Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery

Elbasan Martyrs' Cemetery

Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery

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Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery

All the major towns in Albania will have a Martyrs’ Cemetery and the one for Elbasan is towards the east of the town centre. When it was constructed it probably would have been very much in the countryside, the built-up area around it now seems to be relatively recent, within the the last 20 years or so.

The Memorial Park

It’s accessed by a gateway from the road and you go through an arch and along a tree line path which then comes out to a very wide (virtually the whole width of the site) parade ground. On the right edge of this parade ground can be found the museum building. This is the space that would have been filled with people during significant dates such as Martyrs’ Day (5th May) and Liberation Day (29th November).

Moving forward there are 5 steps up to another flat area. On the wall on both sides of these steps a large star, now painted red, faces the visitor. Just above these stars, and therefore flanking the approach, are two very old, tall and established palm trees. Unfortunately, the one on the right is defunct but that on the left is looking very healthy indeed. The tombs to the fallen are to the left and the right of the steps, five rows on either side, perpendicular to the principal monument. In the centre of this space (which is longer than the parade ground below) are two flower beds, containing both shrubs and flowering plants. These have the effect of breaking up this central space and channel anyone who is approaching the monument on wreath laying commemorations.

The lapidar

In front of you is the monument itself, constructed on a platform that’s reached via 3 wide and 10 normal steps from the previous level. The lapidar consists of a tall, narrow obelisk on the left to which is fixed a concrete panel at the lower part, extending about 5 metres to the right at 90 degrees. This structure is at the very back of the platform.

The obelisk gives the impression it’s divided into two parts but is joined together by a middle section that is inset slightly. The left-hand side is slightly taller than the right. There’s nothing there now but I would have assumed that somewhere at the top of that pillar there would have been a star, perhaps a stand alone Red Star attached at the very top. This obelisk is wider at the bottom than it is at the top a fact which can only be appreciated by observing at it from the side.

The large, rectangular, concrete panel extends from the bottom section of the obelisk. This is about 5 metres long and 2 metres high. The bottom of the panel is raised off the ground and towards the right-hand side it rests on a concrete block which spreads out diagonally downwards to the platform floor. This is both functional but also adds another level of aestheticism to the simple design.

This panel has seven, equidistant horizontal ribs cut into the concrete which are interrupted by a large rectangular box towards the right edge. At the top of this box, in large red letters are the words ‘Dëshmorë të kombit’ which translate as ‘Martyrs of the Nation’. Beneath this heading, in seven columns, is a list of names in alphabetical order of the first name. These names are in black.

This list and heading are probably not original. There has obviously been an attempt to restore the slogan and the list but it hasn’t been completed by a professional artist, more by someone keen to reinstate what had existed when the monument was first inaugurated.

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery - Lapidar and Eternal Flame

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery – Lapidar and Eternal Flame

The same goes for the colouring. The obelisk, up to the height of the panel, has been whitewashed as has the façade of the panel itself. The lines in the panel have been coloured in red. This would have unlikely to have been the case originally. Most lapidars were not painted – apart from possibly the highlighting of the red star. It also quite possible that the monument suffered from vandalism in the 1990s and this colouring has been added during some ‘restoration’ process.

From the highest platform two wings protrude back towards the garden and entrance to end at the point that the final set of steps start. On the left-hand side, about 7 or 8 metres in front of the obelisk and slightly to its left is a reverted, truncated pyramid which is the Eternal Flame. This has also been painted white and there’s a star which has been cut into the concrete near the top – this having been highlighted in red.

At the base of this structure a red band has been painted on all four sides. The area surrounding the Eternal Flame is splattered with white paint, indicating more enthusiasm than skill.

I don’t believe the Eternal Flames were ever actually ‘eternal’ and were only lit on special occasions.

The Tombs

There are approximately 25 tombs in each row, making it a monument to roughly 250 partisans who fell in the National Liberation War – there’s a similar number of names on the large panel.

Unfortunately, the condition of the tombs in some of the Martyrs’ Cemeteries can be quite variable, but in Elbasan they all seem to be in a very good condition. The grass was obviously being regularly attended to and free from weeds or any wind-blown rubbish. There were bright, red flowers growing (at the time of my visit) at the head of virtually every tomb. In some other places there might be the occasional artificial flower laid by a family member but in Elbasan everyone was treated with the same level of respect – by the community, by the municipality.

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery - The tombs

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery – The tombs

The letters on the plaques bearing the name of the individuals had been highlighted in red – as were the stars that seemed to be on most tombs. This work of highlighting in red again doesn’t look professionally done but, at least, the work was carried out with feeling.

