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Enver Hoxha

Enver Hoxha (; 16 October 1908 11 April 1985) was the leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania. He also served as Prime Minister of Albania from 1944 to 1954, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Democratic Front from 1945 to his death, and as Commander-in-Chief of the Albanian armed forces from 1944 to his death. Hoxha's leadership was characterized by his proclaimed firm adherence to anti-revisionist Marxism Leninism from the mid-1970s onwards. After his break with Maoism in the 1976 1978 period, numerous Maoist parties declared themselves Hoxhaist. The International Conference of Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle) is the most well known collection of these parties today.



The house where Hoxha grew up in Gjirokast r
The house where Hoxha grew up in Gjirokast r
Hoxha was born in Gjirokast r (Ergiri), a city in southern Albania (then under the Ottoman Empire) that has been home to many prominent families. He was the son of Halil Hoxha, a Bektashi[1] Tosk cloth merchant who travelled widely across Europe and the United States of America, and Gjylihan (Gjylo) Hoxha. At age 16 he helped found and became secretary of the Students Society of Gjirokast r, which protested against the monarchist government. After the Society was closed down by the government, he left his hometown and moved to Kor , continuing his studies in a French secondary school. There he learned French history, literature and philosophy. In this city he read for the first time the Communist Manifesto.[2]

In 1930, Hoxha went to study at the University of Montpellier in France on a state scholarship given to him by the Queen Mother for the faculty of natural sciences. He attended the lessons and the conferences of the Association of Workers organised by the French Communist Party, but he soon dropped out because he wanted to pursue a degree in either philosophy or law. After a year, not having much interest in biology, he left Montepelier to go to Paris hoping to continue his university studies. He took courses in philosophy at the Sorbonne, and he collaborated with L'Humanit , writing articles on the situation in Albania under the pseudonym Lulo Mal sori. He also got involved in the Albanian Communist Group under the tutelage of Llazar Fundo who also taught him law.[3] He soon dropped out once more, and from 1934 to 1936 he was a secretary at the Albanian consulate in Brussels, attached to the personnel office of Queen Mother Sadij . He was dismissed after the consul discovered that his employee had deposited Marxist materials and books in his office. He returned to Albania in 1936 and became a grammar school teacher in Kor . As a result of his extensive education, Hoxha was fluent in French and had a working knowledge of Italian, Serbian, English and Russian. As a leader, he would often reference Le Monde and the International Herald Tribune.[4]

On April 7, 1939, Albania was invaded by fascist Italy.[5] The Italians established a puppet government in Albania under Mustafa Merlika-Kruja.[6] Hoxha was dismissed from his teaching post following the 1939 Italian invasion for refusing to join the Albanian Fascist Party.[7] He opened a tobacco shop in Tirana called Flora where a small communist group soon started gathering. Eventually the government closed it down.[8]

Partisan life

Enver Hoxha as a partisan following the liberation of Tirana in 1944. On 8 November 1941, the Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Albanian Party of Labour in 1948) was founded. Hoxha was chosen from the "Korca group" as a Muslim representative by the two Yugoslav envoys as one of the seven members of the provisional Central Committee. From April 8 through April 11, 1942, the First Consultative Meeting of Activists of the Communist Party of Albania was held in Tirana.[9] Enver Hoxha delivered the main report to the assembled delegates on April 8, 1942.[10] In July of 1942, a "Call to the Albanian Peasantry" was written by Enver Hoxha and issued in the name of the Communist Party of Albania.[11] The call was issued to enlist support in Albania for the war against the Italian fascist invaders. The peasants were encouraged to hold back their grain, refuse to pay any taxes and/or any livestock levy brought against them by the Albanian fascist governemnt.[12] After the September 1942 Conference at Pez , the National Liberation Front was founded with the purpose of uniting the anti-Fascist Albanians, regardless of ideology or class.

By March 1943, the first National Conference of the Communist Party elected Hoxha formally as First Secretary. During the war, the Soviet Union's role was negligible, making Albania the only nation occupied during World War II whose independence was not determined by a great power.[13] On 10 July 1943, the Albanian partisan groups were organised in regular units of companies, battalions and brigades and named the Albanian National Liberation Army. The organization received military support from the British intelligence service, SOE.[14] The General Headquarters was created with Spiro Moisiu as the commander and Enver Hoxha as political commissary. Communist partisans in Yugoslavia had a much more practical role, helping to plan attacks and exchanging supplies, but communication between them and the Albanians was limited and letters would often arrive late, sometimes well after a plan had been agreed upon by the National Liberation Army without consultation from the Yugoslav partisans.

Within Albania itself there were difficulties in communications between groups of partisans fighting the fascist invaders. Throughout the war, repeated attempts were made to improve communications between the many partisan groups operating within Albania. In August of 1943, a secret meeting was held in the town of Mukje between the anti-communist Balli Komb tar (National Front) and the Communist Party of Albania. The result of this was an agreement to:

1. Unite in a single struggle against the fascist invader.

2. Cease all attacks between the two parties signing the agreement.

3. Form form a joint operational staff to coordinate military actions within Albania.

4. Recognize that the democratically elected national liberations councils are the state power in Albania.

5. Recognize that hte goal for the post-war era is an independent, democratic Albania wherin the people themselves will decide the form of government.

