Documents of the Party of Labour of Albania

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Documents of the Party of Labour of Albania

These pages include documents and decisions of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania and other state organisations of the Albanian state. Also there are articles that were originally published in ‘Zeri i Popullit’, the official newspaper of the CC of the PLA.

I apologise if some of the reproductions are a little messy. The paper used in the 1960/70s does not age well and I hope that the ‘staining’ doesn’t cause any problems. As far as I’m concerned the text (which, after all, is the most important) is still clear and legible.

The ideas of Marxism-Leninism will triumph on the Revisionism, no publisher, Tirana. 1962, 227 pages.

Fiftieth Anniversary of Albanian Independence, no publisher, Tirana, 1962, 71 pages. Contains three speeches by Enver Hoxha, Mehmet Shehu and Haxhi Lleshi on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Albanian Independence in November 1962.

Togliati’s ‘Testament’, the crisis of Modern Revisionism and the fight of Marxist-Leninists, reproduced from Zeri i Popullit daily, November 13, 1964, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1964, 43 pages.

Constitution of the People’s Republic of Albania, the Albanian Committee for Cultural Relations and Friendship with Foreign Countries, Tirana, 1964, 48 pages. The Constitution that was adopted in January 1946 and which was in place until it was changed in 1976 at the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania.

The Belgrade Revisionist Clique – Renegades from Marxism-Leninism and Agents of Imperialism, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1964, 325 pages. A series of articles first published in Zëri i Popullit, the official newspaper of the CC of the PLA, relating to the counter-revolutionary activities of the Yugoslav Revisionists. The articles cover the period from January 1962 to September 1963.

The Facts about Soviet-Albanian Relations, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1964, 165 pages. Documents and letters from the period 1961-63 when the Khrushchevite revisionists of the Soviet Union abandoned Albania and in the process the revolutionary road of Marxism-Leninism.

Marxist-Leninist Ideology will certainly overcome Revisionism – Volume II, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1964, 462 pages. A series of articles, first published in Zëri i Popullit, the official newspaper of the CC of the PLA, relating to the Modern Revisionism in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and other European ‘Communist’ Parties. The articles cover the period from May 1962 to June 1963.

Twenty Years of Socialism in Albania, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1964, 127 pages.

Communist and Workers’ Parties and Marxist-Leninist Groups greet the Fifth Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, held in Tirana from November 1 to November 8, 1966, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1966, 207 pages.

The Soviet Revisionist clique works at a quick pace towards the re-establishment of capitalism, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1967, 35 pages.

Let the storm of Revolution burst out powerfully, reproduced from Zeri i Popullit daily, May 16th 1968, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1968, 39 pages.

The Budapest Carnivals, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1968, 33 pages.

The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic caught in the grip of Soviet Revisionist invaders, reproduced from Zeri i Popullit daily, November 19, 1968, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1968, 22 pages.

The working class in Revisionist countries must take the field and re-establish the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, reproduced from the ‘Zeri i Popullit’ daily, March 24, 1968, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1968, 40 pages.

The Soviet Revisionists and Czechoslovakia, reproduced from the ‘Zeri i Popullit’ daily, July 24, 1968, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1968, 31 pages.

Soviet-US Alliance at work against the Czechoslovak people, reproduced from Zeri i Popullit daily, May 23rd 1969, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1969, 16 pages.

The demagogy of the Soviet Revisionists cannot conceal their traitorous countenance, reproduced from the ‘Zeri i Popullit’ daily, January 10, 1969, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1969, 50 pages.

Open fire on Revisionist betrayal, articles from ‘Zeri i Popullit’ daily, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1969, 68 pages.

Resolution of the CC of the PLA and the Council of Ministers of the PRA on Proclaiming the 1969 Year as a jubilar year of the 25th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Fatherland and of the Triumph of the People’s Revolution, no publisher, Tirana, 1969, 4 pages.

Military Pressure – Basis of the Political Dictate and Blackmail of the Soviet Revisionist Leaders, reproduced from the April 11th 1969 issue of ‘Zeri i Popullit’ daily, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1969, 22 pages.

The Congress of capitalist restoration and Social-imperialism, reproduced from the ‘Zeri i Popullit’ daily, April 17, 1971, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1971, 33 pages.

Some questions of Socialist Construction in Albania and of the struggle against Revisionism, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1971, 229 pages. Presentations given at the National Conference of Social Studies in Tirana in November 1969, on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Includes contributions by Ramiz Alia and Nexhmije Hoxha.

