German Fascist Memorial in Tirana, Albania

German War Memorial, Tirana Park, Albania

German War Memorial, Tirana Park, Albania

A German fascist memorial in a country where more than 30,000 died in the struggle to liberate themselves from the scourge that was devastating Europe.

In an earlier post I wrote about the English Cemetery in Tirana. This has had a long and complicated history, mainly due to the extreme antagonism the imperialist British state had towards the young Albanian Republic. Even after the establishment of the cemetery there remains controversy as the memorial stone was looted from the original grave of the Albanian Communist leader, Enver Hoxha. He was disinterred from his place of honour next to Mother Albania in the Martyr’s Cemetery, overlooking Tirana, and reburied in the municipal cemetery in a western suburb of the city.

But however anti-communist the British forces sent to Albania might have been, however much they tried to find pro-British, monarchist forces that were not tainted with the stigma of fascist collaboration (unsuccessfully) and however reluctant they were to give arms to the only viable force prepared to risk everything to defeat the fascist invader (i.e., the Partisans under the leadership of the Communist Party) at least they were on the same side (if only for the duration of hostilities).

Between them first the Italian and then the German Fascists were responsible for the deaths of more than 30,000 Albanians – exact figures are difficult to know due to the very backward nature of the country at the time and the lack of any reliable pre-1939 census statistics. This was out of (again estimated) population of just slightly over a million. Thousands of houses were destroyed, the economy shattered and an immense task had to be taken on by the new People’s Republic without receiving anything in the form of reparations from the aggressors and without even their own gold reserves (which were stolen by the fascists, ‘liberated’ from them by the British who then refused to return the bullion to the new socialist state, the rightful owners, on a pretext it was held as ransom for reparations that Albania owed to Britain for the damage done to British war ships in the so-called ‘Corfu Incident’).

So what does the government, that has swept away virtually all of the gains made in the period from 1944 to 1990, do in response to this history of death and destruction? Give space for a memorial to something like 2,200 German soldiers who died in reaping this devastation on the small Balkan country.

Altar and Engraved Stones, German War Memorial, Tirana Park, Albania

Altar and Engraved Stones, German War Memorial, Tirana Park, Albania

Now that might not necessarily be due to their fascist sympathies (although the manner in which the remains of the self-proclaimed king, feudal landowner and tyrant Zogu was returned to Albania last November indicates such). What is certain is that they want to curry favour with the present day German government as Albania seeks membership of the European Community.

Engraved stone, German War Memorial, Tirana, Albania

Engraved stone, German War Memorial, Tirana, Albania

One time when I went by this memorial/cemetery (there are the remains of 60 soldiers buried there) someone was cutting the grass and generally making the location look tidy. This was galling as having travelled quite extensively throughout the country I had witnessed how many memorials to the Albanian dead have been neglected and even looted of some of the valuable stone. (I’ll be posting examples of such desecration in the future.)

What’s even more annoying is that in the same park, just the other side of the English cemetery, about 100 metres up the path, there’s a modest memorial to a group of children who established an anti-fascist underground organisation in 1942 under the guise of a debating society. This has not been as badly vandalised as some monuments I’ve seen but it’s certainly neglected and if you either don’t know of its existence or not looking for it will be easy to miss. Notice in the picture the star (painted red originally) HAS been vandalised.

GPS:

N41º 18.845′

E19º 49.348′

Memorial to Anti-fascist Children's group, Tirana Park, Albania

Memorial to Anti-fascist Children’s group, Tirana Park, Albania

It’s a sad reflection on the present that so many in Albania don’t seem to care about the past and the sacrifice so many made to liberate their country from fascism.

GPS:

N41º 18.882′

E19º 49.270′

8 thoughts on “German Fascist Memorial in Tirana, Albania

  1. Oh dear; another left-wing rant.

    “the so-called ‘Corfu Incident’).”? There was no ‘so-called’ about it. 44 Royal Navy men died – in peacetime – as a direct result of a minefield that had just been laid by the Albanians in international waters.

    And not just in 1946. I was skippering a delivery of a yacht from Yugoslavia to Greece in 1976, and we had to cross right over to the Italian side of the Adriatic at Bari, to avoid the Albanian-laid and maintained minefields extending half way across from the port of Dürres.

