Adem Pajaziti

Pristina | Date: May 21, 2016 | Duration: 52 minutes

In this interview, Adem Pajaziti talks about his father Shaban’s experience of one of the most obscure episodes of partisan violence at the end of March 1945, long after Kosovo had been liberated from the German occupation. This is the story of the forcible recruitment of thousands of Albanians from Kosovo; of their desperate march across the mountains to the Montenegrin coast; of the torture to which they were subjected during the march; and the mass killing once they arrived in Bar. Before his death in 2007, Shaban gave an interview to his son Adem, which we also propose here. […] It’s interesting that the war connects people very much. In our village there were ten, they all survived. And some migrated, they moved elsewhere, I think to other cities in Kosovo. But those who stayed there befriended each other and held each other close, and they always called each other war comrade, they did not call their names, but war comrade, ‘This war comrade, war comrade.’ But they never got together, and even if we took the initiative, or tried to get them to talk about it, they never wanted to explain. Individually, they would explain, they would tell how it happened; when they were together, they didn’t want to and they would say, ‘Did you get us here to judge us, or what do you want? We won’t explain it, we won’t tell it!’

Anna Di Lellio (Interviewer), Noar Sahiti (Interviewer/Camera)

Adem Pajaziti was born in 1951 in Çubrel, municipality of Skenderaj. He is an Economist, and the Executive Director of GC Metal, in Janjevë, Lipjan.

Adem Pajaziti

Part One

Adem Pajaziti: I am Adem Pajaziti, born on 25th of June, 1951, from my parents, my father Shaban Pajaziti and my mother Zoja Pajaziti. I don’t remember my mother since she died when I was two years old. I’ve lived with my father, my grandmother, then my stepmother. I have three sisters and three brothers from my father, actually two living sisters and three brothers. My father got married to my mother, in fact my mother came to her husband in the times of war, the times were very hard back then, and she lived, she came, without her husband. My father was in the war, while she came to his  family as a bride around 5-6 months earlier, without her husband, until my father got back from the war. And I was born after 5-6 years. She died due to an illness. And for a long time, as a child, I was raised by my grandmother, hence I always perceived my grandmother as my mother. Until I grew up a little, when I was eight years old, that’s when I found out from the other children, from my friends, that she isn’t my mother, that in fact she is my grandmother and my mother has died.

As a child, I was given a more special care than the other children because I was an orphan, but they tell me I was not  a spoiled child. I finished the elementary school in my birthplace, the village of Çubrel, in the municipality of Skënderaj. High school, I finished the Normale[1]  High School Hasan Prishtina in  Mitrovica,  where I also graduated as a teacher, however, I didn’t work as a teacher. I continued my studies at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Pristina, where I graduated after four years, then I worked for a long time at the Local Assembly, in the State Administration of the Local Assembly. In the meantime, after that, I worked in public institutions in Pristina. I was a consultant for the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, I was an administrative director, a financial director. Now I work for a metal industry company, I lead the company, I am the executive director of a metal industry that manufactures metal.

As for my childhood, as extraordinary and scarring, impressive memories,   I remember when guests used to come over and ask my father to tell them about the Bar massacre. That episode gave me shocking impressions as a child, to the point that I often asked myself how can it be possible for a human being to cause such kind of ghoulish massacres, such kind of things which I listened to as a child, then as a grown up too, but yet never managed to digest the fact that a human being can be so cruel, so vicious towards another human being.

I remember one moment when my father talked about those things, I raised the topic to my teacher in my history class, at the Normale High School, it was exactly the time when the National Liberation War was the topic of our lessons. And I asked my teacher one question, I said, “Can you please tell me how could it happen that the Fourth Montenegrin Offensive Brigade murdered thousands of Albanians who were mobilized as partisans in Bar?” He reacted harshly, telling me how do I dare interrupt him like that, “How can you interrupt the lesson like that, why are you asking such questions?” and forcibly ordered me to leave the class.

Noar Sahiti: In which year did this happen?

