top of page

Unspeakable Crime

by Teuta Mema


The Interrogation

Bedri Blloshmi, brother of the executed anti-Communist poet Vilson Blloshmi, recounts how he communicated with his brother by tapping a finger on the wall of a Librazhdi interrogation cell. Vilson told him that Kadri Azbiu himself, the Communist Minister of Internal Affairs, had grilled him in the interrogation cell in Tirana, the capital. After three months of cruel torture, Vilson’s left arm was paralyzed. During the night, plainclothes security officers kept him awake. With shackles cutting into his wrists, they forced him to stand on one foot, leaning against the wall. When he collapsed on the cold concrete floor from exhaustion, they raised him back on his foot, and persisted in asking the same question: “Will you accept the proposal of the minister to collaborate with the Albanian secret agents overseas?” Vilson said no; they started the brutal interrogation all over again.


The Trial

On June 7, 1977, outside the Librazhdi movie theatre, a horde of Communists kept screaming at the top of their voices, “Hang the reactionaries! Hang the reactionaries!” Inside, many police officers and numerous individuals carefully selected by State Security operatives applauded the unfamiliar faces that stepped in front of the head judge, Subi Sulçe, to read the false accusations prepared in the State Security offices. Isa Kopaçi, from the People’s Army and Todi Bardhi, chairman of the Agricultural Cooperative, read the false charges. The trial went on for six days. In all the proceedings, the judge held up expertise in the form of a written statement crafted by Diana Çuli, Koçi Petriti, and Myzafer Xhaxhiu and screamed: “This will put you to death!” On June 13, 1977, Vilson Blloshmi and Genc Leka were sentenced to death by firing squad. Bedri Blloshmi was sentenced to 25 years in prison.


Expertise (1)

Selim Caka, head of the Communist Interrogation Department in the city of Librazhdi, asked the editor of the newspaper Drita [Light], Diana Çuli, to look into the content of the poems written by Genc Leka. Diana Çuli responded to the request by expressing her expert opinion in a written statement on November 19, 1976. She wrote: “Genc Leka, the author of the poems, is marked with an ideological shake-up. In his poems is sensed a pessimistic spirit; the author does not seem happy, and tries to find happiness somewhere else. Behind the symbols he uses is revealed the desire to stay away from our socialist reality.”



Its veil slowly took off the yellow fall.

With frost and blizzard will winter start

Yet birds; in here you endure all,

None can from native land take you apart.

—Genc Leka


After examining “Sparrows” in great detail in order to discover more about it, expert Diana Çuli writes: “Genc Leka uses irony. Our socialist reality looks miserable to him. Sparrows are personified like unfortunate creatures. It is a reactionary poem.”


Expertise (2)

“On January 1, 1977, in Librazhdi, I, the interrogator of Interior Ministry, Lulo Ymeri, after studying the material about the criminal case number 56, realized that the defendant, Vilson Blloshmi, has written a poem entitled ‘Sahara.’ In order to determine the content of the poem, I decided to ask expert Koçi Petriti, literature teacher at Librazhdi High School, to get to the bottom of the following question: What is the real meaning of the poem, ‘Sahara?’ To answer my question, the poem ‘Sahara’ was made available to him.”



Sahara, away is Sahara far,

Sahara of rocks, stones and sand

Only her name befriended by

Having no vision, has no plants.

Sahara has no dreams in mind.

Only stones grind inside her head...

Sahara can’t even a song find,

No tears to weep for all her dead.

Sahara in world has no friends,

Sahara has no children to fret

Sahara is a piece of land,

Quarrels all night, the news has spread.

Night in Sahara hates to fall,

It can't stand its stony mat;

There is no love, or chat, or soul;

Her black veil has nothing to wrap.

No one knows why earth was swayed

This injury on its back to hold,

On purpose created was, they state

To make it a curse to nations all.

When of her, he awfully speaks;

Sahara eavesdrops and snorts;

Sahara feels being so pleased

When among us we curses drop.

And when sunbeam timidly lies

On mossless stones reflecting bright;

Like a veil looks shrouded sky,

To desert lightning with burning light.

Therefore when deep and fiery hatred

Blasting, abusing, someone befalls,

Looms memory intoxicated

For help Sahara promptly it calls.

When evil curse its rage exhausts,

Away in time memory fades...

When rising sun thaws piercing frost

Forlorn wasteland feels desolate.

— Vilson Blloshmi


“It is a hermetic poem; it explicitly has a depressing substance and gloomy figuration. It is a symbolic poem, and here and there turns into allegory, which speaks of one thing or action to be understood as representing another thing or action and symbolically expressing a deeper political meaning. Within the allegory, a different idea is hidden. This hermetic poem is a result of the influence of decadent literary movements, such as symbolism. Symptoms of dark figurations were criticized by the IV Plenum of Central Committee of the Communist Party. Comrade Enver Hoxha in this Plenum, said, among other things, ‘In recent poetry is manifested a tendency to use gloomy figuration which is in conflict with the Albanian tradition of unambiguous poetry. A few young poets have started to adapt in their poems the hermetic style. This is utterly alien to our literature…’ (Report of IV Plenum, p. 20)

What is the real meaning of this hermetic and symbolic poem?

In order to understand the poem as a whole we need to shed light on the symbols ‘Sahara and night.’

This poem is not a natural scene, i.e., a mere description of the African desert. If so, it would contain details of a desert, whereas here only the sand and the name of the desert are revealed.

Second, the main meaning of desert, a vast area of land, is shrunk by the line, ‘Sahara is a piece of land.’

Third and most significantly, it makes no sense for someone to write a poem about an unknown land which is out of his sphere of observation. This fascination in geography, if supposed to be so or alleged to, is absurd and discreet.