6. Recognize and respect the Atlantic Charter, the London and Washington Treaties between the USSR, Great Britain and the United States in connection with the question of Kosovo and Cam ria. Be it resolved that the populations of Kosovo and Cam ria will themselves decide their future in accordance with their wishes.

7. Unite with any political group, whatever their beliefs, in a common military effort against the fascist invaders.

8. However, the Communist Party of Albania will not collaborate with any group of the National Front that continues to maintain contacts with the fascist invaders.

9. The Communist Party of Albania will unite with any group that used to have contacts with the fascist invaders, but has now terminated those contacts and is willing to now fight against the fascist invaders, provided those groups have not committed any crimes against the people.[15]

In order to encourage the Balli Komb tar to sign, the Greater Albania sections of this Agreement which included Kosovo (part of Yugoslavia) and am ria (part of Greece) were made part of the Agreement.[16]

A problem developed however when the Yugoslav Communists disagreed with the goal of a Greater Albania and asked the Communists in Albania to withdraw their agreement. According to Hoxha, Josip Broz Tito had agreed that "Kosovo was Albanian" but that Serbian opposition made transfer an unwise option.[17] After the Albanian Communists repudiated the Greater Albania agreement, the Balli Komb tar condemned the Communists, who in turn accused the Balli Komb tar of siding with the Italians. The Balli Komb tar, however, lacked support from the people. After judging the communists as an immediate threat to the country, the Balli Komb tar sided with the Germans, fatally damaging its image among those fighting the Fascists. The Communists quickly added to their ranks many of those disillusioned with the Balli Komb tar and took center stage in the fight for liberation.[18]

The Permet National Congress held during that time called for a "new democratic Albania for the people." King Zog was prohibited from visiting Albania ever again, which further increased the Communists' control. The Anti-Fascist Committee for National Liberation was founded, with Hoxha as its chairman. On 22 October, the Committee became the Democratic Government of Albania after a meeting in Berat and Hoxha was chosen as interim Prime Minister. Tribunals were set up to try alleged war criminals who were designated "enemies of the people"[19] and were presided over by Ko i Xoxe.

After liberation from the fascist occupation on 29 November 1944, several Albanian partisan divisions crossed the border into German-occupied Yugoslavia, where they fought alongside Tito's partisans and the Soviet Red Army in a joint campaign which succeeded in driving out the last pockets of German resistance. Marshal Tito, during a Yugoslavian conference in later years, thanked Hoxha for the assistance that the Albanian partisans had given during the War for National Liberation (Lufta Nacional lirimtare). The Democratic Front succeeded the National Liberation Front in August 1945 and the first elections in post-war Albania were held on 2 December. The Front was the only legal political organisation allowed to stand in the elections, and the government reported that 93% of Albanians voted for it.[20]

On 11 January 1946, Zog was officially deposed and the People's Socialist Republic of Albania was officially established. As First Secretary, Hoxha was the head of state.[21]

Albanians celebrate their independence day on 28 November (which is the date on which they declared their independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912), while in the former People's Socialist Republic of Albania the National Liberation festivity date was 29 November. Both days are currently national holidays.

Early leadership

Hoxha declared himself a Marxist-Leninist and strongly admired the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. During the period of 1945 1950, the government adopted policies which were intended to consolidate power. The Agrarian Reform Law was passed in August 1945. It confiscated land from beys and large landowners, giving it without compensation to peasants. 52% of all land was owned by large landowners before the law was passed; this declined to 16% after the law's passage.[22] Illiteracy, which was 90 95% in rural areas in 1939 went down to 30% by 1950 and by 1985 it was equal to that of a Western country.[23] The State University of Tirana was established in 1957, which was the first of its kind in Albania. The Medieval Gjakmarrja (blood feud) was banned. Malaria, the most widespread disease,[24] was successfully fought through advances in health care, the use of DDT, and through the draining of swamplands. By 1985, a case had not been heard of in the past twenty years whereas previously Albania had the greatest number of patients infected in Europe.[25] A case of syphilis had not been recorded for 30 years.[25] In order to solve the Gheg-Tosk divide, books were written in the Tosk dialect, and the majority of the Party's members came from southern Albania where the Tosk dialect is spoken.

By 1949, the United States and British intelligence organizations were working with King Zog and the mountain men of his personal guard. They recruited Albanian refugees and migr s from Egypt, Italy, and Greece; trained them in Cyprus, Malta, and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany); and infiltrated them into Albania. Guerrilla units entered Albania in 1950 and 1952, but they were killed or captured by Albanian security forces. Kim Philby, a Soviet double agent working as a liaison officer between the British intelligence service and the United States Central Intelligence Agency, had leaked details of the infiltration plan to Moscow, and the security breach claimed the lives of about 300 infiltrators.[26]

Relations with Yugoslavia

At this point, relations with Yugoslavia had begun to change. The roots of the change began on 20 October 1944 at the Second Plenary Session of the Communist Party of Albania. The Session concerned the problems that the new Albanian government would face following Albania's independence. However, the Yugoslav delegation led by Velimir Stoini accused the party of "sectarianism and opportunism" and blamed Hoxha for these errors. He also stressed the view that the Yugoslav Communist partisans spearheaded the Albanian partisan movement. Anti-Yugoslav members of the Albanian Communist Party had begun to think that this was a plot by Tito who intended to destabilize the Party. Ko i Xoxe, Sejfulla Mal shova and others who supported Yugoslavia were looked upon with deep suspicion. Tito's position on Albania was that it was too weak to stand on its own and that it would do better as a part of Yugoslavia. Hoxha alleged that Tito had made it his goal to get Albania into Yugoslavia, firstly by creating the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Aid in 1946. In time, Albania began to feel that the treaty was heavily slanted towards Yugoslav interests, much like the Italian agreements with Albania under Zog that made the nation dependent upon Italy.[27]

The first issue was that the Albanian lek became revalued in terms of the Yugoslav dinar as a customs union was formed and Albania's economic plan was decided more by Yugoslavia.[28] Albanian economists H. Banja and V. To i stated that the relationship between Albania and Yugoslavia during this period was exploitative and that it constituted attempts by Yugoslavia to make the Albanian economy an "appendage" to the Yugoslav economy.[29]

Hoxha then began to accuse Yugoslavia of misconduct:

Joseph Stalin gave advice to Hoxha and stated that Yugoslavia was attempting to annex Albania. "We did not know that the Yugoslavs, under the pretext of 'defending' your country against an attack from the Greek fascists, wanted to bring units of their army into the PRA [People's Republic of Albania]. They tried to do this in a very secret manner. In reality, their aim in this direction was utterly hostile, for they intended to overturn the situation in Albania."[30] By June 1947, the Central Committee of Yugoslavia began publicly condemning Hoxha, accusing him of talking an individualistic and anti-Marxist line. When Albania responded by making agreements with the Soviet Union to purchase a supply of agricultural machinery, Yugoslavia said that Albania could not enter into any agreements with other countries without Yugoslav approval.[31] Ko i Xoxe tried to stop Hoxha from improving relations with Bulgaria, reasoning that Albania would be more stable with one trading partner rather than with many. Nako Spiru, an anti-Yugoslav member of the Party, condemned Xoxe and vice-versa. With no one coming to Spiru's defense, he viewed the situation as hopeless and feared that Yugoslav domination of his nation was imminent, which caused him to commit suicide in November.[31]

At the Eighth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party which lasted from 26 February 8 March 1948, Xoxe was implicated in a plot to isolate Hoxha and consolidate his [Xoxe's] own power. He accused Hoxha of being responsible for the decline in relations with Yugoslavia, and stated that a Soviet military mission should be expelled in favor of a Yugoslav counterpart. Hoxha managed to remain firm and his support had not declined. When Yugoslavia publicly broke with the Soviet Union, Hoxha's support base grew stronger. Then, on 1 July 1948, Tirana called on all Yugoslav technical advisors to leave the country and unilaterally declared all treaties and agreements between the two countries null and void. Xoxe was expelled from the party and on 13 June 1949 he was executed by a firing squad.[32]

Relations with the Soviet Union

After the break with Yugoslavia, Hoxha aligned himself with the Soviet Union, for which he had a great admiration. From 1948 1960, $200 million in Soviet aid would be given to Albania for technical & infrastructural expansion. Albania was admitted on 22 February 1949, to the Comecon and Albania remained important both as a way to put pressure on Yugoslavia and also to serve as a pro-Soviet force in the Adriatic Sea. A submarine base was built on the island of Sazan near Vlor , posing a possible threat to the United States' Sixth Fleet. Relations continued to remain close until the death of Stalin on 5 March 1953. His death was met with national mourning in Albania. Hoxha assembled the entire population in the capital's largest square, requested that they kneel, and made them take a two-thousand word oath of "eternal fidelity" and "gratitude" to their "beloved father" and "great liberator" to whom the people owed "everything."[33] Under Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin's successor, aid was reduced and Albania was encouraged to adopt Khrushchev's specialization policy. Under this policy, Albania would develop its agricultural output in order to supply the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations while these nations would be developing specific resource outputs of their own, which would in theory strengthen the Warsaw Pact by greatly reducing the lack of certain resources that many of the nations faced. However, this also meant that Albanian industrial development, which was stressed heavily by Hoxha, would have to be significantly reduced.[34]

From 16 May 17 June 1955, Nikolai Bulganin and Anastas Mikoyan visited Yugoslavia and Khrushchev renounced the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Communist bloc. Khrushchev also began making references to Palmiro Togliatti's polycentrism theory. Hoxha had not been consulted on this and was offended. Yugoslavia began asking for Hoxha to rehabilitate the image of Ko i Xoxe, which Hoxha steadfastly rejected. In 1956 at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, Khrushchev condemned the cult of personality that had been built up around Joseph Stalin and also accused him of many grave mistakes. Khrushchev then announced the theory of peaceful coexistence, which angered Hoxha greatly. The Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies, led by Hoxha's wife Nexhmije, quoted Vladimir Lenin: "The fundamental principle of the foreign policy of a socialist country and of a Communist party is proletarian internationalism; not peaceful coexistence."[35] Hoxha now took a more active stand against perceived revisionism.