Adem Pajaziti: This happened somewhere around ’68. Obviously the political situation back then was so bad, when the demonstrations of ’68 occurred, and I guess it was more because of people’s  fear to raise the national issues. And I remember that I never managed to get any official information until I came to the university, then I met professors, Hakif Bajrami is one of them, he is a professor who holds a PhD, he pretty much explored this issue. He went to the archives, took various material which then he published as authentic material, without any intervention. I have a document, “Vjetari,” [Yearbook]  as well, but my house and all the documents and books were burned during the last war. I had a small library, somewhere around 2000 titles, all of them got burned as well as the house and everything else. I made a small library after war.

So I had the chance, when I was a soldier in the ex-Yugoslav army, I mean Yugoslav, the one that was socialist, on one anniversary of the brigade, the Fourth Montenegrin Offensive Brigade, I had the chance to meet some officers of that time, of ’44, they came to our barracks as witnesses. And during a reception, I was a soldier back them, an officer, a high officer which now apparently was a civilian, came near us, he had already retired, and asked us how were we doing and what’s up. I told him where I came from, from Kosovo, and he gently asked me how are we living here, how are we doing here. And I used the chance to ask him exactly about Bar, and once I mentioned the case of Bar, he left, saying, “I am sorry, I have some stuff to do, someone else called me,”  and gave no…I wanted to use that chance to ask whether  he had any explanation for what happened back then.

Now I will tell you the story the way I heard it from my father, as I heard it a hundred times over, that very shocking story. He said that by the end of the war, somewhere around ’44 – ’45, there happened the mobilization of people to go and fight in different war frontlines. My grandfather went in the first mobilization, it’s well known, the mobilization when they sent Albanians from Kosovo to Srem, and only the family keepers remained, you know, one member of each family, all the others were mobilized. The second mobilization then, when they took my father as well, started somewhere in January of ’45, because there were big losses at the frontlines, the Germans withdrew, and during their withdrawal there were plenty of… a lot of partisan brigades were almost totally shut down, and they wanted to mobilize them…

The mobilization that happened back then, my father said, they took them from our city of Skënderaj and send them to Vushtrri, of course on foot. From Vushtrri, as well as from many other parts, the region of Mitrovica, Skenderaj, Vushtrri, then the part of Podujevë, and all the other ones, he says that they go through Suhareka to Prizren on foot. In Prizren there was the meeting point for all of them, from all the regions: from Tetova, Presheva, Kumanova, from…And various distinct groups were formed  there, and one…as my father told me, I guess he  was in the second group. In total there were six groups, the second group, and they took off to Bar.

They went through Kukës, of course on foot. They slept wherever they happened to be when the night fell and they were escorted by military forces. He says that the whole time, “They never treated us as soldiers who are mobilized, as people who are mobilized for the frontline, but as if we were war slaves, as if we were reactionary, as if we were…“ he says, “to the point that even when we needed water, not to talk about food, they didn’t allow us to even drink water on the way.”  My father says, he was young back then, he says that his mother gave him a bag where she had put some food, some socks and gloves. With them, he says, “I went all the way.” And from Kukës they continue then through Tropoja and arrive there close to Shkodër. They cross the river Drini, and stay in the part under the Rozafa Castle, which is in  Shkodër, in some burned houses which were uninhabitable, empty, but that they also were surrounded by armed forces all the time, by military forces, by the Yugoslav army back then, which he says, “didn’t allow us to go out, even if you had money, they didn’t allow you to go out and buy food or buy something, or drink water.”

The next day, I mean, this lasted for a few days, because I don’t remember how long their journey to Shkodër lasted, even though he explained the details of the journey, how he attempted to escape, and says, “We heard the gun being fired all of a sudden, that’s when it became clear to us that they got killed, they got destroyed, that’s why we didn’t dare escape.” Early in the morning in Shkodër, he says, “They sent us there and we passed the Buna river.” He says that there were a lot of soldiers, very mobilized, “they got some of us in some boats …”  He says that the boats only had room for seven to eight people, but there were 15-20 people getting into those boats. “There were cases,” he says, “when we could see the boat sinking, those who couldn’t swim. The river was harsh,” he says, and additional to this, “the weather was cold, the water was cold, that’s why some of them died in the water.”

