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( , 16 October 1908 11 April 1985) was the Communist 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 served as Prime Minister of Albania from 1944 to 1954, Minister of Interior (1944-1953) and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1953.

Hoxha's leadership was characterized by isolation from the mid 1970s onwards and his proclaimed firm adherence to anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninism. After his break with Maoism in the late 1970s and early 1980s, numerous Maoist parties declared themselves Hoxhaist. The International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations is the most well known collection of these parties today.


Hoxha was born in Gjirokastërmarker, a city in southern Albania that has been home to many prominent families. He was the son of a Bektashi Muslim Tosk cloth merchant who traveled widely across Europe and the United States of Americamarker, and the major influence on Enver during these years was his uncle, Hysen Hoxha ( ). Hysen Hoxha was a militant who campaigned vigorously for the independence of Albania, which occurred when Enver was four years old. Enver took to these ideas very strongly, especially after King Zog came to power in 1928. At age 16 he helped found and became secretary of the Students Society of Gjirokastër, which protested against the monarchist government. After the Society was closed down by the government, he left his hometown and moved to Korçëmarker, continuing his studies in a French high school. Here he learned French history, literature and philosophy. In this city he read for the first time the Communist Manifesto allegedly given to him by a worker named Koçi Bako, though this has never been substantiated by any independent source.

In 1930, Hoxha went to study at the University of Montpelliermarker in Francemarker 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 organized 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 Montepellier to go to Parismarker, hoping to continue his university studies. He took courses in the faculty of philosophy at the Sorbonnemarker and, in the Marxist environment of the French capital, he collaborated with L'Humanité, writing articles on the situation in Albania under the pseudonym Lulo Malessori, and getting involved in the Albanian Communist Group under the tutelage of Llazar Fundo, who also taught him law. He soon dropped out once more and from 1934 to 1936 he was a secretary at the Albanian consulate in Brusselsmarker, attached to the personnel office of Queen Mother Sadijé. 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 Korçë. As a result of his extensive education, Hoxha was fluent in French and had a working knowledge of Italian, Serbo-Croatian, English and Russian. As a leader, he would often reference Le Monde and the International Herald Tribune.

Hoxha was dismissed from his teaching post following the 1939 Italianmarker invasion for refusing to join the Albanian Fascist Party. He opened a tobacco shop in Tiranamarker called Flora where soon a small communist group started gathering. Eventually the Fascist government closed it down.

Partisan life

On 8 November 1941, the Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Albanian Party of Labour in 1948) was founded. Hoxha was chosen as one of 7 members of the provisional Central Committee. After the September 1942 Conference at Pezëmarker, the National Liberation Front was founded. Its purpose was to unite the anti-Fascist Albanians regardless of ideology or class.

By March 1943, the first National Conference of the Communist Party elected him formally as First Secretary. During the war, the Soviet Unionmarker's role was negligible, which makes Albania the only nation occupied during World War II whose independence was not determined by a great power. In 10 July 1943 the Albanian partisan groups were organized in regular units of companies, battalions and brigades and named Albanian National Liberation Army. The General Headquarter 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. In August, a secret meeting was held at Mukje between the Balli Kombëtar (National Front), which was both anti-Communist and anti-Fascist, and the Communist Party. The result of this was an agreement to fight together against the Italians. In order to encourage the Balli Kombëtar to sign, a Greater Albania was agreed to, which included Kosovomarker (part of Yugoslavia) and Çamëria (part of Greecemarker).

A situation soon 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. After the Albanian Communists repudiated the Greater Albania agreement, the Balli Kombëtar condemned the Communists, who in turn accused the Balli Kombëtar of siding with the Italians. The Balli Kombëtar, however lacked support from the people. After judging the communists as an immediate threat to the country, the Balli Kombëtar sided with the Germans, fatally hurting its image among those fighting the Fascists. The Communists quickly added to its ranks many of those disillusioned with the Balli Kombëtar and took center stage in the fight for liberation.

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 provisional government of Albania after a meeting in Beratmarker and Hoxha was chosen as interim Prime Minister. Tribunals were set up to try alleged war criminals who were designated "enemies of the people" and were presided over by Koçi Xoxe.

After liberation from the fascist occupation on 29 November 1944, several Albanian partisan divisions crossed the border into German occupied Yugoslavia and there they fought alongside Tito's partisans and the Sovietmarker Red Army in a joint campaign which succeeded in driving out the last pockets of German resistance . Marshal Tito, during a Yugoslavian conference in his later years, thanked Hoxha for the assistance that the Albanian partisans had given during the War for National Liberation (Lufta Nacionalçlirimtare). Albanians celebrate their independence day on November 28 (which is the date on which they declared their independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912), while in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker the National Liberation festivity date is 29 November. The Democratic Front succeeded the National Liberation Front in August 1945 and the first elections in post-war Albania were held on 2 December. Only members of the Communist Party were allowed to stand, and the government reported that 93% of Albanians voted for it.