    So: let’s have a bit less of the “peace-loving Albanians”, and let’s remember the 750,000 pillboxes built on Enver Hoxha’s instructions, whilst he kept the entire population in impoverished slavery for over 40 years.

    “Buried in a municipal graveyard” ? Too good for him; it should have been the rubbish dump; and for his even more vicious wife, Naxjimje.

    • If all you want to read is something that reinforces your own prejudices don’t waste your (and my) time reading my blog and stick to the right-wing, neo-fascist ideas presented in the likes of the Daily Mail. You’re not going to learn anything with such a closed mind.
      However I will, this time only, respond to your lack of knowledge and understanding of the situation in 1946 and world politics in general.
      I consider the events in 1946 a provocation by a failing imperialist power (with the support of the imperialist power that was to takes its place, i.e., the USA) against a small country, with a population at the time of a little over a million people and which had been invaded by two Fascist powers and had beaten them both. But at great sacrifice. The term ‘incident’ is merely a diplomatic device to avoid blame.
      I state that 44 men were killed but unlike you, who merely spews out the same propaganda spoon-fed to the unthinking and unanalytical, I ask the question of who was really responsible for their deaths and why they were where they were. They were put in harms way by politicians in London who thought they could still use the ‘gunboat diplomacy’ of the 19th century. Atlee and Bevin were the guilty ones not the Albanians.
      Peacetime? The war for Britain had finished in 1945 but not for many of the people in the Balkans. The reason that such a powerful naval force was in the region at all was because the British were in Greece, supporting the monarcho-fascist collaborators of the Nazis against the working people and peasants who had fought against the invaders of their country. Without such foreign support there’s no doubt the history of Greece would have been very different. (The victory of the fascists with British and US support in the 1940s led inevitably to the rule of the Junta from 1967-74.) This meant that a potentially hostile force was just over the hills from Albania on its southern border. It’s no wonder that when huge warships came close to the Albanian coastline the government in Tirana was wary.
      In another post on my blog, ‘Reasons to be suspicious – Albanian-British Relationships in the 1940s’, published in January 2013, I speculated what would have been the response of the British if a Soviet flotilla had sailed along the English Channel at that time. We know now, from the fuss that was made when a Russian flotilla did exactly that (in ‘international waters’) in October of last year, of the level of paranoia and hypocrisy that permeates British thinking. There was no threat whatsoever to Britain last year, the same cannot be said about what happened close to Albania in 1946.
      And that threat had not diminished by 1976.
      I don’t think I’ve used the term ‘peace-loving Albanians’, not really my style. They wanted peace when they were attempting to build Socialism but the British and Americans (and their hangers-on) wouldn’t allow it. It’s a pity we can’t use the term ‘peace-loving British/Americans’ in the post 1945 context. Since 1945 the armed forces from those two countries have been involved in other people’s countries, killing under a variety of ‘reasons’, but fundamentally denying them the right to determine their own futures. It wasn’t until the slavish, capitalist government in Tirana brown nosed NATO that Albanian troops stood aggressively on foreign soil.
      As for the bunkers, at least they were for the defence of the country against any foreign invader. The cost of those small concrete structures were only a tiny fraction of what has been spent by the British and the Americans to kill millions outside of their national boundaries – a list of countries too numerous to list here. With the renewal of Trident and Trump’s promise to increase military expenditure that figure will only carry on increasing. Get a perspective.

  2. I have studied the amazing Albanian response to the Holocaust of European Jewry. It is something Albanians can be so proud of because Albanians as one saved every single Jew in Albania from the Nazis in that dark period of time between 1939 and 1945 when the Germans and their collaborators murdered over 6 million Jews and nearly destroyed the world. Albania remained a lone light in a dark world and even tried to bring in more Jews in order to save lives! This was unprecedented anywhere in the world! There were other brave and special individuals the world over but nowhere other than Albania did every single family and person protect their fellow human beings because of “besa”, honour. There are articles on the internet and documentaries on YouTube about this moving and wonderful act of goodness. I do hope that pupils in Albania schools learn about this.

  3. I completely agree with the reply of Michael Harrison to Mr. Rubin Mandija.
    Thank you Michael for all this information about the real history of the people of Albania.
    Surely Mr. Rubin is a neofascist and a living proof that Fascism is still alive and well and ready to attack, anywhere and anytime.
    We must keep on alert.
    Long life to the working class!
    Down with Fascism!
    No pasarán!

