Kol Marka Ndoj writes to Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni two letters from Jugoslavia, informing him of the death of his father, Mark Ndue Pali, and the events leading up to his murder.
These letter shed light into the difficulties nationalists found themselves in during the early years since the advent of communism in Albania in 1944. These brave men fought in the mountains of Mirdita and were in daily peril, not only from the communist forces but also from within their circles; as traitors and spies were always watching and alerting the enemy of their every move.
Marka Ndoj’s father was one of these brave nationalists who was betrayed by one of his own. The letters show the deep rooted alliance and respect these highlanders felt toward their Kapidan, their Prince, Gjon Marka Gjoni. Even though his father has been murdered, Kol is mindful of the respect and admiration his father had for his and Mirdita’s leader, Gjon Marka Gjoni, and promptly sets out to write to his Kapidan the events as they occurred, informing him of the betrayal and subsequent murder.
The sentiments are best expressed by the comments from the Italian Secret Service at the bottom of their translation of the letter:
“The content of this letter is a categorical denial to the rash statements of those who have an interest in making Albanian psychology appear totally changed since the last war and subsequent Soviet occupation. Traditions are still the force that dominates the souls of Albanians who have remained immune from the Communist disease. After the disappearance of the father, Mark, the son, comes forward to take his place within the framework of century-old customs with the same spirit of the ancient fathers.”
Mr. Kapidan Gjon M. Gjoni,
It’s been a long time since the day I received your last letter.
Dear Gjon, today I received the sad news of the death of my father Mark Ndue Pali, who was killed two months ago in Albanian territory.
Only today was I able to find out, and I, out of duty of friendship, rush to communicate it to you immediately. I would have written to you sooner but I always postponed it in the hope that my father would cross the border and once here, safe, could write to you directly.
The news I have received so far about the killing of my father says that there was an eight-hour clash in Berzane, between our group and government forces; five dead and some injured is the balance of the losses inflicted on Enver Hoxha’s men. On our side, only my father has fallen.
Mr. Gjon, I know how much pain you feel for the loss of two of your sons1, the best of Albania, who sacrificed themselves for their homeland and for the red and black flag; but God will give you the strength necessary to courageously bear this great misfortune.
Please excuse me if I don’t write to you at length today, but with this short letter I just wanted to let you know about my father’s death.
Take heart, Mr. Gjon, and may God give you the courage to bear, with your well-known pride, the pain that the death of your valiant sons has brought you.
Kol Marka Ndoj
Mr. Gjon Marka Gjoni,
I received your letter sent to me on October 19th. I thank you for the expressions of condolence and for the words of comfort that you send me in the sad circumstance of the death of my father. God willing we can all gather safely in our homeland, at home and with our families.
Mr. Gjon, I would now like to tell you how my father was killed. My father had gone from village to village for 30 days in a row, always escaping from the police who chased him. In his continuous wandering, one day he happened to be in Berzane. Here he met a certain Ndue Geg Dudi, with whom he had previously had a relationship and had been in contact. Ndue Geg Dudi on that day brought some food to my father and to the others who were with him and stayed with them all that night. Two hours before dawn Dudi left, and as soon as day broke, my father and the others found themselves surrounded by government forces. With my father there was: Pjeter Miloti from Kreyzez son of Marka Pjeter Lleshi, and another called Gjon Marka Lleshi, from the village of Keprrull. The latter lived free in his home, but since he had helped my father and the others by bringing bread and provisions for a week, he had found himself there, as they say, to spend the night with friends. Gjon Marka Lleshi was injured and, according to certain rumors, taken prisoner and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Pjeter Miloti managed to escape and arrived here in Yugoslavia. From the place of ambush three were left: my father, Pjeter Miloti and Kol Puc Deda from Vela, however Kol was not in that siege.
In the clash a wanna-be and two soldiers, belonging to government forces, were killed; while of ours only my father was killed. My father’s body was brought to Lezhe and exposed to the public for a whole day and then buried on the banks of the Drin. These are sacrifices that are made for God and for the homeland, therefore I do not regret it. On the other hand, it is always better that it was so, since it is better to die than to fall into the hands of those traitors, thieves, bloodthirsty henchmen of Russia. My father always said that too.
