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  1. Greatly explaining the arch that was featured on Bald And Bankrupts “This Country Was Ready For War” video. Thanks!

    • I don’t really understand this comment. The link is to the bannedthought site – over which I have no control whatsoever. And anyway when I click on the link it works, although slowly. Further, the fact that a item has been published doesn’t mean to say it is readily available.

      • Yes, sorry for the confusion, I meant to say that the last 2 volumes of Mao’s Road to Power
        Revolutionary Writings: https://www.routledge.com/Maos-Road-to-Power/book-series/MRP

        Have been published in the Year 2023, your website only has till volume 8 of that work, which is the only English translation of the 1912-1949 collected works of Chairman Mao.

        Your website has the official Selected Works, but still, Mao’s Road to Power
        Revolutionary Writings: is an awesome book, if it’s accurate.

  2. The Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project does excavations in the area and seeks summer volunteers, with the possibility of academic credit through Northern Arizona University. The similar Maya Research Program does work in northwestern Belize. I’ve thought about volunteering or otherwise visiting Belize, but I haven’t been to Mesoamerica at this point. Are the decapitated figures mentioned on El Castillo supposed to be modelled on specific people and if so who were they?

    • All I know about the decapitated figures is what is written in the text; ‘seated inside the niches are the figures of people who were decapitated towards the end of the Classic period (AD 800-900). Judging from their position, these figures may well represent the Bacabs or ‘skybearers’. The frieze on the west side displays just one and a half of these masks symbolising the sun god. Situated between them is a square frame around an image of the fire god Chaac or Kah’k Chaak, which in turn is framed by bands adorned with the woven mat design, Pop in the Maya language. The upper record also shows the image of a mutilated figure, possibly corresponding to a pauwahtun, as in the frieze on the opposite side’.

  3. The Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project, which Dr Jaime Awe is a co-director of, does excavations in the area and seeks summer volunteers, with the possibility of academic credit through Northern Arizona University. The deadline for the 2024 field school with academic credit is in February, though there might be flexibility. The similar Maya Research Program does work in northwestern Belize. I’ve thought about volunteering or otherwise visiting Belize, but I haven’t done much travelling at this point. I’ve wanted to visit Mesoamerica, especially central Mexico, and the American tropics for a long time, so this is an interesting series of posts.

  4. Pingback: 21 Best Things to Do in Tirana, Albania (2024 Tirana Guide) – Slow Travel News

    • Hello Maureen
      Sorry for the delay. The information I used when I did the walk was the guide and maps for the Cingles de Bertí. The guide I have scanned and placed at the bottom of the post Els Tres Monts – Stage 1 – the post to which you added your comment. It’s in Catalan but hopefully it will be of help. The two maps that accompany the guide I found (if my memory serves me right) quite good.
      Please remember that I did this walk more than ten years ago and some of the information might be out of date. However, I don’t see why the maps shouldn’t still be available.

  5. Hi

    I found some interesting books here. Thank you very much. But what a pity that some books are in image format, not PDF. It would be great if all books are available in PDF. By the way, the link to
    On Literature and Art, Progress, Moscow, 1973, 509 pages.
    is broken.
    Best regards

    • Hello Nasar

      Good to read you found the Marx/Engels page interesting and useful.

      Thanks for pointing out the broken link – don’t know how that happened. Should be OK now.

      Don’t really understand your other point. All the documents on that page (and most of the documents on the rest of my site) are downloadable as pdf’s. Could you cite specific cases so I can investigate and understand what you mean?

  6. Firstly I very much enjoy meandering through your wonderful website, especially the Albanian writings.

    The tampering of this mosaic is certainly an interesting topic.

    “The War of National Liberation against the invading fascists, first Italian then the German Nazis, was led by and principally carried out by Albanian Communists. ” I am not sure David Smiley would agree. I think the history Albanian resistance has not been fully understood and published. The communist regime most certainly exaggerated their effectiveness and of course set the narrative for the Ballists and Legalitit combatants.

    • Just as the ‘west’ tried to undermine the crucial/fundamental role of the Soviet Union in the defeat of the Nazis (all as part of their ‘Russophobe’ campaign (which began long before the Special Military Operation of February last year) so capitalism has constantly been attempting to undermine any role played by Communists in the Second World War.

      But if it wasn’t the Communist who drove first the Italians and then the German fascists out of their country who did?

      The ‘Nationalists?

      The Communists disrupted ‘the plans of the German Nazis from establishing some element of legitimacy to their occupation of the country with the setting up of a ‘Quisling’ government. The date chosen for this sham was the 18th October 1943 and on that day the Albanian traitors met in the Victor Emmanuel III Palace on the outskirts of the city of Tirana.’

      And who was it who brought the disparate groups fighting the invaders together?

      ‘Different nationalist groups, but especially those organised by the Communist Party of Albania (CPA) after its foundation on 8th November 1941, fought against the invaders but by the middle of 1942 it was recognised that the struggle for liberation needed co-ordination and with that in mind the Communists invited all nationalists to a conference to create a structure that would defeat the materially superior foreign forces.’

      Perhaps it was the English ‘James Bonds’ who threw out the fascists, all by themselves?

      But the Nazis knew who were their real enemy shown by their murder of Persefoni and Bule and the destruction of Borove.

      And even the British knew who the real fighters were by finally ‘accepting’ that the Partisans were the only force that was serious in its fight for National Liberation.

      But once the war was won the British did everything in its power to destroy the new Socialist Republic.

      So what does a little ‘re-writing’ of history matter?

  7. Grover Furr is not a Soviet Historian! He’s a despicable apologist for Joseph Stalin and denier of his atrocities! Furr has a degree in Medieval English not Russian History or any history! Conquest didn’t lie about anything Skunkwipe! He used legitimate sources and provided evidence of Stalin’s genocide! Furr ignored evidence and provided worthless sources! He’s the scum of the earth and so are you!

  8. can I have wattapp number in order to communcate with someone to answer my questions regarding Spring 6 at Tskaltubo – Georgia

    • Just ask you questions through Comments on the Spring 6 post and I’ll try to answer them. I don’t use whatsapp.

  9. Well, you may be right about that, for little appeared to be going on this week ((the one which ends up with oil being wiped over the British head of state. But the statutes of Lenin and Stalin, at least, have moved from the gallery’s back yard to the (impeccably kept) front garden of Mehmet Shehu’s house, now guarded by security men. Makes of that what you will….

    • Thanks for the update of the whereabouts of Lenin and Stalin. Does it mean both the Stalin statues have been moved there. And do you have the address of Mehmet Shehu’s house? I don’t think I’ve ever been there. If you give me the adress I’ll update the post in case anyone wants to go looking for them now that the art gallery may not return to what it was if any renovation actually takes place.

      • If you walk down rr Ismail Qemali from the Boulevard, into the former Blok, you walk along the north side of a little park. When you get to the end of the park, the house on your left is Mehmet Shehu’s house, so the address is probably the corner of Ismail Qemali and rr Ibrahim Rugova. The front or Enver Hoxha’s house is diagonally across the crossroads in front of you and at the back of the Shehu’s house, but whether there is a tunnel connecting them, as Kadare wrote, is not known. The house is used as a government guest house, and is under security guard, which prevents getting near. In the front garden you can see (the top parts of) Lenin and Stalin (and a jeep-like truck). I am afraid I cannot say whether there is any more, though someone suggested that some works from the gallery of Figurative Arts were being stored there on the inside.

        • Thanks for the update Adrian. I’ll try to work out how best to include the latest information in the other blogs where I’ve mentioned the statues of Lenin and Stalin. It will also be interesting to see how, or indeed if, they find a permenant home – accessible to the public – in the future of all the statues that were hidden away at the back of the National Art Gallery. I’m particularly concerned with the fate of the statue of Liri Gero

  10. Michael, I wonder if we might have permission to use your photograph of Beggars Bridge to accompany a biographical entry for Thomas Ferres? He is to be included in a new book on people related to Hull over many centuries which is currently being compiled to mark 100 years of Lord Mayors in Hull.. All proceeds are to go to the Lord Mayor of Hull’s charities. I look forward to hearing from you. Dr Robb Robinson R.N.,Robinson@hull.ac.uk

    • Hello Robb,
      No problem. I’ll send you direct higher definition copies which might be better for your purpose.

  11. Pingback: Grave Journeys – GSQ Blog

  12. Thanks for this write up. It was very helpful. Would you please tell me if they move all business class seats towards to forward movement direction of the train? Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t have thought so – but don’t know for sure. These are fixed trains. Seats will face front going one way and back the other. It all depends.

    • I might have posted information and pictures of the mosaic some time ago But I’m still interested in updating/correcting if necessary anything I might have written. In that way I be able to, slowly, fill in the gaps in my information about Albanian lapidars in general.
      Thanks for the name. Would he have been an artist or an architect? I know on other lapidars the two skills worked together.

  13. Hello, Petro Sota was my grandfather’s brother. There is a book made about him. Also there is the technical university of Albania that was named after him.

    I can give you more details on his life.

    As per the sculpture in 2014. It was paid by my grandpa in honour of his brother. The original monument was destroyed when the city council gave the land to UAE mollahs to build a mosque without any consultation and through some generous bribes.

    My grandpa collected a few favours here and there in order to get the statue there.

    Side note, Raqi Sota (another brother also died during the occupation) him and Petro were exercising their aim when a bullet ricocheted and killed Raqi. He was later made hero of the people.

    As per Petro, he was being followed based on information given by a local spy. He noticed that he was being spied and tried to get into a local “bar”. He tried escaping from the windows since he had in his possession a lot of over 40 something names of the resistance. He got shot, and tried eating the letter based on the local eye witnesses. The fascist broke his jaw while his was dying in order to get the letter. Apparently the letter was so damp with blood and chewed that it was unusable.

    He got shot a total of 28 times total. And left in the the middle of what yes to be the market for 2 days. His father went to pick up his corpse on the 3rd day by night time.

    After this incident, his/my family was sent to the goulag for 2 years.

    They were able to come back when the Germans were defeated.

    • Hello Bessi,
      Thanks for the information. It’s so difficult to get details about many of the lapidars and monuments from the socialist period in Albania and there are many gaps in my knowledge. Thanks you, again, for filling some of those gaps.

  14. Hello Michael,

    Thank you very much for this very accurate and useful article. There is so much good content.
    Glad you shared the coordinates as some points are really hard top find.
    I’m currently in Albania and will take time to visit some of these fabulous places.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Glad to hear you have found the information useful. Please get in touch if you find any errors or omissions. I will then update. Have a good time in Albania.

    • The National Art Gallery was closed around the end of November 2021 following the most bizarrely curated exhibition I have ever seen. For a few months towards the end of 2021 it seemed that ALL the exhibits from the Gallery’s storerooms were brought into the exhibition space and put on ‘display’. No organisation, no information but an interesting exhibition, nonetheless, for anyone interested in Albanian Socialist Realist art. I wrote a blog post, together with hundred of pictures, here. When I saw the hoardings around the building I wondered about the fate of the statues from the ‘Statue Park’ at the back of the building.

      When I first went to Tirana I had to play cat and mouse with security to get to the back of the building but in recent years it has been on the itinerary of the Tirana walking tours. So it seems Joe and Vladimir have a new, if only temporary, home. Some of the other larger bronze statues can be found in the internal courtyard of the Historical Museum in Skenderbeu Square – go through the doorway that is opposite the main visitor entrance and turn right.

      I wasn’t able to find out anything about when the gallery would reopen or what had been the fate of all the exhibits that were placed on show last year.

      The ‘anger’ mentioned in the short piece to which you provided a link just goes to show how stupid some people are. These statues, and more, had been on ‘public’ display for years. Ignorant people seem to have the perpetual desire to be outraged.

      I’ll place a note at the end of my posts about the gallery to let readers know of the current situation with the ‘refurbishment’. Thanks for your comment, it has reminded me that I should have done that once I realised the gallery was closed.


  16. Liverpool Town Hall.
    “The four spandrels (the triangular corner paintings) are by Charles Furse …”
    They are called pendentives, not spandrels.

  17. Liverpool Town Hall.
    “The statue at the top of the first flight of stairs is of George Canning, an MP for the town and Prime Minister for 4 months in 1827, was completed in 1832 by Francis Chantry.” — Chantrey seems to be the preferred spelling.

  18. Not mentioned directly is the fact that at Yalta and Teheran, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed that Greece would be in the Western sphere, whereas Albania and Yugoslavia would be in the Eastern sphere. If Stalin had broken the agreement and supplied arms and support, the Greek communists would certainly have won control of the country after the war.

