I remember very well the 2 July 1990 afternoon. Although for days there had been a trickle of refugee entries into the various Embassies, perhaps galvanized by the conclusion of the Popa brothers' story, I was not prepared for the dramatic events that took place in front of the West German Embassy.
It is one thing to expect things to happen, one thing is to find ourselves, suddenly.
As I narrated with discreet self-irony in my novel Earthquake in Tirana on page 344 in one of the final chapters, (and here, apart from the names, the invention coincides with the historical reality of the facts) I advised against a friend of mine from coming to see me from Italy, given the air she pulled: c had also been kalashnikov shots under my house. But she had wanted to come anyway to keep me company at a time that was expected to be difficult. Which I have always appreciated and to which I am still infinitely grateful.
In order to relax a little I had taken her to the pool in the morning, also because it was hot.
For quite trivial reasons (pick up a suppressata Calabrese!) We went to the Embassy street in the afternoon and the taxi that took us refused to go beyond the entrance to the street. We didn't understand why: we saw a certain number of people fleeing, but we thought it was just a demonstration that was being dispersed. We had seen so many in Italy!
From the top, the Italian colleagues shouted to be careful and to hurry up, and the two of us, although quite experienced in demonstrations, sat there asking ourselves why they were so upset. When I finally noticed that a camera had sprung from the Czechoslovakian Embassy, I realized that something serious had happened.
Everything was told to me by Italian colleagues, who reproached us for the imprudence, the assault on the German Embassy in fact ended with numerous injuries, it was not known if there were dead.
In short, a dramatic affair to which we had not witnessed by a hair, and which made everyone agitated about the possible consequences, but we went back to my house, despite the kind invitation to stay. We weren't afraid, in fact, or we were unconscious, who knows. We felt a sort of electric current winding all over Tirana, but it could not be subtracted from it.
Instead, I was present when there was the advent of some Albanian 800 in my Embassy, in fact, I would say that we were three women, the Ambassador's wife, a correspondent from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I to manage the first impact with all those people frightened, so frightened that it was almost impossible to try to organize them, but slowly we succeeded, despite a thousand difficulties. We had a huge garden and the night was not cold.
Luckily for me, I didn't see bloody episodes (like the terrible one I was told about a boy who had climbed the gate and was "pulled down" by two Albanian policemen, practically impaled in the bars, bleeding, I imagine dead.)
However I will never forget those days and the distorted faces of people, uncertainty and fear, hope and doubt. When it happens to me, even if rarely, to meet one, we are moved and we embrace, like veterans of an extraordinary event.
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