 “The ones of us who survived went to that side, the side of Montenegro, and started our journey continually escorted by military forces,” he says, “we arrived in Bar in a column.” He described Bar, he said that there is, “we faced some trees with the color of the willows, the locals called them olive trees. They were beautiful trees with cracks,” he described what olive trees looked like. “Down at the entrance, there was the city, and the houses started in the rocky slopes and went down to the flat part,” he says. “We arrived in Bar in a straight road; on one side there was the water canal, where the water flew constantly, we were so thirsty on the way, and hungry as well, but they didn’t allow us to bend the road and drink water,” he says.

“We arrived,” he says, “by the end of that street, at the end of that street a house of stones could be seen, a two story house, pretty big. That’s where the end of the straight street was. Before going to that house, they stopped the column, the column stopped in front of, and near us, around 20 meters, there was a spring, water, spring to drink water from.” And he said, “One of us left the column and went and put his head in the spring to drink water.” He said  that the soldier who was there hit him in his head with the shoulder-rest of his gun, and he said that he fell and the water fell on him. He said that he stood up so fast, as soon as the water fell on him, and said that he took the gun from the soldier and killed him, he killed the soldier from…

And he says that an officer came there, he says that he took his pistol, he had his pistol in his hands and attempted to…he says that our friends, the Albanians who were mobilized, took the pistol from that soldier, took the gun in order for him not to be able to kill the others. They took it and then an officer came, he tried to… he had a pole and tried to go and hit him in the head, but people kept staying between the one who killed the soldier and the officer, until at some point he says that they managed to take the gun from the officer’s hands. But he says that someone shot a gun, and he says that he had already left it, “We left,” he says that the pistol was on the ground and he took it again.

And he says that in that moment there were only two of them facing each other. He said,  he tried to hit him with the pole, while the other one hit him with the pistol and fell down. Then while  laying, he said that he got it empty, he said that the head was moving like this {shows with his hands the up-down movement of the head}, until he got the whole gun’s magazine empty, all the bullets he had in the gun.

Then he says that another soldier came and emptied his gun on him. He says, “I know, I remember that they cut his fingers as well, there were a lot of bullets coming in a row.” He says, “They ordered us to sit. And like that, because of the shootings we…but if someone was still standing they said, ‘Sit down!’ We sat, and he said, ‘This is a soldier of ’41.’ “ He said that he took ten: one, two, three, four, ten, the soldiers, he said that they would lead them further. He says that it seems to him… in Serbian he said, “Malo je deset, još deset,” “Ten are too few, ten more.”

In the first group of ten people, he said, my father, “They caught me.”  And the soldiers, both of them armed, as they were heading to the other group of ten people to join them, a cousin of his, of my father, he says … he had a bag, he was certainly carrying some clothes in it, he had lost the bag because of the big crowd, and now he shouts, “Shaban, take my bag!” He takes the bag and turns around. He says, “Bring the bag in the presence of the soldiers, I want to go and continue with them as well, because I don’t know, I am not really aware of what’s happening.” He says, “They shot me,” because they were older, it’s understood, “sit here, and they pushed me back because now surely they would count them there, there are only nineteen of them when there should actually be twenty. But no one came, and I survived, the luck was on my side even though I was one of the chosen ones to be shot, as if they got blind and didn’t see me when I got back, and didn’t look for me anymore.”

Then he said, “They ordered us to get inside that building, that building was a Monopoly of Tobacco.” This means that it was a tobacco warehouse, a warehouse for collecting and manufacturing tobacco. “We started to get inside,” he says, “by the door there were two soldiers standing with guns and another one with a metallic pole with which he tried to catch each one of us who was getting inside and send us down to the basement.” He says, “There were some stairs that led to the basement. The ones who were fast could escape, and while they were escaping, the one with the metallic pole would try to hit them in the head or wherever he could.” He said, “Usually, in the entrance, they would ask which one is… they took a hostage, one of us, and said, ‘Tell me, who took the pistol from my hand?’ The officer, ‘Identify him as he comes inside.’” He said that he didn’t know who took the pistol from his hands, who took it for one moment, [who] took the pistol and then threw it to the ground. He did it in order for a tragedy not to happen, in order for him to calm down. But however, they aimed to make a bigger tragedy. And he said that he [the hostage] didn’t manage to identify who was the one who had taken the pistol from his hands, and in the end, in order to save himself from getting shot, he pointed at some random man, to some man that no one would react for, because he said that when he pointed at someone, all the others would react. “Don’t, why…He is not the one!” And as for him, no one could say anything, “I am not the one!”  he said as he was taken and got shot.

