Guarding the last likeness of a loathed dictator? It’s a thankless job.

Guarding the last likeness of a loathed dictator? It’s a thankless job.

Swaddled in straw on the dirt floor of a stable, the once omnipotent dictator lies helpless on his back. His face specked with bird droppings, he stares blankly at the sagging roof, a final indignity for a leader whose all-seeing eyes held millions in terrified thrall for four decades. Enver Hoxha, who died in 1985, was Europe’s most enduring and feared communist tyrant, creating a cult of personality that left the impoverished Balkan nation of Albania awash with grandiose statues, marble busts and giant portraits in his honor. Now, 30 years after the brutal system he left behind imploded, the cult has shrunk to a single tribute in bronze, toppled from its stone pedestal in a remote mountain village and dumped in a stable — but still watched over day and night by an elderly Albanian woman and her daughter.
Swaddled in straw on the dirt floor of a stable, the once omnipotent dictator lies helpless on his back. His face specked with bird droppings, he stares blankly at the sagging roof, a final indignity for a leader whose all-seeing eyes held millions in terrified thrall for four decades. Enver Hoxha, who died in 1985, was Europe’s most enduring and feared communist tyrant, creating a cult of personality that left the impoverished Balkan nation of Albania awash with grandiose statues, marble busts and giant portraits in his honor. Now, 30 years after the brutal system he left behind imploded, the cult has shrunk to a single tribute in bronze, toppled from its stone pedestal in a remote mountain village and dumped in a stable — but still watched over day and night by an elderly Albanian woman and her daughter.