Memory Days IV
20–27 FEBRUARY 2019, TIRANA
On 20–27 February 2019 the fourth edition of MEMORY DAYS will be organized, on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the toppling of the statue of the dictator Enver Hoxha, on 20 February 1991, which symbolically marks the fall of the dictatorship in Albania, and to commemorate 22 intellectuals shot without trial on the pretext of the so-called "Soviet Bomb". MEMORY DAYS is a project that was initiated by the Institute for Democracy, Media & Culture (IDMC), in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), in 2016. During MEMORY DAYS 2019, IDMC and KAS, in collaboration with other actors in the field of dealing with the past, such as the OSCE Presence in Albania, AIDSSH, ISKK, etc., will conduct different activities aimed at raising awareness in Albanian society about the consequences of the dictatorship's crimes, and at strengthening dialogue about the past.
The activities that will take place this year are:
Information about "Memory Days" activities:
Agenda (1.1 MB)
MEMORY DAYS rETURnS For A FOURTH EDITION WITH OVER 10 events
DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY, 20 FEBRUARY: "Memory days 2019" OPENING CEREMONY
4th edition of "Memory Days" opened with a keynote address by renowned historian, Bernd J. Fischer.
Tirana – The 4th edition of MEMORY DAYS 2019 opened on 20 February at the Tirana International Hotel in the presence of organizers, partners, local and foreign actors working in the field of memory, and other people interested in the subject. The activity was opened by the organizers: Jonila Godole, IDMC director and Walter Glos, KAS director. The event was also greeted by Karol Bachura, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Tirana.
During the opening ceremony a keynote address about "Albania and the Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe" was delivered by Bernd Fischer, historian and professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. The keynote speech was followed with a discussion with the participants, moderated by the historian, Gentiana Kera. The ceremony ended with presentation of research works on the dictatorship.
Presentation of Books on the Dictatorship
The Memory Days activity offered to actors working in the field of memory, in Albania and abroad, the opportunity to present their academic work on the dictatorship. Audience members addressed questions to the authors or to representatives who were directly involved in the authors' research.
The following was presented:
"Between Apathy & Nostalgia: Public & Private Recollections of Communism in Contemporary Albania", IDMC publication, product of the papers presented at the international conference "Between Apathy & Nostalgia: Public & Private Recollections of Communism in Contemporary Albania", organized by IDMC on 17–18 November 2017, within the framework of the second edition of MEMORY DAYS.
ISKK publications that included eleven books on the dictatorship closed the first day of MEMORY DAYS 2019. The authors of the books were present during the presentation of the books.
DAY 2 – THURSDAY, 21 FEBRUARY: FORUM "ANTI-COMMUNISM IN ALBANIA..."
Discussion Forum: "Anti-Communism in Albania: History and Current Situation".
Shkodra – On 21 February, the Anti-Communist Association of Former Victims of Political Persecution in Albania and KAS organized an activity in Shkodra with the topic "Anti-Communism in Albania: History and Current Situation". The activity aimed to commemorate the anti-communist resistance of victims of political persecution from Shkodra and the rest of Albania during the dictatorship. The activity's purpose was also to examine how the symptoms of communism have been dealt with from its collapse in 1991 until the present day. Additionally, the activity provided an open-discussion platform for those attending.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dieter Dombrowski, Federal Chairman of the Union of Victims' Associations of Communist Tyranny and Vice President of the Potsdam Parliament (CDU), discussed East Germany's experience of dealing with the communist past.
During this activity, IDMC presented a study entitled "(Non) Rehabilitation of Former Victims of Political Persecution in the Process of Transitional Justice (1991–2018)". The study provides a summary and an analysis of the most important developments in Albania that have affected the process of dealing with the dictatorship's crimes and the rehabilitation of those who suffered unjustly for political reasons.
DAY 3 – FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY: SYMPOSIUM AND FORUM
"Current Approaches to Communism: Challenges and Opportunities".
Tirana – "The Academic Symposium "Current Approaches to Communism: Challenges and Opportunities" was conceived as a forum for exchanging experiences and ideas. The aim was to discuss how to approach communism (and its historical sources) in order to gain as much valuable academic knowledge as possible. The symposium also addressed the challenges faced by researchers and the potential for future research.
The symposium program was diverse and included presentations by Albanian and foreign scholars as well as by archive representatives, among them: Jonila Godole, Idrit Idrizi, Bernd Fischer, Agron Tufa, Ardit Bido, Marenglen Kasmi, Nevila Nika, Sonila Boci, Albert P. Nikolla.
As the symposium concluded, the director of "House of Leaves" Museum, Etleva Demollari, welcomed the members of the panel to attend presentations about "Qëndresa" on the exhibition floor.