 “We got inside,” he says, “in one part of it, some of us inside the building, it got full.” The building had two stories and was empty. Then he said that they started to shoot from every side, with various kind of guns, on the groups that were coming, each one of those who were heading to that building which he called the Monopoly of Tobacco. He says that it started to get filled up, and there were people who remained outside. He says, “We went and gazed through the windows to see what was happening, then they started to shoot our walls with a barrage of guns, our windows as well, that’s why we fell on the floor as soon as we could manage, while the bullets kept hitting the side of the wall on our back and the shells of the guns fell close to us, up there.”

He says, “We could hear shouts, the echo of various kinds of weapons, on every side.” He says that this lasted for about half an hour, they shot without stopping. Later he says that they heard voices saying, “Prekini paljbu, prekini paljbu!” which means, “Stop the fire, stop the fire.” He says that the fire stopped. The echoes of the arms’ noises started to gradually stop. Then he says that they could only hear some guns being fired from far away. He says, “They came close to the door where we were staying, and asked us to go outside. None of us went outside the building.” Outside, he said that they could hear the shouts of the people who were paid, someone asked in Albanian, he said, “We could hear them asking for water, someone was asking for help.”

He said that when they got close to the door, they didn’t dare get inside, as if, and they asked them to go out, at some point they only asked for a representative, “Can two representatives come and talk, because there was a misunderstanding.” He said, “There was no misunderstanding, we were not armed, we had nothing, we were tattered, with the  clothes from home, just as we were.” He says that later on they started going out, gradually in groups of two-three people, and just when they realized that nothing was happening to them, all of them went outside. He said, “They got us close to a wall, and asked us to raise our hands. On the other hand, the soldiers were prepared with arms. We thought that they would shoot us there, the ones who were left.” But he says that they checked all their bags and pockets to see if they had anything, “And they ordered us to head to the sea. The sea was not far, we could see it, and they put us in a field. Until we passed,” he said… “the shoes, the Albanian leather shoes, we used to wear the leather shoes back then…and all of us that were wearing the leather shoes,” he said “our feet got filled with blood. Such was the amount of blood streaming in that part.”

“I remember,” he says, “there was a guy I knew, he was from a village close to ours, the bullet hit him in his back, and his skin was rifted. He shouted as much as he could, ‘Please brothers, help me, help me!’ What could you help him with? One of us got close to him and asked, ‘Do you want some water?’, he said.  ‘No, I don’t drink their water, but help me!’ He was hit pretty badly. We left him like that, we had no other option…and they didn’t allow us, the soldier would hit you with the shoulder-rest of the gun right away, ‘Move ahead!’ And they sent us to a field, the sea was on one  side, on the other side the soldiers were waiting in line. They asked us to sit in the sand. The sea in front of us, we were sitting in the sand. There was a cold wind, we were hungry as well, it was wet, and whatnot. They didn’t rest the whole night, on the  side, certainly   500 meters, or 1000 meters from where we were. We could hear the cars moving constantly, the whole night.

In the morning, at around eight o’clock, they came to take us and send us to that building again. When we went there, they had already cleaned it as if nothing has happened; we could not see anything, no blood, nothing, they had cleaned it. They got us inside the building, again in the Monopoly of Tobacco. We spent two nights there. In the meantime we could see, in the garden of that building, we could see English officers, we could recognize the English uniform, and got the information that the English had come to see what happened here. I don’t know whether someone could manage to explain, but the next day some officers came again with some registers and asked where the others are.” He says that they were Slovenian officers who came to take the mobilized ones, to get them dressed up and join their brigades in Slovenia, because back in the day, the Germans were going to Austria through Slovenia, great wars were happening there, in the part of Dalmatia, close to Istria.