  4. dear people. this is not a memorial dedicated to nazism. the word fascism or nazism does not appear at all anywhere on it. this is a memorial to fallen soldiers. there are memorials to fallen axis soldiers in every single country in europe. this is not an Albanian exception. please do not dramatize over a memorial which is dedicated exclusively to lost souls.

    • I’ve heard similar arguments defending the German Fascist monument in Tirana Park before.

      I don’t know the level of your understanding of what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The rise of Fascism in Italy, Spain and Germany led to suffering on a scale that was unprecedented. I am one of those who believe that the only war that was ‘just’ for workers to fight was that against Fascism in what is now known as the Second World War. All wars previous to that and since have been wars between capitalist states and in which the workers have only been pawns and cannon fodder.

      In such a circumstance the German people were not innocent. Yes many fought against the Fascists on the streets before Hitler came to power (voted in by the German electorate in 1933) and if they did not end up being the first occupants of the concentration camps many of them left their homeland and fought in the first real war against Fascism in the Spanish Civil War. The Ernst Thalmann Brigade of the International Brigade was the biggest single contingent and fought bravely on the side of the legitimate Republican government.

      Those are the Germans who fought in a war with dignity, with honour and for the interests of the working class. The other Germans, the vast majority from that very working class, fought against their own interests and for the benefit of capital and a particularly murderous form of racism and intolerance.

      They invaded countries to the west and east of Germany and, at first, considered themselves invincible. And they were. At first all they had to face were armies that had as little understanding of what they were fighting for as these so called ‘lost souls’ of yours. Then they had to face the real patriots, the men and women who knew that the war was an opportunity for the working class to free itself from the chains that had bound working people for too long.

      The glorious Soviet Red Army destroyed more than 90% of those ‘lost souls’ on the Eastern Front.

      The patriotic partisans under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Albanian Communist Party played their heroic role in liberating their country of the Fascist invader – first the Italian and then the German. (I’m surprised you’re not calling for a monument to the Italian’s who invaded Albania. Perhaps that’s because the Zogite Monarcho-Fascists that still exist in Albania are still smarting under the fact that their collaboration and subservience to Mussolini throughout the 20s and the 30s wasn’t enough to maintain themselves in power.)

      In fact the only three countries that threw out the Fascists without the direct involvement of the armies of other countries were the three forces in the world at the time that were led by parties flying the banner of Marxism-Leninism, that is in the Soviet Union, China and Albania.

      Little Albania, with a population of much less than a million people, which suffered more than 30,000 dead and the almost total destruction of the infrastructure were able to defeat the might of the Thousand Year Reich.

      But the destruction reeked by Fascism in those years was more extensive than little Albania, important as it obviously was to the Albanians. We will probably never know the exact number of people who died in that period from the mid 30s to the mid 40s but it was AT LEAST 60 million. This was all unleashed by the German people and their support of, or acquiescence to, the rise of Nazism. Encouraged by this development in Europe – unchecked by the so-called democratic powers of the UK, France and the USA (with other minnows swimming in their wake) the Japanese Militarist-Fascists created equal mayhem, death and destruction in Asia.

      Those ‘lost souls’ you consider to be so important might have walked arm in arm along the Champs Elysee in Paris with French collaborating whores but when they moved east they killed with a frenzy that made Attila the Hun look like a conscientious objector.

      Who rounded up Communists, Socialists, Jews, the Disabled, Homosexuals and the Roma to send them off to the concentration camps of Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Mauthausen and Auschwitz? Who maintained ‘order’ in those camps? Who forced people into the ‘showers’ and who threw the cans of deadly cyanide into those gas chambers? Who forced hundreds of thousands of Soviet villagers into the churches and town halls only to burn them alive and then leave thousands of those villages burning infernos as they left to kill more people and destroy more villages? Who hung Communists and other partisans on low gallows so that they strangled to death (not even giving them the slow, clinical, scientific hanging that a few (too few) of the leaders had after being convicted at the Nuremberg Trials?

