Letter to Gjon Markagjoni from Kol Cuni- 8.17.1951

The original letter, written in Albanian, was intercepted and translated by the Italian Secret Service. At that time Italy was under a center-right government and many inside the government were very worried about the rise of communism. The Italian government often intercepted documents and letters from Yugoslavia or Albania, addressed to Gjon Markagjoni and Ndue Gjomarkaj, before delivery and translated them for their own records.

In the letter below, Kol Cuni informs Kapidan Gjon Markagjoni of events occurring in Yugoslavia with some of the refugees. It also references the son of Gjon Markagjoni, Dede Markagjoni, who was presumably released from jail in 1951 and found himself on the run, after being told that there was a warrant for his arrest, again. Interestingly enough the document from the Albanian Directorate of Prisons, released in 1992, state that Dede was arrested in 1950 and sentenced to prison until 1957.

The discrepancy in the documents below are telling of the misinformation recorded in the government offices. The first document states that Dede was arrested on 3 April, 1945 and released on 2 April, 1950.

The second document states that he was arrested on 20 March, 1950 (?) and released on 19 March, 1957. It is common in government offices to cite dates with a 1 day difference when the exact date is unknown. In this case the 20 March, 1950 to 19 March, 1957 date is most likely incorrect.

One could therefore assume that the news which Ndue Vata brings to Yugoslavia, claiming that Dede was released and is on the run, in 1951, is most likely correct.

However, Dede never made it to Yugoslavia because he was in fact arrested again and sent to prison for a term of 7 years.



Excerpts of Correspondence with Yugoslavia

Kol Cuni, from Belgrade on 17.8.1951, sends postcards to the son1 of the Prince; to Ismail2; to Kol Biba3 and to Prof. Koliqi4.  We translate the characteristic phrases because they reveal the mood and the state of mind, both very good.

To Dr. Verlaci: “We are all in good health in Yugoslavian territory. Very well received and very happy. Only the lack of a permanent place of residence so far has caused the delay in writing to you. We will write soon and in the meantime welcome our most cordial greetings.”

To the son of the Prince5: Nikoll6 good and all is well. We hope to write you extensively within a short time when we will be settled. Greet the Kapidan in a special way. We also remember all the other friends with the greatest affection.”

To Kol Biba: “They welcomed us so well that they almost make us… blush. We will write soon”.

To Prof. Koliqi: “We always remember you with the respect and affection of the past. Waiting for a final settlement, we greet you in the most fraternal way”.

Comments: Where he tells Kol Biba that almost with good reception the Yugoslavs make them ‘blush’, Kol Cuni (Nik) jokes and makes a play on words that in the Albanian language succeeds very well, that is that the Yugoslav cordiality is such as to induce them into temptation to turn ‘red’ = communist.

Preng Marka Hila from Ulqin (Ulcinj) on 20.8.1951 writes to Gjon Marka Gjoni:

“I have been informed that a State Security Captain has been killed in the village of Kallmet (Zadrima). I do not yet know the reprisals on that population. As soon as I hear from you I will give you some news. From the Bajrak of Alessio and Mirdita many have gone to the mountains.”

“Here in Yugoslavia things are better and improving day by day. We have everything: we only need clothing items.”

“I came in contact with Ndue Pjetri and I agree. We are free here to let you know how things are going; so you can also let us know how things go. Our people are burdened by a thousand and one misfortunes, especially the mountain people. You certainly know this, but not as good as us here.”

“Ndue Zef Ndoci and his brother fled and find themselves here, and others and others. Kapidan, we would like to know how you are organized? Why don’t you send us your program? Why don’t you connect with us for common action? Is Ndue with you?”

“In the last week, seven refugees from Scutari have arrived here, including Ndue Vata, old companion of your sons Llesh (Alessandro) and Dede. Vata saw Dede in Tirana. He claims that Dede was released from prison after serving his sentence. As soon as he was free, he learned that they wanted to imprison him again. Then he fled to Mirdita and perhaps to Yugoslavia. This news is confirmed by Ndue Vata who says that, even after the escape of Dede, he took an interest in gathering information which clarified the events. One of your nephews, and precisely the one who has a Yugoslavian wife, who is today a driver in Albania, confirmed the news of the escape.”

“I believe they will soon enter Albania and, following the information given by Ndue Vata, I will do everything to ascertain the news concerning Dede. I have been inside since August 4th to 12th, but I had not yet met Ndue Vata, otherwise I would have taken an interest in the matter. Now that I’m going back inside to stay longer, I will take an interest in it and write to you.”

At the bottom of this letter it is written: “I, Ndue Vata, who have written this letter under dictation from Preng Mark Hila, confirm the above and send you my best regards.”

Comments: Preng Mark Hila is a notable from Kallmet (Zadrima). The news about Ded Gjomarkaj’s escape from prison is very interesting. For now the Prince has not been made aware of this evasion of his son. Ndue Melyshi, arriving in Yugoslavia, may be able to give us some news.

The current location of the members of the Prince’s family is as follows: in Tepelene his wife Mrika with her daughters Marta and Bardha, in a hard concentration camp used for the humiliating work of washerwomen of the linen of the communist gendarmes; also in Tepelene, Marta, the wife of Mark Gjomarkaj, fallen in the anticommunist struggle in the summer of 1946, with his daughters Kristina ,197 years old, Celestina, 128 years old and the son Gjon, 13 years old.  Ded fugitive in Albania and Nikoll in Brankovicevo, Yugoslavia. If Ded could reach the Yugoslav border, it would be a great satisfaction for his father and a great success for all of us.

This letter also shows that shipments organized by the Yugoslavs in the Albanian territory for informational and organizational purposes intensify.

In a letter written by Peja Pjeter Gjoci on 22.8.51 to the Prince9 we find the following:

To Pal Biba and Gjon Gjinaj was assigned a place of residence in Zagreb; to Kol Cuni (Nik) in Prishtina.

Ndue Melyshi is gathering men and finds several difficulties in this operation. He is expected in Yugoslavia towards the beginning of September.

Kol Nikoll Mjeku, head of a group of our guerrillas, of the Bajrak of Dibra (Mirdita), fell on 10 August in a clash with the communist forces.

1Ndue Gjon Gjomarkaj
2Dr. Ismail Verlaci
3Kol Bib Mirakaj
4Prof. Ernest Koliqi
5Kapidan Ndue Gjon Gjomarkaj
6Kapidan Nikoll Gjon Gjomarkaj
7Discrepancy – Kristina in 1951 was 18.
8Discrepancy – Celestina in 1951 was 16.
9Kapidan Gjon Markagjoni