  19. Dear Micheal

    You have done a great work publishing all of these issues. I hope you will publish more on your blog in the next month. That would be amazing. I hope you’re still active


    • Hello Adam
      The reason there are gaps in the postings is that I don’t have access to those issues. I’m constantly looking for a source but, to date, without any luck.
      If that situation changes then I will certainly post the missing issues as soon as possible.
      But not in the next month, I’m afraid

  20. Hi Michael, an incredible work you have done with pulling together all this content. I am the found out albaniangallery.art website and was wondering if I can republish some of your articles on my website. Without saying the credits will go to you as author/curator. let me know if I get your permission. Regards Alban

    • Hello Alban,
      There’s no problem using items from my site. Good to hear you find my blog useful.
      Take care

  21. Are you related to the Michael Harrison who was moved to leave the rather disobliging assessment of Rinas airport, and those who work in it, last year ? If you are, it sounds as things do not only get better…

    • I posted on the airport more than nine years ago. Since then I’ve both arrived and left Rinas a number of times. It’s a small airport – though much busier now than it was when I wrote the post – as well as being quite modern and because of that is one of the more ‘pleasant’ airports to pass through. (ALL airports are unpleasant to a lesser or greater extent.) I don’t have any serious criticisms of the airport and I’m not the person that has posted on any site about Rinas – I don’t post on review sites for anything.

  22. Another attempt by the imperial core to offload the blame for their own problems onto the victims of neocolonialism. Perhaps somewhat related to this was the recent remark by William Windsor blaming environmental damage on “Africa’s rapidly growing human population.”

    • Exactly. The problem is they have been doing it for decades and still get away with it. They blame someone else to protect themselves.

  23. Hi Michael,

    Interesting site/content. A 1952/3 book caught my eye: https://michaelharrison.org.uk/2018/08/jv-stalin-biographies-reminiscences-and-appraisals/

    I became skeptical and did a search. According to the only Amazon review of the Budu Svanidze book, it “was exposed as a forgery shortly after it came out by historian Boris Souvarine (Bulletin de l’Association d’Etudes et d’Informations Politiques Internationales, May 1953, Nos. 88 and 89.)” I acquired the articles and confirmed they do indeed refer to this book as a forgery – along with several others. I could send them along with my translations if you’d like.

    • It’s a long time since I read ‘My Uncle Joseph Stalin’ but my memory was that it was quite benign. How Joe came out of it I can’t remember exactly but I don’t think the book tried to make out that Stalin was a perfect husband and partner – the only reason why I could think of of it being a ‘forgery’.

      At the same time I would think that anything written by Souvarine has to be considered suspect – especially when it comes to the topic of Joseph Stalin. Souvarine was a Trotskyite and like all Trotskyites spent much of his time from the mid 1920s attacking the Soviet Union and its leadership.

      By all means send the article you mentioned (with translation) if you have them to hand. It would be interesting to read Souvarine’s ‘proof’ that the publication was a ‘forgery’, by whom and for what reason it was ‘forged’ and what political gain there was in such an elaborate task over a book that is hardly well known. I’ve never come across any reference to it so if it was concocted then the aim was a failure.

      • Two sample points that can be checked independently of BEIPI on the “Svanidze” book (“forgery” = not Stalin’s nephew): [1] Stalin’s second wife didn’t overdose but instead shot herself by the morning of 8 Nov 1932 due to a migraine episode that started Nov 6 and was made worse by attending the Nov 7 anniversary parade; [2] Rosa (Rachel) Kaganovich could not have been an option to be Stalin’s third wife because she died in 1926.

        [1] Artem Sergeev, Stalin’s adopted son, comments on Nadezhda’s migraines: translate.yandex.com/translate?url=hrono.ru/biograf/bio_a/alliluevans.php&lang=ru-en – “…Nadezhda Sergeevna had constant, very powerful, completely unbearable headaches. She often held her head in her hands and cried out: ‘My head! My head!’” “Svanidze” may have known this: “‘I have a headache,’ Nadia said stiffly. ‘Please excuse me.’” (p. 59) “Svanidze” says: “One night she took an overdose, with fatal effect.” (p. 98)

        [2] Kaganovich family comments on ‘Wolf of the Kremlin’ (1987): revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv1n2/kaganfam.htm – “LMK’s [Lazar Kaganovich’s] only sister, by mistake named in the book as Rosa (her name was Rachel), died in 1926…” Therefore the statement in “Svanidze’s” book that “Molotov, Kaganovitch, Mikoyan, Beria […] now that Stalin was once more a widower […] took the liberty of selecting a wife for him—Rosa Kaganovitch, the beautiful sister of Lazar Kaganovitch” (p. 99) is false.

        “Waverly Root” (“Svanidze” again?) in the preface: “If Molotov is to be one of the future rulers of Russia also, it is not unimportant to know that he is a bad loser, or that he dislikes to take responsibility in critical situations.” Fake Stalin quote: “Everyone complains of Molotov’s stiffness, his inability to show the slightest flexibility. It’s true, you know. Sometimes he is really unbearable.” Fake Mikeladze quote: “…we’ll arrange for you to come again when you have that memorandum to prove that Molotov has become anti-Marxist.” Even without BEIPI or the sources above it’s not impossible to see “Svanidze” only pretended to be favorable to the Soviet leadership while in substance making them appear ridiculous.

        • I’m not really sure where this discussion is going and neither could I couldn’t really understand the points made by the BEIPI analysis.

          If the Trotskyites want to make out it is a forgery then it’s to use that against the Soviet Union. But then it would have to have been produced in the Soviet Union. However, the simple mistakes which you point out would seem to suggest it wasn’t produced by someone who knew all the facts.

          Then who do you suggest created this ‘forgery’ and for what purpose? And is it really important? It is a rather obscure book and I can’t remember exactly where or when I came across my copy.

          If it was created for some ‘ill intent’ then what was it? As it doesn’t seem to have been very successful – especially in the great scheme of things when Uncle Joe has been accused of everything apart from causing the present climate emergency.

          • This was written just prior to Khrushchev’s slander of “Uncle Joe” and it’s true the book was soon overshadowed. One of the points made in BEIPI is that this series of publications, including those by “Svanidze”, occurred with unusual (or even impossible) speed, so the implication is that the book was authored by international imperialism. The purpose would have been to create confusion and dissatisfaction abroad with the Soviet leadership, potentially for people to quit their parties. And from the description in “The Wolf of the Kremlin” (1987): “The true story of Stalin’s third wife, Rosa, who was Lazar’s sister.” This was decades later so was this sort of narrative really unsuccessful? As to where this is going, the whole point of reading history is to learn, isn’t it? And if it’s disinformation, to alert people. I’ve given my contact info if more needs to be said. I don’t want to spam this page.

            • I don’t disagree with anything you say. Your memory/knowledge of some of the facts is better than mine and I also agree it’s good to point out these situations in the past to remind people what the enemies to socialism are prepared to do. We only have to look at the ‘Zinoviev Letter’ to realise that the idea of ‘fake news’ is not something invented in the last few years. There’s a book, which I have but have yet to scan, called ‘The Great Conspiracy against Russia’. That documents just such incidents to cause confusion amongst those who might have been sympathetic to the aims of the Soviet Union. I’ll see if I can get it scanned and posted on the Soviet Union page on this blog in the next few weeks.

  24. A Reeeeally Wonderful Website! Learn a lot from it ! Precious documentaries!

    —— From a Maoist Researcher China

  25. Hi there


    I read your reviews regularly. It would be helpful to know whether you have been to North Korea, either as a tourist (as I have); as a guest of the DPRK; or in your own right. It might actually help people to understand more clearly the pluses and minuses of that amazing country.


  26. Hi, can tell you now, the Historical Basis for socialism in Ireland is from 1919, originally published in New York

  27. Pingback: Three Weeks of sadness but also of hope – Immanuel Verbondskind – עמנואל קאָווענאַנט קינד

  28. It is a pity there are still uninformed people like you Michael and Thomas Mrett that believe executed innocents during communism in Albania do not deserve rehabilitation. Communist’s leaders in Albania were nothing more than murderers! They isolated the country to destruction only for their privileges.
    During king Zog, Albania recognized economic growth. Private property and free speech was never denied, nor were people executed for speaking their mind.

    • Your hero Zogolli;

      returned to Albania in 1924 with the support of foreign, reactionary forces;
      bestowed dictatorial powers upon himself;
      made an alliance with Italian Fascism;
      in a similar act to the megalomaniacal Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself king;
      like a coward ran away when the Italians invaded Albania in 1939;
      no doubt was instrumental in post-war efforts of the British government to undermine the government of the people following liberation in 1944;
      and lived a life of luxury at the expense of the Albanian people.

      Albania today still celebrates Skenderbeu and the idea of Independence but Zogolli’s actions and life were the antithesis of the national hero. He would have preferred to preen himself in a mirror in his dress uniform than get his hands dirty in actually fighting against the fascist (or any other) invaders. That task was left to the working men and women of Albania under the leadership of Comrade Hoxha and the Albanian Communists.

  29. Pingback: 22 Fun Albania Facts You Didn't Know - Adventurous Miriam

  30. “The organisation still exists but seems to function more as a mouthpiece of the Chinese government in Britain and providing its members with official visits to capitalist China.”
    “…Now it praises the erstwhile Socialist country for its capitalist (and imperialist) development.”
    Excuse me, what?

    • Hello Aleksander

      Not really sure what you getting at. Is China a capitalist and imperialist country or do you think it is still a ‘socialist’ society?

      Those who produced the SACU News in the 1960s and early 1970s were promoting Socialist China at a time when it wasn’t easy to get information about developments in the country. By continuing to support ‘socialist’ China after the coup against the revolutionaries within the Party very soon after the death of Chairman Mao. If such support in the early years of capitalist restoration could be excused as ignorance of the reality any support, or thought that the country still follows a socialist agenda so many years later, is just plain stupidity.

      Any support organisations, for example, set up to promote the interests of the United Kingdom or the United States would be to support the dominant economic and social system in place in those countries. Such slavish support always comes with advantages.

  31. Hi Michael,

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time now. It’s probably the best account online relating to the socialist era of Albania. I have a question regarding a building that was once located in Tirana, you might be able to help me. The building is the Museum House of the Party and I can’t figure out if it is still standing or what might be at its location now. If you have any idea I’d appreciate the info.



    • Hello Richie

      Sorry for the slight delay in replying, have been trying to find out more information from a friend who knows Tirana better than me.

      Many years ago I went looking for the building. The only information I had at that time was the small map that’s in the book Museum House of the Party. You can download it here if you have not already done so. It was posted on Documents of the PLA 31-40 page. On page 19 there’s a small sketch map of the location – the problem was that street names were changed after the reaction took power and there is no actual street name for where the building was located.

      I think I found a place which looked as if it might have been the building, but all locked up and no one around. I’m assuming it wasn’t demolished as it was a good building in it’s own right close to the centre of town. My assumption is that it was taken over by some individual as a bit of free people’s property – a private privatisation.

      The friend I mentioned earlier is going to see if he can find any more info, if anything more comes to light I’ll forward the news on to you.

    • Hello Aleksander

      Thanks for the link. The presentation is two and a half hours long and haven’t had the time to watch it yet. It’s interesting that it deals with the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ but the subject can be approached in a number of ways.

      Considering you comment about the SACU News I’m not sure if we see the dictatorship of the proletariat in the same way.

  32. It’s not easy to refrain from commenting. This time wanted to say that couldn’t have ever read his invaluable speech hadn’t it been singled out here. Many many thanks! I expected it to be interesting but not easy and understandable. One is able to see what he means. We are very different people now from then conscientiously speaking, but the then reality was also different from what is pictured here in 1958. A cultural revolution must’ve been due much earlier than beginning of ’80s.

    • It would be a mistake to think that the Cultural Revolution in China only took place after the decision of the Central Committee of the CPC dated 8th August 1966. The struggle against revisionism and those who wanted to re-establish capitalism in the People’s Republic went into a new stage after that date but a ‘cultural revolution’ goes side by side with the efforts to build socialism from the first days after the revolution – and this is the case in all countries.

      And it’s not just the case of the successful revolutions which took state power in the 20th century. We can see efforts to change peoples ideas and world view during the 72 (too short) days of the Paris Commune with the Patriotic Women’s Clubs, for example.

      There was no formal ‘Cultural Revolution’ in the Soviet Union though we can see references to such a continuing struggle in the writings of both Lenin and Stalin.

      And also in the writings published by Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania.

      • Useful readings as always. It was wandering to me why this blog uses ‘Cultural Revolution’ extensively for Albania. It now makes perfect sense for even though Albania never had a ‘formal’ Cultural Revolution as you put it, at least the three first decades during the construction of Socialism were a movement close to that, a continuing restless search and critique involving all in general.
        Appreciate you taking the time to stop and provide an extended explanation.
        Very interesting what your said about Paris Commune.

  33. when i look at the lapidar sculpture i just know it. We’ve known the Peza stories of WWII when we were young from many sources, history school books, movies, literature etc.
    And i’m thinking now but find that i am not able to even mention a specific book or story, it seems a long time ago.

