Experiencing and Privately Remembering Late Albanian Socialism: A Study Based on Oral History Interviews in the Region of Shkodra

Open access

Abstract

Based on interviews with 35 contemporary witnesses, this paper examines how Albanian socialism’s late phase (second half of the 1970s and first half of the 1980s) was subjectively experienced and is individually remembered today. It argues that despite harsh state repression and considerable impoverishment in this period, the communist regime enjoyed the loyalty of large sections of the country’s population. Furthermore, the paper suggests that many contemporaries have yet to come to terms with their experiences of that time. Their recollection narratives are predominantly characterised by uncertainties and contradictions, of which both individuals and society still have to make sense.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Transcript no. 1 interview with Mr Naimi (born in 1964) on 2 Jan. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 3/1 interview with Mr Qamili (born in 1938) on 11 Mar. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 5 interview with Mr Guri (born in 1939) on 20 Mar. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 9 interview with Mr Zefi (born in 1950) on 3 Apr. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 12 interview with Mr Deda (born in 1956) on 10 Apr. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 14 interview with Mr Ndoji (born in 1932) on 15 Apr. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 15 interview with Mr Meti (born in 1949) on 16 Apr. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 16 interview with Mr Ridvani (born in 1960) on 2 Aug. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 17/1 interview with Mr Hasani (born in 1941) on 10 Aug. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 17/2 interview with Mr Toma (born in 1954) on 10 Aug. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 20 interview with Mr Lahi (born in 1945) on 21 Aug. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 23 interview with Mr Ahmeti (born in 1958) on 3 Sept. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 25 interview with Ms Brahja (born in 1962) on 6 Sept. 2012.

  • Transcript no. 29 interview with Ms Latifi (born in 1944) on 20 Sept. 2012.

  • Amnesty International (1984). Albania: Political Imprisonment and the Law. London.

  • Amy L. E. (2010). Re-Membering in Transition: The Trans-National Stakes of Violence and Denial in Post-Communist Albania. History of Communism in Europe 1 207-24.

  • Bartl P. (1993). Religionsgemeinschaften und Kirchen. In K.-D. Grothusen (Ed.) Südosteuropa-Handbuch/Handbook on South Eastern Europe vol. VII: Albanien (pp. 587-614). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

  • Bartl P. (1995). Albanien: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Regensburg: Pustet.

  • Dervishi K. (2012). Sigurimi i Shtetit 1944-1991: Historia e policisë politike të regjimit komunist. Tirana: 55.

  • Fulbrook M. (1995). Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR 1949-1989. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Fulbrook M. (2009). ‘Normalisation’ in the GDR in Retrospect: East German Perspectives on Their Own Lives.

  • In M. Fulbrook (Ed.) Power and Society in the GDR 1961-1979. The ‘Normalisation of Rule’? (pp. 278- 319). New York NY and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

  • Golubev A. (2009). Remembering and Re-Evaluating “Ashamed” Experience: Interaction with the Political Police in 1945-1956 in the Memory of the Soviet Karelian Population. In J. Obertreis & A. Stephan (Eds.) Erinnerungen nach der Wende: Oral History und (post)sozialistische Gesellschaften/ Remembering after the Fall of Communism: Oral History and (Post-)Socialist Societies (pp. 263-74). Essen: Klartext.

  • Grothusen K.-D. (Ed.) (1993). Südosteuropa-Handbuch/Handbook on South Eastern Europe vol. VII: Albanien. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

  • Iacono F. & Këlliçi K. L. (2015). Of Pyramids and Dictators: Memory Work and the Significance of Communist Heritage in Post-Socialist Albania. Arqueologia Publica 5 97-122.

  • Iacono F. & Këlliçi K. L. (2016). Exploring the Public Perception of Communist Heritage in Post-Communist Albania. EX Novo 1/1 55-69.

  • Idrizi I. (2014). Zwischen politischer Instrumentalisierung und Verdrängung: Die Auseinandersetzung mit dem Kommunismus in Öffentlichkeit Geschichtspublizistik und Historiographie im postkommunistischen Albanien. Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 93-106.

  • Idrizi I. (2016). “Magic Apparatus” and “Window to the Foreign World”? The Impact of Television and Foreign Broadcasts on Society and State-Society Relations in Socialist Albania. In K. Bönker J. Obertreis and S. Grampp (Eds.) Television Beyond and Across the Iron Curtain (pp. 227-56). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Jõesalu K. (2009). Erfahrungen und Darstellungen - das sowjetische Alltagsleben in der estnischen Erinnerungskultur. In Obertreis & Stephan (Eds.) (pp. 329-43).

  • Kati F. (2004). Antologjia e plagëve: Nën terrorin komunist. Tirana: Natyra 2001. Instituti i Studimeve për Krimet dhe Pasojat e Komunizmit (Ed.) (2014/2015/2016). Zërat e kujtesës Vol. 1-3. Tirana: Westprint/ Maluka/ Kristalina. KH.

  • Kluge S. (2000). Empirisch begründete Typenbildung in der qualitativen Sozialforschung. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research 1(1) Art. 14. [Online] Available: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1124/2497#gcit (July 14 2017).

