Q: What is your name?
Mr. Protopapa: My name is Sejfi Protopapa.
Q: And is that the name that you were born with, or did you ever have to change it?
Mr. Protopapa: No, it's the same name. I was born with that name.
Q: Where were you born?
Mr. Protopapa: I was born in Albania, in Europe.
Q: And where in Albania was that?
Mr. Protopapa: My town, Berat. B-e-r-a-t. Berat.
Q: And when was the date that you were born?
Mr. Protopapa: February 20, 1923.
Q: As you were a child and growing up, what was your family like?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, we had what is called a patriarchal system in the family. In this case, in my case, rather, my father and his brother had full families each, but they lived in the same house. And the older brother in this case happened to be my father, who would be the last authority, the first and last authority, in decision making, although there was some conversation and debate, but ultimately it was his final decision to make as the eldest male in the two brothers.
Q: And did you have two parents growing up as a child?
Mr. Protopapa: Yes, I had both parents clear until I left Albania.
Q: And what were their occupations?
Mr. Protopapa: I beg your pardon?
Q: Occupations? Your parents'?
Mr. Protopapa: Until I left Albania... oh, my parents' occupations.
Mr. Protopapa: My mother was a housewife, which would have been traditional, correct, I mean that's the preponderant majority of Albanian women at the time would be housewives, whereas my father started with small school learning and eventually was a self-taught man, a la, if you will, in the United States, a la Lincoln, and was a self-made man and became a mayor, and a lawyer, and that sort of thing, but nothing big.
Q: And did you have any siblings?
Mr. Protopapa: I have, uh -- I had, if you will -- one brother and two sisters.
Q: Were they older or younger?
Mr. Protopapa: Two of them older, the brother and one sister, and one sister younger.
Q: And in your household, when you were in Albania, what language did you speak?
Mr. Protopapa: We speak -- we spoke, rather -- Albanian, written and spoken both, and eventually we learned Italian after, especially after, the occupation of Albania from Italy in 1939.
Q: You mentioned the town that you were born in and lived in as a child. What was that town like, big or small?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, it's a rather very, very old town. They claim it's a two thousand five hundred years old town. There's all kinds of remnants of the various invasions and cultural evolution and, you know, passages if you will in the area. It's about, at the time, it's about 10,000. It was considered a city by most standards, you see, that kind of a society. It was a self-contained, self-sufficient city. Very pretty, actually. There's a river that splits it in the middle, and hills, and mountains, snow-capped mountains in the background. Not very close, but, you know. So it was a very touching thing, and the best part of it all is the notion that I left in '44, my town, and didn't return until '92, and what had happened in the nostalgia in the memory game, I exaggerate the beauty of the town and everything else (laughs) in the country, you know, so when I got back there, I couldn't believe it was that bad, it could be that bad. You know, I'd imagined it to be fantastic because of time, you know. And we had no contact whatsoever, I mean I had no contact whatsoever all of those fifty years.
Mr. Protopapa: So, you know, because of the Communist regime, the dictatorship. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Q: I'm sorry. You said the Communist regime. So you couldn't have contact?
Mr. Protopapa: Because of, because the Communists took over in 1945, and by that time, I'd left the country altogether, and they didn't give up, relinquish until the whole eastern block. Are you familiar with, you're familiar with the revolution of the nineties, in the Gorbachev era?
Yeah, a little bit, yeah.
Q: A little bit, well. That **** '90, 1990, the eastern block, which is the Soviet Union, the Soviet empire, if you will, collapsed.
Mr. Protopapa: And my version of it would be collapsed of its own weight, its own rottenness, not because of something we did here, good or bad or indifferent, or something somebody else did. It's strictly the system just could not survive itself. It was a flawed system to begin with. Unfortunately, it took all of this century, one hundred years of experiment for the whole world to eventually conclude, like your own **** that it was a rotten system. It just could not be made to work, even though it seemed very attractive on the face of it in the presentational aspect of it. So, with the regime being in place, immediately, of course, their true colors came in, in the meaning that they established a very, very ruthless dictatorship. It ranks among the worst, if you like, first among the worst, first or second or third. North Korea might compete with it in terms of Vietnam, no, but the Cambodian Communists might compete because they massacred a large number of people in a very visible way, whereas the dictatorship in Albania did not do any massive executions but a continual torture and terror, committed terror, basically terror, and governed by terror, by fear, by surveillance, by very mean, very (laughs) revolting sort of methods of government.
Q: And this lasted until 1990?
Mr. Protopapa: Until 1990. The **** of it collapsed by its own rottenness, if you will. The infrastructure was left unkept, personal relationships were all screwed up in the sense that, all messed up, in the sense that there was no, as you might have here, no connection between one's worth, one's own worth, and the reality, the social reality present, because they had learned that -- fifty years of the Communist dictatorship -- they had learned something pretty frightening, actually, in a way, and that I believe to be the explanation of the difficulties that we now have in the eastern block, all of it. What they learned was that whenever there was an issue, you did not look for the issue itself, and the pros and cons and components of the issue, etc., or an analysis of the issue, but rather who was the decision-maker of the issue. And so the competition of the remaining two parties on that issue would be who could reach the highest in the party hierarchy, and that guy would win, or that party would win. So if you went, if you were connected to the dictator on that issue, you would automatically win, never mind the content of the issue. It's a very frightening proposition. This happens here, too, you understand, but it does not happen regularly. It happens once in a very long while, like, you know, you have a favor ****. There, it was the standard procedure for every decision. They wanted to have housing, the government decided. They wanted to go to the school, the government decided. They wanted to get a job, the government decided. Everything, everything they did was decided by the government.
Q: And there were no checks and balances like in America?
Mr. Protopapa: Absolutely zero! Zero! It was just this rule, this rule. See if you can record for yourself, never mind this nonsense here. For yourself. Imagine that you disregard everything about the content of the issue, I mean completely. So, you always looked for who was the decision maker, and you looked for the highest one.
Q: And that would be what was right?
Mr. Protopapa: And that was right. That made it right.
Q: All right. I'd like to get back to that stuff later, actually, but...
Mr. Protopapa: That's ok.
Q: Meanwhile, your own childhood, in your community, what was that like from the standpoint of school, or...
Mr. Protopapa: It was very simple. We, believe it or not, had a diffuse personal relationship, which means **** to modern America today. Very important, actually. It's similar to the early pilgrims here. Similar, In the sense that in my home, there being two families in one house. There were fourteen of us. In addition, we had another food person who had come over to stay with us. That was a simple thing, it was not one way. Now that food person helped with the housework, and of course it was treated as if... So, thirteen, fourteen people. You could never be lonely. We had lots of ****; how could you be alone? Or, worse yet for your age group, I suppose, how could you be private? That was the difficult thing about it. But, because of the huge diffusion of relationships, it was a very pleasant sort of, very easy life. You could get mad at one, and be friendly with the other, and so one. You know. Or be friends with all, or be mad at all, or whatever. But there was sufficient exposure, sufficient diffusion of a relationship, so there was never a strong conflict as it might occur here, you know, where you connect with one person, and it becomes a dependent relationship because there are no other connections. I mean, if it happens that way. And so, in that sense, it was pleasant; it was easy. We had a water stream, not too big, but a little bit less than a river, more than a creek, more than a creek, less than a river; somewhere in between. It was used to drive a flour mill. You know, the pressure of the water would turn the wheel, and then a big stone would crush the wheat and make flour. And we used to walk barefoot, no problem, I mean, even though we had a pair of shoes, but we saved them, for ceremony. So basically, as a child, we went barefoot. And of course we went in the water and waded; it was not very deep, but it was lots of fun. The memories are that it was pleasant. We'd go to the river; of course that had more water and it could be dangerous because there were some areas that were deep, but again, there were water fights and so on, I mean it was... And the school was very serious. The school was taken extremely seriously. And I think that one of the reasons was that it was a primitive country recovering, or rather commencing, beginning from zero in terms of literacy and of exposure to the west vis-a-vis an earlier oriental background. You know, the Ottoman Empire had the area under control. So that the school was taken extremely seriously, in the sense that the teachers had tremendous, inordinate authority, and the students did study hard. I mean, I can recall, I was a good student, but even the bad students studied very hard. They were concerned, they wanted to learn because it was the beginning of exposure to literacy, to learning, to schooling, you know. And it was very interesting as compared with, you know, taking it for granted.
Q: How was the government involved with the schools then?
Mr. Protopapa: The government is even today in Europe actually the schools are public, similar to here, but here the definition is more distinct, in that township taxes that we pay, in fact happen to be real estate taxes, support the school system in the town. There are additional funds from the state and the federal government here, but those are almost invisible funds; you know, they are not significant by comparison, by comparison to the taxes we pay for the schools. And there, it was never discussed as a matter of taxes; it was automatic that the central government -- and I think it is what you are **** today, simply took responsibility for the schools.
Q: Was the curriculum supposed to be influential? Did the government choose the curriculum?
Mr. Protopapa: No, no, no. The curriculum was really, as I tried to say earlier, mentioned earlier, the curriculum was designed to impart learning. For example, history was given as history, not with colors and biases and prejudices. And of course geography was given as geography. And math, of course, is really neutral. And physics and chemistry and so on. It was really a very, very disciplined type of behavior or relationship or experience in school, very serious. None of this peripheral you have here, which will contribute to the well-being of the student or the evolution of the student, or may contribute to the student being ****. That was not the case there. The situation was you studied and did your homework; it was a very serious responsibility and you did your best, and whatever entertainment you needed was up to yourself or your family outside of school. School was not and throughout, by the way, in the university level even today, we follow the English, the British pattern. In continental Europe, at University, they couldn't care less who you are, what you're doing, where you sleep, who you sleep with. They don't care if you do drugs, if you're a criminal or whatever, or a saint. There is the curriculum, the coursework; if you pass the exams, you did it. How you did it, whether you attended classes or not, they could care less.
So it's test-based, really.
Mr. Protopapa: It's substance-based, competence-based, and not anything else, not even class attendance. At university, not at the high school. The high school is extremely rigorous. You attend, you are disciplined, you are ***.
Q: In your own experience, how far did you go in school, or what was your track that you followed?
Mr. Protopapa: I did five years of... Let's do the years again. Elementary school is five years, and the whole other group is eight years, divided in four and four. I did five of those eight in Albania, two of them in Italy, and passed two years in one year in Italy, because, to get into the civil war, which is... The notion was that if you are not mature, you cannot participate in the civil war. Seriously, heavy stuff, you know, weapons and so on, death and risks. And so I said, if that's the case, I'll just take two years in one year, and I'll have my diploma that says I'm mature. You know, a very superficial argument, but I actually followed it. And actually, I don't know, it got me into trouble actually in a way, maybe. But that's the way it happened. And so, I did two years, and, believe me, I was extremely tired doing this, taking those exams for two years in one year. I used to project the answers on the wall or somewhere, like that wall, for example, in this case, here, and make believe I was reading from that. That's how tired I was. That's the only way I could handle the...
That's a lot for one year!
Mr. Protopapa: Yes. But that got me started, allowed me socially, if you will, in a superficial way, of course, to be accepted and participate in the political **** and confrontations and **** that were taking place.
Q: Did you work as a child?
Mr. Protopapa: We did not, No. The culture did not provide for it, except I happened to personally get involved, because of some school courses and so on, I guess my personality helped me to **** to run the threshing machine. The threshing machine takes the wheat that comes from the field and separates the hay or whatever you'd call it, and gets the grain out. That's the threshing machine. And I operated it when I was thirteen, fourteen. But it was like you might fix your own car, in that sense. My uncle had a business, and he had **** threshing machines, and he'd rent them. You know, eight per cent of the wheat had to go to the threshing machine. And he put me to... But generally the kids, the children, did not work in our setup, in our society, in our country at the time, even though it was a poor country. Today it is equally poor, for different reasons. It was intended, it was literally the thing to go to school when you were young. And the opportunities would not be there either.
So, I mean ...
Q: Ok. In your community, what was your family's religion, and what was the dominant religion of the community?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, we, my family were Moslems, Islam, Moslem. That's eastern. The neighborhood was Christian Orthodox. So now in fact our home was literally ten, fifteen feet away, wall to wall, home wall and the church's wall, fifteen feet apart. So I spent a great deal of time in the churchyard, playing with the other children. So, we somehow did not emphasize it.
Q: So there was never a problem then between the two?
Mr. Protopapa: No, not a problem.
Q: Were there any other Muslim families in the community, or was it generally the Christian Orthodox groups and then just your family?
Mr. Protopapa: No, I think it was generally the notion that religion is one's own business, and the rest of it was let's play football or soccer.
Q: So it was really not a ...
Mr. Protopapa: Right, right, a separate part of, a sort of a private thing. But not as a doctrine, as it is here, freedom of religion as it is stated here, or as it is treated here. But rather as a tacit understanding that that's how it ought to be. So it's a bit different. It's a cultural thing, sort of a laissez-faire thing, but not as a serious doctrine. ****
Q: So, moving onto...other conflicts eventually did evolve. How old were you, where were you, how did you hear, what were the circumstances that you knew that trouble was on the way, meaning the war?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, as you know, the war again began for the rest of the world in September of 1939. At the time, the Germans occupied Poland. However, earlier, in April, 1939, the Italians occupied Albania so we got the first brunt of it actually next to Austria. The Germans took Austria first earlier in '38. So Albania **** Poland. When they got into Poland, the French and the British chose to declare war even though they were not themselves threatened, but rather simply because they believed as they saw the ****, that this was not a permissable thing to do, this was not the right thing to do. And they had some kind of an alliance with Poland, but I suspect it was more of a mindset than an alliance issue. Alliances can be broken and reinforced, either way. But on the other hand, if you have a mindset, **** then you can use the alliance conveniently to... and they did. And they declared war. So that, the moment that they declared war, everything became very complicated instantly. So, the answer to your question is that the moment that the Germans invaded Poland and the British and the French declared war on Germany, that's when the conversations and the debates and "Whose side are you going to be on?" and "What are you going to do?" and "What am I going to do?" and "What is she and he and anybody and friends and family and so on, what sides are we going to be on?" they began there. They did not take shape in a cogent and a significant and a risk level until somewhere in 1942, when the Germans succeeded in invading pretty much most of Europe and a big chunk of Russia and the Soviet Union, partially, not all, and that's what made the difference in the war, actually. So, at that point, the issue then became and there were the questions posed for the fate of Albania. There were two currents going on: How is this Albania going to survive from the neighbors, in this case the Serbs, as you can see from the news these days, and the Greeks in the south. There's not as much news public, but privately there's plenty of commotion going on, undercurrents and so on. And I happened to monitor them. I happen to be involved now with that.