  34. Hi Mr. Harrison,
    The group to the left relates to the event of the partisan intervention in the village of Peza after the fascists burnt and massacred it. Peza has been burnt more than once by fascists as it was known to be a great support point to local and other partisan çeta.
    What is happening with the left hand side group is, the harmed and vulnerable peasants are desperately welcoming the partisans as these arrive the last minute to rescue them from fascists.
    The trio of family is instead a group of unrelated people: The non-uniformed partisan has just rescued the orphan baby most likely from a burning house and is holding the baby, whose one hand is on shoulder of the woman partisan. I can’t figure out what she holds in her left hand either but they’re about to go secure the baby in a safe place away from the bullets field where he is taken care of.

    Next, the woman resting her head on the man’s chest is in fact the mother of the partisan, an old lady, and she has been desperately looking for him and his partisan friends to come any minute now to save them from the disgrace. The little guy is her grandson she’s guarding while his father – meaning her son which is near her now – is away from home fighting for freedom.

    In the meantime partisan çeta is fiercely fighting with the fascists. In this fight they are joined by village men, the village always being a reliable point of support for partisans.
    The partisans of the çeta of Peza, were some of the very first organizations that would later become the national liberation army structured into brigades and divisions. At this initial stage we encounter partisans in distinguishable uniforms and already communists as well as many partisans still on their own local outfits, these maybe recently having joined the çeta or that while into a fighter mentality were not yet a partisan. But they would become soon.
    Also Peza was one of the very first liberated sites during antifascist war with the national liberation council regulating and governing the area being the people’s power established there. This is what we see to the right group of the memorial, the unified group of communist partisans, non-communist partisans, civilians and village people. Among the four front figures the two civilians who stand in the middle should be the leading figures of national liberation council for Peza.
    All are armed nevertheless. All civilian people are armed to the best they can and stand unified around their power representatives, the national liberation council and communist partisans.

    • An interesting interpretation. As I asked when you made a comment about ‘The Albanians’ mosaic – how do you come to such a detailed reading of the sculptural story?

  35. verses are actual folk songs, Mavrova and Drashovica are individual villages and it’s being sung to each one of them altogether. You Mavrovë and you Drashovicë, what havoc combined that day, machine guns and artillery, the night looked like day.
    Hysni Kapo like a hawk, threw himself over barbed wires, spoke himself to the germans, surrender you hateful aggressor.

  36. With Shkoder being the last liberated, on Nov. 29th 1944, the Albanian National Liberation Army kept the fights going beyond country northern borders, in the area of Kosova and further northern to that, in Yugoslavian territory, helping neighbours and pushing Germans as further away the Albanians border as possible. These last army sections returned home in 1945.

    My grandfather fought there and returned home only that year.

  37. the mosaic man in suit with a piece of paper in hand is an Albanian renaissance figure rather than Ismail Qemali, the independence man.
    this man is likely one of the three Frasheri brothers, probably Sami Frasheri or Abdyl Frasheri. Sami Frasheri the youngest, more of a philosopher, wrote the precious piece “Albania what was, what is and what will be”, Abdyl Frasheri the olderst was leader of the League of Prizren a unifying congress for albanians fighting against Turkey, 1878. Naim Frasheri, the second brother, was a great Albanian renaissance poet, maybe the greatest of the era.

    Edvin Rama is disinterested in survival of the mosaic and is intentionally allowing its disintegration just like he’s doing with every socialist era buildings, architecture, structures, that have survived to date. His ambition is replacing the urban layout of the centre of Tirana so that no sign of pre ’90s is left as remembrance of that period.
    In addition to Frasheri brothers, Edvin Rama recognized a successor of them Mit’hat Frasheri who headed a collaborationist government to Nazis during WWII, honoring him and adding him space in the grave ansamble of the trio Frasheri brothers. This was carried out in speedy sneaky but nevertheless official way, Rama being aware of not being allowed to do so if acts were publicly announced beforehand.

    • Thanks for another interpretation of the story behind the images. I must admit that with many of the lapidars I have described (and those still to post) I’m very much in the situation of making a (hopefully) informed guess as I have been unable to find any sources which provide a definitive explanation of the images, in whatever format.

      I assume that much of this material was lost when the Writers Union archives were destroyed. I suppose there could be information in the National Archives – but then I come across the problem of the language.

      Where did you find the details you have presented here?

      Thanks also about the information about Rama and the addition of a fascist to the group of the Frasheri brothers in Tirana Park – I hadn’t heard of that. Reactionaries removing, destroying, or altering socialist monuments in secret and the dead of night isn’t new. The removal of the statue of Joseph Stalin that stood in the park that bears his name in Gori is another example that comes to mind.

      But what was/is Rama’s rationale for this addition? Who is he hoping to impress? Surely there’s not much left of the country for him to ‘sell out’?

      Take care


  38. there’s a typo on painter’s name, the work “Partisan Vow”
    correctly spelled it is Guri Madhi. Thank you so much.

    • Rectified. But WordPress doesn’t make it easy. You would have thought that moving two letters would be a doddle but it isn’t. Thanks for pointing out the error.

      • very kind of you. If of any use the below is from your great post on National Art Gallery,
        – Ilia Kici Dashi, 1978 – Sali Shijaku
        The title is Hero i Punës Socialiste – Hero of the Socialist Work, equivalent to People’s Hero but now during construction times rather than war times.
        – The wireworker, 1969 – Sotir Capo
        The wire factory was in Shkoder, and that was supplied with copper raw material by the copper enrichment factory of Rubik, Mirdite.
        – The days of flying, 1986 – Spiro Kristo
        there’s a typo error on date, as it is year 1968, which might affect the painting concept.
        – July 30, 1978 – Çlirim Çeka
        Relationships between Albania and China broke in the summer of 1978, however the date might mark the first production of albanian steel. Which relates to China because with the break they quit assistance to Albania on that project.

        • Thanks for more information and pointing out the error on the date of the painting of the airmen. It does change the the meaning of the painting – context is everything. Have made appropriate alterations.

  39. I am looking to read the short Soviet booklets as part of the series “The Fifteen Soviet Republics Today and tomorrow.”

    I have read one on Azerbaijan, printed in 1959

    • I might have to disappoint you there. I don’t think I have the series you refer to. However, it might turn up some time.

  40. Michael thank you for making such wonderful socialist resources available to those who are still fighting for a socialist society ie here in England

    • Glad to hear that you find the blog useful. There’s a lot more to come so if you’re interested in a particular topic you might find more material here in the future.

  41. Very good article. Thanks.
    Can I ask a question. Is there at least one party of workers in England? Is there a “red university”? a “university of worker correspondents”? a “red channel” on youtube?

    «The Party’s
    the compass
    that keeps us on course,
    the backbone
    of the whole working class.»

    • Unfortunately, there’s no Party I would consider as a true revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party in Britain – although there are a few organisations that claim to be. As for a ‘red university’ there’s never been anything like that in the UK – and perhaps one of the reasons for the lack of a party is the lack of emphasis on creating a structure where people can learn the basics of Marxism-Leninism in the past (parties were more concerned with practice and the theory, some times, wasn’t given the emphasis it requires).

      A few sites (other than this one) are providing digital versions of much of the Marxist-Leninist theory as well as the history and experience of those societies that have attempted to build a socialist society. I would recommend BannedThought and From Marx to Mao. Also for other varieties of socialism the Marxist Internet Archive.

  42. Wonderful post! Let we never forget the enormous sacrifice the Sovjets made for the defeat of Nazi-Germany and the liberation of Europe!

    • I’m glad you found the post interesting. With the western capitalist countries virtually writing the Soviet Union out of the war against Fascism – and at the same time attempting to present their contribution as greater than it really was – it’s important to keep the Red Flag flying.

  43. Thank you, Michael. It’s a precious information, which helps us very much, to better understand the global situation. Stay strong. No pasarán !

    • Hello Francesc

      Glad you’re finding what I write useful. Nothing surprising in their (the British government’s) approach – just a confirmation of their incompetence.

  44. Just out of curiousity, I think that you can make a specific post about Vietnam under Doi Moi from your perspective. That would be great.

    • I could – but won’t.

      To me ‘Doi moi’ is just a continuation of revisionism from the time of the First International – but with a Vietnamese twist.

      Socialism’s biggest enemy is not capitalism, vicious militarism that comes as a consequence of imperialism (and the Vietnamese people had their fair share of that experience) but the traitors from within – and the failure of people to identify and crush them when they raise their ugly heads.

  45. This was very interesting reading. For me, as someone with no ideological skin in the game, what;s quite interesting from reading “Reflections on China” (I have a *lot* of time nowadays, as do many of us!…how I got here in fact) is that Hoxha finds Mao irreducibly weird from early on, because he’s Chinese, or more broadly, Asian. I think the subjective aspect of this is mostly positive, i.e. he;s not being ethnocentric, but simply trying to make sense of a leader, and a country, that are totally befuddling to him even though they’re his only significant allies. It’s also interesting how Hoxha, whose cult of personality was a figure of fun in the West, convincingly distinguishes between the utilitarian rationale for that phenomenon in Albania and what he sees as the beyond-all-reason (and again, only understandable in cultural context) cults of Mao and Kim.

    • Hello Rich

      Apologies for the delay.

      I don’t really understand your point. For me the the issue which lay behind Hoxha’s frustration (which was expressed in the 1976 letter to the CPC) revolved around the time it took the Chinese Party to make the ‘definitive’ split with the Revisionist Soviet Union.

      I haven’t read the Enver’s ‘Reflections .. ‘ for some time so don’t really know where you got your ideas about the ‘cult of the personality’.

      I also don’t think that was, at all, the way the ‘West’ approached Albania post WWII. The British, especially, were pissed that they couldn’t get control of the Balkans (something which determined much of their military approach for the Britain to get back into the war – i.e., go via Italy, then turn east and deny the Red Army success in that part of the world).

      As it was the Albanian Communist Partisans freed their own country (as did, indeed the Yugoslavs – even if Tito took the Federation into the capitalist camp in the 1950s) and denied the imperialists their prize. I went into this idea in one of my earliest blogs.

      The propaganda campaign against Albania, at least in Britain, was centred on the country’s so-called ‘isolation’, to try to denigrate its independence.

      As it stands now the word ‘independence’ shouldn’t have an Albanian translation – they have no concept of it.

  46. As a Vietnamese I am saddened by the parts you said after Doi Moi :(.

    • Tragic for a country that was able to defeat the Japanese, French and then American invaders.

  47. Thank you, Michael, for all this information. I think many comments, you make about UK, apply also to Spain and Catalonia… unfortunately.

    • Hello Francesc

      It’s not possible to closely follow events in all countries that are going through the pandemic at the moment. At the same time it’s not a surprise that you can see many parallels between events, statements, inactivity, errors and crass incompetence in Catalonia and Spain as I have seen in the UK. They all follow the profit agenda and not one that cares for people or the long term well being of an economy which isn’t ruled by short term gain.

      It will be interesting to see if the people will allow the same selfish capitalist system to carry on doing what it has been doing for centuries – a system which constantly creates crises, whether they be financial and economic or, as at the moment, a health pandemic.

      Take care


  48. Dear Michael

    Find your link from Stalin Society India and saw that you are doing very
    good work by posting Albania today with its contents.
    I will see if I have missing numbers after 15th April if lock down ends here in India.
    Our Facebook page-Kamgar Prakashan.
    Balram Sharma

    • Hello Balram, Thanks for getting in touch. Will look forward to your news about missing Albania Today’s later in the month. Hope all is going well with you in the present health crisis. Take care, Michael

  49. I am delighted to see this very full and thoughtful article about the fantastic art in the Tirana Gallery. My wife and I were there in 2015 – very briefly in a gap in our tourist tour of the country. We were the only people on the first floor enjoying these extraordinary examples of socialist realist art – an art style which has been almost totally removed from the ex-Soviet bloc countries’ galleries. The floor attendant was very concerned that we were taking photographs – so the ones I took (mainly of industrial scenes) were rather hurried and sometimes out of focus. But I have a selection of those in this brilliant overview, and a few more which may not have been there in 2015.

    Are you aware of any book covering these key works of a very significant period of western art which is so ignored by the bulk of the British art establishment ? If not, have you ever thought about publishing your own ? It would be a pity to lose these works as has happened nearly everywhere else.

    Thank you for bringing this to public attention

    • Hello David,

      Happy you found the post useful and interesting. The attitude of the gallery (and the attendants) has changed over the years. It was a bit like a guerrilla campaign some times in the past but things were very much more relaxed when I was there in the autumn of 2019.