Unity within the Albanian Party of Labour began to decline as well, with a special delegate meeting held in Tirana in April, 1956, composed of 450 delegates and having unexpected results. The delegates "criticized the conditions in the party, the negative attitude toward the masses, the absence of party and socialist democracy, the economic policy of the leadership, etc." while also calling for discussions on the cult of personality and the Twentieth Party Congress.[36]

Hoxha called for a resolution which would uphold the current leadership of the Party. The resolution was accepted, and all of the delegates who had spoken out were expelled from the party and imprisoned. Hoxha stated that this was yet another of many attempts to overthrow the leadership of Albania which had been organized by Yugoslavia. This incident further consolidated Hoxha's power, effectively making Khrushchev-esque reforms nearly impossible. In the same year, Hoxha went to the People's Republic of China, then enduring the Sino-Soviet Split, and met with Mao Zedong. Relations with China improved, as evidenced by Chinese aid to Albania being 4.2% in 1955 before the visit, and rising to 21.6% in 1957.[37] In an effort to keep Albania in the Soviet sphere, increased aid was given but the Albanian leadership continued to move closer towards China. Relations with the Soviet Union remained at the same level until 1960, when Khrushchev met with Sophocles Venizelos, a left-wing Greek politician. Khrushchev sympathized with the concept of an autonomous Greek North Epirus and hoped to use Greek claims to keep the Albanian leadership in line with Soviet interests.[38]

Relations with the Soviet Union began to decline rapidly. A hardline policy was adopted and the Soviets reduced aid shipments, specifically grain, at a time when Albania needed them due to flood-induced famine. In July 1960, a plot to overthrow the government was discovered. It was to be organized by Soviet-trained Rear Admiral Teme Sejko. After this, the two pro-Soviet members of the Party, Liri Belishova and Ko o Tashko, were both expelled, with a humorous incident involving Tashko pronouncing tochka (Russian for "full stop").[39]

In August, the Party's Central Committee sent a letter of protest to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, stating the displeasure of having an anti-Albanian Soviet Ambassador in Tirana. The Fourth Congress of the Party held from 13 20 February 1961, was the last meeting that the Soviet Union or other Eastern European nations would attend in Albania. During the congress, the Soviet Union was condemned while China was praised. Mehmet Shehu stated that while many members of the Party were accused of tyranny, this was a baseless charge and unlike the Soviet Union, Albania was composed of genuine Marxists. The Soviet Union retaliated by threatening "dire consequences" if the condemnations were not retracted. Days later, Khrushchev and Antonin Novotny, President of Czechoslovakia (which was Albania's largest source of aid besides the Soviets) threatened to cut off economic aid. In March, Albania was not invited to attend the meeting of the Warsaw Pact nations (Albania had been one of its founding members in 1955) and in April all Soviet technicians were withdrawn from the nation. In May nearly every Soviet troop on the Oricum Sea base was withdrawn, leaving the Albanians with 4 submarines and other military equipment.

On 7 November 1961, Hoxha made a speech in which he called Khrushchev a "revisionist, an anti-Marxist and a defeatist." Hoxha portrayed Stalin as the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union and began to stress Albania's independence.[40] By 11 November, the USSR and every other Warsaw Pact nation broke relations with Albania. Albania was unofficially excluded (by not being invited) from both the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. The Soviet Union had also attempted to claim control of the Vlor port due to a lease agreement; the Albanian Party then passed a law prohibiting any other nation from owning an Albanian port through lease or otherwise.

Later rule

As Hoxha's leadership continued he took on an increasingly theoretical stance. He wrote criticisms based both on current events at the time and on theory; most notably his condemnations of Maoism post-1978. A major achievement under Hoxha was the advancement of women's rights. Albania had been one of the most, if not the most, patriarchal countries in Europe. The Code of Lek , which regulated the status of women, states, "A woman is known as a sack, made to endure as long as she lives in her husband's house."[41] Women were not allowed to inherit anything from their parents and discrimination was even made in the case of the murder of a pregnant woman. Women were absolutely forbidden from obtaining a divorce, and the wife's parents were obliged to return a runaway daughter to the husband or else suffer shame which could even result in a generations-long blood feud. During World War II, the Albanian Communists encouraged women to join the partisans[42] and following the war, women were encouraged to take up menial jobs, because the education necessary for higher level work was out of most women's reach. In 1938, 4% worked in various sectors of the economy. In 1970, this number rose to 38% and in 1982 to 46%.[43] During the Cultural and Ideological Revolution (discussed below), women were encouraged to take up all jobs, including government posts, which resulted in 40.7% of the People's Councils and 30.4% of the People's Assembly being seated by women, including two women in the Central Committee by 1985.[44] In 1978, 15.1 times as many females attended eight-year schools as in 1938 and 175.7 times as many females attended secondary schools as in 1938. By 1978, 101.9 times as many women attended higher schools as in 1957.[45]