Mr. Protopapa: Ok, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that, so this is the one position. The other position, and of course, how are we going to develop democracy here? And this group expected support from the western portion of the Allies. Then the other group was the Communist group, and they, very much like the rest of the world, said this is the opportunity to have this idea of Communism implemented and win and save the world from all of the failures of religions and democracy. Remember now, religions are justifications on occasion for the massacres they perform in the name of the respective religions, every one of them. No exceptions. Every single religion. It's a true story. Let's face it. And I happen not to be religious, but I am not trying to attack religions either, but it just happened that that was their argument, that religions had failed, that imperialism had failed, that democracy had failed because it really was supporting colonial governments. The British had an empire, it's gone from sunset to sunrise. Colonial. Never mind that they got out of the United States, but they had a huge empire. They controlled all of India, all of Pakistan. God knows. The Harlem Dutch, the Dutch, you know, they're a very small country, controlled all of Indonesia as a colony. Of course, all of Africa was a colony, British colony, French colony, Germans had lost the colony during the First World War, First World War, an Italian colony. So, what kind of a democracy is this, you know? So, it failed, as far as they were concerned. So now, we had the true gospel. Now we had the real McCoy. This was going to save all of mankind's problems. Well, they bought on it, the Albanians did. And so did the Serbs, and so did the Greeks, and so did the Italians, and so did the Americans, not many, enough, so did the British, and even British aristocracy, who were well-to-do, so it was not a matter purely proletarian, or workers' ideology. It was a whole process that happened to take hold of mankind, man's, if you like, thinking mode, that there was a need to save the world from its own mess, and this was it; this was the panacea. And they bought, in this case of the Albanians, they bought into it in a very *** , very serious manner and in fact they were very successful in that. They captured the youth. And this other group did not, even though they were punished by the Italians, put into jails and so on, as well. But they did not grasp, number one, the role of the Communist movement in the world, and the difficulties of making a local issue out of the huge conflagration that was the Second World War. You have to go sort of backwards in to appreciate that the British Empire completely disintegrated from the Second World War. All of it --****-- it just evaporated completely. Never mind that they won the war. So, it was a very significant... in addition to the warfare in Europe and all the armies and the killings and all that, but there was many, many other pieces of consequences involved in the Second World War. So, these were the two positions. One was how to maintain democracy and save the country from our neighbors, and the other one was how to make use of this opportunity of war, of warfare, to take over the world under the name of Communism, the Soviet Empire, whatever you want to call it, Socialism, if you want to put it mildly. That's only semantic gamesmanship, if you will.. And that was the debate. What is very interesting, extremely interesting, is that for the world at large, including the United States, the rottenness that had taken place in the Soviet Union in the thirty-five *, where they killed millions in the Ukraine because they wanted to convert the farmers into collective farms, and they resisted, they killed them. And this was kept secret. And many such dirty laundry was kept inside, was not publicized, because they wanted to believe against all hope that this was the salvation, you see, that this ideology was it. It's a very interesting thing. In the case of the Albanians, they bought into it wholeheartedly, and to the extent that if there were any abuse by the system, by the hierarchy of Communism, they would ignore it. They would say it's for the better good; it's for the good of the ideology. However, it came out that when they were adopting their system, even during the campaign, campaigning level, not a fighting level, but a campaigning level, meaning speeches and, you know, literature and so on, they began to see some dirty laundry coming out, right into the country. And that's in my case, by the way, that is when I said, "Wait a minute. This is not acceptable."
Q: So that's when it really started to...
Mr. Protopapa: Ya, ya. In my particular case, one thing, when the Italians capitulated in '43, I was 19 then. **** The two groups had made an agreement in **** of 1943. And that is a recording of the British mission; the British had made a mission that enhanced the activity of the guerillas against the Germans, against the Italians. Perfectly legitimate. Can you follow that?
Q: So the...
Mr. Protopapa: Remember, there is a German occupation throughout Europe.
Mr. Protopapa: There is a British and American, but in this case, a British involvement, the Americans were sort of not as involved. The British were sort of in charge of all of this ****. They would encourage the local population to rebel against the occupiers. And it was to their benefit, to the British and the Allied forces' benefit, that there be no internal conflicts.
Q: I see. Ok.
Mr. Protopapa: So it forced them to get together and work together against the Germans, and they did. And they succeeded after signing an agreement. Soon after the win, when news went up from Albania into Yugoslavia, from Yugoslavia into Moscow, they said "Nothing doing. That agreement is not acceptable. Scrap it." And they gave orders to the Communist party in Albania to scrap it. That order came in my hand, by my connections. And when I saw it, I said, "This is totally unfair and unjust and wrong and everything else." That decided my fate, but saved my life also, because that event, by publicizing that document, by exposing that * you might do today, you know, take your consequences. Well, I was condemned to death --instantly. Because I couldn't do more harm to them than by exposing them to assaulting and attacking an agreement they had made. Now it was there preparing the propaganda machinery how to break the agreement. You follow, right?
Mr. Protopapa: And so, because of this, it's clarified for me that I could not support them and I would be against it. And because of this, and having learned from other people that has run away from them, because of their own internal difficulties, that they were ruthless, they were liars, they were cheaters, they were doing all kinds of **** among themselves, even, and they keep doing them even today, by the way. It never stops. It never ends, wherever there is such a group, what's left of it, whatever there is left of it in the world today. And so that is, because of that, I never considered staying and saying I didn't do anything wrong.
Q: So that drew the line, sort of, between right and wrong?
Mr. Protopapa: Right. So I had to go and try to survive by escaping the country, by leaving the country, and I did, whereas my friends said, "We didn't do anything wrong." They stayed; they got killed. They were executed, all of them. Two of them, I keep them in my bedroom, as a, right here in Wayland, to remind, you know, some kind of combination lock and clarity of thinking, maybe.
Q: So you were lucky that you...
Mr. Protopapa: Ya. That I evolved in this to this circumstance to come up with the decision that I should never stay. And my family agreed. "And get him out of here," you know. And I did.
Q: So, since you were about twenty years old, you said...
Mr. Protopapa: Twenty-one. Twenty-one.
Q: So did your, you were saying that it was a patriarchal sort of household, so did your father agree...
Mr. Protopapa: Ya, everybody, everybody, everybody, everybody. No conflict. On that one there was no... No, thank God for that. I mean, you're right. That's a very good question, a very important question. No conflict whatsoever. They agreed, understood, and they wished me luck, and get out of here because... And it was a correct decision, because as I said, my friends did not. They said, "We have done nothing wrong," you know. And they had not done anything wrong, but of course they were opposed to the Communist system. And they got killed. Executed.
