Saturday, August 14, 2010

so where is he?

After Enver Hoxha, the former communist dictator of Albania, died in 1985, he was buried in a special cemetery "at the foot of mother Albania." The country was still under the communist regime and as a result, he received a very elaborate burial and memorial to his death. Well some years after the fall of communism, his body was exhumed and he was buried somewhere else. A couple of days ago, Teuta asked me if I knew where he was and after realizing that neither of us knew, we decided to go out on an adventure to find him. And so we did. And where is he? In Sharre, a small village right outside of Tirana with one of the biggest cemeteries I've seen in my life. And where was he inside the cemetery? Right with everyone else buried there, nothing elaborate at all. We found his grave and it had plastic flowers on top and around it. So there must be people that still mourn his death - this has added yet another shiny ball for me to probe.

So yep, I was kinda surprised but then again maybe people have decided that there's no need for a special burial for Enver Hoxha at all. Maybe some have thought that other things should have been done with his body. Teuta and I have both decided that we need to find out more.

**Of course this adventure of trying to find the former dictator's body included way more details than I'm writing here, including climbing hills through the cemetery, finding bunkers, and a crazy experience on a bus that concluded with a man sliding 5 meters on the sidewalk on his stomach. But due to the fact that some family members read this blog and would probably be REALLY concerned if I revealed the true details of this mission, I've decided to omit them. You can email me if you really wanna know!


  1. Chelsea, I've been wanting to tell you- I love your blog and your insights on living and working in Albania. I've been in Tirana this year on a Fulbright and I'm so disappointed we won't be able to meet in person- this time anyway. But I look forward to when we do, because I don't see either of us stopping work here anytime soon!

    To that future coffee, whenever it may be. ;)

  2. Hi Chelsea,

    Just came across your blog today. Very interesting! I've been living and serving in Albania for 9 years. My husband is an Albanian widower. We are raising his two girls, we have another daughter together and are expecting another baby later this year.

    Your experience in finding the grave site of Enver Hoxha was very interesting to me. A few years back, I was asked by a British man researching the life of King Zog to show him where Queen Geraldine was buried (she is also buried in Sharre). After taking several pictures of the site, he asked if I could lead him to Enver Hoxha's grave site. When I asked a few workers to show me where it was, the absolutely refused!

    When you went with Teuta, did you ask where Hoxha was buried? If so, what was the response?



  3. Enver Hoxha was a brutal dictator. But capitalism is also very brutal to the Albanian workers. 22 years after the fall of stalinism in Albania, the nation remains one of the poorest in Europe. This is partly because of the betrayal by the social democrats of the Socialist Party of Albania, who supported right-wing privatizations and market reforms. Albania under capitalism is a living hell for many people. That is why Enver Hoxha is loved by many elderly Albanians who remember the days when there was a social safety net under stalinism.