Albania is little known to the outside world. What most outsiders know about it is that it suffered for 50 years under a communist regime. For the past 25 years, Albania has slowly transitioned to a free, democratic country. From 1944 to 1990, the population was under the watchful eye and control of Enver Hoxha’s regime, a dictatorship that isolated the country, held a tight grasp on power, and controlled everything people consumed including information, news, facts about the regime, and news of the world outside its borders. Since the fall of the regime, countless interviews have been given and memoirs written about what happened. The survivors, those who were persecuted by the regime, could finally speak and be heard without the risk of punishment.
Twenty five years after the collapse of Hoxha’s dictatorship, the need to remember is as great as ever. In a few years time, there will not be any survivors left. The prisons and work camps that once were infamous for housing them, are disappearing. Brick by brick and rod by rod, they are giving way to the scrap metal trade. From a distance, it appears as though someone is erasing them from the landscape. With the passing of time, there may come a day when it becomes easier to deny what took place. Without first person accounts, a large part of Albania’s history would be lost since the party was only invested in constructing its own myth, leaving no room for alternate narratives.
This project is for those who remember and for those who have forgotten. It is an attempt to preserve the memory of those who remain. The voices featured here are of survivors of the prisons, work camps, and places of internment that held thousands of individuals captive. Archive of Memory is comprised of intimate stories that recall the personal experiences of each participant. These fragments, or episodes, combine to create a tapestry of lived experience which sheds light on what daily life under the dictatorship was like.
This project does not aim to represent the whole history since no work can fully represent the totality of human rights abuses committed under the regime. However, the intimate experiences shared here testify to the humanity that managed to stay intact and thrive in spite of the violence, displacement, and injustice incurred by those who were persecuted.
Our long term goal is to grow the archive. We seek testimonies from anyone who has a personal story to share. For more information, please click on the Share Your Story tab.Listen Now