(Roughly) Daily

Bunkering down…


In Albania, 750,000 Communist-era bunkers populate the landscape, relics of the paranoia and skewed priorities of former dictator Enver Hoxha. Now they exist as quirky homes, animal shelters, ad hoc storage and make-out spots. The peculiar program of bunkerization, which lasted Hoxha’s entire 40-year rule, resulted in one bunker for every four citizens.

In November of last year, Dutch photographer David Galjaard won the 2012 Aperture Foundation/Paris Photo First Photobook Award for Concresco, a book that surveys the scattered and now repurposed or deteriorating concrete blobs. As much as the bunkers have intrigued historians, Galjaard laments how little the general public knows about Albania.

“Everyone knows about Stalin but nobody knows Hoxha,” says Galjaard. “It’s a secret history, probably because Albania is so small. You can see Concresco as an introduction to a country that only a few people know.”

The bunkers’ abandonment, reuse and reimagining for Galjaard reflects the changing politics, lifestyles and aspirations in the former Eastern Bloc nation.

“I’m telling a story about a country and I’m using bunkers as metaphors,” says Galjaard. “Albania is an Eastern country but it wants to be part of the West. It has one foot in each, and the split is sort of unnatural. Albanians still have not found their identity so they struggle with the past, but also struggle with the future. And future for them is being part of Western Europe”…

Read the whole story and see more of Galjaard’s remarkable photos at Wired‘s Raw File.


As we duck and cover, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that Hoxha’s predecessor, King Zog, dismissed all ten of Albania’s Supreme Court Justices for “unprofessional conduct.”

As President of Albania (from 1925), Zog had all but eliminated civil liberties, censored the press, and murdered political opponents.  Under the constitution he drafted, he was vested with sweeping executive and legislative powers, including the right to appoint one-third of the upper house.  In 1928, he elevated himself to King.  From early in his Presidency, Zog relied on support from Mussolini’s Fascist government; with their help, he held power through 55 assassination attempts… until 1939, when Mussolini– angered that Zog refused to make the Italian language a mandatory subject in Albanian schools– invaded and took the country over.  The Nazis took Albania from the Facists, and occupied it through World War II, after which Hoxha took over and the country became the People’s Republic of Albania (renamed “the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania” in 1976).  Hoxha died in 1985; the People’s Socialist Republic gave way to (the current) Republic of Albania in 1991.

Zog the First (and last)



Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: