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Archive Of Memory
Amik Kasoruho

In 1949, Amik Kasoruho, then 17, was arrested for writing and sharing a leaflet that was critical of the government with his friends. As a consequence, he spent 7 years in Burrel Prison. While in prison, Amik’s father, Qemal Kasoruho, was executed without trial along with 21 other intellectuals under false charges in 1951.

Visar Zhiti

Visar Zhiti is a poet and writer who has published numerous volumes of literature, among them two books about his time in Spaç, a notorious work camp in northern Albania, and in the camp at Qafë Bar, also in the north. In 1979, his first collection of poems in manuscript form were denounced as anti-communist by an expert panel of other writers.

Simon Miraka

Simon Miraka is the President of the Anti-Communist Association of the Former Politically Persecuted. In 1945, when he was just a few weeks old, his family was internally exiled in Berat, and later, in Savër and Gjazë, two villages in Lushnje District. In total, he spent years living in exile.

Sami Repishti

Professor Sami Repishti was born in Shkodra in 1925. In 1946, he was arrested and after 14 months of torture by former State Security, was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and forced labor, of which he served 10. In 1959, he escaped to Yugoslavia and later, in 1962, he immigrated to the United States. Among other works, he has published Teardrops, a short collection of stories about his fellow prisoners, and Under Rozafa’s Shadow, a memoir in which he traces the rise of communism in Shkodra and details his experience in prison and across Albania’s labor camps.

Fatbardh Kupi

Fatbardh Kupi spent the better part of his life in prison and exile. From the age of 16 up until he turned 60, he served time in Tirana’s prison, in Porto Palermo, the camp for exiled families at Tepelenë, the villages of Grabian and Gradisht, and the work camps in Qafë Bar and Bulqizë among others. He was persecuted by the communist regime for the simple reason that he was the son of Abaz Kupi, Captain of the Gendarmerie of Kruja under King Zog, and Chairman of the Movement for Legality which aimed to re-instate the king.

Islam Spahiu

Islam Spahiu is a former art teacher, writer and translator of works by Dostoyevsky, Kandinsky, and Nietzsche. He has published translations of Dostoyevsky’s White Nights and an anthology of European poets. His thirst for knowledge led him to engage in activity deemed illegal under the communist regime.

Archive Of Memory

Between 1945 and 1990, there were approximately 100 prisons, forced labor camps, and places of internment in Albania. These were divided into three categories: 1. “closed prisons”, where inmates served their sentences but were not forced to work, 2. work or “re-education camps,” where prisoners were forced to work, and 3. “barbed wire camps” as the internment camps were called up until 1954, due to being surrounded by barbed wire. After 1954, those persons who were internally exiled were transferred to villages like Gradisht, Savër, Grabian, Plug, Çermë, and Gjazë where barracks-style housing and manual labor in the agricultural sector awaited them.

Due to the lack of infrastructure and the increasing number of people who were detained during the early years of the regime, those individuals not serving their sentences in closed prisons, and those who were internally exiled, served their sentences anywhere available including in former army barracks, forts, warehouses, and stables. Detainees provided an indispensable work force for the country which was in great need of manual labor to support its infrastructure and growth. From working in the fields of Myzeqe, the country’s breadbasket region, to the drying of the swamps in Maliq and Beden to create new farmland, to the building of airports and roads, to mining for minerals in the work camps of Spaç and Bulqizë, their contribution is staggering.

Today, many of the places where inmates and exiles were detained are disappearing or have already disappeared. In some locations, there is no evidence left to prove that a camp once existed there. This is due to time, neglect, and the illegal scrap trade. The voices featured in this project, however, help to recall the past and bring life to these forgotten places. Each location on the map corresponds to one of the project participants and the place or places of detainment where they served out their sentence. To learn more, click on a location.