He says… the registers, they  looked for  soldiers, “Where are the other soldiers? There aren’t enough here, there are just a few of them. We have the registers with many more soldiers.” Then he says, “We told them the version of what happened, what happened to us.” He says that they wondered, they said, “How is that possible, how can they kill their soldiers, their people, is this possible?” He says, “From there, they took us and send us to Dubrovnik by ship. In Dubrovnik they dressed us up with English uniforms,” he even said, English uniform, “they gave us weapons, then we went to Split, Split-Trieste, Trieste- Cele, Cele-Ljubljana.” And he served in that part of Slovenia until the war came to its end, and when the power of that time, you know,  was established, it was called the People’s Power.

After the decision of the power of that time came that the war had come to its end and people don’t need to have such a big army anymore, they have to go back, he says, “The elders were returned immediately, while we remained, the ones of us who were young.” Then the Slovenians offered him a job, to stay in the army, in Slovenia. He didn’t accept it, he wanted to come back home, and he came back home. When he came back home, he found my mom as a bride (smiles).

These were his experiences, in the beginning he hesitated to tell all this, of course it was hard for him to talk about it because of the horror he was feeling. But people used to come, when they came they wanted him to tell these [stories] because some of them had [lost] their uncles, some of them had lost their father, they came with the goal to find some information, some knowledge of the lost ones, because they still didn’t know anything about them, they didn’t have any grave, or memorial. We, the families of those victims, have created an Initiative Council to build a memorial, an obelisk, which will commemorate this great tragedy. Taking into consideration the fact that the meeting point of the Albanians from Kosovo and from other Albanian parts was  Prizren, we thought that [Prizren] was the best place to locate a memorial. We asked the Prizren Local Assembly and as far as I know…I am part of that Initiative Council, based on the information that I have, the Assembly took the decision for a location where the memorial will be located , it is  supposed to have a short history of how that great tragedy happened.

Noar Sahiti: What are the conclusions you come to, if you can come to some conclusion, when you compare the personal experiences of your father with the sources that you have regarding this event?

Adem Pajaziti: As I told you, I was always interested in this, because as a child I was always there when he explained it, many times, to the point that I made the last interview here, exactly here where I am, I made the recording here, he shortened it so much, he didn’t want to go into details, he didn’t want to tell any detail, he just told… you will have that footage, he just told how it started, how he went, where they slept, where they arrived when they arrived there, what happened, very short. He didn’t want, when he started getting old, it was something he didn’t want to talk about, he didn’t want to go back to that time.

[1]  High school specializing in training teachers.

Part Two

Adem Pajaziti: I don’t exactly know when, because he was…registered as if he was born in 1918, ‘18…how old was he then based on this in ‘44… pretty old, but he was not married then. Maybe they even registered them as if they were younger, in order to avoid going to the army, or… because ‘20-’40, he was around 25-26 years old. My mother was way younger than he, she was five years younger.

As for the question that you asked me about comparing the data we have, to be honest, except Prof. Dr. Hakif Bajrami who researched the archives and found the old documents of the Yugoslav Army with the stamp “top secret,” which are documents where it’s explained who was…I mean, which brigade’s duty was to mobilize them, which was the one in charge to escort them to the meeting point and who was the responsible person during the escort, and who was the one to wait for them at the arriving point. Hakif published all of these documents, I read them. It’s interesting because according to those documents, according to the numbers in those documents, there were over five thousand mobilized people. Three groups, there were over five thousand people.

But father used to say, he used to mention, somewhere in between, the number, “Around six thousand,” he said, “we were. But when we arrived, after that happened, one thousand and five hundred came.” When the Slovenians took the register that they had, he said that there were blank pages, which means there were pages with no name. In the end he says that one thousand and five hundred got inside the ships that took off to Dubrovnik.

As for other data, there’s none. The government of that time didn’t say any word regarding this issue, neither did history. I’ve recently heard from Prof. Dr. Hakif Bajrami that back then this issue was raised by someone in the Central Committee of the Communist Party. And someone was responsible, but no one ever talked about it in public. As for the stories, you’ll get to read them from the books, because there are some books written: Azem Hajdini, who was part of it, wrote something in the form of a memoir. And the people, when you read the statements given by them, they are all almost the same, they differ in  very small emotional changes, otherwise the historic narrative is the same, it’s the same.

