The era of Enver Halil Hoxha in Albania left about 750,000 bunkers. Paranoid dictator was fascinated by the idea of “bunkerizatsii whole country.” During the 35 years (1950-85), most of the residents were involved in public works in order to build temporary shelters in case of war. Today bins made of high quality materials (which by the way were bought in Austria and Italy), continue to exist as monuments of the state of idiocy and paranoia. Some of these buildings are adapted by local residents for various needs.
Dutch photographer David Gaillard worked on a series of photographs on the bunkers of the Cold War in the Netherlands in 2008. Then a friend of the journalist told him about the bunkers in Albania, after which David made a series of photographs of abandoned bunkers left over from the reign of the Albanian communist dictator Enver.
David Gaillard tells about Albania and its bunkers in his series «Concresco» (2012).
“I am talking about the country, using the bins, as a metaphor, – says David Galjaard –
Albania belongs to the East, but wants to be part of the West. One foot, it is in the East, the other – in the west, the split between these tendencies monstrous. Albanians still do not sewed their identity, they struggle not only with the past but also the future.Whatever it was their future – be a part of the Western European civilization. “
During his first visit to Albania in 2009, David Gaillard decided to use the bins as a metaphor for the documentation of social and cultural life of the countries with economies in transition. Over the years, David made two Gaillard made three trips to Albania and spent over four months in the country as a whole. Since the fortified bunkers scattered across the country, David Gaillard traveling the country on a small van at random hoping to run into bunkers. In the mountains and on the beaches of this beautiful nature of the country, he traveled on foot.
When in 1950 the first prototype of the bunker was completed, Hodge asked the chief engineer, as the confidence in the hopper capacity to withstand bombardment. The engineer replied that entirely sure if the dictator ordered the closure of an engineer in the bunker and carry out the bombing on it. Engineer escaped unscathed after a massive attack on the bunker, and Hodge ordered to build thousands of similar facilities. The project required huge funds, used a huge amount of concrete, all the money of the country have been directed to this construction. At the same time the country had a terrible housing crisis and terrible roads.
After the death of Hoxha bunkers were abandoned, most of them remain so to this day.Some of them were converted by cafes, warehouses, storage facilities for grain, cattle cost, etc. Some of them are still partly used for other purposes during the conflict in the Balkans in the ’90s. Now this is a very convenient place for young Albanians, where they gather and spend time over drinks.
Bunkers Albania became a kind of symbol of the country. Among the most popular souvenirs Albanian holders for pencils and ashtrays in a bunker. project called was launched in 2009. Concrete Mushrooms, in which all countries have begun bunkers recorded in the database, and the locals have encouraged to use them for any useful purposes.
Foreigners visiting the country, are often surprised when they see the bunkers scattered across the country as an Easter egg. They they are a delight.
Some Albanians are considering how to use these bins for tourism purposes. “When the economy is a little rise, and there will be more tourists visiting the country, that’s when the Albanians will have a clear idea about the potential of the bunkers as tourist attractions. Then the time will come when they finally they will be used for the benefit of the people “- says David Gaillard.