Surviving, from Illuminists to marxism
“It is a noble deed to liberate a people from feudalism, to set the farmer free and to save the state.”
From an early age, Petraq Pepo, the oldest of eight children, born in 1903 in a house on a cobble-stoned street, in the vicinity of the house belonging to renowned patriot Themistokli Germenji, appears to be a bold opponent of tyranny.
At fourteen, he is among the first 36 students to register at the French Lyceum and among the first nine to graduate from the school in 1925.Upon his return to Korça, Pepo conducts lectures at the Korça Lyceum on ancient Greek and on the History and Geography of Albania.Research at the Central State Archives shows that on several occasions Pepo asks the Ministry of Education to allow him to attend conferences in Austria, France and Italy as well as permission to conduct research.
In fact, given his impulsive nature, he does not hide his objection to the propaganda of the Italian invaders, who see themselves as having liberated Albania from the “regime of dictator Zog” and feel that they can push ahead on Albania's National issue. According to the testimony of Pepo's colleagues, such opposition to the Fascists's premises, cause Pepo to be interned in Italy (1941) and imprisoned in Albania at Porto Palermo (1943).
Pepo's son, Leonidha, says that his father was imprisoned because of what he had said in a meeting with Francesco Jakomoni, an envoy of the Italian King. Pepo had said to the envoy: “Who do you think you're talking to about Fascism? Who do you think you're telling that Fascism liberated Albania? Your military troops in our country mean only one thing ̶ invasion; Fascism is not about constructing anything, it's about enslaving.” His internment in 1941 had come as a result of his reaction to a statement made by the Minister of Education, Xhevat Korça, who was fond of saying that “the independence of Albania is assured [because] Albania is protected by Mussolini.” Pepo responded by saying that on the contrary, “Albania is subjugated by Fascism....”
Pepo's contributions win the praise of the regime. They confer the Medal of Memory on him in 1950 and two “Orders of Labor” (1958, 1962). He retires in 1968 but does not stop doing research. Nor does he stop seeking praise and recognition by the state. The State Central Archive has his correspondence with Enver Hoxha, whom he asks for help in securing the Award of the Republic (1974) for himself and obtaining the title of “Professor” (1972).