Though long-inhabited, Tirana never became a city until after World War II. In 1938, it had but 38,000 people. Further, its architectural heritage has been much destroyed during the Communist decades, so there are almost no historical churches or mosques left.
A striking exception is the Et’hem Bey Mosque, completed in 1821. Only shuttered by Enver Hoxha, it was not razed. When it was reopened without permission in 1991, thousands of people converged there to pray. Its walls and dome are lushly covered with mosaics depicting landscapes and plant motifs. Elegantly proportioned, it’s a gorgeous mosque. Turkey is financing its restoration. Nearby, a much bigger mosque, also funded by Turkey, is being built.
Since the Et’hem Bey occupies one corner of Skanderbeg Square, I see it almost every day. A vast, unobstructed space like a parade ground, Skanderbeg was where thousands of solemnly dressed Albanians knelt, with their heads bowed, to mourn Stalin’s death in 1953. There in 1991, a 32-feet-high statue of Enver Hoxha was toppled, while the dictator’s portraits and books curled, blackened and ashened in bonfires, to much bitter jubilation.
Just off Skanderbeg is Café Flora. Opened in the 1930’s, it’s one of Tirana’s oldest, though you wouldn’t know it by its slick and sterile appearance. Surely, it’s no longer the establishment described by Ismail Kadar in his 2009 novel, The Girl in Exile.
Under vague yet worrying government scrutiny, a playwright arranged to meet one of his investigators at Café Flora, for an exploratory, informal chat. Maybe it wasn’t the brightest idea, “What am I letting myself in for? he asked himself as he passed the marble colonnade of the Palace of Culture, his mind dogged by the thought that he was going like a lamb to the slaughter.”
Entering, the playwright was momentarily surprised to find the investigator at his favorite table. What a coincidence, he thought, but of course, “The investigator would know as well as he did where he liked to sit. As all Tirana knew, the Flora came second after the Dajti for microphones under the tables.”
As the watched watched the watcher for clues to why he was being watched, they talked like ordinary acquaintances, but of course, there was nothing normal about their conversation, or Café Flora, Tirana and Albania of that era. One man was totally at the mercy of the other, and it didn’t matter that, up to that point, he had been a playwright much esteemed by the Party.
With total power, the Party, or more specifically, Enver Hoxha, could just change his mind, and decide that a thoroughly loyal servant or longstanding comrade is an enemy. This apparently happened to Mehmet Shehu, Hoxha’s right hand man. Expected by all to succeed the ailing dictator by 1981, Shehu suddenly died, supposedly by suicide, then came the preposterous announcement that Shehu had long been an agent of the CIA, KGB, British and Yugoslavs. Hoxha also sent Shehu’s widow and two sons to prison, where one committed suicide.
Of course, Shehu didn’t rise to the top of the Communist hierarchy by being such a nice guy. Shehu in 1961, “Whoever disagrees with our leadership in any respect, will get spat in the face, punched on the chin, and, if necessary, a bullet in his head.” Shehu certainly got one.
Six years after Hoxha’s death, his wife, Nexhmije, was arrested for embezzlement. Jailed for just five years, she had it easy. Albanians knew all about her pompous, extravagant lifestyle, which was standard for the elite of every Communist country, but why should anyone be surprised? What’s the use of power if one can’t gorge, or exact terrible revenge against each offense, no matter how slight or imaginary?
Though the US is well on its way towards totalitarianism, it’s only half-erected, as proven by the half-assed skirmishes among its politicos. When Trump threatened to arrest Hillary, for example, he was only kidding, and they both knew it, for they’re in the same bed. As for rigged elections, Kerry, too, only jokingly dawdled with the hanging chad diddle. After being screwed by Hillary, Sanders beamingly endorsed her top shelf, naked strap-on.
At this stage, it’s only flag football, or, more accurately, fag football. Despite all the hollering, prancing and pansy pantsing, no hitting is allowed. See any blood?
The US is also missing its Great Dear Leader, with Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump afforded only brief cameos as cabana boys in chief. Here in Albania, Hoxha ruled for 40 years! Next door in Yugoslavia, Tito reigned for 37! Think about that.
Narcissistic ogres, they loved themselves to death. Such type will always be adored and worshipped by the infantile, hankering for their uber daddy, but luckily for the US, the country should disintegrate before such a savior appears.
In The Albanians, Miranda Vickers describes Hoxha’s 1946 visit to Belgrade, where he was “shocked by Tito’s arrogance and elitism.” Intending to swallow up Albania, Tito had to show who was boss, “Tito wore a white marshal’s uniform with a gold-embroidered collar and matching cuffs, and abundant medal ribbons on his chest to complement the stars on his epaulettes—this ensemble being completed by a huge sparkling diamond ring on his finger. Hoxha felt offended, humiliated and probably exceedingly jealous of all this excessive and ostentatious display, following so soon after the austere misery of the wartime struggle from which both he and Tito had just emerged.”