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; it declined to 16% after the laws passage. Hoxha believed that the Albanian population should increase and as a result the government banned abortion except in the case of rape or danger to the mother's life. 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 the United States of Americamarker. The State University of Tiranamarker 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, was successfully fought through advances in health care 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. A case of syphilis had not been recorded for 30 years. In order to solve the Gheg-Tosk divide, books were written in the Tosk dialect, and a majority of the Party came from southern Albania where the Tosk dialect is spoken.

By 1949 the United States and Britishmarker intelligence organizations were working with King Zog and the mountain men of his personal guard. They recruited Albanian refugees and émigrés from Egypt, Italy, and Greece; trained them in Cyprusmarker, Maltamarker, and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germanymarker); and infiltrated them into Albania. Guerrilla units entered Albania in 1950 and 1952, but Albanian security forces killed or captured all of them. 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.

Relations with Yugoslavia

At this point, relations with Yugoslaviamarker had begun to change. The roots of the change began on October 20, 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 Stoinić 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. Koçi Xoxe, Sejfulla Malëshova 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 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. Although the treaty was seen as beneficial to both sides, over time Albania began to feel that it was heavily slanted towards Yugoslav interests, much like the Italian agreements with Albania under Zog that made the nation dependent upon Italy.

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. Albanian economists H. Banja and V. Toçi 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.

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." 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. Koçi Xoxe tried to stop Hoxha from improving relations with Bulgariamarker, 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 Xoxe condemned him. 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.

At the Eighth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party which lasted from February 26-March 8, 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 July 1, 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 June 13, 1949 he was executed by a firing squad.

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 February 22, 1949, to the Comecon and Albania remained important both as a way to both put pressure on Yugoslavia and serve as a pro-Soviet force in the Adriatic Seamarker. A submarine base was built on the island of Sazanmarker near Vlorëmarker, posing a possible threat to the United States' Sixth Fleet. Relations continued to remain close until the death of Stalin on March 5, 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." 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.

From May 16 – June 17, 1955, Bulganin and 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 Koçi 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 Stalin and also accused him of many grave mistakes. Khrushchev then announced the theory of peaceful coexistence, which angered Hoxha greatly. Hoxha believed that the U.S.S.R.marker was becoming social-imperialist and would not operate as a beacon of hope for the world Communist movement, but rather as another capitalist state, especially after Khrushchev's economic reforms. The Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies, led by Hoxha's wife Nexhmije, quoted Lenin: "The fundamental principle of the foreign policy of a socialist country and of a Communist party is proletarian internationalism (The official definition of proletarian internationalism is 'the alliance with the revolutionaries of the advanced countries and with the oppressed peoples against the imperialists of all hues.'); not peaceful coexistence." 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 at Tirana in April, 1956, composed of 450 delegates 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.

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 Chinamarker, 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. In an effort to keep Albania in the Soviet sphere, increased aid was given but the Albanian leadership continued to move closer towards China. During the Hungarian Revolution, Hoxha condemned the Soviets but he also condemned Imre Nagy. Regardless, relations with the Soviet Union remained at the same level until 1960, when Khrushchev met with Sophocles Venizelos, a left-wing Greekmarker politician. Khrushchev sympathized with the concept of an autonomous Greek North Epirus. Hoxha had accused the minority of having petty-bourgeois nationalist views that would harm the national unity of the nation. He also claimed that many separatists conducted terrorist acts. Relations between Albania and Greece were extremely strained until some improvement was made in the 1980s.

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 Koço Tashko, were both expelled, with a humorous incident involving Tashko pronouncing tochka (Russian for "full stop").

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 February 13-20, 1961, was the last meeting that the Soviet Union or other East 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 Czechoslovakiamarker (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 from at Oricum Sea base was withdrawn, leaving to Albanians 4 submarines and other military equipment.

On November 7, 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. By November 11, 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 Vlorë port due to a lease agreement; the Albanian Party then passed a law prohibiting any other nation from owning a port through lease or otherwise.

Later rule

As Hoxha's leadership continued he took on an increasingly theoretical stance. He would write criticisms based both on current events at the time and on theory; most notably his condemnations of Maoism post-1978. One 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 Lekë, which regulated the status of women, states that "A woman is known as a sack, made to endure as long as she lives in her husband's house." Women were not allowed to inherit anything from their parents and discrimination was even made in the case of death.

Women were absolutely forbidden from getting a divorce, and the parents were obliged to return the daughter to the husband or else suffer shame from the entire tribe which could even culminate into a generations-long blood feud. During World War II, the Albanian Communists encouraged women to join the partisans and following the war, women were encouraged to take up menial jobs due to education being out of most women's reach. In 1938, 4% worked in various sectors of the economy. In 1970 this was 38% and in 1982 46%. 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 seated by women, including two women in the Central Committee; all by 1985. being composed of women by 1985. In 1978, 15.1 times as many females attended 8 Year schools as in 1938 and 175.7 times as many females attended secondary schools as in 1938. 101.9 times as many women attended higher schools in 1978 as in 1957.

