Leadership: The Albanian Reminder

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October 17, 2015: Some bad things cannot be forgotten. For example every February Albanians celebrate the 1991 fall of the Hoxha dictatorship. In 2011 over 300,000 Albanians crowded into the capital of Tirana to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the end of Enver Hoxha's Communist tyranny. Hoxha ran one of the cruelest Communist dictatorships ever. His completion being Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union, the Kims in North Korea and Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

Hoxha saw enemies everywhere and spent enormous amounts of money on weapons and defenses. The weapons have largely disappeared. In 2002 for example, Albanian police announced that they had found and seized about a third of the 549,000 weapons stolen during the 1997 upheavals. The weapons disappeared when a period of political turmoil led to several Albanian arsenals were sacked. The 549,000 weapons figure may actually be a conservative estimate of the number lost in 1997. No one knows for sure how many weapons were stashed in the Hoxha-era People’s War arsenals.

One thing that was known with more certainty was the number (about 750,000) of concrete bunkers he had built from the late 1940s until he died in 1985. Each of these prefabricated bunkers could hold a few people and a machine-gun fired out of a cupola. These bunkers were hard to miss as there were throughout the country. On average there were about 26 per square kilometer (or 68 per square mile). On a per capita basis there was one bunker for every four or five Albanians. As long as Hoxha was in charge Albanians were forced to maintain bunkers in their area. After the dictatorship was overthrown in 1991 the bunkers belonged to whoever owned the land they were on. Few people could afford to remove them and few people bothered to maintain them. The bunkers are slowly decaying and no one has found any practical use for them. Even military experts admit that these bunkers had little value in wartime. For most Albanians the ubiquitous and decaying bunkers are a reminder what type of government to avoid at all costs.

 

 


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