They all have been through the same sufferings, they all say that they were not allowed to even drink water, that they’ve not been given food, they all say that they weren’t treated as…they were treated as war slaves. They were treated as if they were people being sent somewhere in order to be shot, practically, as if it was previously prepared to happen exactly in Bar. This is regarding the documents, and regarding  the… what the ones who were part of it and are still alive told themselves is more powerful, because other documents were erased…nothing was found in the archived, except the ones found by Prof.Dr. Hakif Bajrami.

Noar Sahiti: But there is existing literature that…

Adem Pajaziti: There must be, there must be. It’s interesting, what my father has been telling me that there were English soldiers, in their reports on the war of that time in 1944, of course there must be various documents in the English army archives that say this.

Noar Sahiti: How do you remember your father’s last years?

Adem Pajaziti: It’s interesting, I always attempted to…I used to tell him, “Father, let’s go, I will drive you, let’s go,“ since the borders with Albania were opened, “let’s go to Shkodër, then from Shkodër continue to Katërkoll,” to Katërkoll or Vladimir as Montenegrins call it, “let’s go to Bar, let’s see the building, the Monopoly of Tobacco if it’s still there.” He didn’t want to, he never wanted to go. He used to say yes at first, but when the time came to take him and go, when it was the time of holidays, I would say, “Let’s go, we will take a holiday and go,” but he wouldn’t agree to come. “No, I can’t now,” he always avoided it.

Recently, I took the initiative to at least go from Shkodër to Bar, to go through the footsteps, the ones they went through, to go myself and conduct various shootings. I took some relative of ours, he lives in Ulqin, Nezir Çitaku, he is an historian and also a family friend. His son Gazmend Çitaku is interested in photography, various filming, and in literature.. And I talked to him and told him about my initiative. “Yes,” he says, “of course I will provide you with literature, because together with my father we went through those cliffs, and I know the way from Karërkoll, as soon as you pass Muriçan and enter Montenegro, I know the way, it’s old, they went by the cliffside, by the side of the plateaus, until they arrived in the Old Bar.” The old Bar is on the side of the mountain, while the New Bar is flat, close to the beach, close to the sea, in the lowland part, close to the sea.

And that’s how it happened, I went with his car, a four-wheel car.  We went together, I took a camera and shot all the roads to the location  of the Monopoly of Tobacco. That was the  building, and I think it still is. At the moment, there is somewhere a book, there is the photograph, which we had, but I don’t know if we can find it. The important thing is the shooting I made with the goal to show it to my father when I come back, “Do you remember,” because there were some creeks where he used to tell that they drank water, then the creek where the incident happened, then the 560 years old olive tree in the Old Bar, the old olive tree, it’s under the protection of UNESCO, a tree that is considered to be a natural monument. I shot it as well. And to him…I remember when he used to explain these things that, “We saw a lot of big trees that looked like willows,” because their leaves looked exactly as the ones of our willows, he says, “but they had cracks.”

I wanted to show him that footage, in order to see if he can relate to it and recall the memories, if he remembers it, if he can identify the creek, the street and so on, that was my aim. I did the shooting and I came back. He was 86 years old. I came back to Kosovo and went to visit him since he was living in the village. It was Wednesday the day I went to visit him. I arrived on Tuesday after my holidays where I took the chance to do the shootings, and went to visit him on Wednesday evening, and I told him….but I forgot to take it… I wanted to take my laptop in order to show him the footage. I forgot to take it, and when I went to visit him I told him that, “I shot the road you took to go from Shkodër to Bar, and found the building of the Monopoly of Tobacco.”

It has remained the same, the building got privatized, but it was located in the same place since it is a historic monument. The Montenegrins consider that building  a monument. There were guards there, they even started to circle around us when they saw the Kosovar plates of my car. We didn’t dare stay there for long. We did the shootings even in the back part, from where they tried to escape; the distance was over two meters, there was no possibility to jump from the window, to escape, because there was a big stone, then the hill leading to a mountain for the people who attempted to escape, but it was impossible because of the long distance from the house’s wall to there.