In 1969, direct taxation was abolished[46] and during this period the quality of schooling and health care continued to improve. An electrification campaign was begun in 1960 and the entire nation was expected to have electricity by 1985. Instead, it achieved this on 25 October 1970, making it the first nation with complete electrification in the whole world.[47] During the Cultural & Ideological Revolution of 1967 1968 the military changed from traditional Communist army tactics and began to adhere to the Maoist strategy known as people's war, which included the abolition of military ranks, which were not fully restored until 1991.[48]

Pill boxes in Albania built during Hoxha's rule to avert possible external invasion. Over half a million were built.
Pill boxes in Albania built during Hoxha's rule to avert possible external invasion. Over half a million were built.
Hoxha's first name engraved on the side of Shpiragu Mountain. Hoxha's legacy also included a complex of 750,000 one-man concrete bunkers across a country of 3 million inhabitants, to act as look-outs and gun emplacements along with chemical weapons.[49] The bunkers were built strong and mobile, with the intention that they could be easily placed by a crane or a helicopter in a previously dug hole. The types of bunkers vary from machine gun pillboxes, beach bunkers, to naval underground facilities, and even Air Force Mountain and underground bunkers.

Hoxha's internal policies were true to Stalin's paradigm which he admired, and the personality cult developed in the 1970s organized around him by the Party also bore a striking resemblance to that of Stalin. At times it even reached an intensity similar to the personality cult surrounding Kim Il Sung (which Hoxha condemned[50]) with Hoxha being portrayed as a genius commenting on virtually all facets of life from culture to economics to military matters. Each schoolbook required one or more quotations from him on the subjects being studied.[51] The Party honored him with titles such as Supreme Comrade, Sole Force and Great Teacher.

Hoxha's governance was also distinguished by his encouragement of a high birthrate policy. For instance a woman who bore an above-average amount of children would be given the government award of Heroine Mother (in Albanian: N n Heroin ) along with cash rewards.[52] Abortion was essentially restricted (to encourage high birth rates) except if the birth posed a danger to the mother's life, though it was not completely banned; the process being decided by district medical commissions.[53][54] As a result, the population of Albania tripled from 1 million in 1944 to around 3 million in 1985.

Relations with China

A Cultural Revolution poster promoting Albanian-Chinese cooperation. The caption at the bottom reads,
A Cultural Revolution poster promoting Albanian-Chinese cooperation. The caption at the bottom reads, "Long live the great union between the Parties of Albania and China!" Despite what the painting may suggest, the leaders only met once in 1956, before the Sino-Albanian alliance.[55]

In Albania's Third Five Year Plan, China promised a loan of $125 million to build twenty-five chemical, electrical and metallurgical plants called for under the Plan. However, the nation had a difficult transition period, because Chinese technicians were of a lower quality than Soviet ones and the distance between the two nations, plus the poor relations Albania had with its neighbors, further complicated matters. Unlike Yugoslavia or the U.S.S.R., China had the least influence economically on Albania during Hoxha's leadership. The previous fifteen years (1946 1961) had at least 50% of the economy under foreign commerce.[56] By the time the 1976 Constitution prohibited foreign debt, aid and investments, Albania had basically become self-sufficient although it was lacking in modern technology. Ideologically, Hoxha found Mao's initial views to be in line with Marxism-Leninism. Mao condemned Nikita Khrushchev's alleged revisionism and was also critical of Yugoslavia. Aid given from China was interest-free and did not have to be repaid until Albania could afford to do so. China never intervened in what Albania's economic output should be, and Chinese technicians worked for the same wages as Albanian workers, unlike Soviet technicians who sometimes made more than three times the pay of Hoxha.[57] Albanian newspapers were reprinted in Chinese newspapers and read on Chinese radio. Finally, Albania led the movement to give the People's Republic of China a seat in the UN, an effort made successful in 1971 and thus replacing the Republic of China's seat.[58]

During this period, Albania became the second largest producer of chromium in the world, which was considered an important export for Albania. Strategically, the Adriatic Sea was also attractive to China, and the Chinese leadership had hoped to gain more allies in Eastern Europe with the help of Albania, although this failed. Zhou Enlai visited Albania in January 1964. On 9 January, "The 1964 Sino-Albanian Joint Statement" was signed in Tirana.[59] Like Albania, China defended the "purity" of Marxism by attacking both "US imperialism" as well as "Soviet and Yugoslav revisionism", both equally as part of a "dual adversary" theory.[60] Yugoslavia was viewed as a "special detachment of U.S. imperialism" and a "saboteur against world revolution."[60] These views however began to change in China, which was one of the major issues Albania had with the alliance.[61] Also unlike Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the Sino-Albanian alliance lacked " organizational structure for regular consultations and policy coordination, and was characterized by an informal relationship conducted on an ad hoc basis." Mao made a speech on 3 November 1966 which claimed that Albania was the only Marxist-Leninist state in Europe and that "an attack on Albania will have to reckon with great People's China. If the U.S. imperialists, the modern Soviet revisionists or any of their lackeys dare to touch Albania in the slightest, nothing lies ahead for them but a complete, shameful and memorable defeat."[62] Likewise, Hoxha stated that "You may rest assured, comrades, that come what may in the world at large, our two parties and our two peoples will certainly remain together. They will fight together and they will win together."[63]