Q: In your community, what percentage of the people do you think had feelings like you did, said, "Listen, I've got to get out of here," or what percentage said...
Mr. Protopapa: For my situation, or in general?
Q: Well, in general. Just, you know, in your community. The people that you were around and you saw them making their decisions as you were making yours to leave. How many of them agreed...
Mr. Protopapa: I don't ... I think everyone agreed that there was no question that this was the right thing to do for me, from a survival sense. And it was confirmed later on, of course. There was never any issue. It was strictly... and I was obvious, you know. I did not hide or anything else. I am against them, I am opposed to them. I didn't mince any words or any actions and I survived the civil war itself, and then of course succeeded in escaping reasonably comfortably, actually, not too difficult.
Q: From those first signs that you were telling me about before when the news spread and then to getting the notice that the agreement had been scrapped and that stuff, to the actual beginning of the warfare in Albania, how did things progress along that, you know, was it fast or...?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, the first consequence of the order to scrap the agreement, and this is again the Communist technique, you know, their true colors were coming along, coming forth, to justify the scrapping, they had to establish that there was a civil war rather than an agreement. In order to establish to a degree components of a civil war, they simply massacred several hundred people arbitrarily. They called them armed or they found them and killed them.
Q: Just to make it look like it was a civil war?
Mr. Protopapa: Just to make sure that it was understood by everybody that it was no longer an agreement but there was a civil war. Once that happened, then the other side said, "****, we have to get defend, we have to defend ourselves." At the beginning, they couldn't believe it, it could, you know... In fact, that's why it was so easy to kill so many people. After that, it was a stand-still situation, because, you know, we were civilians, armed, they were civilians, armed. They had more support, more savvy than, more organization than we did. But nevertheless, a comparable armament, comparable abilities. Numbers were almost even; we may have had more support in general, but they had more quality, more, more discipline, more organization, so that... And they were faster, in every which way. Faster in preparing the cadre, faster in the propaganda machinery, much better organized. And of course they had the support -- and this is very crucial -- the atmosphere, of the whole world saying, "Oh, yeah, Communism is coming and it's going to save us." So that our movement basically was doomed from the beginning. And this is what happened, sure enough. It was a very dangerous era, I mean, you could get killed. To give you an example of this sort of thing: I had never driven a motorcycle; I had driven a bicycle, but not a motorcycle. So I found a motorbike. Remember, now I'm a big shot, you know (laughing). ****all of me, you know. But, you know, and I take the motorcycle and I learn to drive it right in the middle of the city street. Not Wayland, or 126, where I live. And in the process, I hit someone. He fell down. Nothing happened; I mean, nobody could touch him. War condition. You see what I'm saying? Those are very dangerous situations, because there's no accountability, there's no government, there's... If you weren't connected, you're -- in my case, I was more than connected, you know, all these hundreds and hundreds of * people, civilians... I didn't get hurt too much, but the point is that normally I'd be arrested and...
Q: But it didn't matter?
Mr. Protopapa: No way, no way. And giving you that to say that it was very tricky, very dangerous. Remember, anything could happen to anybody at any time. Let alone that in my case, being that involved, anything could happen to me. It didn't happen, but it could have.
Q: And, was the... Did you witness, a lot of the, you know, you said that right off the bat they just decided to kill several hundred people. Did you witness that stuff, or not?
Mr. Protopapa: I did not witness it with my own eyes. I knew of the people that got killed, and so on, but not in my... It was obviously the terror that was reflected back to our organizational areas, and so that was the atmosphere that was created after that. And of course immediately people took measures, so that stopped. Once they knew that...
Q: Right. But I mean, so it definitely did affect you. It wasn't like something far off at a distance.
Mr. Protopapa: Oh, oh! It affected... Well, for example, it affected me for example to go home with two armed, two bodyguards. I'm going home with bodyguards, come from my home to the headquarters with bodyguards. That's an example of -- a concrete example of... because I was supposed to be an intellectual, even though just high school. (laughs)
Q: So you were leading that organization in your community?
Mr. Protopapa: I was a youth responsible for **** in committee, youth committee in the town.
Q: So you said there was that initial killing spree that the government led on, and then there was a stand-still.
Mr. Protopapa: No, the Communists did that, not the government.
Q: Or, the Communist regime, and then there was like a stand-still, you said.
Mr. Protopapa: Right. And then there was a complete military, no longer an intellectual debate competition or political competition, campaign competition, but rather a military competition, which meant that any time you saw the other side, you could shoot them, and they could shoot you. And so there were encounters, fightings in between them, and there were casualties, not that many. The propaganda makes it too many, but it's not true. The numbers were not that big in the whole country, but there were skirmishes, there were battles, but no battles were actually military encounters. They were guerilla encounters. Guerilla A Communist, Guerilla B non-Communist, you could call them Nationalists or whatever, they'd fight and you know, rattle the machine guns and what have you, but in the end it was somebody won that.
Q: And these were just civilians that had no training, no military background.
Mr. Protopapa: Exactly right. Just from scratch.
Here's a machine; go try it.
Mr. Protopapa: Ya, try it and... It's not that difficult. It happened very fast. It took course very fast. As a matter of fact, you know, it's important that you continue the amount of training they claim they are doing here. Except for special missions, of course, the commando services here...
Q: It's instinct, basically. Is that...?
Mr. Protopapa: Ya, right. It's just, you're green, and then you're mature. (laughs) And then you become professional. It depends on what your situations are, you know, and so on.
Q: After that period, what was the time frame right then?
Mr. Protopapa: This is '43-'44.
Q: Ok. And then, when did the actual...
Mr. Protopapa: The solution?
Q: Yeah. What happened next, basically?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, this is a bit difficult to explain. I'm going to try, and try to make is short, because we're getting too long here. Remember, the Germans have occupied the country. And we have to be more a professional historian to get a handle on this, but try as best you can, whatever the audience is. By this time, the Germans had been bogged down in Russia. They failed to continue their advance in Russia, Stalingrad in particular. And towards the Caucasus, they wanted to get to the oil fields in the Caucasus. And that meant that they had to go the winter and the winters were impossible in Russia. And in the meantime, the Americans had cranked up their **** and support to the European forces, the British and French outside. And so, the Alliant forces had begun returning back into North Africa, they came back from the Germans. They invaded Italy successfully, both the Americans and the British. Quite success. And, so... and this the Italians capitulated around in '43. The essence of this, I mean this picture, if you like, this panorama of Europe and the Mediterranean area where Albania belongs, made it clear to everybody, including Wayland, if you will, that the tide of the war had turned against the Germans. So, the issue was, what are we going to do? Now, the Germans, on the other hand, as they were enjoined from North Africa, and they did, and pushed back and they were pushed by the Fifth Army, the American Fifth Army under Clark and Montgomery and the Eighth Army along the Adriatic coast of Italy, they began withdrawing from Greece. And during this time, and this is the punch line which I have been delaying, unfortunately, well, during this time, they ran out of manpower and raw materials and supplies. They were recruiting fifteen-year-olds, sixteen-year-olds, sixty-year-olds. Then, so, their occupation was very superficial. They controlled the main highways, and they had a **** guerilla battalion of 600 men, and that's it. They did not have any other armies or manpower available **** to do many things. And so the Albania in this situation was sort of floating, neither occupied nor occupied. In other words, the Germans were not fully occupying the country, there were poor German Albanians like there were poor German anywhere, like anywhere else in the world, and they tried to manage some kind of a ****; it was very disorganized, of course. Nothing was clear nowadays. And very dangerous, and very, very uncertain, and people somehow managed to... friendships and connections to survive, to do some buying and selling and some producing, God knows, in poverty to be sure. So, when the German army left, we were left alone to confront the Communists. That's when they, if you like, things cleared up. Militarily, they were superior to us, and we simply disbanded. And one of our commanders happily still alive today, by the way, a professor of literature, finished in France, studied at the Sorbonne. You've heard of Sorbonne? The University of Sorbonne, in Paris.