In 1969, direct taxation was abolished 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 October 25, 1970, making it one of the first nations with complete electrification. During the Cultural & Ideological Revolution of 1967–1968 the military changed from traditional Communist army tactics and began to adhere to Maoist people's war, which included the abolition of military ranks.

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. 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 that of Kim Il Sung (whose personality cult Hoxha condemned) 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. The Party honored him with titles such as Supreme Comrade, Sole Force and Great Teacher.

Relations with China

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, as 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. 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 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. Albanian newspapers were reprinted in Chinese newspapers and on radio. Finally, Albania led the movement to give the People's Republic of China a seat in the United Nations, an effort made successful in 1971 and thus replacing the Republic of Chinamarker's seat.

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 Seamarker 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 January 9, "The 1964 Sino-Albanian Joint Statement" was signed in Tirana.

Like Albania, China defended the "purity" of Marxism by attacking both "U.S.marker imperialism" as well as "Soviet and Yugoslav revisionism", both equally as part of a "dual adversary" theory. Yugoslavia was viewed as a "special detachment of U.S. imperialism" and a "saboteur against world revolution." These views however began to change in China, which was one of the major issues Albania had with the alliance. 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 November 3, 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." 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."

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 August 20, 1968, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was condemned by Albania, as was the Brezhnev doctrine. Albania then officially withdrew from the Warsaw Pact on September 5. Relations with China began to deteriorate on July 15, 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." 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%. Following Mao's death on September 9, 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.'" From August 30-September 7, 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 July 13, 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

The regime denied its citizens freedom of expression, religion, movement, and association although the constitution of 1976 ostensibly guaranteed each of these rights. In fact, certain clauses in the constitution effectively circumscribed the exercise of political liberties that the regime interpreted as contrary to the established order. In addition, the regime denied the population access to information other than that disseminated by the government-controlled media. The Sigurimi (Albanian secret police) routinely violated the privacy of persons, homes, and communications and made arbitrary arrests.

Internally, the Sigurimi made sure to replicate the repressive methods of the NKVD, MGB, KGBmarker, and StaSi. Its activities permeated Albanian society to the extent that every third citizen had either served time in labor camps or had been interrogated by Sigurimi officers. 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. West European culture was looked upon with deep suspicion, resulting in arrests and bans on unauthorized foreign material. Art was made to reflect the styles of socialist realism. Beards were banned as unhygienic and to curb the influence of Islam (many Imams and Babas had beards) and the Orthodox faith.

All Albanians were required to obtain permits for the ownership of cars (which did not fall under private property), refrigerators and typewriters among other things. 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.'." In order to lessen the threat of political dissidents and other exiles, relatives of the accused were often arrested, ostracized, and accused of being "enemies of the people."

Torture was often used to obtain confessions:

"There were six institutions for political prisoners and fourteen labor 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."

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.


Albania, being the most predominantly Muslim nation in Europe due to Turkish influence in the region, had, like the Ottoman Empire, merged 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 gave further legitimacy to the 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. 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 February 6, 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.

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 (and by extension most Greek 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.

Final years

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 November 1-7, 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." 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. 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."

Albania was very poor and backward by European standards and it had the lowest standard of living in Europe. Telephone communication, long established in every household in Albania's neighboring countries, was rare in most areas. Very few Albanians other than higher-echelon party apparatchiks had access to such services despite Communist party claims that telephones were present across Albania. As a result of autarky, Albania had very little foreign debt. In 1983, Albania imported goods worth $280 million but exported goods worth $290 million, producing a trade surplus of $10 million.

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 following a further dispute within the Albanian leadership in December 1981, but it is widely believed that he was killed. Diplomatic relations with Italymarker and Greecemarker improved during the 1980s. Hoxha also wrote a large assortment of books during this period, resulting in over 65 volumes of collected works, condensed into 6 volumes of selected works.

20 February 1990.
People of Tirana tearing down and demolishing a statue of Enver Hoxha.
The Enver Hoxha Museum, now since renamed with references to Hoxha removed.
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 confined to a wheelchair and was suffering from diabetes, which he had suffered from since 1948, and cerebral ischemia, which he had suffered from since 1983. 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, the country's economy was in 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 collapse of Communism in 1991.

In popular culture

An excerpt of one of Hoxha's speeches is played in Spike Lee's 2006 movie The Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington and Clive Owen.

See also


Further reading

  • A Coming of Age: Albania under Enver Hoxha, James S. O'Donnell, New York 1999, ISBN 0-88033-415-0
  • Albania in Occupation and War, Owen S. Pearson, I.B. Tauris, London 2006, ISBN 1-84511-104-4
  • Albanian Stalinism, Pipa, Arshi, Boulder: East European Monographs, 1990, ISBN 0-88033-184-4


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

External links

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