An historic victory of Marxism-Leninism over Revisionism, reproduced from the ‘Rruga e Partise’, January 5, 1971, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1971, 59 pages. On the tenth anniversary of the Meeting of the 81 Communist and Workers Parties in Moscow in 1961.

The 6th Congress of the Albanian Labour Youth Union – held in Durres on October 23, 1972, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1972, 100 pages.

Culture People’s Heritage, Naim Frasheri Publishing House, Tirana, 1973, 88 pages. A review of Albania’s Cultural Heritage and how, after the liberation of the country from Fascism in 1944, the people were able to appreciate this historical treasury for the first time.

Albania’s Foreign Policy, speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations given by Foreign Minister Nesti Nase on October 2nd 1972, Albania Report, New York 1973, 15 pages.

A new victory of the policy of the Party of Labour of Albania in the uplift of the general well being of the people, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1976, 25 pages. Decision of the CC of the PLA and the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Albania on the reduction of higher wages, on some improvements in the wage system of working people and on the furthering narrowing of differences between town and country

A Social Democratic Congress of the French Revisionists, editorial of Zeri i Popullit, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, February 21, 1976, 16 pages.

The Congress of the Soviet Revisionists – a Congress of Social-Imperialist Demagogy and Expansion, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1976, 24 pages. Editorial of Zeri i Popullit, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, March 12, 1976.

Draft Constitution of the People’s Republic of Albania, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1976, 42 pages. The Albanian people have found constant inspiration in the great doctrine of Marxism-Leninism, under the banner of which, united round the Party of Labour and under its leadership, they are carrying forward the construction of socialist society to pass over, later, gradually to communist society.

A meeting that sealed Revisionist betrayal, editorial of ‘Zeri i Popullit’, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, July 7, 1976, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1976, 16 pages.

Two Opposing Lines In The World Trade Union Movement, Filip Kota, Gamma Publishing, New York, 1976, 178 pages. The difference between the role of the Trade Unions in capitalist countries and the part they play in the construction of Socialism in Albania. Reprint of original published in Tirana in 1974.

The Constitution of the Party of Labour of Albania, adopted at the 3rd Congress of the PLA (including amendments made at the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Congresses of the PLA), 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 64 pages.

A new step in the struggle against opportunism, reproduced from the newspaper ‘Zeri i Popullit’, organ of the CC of the PLA, November 22, 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 19 pages.

The Albanian people have been and are with the just cause of the peoples, speech of Comrade Nesti Nase, head of the Delegation of the PSR of Albania at the 32nd Session of the General Assembly of the UNO, October 6, 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 22 pages.

‘Eurocommunism’ or undisguised Revisionism, article from ‘Zeri i Popullit’, organ of the CC of the PLA, dated December 4, 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 24 pages.

The Party of Labour of Albania on the Building and the Life of the Party, Part 1, Part 2. (This booklet is reproduced here in two parts due to file size.) 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 312 pages. A selection of Resolutions, Documents and Articles produced between the first days of the Party in November 1941 until February 1972. taken from the Party archives and from the Collected Works of Enver Hoxha.

The Ideas of the October Revolution are defended and carried forward in the struggle against modern revisionism, speech delivered at the Commemorative Meeting on the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution (November 7, 1977), by Hysni Kapo, Member of the Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 46 pages.

Some Fundamental Questions of the Revolutionary policy of the Party of Labour of Albania about the Class Struggle, by Nexhmije Hoxha, Director of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania in 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 67 pages.

The Theory and Practice of Revolution, editorial of the ‘Zeri i Popullit’, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, July 7, 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 35 pages.

In the light of the ideas of the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, Norman Bethune Institute, Toronto, 1977, 176 pages. Articles from ‘Zeri i Popullit’, organ of the Central Committee of the PLA, following the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania.

Photo Album of Albanian Life, Norman Bethune Institute, Toronto, 1977, 174 pages. A collection of photos showing the history of the Liberation War and the Construction of Socialism in Albania, up to 1977.

Chinese Warmongering and Hua Kuo-Feng’s Visit to the Balkans, editorial of the newspaper ‘Zeri i Popullit’, organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, September 3, 1978, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1978, 22 pages.