Q: Yeah, I have.
Mr. Protopapa: That's where he got his doctorate in literature. He said, "Every one man for himself. We're finished." And we just disbanded. And so, in my case, I left my home; they understood, of course, as we discussed earlier, and joined those people that would leave the country. And we eventually, believe it or not, there was not a big pressure. And there are some explanations for that. Nevertheless, the short answer is that we very comfortably moved north to Shkoder, it's a... and then to Vicula(?)-- A seaport in Montenegro. And then we bought a boat, a small boat, a hundred of us got into the boat and went into Italy. The British of course knew about us. And they received us, they put us in the refugee camps. So that closed the books for us as far as Albania and the country is concerned.
Q: And so, when was that, that you were, that you actually...What was the date that you actually moved from Albania?
Mr. Protopapa: This was in December, December of '44. So, somewhere in the first of '45 we were in Italy.
Q: And, you said it was pretty easy to get to...
Mr. Protopapa: It was not easy, but I have no memories of difficulties. I have one memory, for example, of walking towards one of the cities of the north, Shkoder, **** and I got caught in the rain. And then some farmer, some local person took me into his carriage and put me inside the hay to go through the German checkpoint.
Q: So they were helping you?
Mr. Protopapa: Oh, ya. But it was not a big deal, you know what I'm saying? Although obviously, if a German had found me, they could have chose to kill me, and there would be no issue. Because, you know, there is too much confusion, too much chaos.
Mr. Protopapa: In fact, it was a chaotic situation from '43 on, just about. Very close. Chaos is a very scary thing in a way, if you look at it from the outside in particular. When you're inside, maybe you don't quite... because everything's unpredictable. Anyway, so that's it.
Q: So, it was sort of the extreme opposite of having one central power. It was just sort of everyone for themselves.
Mr. Protopapa: Ya. We simply evaporated, if you will, and they simply, very correctly from their point of view, mind you, I have no sympathy for them, then or now or ever, but * very correctly, they looked up, up, they looked to make sure that they took over the country to control the country politically on their terms. That is, in effect, one of the reasons that I was trying to suggest earlier, that was one of the reasons they didn't bother to waste energy with us, because they wanted to complete the control of the whole country. And they did. Successfully.
Q: Was it maybe even that just because, because they knew that you disagreed with them so much that you leaving didn't make that big of a difference to them, because it made more people that...
Mr. Protopapa: Right. There was nothing left. Once we left, once the leadership left, and the leadership did leave en masse, it was only one man, two men, two leaders that stayed behind. And they were told by the people, "Get the hell out of here, because we get punished, we get punished for your being here." In other words, if they'd hear that this man, leader from our group would be in Wayland, for example, they'd kill hundreds of people in Wayland for hosting. Not for doing anything, for just even giving them water or food. And so, the people thought...
Q: So it was better for them to...
Mr. Protopapa: Ya, right. They said, "Get out of here" and they did. And ultimately it was clean cut. They took over with complete control. There was no position left. Zero. And from then on, it was their implementation of the Communist system, of which I am not a witness of, other than what I've learned and know and now that I've gone back since '90, nine years ago, and it was a pretty rough situation. ****
Q: I guess just what happened next? From there you left...
Mr. Protopapa: For us, or for the country?
Q: For you, for you personally.
Mr. Protopapa: For me it was very, from then on it was almost dull, in a way. We were in refugee camp. Refugee camps, you understand, are free, in two sense, in both personal freedom as well as food and shelter. Food and shelter is free, and personal freedom is cool. In other words, you don't need food and shelter, you can get up and leave whenever you want. If you need food and shelter, you got it, you stay there. So it was essentially a simple thing. I chose to decide -- it was because of my make-up, I guess, my personal make-up ***-- this is all worth it, it's going to be a long haul, God knows how long they'll to be in power, I'd better learn and find out how I'm going to survive from here on out. So I start learning English, and worked in the camp, actually worked as a... without pay. But you get extra cigarettes, rations...
Q: So it was more like a shelter than like a camp, you know.
Mr. Protopapa: Ya, it was a shelter, but it was a very organized shelter. The United Nations, as a matter of fact. Very formally done, very completely, with a medical facility, food supplies. Of course they take them from the military ***. So, it was a godsend, actually, but in memory there were millions of refugees roaming around Europe because of the chaos that Europe, that the war caused. There were the Jewish refugees, for example, extremely significant. They were moving in this case from all of Europe, if you like, the Mediterranean * here, the spread of Europe north of the Mediterranean, all of it converging into Italy. And south of Italy, and then from southern Italy to Israel. They, by that time, in the Jewish world, the Zionism began to prevail. There was no more debate among the Jews which position to take, internationalism, brotherhood, etc., or Zionism, dedicated to the Jewish issue, and Zionism prevailed, because it became a reality. Now, never mind the bullshit about getting understanding from the Germans. They killed them.
Q: It was actually, this is what's going on.
Mr. Protopapa: It clarified the issue for the Jews, and the reason I'm saying that as it relates to me is that the Jews were a significant portion of those refugees that came from all of Europe and made it through the passes of Italy ... and into the refugee camps in Italy. And I even worked in one, two, three of those camps; I worked in three of those camps, actually as a registrar. I made food cards, ration cards, you know. So, this was a godsend, if you will, for everybody, all the Europeans, for all the Jews, for all the Albanians. I mean, there was no other way these people could survive, and God knows they would fill up the streets of Europe. So, in that sense, it was a, an enlightened thing to do, and I hope and I believe a worthwhile thing to do. I mean, I did not hurt anybody. I put years here for fifty years, you know, and so on.
Q: And you felt safe there?
Mr. Protopapa: Oh, more than, more than safe. There was never any...
Q: There was never a problem there?
Mr. Protopapa: Never. No. Absolutely.
Q: How long were you...
Mr. Protopapa: And as a matter of fact, it was even fun, actually.
Mr. Protopapa: Oh, ya, sure. I mean in one case, I was, they decided to separate groups by ethnic, on an ethnic basis, so they put the Albanians in a fisherman's village where there were some villas from richer times that the British army had taken over. And those villas were given to the refugees to live on. So here I am, going swimming every day, you know, having a...