Now I know that the first person responsible for my father’s death is Ndue Dudi; then there are two more who were warned by Dudi of the precise point where my father was. These are: Llesh Dudi (cousin of the traitor Ndue Dudi) and Nikoll Pjeter Jaku. Even these two were therefore accomplices in the betrayal. Hence the government forces were warned by these men and a group of up to 300 soldiers came from Lezhe, Mirdita and Kruja and surrounded that very small group of only three men. My father’s last words, according to established testimonies, were: “I prefer to die rather than surrender to you who are the bloodthirsty traitors of the Albanian people; I die, but the war that the true Albanian people waged against you will always remain alive, until total victory. Long live a free Albania and the red and black flag.”
It is appropriate to know that my father was not killed in the house, but in the woods.
Mr. Gjon, what I am writing to you is what I know about the killing of my father Mark Ndue Pali. And it is my duty to write everything to you, since my father almost felt his imminent misfortune and recommended me and urged me to write and maintain excellent relationships with dear friends. I am very young, dear Mr. Gjon, and now I am left alone, with God in heaven and dear friends on earth. It is only in these that I entrust all my hopes for the future.
The only familial love I have left is that of my mother, who is currently in Albania. I am, however, very worried about her. An uncle of mine (my mother’s brother) Llesh Bajraktari, whom you have certainly known, was killed with all members of his family back in 1946. All this was witnessed by my mother, and I feel an immense ache. My life as of now could be considered without any reason for living, if it where not for that poor mother of mine over there and the continuous thought of what my duty should be against those who took my father’s life.
Here in Yugoslavia I am quite well; food and lodging are good, and we must be grateful to the host government for this. Only as far as clothing is concerned we are in dire straits, because fabrics have a very high price (a meter of fabric costs 7000 dinars, while a worker does not receive more than 100 dinars of pay per day).
Mr. Gjon, some Yugoslav officers have advised me to enroll in an education course. As you know, my education is limited to elementary school and it would certainly be useful for me to broaden my knowledge a little, but at the moment I am not in a spiritually fit condition to undertake any study; so I still haven’t made any decisions about it.
Now I want to write to you about the situation in Albania, according to what one hears people divulge here.
Living conditions become more precarious every day. Listen to what the assassins of Mehmet Shehu have been up to: they arrest people and then release them, on conditions that they (the freed) find and report the men who fight in the mountains against the government. In a written declaration (with signature and fingerprints) the poor devils, who have regained this strange freedom, are forced to submit to the dishonest and diabolic wishes of Enver Hoxha’s men; with no way out, under penalty of death. Many suffered this cruel fate. Some fled, including a certain Kol Pjeter Lleshi from Bregu i Mates, who managed to cross the border and take refuge in Yugoslavia. For the reasons mentioned above, the following were sentenced to death in Lezhe: Ndok Vata from the island of Shengjin and Ndue Zefi from the district of Lezhe (Ishulli and Lezhes). In the house of Prek Tom Tahiri many and many more have been arrested, among those these are the ones I know: Pal Pjeter Jaku (sentenced to 15 years) and Gjok M. Lleshi (also 15 years).
As for the others, as soon as I am able I will give you more precise information.
The population is desperate. I will write to Pjeter Gjoci and Pjeter Kodeli, who are here (in Yugoslavia). They trust me because they met me in Albania when I brought them food in the woods. I am also in correspondence with your Nikoll and with Ndue Pjetri, as well as with Preng Pervizi who is in Greece. They know me from my father’s name. I am writing to all my father’s friends and they all reply to me.
I am very young and if I am wrong they will forgive me, but I will endeavor to acquire their consideration and their affection.
Comment: We mentioned the name of Marka Ndue Pali for the first time in the report on Massimo Fabiano, the young Italian repatriated from Scutari to Titograd and later arrived in Italy where he has his family.
Now the son tells us about his death in Albania. We wanted to translate the two letters of Marka Ndue Pali’s son to prove that the strength of traditions has remained intact in Albania.
The father dies, and the son hurries to assure the Kapidan that he, although young and inexperienced, will endeavor to keep his father’s friends and to follow in his footsteps.
The two letters, which seem to us two interesting human documents, overflow with painful heartfelt patriotism, that popular healthy patriotism, devoid of rhetorical displays, which reveals how deep the roots that unite the Albanian lineage to their land are.
The content of this letter is a categorical denial to the rash statements of those who have an interest in making Albanian psychology appear totally changed since the last war and subsequent Soviet occupation. Traditions are still the force that dominates the souls of Albanians who have remained immune from the Communist disease. After the disappearance of the father, Marko, the son, comes forward to occupy the place within the framework of century-old customs with the same spirit of the ancient fathers.
1Mark and Sander Gjon Marku
The original letter 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.