The day I visited this Cemetery, there were two or three women who were generally cleaning and tending to the gardens and the overall impression here, which unfortunately is not the case everywhere, is one of cleanliness and an element of respect.

Museum

Elbasan Martyrs' Cemetery Museum

Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery Museum

In the more substantial Martyrs’ Cemeteries throughout Albania there is very often a small building which would at one time have been a museum. Unfortunately, I have yet to visit any cemetery where the museum is open as a museum or where there is anything other than a few old photos to see. (There seem to have been developments at the cemetery in Pogradec but on my last visit I wasn’t able to find out either way.)

In Elbasan the museum building is empty of anything that would have told the story of the National Liberation War. However, the room itself is clean – which is not always the case. For example, the museum which is at the entrance to the Cemetery in Kruja was filthy and there was obviously some dead animal rotting away inside at the time of my visit.

However, back to Elbasan. On the wall facing the entrance are the words Lavdi Deshmoreve (meaning Glory to the Martyrs) attached to the wall in large red letter. The two words are separated by a large red star. There is also a red star high up in the centre of each of the side walls.

The only articles in the room itself were two busts of People’s Heroes. In one back corner was a bust of Qemal Stafa. He was the leader of the youth wing of the Communist Party of Albania (later to be renamed the Party of Labour of Albania) and one of its founding members. He was killed by the Italian fascists on 5th May 1942 in Tirana.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the other male depicted in the bust which was in the other corner.

Location

To the east of the main town, on Rruga Kozma Naska, just after Rinia Park. This road runs parallel and slightly to the north, more or less, of the main road heading in the direction to Librazhd.

GPS

41.11821902

20.09195399

DMS

41° 7′ 5.5885” N

20° 5′ 31.0344” E

Altitude

136.1

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What does this monument stand for? The Mushqeta Monument

Mushqeta Monument

Mushqeta Monument

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Introduction

This article first appeared in New Albania, No 4, 1976. It is reproduced here to give more information about this crucial battle against Hitlerite Fascism in the final days of the National Liberation War – and only a matter of days before the liberation of Tirana and the effective end of hostilities in Albania. Hopefully this will assist in the greater understanding of the analysis of the elements of the lapidar described in Mushqete Monument – Berzhite.

This article is further interesting as it provides a Socialist Albanian view of how they saw this battle against the German invaders.

Contrast this to those reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries who took control of the country in the 1990s. There reaction was to allow the creation of a monument to the German fascist dead and its installation in the hills of Tirana Park. To add salt to the wound this paean to fascism is only a matter of metres away from the original location of the National Martyrs’ Cemetery before it was moved to its present location and the inauguration of the statue of Mother Albania in 1972.

What does this monument stand for? The Mushqeta Monument

This monument has been raised at the village of Mushqeta, some ten kilometres south-east of Tirana. It has been raised in memory of the battle waged in this village on the 14th and 15th of November 1944 against the German forces of occupation.

The forces of the Albanian National Liberation Army were waging the decisive battle for the liberation of the capital. The entire garrison of the Hitlerite troops in Tirana had been surrounded from all sides. To avoid total disaster the German command sent a contingent of 2,000 soldiers, tanks, artillery and other armoured means from Elbasan (a city 50 kilometres south of Tirana) which were to attack the partisan detachments from the rear and, together with the forces of another German column which would come from Durrës (in the west), were to surround and liquidate the partisan forces fighting for the liberation of the capital.

On November 14th the enemy column is attacked by the detachments of the National Liberation Army lying in ambush at Mushqeta. The fighting continued fiercely all through the night. In the morning of the 15th the Nazi column is completely surrounded with the exception of a small part which managed to break the siege during the night with the aid of tanks. Seeing that they had no way out, the Germans launch a desparate counter offensive using their artillery, tanks and all other means of warfare. Bloody attacks and counter attacks continue during the whole day. By 5.99 p.m. that day, the Nazi column had been completely liquidated. The enemy left on the battlefield over 1,500 dead, many wounded and prisoners together with all their military equipment.

On November 17, 1944, Tirana, the capital of Albania, was completely liberated by the Albanian National Liberation Army. The victory at Mushqeta was the forewarning and forerunner of the liberation of the capital.

To give a better idea of what happened during that battle, we are reproducing a description by a military correspondent of the First Division of the National Liberation Army, who passed over the field of battle straight after the fighting had ended. Here is what he writes:

‘From the New Palace on the outskirts of Tirana to the village of Berzhite one can imagine that this great defeat of which so much is being spoken, especially when you see, besides the wrecked vehicles, the quintals of dynamite the enemy had abandoned on the Erzeni and Farka bridges because they had no time to blow them up. Here you can see destroyed vehicles, carts, horses and corpses. You say to yourself that this must have been the greatest defeat of the enemy. After passing this zone, you are faced with a pile of dead horses and overturned wagons, vehicles upturned in ditches, others in good order, wagons loaded with booty the Hitlerites had plundered in Greece and Albania, and armaments you had never seen before. You can count the equipment and corpses as far as Berzishta, but from here on it is impossible to count them even if you walk slowly.