I told him all the details and said, “I will come on Saturday,” Saturday was a holiday, “I will come and show it to you, we will watch it and discuss it together.” “Okay, alright.” He died on Friday morning, he suffered a stroke, and never saw that footage. I still have that film, it’s very touching. He never managed to see it, even when he was still alive, also because he never wanted to go and recall the memory of those very tragic moments he experienced, fate didn’t want him to see the footage of that road either.

Noar Sahiti: Were there other survivors of that time?

Adem Pajaziti: Yes.

Noar Sahiti: Did you keep in touch with any of them?

Adem Pajaziti: It’s very interesting how war connects people very much. In our village there were ten, they all survived. And some of them migrated, they moved elsewhere, I think to other cities of Kosovo. But those who who stayed there befriended each other  and held each other close, and they always called each other r war comrade, they did not call their names, but  war comrade, “This war comrade, war comrade.” But when they all gathered together, even if we took the initiative, or tried to get them to talk about it,  they never wanted to explain. Individually, they would tell it,  they would tell how it happened; when they were together, they didn’t want to, and would say, “Did you get us here to judge us, or what do you want? We won’t explain it, we will not tell it!”

Noar Sahiti: How was it for you, personally, to see the locations which you had been constantly told from your father about as a child?

Adem Pajaziti: It was an extraordinarily tough emotion, but the kind of emotion, that I got very emotional when I saw the creek and remembered where the beginning of the massacre was, then the doors of the Monopoly, I touched them with my own hands, and it seemed, I checked my hands if they got bloody when I touched the stones {stares at his hand as if there were blood prints on it}…and the door, the door wasn’t changed; it was a door made out of thick plank, you could easily notice that it is very old. Except the fact that there were renovations done inside, otherwise, also because they only allowed us to see the corridor, they didn’t allow us to go further, because people started to immediately come around.

The emotion I felt started to get mixed up because the friend who was with me said, “I guess it’s dangerous for us to be here longer, because someone can attack us,” so we quickly collected our cameras and our stuff and left. It was hard, it was really hard! It seemed like even the steps weren’t the same as when you walk freely, they were heavy. It was a very heavy emotional state to remember all the people who died there, whose blood flew there, for what reason? For one…senseless, I don’t know, why? What reason for? Just because they were Albanians? Just because they didn’t speak the same language as theirs? Or because they didn’t have claims towards their place, towards their place of birth, towards their lands, towards their property? This is senseless!

My father had finished the gymnasium at the time when educated people were rare. He finished his gymnasium in Skënderaj in Serbo-Croatian language and wasn’t employed there. As a family, they didn’t work in the local government that was established…actually it was not established yet. It was a time of war, you know, there were….he worked in the fields, at home, he didn’t work anywhere even though he had finished school. The other issue was that my grandpa…my grandfather, the father of my father, was proclaimed [undesirable] by the government because he helped Dervish Koprilla, a patriot who was working for the national issue in Kosovo, he was a partisan, but when he saw that the ideal he was fighting for wasn’t achieved, he went to the mountains, because he was a partisan himself.

And he supported him, he helped him, he fed him, he held him close to the houses, not  our house but a cousin’s house. And since he didn’t give their names when they caught him, the name of my grandfather… they couldn’t punish him, but decided to proclaim him [undesirable], to isolate him from the others. This is the reason why my father, even though an educated person, was never offered a job. At that time, he was a young boy who worked in the fields, took care of the livestock and survived just as many other people from the village did in that time.

Noar Sahiti: Would you like to add something at the end, some other detail?

Adem Pajaziti: Yes, I just hope that now we will realize the initiative we started to build a reference point for the victims of that massacre. I hope we will raise that obelisk, or that memorial in Prizren. I hope that our historians as well as  good-willing people will open the archives and find materials to bring light to this case, because the government has kept that case hidden for 50 years. And as for the moral aspect of this, it’s people’s obligation to bring light to this issue, and even though the people who committed this massacre will not be able to be punished, the bad act will be punished, the genocide committed on those people will be punished.

Noar Sahiti: Thank you very much.

Adem Pajaziti: I am the one to thank you for your initiative, especially Anna, right?

Noar Sahiti: Yes.

Adem Pajaziti: …for this initiative. This is really impressive to us, it’s a great honour to us that you took this initiative to bring these things to light.

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