The Social Class Structure of the Working Class in Albania, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1978, 218 pages. The working class is the principal force in the production of material blessing. It is the most progressive and the most revolutionary class of the society, whose historic mission is to overthrow capitalism from its foundations and to destroy it, to put an end to any exploitation of man by man, and to build socialist and communist society.

Letter of CC of the Party of Labour of Albania and the Government of Albania to CC of the Communist Party and the Government of China, July 29th 1978, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1978, 56 pages.

Sino-American Alliance – a great threat to the peoples’ freedom, independence and security, editorials of the newspaper ‘Zeri i Popullit’, Organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1979, 27 pages.

Who Incites Hostility Amongst the Peoples of Yugoslavia, article from of the newspaper ‘Zeri i Popullit’, Organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, April 23, 1981, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1979, 29 pages.

Soviet Revisionism and the Struggle of the PLA to Unmask it, Part 1, Part 2. (This booklet is reproduced here in two parts due to file size.) 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1981, 208 pages. This book comprises the reports and a number of papers read at the Scientific Session ‘Soviet Revisionism and the Struggle of the PLA to Unmask it’, organised by the Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the CC of the PLA on 17-18 November, 1980. The reports and papers are published in an abridged form.

The Museum House of the Party, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1981, 60 pages. The house in Tirana where the Albanian Communist Party (later the Party of Labour of Albania) was formed on 8th November, 1941. After liberation converted into a museum, currently with no public access.

Socialist Albania will always remain loyal to the great cause of Socialism and the Revolution, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1982, 26 pages. Speech by Adil Çarçani at the 8th Session of the 9th Legislature of the People’s Assembly on the program and composition of the Council of Ministers, January 15, 1982.

The youth – a great force of the revolution, Htypshkronja e Re, Tirana, 1982, 46 pages. A book celebrating the role of Albanian youth in the War of Liberation and the Construction of Socialism.

The Counter-revolution within the Counter-revolution – about the events of the years 1980-1983 in Poland, Spiro Dede, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1983, 303 pages. The Revisionists started the rot in Poland and opened the way for the out and out counter-revolutionary movement under the guise of trade unionism – Solidarity. Event since show the correctness of the Albanian analysis more than thirty years ago.

Report on the 8th Five-Year Plan (1986-1990), submitted to the 9th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania by Adil Çarçani, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1986, 89 pages.

Klasiket e Marksizem-Leninizmit – The Classics of Marxism-Leninism, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1986, 156 pages. The text of this book is in Albanian but has been posted for its photos of the great leaders and founders of Marxism-Leninism – Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.

Although not technically statements by the PLA the following two documents were published in Tirana and therefore reflect the views of the Party at that time.

Joint Declaration of the Delegations of the Marxist-Leninist Parties of Latin America, taken from the newspaper ‘No Transar’, Organ of the Communist Party (ML) of Argentina, No 192, January 12, 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 15 pages.

Joint Declaration of Marxist-Leninist Communist Parties of Europe – Communist Party of Germany (ML), Communist Party of Spain (ML), Communist Party of Greece (ML), Communist Party of Italy (ML) and the Portuguese Communist party (Reconstructed), reprinted from the newspaper ‘Zeri i Popullit’, central organ of the CC of the PLA, November 4, 1977, 8 Nëntori Publishing House, Tirana, 1977, 32 pages.

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Proger – First Party Cell of the PKSH

Proger - First Party Cell of PKSH

Proger – First Party Cell of PKSH

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Proger – First Party Cell of the PKSH

The majority of the lapidars throughout Albania celebrate the events of the National War of Liberation and those who fought and died in that struggle. Others celebrate and commemorate events in the period of the construction of Socialism but there are few (probably a surprise to many) that are specifically devoted to the Communist Party of Albania (later the Party of Labour of Albania). One such – I only know of one other and that’s on the facade of the museum in Ersekë – is to the First Party Cell of the PKSH in the small village of Progër, close to Billisht and Korçë, not far from the border with Greece in the south-east of the country.

The lapidar consists of a huge, rectangular, concrete block on to which is attached a plaster bas-relief. This concrete mass is sitting on a plinth of large granite blocks. At the extreme left hand edge a large figure of a male partisan sits on a concrete plinth which is set out from the main block but the back of his body is attached to, and becomes part of, the main scenario.

We don’t see all the figure, he’s depicted from the thighs up. He’s staring straight out towards the viewer and his right arm is fully extended above his head, with the fist tightly clenched in a Communist salute. From the shoulder to just about the location of the thumb this arm is separate from the rest of the tableau. At the top of the hand he again becomes as one with the rest of the story.