      Even the ‘Sculpture Park’ at the back of the gallery – where I had to time it so I would get by without the security guard noticing – is now possible to visit freely. The authorities have obviously decided that there is an advantage to allow people to see the works of the Socialist period, even to the extent that the rear of the gallery is now on some of the organised ‘walking tours’ of Tirana. I’m sure with all the negative commentary that is seen as obligatory by the ignorant and anti-Socialists when it comes to Albania’s history between 1944 and 1990. Albania is such a paradise on earth now.

      The only contemporary album I’ve seen about Albanian Socialist Realist Art is a book about graphic art from the Socialist period.

      However, albums were produced in the past and I have added two that I have in digital format. Thanks for making your comment as it made me remember that I had other material which complement the contemporary photos. They are fairly large files but you should have no real problem in downloading them if you so wish. I’ve just added them to the end of the post.

      I also have photos of art work from other museums/galleries in different parts of the country. They will eventually appear somewhere on this blog

  50. In re “The breasts seem like small bowels that have been plunked on their chests” – I think you meant ‘bowls’
    The other thing is that a gang of telecommunications workers (cable layers) are also treated as heroic in Venedikt Yerofeev’s “Moscow Circles’ Anti-heroes may be more accurate, or maybe parodies of heroes, or fasiledf heroes, but even then the idea is drawing on what I think might have been a known figure of heroic legend at some times in the Soviet imagination. Cf. Solzhenitsyn’s canal-workers, perhaps harking back to and inheriting something of an image of heroic road-builders (Lermontov?) and/or railway workers, all pioneers in the opening up of communication, progress, snd the bringing of modernity, even in earlier, pre-Soviet times. Is this fair ?

    • Hello David

      Thanks for pointing out the typo. Always a problem proof reading your own work but this one takes it into another dimension. The post-socialist revisionists in Georgia might have been perverse but not quite as suggested in my original (pre-corrected) post. What a difference an ‘e’ makes?

      As for the terracotta mural I still contend it is no more than decoration. I don’t dislike it. Quiet the contrary I think it has some charming aspects – the looks on the faces demonstrating an element of innocence, for example.

      But that’s me being soft.

      My argument is that no work of art that is created in a society that used to be on the Socialist road but which, due to manoeuvrings in the Party which had succeeded in changing that Party from a revolutionary to a revisionist one, can be considered a work of Socialist Realism.

      Images of Marx, Engels and Lenin were paraded in Red Square after 1956 until things fell apart in the 1990s. That didn’t mean the country was following the sort of society those individuals considered to be Socialism.

  51. This is a stupendously wonderful resource, particularly for someone who first went to Albania in the 80s but who now fears that his own memories will fade as the things which one could marvel at in the 80s also fade from view. May your work prosper.

    • Hello Adrian, Glad you find my blog posts on Albania useful. I have a few more pamphlets/books to scan as well as many lapidars to describe whilst providing a photographic record. Do you have any material from your visit/s in the 1980s which doesn’t appear on my site? If you could lend them to me to scan and then post that would make the collection that more complete. I’m especially interested in copies of Albania Today (I’ve scanned and posted all to which I have access) and New Albania – I have some more to scan but there are many gaps in that collection.

  52. The icon “Bloody Martyrdom” depicts a real historical event. Two Franciscans from Italy – Giacomo da Sarnano and Ferdinando d’Albissola – were impaled by the Muslims in 1648. That’s why the dress of the bystanders is old (foustanellas etc). More details here: Pacifico Sella, “Testimonianze inedite circa il martirio dei frati minori Giacomo da Sarnano e Ferdinando d’Albissola (Scutari 28 febbraio 1648)”, (2015), https://dialnet.unirioja.es/descarga/articulo/5533704.pdf

    • Thanks for the historical information.

      When I saw the painting I was more interested in the style the artist had taken from the previous 50 years of Albanian art.

      However, the putting the painting into its historical context raises an interesting point.

      I’ve been in many Catholic churches in various parts of the world and seen paintings which with present thinking would be considered racist and inflammatory – Sant Iago Matamoros being one example. These images would be explained away now by the Catholic guardians as ‘being of their times. Things are different now and the Catholic Church is more tolerant.’ And then the present Pope would be cited.

      But obviously not in Shkoder. Just over a hundred metres from this Franciscan church is a large, modern mosque. Yet in the 21st century, in a country that claims ‘religious tolerance’ after the atheist campaigns of the Socialist period, Albanian Catholics still seek to stoke hatred against Islam.

      Conveniently forgetting the atrocities that have been committed in the name of Christianity/Catholicism since 1648 against anyone who doesn’t bow down to the incumbent in Rome – including the counter-revolutionary activity carried out in the very same building where the Franciscan ‘martyrs’ are being celebrated.

  53. Pingback: Minister Blendi Klosi "Restores" the Lapidar of the Artillery - Exit - Explaining Albania

  54. Fabulous detailed info Michael. Thank you. We visited Martyrs cemetery on the anniversary of the slain student and were fortunate to meet his cousin and friend at the graveside.

    We later went to Hoxhe new grave. The road you turn off is 10.minites walk from the end of the bus line, and continues in the direction the bus was travelling (the part of your text where you said to keep on the returning bus and continue walking was ambiguous: it was not clear if you should walk on the return direction or continuing out if town direction).

    Excellent information all round though. Thankyou for taking the time to post.

    • Thanks for your comment Tina. I’ve altered the text, and updated the bus fare, so hope that has done away with any ambiguity. Sorry for any confusion caused. Hope you’re enjoying your time in Albania.

  55. Wonderful photos and commentary. Perhaps you can initiate a Go-Fund-Me effort to finance a rhinoplasty for Comrade Enver? I am good for a small contribution.

  56. Good to read this this is true but seldom taught amongst friends and all us , should ,know yes

  57. Thank you for letting us see some of real history , not mentioned oft I have a b a in political science and I am no smarter than the most average person believe me but the way Greece was treated was reprehensible they were committed to the fight that we anericans we’re simple as that and also simple perhaps also takes so much work but it’s the peace building with egalitarian robust energetic cooperative economies of human civilization without nationalist division but with national distinction a true communism would be the greatest step towards peace

  58. Dear Mr. Harrison,

    I was wondering if I could use the picture of “The Hanged Women – Gjirokastra”, the first one in this article, for a little quiz on twitter?

    Some colleagues and I run a channel called @quiztime, where we post weekly quizzes for other so solve in order to train for geolocation and verification skills.

    The image would be attached to a tweet tomorrow for people as a hint where to start the search.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Best regards

  59. Thank you, Michael. There are many aspects of your report that I didn’t know… See you… No pasaran !

  60. I used to work in Martins Bank International Branch in Water Street. I now live in Nottingham but often visit Liverpool to meet up with friends whom I used to work with. Could you let me know if there are any plans to see inside the beautiful old building or heritage days organised for this year.?

    • The building has been acquired by an up-market hotel group. It seems to be taking a long time to do the conversion and, as far as I know, there’s no date about when it will open. The plan was announced almost 4 years ago so there have been questions about funding. The latest I’ve seen is that has been acquired by the IHG chain.
      When/if it does open as a hotel the banking hall will almost certainly be the reception area so open to the public. What plans they have for the Board Room I have no idea. It could be converted into a dining room so that would also be available to the public.
      Start saving up your pennies if you hope to visit the building in the future.

  61. One clue as to the strangeness or incomprehensibility of the figures/bas reliefs around the monument is given by this translation of a guide-book-style website (1):
    “The monument was projected by a group of artists resident in Ushuaia, directed by the sculptor Vilma Nattero and represents the silhouette of the islands.”

    The group-produced artwork has a built-in tendency towards inconsistency in execution. The “group of artists resident in Ushuaia” may have been no more than the local arts club, with members of varying competence. Bringing the local community into the construction of a monument under the direction of a ‘proper’ artist sounds like a good idea, but it does run the risk of producing below-par work, as you clearly illustrate.

    (1) see https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=https://www.ypf.com/guia/Paginas/Plaza-Islas-Malvinas.aspx&prev=search

    • That makes me feel a little better. If the artist/s don’t know what it’s all about then how can anyone else?

  62. Oh dear, bang goes my credibility as a commentator of the left! At least, given the date, I can claim that I was under the influence of sherry and mince pies while failing to distinguish my Galtieris from my Pinochets. Thanks for not laughing too loudly!

  63. Mike, apart from the egregious use of ‘it’s’ when you should write ‘its’ (the English teacher writing here) this is a very entertaining and genuinely interesting piece of travel writing and matches anything to be found in the Guardian or elsewhere. [You might recall I left those animated arguments with yourself, Norman and Richard et al in the Caernavon pub, after the usual Friday show in the Merseyside Film Society, and headed out of the UK in 1980.] I was teaching in Jamaica at the time of the Falklands war and there was a strange sense of pride amongst some of the ex-pats who worked with me at the school. I saw it as a piece of grotesque opportunism from the Thatcher government. It was almost as if the Argentinian military dictatorship had colluded with her. Her wildest dreams came true as she was able to wrap herself in the union flag, sit in the front of tanks and in put back progress even further.

    The museum seems rather tacky and the semi-detached house it seems to be based in (I’m looking at the blue fencing outside) might be a model for the development of future British museums, given government cuts.

    Mike, I admire what you’re doing here. There’s quite an interesting alternative world view available although, as you would probably guess, I don’t agree with much of what you say. Anyway keep travelling and wrirting.

    • Hello Frank, I know there’s no excuse for bad grammar but I will offer a ‘reason’. By the time I’ve done something in the day to write about, get back and write it, process my photos, et al it is getting quite late when I press the ‘publish’ button. That means I’m considerably down the wine bottle (my chosen tipple here) and that means I might miss the ‘. I humbly apologise and will stop drinking to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
      As for the museum you have to look at the sky blue colouring as a patriotic motif – it’s the colour in the national flag (or should that be ‘its’?).

  64. This looks like deliberate policy on the part of the owners – you do not say whether it is privately owned or state-run. Assuming the latter, and that post-junta Argentinian governments have been broadly centrist or left-wing, you’d think that some historical analysis of the failings of Pinochet would have been highlighted. On the other hand, if it is privately-owned, perhaps the owners are/were pro-Pinochet and don’t want too many historical questions asked. Some perspective on this might be gained by studying the date when the museum was opened.

    • Hello Ian, I’m afraid you’re getting mixed up with your military dictators. My ideas have been evolving about who actually commissions the different memorials to the Argentine dead in the Malvinas War. Some are definitely the State but others are more likely to be commissioned by local veterans organisations.
      As for the Rio Gallegos museum it appears to be part of some army complex. Whether it was a barrack or some administrative building I don’t know – didn’t investigate too closely and won’t be going back there. At the same time although there was no admission fee there was a request for donations for the maintenance of the museum and for the purchase of new material.
      I’m hoping the museum in Buenos Aires will be a proper affair. We see in 3 weeks or so.

  65. It is an awkward, unbalanced monument (compare the image of the miner in your earlier post, which had the merit of capturing with some skill the powerful dynamics of a man and a manual drill) which, though abstract up to a point, reminds me of some form of plant-life, with shoots growing from the ground at different heights. From these green(?) shoots emerge the faces of workers – presumably a generic visage to embrace all workers, though specifically in this case the office-workers at the FOM HQ. Again, though, the image is unclear. Perhaps the Pinochet lackeys realised the message of this monument was too obscure to become any sort of focus for discontent, and certainly not worth the cost of dismantling it. Or perhaps they didn’t get the point, either.

  66. I read this statue as something like ‘the spirit of Argentina’, represented by a modern woman (hence the clothing) in rebellious pose (the exposed breast a reference to Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’, as well as the Amazon warrior), armed with a lance (to represent a willingness for armed conflict) and a book (to represent the importance of education and civilisation). I am not so sure that this is intended to be an indigenous person – I don’t see the evidence or the rationale for that.

    I think the bronze (?) panels with the Malvinas silhouette are effective, but a fair amount of expense seems to have been spared on the statue, which is slowly mouldering away. Pity, because it is an arresting image.

  67. Hoy los recordamos …. aqui, en calles y escuelas…

    “Today we remember them, in the streets and in the schools…”

    And those are precisely the places where we should teach others about what some people wish to do to us. (And if not, the internet must do, as it does here! Of course, I did not know of this piece of history, but I do now.)

  68. We are beginning to see the ‘minute’s applause’ in the UK, in sports grounds and similar, which as you say requires a tad more participation than silence. It also obviates the possibility of a silent period being hijacked by counter-demonstrators (or just idiots) wishing to make their voices heard.

    The inability of the teachers to coordinate with other workers over demonstrations is surely not because they cannot see the point of doing so, but because such organisation requires a lot of background work – which teachers (if their profession is anything like ours) simply will not have the time to do; their primary responsibility is for the children. State operatives, on the other hand, are paid to coordinate their responses.