Fourth, if it is a mere panorama of the desert then there is no motive to indicate that the desert rises like a curse, created by mankind, to serve mankind. The poem unfolds the idea that mankind calls the memory of the desert when mankind needs to curse or hate, in the same way someone puts a curse on someone else, another country or the world by saying: May God make you desolate! Or turn you into a desert!

So, if the poem is a real panorama of Sahara, it would come as a creation of nature and not as a creation of mankind, human society.

We understand the symbolism of the poem up to a certain point if we bear in mind the rationale of the author. What is his viewpoint for our socialist reality? Through what eyes does he picture our life? The discontent toward this reality makes him express regressive and nihilistic sentiments and ideas. The symbol ‘Sahara’ is addressed to a specific country other than the real desert of Sahara. If so, what remains for this country which has no friends or acquaintances, sons or daughters?

The symbol ‘Sahara’ is made clear up to a certain point in the line ‘Sahara is a piece of land,’ as well as with the details ‘rock…and stone’ and ‘Night can’t stand its stony mat,’ along with the lines ‘Sahara eavesdrops and snorts,’ ‘When of her he awfully speaks.’ It is possible that the word ‘he’ stands for mankind, or for those ‘friends and acquaintances’ that Sahara does not have.

The closest hint is for a small country, a piece of land in conflict with ‘friends and acquaintances’ that it does not have, and ‘with the night’ that it does not even get along well with. From the overall spirit of the poem intended by the author ‘this piece of land’ without friends and acquaintances, is a forlorn country encircled by hostility and damnation, and like an injury on the back of the earth, it serves mankind as a curse that comes out in moments of hatred.

What is ‘night’ in the poem? What does it symbolize? That ‘night’ is a symbol can be figured out from the details: ‘The news has spread that night quarrels with the desert,’ ‘Night in Sahara hates to fall,’ ‘It can’t stand its stony mat,’ ‘Her black veil has nothing to wrap,’ because in the desert that ‘Is a piece of land,’ ‘There is no love, or chat, or soul’; ‘No tears to weep for all her dead’, ‘Sahara can’t even a song find,’ ‘Sahara has no dreams in mind’, this piece of land etc...”

Therefore, ‘curse’ is the only thing left for this piece of land, which from hiding ‘intoxicated memory’ calls for.

The idea of the loneliness of the desert resurfaces throughout the poem and in its conclusion: ‘Forlorn wasteland feels desolate.’

Let’s go back to the symbol ‘night’ which is in conflict with the symbol of the desert. The desert, as the poem reveals, has two types of powers it does not get along with: its friends and acquaintances it does not have, and the night. Here ‘night’ is outside the sphere of friends and acquaintances that ‘desert’ does not have, which means night is a force within Sahara’s sphere and actually inside it like a black veil, which does not have anything to cover.

The symbol ‘night’ is to some extent confusing. If ‘night’ was a force that the author sympathizes with, it should have been within the range of ‘friends and acquaintances’ that ‘this piece of land’ does not have. So it remains a symbol of a power the author does not like, which for him is night. What might ‘night’ look like in our reality to the author? If the symbols stand to this interpretation, the poem is in an allusion (it is allegorically spoken, indirectly) to this ‘piece of land,’ ‘devastated,’ deserted, desolate, then, according to the author, life is a desert. Nothing is created there. ‘This piece of land’ feels delighted even when they use it as a curse. The poem has a pessimistic, nihilistic feeling. It denies everything related with human activity. Symbolism makes it allegorical, and gives its content a reactionary meaning.

The poem has several dark, contradictory and meaningless lines which, in fact, convey confusion, dissatisfaction for our reality and the author’s fear to express the ideas directly.

I do not believe the poem has an interpretation different from the symbol and allegory used, despite the fact that, here and there, the symbol is incomprehensible and erratic.”

January 20, 1977

Literary Expert

Koçi Petriti


The Parliament

In November 2006, in one of the sessions of the Albanian Parliament, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of the democratic government of Albania, Bujar Leskaj, denounced the member of the Albanian Parliament, Diana Çuli, “A very successful book is recently published,” he said, “written by Sadik Bejko about Vilson Blloshmi and Genc Leka; two poets that Diana Çuli sent to the firing squad with her expertise.”


Diana Çuli

“At that time, when I was only 25 years old, that was my judgement about literature.”


Execution and Tribute

At midnight of July 17, 1977, two anti-Communist poets, Genc Leka and Vilson Blloshmi, were executed by firing squad. Tied in shackles, a few kilometers away from Librazhdi in the area called Absconder’s Creek on the side of a shallow hole dug in haste, Communist terrorists fired bullets through the poets’ hearts, and covered the warm bodies with mud. They killed them because they wrote poems the Communist Party found objectionable. Their poems were classified by literature experts as reactionary, and the poets were considered enemies of the Party.

In April 1994, with the decree of the President of the Republic, Sali Berisha, each poet was honored with the title, “Martyr of Democracy.” After the ceremony, the coffins were transported to the Librazhdi Cemetery. While the caskets were lowered into the ground, hundreds of mourners burst into applause, and some in the crowd shouted, “You were true heroes, heroes!”



On October 24, 2004, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., one of the most well-known cultural centers in the world, organized the educational seminar “Through Current Albania.” The expert, Diana Çuli, daughter of a well-known hard-liner Communist family in Albania, also herself a member of the Communist Party since she was a university student, at present a member of the Albanian Parliament representing the Social Democratic Party, a new variation of the former Communist Party, was invited and lectured about “The phases that Albanian literature has gone through and the changes it has undergone with accordance to the time.” At the end of the seminar the American coordinator complimented her on behalf of the Smithsonian Institute.


Translated from The Albanian by Hilda M. Xhepa

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page