In Tirana: a block of red marble in the Grand Park
The Grand Park of Tirana or the Park on the Artificial Lake, is a public park situated on the southern part of Tirana, Albania. The Park was built between 1955 and 1956 based on a Bulgarian plan and used to be called the Gogo stable, in a green area.
The Park includes an artificial lake, the Saint Procopius Church and the Presidential Palace and some memorials to several Albanian personalities as for instance the Tombs of the Frashëri brothers, Abdyl Frashëri, Naim Frashëri and Sami Frashëri. Also, in 1998 the remains of Faif Konitza, former Minister of Albania to Washington, and publisher of the Albania magazine were brought from the United States and put in a tomb located at the park.
In the internal parts, there can also be found the memorial of 45 British and Australian soldiers fallen during World War II –established in 1995- and the German military cemetery, officially inaugurated in 2006. Both memorials are very well preserved. These two antagonist memorials are close to a third one, the Memorial to Anti-fascist Children’s group, placed in Enver Hoxha’s times which seems to be neglected.
This unusual combination of British and German memorials is not the only oddity in the Memorial complex.
The British cemetery houses the Commonwealth war graves. In the center of the cemetery there is a block or red marble with this text in Albanian: "1939-1945: In memory of British soldiers who fell in Albania during the second world war". But this text was not the original one on this block. In fact this block of marble had been Enver Hoxha’s gravestone, whose grave was removed in 1992 from the Cemetery of the Martyrs of the Nation to the main public cemetery of the city. Pranvera Hoxha, Enver Hoxha’s daughter, explains how she discovered by chance this new use of his father’s gravestone:
“Shortly after the Berisha regime had disinterred my father's body from the Cemetery of the Martyrs of the Nation, I was passing one day through the park in Tirana with its artificial lake when I noticed a memorial carved out of red marble.
I recognized it immediately as the gravestone which formerly marked my father's grave in the Cemetery of the Martyrs of the Nation. It still bore the holes from the mountings of the letters of his name. But in place of the former inscription 'ENVER HOXHA (1908-1985)' was now written: '1939-1945: IN MEMORY OF BRITISH SOLDIERS WHO FELL IN ALBANIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR'.
As if it was not enough that these soldiers of the Second World War should be buried far from their homeland and their families, now they must bear the weight of the gravestone of Enver Hoxha!
A state which steals the gravestone of the man who led the country's war of national liberation in order to transform it into a memorial for foreign soldiers is a state totally lacking in any semblance of dignity. On the other hand it is an insult to the kingdom of Great Britain. At least, that is what I think.”
These photos were taken in August 2018. They show the British memorial which houses the Commonwealth war graves, the Memorial to Anti-fascist Children’s group, the German cemetery which houses the graves of German nazi soldiers, the Faif Konitza’s grave, the Tombs of the Frashëri brothers, a statue ot two partisans, the Francesk Radi statue and a general view of the Artificial Lake.