Q: But meanwhile, while you were there and having a fine time, what were you hearing about from back home?
Mr. Protopapa: There was very little information, very little. The truth of the matter was that we did not, and at least I was not aware of and I'm almost certain that no one had decent information. Now, only fifty years later, we know something. But then, we did not. We did not, we could not imagine it, and it was worse than we could have ever possibly imagined. And the pattern was very similar in every other Eastern European country. But Albania had a distinction of not being occupied militarily by any Soviet army. In other words, presumably they did it all by themselves ***. But, because of that, they really went overboard in a way, in a way, and followed the pattern which is first, take over the government, then make sure that the opposition is subdued, then start implementing policies consistent with Communism, and then, oh, lo and behold, the struggle for power within the party. They were killing each other. And the big shots in the Communist party kill continually and never end. (sound of slam). It's the most ugly thing in the world to kill too much. I mean, never-ending. Every little event which would generate a pro the dictator, against the dictator, the ones who are against it will be shot. In prison, tortured, defamed. It never stops, and never stops. Very ugly.
Q: And what in your own community back in Albania, what happened there?
Mr. Protopapa: Oh, worse than that it was. In the community, for example, my family were treated as a chulak, as a bourgeios, as a anti-Communist if you will, and so they were completely left to their own devices and they were never employed in any significant manner. In my brother's case, he had done two years of university work, the equivalent of a college * here, and they actually put him as an ordinary laborer. He heard somebody say, "Maybe you could help us with something in the office or so," and he would, and then somebody from the party would come in and say, "What is he doing in here? He is a bourgeois. Take him out!" So back and forth. But the worst part and the saddest part and the most frightening part was killing each other within the party. That was the most ruthless part of all, because they were all lying, and, you know, with malice defame, and accuse people of things that they never dreamed of doing. And there was an episode, for example, of a fellow called Anastas Lourie. It's a fascinating story. He preferred to be killed, to be buried alive, but so long as the party didn't do it. He's like a saint, because the party killed him, his own party, but he accepted it, whereas his partner said, "The hell with this; I'm getting out of here," and he went on to France and left the country. So it was very ugly. As far as the rest of the people go, they never, never quite sensed it because they became like sheep from then on out. And when they get in to the things that I started with at the beginning of this conversation where they quickly were looking for who was in charge...to get the resolution...
Q: And it was the Communists.
Mr. Protopapa: Sure. So that they were completely not participating other than ...doing whatever they were told, knowing that there was not much nonsense to keep them safe. And they knew that the discussions that they create a republic with the archbishop were make believe, because the party decided, the Communist party decided everything that was to be decided. But they make believe they had a meeting, a conversation, some such thing.
Q: By then there was no alternative?
Mr. Protopapa: Absolutely no alternative. Completely perfunctory.
Q: I guess just how, from the, when you were in the refugee camp when working, and how long did that last, and what was your next step from there?
Mr. Protopapa: That was three years, and then I came to America in almost 1947 as an immigrant and also, during the refugee camp I worked in various areas of the camp, administration or management, whatever, administration, I guess, personal, and one of the jobs was to support the medical room, the medical, first aid facility. A doctor, a nurse from the Allied forces, a major doctor, a major... and a nurse from Canada who was a lieutenant. And I was a janitor in that particular setting, a janitor who ... cleaned the floors and so on. And this lady doctor happened to be from New Jersey, Montclair, New Jersey, which is a very ritzy town in America and in New Jersey, and she happened to have inherited a fortune from her parents, from her family, and she happened to be unmarried, and she was a physician and a Ph.D. pathologist -- can you imagine?-- and she decided to do the adventure of Europe, you see, and she simply collected refugees from the refugee camps that she was helping with, and brought them here, among them myself. She brought a German, a Russian, a Hungarian family, and she arranged for me to go to Rutgers University on a full scholarship. And then she'd give me $100 a month at the time, in 1947, in September, 1947, I came to Rutgers. And I went to Rutgers for four years, get a bachelor's in physics.
Q: So it was sort of luck almost that you happened to find her and she paid your way over, or...?
Mr. Protopapa: No, no. She met me as a, as a janitor. I was a janitor in the building. As a matter of fact it was a fantastic job because, you see, the villa was belonged to the first aid. At night they'd be all going to sleep there, so I was the only refugee; I had the whole place to myself! And the villa was right by the water. It's fascinating. No money. I had a bicycle for the job, khaki pants, two shirts, same color. I am embarrassed to say, but this was a very happy period of my life, a short period. Because of the circumstances. The ocean, and... I'm missing a few pieces of that, but the point is, you know, that's where she met me. And she met other people in similar fashion, you know, however she met them, because she eventually became responsible for all of the medical services to all of the refugee camps, so that she, this Major Birken, Dr. Birken, Elizabeth Birken. Anyway, so because of that, she asked me, and I said, "Sure, I'll go to America." I could have come here otherwise, but obviously she channelled my coming through the school system, vis-a-vis coming as an immigrant, and, you know, starting with my acquaintances I had here already, that had come earlier in the First World War era. Anyway, so that's how it ended.
Q: And by that time, when you came to America, did you speak English at all, or...?
Mr. Protopapa: That was a very difficult period. My English was very deficient and was no level. I really started freshman year in the dictionary. Very difficult, extremely difficult. As a matter of fact, you could tell. In math, I'd get A, in English I'd get C. So that, Chemistry I'd get a B because of the combination of language and non-language, if you will. Very difficult, but sheer will power, you know, and just staying with the dictionary all the time until I got real smart and then after that it was a matter of doing physics, hard work.
Q: And were the people that you encountered at the school and when you came to America, were they accepting? What was their attitude toward you as an immigrant and also as an Albanian that left?
Mr. Protopapa: Ok. There is one thing that I would want to be a witness for. I have never, ever felt a foreigner here. Never.
Q: Never felt like a foreigner?
Mr. Protopapa: Never. And I have many Albanian friends who have been to other countries... always felt they were foreigners. I never had any problems whatsoever with anybody about anything like this. There was one interesting episode, sort of interesting, colorful. Remember, now, because of the war there was *** straight from high school, from high school, eighteen, nineteen years old, twenty. Eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Freshmen in college, right? Here I am, twenty-four. However, the GI Bill of Rights brought other Americans who were similar age, so we were...
Q: So they came back from the war, too.
Mr. Protopapa: Right! They came from their own experience of the war, but they had the GI Bill of Rights, and so I'd associate with them because they'd be the same age. But you could not avoid dealing with the younger students, freshmen in college. And one of these, and inevitably I'd be overwhelmed with the past, with all these memories, all these friends dead and all of this and that; you know, leaving everything behind, whatever. You know. Depressive memories, literally, I mean. And so, whenever I'd meet somebody, if they at all prodded me, I poured my world, my past. This kid heard this, and one day, he had a card, a written card, and he gave it to me. And the card says, "Your story (laughing) **** "and so forth. You know, he was making fun of it. It dawned on me that how in the hell could I expect that audience to want to share or to observe. (laughs) And so from then on, I was very careful not opening up.
Q: How could they understand it when they had just been in America, grew up, went to college? Yeah.