Conflict or even open war among Communist nations should prove, even to dumbshits, that nationalism is always a factor, no matter what your brainwashed or lying professor told you.
With such a recent past of abject poverty, physical isolation, mental suffocation and widespread state terror, it’s no wonder Albanians have worked hard to remake their society, to give it a new, cosmopolitan sheen that’s almost entirely free of nostalgia, for there isn’t much to fondly remember.
Of course, Tirana also looks new because nearly all its businesses could only appear after the collapse of Communism. Street after street, all the cafés, restaurants, bars and shops seem uniformly new, with each piece of furniture just installed, and the walls freshly painted and without memories. There are no black-and-white photos of long-dead patrons in any bar, no quirky painting forgotten in a corner. By October of 1994, there were just five restaurants in the entire city!
When the past is evoked, it’s nearly always imported, and why not? Since movies, TV shows and songs also become memories, you can modify your past, sort of, by lifting someone else’s media.
Near me, there’s the Vital Café. Among its framed images is Lewis Hine’s 1910 photo of boys smoking, Uncle Sam with “I WANT YOU FOR U.S. ARMY,” Manhattan Bridge as seen from Brooklyn, a pencil drawing of the Statue of Liberty, and a generic photo of a Lisbon streetcar. There’s no image of Albania.
Although Bar Restaurant London serves no English food or beer, it’s filled with photos of English royalties, and even several of Winston Churchill. The owner has visited London just once, for three days.
(Among Albanians, the Communists were most effective at fighting Fascists and Nazis, by the way, so they were funded by the British. Churchill helped to enthrone Hoxha. Albanian gold stolen by Nazis was also seized by the Brits after WWII, and not returned to Albania to this day, despite repeated demands. Who, I rob? I a thief? Whatchoo talkin’ about?!)
At Duff, there are photos of the most iconic figures and moments in American sports, including Ali standing over Liston, Team USA celebrating its “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union, Bobby Orr horizonal in the air after his decisive Stanley Cup goal, Jerry Krammer carrying Vince Lombardi off the field, Michael Jordan bawling while hugging the championship trophy, and Bill Buckner’s accursed World Series error, etc. On the back wall, there’s a large American flag. Though Albanians missed all these events as they happened, most Americans were only there for one or two, if that. Screen mesmerized, anyone can become a mainstream bastard and cram his brainpan with trivia.
Perhaps Albania’s integration into the corroded West is further advanced than I thought, however. At the southern end of Tirana is lovely Grand Park, with its large artificial lake, leafy trails and a much-cursed zoo, now finally remodeled.
Most people come to Grand Park from downtown, naturally. Entering it, they’re immediately greeted by a solemn, three-slabbed memorial, with the below in English, Albanian and Hebrew:
From 1933 through 1945, Europe was engulfed by the Holocaust—the destruction of European Jews by the German government and its collaborators. Although they had committed no crimes and posed no threat to the German nation, the Jews of Europe were systematically herded, brutalized, and murdered solely because of their ethnicity.
When German forces occupied Albania, the people of Albania refused to accede to the German occupiers’ demands to identify and turn over to them their Jewish countrymen and Jewish refugees in Albania. The code of Besa was honored and all Jews who sought protection were accorded it. The Albania people, Christians and Muslims alike, at risk of death, protected and saved the Jews.
This memorial is to remember and honor the memory of the six million Jews of Europe that were murdered and the citizens of Albania who acted selflessly to protect the Jews when the world would not.
Six million Jews were massacred solely because they were Jews, in short. First of, there were no six million Jews purposely massacred, so you can stash that away, along with your Jewish skin lamp shades, Jewish fat soap, Jewish tombstone pavement, Anne Frank’s Diary, Jerzy Kosinski’s Painted Bird and your dog-eared, tear-stained and signed copy of Elie Wiesel’s Night. It’s all bullshit, all of it.
Secondly, antisemitism is a complex, deep-rooted phenomenon that should be scrutinized and openly debated, engaging the very best minds, and not merely dismissed as some form of collective madness spanning dozens of countries and lasting millennia. It must be the world’s most persistent mental illness!
If America was still a free country, Laurent Guyénot, for example, would be lecturing on college campuses, if not appearing on TV, to be debated, or even torn apart, if there’s a worthy opponent. Bring it on! Everyone would benefit from such a discussion. Instead, we have cancel culture, a Jewish-led censorship campaign.
As for Hitler’s antisemitism, it was neither inborn nor inculcated in childhood, “Today it is difficult, if not impossible, for me to say when the word ‘Jew’ first gave me ground for special thoughts. At home I do not remember having heard the word during my father’s lifetime. I believe that the old gentleman would have regarded any special emphasis on this term as cultural backwardness.” Hitler’s old man was woke, in short, and Hitler grew up more or less a liberal, just like you.
Only as an adult in Vienna did Hitler start to ponder and dissect Jews, and he was frankly baffled, “But what inevitably remained incomprehensible was the boundless hatred they heaped upon their own nationality, despising its greatness, besmirching its history and dragging its great men into the gutter.”