  69. Your first mural illustrated is indeed grotesque – what makes it so is the children’s comic idiom in which the soldier is (not very expertly) drawn. What does this say about the mindset of the artist? Gross sentimentality, perhaps, but certainly not the thoughtful dignity with which the 649 deserve to be remembered. That said, this particular area of the country seems well short of good street artists – none of the murals shown is especially well executed, the soldier-grandma image desperately short of artistry. Perhaps the best is the simplest – the “649, siempre eran nuestros heros” image. (I’m surprised that the Spanish plural is “heroes” rather than “heros”, but then again my Spanish never progressed beyond O level.)
    It’s regrettable that the memorial is poorly maintained, but as you imply, it seems to be trying to say too much at once. The backwards tilt of the main element is intended, I suggest, to reflect agony (a soldier shot while advancing into enemy fire, perhaps). I can’t make much of the rest.

  70. Some remarkable images here, Michael! Well done for circulating them.

    As for the G20 Summit, we are reminded that among the plenipotentiaries attending is that currently interesting character from the Middle East MBS, whom the Argentinian authorities might (it is reported here) attempt to arrest!

    I’m not holding my breath on that one, though.

    • Hello Ian, There are more images in the Gallery. I forgot to add it earlier on but should be there now.

      Not picked up anything, on TV news or newspapers, about an Argentine arrest during the G-20. Argentina will be sucking up to the IMF and won’t want to upset MBS’s best mate in the White House.

    • What’s your point? It’s an Orthodox Cathedral. Christian. Crosses are all the rage. The mosque is being built elsewhere. Get your facts right before you bother me with your ignorant and uninformed prejudices.

  71. Hi, thanks for sharing. I was just wondering if anyone could tell me if the finikas lines ferry from corfu to saranda was reliable?

    • Very. The only time I had a problem – and that was just a matter of bad timing on my behalf – was in 2011 (my first visit to Albania) when the very day I wanted to travel there was a)
      work on the dock in Saranda and b) maintenance of the boat (or so I was told).
      Every other time I’ve travelled by boat it has been spot on.
      Obviously, depending upon the time of year, you have to take into account potential weather problems.

    • Very. All the buses that go to Tirana from Saranda go close to Durres and they’re very frequent, at least until mid afternoon. Those buses don’t go to the centre of Durres itself, though. They go to the bus station at Plepa and you catch a local bus from there. Local buses run every few minutes and only cost 30 lek. That bus takes you pass the bus/train station in the centre of town and its terminus is a further couple of hundred metres west in the direction of the Martyrs Cemetery.

  72. Hi Michael,

    Two days ago I visited Skadar and the Franciscan church. After coming home looking for some information I found your story. I’ll probably visit her again. Thanks for this fantastic explanation.

    • Hello Aida, Glad you found my explanation useful. I think the artwork in the Skhoder Franciscan church might well be unique. I’ve certainly not seen anything like it anywhere else.

  73. Hi Michael,

    The statue of Bajram Curri is by Fuat Dushku (who also worked on the monument of the Four Heroines of Mirdita, which was formerly in Rreshen, but was destroyed after the end of socialism). I found this artcle (http://www.fjalaelire.com/tema/27967.html), which seems to indicate the Bajram Curri statue was inaugurated in 1982, corresponding to the anniversary of Albanian independence.

    • Thanks for the information Raino. Have updated the post to take the name of the sculptor into consideration.

  74. Thank you for this – San Michele al Pozzo Bianco is my favorite church in Bergamo, where I have the good fortune to be living for a while.
    And regarding the quaint saint with spectacles, I have come across two more and thought you might be interested.

    Both are in Lorenzo Lotto paintings of the assumption with the apostles.

    The first one is the the 1512 Assumption of the Virgin now in the Brera Pinacoteca in Milan (http://pinacotecabrera.org/en/collezione-online/opere/assunzione-della-vergine-3/) in which the apostle on the far right is looking up, through spectalces, as if to better see or validate it, at Mary going to heaven on a cloud pushed by bunch of cupid-looking angels.
    The second one is the 1527 altarpiece in the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Calena, Bergamo (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/Lorenzo_lotto%2C_assunta_di_celana%2C_1527%2C_00.jpg). Here, the bespeckled apostle is in the center, behind the empty tomb.
    My best guess is that the bespeckled in the Lotto paintings is Saint-I-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it-Thomas, but I am not sure of this.

  75. During my search for information on war memorials in Albania I came across your blog. Having read the information, you stated that you did not know the background of the changes made to the cemetary after the 1980s. Chances are that you have already deepened your knowledge in the meantime and I have simply not read the follow-up posts, but if this is not yet the case, maybe this article that I have found online as well might be of interest to you.

    Sincerely yours, Karen

    • Thanks for the correction. I try to get the details right but I’m not an expert in WWII weapons and sometimes end up making a, as near as I can get, guess.

  76. Pingback: Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania, part two – woodsmokeblog

    • “Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again”

  77. My wife is English and has taught English in Saranda 6 years. We lived in Ipsos Corfu 8 years.When you get off in the port a taxi to town centre is 4 to 500 Lek. Or turn right out of port walk and you will see about 40 yards on your right a long flight of steps at the bottom you will walk straight on keeping the sea on your right keep walking its a 10 mins nice short walk and you will eventually come to another flight of stone steps about 80 of them on your left easy to walk up with restaurants either side at the top you will see a bus stop that bus stop is just to your left that bus is to Butrint its 100 lek fare they run about every 30 mins and its about 20 mins to Butrint terminus and drops you off at the front of the Butrint site TAKE WATER and a CAP 80yards from terminus you will see a Hotel Toilets Food Beer Etc and very nice. Or ask a taxi how much, normally they will take you and wait for you same with Blue Eye just come to an agreement on the fare. DO NOT give any money to Gypsy kids or you will be pestered from then on by others. If hungry and want a beer 200Lek for a large draught or a nice cheap meal good varied menu with a very clean toilet go to top of steps you came up for the bus look down and 15 foot on left is Leos OR go to bottom of steps cross road and to Left is Limani good food and Beer next to sea but a bit dear. 2 Supermarkets just get off bus and walk up road with park on right you will come to Conads supermarket for Drinks andCigarettes to take back you are allowed only 1 litre of Gin Vodka Brandy Etc each and only 2 packs of cigarettes or 40cigs each NO MORE the Greeks do not have a sense of humour in customs. You will be save here no problems at allHonest you will be shocked when you compare cost off cigs beer and restaurant food in Saranda compared to Corfu believe me. Nearly everyone takes Euro but ask 1st. Sorry no commas Etc. its my wife who is English teacher hope this helpsyou enjoy yourday.

  78. Thanks for this explanation. We travelled through Ksamil earlier this month and thought that the buildings had collapsed due to bad footings, or an earthquake. We were on a coach from Sarandë to Butrint and the guide on the bus was expounding the wonders of democracy in Albania, and mentioned nothing of the obvious wonky buildings.

    • I’m surprised there are still buildings which haven’t been completely demolished – I haven’t been there for a year or so. When I first saw them in 2011 there were many more along the route from Sarande to Butrint – not just in Ksamil.

  79. Hi ,
    my husband and I are planning a day trip in Albania this coming June 2018,
    Would it be best to book in advance but I cannot find a website that says we will be using the hydrofoil so it would be quicker and we also want to go to Butrint and visit the Blue eye cave. Basically,Saranda,Butrint National park and Blue eye cave as day trip from Corfu(with pick up and drop off from hotel)if possible.
    Which tour operators are best to use and website please?
    As I don’t know how to go about from Saranda to Butrint National park,would it be best to to a package day tour for this.Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
    Best Regards,

    • Sorry for the delay in replying. I don’t think there should be a problem with getting on the hydrofoil in June. It’s the hydrofoil that leaves every day at 09.00. You will have problems doing both Butrint and Blue Eye in the same day trip – they are in opposite directions out of Saranda. I don’t know anything about package trips s I’ve always traveled independently and with less time constraints.
      There’s a local bus to Butrint that leaves from the big tree, which you can see on the right when you get to the road above the port after clearing immigration. It takes about 45 minutes but it’s only once an hour so time could be wasted if you arrive just after a bus has departed.
      As you are tight on time the best bet might be to negotiate a taxi for the both trips. The cost shouldn’t be too prohibitive – how good are your negotiating skills?
      The problem with going to Blue Eye by public transport is that there’s a bout a two kilometer walk each way from the main road so a taxi to take you to the sight itself makes sense.
      You could do a pick and mix – taxi and public transport – but that all alters the time it takes to get from point to point.
      Hope this helps.

    • Be careful on Package Tours the Greeks will charge you 10 Euros each person Saranda port entry tax and give you just a cloakroom tkicket with a number on for a receipt. This 10 Euro port entry tax stopped over 7 years ago its a CON We live in Saranda ask em why the Dolphin doesnt charge it and why you cant pay it when you land, wil they come back with a load of waffle honest.

  80. As a result of stumbling across your wonderful blog site, we are taking the boat from Corfu to Saranda this week to go to Boutrin.

    Can you tell us if there is any significant social realism art in Saranda? We will visit the martyrs’ cemetery in hopes.

    • Hello Gretchen
      Glad to hear you find my posts on Socialist Realism in Albania interesting. This is my post on the Saranda Martyr’s Cemetery. There’s another lapidar, at Manistir, which is at a low point in the hills, between the sea and the lake, about half way along the road from Saranda and Butrint. My post is here.
      All the recent development in the town of Saranda itself has left us with little. However, there’s a nice little sculpture of young girls picking oranges on the sea front promenade. This is between the port where you arrive on the hydrofoil and the small marina which you will see on the right hand side of the bay.
      Hope you have a good time.

  81. Thank you for this article. It is “true to life”, which in this case means that it is true to the real event that has happened in Edinburgh. I enjoyed looking at the pictures, learning about the artists and bits of life mosaic reflected in it.

    Good “true to life” painting is always a little window to the time and place depicted by the artist. It provokes thoughts and emotions, it calls to learn more about the times and peoples that are in the pictures.

    To enjoy text we have to know its language. To enjoy figurative “true to life” art we don’t have to know anything. It is universal. It moves us to learn about who, and what, how and why is there. “True to life” as a style is different from Social Realism.

    Social realism is charging us with ideas of socialism the same as church art is charging us with ideas of christianity. It would be true to life to say that it is still possible to love these kinds of art not sharing the ideas expressed by them. At least it is how I feel about it. There is so much that they say about real people, their eternal struggle, inspiration, motivation…

  82. You guys have no idea how a communist system works. Check all those countries/empires took the idea of Marx and Lenin and see how they end up. Human history could have save millions of life without communism. Arguing? Have a year in North-Korea and you change your mind…

    • As you’ve spent a year in the DPRK (because surely you must have if not why would you make such a crass and meaningless comment) I will welcome any comments you might make on my considerably shorter but more recent visit

  83. Hello Michael.
    I have film of a large memorial, appears to be carved from stone, in shape of a 5 pointed star, with ‘1944’ above a group of soldiers. Alongside are the words ‘lavdi brigades pare heroika sul. huesi’. I thinki it is on the road between Korce and Tirana, perhaps near Elbasan. Any ideas?

    • Hello Chris, The lapidar you are describing is the Star at Qukes-Pishkash, which is on the main road between Librazhd and Prrenjas, heading to Lake Ochrid – so going east from Elbasan. You can find my post on this at http://michaelharrison.org.uk/2016/03/pishkash-star/

      I would very much welcome a link to a video from before everything fell apart in the 1990s. It’s very difficult to get information or other visual sources of the lapidars during the Socialist period. The quality, or your non-Academy award winning filming, is not an issue, what is important is more detail.

      When you’ve finished your editing please send me the link and I add it to my post.

      Do you have any other clips from your 1980 trip? I struggle to get accurate information so any clues you can pass on, from whatever part of the country, would be appreciated.

      Take care


  84. Hello.
    I was in Albania in 1980 and recorded my trip (with Regent Holidays) on std 8 cine film. Only now have I had it copied to digital and I am at this moment editing it in moviemaker, with captions, and hopefully some Albanian music later. I filmed this memorial but I was not sure where it was, so I am grateful to you for putting this online. I am now able to say that it was definitely near Korce (where we visited a carpet factory, stayed at the Hotel Floria, visited a very beautiful building, the Museum of the Middle Ages, and where my diary tells me that we saw local people still wearing traditional Albanian costume.)
    I will add the youtube reference to my (admittedly deteriorated film – and poor quality filming) when I have completed the editing in the next week or so.

  85. Michael, I always appreciate your analysis of communist statuary and imagery in general, but I take issue with your assumption that the presence of large amounts of text proves a high level of literacy. Of course this is not capable of definite proof either way, and it is quite possible that the authorities also assumed that their words would be read and understood by all. But it is equally possible that the slabs of text included were self-aggrandising (“see how well we have succeeded in educating the proletariat”) or even self-justifying (“we know this to be eternally true and set in stone, and that is all that is necessary for posterity; we are not bothered whether you can or cannot read it”).

