Berlin Wall meets Albanian bunker to warn of perils of power

Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:59pm EDT
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By Benet Koleka

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albanians who resisted the policies of paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha are now trying to preserve part of his most notorious jail - to remind the country's young elite of the dangers of power.

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

"I would like to dedicate (the art work) to all those who did not live to cross over the Berlin Wall, who remained in isolation and were executed. They were the best of us all because they dared do what we dared not," Lubonja told Reuters.

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

Lubonja, now 62, was working in the mine in the notorious jail of Spac, in a remote gorge amid bare mountains, in 1979 when he heard of the arrest of three of his friends for challenging Hoxha's line after the Stalinist leader broke off ties with China.

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

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

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

Albanians look on during the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to commemorate former political prisoners who suffered under the Communist regime of Albania's late dictator Enver Hoxha, in Tirana March 26, 2013. REUTERS/Arben Celi