China entered into a four-year period of relative diplomatic isolation following the Cultural Revolution and at this point relations between China and Albania reached their zenith. On 20 August 1968, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was condemned by Albania, as was the Brezhnev doctrine. Albania then officially withdrew from the Warsaw Pact on 5 September. Relations with China began to deteriorate on 15 July 1971, when United States' President Richard Nixon agreed to visit China to meet with Zhou Enlai. Hoxha felt betrayed and the government was in a state of shock. On August 6 a letter was sent from the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labour to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, calling Nixon a "frenzied anti-Communist." The result was a 1971 message from the Chinese leadership stating that Albania could not depend on an indefinite flow of further Chinese aid and in 1972 Albania was advised to "curb its expectations about further Chinese contributions to its economic development."[64] By 1973, Hoxha wrote in his diary Reflections on China that the Chinese leaders: In response, trade with COMECON (although trade with the Soviet Union was still blocked) and Yugoslavia grew. Trade with Third World nations was $0.5 million in 1973, but $8.3 million in 1974. Trade rose from 0.1% to 1.6%.[65] Following Mao's death on 9 September 1976, Hoxha remained optimistic about Sino-Albanian relations, but in August 1977, Hua Guofeng, the new leader of China, stated that Mao's Three Worlds Theory would become official foreign policy. Hoxha viewed this as a way for China to justify having the U.S. as the "secondary enemy" while viewing the Soviet Union as the main one, thus allowing China to trade with the U.S. "...the Chinese plan of the 'third world' is a major diabolical plan, with the aim that China should become another superpower, precisely by placing itself at the head of the 'third world' and 'non-aligned world.'"[66] From 30 August 7 September 1977, Tito visited Beijing and was welcomed by the Chinese leadership. At this point, the Albanian Party of Labour had declared that China was now a revisionist state akin to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and that Albania was the only Marxist-Leninist state on earth. On 13 July 1978, China announced that it was cutting off all aid to Albania. For the first time in modern history, Albania did not have an ally.

Human rights

Enver Hoxha in 1971 Certain clauses in the 1976 constitution effectively circumscribed the exercise of political liberties that the government interpreted as contrary to the established order.[67] In addition, the government denied the population access to information other than that disseminated by the government-controlled media. Internally, the Sigurimi followed the repressive methods of the NKVD, MGB, KGB, and the East German Stasi. "Its activities permeated Albanian society to the extent that every third citizen had either served time in labour camps or had been interrogated by Sigurimi officers."[68] To eliminate dissent, the government imprisoned thousands in forced-labour camps or executed them for crimes such as alleged treachery or for disrupting the proletarian dictatorship. Travel abroad was forbidden after 1968 to all but those on official business. Western European culture was looked upon with deep suspicion, resulting in arrests and in bans on unauthorised foreign material.[69] Art was made to reflect the styles of socialist realism.[70] Beards were banned as unhygienic and to curb the influence of Islam (many Imams and Babas had beards) and the Orthodox faith.[71]

The justice system regularly degenerated into show trials. "...[The defendant] was not permitted to question the witnesses and that, although he was permitted to state his objections to certain aspects of the case, his objections were dismissed by the prosecutor who said, 'Sit down and be quiet. We know better than you.'"[72] In order to lessen the threat of political dissidents and other exiles, relatives of the accused were often arrested, ostracised, and accused of being "enemies of the people".[73]

Torture was often used to obtain confessions: "There were six institutions for political prisoners and fourteen labour camps where political prisoners and common criminals worked together. It has been estimated that there were approximately 32,000 people imprisoned in Albania in 1985."[74]

Article 47 of the Albanian Criminal Code stated that to "escape outside the state, as well as refusal to return to the Fatherland by a person who has been sent to serve or has been permitted temporarily to go outside the state" is a crime of treason which is punishable by a minimum sentence of ten years or even death.[75]


Albania, being a predominantly Muslim European country, largely due to Turkish influence in the region, had, like the Ottoman Empire, identified religion with ethnicity. In the Ottoman Empire, Muslims were viewed as "Turks," Eastern Orthodox as Greeks and Catholics as "Latins." Hoxha believed this was a serious issue, feeling that it both fueled Greek separatists in North Epirus and also divided the nation in general. The Agrarian Reform Law of 1945 confiscated much of the church's property in the country. Catholics were the earliest religious community to be targeted, since the Vatican was seen as being an agent of Fascism and anti-Communism.[76] In 1946 the Jesuit Order and in 1947 the Franciscans were banned. Decree No. 743 (On Religion) sought a national church and forbade religious leaders from associating with foreign powers.

The Party focused on atheist education in schools. This tactic was effective, primarily due to the high birthrate policy encouraged after the war. During holy periods such as Ramadan or Lent, many forbidden foods (dairy products, meat, etc.) were distributed in schools and factories, and people who refused to eat those foods were denounced. Starting on 6 February 1967, the Party began a new offensive against religion. Hoxha, who had declared a "Cultural and Ideological Revolution" after being partly inspired by China's Cultural Revolution, encouraged communist students and workers to use more forceful tactics to promote atheism, although violence was initially condemned.[77]

According to Hoxha, the surge in anti-religious activity began with the youth. The result of this "spontaneous, unprovoked movement" was the closing of all 2,169 churches and mosques in Albania. State atheism became official policy, and Albania was declared the world's first atheist state. Religiously-based town and city names were changed, as well as personal names. During this period religiously-based names were also made illegal. The Dictionary of People's Names, published in 1982, contained 3,000 approved, secular names. In 1992, Monsignor Dias, the Papal Nuncio for Albania appointed by Pope John Paul II, said that of the three hundred Catholic priests present in Albania prior to the Communists coming to power, only thirty survived.[78] All religious practice and clergymen were outlawed and those religious figures who refused to give up their positions were arrested or forced into hiding.[79]

Cultivating nationalism

Enver Hoxha had declared during the anti-religious campaign that "the only religion of Albania is Albanianism,"[80] a quotation from the poem O moj Shqypni ("O Albania") by the 19th-century Albanian writer Pashko Vasa.

Muzafer Korkuti one of the dominant figures in post-war Albanian archaeology and now Director of the institute of Archaeology in Tirana said this in an interview of 10 July 2002:[81]

"Archaeology is part of the politics which the party in power has and this was understood better than anything else by Enver Hoxha. Folklore and archaeology were respected because they are the indicators of the nation, and a party that shows respect to national identity is listened to by other people; good or bad as this may be. Enver Hoxha did this as did Hitler. In Germany in the 1930s there was an increase in Balkan studies and languages and this too was all part of nationalism."

Efforts were focused on an Illyrian-Albanian continuity issue[82] and on appropriating Ancient Greek history as Albanian.[82]

An Illyrian origin of the Albanians (without denying Pelasgian roots[83]) continued to play a significant role in Albanian nationalism,[84] resulting in a revival of given names supposedly of "Illyrian" origin, at the expense of given names associated with Christianity. At first, Albanian nationalist writers opted for the Pelasgians as the forefathers of the Albanians, but as this form of nationalism flourished in Albania under Enver Hoxha, the Pelasgians became a secondary element[83] to the Illyrian theory of Albanian origins, which could claim some support in scholarship.[85] The Illyrian descent theory soon became one of the pillars of Albanian nationalism, especially because it could provide some evidence of continuity of an Albanian presence both in Kosovo and in southern Albania, i.e., areas that were subject to ethnic conflicts between Albanians, Serbs and Greeks.[86] Under the government of Enver Hoxha, an autochthonous ethnogenesis[82] was promoted and physical anthropologists[82] tried to demonstrate that Albanians were different from any other Indo-European populations, a theory now disproved.[87] Communist-era Albanian archaeologists claimed[82] that ancient Greek poleis, gods, ideas, culture and prominent personalities were wholly Illyrian (example Pyrrhus of Epirus[88] and the region of Epirus[89]). They claimed that the Illyrians were the most ancient people[82][90] in the Balkans and greatly extended the age of the Illyrian language.[82][91] This is continued in post-communist Albania[82] and has spread to Kosovo.[82][92] These nationalist theories have survived largely intact into the present day.[82]

Final years

Hoxha was exhumed in 1992 and informally reburied. The picture shows his second grave.
Hoxha was exhumed in 1992 and informally reburied. The picture shows his second grave.
A new Constitution was decided upon by the Seventh Congress of the Albanian Party of Labour on 1 7 November 1976. According to Hoxha, "The old Constitution was the Constitution of the building of the foundations of socialism, whereas the new Constitution will be the Constitution of the complete construction of a socialist society."[93] Self-reliance was now stressed more than ever. Citizens were encouraged to train in the use of weapons, and this activity was also taught in schools. This was to encourage the creation of quick partisans.[94] Borrowing and foreign investment were banned under Article 26 of the Constitution, which read: "The granting of concessions to, and the creation of foreign economic and financial companies and other institutions or ones formed jointly with bourgeois and revisionist capitalist monopolies and states as well as obtaining credits from them are prohibited in the People's Socialist Republic of Albania."[95] Albania was very poor and backward by European standards and it had the lowest standard of living in Europe.[96] As a result of economic self-sufficiency, Albania had a minimal foreign debt. In 1983, Albania imported goods worth $280 million but exported goods worth $290 million, producing a trade surplus of $10 million.[97] The Enver Hoxha Museum, now since renamed with references to Hoxha removed. Fall of the leader's statue In 1981, Hoxha ordered the execution of several party and government officials in a new purge. Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu was reported to have committed suicide in December 1981 and was subsequently condemned as a "traitor" to Albania and he was also accused of operating in the service of multiple intelligence agencies. It is generally believed that he was either killed or shot himself during a power struggle or over differing foreign policy matters with Hoxha.[98] Hoxha also wrote a large assortment of books during this period, resulting in over 65 volumes of collected works, condensed into six volumes of selected works.[99]

Later, Hoxha withdrew into semi-retirement due to failing health, having suffered a heart attack in 1973 from which he never fully recovered. He turned most state functions over to Ramiz Alia. In his final days he was a wheelchair user and was suffering from diabetes, which he had suffered from since 1948, and cerebral ischemia, which he had suffered from since 1983.[100] Hoxha's death on 11 April 1985 left Albania with a legacy of isolation and fear of the outside world. Despite some economic progress made by Hoxha,[101] the country was in economic stagnation; Albania had been the poorest European country throughout much of the Cold War period. As of the early 21st century, very little of Hoxha's legacy is still in place in today's Albania since the transition to democracy in 1992.


Former residence of Enver Hoxha in the former secluded area of Blloku in Tirana The surname Hoxha is the Albanian variant of Hodja, a title given to his ancestors due to their efforts to teach Albanians about Islam.[102] In addition, among the population he was widely known by his nickname of Dulla, a short form for the Muslim name Abdullah stemming from his former Muslim roots.

Enver Hoxha's parents were Halil and Gjylihan (Gjylo) Hoxha, and Hoxha had three sisters named Fahrije, Haxhire and Sanije. Hysen Hoxha () was Enver Hoxha's uncle and was a militant who campaigned vigorously for the independence of Albania, which occurred when Enver was four years old. His grandfather Beqir was involved in the Gjirokast r section of the League of Prizren.[103]

Enver Hoxha's son, Sokol Hoxha, was the CEO of the Albanian Post and Telecommunication service, and is married to Liliana Hoxha.[104] The later democratic president of Albania Sali Berisha was often seen socializing with Sokol Hoxha and other close relatives of leading communist figures in Albania.[105]

Hoxha's daughter, Pranvera, is an architect. Along with her husband, Klement Kolaneci, she designed the former Enver Hoxha Museum in Tirana, a white-tiled pyramid. The museum opened in 1988, three years after her father's death. The building now houses the International Cultural Centre.[106]

Assassination attempts

Banda Mustafaj was a group of 4 people that wanted to kill Enver Hoxha in 1982. The plan failed and 2 of it's members where killed and 1 arrested.[107][108] It was the first and last real effort to kill the Albanian dictator Hoxha.[109][110]

See also

  • History of Albania
  • Religious persecution
  • Totalitarianism
  • Isolationism
  • Albanian Resistance of World War II


Further reading

  • Banja H. and V. To i, Socialist Albania on the Road to Industrialization, Tirana: 8 N ntori Publishing House, 1979
  • Beloff, Nora. Tito's Flawed Legacy, Boulder: Westview Press, 1985, ISBN 0-575-03668-0
  • Cikuli, Zisa. Health Care in the People's Republic of Albania 1984
  • Fevziu, Blendi. Enver Hoxha: E para biografi e bazuar n dokumente t arkivit personal dhe n rr fimet e atyre q e njoh n, Tiran : UET Press, 2011.
  • Gjon a, Arjan. Communism, Health, and Lifestyle: The Paradox of Mortality Transition in Albania, 1950 1990. CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN 0-313-31586-8
  • Hamm, Harry. Albania China's Beachhead in Europe, New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1963.
  • Hoxha, Enver. Selected Works, 1941 1948, vol. I, Tirana: 8 N ntori Publishing House, 1974.
  • The Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania. History of the Party of Labor of Albania, 2nd ed. Tiran : 8 N ntori Publishing House, 1982.
  • Jacques, Edwin E. The Albanians: An Ethnographic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present Vol. II, North Carolina 1995, ISBN 0786442387
  • Jessup, John E. An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945 1996. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1998, ISBN 0-313-28112-2
  • Marmullaku, Ramadan. Albania and the Albanians, trans. Margot and Bosko Milosavljevi , Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1975
  • Myftaraj, Kastriot. The Enigmas of Enver Hoxha's Domination 1944 1961, Tirana 2009, ISBN 978-99956-57-10-9
  • Myftaraj, Kastriot. The Secret Life of Enver Hoxha, 1908 1944, Tirana 2008, ISBN 978-99956-706-4-1
  • O'Donnell, James S. A Coming of Age: Albania under Enver Hoxha, New York 1999, ISBN 0-88033-415-0
  • Pearson, Owen S. and I.B. Tauris. Albania in Occupation and War, London 2006, ISBN 1-84511-104-4
  • Pano, Nicholas C. The People's Republic of Albania, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1968
  • Pipa, Arshi, Albanian Stalinism, Boulder: East European Monographs, 1990, ISBN 0-88033-184-4


  • Speeches (1961 1962). The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1977.
  • Speeches and articles (1963 1964). The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1977.
  • Speeches, conversations and articles (1965 1966). The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1977.
  • Speeches, conversations and articles (1967 1968). The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1978.
  • Speeches, conversations and articles (1969 1970). The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1980.
  • Selected works. 6 Volumes, The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1974 1987.
  • Reflections on China. 2 Volumes, The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1979.
  • Two Friendly Peoples. The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1985.
  • The Superpowers. The '8 N ntori' Publishing House, Tirana 1986.

External links

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