Vlahov Pando

From his youngest years Pando Vlahov became familiar with poverty, hunger, doing without, exploitation and injustice.

He was born in the village Pilkati, Kostur region in 1903 to a very poor family. All he owned was an axe and a saw, a plane and a drill. With those tools he made a barrel or two, skipping from one village to another from the age of 14. He had a surfeit of poverty but he never had enough bread to eat his whole life, even though he was skilled at his work.

The black years of the Metaxas regime made his life even harder. The unbearable levies and persecution forced him to change his trade. Eventually he became a shepherd and kept the villagers' sheep. He thought he would be able to improve the life of his four children and that a coin or two would remain for clothing - so he could buy shoes.

The war saved him from that job. Six months Pando protected the motherland fighting against the Italian fascists in the Albanian mountains. With the aggression of the Nazis and the destruction of the front he returned to his family to see his children. Then he entered the army of the unfortunates, the hungry of the period 1941-44. He went from one bad thing to something even worse.

When the epic story of the national struggle started, whose soul was CPG, Pando was among the first to enter the ranks, joining wholeheartedly.

On 21 September 1943 he was a partisan in ELAS. And he was not too old to be a partisan; he had just turned 40. He was just the right age to hold a rifle. He had good shoulders for the machine guns and cartridges. So, bit-by-bit he became the commander of the group, then leading commander and in the middle of 1944 company commissar.

After the Varkiza agreement, he returned to his village. However, he regarded his work as incomplete. We eliminated one occupier but another one had taken his spot. Our lives were no better. The work of ELAS was incomplete. So he set to work in the party organisations. He was elected a member of the party committee in the primary party organisation in the village. Everyone in the village liked him and respected him, men and women, young and old. In a short while he became well known to all in the villages in the region, for his dedication and being fearless in battle for the rights of the people.

There were others who did not like him, who hated him. They were the "nationalists" - traitors and collaborators of the enemies of the people. To them, he was an irritating speck in the eye. There was nothing they did not try to make him their tool. But none of it worked. Pando was tightly tied to the party, with the people. He was not for sale; no one could buy him off. They threatened him that they would stop the food from UNRAA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration], they threatened him that they would take his identity papers. They used many other threats to persuade him to give in. But to no avail.

"You can take away all of my rights," he said, "but there is one thing you cannot do: you cannot take away my right to be a communist."

Despite all of their efforts, the reactionaries achieved nothing. Pando remained an unrelenting rock, a true son of the people and the party.

And so the reactionaries put their apparatus into action to eliminate him. On 14 September 1945 at 4 am, the agent brought the gendarmes to the village. They surrounded the village and Pando was arrested together with four others. But he craftily managed to escape from their hands. He now understood the plans of the enemy and he took his measures - by day in the village he made sure his family had enough to eat and at night he was in the mountains with the wolves and the bears. On 21 December he decided to stay home. That was the cursed night. The persecutors from Kalevishta found out that he was home and surrounded the village. Pando was arrested again together with his colleague Take Belchev.

Who can tell about the beastly and satanic methods of the executioners? The neighbours of the police station followed the process of the frightening inquisitors with bated breath and unrestrained wrath.

"Long live CPG! We fought for it and we will die for it!" They were their last words and they closed their eyes with a smile on their faces.

L Gercho


From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters

© 2009

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For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freeedom Fighters