The Postblloku Memorial in the centre of Tirana brings together three fascinating symbols of the Communist era, as a reminder of the nation’s troubled past.
The distinctive shape of the bunker at the Postblloku Memorial was in many ways the symbol of the Communist era in Albania – a reminder of the isolation, paranoia, and excessive vigilance felt during this oppressive time. Today, this symbol signifies the fall of the 45-year long regime, one of the most severely totalitarian among all the Eastern-bloc nations. Located near the main boulevard in Tirana, the memorial’s site has further significance. It rests at the entrance of the former living grounds (‘Blloku’) of Enver Hoxha, the Communist leader, and his government. Postblloku offers an historical reminder to the free citizens and visitors of Tirana – who can today visit this district for a nice drink – that access to this exclusive block was once strictly prohibited.
Constructed in 2013 as a tribute the political prisoners of the Communist regime, the memorial was designed by famed author Fatos Lubonja, and internationally-renowned artist Ardian Isufi. It comprises of three distinct monuments, each telling a different part of the story: the bunker, the mine shaft columns from Spaç Prison, and a brightly-coloured section of the Berlin Wall.
By taking a few steps down into the interior of the bunker, you find yourself in the position in which guards once stood, who diligently kept watch over the living quarters of the Communist government. The columns of Spac’s Prison’s copper mine tell another story however. It had a troubling reputation as the most terrifying labour camp in the country – a place where all dissidents were either imprisoned or executed. Located 60 km outside of the capital, Spaç Prison is at times even gloomily referred to as “Albania’s Auschwitz.”
An especially beautiful and more encouraging aspect of this triptych is the section of the Berlin Wall, the German capital’s gift to the city of Tirana. This internationally-recognised symbol of the fall of Communism appropriately displays its “Western” graffiti-filled side to Tirana’s main boulevard, while its grey and gloomy “Eastern” side faces towards Blloku, and importantly, the past. This poignant monument may have turned the proverbial page of this dark chapter in Albania’s history.