    Faith in the benevolence and wisdom of authority is one of the main reasons why people have ultimately rejected communism – that and the undeniable material comforts capitalism confers on those in a position to benefit from it. The fact that a certain sort of ordinary person can also successfully jump on the capitalist bandwagon ensures that, sooner or later, successor regimes to Stalin or Mao will eventually prevail.

    • Hello Ian,
      I think we have to look at the Nanjiecun ‘complex’ in a different manner from virtually ALL other Socialist monuments in whatever country. For a number of reasons.
      One, it was constructed in 1993,the centenary of Chairman Mao’s birth, in a country that had spent, at least the government, the Party and the authorities, the previous 17 years trying to denigrate and virtually ignore all that had been achieved under Chairman Mao’s name and leadership. To say that the people of Nanjiecun were going against the flow is an understatement.
      Two, the ‘authority’ which made the decision, and the people who paid for the structure, were the people who lived and worked there. I can accept that in the past the decision for the installation of a monument may not have always come from the enthusiasm and initiative of the local people. Here it definitely did. And also going against not only national government and Party but also those authorities across the road.
      Three, it must have been paid for by those local people. The surplus they had created in their collective enterprises were diverted from what might have been seen as immediate needs, i.e., housing, health resources, cheaper food in the stores, etc., to something that had no tangible benefit for the people. The fact that Nanjiecun has become a bit of a tourist draw would not have been, I contend, a consideration 25 years ago. That was with the statue of The Chairman.
      Four, they would not – ten years later, more or less, have then spent more money on the construction of the marble faced frames for the portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and (I assume at the same time) the two bill boards for the words and images of Chairman Mao.
      We must remember that we are talking about a permanent population of only 3,000, supplemented by an ‘immigrant'(this is one thing I find a little problematic) population of another 10,000. Would that number of people have sanctioned the installation and the expense of something which they co

    • Hello Ian,
      I think we have to look at the Nanjiecun ‘complex’ in a different manner from virtually ALL other Socialist monuments in whatever country. For a number of reasons.
      One, it was constructed in 1993,the centenary of Chairman Mao’s birth, in a country that had spent, at least the government, the Party and the authorities, the previous 17 years trying to denigrate and virtually ignore all that had been achieved under Chairman Mao’s name and leadership. To say that the people of Nanjiecun were going against the flow is an understatement.
      Two, the ‘authority’ which made the decision, and the people who paid for the structure, were the people who lived and worked there. I can accept that in the past the decision for the installation of a monument may not have always come from the enthusiasm and initiative of the local people. Here it definitely did. And also going against not only national government and Party but also those authorities across the road.
      Three, it must have been paid for by those local people. The surplus they had created in their collective enterprises were diverted from what might have been seen as immediate needs, i.e., housing, health resources, cheaper food in the stores, etc., to something that had no tangible benefit for the people. The fact that Nanjiecun has become a bit of a tourist draw would not have been, I contend, a consideration 25 years ago. That was with the statue of The Chairman.
      Four, they would not – ten years later, more or less, have then spent more money on the construction of the marble faced frames for the portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and (I assume at the same time) the two bill boards for the words and images of Chairman Mao.
      We must remember that we are talking about a permanent population of only 3,000, supplemented by an ‘immigrant'(this is one thing I find a little problematic) population of another 10,000. Would that number of people have sanctioned the installation and the expense of something which they couldn’t understand? I would think that if they had gone against the stream on so many fundamental issues they would not have just accepted the ‘imposition’ of banners with text they didn’t fully understand – and agree with.
      As I wrote in my post I am only guessing about the content of the text (I will seek to get confirmation or otherwise of that as soon as possible) but it does seem to be a reasonable guess, taking into consideration what I know about the Nanjiecun commune.
      You are obviously aware of the love I have for Socialist Realist art and imagery in different parts of the erstwhile Socialist world. Perhaps the reasons why those works of art were created and installed, where and when, wasn’t always done with the active support of the people in the immediate vicinity. If it had been then perhaps we wouldn’t see the examples of vandalism and lack of care that we do, especially in Albania as I have had the chance to see at first hand what can happen if the locals are divorced from ‘their’ monuments. I will use the example of the respect that has been accorded the Arch at Drashovice in contrast to the Four heroines of Mirdita in Rreshen or the monumental panel of Enver in Berat. Perhaps, on reflection, people regret what was done in their name but if people have a connection with a particular piece of stone they will not be swayed by any fascist who might achieve a position of power and using their anti-Socialist feelings in a destructive manner.
      Five, the people of Nanjiecun continue to use their surplus to maintain the square. Things get added, such as the rainbow arch, or taken away, such as the trees. All this costs,someone has to pay for it. And in Nanjiecun that can only come from the labour of the local people. there’s no subsidy from elsewhere.
      Whether they know it or not I think the people of Nanjiecun are answering questions that are not really being asked. Those questions revolve around how the working class and peasantry will shape their cultural heritage once they achieve state power.
      Perhaps we should consider their example when we next have the opportunity to celebrate our revolutionary leaders and the achievements of revolutionary men and women in the next round of revolutionary transformation and the destruction of this odious and parasitic system which is long passed it’s sell by date.
      Yet another debate we need to have to make sure that next time our revolution will last longer than a couple of generations.

  86. I visited the chapel last year 2017 with my wife , we picked up a gentleman after telephoning the number on the information board on the church, who showed us around, fasinating church & history, he told us this year ,it will be celebrating its 400 year anniversary. Will you be doing anything to celebrate this event, if so could you contact me on 01704 879396, or by e,mail please. Thank you. Mr p & k Cuffe.

    • As I’ve written before I have absolutely nothing to do with the chapel – I only wrote a blog because I thought it was an interesting building. Any queries about what they might be doing for an anniversary should be directed to the person on the end of the phone number that’s on their notice board.

  87. It’s truly a nice and useful piece of info.
    I’m glad that you shared this useful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  88. Overstated, comrade. You allow ‘savage indignation’ to trump nuanced historical assessment. This would be acceptable in a satirical piece, but here you present these arguments as history. Sorry, but for many of your readers, it is mere agitprop, which grows increasingly comical as it proceeds. If only Iannucci had realised the humour inherent in blinkered fundamentalism his lamentable ‘Death of Stalin’ film would have been far better.

  89. The statue in Gjirokastra has now been cleaned up. It now looks rather too white. Unfortunately, immediately behind it is a collection of café umbrellas so it loses much of its impact. Happy to send a photo taken last month.

    • Hello Andrew, This inappropriate restoration of Albanian lapidars and other monuments/statues has been an issue for some time. The problem of advertising is also something that has had an impact on various lapidars – the result of the uncontrolled march of capitalism. A picture of the ‘restored’ monument would be appreciated, not too sure when I might back to Gjirokaster.

  90. Hi, I am interesting in the magazine Albania Today November/December 1972. I was a pioneer at that time and 4 others and I, we were in the cover picture there standing by a canon to the old national museum. If you can find it I will greatly appreciate, and I will buy that.

    • Hello Merita, If I haven’t posted the early issues of Albania Today it’s because I, myself, still don’t have access to them. If what you want is the picture then I suggest you go to the National Library in Tirane when you next visit family members still in the country. They have all (almost) of the Albania Today editions in various languages. If you are careful I’m sure you would able to record your early life as a pioneer without any problems.

  91. Hi Michael,
    your post is very helpful, thank you! 🙂 Next week we will go from Paleokastritsa to Tirana. The first bus departure from Paleokastritsa to Corfu at 7.20 and the ferry departure at 9:00. What do you think we able to catch the ferry or we start to think another solutions? I read on the ferry company page the ferry boarding closes 30 minutes to scheduled departure…
    Best regards, Viktoria

    • Hello Viktoria, If your bus gets in at 08.00, as it’s supposed to, according to what I’ve seen on the net, then you should have more than enough time to get your ticket and then get to the ferry itself. I don’t think that they will turn you away at the departure gate if you have a valid ticket. It’s now the quiet season so there won’t be great crowds of people. If there is a delay and you are in doubt ask when you buy your ticket and they can phone ahead to the ferry to let them know you might be arriving a little late but are on the way.

  92. Hi there, thanks for the great info! I will be traveling to Albania from Corfu on September 23rd, but my flight doesn’t land until 16:50. I am planning on checking one bag, what do you think that chances of me catching the 18:30 ferry? I am hoping the airport might be less busy as high season dies down but I have no idea. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • In theory 1hr and 40 minutes should be more than enough time to get from the airport to the ferry. Are you normally lucky? Just move as fast as you can, catch a taxi to the ticket office (10 or so minutes) and unless there’s any serious delays I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to make the 18.30 to Saranda

  93. Hi Michael ……. your information is really helpful. I am hoping to get ferry service schedule information for Saranda to Corfu in December for a walk on – no car. Does a ferry depart Saranda for Corfu daily in December of 2017 or just certain days?

    • Depending upon the weather there should be sailings every day of the year. The timetable changes according to the season. I’ve just updated the links in the blog – that should make confirming the times of sailings from both Corfu and Saranda a little easier than in the past.

  94. Thank you, Michael! We can say that Egels came back to his historical motherland from the place where he was worshiped as a new god and then went in exile when the masses found a different g-d to worship. I am glad for him and for the work of art and for the artist, whose impressive creation found a place, which he probably did not see even in his dreams. One more life’s twists.

  95. Hi
    Do you know of any small/interesting vineyards in the Durres Kruja area. My wife Will be on a cruise and stopping in Durres in early September and are planning on getting a car with a driver for the day and having a look around. We grow grapes ourselves in NZ so are interested in the wine culture here.
    Paul Ferguson

    • Hello Paul, There’s a vineyard close to the town of Vora (which is virtually halfway along the ‘new’ highway between Durrres and Tirana, less than 30 minutes drive from the port. I can’t remember the name and can’t find the details in the information I collected on a recent visit. If your wife has a local driver then local knowledge might help. If you want more information about vineyards in the locality type ‘kantina e veres albania’ into a search engine and you will get a few other suggestions. Some of them are very much in ‘day trip’ distance of Durres.

      • Michael
        Thanks for that, if you come across the name of the place near Vora give me a shout.
        Thanks again
        Paul Ferguson

    • I don’t understand. Do you mean that now ALL the statues are covered in some sort of covering?

      • Not all hidden but Uncle Joe and Lenin are definitely under wraps. Pity, I made the trip just to see them. I can’t post photos here so If you would like to send me a personal email address I’ll send you photos of what was there as of last week. There might be a new one since I didn’t see any previous references to a rather large bust of a woman that is done in a Chinese red guard style.

  96. Thank you so much for your detailed directions to the Jewish cemetery in Segovia. They were invaluable in helping us find the location…not exactly a straightforward route to figure out on our own. We were going to turn back three times times before we stumbled on your blog post giving clear instructions on how to find the cemetery. It was definitely worth the extra climbing to see the site! Your description of the Jews leaving and looking back on the city as they passed through the cemetery one last time were quite a powerful image.

    • Glad you found my route useful and that nothing had changed to make the directions unintelligible. The site of the cemetery definitely gives a unique view of the town walls, which are appreciated by too few.

  97. Googling “communist franciscan” hoping in my boredom to find another communist franciscan what do I find but your excellent, informative and utterly unexpected post! Wow! Thanks for that – easily the weirdest church paintings I’ve ever come across. Nice link too (Reasons to be suspicious – Albanian-British Relationships in the 1940s). Gonna take a look at some of your other posts now.

    PS I realise that this post is five years old: how’ve things been in the meantime? 🙂

    • The original article was posted after I had first seen the images on the left hand side of the nave. On a subsequent visit last year I saw the new ones on the right hand side. So I updated the original post with the new pictures and also some extra information I had gathered in the mean time. Not only are new paintings appearing in some of the churches (the ones on either side of the alter in the Sacred Heart Church in Tirana are also worth a visit) but the fate of the lapidars (the Socialist period monuments and statues) is constantly changing. Some are destroyed, some are located and some are renovated so it’s an ongoing project.

  98. What an ignorant view to have. The young are leaving the country because of the severe lack of jobs, lack of economical globalisation and ridiculously corrupt government. No woman chooses to become a prostitute out of luxury, but out of necessity. And the reason the principle export is arms is because Albania was armed to the teeth by Russia and China during the Communist era for fear of being invaded – when you are the seventh poorest country in Europe, you will sell what you can. Albania is home to countless priceless Byzantine artefacts, Illyrian strongholds, Venetian architecture – unfortunately, with a GDP of 11 billion, as much as they would love to preserve this beautiful history, it isn’t exactly a priority. Not many willingly choose to leave the country they love and belong to, but making money in, “capitalist heavens” so that they can send it home to their starving families is a priority.
    And with all due respect, the resilience, hospitality, loyalty and integrity of the Albanian people (despite their severely corrupt leaders, constant invasions and their status as a peripheral) far outweighs most societies I’ve experienced. But you continue with your analysis of a mosaic from your ivory tower.