      Now I accept that not ALL German soldiers were guilty of ALL those crimes. But they were part of the infrastructure that allowed it to happen. Not ALL of the soldiers were members of the National Socialist Party but they allowed that Party to exist, take control of their country and then to attempt to expand its sphere of influence over a bigger part of Europe since the time of the Roman Empire almost 2,000 years before.

      Perhaps some, even many of the soldiers who invaded Albania were becoming disillusioned with the Nazis but was that because of a real ideological difference or because their country was losing the war? An army always has a different attitude depending upon whether it is in advance or retreat.

      Maybe there’s no Fascist/Nazi insignia on the staele with the names of the German dead who were killed by the Communists defending their country – but that’s beside the point.

      They shouldn’t have been there. They were invaders and although there will always be those prepared to welcome invaders the real patriots know without having to think about it what is right and what is wrong.

      If someone comes into your home with the aim of looting, raping and pillaging then you can accept it or fight against it. Many heroic Albanians chose to fight and many lost their lives doing so. Many cowards hid under rocks and came out only after the fighting had stopped, but then to claim that they had a right to the spoils of the war in which they had not taken part.

      What became known as the Party of Labour of Albania, after independence and as part of the construction of socialism in their country, declared that those men and women who had fought for the freedom and dignity of their country should be honoured, in perpetuity. That was not to be the case.

      Mistakes were made and reaction was able to retake control of the country and it fell again within the suffocating and parasitic clutch of capitalism. I don’t like it but it happened. We should learn from our mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen after the next time we attempt to build socialism towards Communism.

      But what reason is there to attack and destroy those monuments, in all parts of Albania, celebrating the ultimate sacrifice of the Albanian patriots, partisans and Communists if not to make a declaration that they represent all that the present rulers of Albania detest, that is dignity, national independence and a hope that a better future can be constructed for ordinary people?

      Because this is the context in which I wrote my original post about the German, and English, war memorials in Tirana Park. These are grand affairs. Marble or granite. Carved with precision. Expensive. Well maintained. The German memorial has a wall around it with a locked gate. The English a fence, with a locked gate. The English even ‘stole’ the red marble memorial stone that was placed over Enver Hoxha’s grave when he used to lie in the Martyr’s Cemetery. I assume this was done to emulate the early Christian Church when it took over buildings and structures previously occupied by the heathen Romans and later the Catholic Church in its murderous exploits in South America and the pursuit of the ‘extirpation of idolatry’.

      I have no problem with that. At the moment they have won and to the victor the spoils.

      If anyone, in this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, was to do to the war memorials in Britain and France what the Fascists have done to the monuments to the partisans in Albania there would be such an outcry that the noise would reach the moon. What most people don’t know or understand about the Albanian war memorials, as well as the statues erected, is that they look more substantial than they actually are. Most are made of concrete on a metal frame and most of the statues are hollow – nothing like the expense incurred to commemorate the ‘heroes’ who defended capitalism and imperialism.

      Yet these simple, respectful monuments to Albanian patriots are either being vandalised or just left to decay. In the same park as the monuments to the German and English dead (less than a 100 metres away) a simple pillar commemorating the sacrifice (if I understand the Albanian correctly) of a group of students is dirty and attended by no-one. When I last went to the park a year or so ago the ‘private’ grass was being cut around the German stones and the English cemetery is under the auspices of the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

      You say that there are ‘axis monuments in all countries of Europe’. To that I say bullshit. Yes in Albania where neo-Fascists have had a resurgence, yes (perhaps) in the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia where the grandsons and granddaughters of the Fascist collaborators have stayed under the stones just waiting their opportunity and yes in the future, probably, in the pro-West Ukraine if they are successful in their counter-revolution – but not elsewhere.

      The only people who consider the German Nazi invader worthy of recognition as ‘lost souls’ are the Fascists, the stupid or the ignorant – probably all of the aforementioned.

  5. We will soon clean our land from this scum. Albanians are left oriented culturally. We losed the control of our land after the communist regime. There are a lot of reasons for this and I can’t explain all of them here. What’s for sure is that, soon we will remove this symbols legally and peacefully. The last twenty years were like a bad illness for the society. People didn’t become nazilovers but just indifferent. Now were getting better and soon this garbage will take the right place in history. Thank you for posting this facts.

  6. Great website, what is happening in Albania is most extraordinary, it seems they have completely lost their minds to erect memorials to the fascists.

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