  • KolářP. (2007). Sozialistische Diktatur als Sinnwelt: Repräsentationen gesellschaftlicher Ordnung und Herrschaftswandel in Ostmitteleuropa in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts (Projektbericht). Potsdamer Bulletin für Zeithistorische Studien 40/41 24-9. [Online] Available: https://zzfpotsdam.de/sites/default/files/publikation/Bulletin/kolar_sozialistischediktatur.pdf (July 14 2017).

  • Kretsi G. (2007). Verfolgung und Gedächtnis in Albanien: Eine Analyse postsozialistischer Erinnerungsstrategien. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

  • Kretsi G. (2007). “Good and Bad Biography”: The Concept of Family Liability in the Practice of State Domination in Socialist Albania. In U. Brunnbauer A. Helmedach & S. Troebst (Eds.). Schnittstellen: Gesellschaft Nation Konflikt und Erinnerung in Südosteuropa. Festschrift für Holm Sundhaussen zum 65. Geburtstag (pp. 175-88). Munich: Oldenbourg.

  • Lelaj O. (2016). Let’s Talk about “Communism”! Notes on Politics Knowledge Production and Ethics in Contemporary Albania. Rivista di Scienze Sociali. [Online] Available: http://www.rivistadiscienzesociali.it/lets-talk-about-communism-notes-on-politics-knowledge-productionand-ethics-in-contemporary-albanian-i/ (July 14 2017).

  • Marković P. J. (2007). Der Sozialismus und seine sieben “S”-Werte der Nostalgie. In U. Brunnbauer & S. Troebst (Eds.). Zwischen Amnesie und Nostalgie: Die Erinnerung an den Kommunismus in Südosteuropa (pp. 153-64). Cologne Vienna and Weimar: Böhlau.

  • Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee (1990). Human Rights in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. Minneapolis MN.

  • Niegelhell A. & Ponisch G. (2001). Wir sind immer im Feuer: Berichte ehemaliger politischer Gefangener im kommunistischen Albanien. Vienna Cologne and Weimar: Böhlau.

  • Obertreis J. & Stephan A. (2009). Memory Identity and “Facts”: The Methodology of Oral History and Researching (Post-)Socialist Societies (Introduction). In Obertreis & Stephan (Eds.) (pp. 37-61).

  • Pipa A. (1990). Albanian Stalinism: Ideo-Political Aspects. Boulder CO/New York NY: Columbia University Press.

  • Prifti P. R. (1978). Socialist Albania since 1944: Domestic and Foreign Developments. Cambridge MA/London: MIT.

  • Sabrow M. (2007). Sozialismus als Sinnwelt: Diktatorische Herrschaft in kulturhistorischer Perspektive. Potsdamer Bulletin für Zeithistorische Studien 40-41 9-23. [Online] Available: https://zzfpotsdam.de/sites/default/files/publikation/Bulletin/sabrow_sinnwelt.pdf (July 14 2017).

  • Schmidt-Neke M. (1993). Politisches System. In Grothusen (Ed.) (pp. 169-242).

  • Schmidt-Neke M. (2009). Zwischen Kaltem Krieg und Teleologie: Das kommunistische Albanien als Objekt der Zeitgeschichtsforschung. In O. J. Schmitt & E. A. Frantz (Eds.) Albanische Geschichte: Stand und Perspektiven der Forschung (pp. 131-47). Munich: Oldenbourg.

  • Tönnes B. (1980). Sonderfall Albanien: Enver Hoxhas “eigener Weg” und die historischen Ursprünge seiner Ideologie. Munich: Oldenbourg.

  • Vullnetari J. & King R. (2014). ‘Women Here are Like at the Time of Enver [Hoxha]…’: Socialist and Post- Socialist Gendered Mobility in Albania. In K. Burrell & K. Hörschelman (Eds.) Mobility in Socialist and Post-Socialist States: Societies on the Move (pp. 122-47). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Vullnetari J. & King R. (2016). ‘Washing Men’s Feet’: Gender Care and Migration in Albania during and after Communism. Gender Place and Culture 23/2 198-215.

  • Vullnetari J. & King R. (2016). From Shortage Economy to Second Economy: An Historical Ethnography of Rural Life in Communist Albania. Journal of Rural Studies 44 198-207.

  • Woodcock S. (2007). The Absence of Albanian Jokes about Socialism Or Why Some Dictatorships Are Not Funny. In C. Hamilton M. Kelly E. Minor & W. Noonan (Eds.) The Politics and Aesthetics of Refusal (pp. 51-66). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Woodcock S. (2014). ‘Against a Wall’: Albania’s Women Political Prisoners’ Struggle to be Heard. Cultural Studies Review 20/2 39-65.

  • Woodcock S. (2016). Life Is War: Surviving Dictatorship in Communist Albania. Bristol: HammerOn Press.

  • Zimmermann V. Haslinger P. & Nigrin T. (Eds.) (2010). Loyalitäten im Staatssozialismus: DDR Tschechoslowakei Polen. Marburg: Herder Institut.