He’s dressed in the full uniform of a Communist Partisan. This means he wears a cap with a star on the front and around his neck what would have been a red scarf, knotted at the front. He has two straps coming from his shoulders which cross in the middle of his chest. At the end of the strap that goes over his ammunition belt on his right hip hangs a small, cloth field equipment bag. The strap going down to the left, passes underneath the ammunition belt and this is attached to a revolver in its holster. We can see three ammunition pouches on this belt, each containing five bullets. Close to the equipment bag a Mills bomb hangs from a strap attached to the belt. In the space below where the straps cross it’s possible to make out the buttons on his jacket, The pockets on both sides of the jacket, over his breast, can also be seen. His left hand grips the top of the barrel of his rifle. Apart from the barrel we see nothing of his weapon and it looks as if the very top of the barrel has been broken off (a piece of the steel reinforcement sticking out of the plaster).

Immediately in front of his right thigh there’s an indistinguishable lump of plaster. It’s about the size of a football but I can’t think of what it could have been. The fact that it’s impossible to work out what it’s supposed to be suggests that this part of the statue has been the victim of vandalism.

Communist Partisan - Proger

Communist Partisan – Proger

Behind the Partisan’s head are the top three points of a five-pointed star. This suggests a religious comparison as it looks very much like a halo – one of those artistic references which come from previous artistic styles.

Above this star/halo is a larger star, its left most point reaching the left hand edge of the tableau. In the middle of this star are the letters PKSH. This stands for Partia Komuniste Shqiptare – Albanian Communist Party. This is the largest of all the stars on the lapidar. On either side of the uppermost point of the big star is a small star.

As we move towards the right we have two males, not in the uniform of a Partisan, but wearing the sort of clothes worn by workers in the 1940s. The first one is shown with his face in profile, as if he is speaking to his comrade. On his head he has a flat cap and is wearing a long overcoat. Hanging from his right shoulder is a strap and a bag of some sort appears to be at resting against his right thigh. It’s difficult to tell for definite but he seems to be wearing the long socks pulled up over his trousers – as is the case with the Partisan in the Korçë Martyrs’ Cemetery. He doesn’t appear to be armed in any way. His right arm is bent and his right hand is near the lapel of his coat, perhaps he’s making a point by using his hands to emphasise his argument. His left hand is resting on the shoulder of his comrade, an indication of their closeness and friendship.

Comrades - Proger

Comrades – Proger

The next male is looking to his right, towards his companion, but we can see most of his face. He also has a flat cap on his head but his clothing is slightly different, although still workers clothes. He wears a short jacket and has extremely baggy trousers. On his feet he has the sandals common at the time. To give an indication of the detail we can make out the buckle on the belt around his waist. He is holding a rifle, half way along the length of the barrel, in his left hand – we can see most of the gun, only the end of the butt being hidden behind one of the other figures. Both these figures are standing on a ledge at roughly the level of the previously described uniformed Partisan’s elbow.

To the right of the head of this second male are three stars, a large one with a smaller one on either side. The left most point of the big star seems to overlap the smaller star on that side.

Below the stars, as if written on a wall, are the letters VFLP. These stand for ‘Vdekje Fashizmit – Liri Popullit!’ (‘Death to Fascism – Freedom to the People!’) – the common slogan of the Communist fighters and supporters. We have already seen these letters before, for example, on the lapidars in Peze.

The next figure is laden with symbolism and is the epitome of the Albanian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s/70s. This is of a female Partisan. Although not as large as the first male on the extreme left she is the central image on this lapidar. She’s virtually in the centre of the rectangle and carries with her the main symbols of the National Liberation War and the subsequent attempts to build Socialism.

The Spirit of Communism- Proger

The Spirit of Communism – Proger

She is shown as if she is running forward, her whole body giving the impression of movement. Her left arm is raised high over her head and is stretched out in front of her. She is gripping the short pole to which is attached the red flag of the Communist Partisans (and later, until the 1990s, to be the national flag of the country). She holds the pole just where the flag starts, the bottom end of the pole resting against her forearm. The flag itself streams out above and behind her head. On the flag is the double-headed eagle above which is a star. The folds in the material of the standard adds to the impression of movement. The very top inches of the flag protrude above the rectangle upon which the other images appear, slightly breaking the confines of the block.

The element of movement is also enhanced by the fact that her right arm is bent slightly behind her and in her hand she holds a Beretta Model 38 Sub-machine gun (seen before on the Drashovice Arch). Only one of her legs is seen and that is bent as she runs forward. Her face is in profile, just the right hand side seen, and she has her long hair tucked under her cap. This is an image seen before on the monument to the 68 Girls of Fier, amongst others. She’s dressed in the full uniform of a Communist Partisan and that means a star on her cap and a ‘red’ neck chief, stressing her political allegiance.

This centrality of an armed female is a fundamental of works of Socialist Realism of the period, clearly seen on the most well-known image of the mosaic on the façade of the Historical Museum in Tirana.

Below her is a male partisan with his right knee on the ground, in the act of firing his bolt-action rifle. He has the rifle butt up to his right shoulder and it’s possible to make out a star cut into the wood of the butt, a tradition from early independence struggles which was carried over to the war of 1939-44. He is also in full uniform, wearing a cap with the Communist star. There are puttees on his shins. These were (and versions still are) worn to protect the legs from damage in the rough terrain of the Albanian mountains. His feet rest on top of the letters that run from left to right along most of the bottom edge of the sculpture.

This takes us to about two-thirds of the way along the monument and here we have an actual physical line of division. This line runs from the wrist of the female partisan holding the flag to just before the left toe of the boot of the kneeling male partisan (the top of the line ‘hidden’ behind the fluttering flag). But I’m not too sure why.

All the images on the left depict the story prior to victory over the invading Fascists in November 1944. If the section on the right was to depict events after Liberation it would make sense, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. My doubts stem from the next image.

With his right foot resting on top of the letters at the bottom of the rectangle we have a large, older male. Here we don’t have the representation of a worker but of someone from the countryside. He wears a cap similar to the two workers who are having a discussion but the rest of his clothing, and his look, is more of a peasant than a town dweller. First, he has a bushy moustache, which was becoming rare in the towns. Secondly, his jacket looks home-made, two straps keeping what, I assume, is a leather jerkin closed at his chest. He wears baggy trousers with gaiters buttoned over his shin, more common and usual before the use of puttees (which were mainly for military use). His right foot is on solid ground but his left is on some sort of man-made walk way in the hills – an image I haven’t seen before.

He’s very muscular, as he has to be in order to lift the huge rock he has in both hands, his arms straight as they strain to take the weight. But why is he moving this rock? What prompts the question is that he has the top of the barrel of a rifle sticking up behind his right shoulder. Without the rifle it could be argued that he is building a wall or clearing a patch of land for cultivation. But if that was the case why does he need his rifle? This area is very close to the Greek border and there were incursions into Albania by British and American supported monarcho-fascists in the early days of Socialist Albania. There’s a monument to one such repulsed encounter in the town of Bilisht, only about 5 kilometres away (as the crow flies), on 2nd August 1949. That would explain why people were vigilant and keeping arms to hand but not necessarily on their person at all times when doing hard, physical labour in the countryside.

However, there is an image very similar depicted in a painting by Sali Shijaku, called ‘Skenderbeu’s Artillery’ (1968), where a huge rock has been moved to a high vantage point to drop on any invader. (Shijaku also painted the image, which is in the National Art Gallery in Tirana, of the last moments of Vojo Kushi.)

Skenderbeu's Artillery, Sali Shijaku, 1968

Skenderbeu’s Artillery, Sali Shijaku, 1968

So I’m uncertain of how exactly to interpret this image.

Because the final figure on the lapidar is definitely representing the new Albania after Liberation. Here we have a true Amazon. It’s the image of a country woman, facing straight out, her feet apart, and holding a large sheaf of wheat above her head, with both arms bent at the elbows. She’s a young woman with long hair hanging down both sides of her head and wears a long, simple peasant dress reaching half way down her shins. There looks to be a simple cord pulling it in at her waist. There’s a similar representation of a peasant women in the large sculpture called ‘Toka Jonë – Our Land’ (by Perikli Çuli, 1987) in the centre of Lushnje.

Building Socialism - Proger

Building Socialism – Proger

If you look at the two peasant figures together it appears that the older man is bringing the young woman a huge rock but although I’m sure she could lift it I really don’t see the connection between them.

