News / Europe

Albanian Memorial Warns of Perils of Power

An Albanian man looks on during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana, March 26, 2013.
An Albanian man looks on during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana, March 26, 2013.
Reuters
Albanians who resisted the policies of paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha are now trying to preserve part of his most notorious jail - to remind the country's young elite of the dangers of power.

Ex-dissident Fatos Lubonja and artist Ardian Isufi have built an installation that includes a piece of the Berlin Wall, pillars from a forced labor mine, and one of 750,000 bunkers that Hoxha built against an invasion that never came.

"I would like to dedicate [the artwork] to all those who did not live to cross over the Berlin Wall, who remained in isolation and were executed. They were the best of us all because they dared do what we dared not," Lubonja said.

The installation sits just below of what used to be Hoxha's offices and at the entrance to the compound where the communist leadership once lived in villas protected by armed soldiers, isolating themselves and later the country from the world.

Fatos Lubonja speaks during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana, March 26, 2013.Fatos Lubonja speaks during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana, March 26, 2013.
x
Fatos Lubonja speaks during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana, March 26, 2013.
Fatos Lubonja speaks during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana, March 26, 2013.
Lubonja, now 62, was working in the mine in the notorious jail of Spac, in a remote gorge amid bare mountains, in 1979 when he heard of the arrest of three of his friends for challenging Hoxha's line after the Stalinist leader broke off ties with China.

Later Fadil Kokomani, Vangjel Lezho and Xhelal Koprencka were executed. A total of 6,000 dissidents were executed in Albania under communism.

Lubonja wants the installation to preserve the memory of isolation under communism - and to serve as a warning to younger Albanians who have made Hoxha's compound fashionable again under the name of Bllok, for block of buildings.

Posh cafes, trendy restaurants and bank outlets have grown up around Hoxha's former villa.

Hoxha's pillbox bunkers still dot the countryside. The one in the artwork, originally built at the entrance to the compound, is labeled "Orange."

An Albanian communist hangs a banner showing the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha in the public cemetery in Tirana, April 11, 2012.An Albanian communist hangs a banner showing the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha in the public cemetery in Tirana, April 11, 2012.
x
An Albanian communist hangs a banner showing the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha in the public cemetery in Tirana, April 11, 2012.
An Albanian communist hangs a banner showing the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha in the public cemetery in Tirana, April 11, 2012.
When Hoxha seized power at the end of World War II, he and his followers occupied the villas of rich merchants and politicians and chased away the real owners.

"People now come to Bllok because it is the center of  financial power. I saw this ... as part of the need to imitate the former elite who in turn seized the villas of the former elite after World War II," Lubonja said. "Young people are indifferent because we have yet to face and deal with the truth of that time. We are responsible."

Meanwhile the mining prison of Spac is crumbling. Lubonja had to alert police that scavengers were tearing it to pieces to sell its iron for scrap. He and a visiting German official voiced regret that no sign had been left to evoke the toppling of Hoxha's statue in 1991, six years after the dictator died in Tirana.

"We hope this memorial will urge everyone to remember the past and face up to it," said Anna Kaminsky, the director of Germany's Federal Foundation of the Reappraisal of the East German Dictatorship.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid