The Photo Collection of

Branimir Gušić

Albania around 1947

Deutsch | Shqip Branimir Gušić (06 April 1901 - 06 July 1975) stemmed from an old Croatian family. He studied to be a physician and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Zagreb in 1926. Gušić was a noted figure of Croatian medicine, becoming a specialist in and leading professor of otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat medicine). He served as dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb in 1945-1947 and from 1956 onwards, and retired in 1971. He was also a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art. Photo Captions Gušić's interests extended far beyond medicine. He was a passionate hiker and mountain climber, and, after the Second World War, was president of the Sljeme Mountaineering Club in Zagreb, the Croatian Mountaineering Association, and the Council for Nature Protection in Croatia. Gušić was particularly interested in the Dinaric Alps that are situated in the Montenegro-Albania-Kosovo border region, which he visited on many occasions from the 1930s to the 1960s. He published a book about Mount Durmitor (2522 m.) in Montenegro and in 1930-1932 made a silent movie about an expedition there. He also scaled Mount Kokërdhake (2508 m.) in Albania, and spent much time in and around the highest peak of the Bjeshkët e Nemuna (Prokletije) range, Mount Jezerca (2694 m.). In addition to this, Branimir Gušić was a specialist in human geography. In 1928 he finished a doctorate at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb with a dissertation entitled “Geneza i elementi mljetske seljačke kuće” [Origin and Elements of Farmhouses on the Island of Mljet]. His wife, Marijana Gušić (1901-1987), was a noted ethnologist in her own right and served as long-time director of the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb. Together they travelled and conducted expeditions not only to Montenegro and Kosovo, but also to Albania which they visited both before the Second World War and thereafter. Marijana Gušić is remembered in particular for her work on the Albanian xhubleta dress and assembled a good collection of folk costumes and objects from the northern Albanian tribes for the museum in Zagreb. The present collection of photographs taken by Branimir Gušić seems to have been made on a visit to Albania around 1947. From the pictures, not all of which have been identified, it is evident that he and his companions were not only in the northern mountains, but also in the south of the country: Elbasan, the coast of Himara, Gjirokastra, Përmet, Leskovik, Voskopoja in the Korça region and Lake Ohrid. Ravaged by the Second World War and now under strict communist control, Albania was a poor and devastated country that had cut off all ties with the Western world. For this reason, the Gušić photos of 1947 offer rare and fascinating views. From 1945 to 1948, Albania was closely allied with communist Yugoslavia, a fact that facilitated Gušić's visit, but it then broke with Yugoslavia and withdrew into Stalinist isolation from the rest of Europe. Little was known about it in the West at this time. These photos offer no direct indication of the regime of terror that reigned in the country in early years of Stalinist rule after the Second World War, but they do provide objective, and often stunningly beautiful views of Albanian towns and landscapes as experienced by the Croat scholar. We are grateful to Anton Kaçinari of Zagreb and Bejtullah Destani of the Centre for Albanian Studies in London for having made this collection available to the public here. Robert Elsie
Robert Elsie Early Photography in Albania