Mr. Protopapa: Right. Exactly. Exactly right. They could not, and it would be overwhelming, especially when you're fresh from it, an experience like that. It's like anything else, I mean, it's just, you know, the language is not adequate because the experiences are so diverse and the dictionary, the social dictionary is different from one country to -from one experience, set of experiences to another. His was a very small *, at home, you know, high school, grammar school, high school and going to college.
Like I probably wouldn't be able to...
Mr. Protopapa: Exactly right. I mean, you might be a very good student, I don't know if you are or not, but the point is, and then you might be interested, but even then, it is not the same. It is still an intellectual thing; it's not the real thing. Whereas for me it was really painful, a very real, you know. And so, I said to myself, thank you to him because he really woke me up. I said, "Wait a minute. This poor guy can't possibly hear and absorb what I went through. And this happens time and again. It's very similar, it's not equal, for God's sakes, no, to the Blacks, here. You know, the best answer that I've found on the issue of the Blacks here, is unless you're Black you can never know what it is to be Black. You have to be Black, because there is that extra... It's not a physical **** It's the way you're looked at, the way you are avoided, you know. And the only way you can learn that is by being Black. Unless you're Black, you can be as intellectual, you can be as friendly, you can shack up with them, or whatever you want to do, but it is never the same. It's not the same, for God's sake. God help me, it's not the same, but similar, similar. It's a different environment, a different world. It's very difficult to express it to a young man, a young person, nineteen.
Q: And so, when you came, you emigrated and were you...did you become a citizen of the United States ever, or...?
Mr. Protopapa: Five years. It took me another year because my friend, a classmate, as a matter of fact, (laughs) delayed it by a year. But six years, six years. In '52 I became a citizen.
Q: And that was an easy process?
Mr. Protopapa: Very easy. No problems, no problems. As I said, I've never, never, never felt a foreigner. Never. I mean, I don't know what other people's experiences are, but my personal experiences, and I've been, you know, exposed every which way by employing and the school and... I'm not a withdrawn person; I'm more the active type person. And so, never. Never did this occur.
Q: I guess I'd just like to ask you some questions about how you retrospectively feel about the war and the politics behind it. So I assume from what you've told me that you don't regret your own actions in leaving Albania, but what, you know... Do you believe that the war was justified? Looking back from the perspective that you have and only you can have because you were the one who was there and experienced all this, how do you feel about all this? And also, do you think that, especially in the Balkans, like the conflicts in the '90's and all that stuff, do you think that it's still sort of lingering problems from that time period?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, my absorbing and synthesizing all of this for myself, you know, for my own existence, which comes up with the notion that man in society integrates the data, the whole processes, and the experiments that are performed, and comes up with an expected, I mean, hopefully good solution. And so, in that sense I knew that Second World War was another experiment where two concepts of social organization went to -- or three, at the same time -- three concepts of social organization went to bits, were smattered, disappeared: colonialism, Nazism and communism. So, in that sense, you always regret for the victims of these experiments, but it happened to be the fate of man, if you will, to the involvement of the brain, if you will, the individual and social brain, vis-a-vis the animals, but the animals cannot do this; maybe with a very limited way, extremely limited fashion, but we do it in a gigantic and more horrible fashion, you know! The point is that these experiments are behind us, and so in that sense, it is, one can make sort of a mild case, that these being put behind us, then right now the world has bought into the notion of freedom, the notion of human rights, the notion of free markets, etc. Perhaps it sounds dangerous here, because you do not have a counterbalancing thought process, thinking process. There is a danger with that. But other than that, it really is an historical, a valuable historical experiment because it precludes, I mean, almost physically in the ****, not entirely but generally precludes any social behavior that leads to dictatorship or to colonialism. You know. So, in that sense, one could say maybe it was the price you pay for that experiment. I tend to believe that all of these experiments were done in group **** in some fashion, but they also involved insanity, they also involved abuse, they also involved very, very, extremely ugly experiences for people. The Holocaust is an example. The mass, massive killings done by the Soviets is another example. Massive, I mean into millions. Even in Albania, for a small country, hundreds and hundreds ****. And so on. But, it really... you end up with saying, "I did the best I could; I did everything with faith as a human being. And sleep nights. The other part is it is an historical experiment that mankind goes through and, significantly in this case, it really precludes, as I said earlier, any attempt at some kind of a dictatorship. And like you'd be on guard intuitively because of these historical events, and say, "Wait a minute. We can't have dictatorship, you know, in America, for example, or anywhere else." So, that is in the non-human more intellectual sense. In a human sense, there is this distancing of emotional loyalties. Am I an American, or am I an Albanian? That's very tricky, very difficult, and I'm not sure I can... I keep them both. And I suppose, because America doesn't need me as much (laughs), I feel, I'm inclined to do more work with Albanian issues. This country's too big for any human being to make a difference. Anywhere; very difficult. So that in that sense it's very difficult here, for you and for me both. Because, you know, it submerged individual identities. Whereas in there, immediately you have your identity involved and you go ****. So, I mean, for example, in a touching way, I regret it, that I never had a chance to take my mother for a ride. Because you know, when we left, the Communists put them in a concentration camp temporarily, and at that time, she passed away. So that's a sad sort of a feeling that persists with me forever, even when I go out or... I took Dr. Birken, this lady doctor that sponsored me for a while when she came to visit me in San Francisco when I was working. She says am I trying to hold still, you know. Extremely careful, very carefully. And the best curving you could possibly ever even feel. And she said to me, "Such a good driver!" she said to me. And of course, I never drive like that. I mean, even now, I'm like a maniac. I mean, really, I drive a small car, but fast. And I did it for her, of course. And I said, "My God, I wish I could do that for my mother." You know, it's... Those things are part of you; you cannot get away from them. And the nostalgia, being distorted the truth. My hometown bridge across the river: that bridge had become so beautiful in my imagination, (laughs) nothing as nice here in America. That arch! That water! The weather! It was such a small bridge, such a crappy, unkempt... (laughing)
Q: Just a little bridge?
Mr. Protopapa: (Still laughing) Very common bridge. But those things, because of time, they happen because of fifty years of isolation. The worst part of isolation. No way you could get any information from that country. But it was a ... It was so much so that if you came to America as an Albanian, it surprised that you could prove you were an Albanian; you were automatically a refugee. They didn't ask you...
Q: And from thinking about the past and the present, what do you think about the situation now, in the '90's, there?