    • I sometimes wonder at the Albanians who take exception to some of the things I write on my blog. I honestly don’t understand the world you live in, or, at least, the way you look at that world.

      First of all I’ll make an admission. Although I supported the Party of Labour of Albania and agreed with the vast majority of its policies from 1944 to 1990 mistakes were obviously made. What they were and how I see them in retrospect is something that will take too long to introduce here.

      Whilst saying that the blame of what happened at the end of the 1980s – and especially during the 1990s – have to be placed at the feet of the Albanian people themselves.

      For reasons I still don’t fully understand they just gave up on everything and too many of them just wanted to get to the capitalist west so that they could ‘enjoy’ the fruits of capitalism. The fact that they were so stupid as to not realise that all that came with negative consequences seems to have been ignored by those who left at the time and haven’t been accepted by them, or many others, since.

      I have no doubt that the situation in the country became more difficult after the desertion by the Chinese revisionists and the consequences of the isolation that Albania had to suffer following this betrayal. But for Albanians that shouldn’t have been a problem. All your history, prior to the liberation from fascism in November 1944, was predicated upon the struggle for independence.

      The cult of the personality of Skenderbreu was well established before the defeat of the Italian and German fascists. Whether it was a healthy cult to perpetuate under Socialism is another issue – but as with so many ideas, not something which can be discussed in any depth here.

      As the ships left Durres and Vlora, in the mad rush to get to the capitalist heaven across the Adriatic, any national pride that those Albanians on board might have had sank in their wake. Durres, where Mujo Ulqinaku was one of those who led the fight against the Italian Fascist invasion in April 1939, was only able to hold its head high for 50 years. As the workers deserted the port, the tobacco factory and other local industries they put an end to any concept of Albanian independence.

      The celebration on 28th November in subsequent years has been a sham. The once proud Albanian Army is now just a lapdog to NATO. In fact I’ve encountered more foreign troops, in my visits to Albania, than Albanians. And respective governments, of whatever colour, have allowed this loss of independence to be taken away due to the misconstrued idea that by accepting such an unopposed invasion you will be invited to join, at some indeterminate time on the future, the capitalist club that is the European Union – a pipe dream that will only be realised when Hell freezes over.

      Present day Albanians are a disgrace to Skenderbreu and to the thousands of partisans who fought – and too many of whom died – for your country’s freedom between 1939 and 1944.

      So once you have prostituted your country it’s not a surprise that you allow your daughters to populate the brothels of western Europe – whether these be run by Albanian gangsters or the scum of other nationalities.

      You say that Albanians had to leave their own country because there was no work for them there. But it is the Albanians themselves who are responsible for this.

      In the 1990s it wasn’t a foreign invasion force that destroyed the infrastructure, industry and agriculture. It was the Albanians who did it themselves.

      In their thousands they deserted the land and the factories. With such a reduction in the workforce any economy would have problems in adapting. Then, on top of the desertion, ‘good’ Socialist Albanians allowed ‘bad’ monarcho-fascist, reactionary and foreign agents to put the final nail in the coffin.

      By not defending the collective farms and the state industries those people who had developed a Socialist conscience allowed reaction and capitalism to prevail. They allowed the enemies of Socialism, who exist in any Socialist society for many years (we still don’t don’t know how many) after a successful revolution, to destroy all the gains made over many years of sacrifice to turn a backward, semi-feudal country into something resembling a modern state in the 20th century.

      I hate and detest the enemies of Socialism but, and this is a lesson of history, those who don’t defend gains from the past also have to bear some of the blame. Crimes of omission can ultimately have the same consequences as crimes of commission.

      You talk of a ‘need’ to leave the country. I assume you are Albanian but haven’t you seen the innumerable deserted and looted factories, abandoned greenhouses and the results of privatisation of land that has led to the destruction of collectivised and state agriculture and returned Albanian agriculture to something resembling feudal strip farming.

      Obviously not, otherwise you wouldn’t write such rubbish.

      If you still live in Albanian perhaps you should travel a little bit more. You words betray a lack of knowledge bordering upon parochialism.

      Have you no knowledge of the abandoned factories and industrial complexes of; Elbasan, Fier, Gijrokaster, Lac, Korca, Permet, Pogradec, Prenjas, Vlora, Berat, Durres, Shkoder, Kucove – to just mention the biggest and most obvious? Have you not seen the hundreds of railway engines and rolling stock just rotting away beside the railway lines throughout the country (especially in Vlora and Prenjas) which indicate the amount of material that used to be, in the Socialist period, transported from one part of the country to another?

      You make the bizarre statement that I am making my analysis from an ‘ivory tower’. I have travelled extensively in Albania and have seen the results of the last 25 years of capitalist ‘renewal’. I have heard about countless examples of corruption and mismanagement. I have met many people whose greatest ambition is to leave the country of their birth as soon as possible. With such a background Albania has no future – apart from being a low income economy where only those who can’t escape live and work in ever worsening conditions and for lower pay.

      In the 1990s. When Albanians were destroying (or allowing to be destroyed) their industrial infrastructure I and many other workers in Britain were fighting to keep our factories open. Yes, we failed, but at least we tried. What did you do?

      Depending upon your age you were either a destroyer or a passive watcher. Whichever of the two you then, under the new ‘won’ capitalist ‘freedom’, were incapable of constructing a viable, modern society.

      Added to this you also freed from centres such a Spac those vicious, greedy psychopaths who then caused untold havoc on the country. I’ll accept that some people were imprisoned when other methods could have been used but all societies have to deal with individuals who have no concern for anyone but themselves and who are prepared to do anything to get what they want. I don’t have the perfect answer to how to deal with them – do you?

      Disagree with my analysis but don’t just think you can do so by claiming that Albanians are hard done by. In the 1990s the Albanians made their bed, now they have to lie in it.

      That can be changed but not if all Albanians do is whinge about being innocent victims and/or run.

      I’ve met some great people in my travels in Albania but, unfortunately, very few who want to rebuild their country for the benefit of all – that would mean the fight to reconstruct Socialism.

    • With all respect to your very emotional comment and to the country where I have my best friends, I don’t see a connection between the analyze of symbolism and artistic merits of the mosaic Albanians and the fact that young Albanians give up on finding a way to work in their own country. You can not blame the mosaic on supporting the corrupt government. You might use this mosaic as a symbol of Albanians struggling for their country through the whole its history. Those, who dream to have not corrupt government and work for young people to stay in their wonderful country, have to leave their ivory towers and understand that they have to struggle for their dream. Every country the young people go from Albania has a long history of struggle for better life and against their corrupt governments…

  99. Hi, is it possible to arrange a visit preferably round noon on a Tuesday or Thursday for a small group of walkers? Thankyou

    • The Chapel has nothing to do with me – I just wrote about it. Check one of the other comment for contact details.

  100. As I was reading, I was thinking to comment that the relations with China had already started to get colder, I mean publicly, since the visit of Nixon in China, although maybe not in English publications. But you mentioned it in the second half of the text.

    Also in several artistic movies the end of this relationship is featured as a long agony, rather than an immediate or unexpected death, with Chinese supplying defective machinery for several years before the end of this relationship.

  101. Hello- I’m traveling from Corfu to Saranda on 24 May. Unfortunately our flight doesn’t arrive until 10:00 AM so we miss the morning ferry. While I saw there is an 18:30 ferry departure, I was wondering if there are any other options like a water taxi that could get us to Saranda earlier? Thanks for the help.

  102. I am an Albanian who moved in UK in the late ’90’s. I have met 2 types of people:
    Type 1- those who have heard about Albania and Albanians mainly from newspapers (‘written in a hurry’ to quote a witty British stand-up comedian), TV programmes/movies (depicting Albanians as the villains of the world/pimps/drug dealers etc, etc) and anecdotal evidence from the above ‘reliable sources’ . Type 2 – people who have visited Albania like Michael Harrison (i am assuming this is a real person and judging by the web domain and comments, based in UK). I am old enough to have lived the ‘Communist era’ and also compare and contrast with a capitalism. Paranoid? Well, Michael presents some compelling evidence pro-paranoia. Villains of the world? Would you be surprised if i told you that the worst crime i ever heard of before the 90’s was someone hitting another with a bottle in a fight? The few ‘villains’ learned from the best and became better than the master – perhaps for the wrong reasons. Are all British ‘hooligans’, all Italians ‘Mafia’ or all French ‘frogs’ (don’t answer the last one!)? But thank you, Michael Harrison, for summing up Albania; to quote UK Foreign Office: ‘Albanians are very hospitable’.

  103. I have read that the so called ‘Port Tax’ entering Albania is a scam and was obliterated 6 years ago.
    What are people’s experience of this please?
    Thank you

    • I’ve never heard of anyone being caught by this scam and had no such experiences myself. I would be very surprised if you were asked to pay such an entry tax but if you are refuse point blank.

      • Thanks Mike.
        I’ve read a few people given a raffle ticket on the ferry over to Albanian. As payment for Port Tax!
        Excursion companies have included it in the speal.
        Probably go indpendant !
        Thanks again

        • Getting your ticket from the office at the port in either Corfu or Saranda is so easy there’s no point in using an intermediary. If there is any sort of tax it will be included in the ticket price and will NEVER be asked for at any time en route. Enjoy your trip.

  104. Congratulations on (yet again) bringing to our attention a work of art many of us would not have known. However, I have some reservations. While I agree with your main points (the standard behaviour of imperialists, the relative mediocrity of the statue), I feel you allow yourself to be sidetracked into routine anti-capitalist fulminations which detract from the thrust of your analysis. I suggest there is little need to attempt conversion of the bourgeois/metropolitan/Western imperialist strand of your readership, simply because I doubt they exist in significant numbers. However, judicious criticism of works of art is an important part of what you do on this website. Here I feel it is diluted, which is a pity.

    • Hello Ian, Glad to hear you find my blogs interesting and thanks for the time to make a comment on my last one.
      I’m aware that I fall into the ‘trap’ of a rant from time to time. In my own defence I think I do that to stress that a ‘work of art’ is not divorced from the situation in society in general and hence feel I have to provide examples to back up that assertion.
      However,, in future I will step back a little before I press the publish button to make sure I don’t go over the top.
      Take care

  105. Dear Michael,
    I was the British Defence Attache based in Tirana between 2005-2008. Certainly while I was there Remembrance Services were annually held at the Memorial Park with good international attendance and representation from the senior most figures in Albania.
    Unfortunately, in my opinion, a decision was made to greatly reduce the number of attaches worldwide and in the case of Albania after I left representation was made from the attache based in Italy. I will say no more. I am now out of touch but heard a rumour that this decision might have been changed from last year.
    I continue to have a deep love and fascination for Albania. I have heard many comments about the rights and wrongs about what happened in Albania during WW2, from all sides, some expressed to me with great emotion and passion. The truth is that the complexities of the actions, from all sides, who did what and who didn’t, for what reasons, with short or long term objectives, are considerable and quite typically much easier for us to criticise in the comfort of our armchairs 70 years later. What is certainly true however is that, at an individual level, immense bravery and determination was shown by some, Albanians and British (and others), and I am full of admiration for them, if only we can strip away the politics.

    • Hello Mark,
      ‘If only we can strip away the politics’? Not something that can be done when we are talking about wars. I agree that many brave men and women fought (and too many died) in the fight against Fascism. The added complication with the Balkans was even though British service personnel were sent to those countries occupied by the Fascists to ‘help’ those local partisans fighting against the invaders they were also there with a sub-text (even if not known to themselves at the time). And that was to attempt to promote British imperial interests after the war – this especially so when the defeat of Fascism was only a matter of time after the Red Army went on the offensive and pushed the Nazi’s out of their country.
      This is especially evident in the British support for the Greek Monarchists in the Civil War. British military personnel and equipment (which only a matter of months before were in action against the Nazis) were used against those partisans who had fought the Fascist in Greece and in support of those who had collaborated with the Fascists. The British supported victory of the Monarchists led to almost 30 years of on off fascist and military dictatorship of the country. The people fought a foreign fascist only to be dominated by a home grown version.
      This, not surprisingly, had an effect upon the thinking of the Albanian people. I went into some of these issues in my blog on British interference in Albanian affairs and the so-called Corfu Channel Incident.
      And recently, you might have heard if you are now back in the UK, their have been a number of programmes on Radio 4 telling the story of the British and American attempts at ‘regime change’ (before the term was coined) in Albania.
      The stripping away of any independent military force in Albania and its replacement by a foreign, NATO force has only served to confirm the long term ambitions of the British, in concert with other western capitalist powers.

