guerrillas. Some traitor had given notice to the government of these intense movements. The red militiamen, who arrived in large numbers at night, surrounded the whole area, posting patrols on the edge of the mule tracks that lead to Prosek. Mark, in his passage from the Perlati Woods to Tjegullat and Prosekut, encountered one of these communist ambushes and at the first shots from a machine gun he was seriously wounded. His men picked him up and carried him on their shoulders for more than an hour’s walk, always fighting against the enemies who were pressing in from every side. At dawn, following the traces of the blood copiously shed by the wounded, the Communists closely surrounded the Mirditi squad. Mark then ordered his brothers to abandon him and rush to his brother to bring him news of the incident and hand him a bag with important documents that he always carried over his shoulder. His Mirditi did not want to obey. They surrendered to the will of the young prince only when he reiterated the order in an imperious way and they walked away breaking the circle of fire that held them close. Many of them covered the gaps with their bodies mortally affected by the enemy’s bullets. Next to Mark lay the corpse of eighteen-year-old Nikoll Perpjetri. Left alone, the unfortunate leader took his own life with his revolver. It was the morning of June 14, 1946.
Heavyhearted fate was reserved by destiny for this young man who burned with the desire to devote the lively wit and exceptional energy of his character to the greatness of his homeland.
On the edge of the Great Pass, while the shadowy area of the hereafter stretched out on his face, he turned to contemplate for the last time the peaks of his Mirdizia, radiated by the first light of the dawn, which was for him the light of sunset; he must have felt a pang in his heart at the thought that he died struck by an Albanian hand. A very distant power, with an inhumane idea, which sprung from dark powers had poisoned the souls of many young brothers and had managed to arm their hands with fratricidal weapons.
He succumbed struck by brothers possessed by an inexplicable hatred and completely unrelated to the thrills and ferments of national life. Sweet in comparison the death at the hands of a foreigner, in a battle against the enemies of the homeland, to defend the soil received as a legacy from the trialists and affirm their sacred rights. The poet foreseer had sung that “falling for the homeland was not dying, but being reborn”. More fortunate are the fathers killed in battle against the invaders breaking through the steppes and deserts of Asia. Bitter on the other hand death brought by a fraternal hand induced with diabolical macaws and brandishing a foreign weapon for the benefit of a foreign power’s greed for domination. It is a terrible fatality to be suppressed by those who should be fighting side by side for the same ideal.
Such feelings must surely have torn the young heart at the point where its beating stopped.
But the brave Albanian leader of the first phase of the anti-communist armed resistance, falling on the field of struggle, did not put the seal of his generous blood only on the cause of liberated homelands, but rose to the assertion of a greater cause: that of the threatened European civilization by the frightening swift diligence of the Soviet tide. Therefore he will not only remain in the memory of the Albanian lineage as a dazzling milestone on the steep and hard way of liberation from the larvae of Moscow domination but he must be and will be recognized as a heroic soldier who sacrificed himself to affirm and preserve the essential values of the European spirit. Once again, as in the time of Scanderbeg, the children of little Albania took sides against the menacing enemies of Western civilization.
The scarcity of the number is overcome by the greatness of their souls. They do little because the nation that generates them is small. But they did and do more than they can. Europe should take this into account.
From sacrifice a better life is born; with sacrifice he builds the future of peoples; love and sacrifice illuminate the ethnic essence of nations and impose respect for them.
Mark Gjomarkaj, scion of a historical lineage of valiant leaders, fulfilled his duty as head of the Mirditi and son of Albania by dying among his men and making a holocaust of life in defense of traditions, which are the flower of the blood of our people. But at the same time his sacrifice also assumes a higher and wider value, attesting to the firm will of the Albanian people, except for a violent minority of exalted bloodthirsty who are perhaps more reckless than evil, to live in the bosom of the family of Western nations and within the luminous sphere of their spirituality.