This is the 3rd Chapter of an abridged translation of a book entitled "Forty Years in the Jails of Enver Hoxha" by Minas Paras. The previous two chapters can be found here.
The Italian Police returned to Politsani. The Police Chief summoned me to his office and I was told I no longer had the right to move freely. The police, however, were in no position to ensure security in the area. That's when the robberies started. They were perpetrated by residents of Muslim villages against the villages occupied by Greeks. Even Greek villages on the other side of the border were ransacked.
On the 15th of August after the liturgy at St. Nicholas, a meeting of the entire village took place. Some in the crowd advocated hiring outside people to guard the village. I considered this folly and appealed to the others: "Aren't we men and can't we protect our own honor, protect our lives and our village? We have some weapons and we can obtain more."
Someone asked "Are you willing to take charge?" I answered, "Yes."
Ninety three men volunteered immediately and we were able to collect thirty rifles. Starting that night we sent out patrols in and outside of our village. We posted lookouts. Politsanites living in Avlona and Tirana sent us flashlights and other equipment. We were also able to obtain additional weapons. Word spread that Politsani was heavily guarded.
After some initial successes, other nearby villages joined our efforts and within a short period of time, bandits no longer ventured into the region of Pogoni. Later, national liberation movements began to organize in Greece and Albania. In October of 1941 I traveled to Tirana to learn more about these preparations. I was contacted by the Central Committee of the movement known as "Metopou."
It was decided that we would wage war against the occupation. We came to an agreement, Greeks and Albanians. The Greek minority would fight within the movement but after victory against the Axis forces, we would be given the right to become an autonomous region. The Central Committe decided to send a representative, Basil Katis to Politsani. He was to become the Minister of Trade in the new government after liberation but was soon consigned to the jails of Enver Hoxha.
The guerrilla war against the Axis began to spread. The Italian position in Politsani became untenable and they withdrew. Our area because of its mountainous terrain was ideal for guerrilla warfare. It became a safe zone for the partisans who began to come into Politsani to receive supplies and rations. Soon the entire Pogoni region became a partisan sanctuary. The leaders of the Albanian Liberation Movement used Politsani as a headquarters including the Greeks of EAM such as the representative of their Central Committee, Miltiades Kirgiannis under the alias Alexis Yiannaris, whom I warned about the unreliability of the Albanian Communists. Many of the Albanian guerrilla leaders would later find themselves in the jails of Enver Hoxha including Mehmet Shehou, his prime minister for thirty years, who Hoxha personally murdered.
Parachute drops from Allied airplanes began in the valley near the village of Sheperi, next to Politsani. None of these weapons were given to the Greek inhabitants. A British commando team headed by a man named MacNeil also arrived. I asked him for supplies for the Greeks in Pogoni. He advised us to continue working together with the Albanian guerrillas and eventually the Allies would help the Greek minority after the war was over. The team came to Politsani and met with the village leaders. They promised paradrops. Unfortunately they never materialized. I found out later that the leader of the Albanian resistance in the Avlona-Argirokastro area, who was worried that we would break away before the war was over, convinced the British to cancel those paradrops. From that point on we never trusted the Albanian guerrilla leaders.