At the very bottom of the lapidar is the written explanation for the monument. Starting immediately to the right of the large male Partisan on the extreme left are the words:

‘Më 21 XI 1941 në fshatin Progër u krijua celula e parë e partisë në zonë [n e …]’

Which translates as:

‘On 21 XI 1941, in the village of Progër, the first Party cells were established in the area [n…e…]’.

(This was very soon after the establishment of the Communist Party of Albania in Tirana.)

The last words have been totally obliterated and, so far, I’ve been unable to find information on what is missing. Someone has tried to plaster over the remaining words but that vandalism hasn’t been that serious and they can still be read.

This is the first time I’ve seen a lapidar where the target of vandalism has been the written text. Normally it’s the stars that bear the brunt of the hatred.

The sculptor is unknown, as is the date of its inauguration, although often the unveiling of story-telling lapidars would coincide with an anniversary of the event being celebrated. Very often a local sculptor would receive the commission but Progër is still today a small village so the sculptor might have come from further afield.

Apart from the actual vandalism to the text the lapidar shows some signs of damage, The nose of the young woman with the sheaf looks broken and there are a couple of other places where damage doesn’t look like the result of time or general neglect. Unlike many places this monument hasn’t received a recent coat of paint, whether by design or just waiting to get some attention is unclear – local politics playing a role in this.

Although not unique there’s a fence with a locked gate to limit access from the road, necessitating a little bit of climbing and a short walk over rough ground in order to get close.

There used to be many small museums throughout the country during the Socialist period, with virtually all the Martyrs’ Cemeteries having at least a room where artefacts were displayed. In addition most towns would have a small, local museum. There are few remaining. Most were looted or vandalised during the early days of the reaction and now they are few and far between – although the recent renovation of the City Museum of Fier might be the start of a general move to recognise and remember the past.

Museum - Proger

Museum – Proger

In tiny Progër there was a museum just to the left and above the lapidar. It is no longer a museum but has, at least, been put to constructive use as it is now a small polyclinic – although the word ‘Muzeu’ can still be seen, in large letters, above the main entrance.

For such a small village Progër is home to two other lapidars, one commemorating the opening of the first school in 1908 and another to those from the village who fell in the National War of Liberation.

Location:

Progër is a small village 3 kilometres to the east of the road from Korçë to Bilisht.

GPS:

40.69477499

20.94036503

DMS:

40° 41′ 41.1900” N

20° 56′ 25.3141” E

Altitude:

844.7 m

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Partisan Memorial – Gjirokastra

Partisan Memorial - Gjirokastra

Partisan Memorial – Gjirokastra

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Partisan Memorial – Gjirokastra

Most of the monuments in Albania are not complex works of sculpture. Many are simple columns, with inscriptions, some of those being quite small. These are known as ‘Lapidars’ in Albania. (‘Lapidar’ doesn’t have a direct translation into English although ‘monolith’ is a possibility – and might even have a German root.) In between the monumental and the columns are stand alone statues and structures and the Partisan Memorial – Gjirokastra, is one of those.

Many of the monuments are either of concrete or bronze but this one is of stone. On close examination, and especially after being cleaned up, the stone is almost certainly limestone. The statue is composed of large blocks to create a shape that looks like the forearm of a human with a clenched fist. Carved into the facade facing the road there is the torso and head of a partisan soldier (male). Because of how it’s constructed I would have assumed it was carved in situ. The sculptor was Stefan Papamihali and it was inaugurated in 1983. Papamihali was also a collaborator, together with Ksenofon Krostaqi and Mumtaz Dhrami, on the education obelisk higher up in the Old Town.

There’s just one individual depicted on this monument. He’s a Communist Partisan, in winter gear, dressed in a heavy overcoat with a thick sweater underneath. On his head is a cap with a star at the front. He’s looking straight out at the viewer. He has both his hands on a light machine gun which is held against his chest.

Partisan Memorial - Gjirokastra

Partisan Memorial – Gjirokastra

To his left, and virtually on his shoulder, is the symbol of the double-headed eagle with a star between the two heads. On most monuments that image is usually part of the national flag but here they seem to stand alone.

Above him, at his right shoulder, is the date, in numbers of ’24 12 1943′

This was the date when the town was finally liberated from the German Fascists. The majority of the surrounding countryside in the south of Albania was liberated in the early months of 1944. Commemorating, as it does, such an important event I’m not sure why it’s not in a more prominent location, in the main square for example.

