124.756/11–1746: Telegram

The Acting Representative to Albania (Henderson) to the Secretary of State70

secret   us urgent

811. From Henderson. ReDeptel 251, November 16.71 In retrospect a number of Hoxha’s veiled allusions to Mission and certain members of it in speeches during month of October now take on additional [Page 39] significance: (a) In Front speech of October 7, Hoxha took pains to outline specific duties for which Mission sent to Albania; (b) In Youth speech October 16, he pursued this tack to point of asking bluntly what Mission was doing in Tirana since its legitimate function had been completed months before; (c) In his reply to letter announcing Mission’s withdrawal, he made several references to unfriendliness of certain members of Mission and drew distinction between great American people on one hand and on the other the State Department and certain members of the State Department Mission in Albania. These moves by Hoxha are unexplainable on the basis of actual facts and the normal and legitimate activities of the Mission. Secretary General of the Foreign Office himself admitted to me that he was at a loss to explain meaning behind Hoxha’s statements in Youth Congress speech. Therefore it can only be assumed that Hoxha, by taking above steps, had begun build-up for saboteurs’ trial which he had already planned for purpose of providing dramatic answers to his questions and innuendos. Department will recall that my 53172 reported that secret preparations for trial, including torture of five Albanians, had already begun as early as October 23.

Ultimate objectives of trial may be summarized as follows: (a) To discredit US–UK role in UNRRA by fantastic charges re Maliq Lake alleged sabotage; (b) to justify to Albanians departure US mission; (c) to discredit Fultz and his many friends in Albania (including high placed Albanian Government officials); (d) to “explain” Albanian Government’s failure to complete highly-touted project for drainage Maliq swamp by November 28.

It would seem that US decision withdraw mission caught Hoxha with his stage half set, that he therefore kept news of mission’s withdrawal secret as long as possible, began trial 2 days after he learned of US decision and then revealed one-sided version of mission’s departure, only after trial had attempted smear Fultz and Mission. Following facts bear out this conclusion: (a) News of mission’s withdrawal was kept secret in Albania for 4 days, i.e., until Department’s press release November 8 announced withdrawal, but first passing reference to mission’s departure appeared in Bashkimi only on November 10 and full text of Hoxha’s reply to my letter was not published until several days later (text of my November 5 letter was, of course, never published).

In connection with emphasis in trial on large sums of gold Fultz alleged to have passed on to saboteurs through UNRRA’s Woodward as well as directly to one of trial defendants, Department should bear in mind that Albanians know mission ceased selling gold to Albanian [Page 40] State Bank in August.… The following are facts re Fultz’ “acquaintance with persons being tried”.

(Known) Abdyl Sharra, chief engineer of project, graduate of technical school. Met twice since Fultz’ return Albania, once early summer 1945, conversation less than 5 minutes each occasion, no other communication of any kind.
(Unknown) Vasil Mano, engineer Sharra’s staff, purportedly one of three chief conspirators with Sharra and Mano’s wife, name unknown to Fultz up to first day of trial.
(Unknown) Zyrika Mano, wife of Vasil, name unknown to Fultz up to first day trial.
(Known) Kujtim Beqiri, engineer graduate of technical school, met twice since return, brief call May 1945 and once autumn 1945 at bridge ceremony, no other communication of any kind.
(Known) Pandele Zografi, technician known as student at technical school, not met since Fultz return Albania. Plays minor role in trial.
(Unknown) Other witnesses and minor defendants in trial unknown to Fultz, including two Italians and Aleks Vasili, Albanian.

Fultz’ casual meeting with Sharra and Beqiri took place months before Maliq project was started and had no connection therewith; Fultz did not know Sharra was director of project until fact brought out in trial.

Albanian Government over year ago began discouraging Albanian citizens from associating with Mission and since the beginning of year this policy has been enforced to point of terrorization. For this reason, all former students of technical school have avoided meeting Fultz or communicating with him in any way.

On basis of its experience in Albania during past year, Mission can reliably state that following methods of torture are used by Hoxha regime for purpose of obtaining false confessions: Gashing leg, filling with salt, victims are known to have actually exhibited such wounds; electric current through decayed teeth or through bone in rear of ear; prolonged immersion in cold water up to neck; beating; splinters under fingernails; going through all preparations for execution even to firing blanks.

With regard to present trial, (1) above methods so well known that prisoners out of sheer terror may have made false confessions in hope of being spared or promise of being spared; (2) photograph of defendant Sharra during trial shows drawn emaciated features as evidence of torture and pressure.

Another aspect of case that should be noted is that Kujtim Beqiri on witness stand denied receiving any gold from Fultz or anyone else or of having received any instructions to delay work on project. Beqiri’s denial was not only heard in court room but also over public [Page 41] address system transmitting verbatim trial proceedings public in street outside court room. Official government organ Bashkimi, on other hand, published alleged confession that he had received 250 gold naps [bars] at one time, 200 at another.

  1. Henderson and members of the American Mission departed from Albania and arrived in Italy on November 16, 1946.
  2. Not printed; it requested information and comment on the trumped-up charges against Fultz and the United States made in the course of a trial in Tirana of Albanians accused of sabotage (124.756/11–946). Fultz and other employees of the American Mission in Albania were alleged to have instigated and subsidized sabotage activities at a drainage project on Lake Maliq, near Korce.
  3. Not printed.