(Shut up, Adolf! Are you going to blame Jews when morons get crushed by falling statues?)
Hitler also saw Jews as eager purveyors of decadence, “Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it?”
(Just one, Adolf?! What are you, numerically challenged? And lighten up, already, you’re just pissed Epstein got busted before you could bone a bevy of babyish virgins on his island.)
Worse, it was pointless to debate with Jews, for they were “dialectical liars!” According to this Aryan madman, Jews were simply “people who twist the truth in your mouth, who without so much as a blush disavow the word they have just spoken, and in the very next minute take credit for it after all.”
Even when Hitler had proven a Jew wrong, it meant absolutely nothing, for the very next day, “The Jew had not the slightest recollection of the day before, he rattled off his same old nonsense as though nothing at all had happened, and, if indignantly challenged, affected amazement; he couldn’t remember a thing, except that he had proved the correctness of his assertions the previous day.”
Fine, you may conclude Hitler’s conclusions are all psychopathic nonsense, but let’s consider this extended passage from Mein Kampf:
In the organized mass of Marxism he has found the weapon which lets him dispense with democracy and in its stead allows him to subjugate and govern the peoples with a dictatorial and brutal fist.
He works systematically for revolutionization in a twofold sense: economic and political.
Around peoples who offer too violent a resistance to attack from within he weaves a net of enemies, thanks to his international influence, incites them to war, and finally, if necessary, plants the flag of revolution on the very battlefields.
In economics he undermines the states until the social enterprises which have become unprofitable are taken from the state and subjected to his financial control.
In the political field he refuses the state the means for its self-preservation, destroys the foundations of all national self-maintenance and defense, destroys faith in the leadership, scoffs at its history and past, and drags everything that is truly great into the gutter.
Culturally he contaminates art, literature, the theater, makes a mockery of natural feeling, overthrows all concepts of beauty and sublimity, of the noble and the good, and instead drags men down into the sphere of his own base nature.
Religion is ridiculed, ethics and morality represented as outmoded, until the last props of a nation in its struggle for existence in this world have fallen.
Now begins the great last revolution. In gaining political power the Jew casts off the few cloaks that he still wears. The democratic people’s Jew becomes the blood-Jew and tyrant over peoples. In a few years he tries to exterminate the national intelligentsia and by robbing the peoples of their natural intellectual leadership makes them ripe for the slave’s lot of permanent subjugation.
OK, it’s all just psychopathic raving, and has nothing to do with you. My bad, but how about Hitler’s take on Israel, and this before the country was even founded?:
For while the Zionists try to make the rest of the world believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organization for their international world swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.
In war, all sorts of evilness flare up and ooze out, from all sides, so we’re not talking about what Hitler’s underlings or soldiers did, but what the man thought way before the shooting started, though to you, it may just be incomprehensible madness, even if nothing really is, so let’s move on.
All across Europe, Jews were key figures in every Communist Party, but that didn’t happen in Albania, simply because there were almost no Jews here. At the beginning of WWII, there were only about 200, and at the end, over 2,000, thanks to an influx of refugees.
Without a single Jew being killed in Albania, this country still needs a Holocaust Memorial, with its six million murdered without cause etched in stone. Jews as blameless victims, always, has become a dogma, at least in the mind-controlled West.
Since Jews were never a factor here, Albanians had no strong opinions about them, and since most Albanians were illiterate, they never read The Jew of Malta, The Merchant of Venice, Oliver Twist or The Marble Faun, etc.
Albania’s ignorance of Jews was soon rectified by nearly half a century of living through, to the fullest, the eternal Jewish ideology of us-against-them, collective guilt, Messianic arrogance and unbound, righteous hatred and revenge cloaked as social justice. Down to the bones, Albanians experienced Jewish thinking.
In Tirana, there’s Bunk’art, a museum of Communist crimes. Entering, you’ll see immediately, right on the wall behind the ticket desk, a quotation not from Solzhenitsyn, Kundera, Milosz or Kadar, but Primo Levi, an Italian Jew, “ALL THOSE THAT FORGET THEIR PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO RELIVE IT.”
Now, If This Is A Man is a classic of prison memoirs, I’ve read it, and Levi certainly suffered terribly, and is an excellent writer, but if you must cite a “Holocaust” survivor to anchor, orientate or dignify your tremendous suffering from a Jewish ideology, then you’re worse than jewed, I’m sorry.
Don’t go there, lovely Albania. You’ve suffered more than enough.
Lastly, nowhere in Mein Kampf did Hitler object to Jews as an ethnic group, but only to their thinking, that is, their deeply racist and ultimately misanthropic ideology.
It’s astounding how pervasive this mindset has permeated so many societies, particularly among the better-educated. Incredibly, there are even Arabs ranting away like Jews, with Jewish catchphrases and logics.
It’s past time we excise this life-wrecking virus.
Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.