Wherever you look, from right to left, you see real rivulets of blood, decaying flesh, very heavy armaments hurled off the highway as if by some extraordinary physical force, almost impossible to imagine.

You think this slaughter will continue as far as the corner of the road, no matter how great the battle had been fought. It could not possibly continue any further. But on rounding the bend, the heaps become more numerous. It seems as if the vehicles and wagons had wanted to push one another. Overturned material lying all over the place in complete disorder as if there had been a particularly heavy earthquake.

Further away from the road, on the side of the small hills on the banks of the river, 4 high calibre field guns have been abandoned facing each other even though they were used against our army. Further away, there are the number of mobile cooking houses enough for a whole division. Transport trucks complete with trailer, long wagons, vehicles carrying anti-aircraft guns directed towards the sky, small cannons, light and heavy machine-guns, cars, rifles, medical supplies and a pile of other things of every colour and kind. Among them is a baby’s pillow undoubtedly stolen by the army from some family at Elbasan.

Again corpses and dead horses and larger streams of blood. In the distance on the edge of the fields bordering the river bank, one sees horses which have escaped from this slaughter. They say there are also a number of hidden enemies who are giving themselves up to the surrounding villages. Further on, a colonel killed inside a car, the vehicle is completely wrecked, motor cycles abandoned on the road and the same scene as before.

You still walk through trails blocked by material, transport vehicles, dead horses and so on. You walk along the trails of the clearing, and then you are stuck on a sharp bend, below your right, where a small stream flows, the material and bodies are piled up in disorder. The horses lying prostrate on the ground and the bodies give the impression as if they had been knifed rather than killed by bullets. The stream looks like the channel of a slaughterhouse, the body of an enemy has fallen into the water.

Further across, the same scene over and over again. Horses, bodies, innumerable motor vehicles and wagons, war material and stolen booty in one great mess. The road looks as if the garbage of the city has been strewn along it.

Further on, guns, armaments and ammunition. The flag with the swastika lies hidden inside a wagon like some stolen article barely distinguishable. It reflects the present situation of Nazi Germany which tries to hide its criminal objectives now that the onslaught let loose against the peaceful and innocent peoples is rebounding on its own head.

Two kilometres on the other side of Ibe, two wrecked tanks give the impression as if the enemy column was not heading towards Tirana but towards Elbasan.

When you walk through the place you can’t believe that there had been only 2 to 3 thousand enemy troops. On the basis of the war material and the means of transport, it is calculated that there must have been at least a German division. The booty is so big that it gives the impression not of an army but of a savage horde of barbarians. This is a complicated scene, which reflects the character of the Nazi bands, pirates with modern means.

The destruction of these forces saved Tirana from the peril of devastation and mass massacres.

When comparing the numerous and heavy means of the enemy, their huge army on the march, the ruggedness of the terrain and their fortified positions with our armaments and positions, one wonders how it was possible to smash up and liquidate more than 2 to 3 thousand Germans by only 1,200 partisans.’

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Documents of the Party of Labour of Albania 41-50

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Documents of the Party of Labour of Albania 41-50

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.

Documents of the Party of Labour of Albania 1 – 10, 11 – 20, 21 – 30, 31 – 40

Photo Album of Albanian Life

Photo Album of Albanian Life

 

 

A collection of photos showing the history of the Liberation War and the Construction of Socialism in Albania, up to 1977.

 

 

The Belgrade Revisionist Clique - Renegades from Marxism-Leninism and Agents of Imperialism

The Belgrade Revisionist Clique – Renegades from Marxism-Leninism and Agents of Imperialism

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Two Opposing Lines In The World Trade Union Movement

Two Opposing Lines In The World Trade Union Movement

 

 

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

 

 

 

Marxist-Leninist Ideology will certainly overcome Revisionism - Vol II

Marxist-Leninist Ideology will certainly overcome Revisionism – Vol II

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The 6th Congress of the Albanian Labor Youth Union

The 6th Congress of the Albanian Labor Youth Union

 

 

 

The 6th Congress of the Albanian Labor Youth Union – held in Durres on October 23, 1972

 

 

 

Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania

Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Letter of CC of PLA to CC of CPC

Letter of CC of PLA to CC of CPC

 

 

The letter that was very critical of the stance of the Communist Party of China in its battle against Modern Revisionism and which led to the definitive split between Albania and China in 1978.

 

 

 

 

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