  106. We’ll arrive Corfu at 04 am, and takes the ferry to Saranda at 09am. Is it smart to wait at the airport some hours or take a taxi to the harbour at 04 o’clock? I think we must be at the ferry 1 hour before, at 08 am? So we have 4 hours to wait somewhere…. What is your sugestion?
    This is in late july, in the high season.. I will order tickets for the ferry, but I can’t buy before 3 months before we are leaving..

    • Hello John, can’t really give you much advice based upon personal experience. Airport’s are terrible places at the best of times but at least you’ll probably be able to find somewhere relatively quiet to rest before your journey to Saranda. At the same time you will be arriving when it’s going to be warm so watching the sun rise over the water might be attractive – if you’re not too tired. There’s a cafe attached to the docks (just opposite the Saranda ferry ticket office) but whether it will be open at that time of day I can’t say.

        • Hi john i think that at 4am in the morning i would split the difference i would head to harbour around 6 am as cannot see anything going to be open for you hope that helps, ian

        • Went from Corfu to Sarande last July, arrived 2am at airport, taxi to ferry port €15, bar was open all night but quite expensive

    • Glad you continue to enjoy reading my interpretations of the lapidars – now including mosaics and bas reliefs as well as the more major monuments.

  107. Comrade Michael,

    Do you have the following books:

    1. The Ideas of Marxism-Leninism Will Triumph on Revisionism
    English Edition, Tirana, 1962, pp 226.

    2. Oppose Modern Revisionism and Uphold Marxism-Leninism and the Unity of the International Communist Movement
    English Edition, pp.420
    Published by- “Naim Frasheri” State Publishing Enterprise, Tirana, 1964

    3. The Belgrade Revisionist Clique — Renegades from Marxism – Leninism and Agents of Imperialism
    English Edition, pp.325
    Published by- “Naim Frasheri” State Publishing Enterprise, Tirana, 1964
    (The books contain thirteen articles originally published in Zeri i Popullit between Jan., 1962 and Sept., 1963. Articles are on the Belgrade Revisionist crusade against Marxism-Leninism and Tito’s policies and the many plots he hatched with Khrushchev).

    4. The Dangerous Maneuvers of N. Khrushchev’s Group on the So-Called Fight Against the “Cult of the Individual” Should Be Stripped Bare of Their Mask.
    English Edition, pp.123
    Published by- “Naim Frasheri” State Publishing Enterprise, Tirana, 1964.
    ( This books contains three articles reproduced from 1964 June 12, 13, 14 issues of Zeri-i-popullit Daily).

    Please reply,

    • Hello Manabhanjan,
      Of your list I only have ‘The Belgrade Revisionist Clique -….’. Give me a few days and I’ll try to get it scanned and posted on my blog. I’ll let you know when that happens.
      Of the same period I also have ‘Marxist-Leninist Ideology will certainly overcome Revisionism II’, Naim Frasheri, Tirana, 1964. 462 pages. It contains 12 articles from Zeri i Popullit from May 17, 1962 to June 29, 1963.
      Take care

  108. Hello
    We travelling from Corfu to Albania by car.
    My question is: can we take the car on the ferry?
    Thank you

    • I have no information of how you can take a car direct to Albania from Corfu. The only way I know would be to take the normal ferry to Igoumenitsa and then drive to the Albanian border at Konispoll.

  109. 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.

  110. First i have to remind You that by thinking in terms like “German Guilt” You enter the realm of Nazi thinking. There is nothing like “guilty peoples” as the Nazis believed because guilt is individual and Germans behaved quite differently during Nazi rule. Some time ago there was a documentary about Jews in Germany during WW2.
    A Jewish woman who then was on the run told she was desperate because she had no place for hiding anymore. She asked an unknown woman on the street whether she could help her. The woman gave her the key to her flat. So she survived. If she wouldn’t have been asked by the Jewish woman she would have remained an ordinary German later accused of not having helped Jews (like You do).

    Are You really sure what You would have done?

    Not “the Germans” murdered the Jews but the dictatorship that came into being 1933. And the governments of some of the nations most critical against “the Germans” weren’t innocent in regard of this.

    My grand father complained about the new government a short time after Hitler was appointed chancellor. Being red and living in a mostly red district in a German industrial town didn’t help him. He was denunciated by one of the few Nazis there and was interned in one of the new concentration camps as ca. 100000 others. He lost 30 kg because of bad treatment but luckily was released 4 months later. Hitler had to do a coup d’etat to install a dictatorship because he failed to get a majority of votes (last free elections Nov. 1932 NSDAP 33,1%). The left parties never dropped under 40%. Because of the strong results of the Communists the Conservatives and big business panicked and Hitler’s defeat made him chancellor. The behavior of our enemies was an important factor in the destruction of democracy. They violated the agreed 14 points by dictating the Versailles Treaty. Instead of reparations as defined (compensation of private losses) they demanded compensation of all war costs. Because of that the German governments couldn’t do anything against the great depression unlike the US under Roosevelt. Germany had to pay or to be austere until death. That changed with Hitler. The war enemies obviously didn’t want to cooperate with Democrats instead they preferred Nazis. After war they treated the German civilian population and the German POWs ill by denying them enough food. Instead they destroyed the economic infrastructure. Their propaganda accused all Germans to have known of the Holocaust and to have supported the Nazis. These insane accusations and the bad role model of the Allies themselves proved to be very good for Nazis. Guilty people were helped by criminalizing not guilty people. Strangely the Allies preferred Nazis for most posts. No wonder it wasn’t possible to talk about Nazi crimes for a long time (including the Anti-Nazis who were thrown into the same bag as the Nazis only because they were Germans as my father told me). Great thing for the Nazis! They really had to thank the Allies.

    My opinion of some peoples will forever be negative because of the role their governments had in the destruction of German democracy and the rise to power of the Nazis (and the hardships my grand father had to endure in KZ), their vile post war defamations against people who hadn’t done anything wrong, they behaving like Nazis by starving the population (my mother nearly perished) and ill treatment of POWs (Manfred my father’s brother survived live in a US camp near Liege in Belgium but many died every night. Every morning he had to put dead bodies into bags).

    Sorry, but You are part of that because of Your arrogant and ignorant statements.

    • Hello Walter,
      I’ve delayed in replying to your comments as I have had trouble in getting my head around what your point was substantially about.
      It’s such a long time since I saw the film ‘Lore’ that I will have to address my reply to your comments and not to argue, again, what I might have written more than 4 years ago.
      I have never said, written or believed that ALL Germans were guilty for the rise and existence of Nazism. As a Communist I praise the efforts of the German Communists in their street battles against the various fascist groups before Hitler’s election victory in 1933 – and we must also remember that the first victory of German fascism came in 1919 with the slaughter of the Spartacists by the state sponsored Freikorps. (Those murdering scum and dregs of humanity who relished the killing of the trenches were not just a German phenomenon, to the shame of the British we allowed the Black and Tans to murder with impunity in Ireland in the early 1920s, I mentioned their role in the political scene post-1914-19 war in my blog on Armistice Day.
      I also accept that some people but themselves at great personal risk both in the early days of Nazi control from 1933 and well into the war to defend and protect those being persecuted by the Fascists. But they are the exception that prove the rule. Most people didn’t – whether for fear or because they actually agreed with Hitler. The argument about percentages in elections is spurious and is one of the principal weaknesses of bourgeois democracy – most parties win with a minority of the vote.
      But you can’t just forget that a sizable proportion of the population of Germany supported the Fascists in the 1930s, 40s and beyond. Going across the Atlantic to Chile we saw in the referendum on the fascist Dictator Pinonchet’s desire to ‘rule’ for another 8 years that although the ‘No’ vote won still 44% of those who voted supported the Fascist (after the country had been under the military boot for 15 years).
      I agree with your points about the western powers installing Fascist functionaries in positions of power after the defeat of Germasny and that the ‘ordinary’ German man and woman suffered. My question is ‘why do you seem surprised?’. What else did you thin they would do – give power to the people? Your naivete would be laughable if the circumstances were not so tragic.
      And I never condemn Germany and the German people forgetting the history of my own country. Yes, tens of millions dies because of the rise of Nazism but many more have suffered and died over the centuries at the hands of British imperialism, from slavery, dominance of whole continents and the planned genocides of peoples in different parts of the globe. As a citizen of the UK I would also be ‘guilty’ of those crimes if I have not spent most of my adult life fighting against its present day manifestations.
      Don’t try to re-write history. The German people, at all levels, knew what was happening in the extermination camps. Buchenwald concentration camp was only 8 kilometres from the city of Weimar, the ‘cradle of German culture’. Trains travelling across country full of people and returning empty should have pressed some buttons. The fact that the British and Americans also knew about the slaughter in the camps and did nothing about it is an important fact, often ignored, but that doesn’t absolve the Germans for what was happening in their soil, planned by the sons and daughters of the German people.
      If the Germans were not guilty in the 1930s and 40s then they can prove that by making sure that such groups can never again gain such prominence and power. That is not guaranteed if we look at the present surge in support for right-wing parties.

  111. Unfortunately history has been slanted once again. These 5 ‘heroes’ may well have been fighting against fascism but at the same time they were fighting for communism which turned out to be far worse for the country, just as the nationalists had predicted. Too bad history in Albania is always on the side of communism rather than praising the efforts of those who gave their life fighting to preserve a free Albania and rid it of the monster who ultimately ruled it with a vengeance for 50 years! Statues of the real heroes are never created. The truth of the fighters who fought and died in their fight against communism is never told!

    • First, apologies for the delay in replying.
      When the Italian fascists invaded Durres in April 1939 patriots (like Mujo Ulqinaku) ran for their guns, the self proclaimed ‘king’ Zog ran away. Not just from the battle front but from the Second World War, living in luxury in a mansion in the countryside in England after London became too dangerous for him.
      When the ‘nationalists’, that you so admire, sat down and collaborated with the German Nazis in Tirana those same Nazis were massacring the inhabitants of the village of Borove.
      It wasn’t only the Communists that fought against the aggressors – that can be seen in all the martyrs’ cemeteries throughout Albania – but they were led by the Communists who were the driving force of the National Liberation Front. Without the Communists there would have been no organised and strategic military leadership, no National Liberation Front.
      After Liberation in November 1944 the Albanian people had to decide whether to return to an almost feudal structure, welcome back the cowardly Zog or attempt to build a new society based on Communist principles.
      Those Nationalist collaborators, traitors and cowards didn’t like losing their power base and – with the active help of the American and British states – set about undermining and attempting to destroy this new Socialist state by attempting to infiltrate hundreds of paid stooges into the country to carry out acts of sabotage. This is all documented and the imperialist nations were/are unapologetic in their illegal acts.
      If you think there are nationalist ‘heroes’ that should be commemorated then there’s nothing stopping you from identifying them and placing that information out on the internet. However, whereas the biographies of the Communist heroes filled a number of volumes I would tend to think your effort would result in a very thin volume indeed.
      And don’t complain. You’ve got the while of the capitalist world and its powerful media outlets fighting in your corner. You’re just a whinger who provides them with some sort of credibility, you represent the ‘common’ man.
      I don’t mind, that’s how it goes.

    • Hello Dave
      Thanks for taking the time to let me know of the broken links. I’ve had a look and they were all external links and therefore outside of my control. That’s not an excuse, just a reason why they now go nowhere. This was one of my earlier posts and I was in a learning process. I wanted to put in links but those I chose were virtually all links to the Segovia City Tourism site. They must have changed their address – not a particularly sensible thing to do for a city that depends so much on tourism, I would have thought.
      I will look at my post over the weekend and see if I can get the information in a way that it is on my server and therefore much more under my control. If you need the information before I have the chance to update my post then I suggest you go to the new location of Segovia Tourism at http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/. I’ve had a quick look and it seems that all the information I was directing readers towards is on the new site.
      I hope the broken links didn’t detract from the rest of the post and if you are going to visit Segovia at some time in the future you find it useful.
      Thanks again for bothering to notify me of the non-existent links.
      Take care

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  114. Cloud you post the articule: “The Marxist-Leninist Parties – the leading force of the revolutionary movement today – Agim Popa”?

    Its look basic for reorganization of M-L movement…

    • Hello Comrades, I wish I could but I don’t have access to that issue at the moment. I plan to fill in the gaps in the late 1970s at some time in the future but don’t know exactly when that will be.

  115. Another wonderful posting. Thanks!

    You wrote: “In many ways they capture a feeling of optimism and hope for the future which other art forms just can’t achieve”. So very true. I wonder whether they really achieved this aim. Has anyone written anything about the perception of this kind of art by the ‘common people’ during the Socialist era?

    • Not that I have been able to discover. The only material I have come across is that produced in Albania throughout the 1970s and 80s. This was more a documentation of what had been produced although there were articles in various issues of Albania Today discussing the relevance of art in a socialist s