Mr. Protopapa: Well, philosophically, the biggest difficulty is the one I mentioned in the very beginning, which is that these individuals grew up with the notion of looking at some decision maker, not at the substance at hand, the problem at hand, the project at hand, the difficulty at hand, and potential solution or engagement to solve the problem. That's a... permeates everything that happens. That is one part of it. The other part of it is the distortion of the semantics of Communism vis-a-vis the western world. They have difficulty, in the eastern world, in the Soviet world, they have difficulty, and consequently whatever that was exposed, mind you, difficulty in believing in the naivete of the Americans. And the other reason, somewhat they may be justified in worrying about the Europeans being sort of very skilled, diplomatic with quotation marks, but more in the sense of being maneuvering and manipulating. And they have been. Fair enough. But they have difficulty believing in the notion of human rights. They have difficulty believing in the notion of freedom. Freedom of speech. They really have. They think it's a trick. I think in the case of Milosevic, that's what tricked them. They didn't believe any of it; they thought it was a joke, it was a coverup, because they did cover up all the time. That was the practice, (slam) so how the hell could this be different?! And the same thing that occurred, this distance from reality comes in, and they cannot stomach, they don't know how to digest the proposition, these are human beings; you don't kill them. Without cause. These are human beings that maybe have something to offer, you know. Maybe these will be, might be your next neighbor and might help you materially, physically, whatever, or contribute to your society, or enhance your society, enhance your own well being and your own pleasures or joys, whatever. And so, this is the result of the psychological ambience that they have, and the difficulty. The other part of it is a consequence. It's the notion that you can manipulate all the time. You can always manipulate, you can always lie, you can always cheat and present it in a different fashion. I think it's a fascinating... it's too difficult generally for the American audience to do. But right now, in Macedonia, for example, it's a very fascinating situation. Macedonia succeeded in telling the world that they had a democracy for ten years. The fact of the matter is that the numbers tell an entirely different story. The employment numbers, opportunities numbers, the participation numbers. Population is 30%, one-third, 32%, let's call it 30%, accepted by everybody, let's call it 30% population. Participation is 2%, 3%, 4%. Democracy. And they got away with the lie, and they're using the lie now because somewhere they decided to do an arm to Hibernia. And they're staying with it, covering about, I think, between at least the last few days. Finally the west and America's now waking up to it. Wait a minute! Stop all this crap, you know. And my point is, that the reason they do it, because of, it goes back to the culture that you can cover everything up, everything's a lie anyway, because they lived in a lie. In the Soviet system, born, every day, they unfortunately say, born in a lie, died in a lie. It doesn't know how to do it differently. It's a cultural thing; it's a frightening cultural thing where the substance into consideration. It's just all the wrappings, all of the exteriors, and all of the structures, of course. So, how long will it take? Who knows. I mean, Russia, for example, is a huge mess, for the same reason. When do the people begin... I mean, yourself, you're doing this now. You could be playing; you could choose to be. It could take maybe another fifteen years, maybe another hundred years before they can, you know, try to put the seed of an individual, a family, assertion of existence. You know, I worked this, I got my degrees, I got my business running, I got my industry or my farm or whatever to produce, and it was barren before, and I worked my butt off to get it done, to make it work. And I don't know. There are signs of it, you know, everywhere, in Albania, and inYugoslavia, and in Russia. But it just takes a hell of a lot longer. And of course this is a tremendous shock to all of them. It's a huge, huge change; it's just... It taught me, can I digest it? And of course physically I am not protected. I am not protected, you know, in terms of shelter, in terms of food, in terms of clothing. So that it's overwhelming them even more, and at times it makes them temporarily nostalgic for the dictatorship, and knowing, of course, it is there. So that makes it even worse yet. So it's not realistic to...because it's there, but yet nostalgic about it. **** So, the appearances are different. You know, the news media needs the news for much to function. But the reality is that these are human beings in confusion, in a state of confusion, and it could take fifty years, maybe longer, to, for them to recover.
Q: Just a couple more questions, and then if you have anything to add. If today, in America now, or not even in America, in Europe or wherever, do you think that -- or, I guess, in America -- you were saying before that there it was a culture of lying and sort of a dirty culture, and here, we're accustomed to, you know, it's always a democracy, and if somebody said it's going to be a dictatorship, the public would say, "Wait a minute; no, there isn't." Do you think that people today, because it seems like the human rights movement has been pushing for it ever since World War II, and then the civil rights movement after that, and all that stuff, are less in tune to it maybe, so that if something did arise that we wouldn't know what to do. Or, I mean, do you think that people today think that it's an impossibility, that that would ever happen, or?
Mr. Protopapa: Which would ever happen?
Q: That there would be a situation like there was in Europe when...
Mr. Protopapa: Again, you mean, a repeat of it?
Q: Yeah, I mean, do you think people assume that that's over, or do you think it's a cycle that we're going to repeat?
Mr. Protopapa: I suggested earlier that these experiments are real in preventing any future repeats. And they're real, notwithstanding some appearances. The meaning of course is that there are attempts. For example, in Africa. Bellarus, for example. They tried to adopt a dictatorship. But it's a transient... Putin, in Russia itself, is playing Mickey Mouse with trying to appear democratic, but using some old fashioned KGB methods. Again, it's transient. My belief is that this sacrifice, if you will, if you can call it that, of these events *** of the Second World War and the evolution after that... I mean it's practically impossible to sustain the thought process, reverting back to colonialism, fascism, or communism. I believe that's impossible. Anywhere in the world. It may appear, come and go, and so forth, but it's a local, temporary aberration. The sacrifice, again, the experiment of events, obviously put a stamp onto those three experiments as a failure. And that is a permanent statement of mankind's evolution. The problem is therefore not that. The problem is rather, what are we doing ourselves, and what are we getting into with our social and, of course, our scientific evolution. Meaning, very simply, what are we doing with the genes? Or what are we doing with nuclear energy? You see what I'm saying? What are we doing with the biology of the human being? And on and on. God knows how many of these things are coming up. So that instead of wasting these stories to get to Hitler or ****. There is no such thing as repeating; I mean, it's fanciful to talk about it. But really, because there is such much clarity on it. What is now known about the Soviet Union is so horrifying, it was not known before, all of it. From 1917 on up it never stopped but it was not known until after the Second World War. I saw doctors that know in San Francisco, the play, and the book was written somewhere earlier, in '47, in '48. And that spoke of all the, God knows, **** So, the social experiment of those three colors, if you will, imperialism, fascism, have done, and they are over with, and they're solid, solidly learned experiments. So that is not a thing to be concerned with. Rather that we be concerned with are we managing. For example, right now, as you and I speak, there is a debate going on in America -- I mentioned it to a professor here -- that we seem to be aimless, floating society, and we're now reverting to heroes of the Second World War. And worse than that is we're using Hollywood as a symbol. That is a question; that is a serious question, in the sense that, why, if we in fact are, if we indeed are, questionable, aimless and so on, why are we aimless? What are the needs of a human? What is a human being? Back to square one. Who, what are we? What am I? What are you? And so those are... In other words, what is at stake here is, is there going to be -- What's your first name again?
Mr. Protopapa: Jonathan. Is there going to be a Jonathan coming up saying, "Here's what I think" and actually lead or start a movement? Or is it just that everybody is sort of floating along and goes where they go, and ? Or is there floating, and God knows where it leads. This is a serious issue, you see. Remember, I mentioned earlier that the Communists believed in good faith that they were saving the world, and of course it turned out to be a horrible experiment. So, I don't believe, I don't think there's repetition. I think the appearances are frightening as it is, legitimately for other behavior. They don't affect me. If you like, I can brag. Take this off. Turn this little thing off temporarily. But, I predicted, for example, this last thing in Macedonia and in southern Serbia, if you like. It's a detail. But this is a waste of time. From the beginning. And all my friends, "Oh, oh, oh! This is a big thing!"
(End of tape, discussion continues)