Forum with Students: "Memory & Democracy"
"Memory & Democracy" forum was organized on framework of #memorydays2019 by KAS in collaboration with ISP & CRD. Twenty-eight years ago, students of "Eqrem Çabej" University in Gjirokastra held a protest against the communist regime. The protest began on 11 February and, after the removal of the dictator's monument on 22 February 1991, ended fatally due to the violence of the so-called "Enver volunteers".
For the first time, a memorial event with historical and present-day value was organized at the University of Gjirokastra for this occasion, in the setting of this university. Guests of this activity included the former political leaders and protagonists of the student strike in 1990 and 1991, journalists, lecturers, public figures, local media and current university students.
DAY 4 – SATURDAY, 23 FEBRUARY: ORAL HISTORY IN CLASSROOM & EXHIBITION
Oral History in Classroom & Research Projects.
Tirana – In collaboration with the Association of History Teachers in Albania (ALBNA), IDMC organized in fourth day of #memorydays a presentation of the "Manual on Oral History", an IDMC publication by by Jonila Godole, Kailey Rocker and Edlira Agolli. The Oral History Manual aims to encourage teachers, high-school students, young researchers to learn more about oral history and interviewing process. This activity was accompanied by examples of creative oral history conducted by high-school students as part of the "Ask Your Grandparents" competition.
"Postcards from the Past" Exhibition
"Postcards from the past" exhibition is a project from IDMC aiming to portray in an ironic way different aspects of life in communism such as: the lack of freedom, difficult economic conditions, the cult of party leader, the restriction of free movement; the communist propaganda etc.
DAY 5 – MONDAY, 25 FEBRUARY: CONFERENCE and Documentary screening
"Dealing with the Material Heritage of Communism in Albania: Challenges & Approaches"
Tirana – "Dealing with the Material Heritage of Communism in Albania: Challenges & Approaches" conference was organized by ISKK and KAS on fifth day of #memorydays2019. The traces of communism in Albania are getting dismissed very fast. The tendency to create a political and social distance to the communist past and the adoption to a new reality is accompanied by a very poor attention and careless management of the communist material heritage. Something is done lately with the museums in Tirana, but the most significant sites of communist persecution, such as prisons, labor camps, internment camps, are partly or completely dismissed or have transformed their destination. In such circumstances, the lack of the traces makes almost impossible the perception of the communist experience, especially for the new generations. Therefore, ISKK and KAS organized this conference in order to bring more attention to this "amnesia" phenomenon and to reconstruct the collective memory of former-Communist Albania.
"Who is the Hero?" Documentary Screening
OSCE Presence in Albania facilitated the screening of the documentary "Who is the Hero?" by author Armand Bora, co-production with RTSH. The movie screening was followed by a discussion of the participants with the author. The event was attended by Prince Leka Zogu and his wife LMS Elia Zaharia Zogu.
DAY 6 – TUESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY: "MALL PËR ME KËNDUE" SCREENING
"Mall për me këndue" Documentary Screening.
Tiranë – The documentary "Mall për me këndue" is a production of the kujto.al Foundation – Online Archive of the Crimes and Victims of Communism in Albania and journalist Luljeta Progni. The documentary was screened on framework of fourth edition of MEMORY DAYS. "Mall për me këndue" is dedicated to Gac Çuni, a musician from Shkodra who passed away in the prison of Burrel when he was 30 years old. Through testimonies from his companions about his worries and the last moments of his life, participants became acquainted with the story of how this young man's voice was extinguished in the communist prisons.
DAY 7 – WEDNESDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2019: "Sigurimi & SPORTS"
"SIGURIMI & Sports", Well-known Sportsmen Share their Experience of Persecution under Communism.
Tiranë – 4th edition of #memorydays was closed on 27 February 2019 with "SIGURIMI & Sports" activity. "SIGURIMI & Sports" came as collaboration between IDMC and AIDSSH, supported by Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The activity provided the public with the Sigurimi files of formerly persecuted athletes. During communism the athletes were kept under surveillance by the Sigurimi due to their opportunities to travel abroad. There has been talk of the persecution and various influences of athletes of that time. While foreign footballers played in our country, and vice versa, little has been discovered from what Sigurimi gathered in its activity in this regard.
Detailed description – through access to documentation – of how the State Security monitored foreign and Albanian athletes during football matches and other sporting events taking place inside and outside the country revealed new aspects of surveillance that took place during the dictatorship in Albania.
Institute for Democracy, Media & Culture
Contact: @Matilda Karçanaj, Program Coordinator IDMC
Konrad Adeanuer Foundation (KAS)
Contact: @Klaudja Zerva, Program Coordinator KAS
PartnerS & SUPPORTERS
OSCE Presence in Albania • Albanian Association of History Teachers (ALBNA)
Institute for the Studies of Communist Crimes and Consequences in Albania (ISKK)
Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents (AIDSSH)
Anti-Communist Association of Former Victims of Political Persecution of Albania (SHAKPPSH)
Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tirana • Institute for Political Studies (ISP)
kujto.al Foundation • Center for Regional Development (CDR)