Below the image, carved into the stone, are the words:

‘Qyteti i gurtë mbeti në shekuj kala për liri’.

My translation for this is:

‘The Stone City Castle has been a symbol of freedom for centuries’

‘Stone City’ is one of the nicknames for Gjirokastra from the traditional buildings of the old town which used stones for the roofs as well as the structure of the houses. The ancient Castle dominates the city and this end of the valley and recognisable from miles away.

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra

In general the monument is in a good condition apart from the fact that someone has had a go at his nose and the left nostril has been broken off. (Noses are vulnerable on stone statues, there’s one of Uncle Joe in Moscow that has a chunk missing from the nose.) A number of other monuments in Gjirokastra haven’t fared so well.

Partisan Memorial - Gjirokastra

Partisan Memorial – Gjirokastra

I’m not too sure is this is as a result of vandalism or more of an accident. On other monuments the first things to be attacked are the stars, but the two on this statue are undamaged. There’s an element of weathering but that would have been taken into consideration by the sculptor, taking into account the location. It’s facing in a northerly direction and there’s quite a lot of rain in this part of the country in the winter.

This is a fairly unique style and design for an Albanian commemoration of the Partisans and the victory over the Fascist invaders. In the work of Dhrami and Krisiko, on the different monuments at Peze, for example, you can notice the development of certain motifs.

The simplicity of this statue gives the impression of solidity and determination but, as is always the case in Albanian iconography, the freedom that was fought for can only be maintained by being prepared to use arms. As Mao Tse-tung said: ‘Political power comes from the barrel of a gun’.

One aspect of ALL the statues and monuments to the Partisans in Albania is that the individuals are always confident, heads raised, prepared to take on the enemy and face the difficulties of the struggle. That goes for both the male and female partisans. Compare that with the representation of the partisan in the capitalist countries, for example the Manzu monument to the partisan in Bergamo, Italy.

Since my first visit to Gjirokaster this memorial has been cleaned and looks a lot better as the black weathering has been cleaned off. All the monuments and lapidars in Gjirokaster are in a better shape than they were a few years ago, as can be seen with the bas-relief outside the high school. But this is not the first representation of a Partisan to have existed in Gjirokaster.

Gjirokaster Partisan Lapidar - earlier version

Gjirokaster Partisan Lapidar – earlier version

I have no details (as of now) about this memorial but assume it was located in the same position as the existing one.

The text reads, in Albanian:

24 Dhejtor 1943

Gjirokastra e gurte me grushtin e hekurt goditi gjithmone armiqte mbeti ne shekuj kala per lirine dhe piedestal per bijte.

This translate as:

24 December 1943

Gjirokaster, with the stony ‘iron fist’ to smash its enemies, has remained, over the centuries, a stronghold of freedom and an example to our children.

(Slightly more poetic than the statement on the present memorial.)

It’s not unusual, in the history of Albanian Socialist Realist sculptures, for there to be changes and modifications to the monuments as the society moved forward. This can be seen in the evolution of the statue in Skhoder of the ‘Five heroes of Vig’ and also in the Martyrs’ Cemetery in Borove. What is strange here is that the ‘new’ statue develops the original idea and seems to be larger in scale. However, the original was itself a fine piece of art and it seems a tragedy that it should have been destroyed (if, indeed, that was the case) just to make way for a newer and larger piece. If it had to make way for the new why not place it in the Castle Museum?

If the reason for its replacement is unsure the timing is understandable. 1983, the date on the present statue, was the 40th anniversary of the Liberation of the city. It seems that in the lead up to that date a number of new monuments appeared in the town, the stone bas-relief of the musicians and dancers and the obelisk to education being two examples of this.

Enver Hoxha - Entrance to Gjirokastra

Enver Hoxha – Entrance to Gjirokastra

Location:

The statue is at a bend of the road (Rruga Gjin Zenebisi) that heads up to the old town. If coming from the south, from Permet or Saranda, it’s the first road up on the left as you come into the Gjirokastra city limits and the monument is about 300m from the junction. There used to be a bust of Enver Hoxha (picture above) close to that junction but that would have been destroyed in the counter-revolution of 1990. This would have been opposite the most severely vandalised bus stop I think I’ve ever seen which is almost a work of art in its own right.

GPS:

N 40.076256

E 20.14575097

DMS:

40° 4′ 34.5216” N

20° 8′ 44.7035” E

Altitude: 261.4m

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