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About the project

The exhibition The Fates of Albanians survived in Mauthausen is part of a two-year project, an idea of DMO ALBANIA (a non-profit organisation based in Tirana) in cooperation with National Historical Museum in Tirana, financed by EVZ Stiftung Foundation (Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”, based in Berlin, Germany).

The aim of these projects is to keep alive memories and stories of people suffered during National Socialism regime in Germany during 1933-1945. Victims feel that recognition of the suffering they have endured is just as important as financial compensation or punishment for perpetrators. They deserve their suffering being recognised. For Albanians, this part of history was unknown until today. There were some interviews with one or two survivors, but not a documented history, with facts, numbers, photos etc. Albania applied for the first time for such project, in July 2020 and was one of winners. The staff of the project, in cooperation with historian Dr. Dorian Koçi decided to document the fate of Albanians who were arrested by Nazi Germany during 1943-1944 in Albania and sent to concentration camps. Why in Mauthausen? Because the most important contingent of Albanians, more than 500 people, arrested in Albania were sent toward Mauthausen, initially in the camps of Zemun and Banjica with destination Austria.

The first step was a visit of our staff in Mauthausen memorial site, to see the place, the existing barracks where Albanians suffered, to see the museum, facts, stories and Albanian documents and memorial there.  We continued with detailed research in Albanian Archives and international Archives about the itineraries of Albanians arrested during National Socialism. We evidenced the names of survived people, and contacted their families, which become part of a documentary produced in November by our staff and script writer and Journalist, Mrs Admirina Peci. The documentary is titled: From hell to Hell and is part of the exhibition.

The exhibition, curated by Elton Koritari, is the highlight of the project, to show to the public all the facts and documents we collected during this research and to share all the findings with new generations. We choose to open this exhibition for the Holocaust week, in order to raise awareness for the most tragic event in human history during World War II.  The exhibition will move in Durres and Vlora, in the cities with the most victims of National Socialism.

The project is not ending here. We will continue with education activities, to include this part of history in the curricula of High School. We will include academics and historians in another forum, to discuss further this topic. At the end we will organize seminars in high Schools and a national essay competition, awarding the best works of students regarding this part of history.

If we don’t know our past, it can be repeated again. Our duty is to educate young generation, that they never allow such atrocities against humanity happening again.

EVA KUSHOVA

Project leader, Director of DMO ALBANIA

Historical context of exhibition

The Second World War has been described as the most devastating war of humanity, as a war with the greatest human losses. Since the XVII century. no other war in Europe had been so cruel and destructive. Now peace was restored, but many realized, as the poet did at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, that it was a peace raised above a cemetery1.

This human graveyard was not caused by people who turned into criminals overnight but was the result of the violence of a sophisticated repressive apparatus over humans. German Nazism as the ideology that arose through the so-called racial revolution which promoted “differences by nature” – superiority over others and social Darwinism, caused the greatest human losses in history. About 75 million people died in World War II, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians, many of whom died as a result of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass bombings, disease, and starvation.

This was a war of religion, or in modern terms, the war of ideologies on both sides. It was also, here too, the facts speak for themselves, a life-or-death struggle with most of the participating countries. The price of defeat against the German National Socialist regime, as proved in Poland and in the part which was occupied by the Soviet Union and with the fate of the Jews, whose systematic disappearance became known step by step to an unbelieving world, was slavery and death. The anti-fascist resistance in Albania included many people, human destiny and characters who would mark the later 50-year history of Albania, among them the people interned in the Concentration Camp in Mauthausen (Austria) during November 1943-May 1945. The crimes of Nazism need to be identified and compared with other countries of the European continent.  

The dead and the living people from Albania, who suffered in the Mauthausen Camp, needed transitional justice after the end of the Great War, which in many cases failed. The respect for the victims and the testimonies gathered from the descendants of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp are reference evidence that testifies to the triumph and exaltation of human dignity over the banality of evil. This exhibition is dedicated to their memory.

Dr DORIAN KOÇI

Historian, Director of National Historical Museum

Uolltër Lakër, Europa në Kohën Tonë 1945-1992 , Dituria , Tirana: 2003, p. 22
www.remember.al. www.dmoalbania.al 0692078553, info@dmoalbania.al

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