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Communist Concentration Camps of the Past Haunt Today’s Albania

Culture, History January 22, 2019

TEPELENA, Albania—Simon Mirakaj was 4 years old in 1949 when, together with his mother and two siblings, he was transferred to an internment camp a few miles from the town of Tepelena in southern Albania.

His family’s odyssey of displacement first started in July 1945, when the communist government of Albania, headed by dictator Enver Hoxha, deemed them enemies. This was because Mirakaj’s father and uncles had been fighting communists in the countryside, sparking the regime’s anger.

Simon Mirakaj holds the drawings from Tepelena camp in his office. (Antonio Çakshiri for The Epoch Times)

Albania’s Post-Communist Rebirth Gets a Jewish Twist

Culture, History, Religion January 22, 2019

On a windy mountaintop citadel in Berat, Albania, in a church lit only by incense lamps and their dim reflections off the peeling gold-painted icons, I met Simon Vrusho, the creator and director of the Muzei Solomoni, Albania’s first and only Jewish museum, which opened earlier this year.

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Original Austrian telegram considered best testimony to Albania’s Independence Day

History December 3, 2018

A newly discovered original telegram sent by a former Austrian consul based in the city of Vlora, southern Albania, has brought back the atmosphere of Albania’s declaration of independence in the afternoon of November 28, 1912 in the face of lack of photo or audio evidence from Albania’s most important event following almost five centuries under Ottoman rule…

A Life in Focus: Queen Geraldine of the Albanians

History, Profile December 3, 2018

The Independent revisits the life of a notable figure. Queen Geraldine of the Albanians was one of the last survivors of the Ruritanian ambience of the interwar east European monarchies who lived in an insecure world between the threats of fascism, communism and democracy…

The widow of King Zog, she lived to return to Albania after 62 years in exile

Brave World War 2 Halifax crew buried in dignified ceremony in Albania

History November 21, 2018

Seven crew members of the 148 (special duties) squadron RAF who were onboard the RAF Halifax JP244 aircraft have been laid to rest almost 75 years after they were killed carrying out a supply mission over Albania. A burial service to honour the crewmen was held earlier today (Wednesday 24 October) at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery, Albania and was attended by Her Majesty’s Ambassador, His excellency Mr Duncan Norman MBE, family members and local dignitaries…

The 7 crewmen, Family copyright, all rights reserved

Tales of heroism on the Second World War’s forgotten battleground

History, Travel October 12, 2017

It was hard to imagine these mountains in eastern Albania being anything other than serene. But this, I discovered, was the very spot where Brigadier Edmund “Trotsky” Davies, who was leading Special Operations in Albania against the occupying Germans, was captured in 1944. As a part-time soldier, I thought I knew my military history, but I had no idea that the British had done anything in Second World War Albania. My guide to this little visited part of Europe was Ed Reeves, a man who is researching for a book about Davies and who has set up a specialist tour operator, Balkan Secrets…

Little Tony Blairs of Kosovo: the boys named after the great man

History October 12, 2017

When Nato eventually intervened in 1999 to stop the ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, the UK prime minister Tony Blair was hailed as a hero. As refugees returned to the province, several new parents of baby boys called their sons Tony Blair. For Kosovan Albanians, Tony Blair is more than just an ex-British prime minister turned globetrotting statesman. He’s the hero of the nation, who saved them in their hour of need. And how better to show gratitude than to name their sons after him?…
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Albania’s bunker museums cast new light on a dark history

History, Travel May 30, 2017

Bunkers from the postwar Hoxha era still litter Albania’s landscape and, in the capital Tirana, are being opened to the public as the country explores its communist past. Spend just a few days in Albania and you’ll get a sense of how the country was suffocated in the iron grip of its communist dictatorship for nearly 50 years. The land, from gorgeous beaches to remote valleys, is still dotted, 25 years after the collapse of the regime, with tens of thousands of bunkers, concrete testament to the paranoia of Enver Hoxha, who led the country from 1944 until his death in 1985…

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  • Little Tony Blairs of Kosovo: the boys named after the great man

    by on October 12, 2017 - 0 Comments

    When Nato eventually intervened in 1999 to stop the ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, the UK prime minister Tony Blair was hailed as a hero. As refugees returned to the province, several new parents of baby boys called their sons Tony Blair. For Kosovan Albanians, Tony Blair is more than […]

  • Albania an important gateway in the heart of the Mediterranean

    by on July 18, 2017 - 0 Comments

    One hour flight distance from European capitals. Stretches along seashores of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. More than 300km of coastline. Memorable holidays. Unexplored shores. A varying landscape of nature. More than 2700m high mountains. More than 7700 acres of forests. Hidden Valleys. In the heart of mountains, tall-stone architecture, guest houses. More than 3200 […]

  • At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song

    by on November 3, 2017 - 0 Comments

    “Why not give yourself a break from the unending cavalcade of modern high-speed insanity, and rest up with this album of deep soul from Southern Albania.” – Ry Cooder Brazilian Samba, Bosnian Sevdah, New Orleans Jazz, Cuban son – and Albanian Saze! The turn of the last century saw mass migrations to the world’s cities […]

  • 7 things you didn’t know you could do in Albania

    by on September 2, 2017 - 0 Comments

    Have the beach to yourself… Eat superb seafood… Hike through alpine countryside… Explore underground nuclear bunkers… See a living citadel… Drink home-grown wines… Shop for antiques; Just outside the capital, the town of Kruja is famous for being the stronghold of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg during his resistance against the Ottomans in the fifteenth century. […]

  • Go slow: Albania's new food movement

    by on June 13, 2017 - 0 Comments

    From the Adriatic coastline to the Accursed Mountains, a new generation of chefs is putting a modern twist on the country’s traditional dishes. “Drying our homemade jufka pasta in the sun”, “watermelon jam”, “corn bread and white cheese”, “sucking clover in the meadows”, “omelette with wild fennel”, “fritters with plum and honey sauce”… These are all […]

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