Enver Hoxha

Enver Hoxha

First Secretary of the Albanian Labor Party in 1941-1985, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Albania in 1944-1954. and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1946-1953.
Date of Birth: 16.10.1908
Country: Albania

  1. Biography of Enver Hoxha
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Rise to Power
  4. The Reality
  5. Internal Policies
  6. Human Rights Violations
  7. Later Years and Death

Biography of Enver Hoxha

Enver Hoxha (Alb. Enver Hoxha, October 16, 1908 - April 11, 1985) was the First Secretary of the Albanian Party of Labor from 1941 to 1985, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Albania from 1944 to 1954, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1953.

Early Life and Education

Hoxha was born in the town of Gjirokastër in southern Albania. His father, a textile merchant, was constantly traveling around Europe, so his uncle, Hisen Hoxha, took on the role of his primary caregiver. Hisen Hoxha was a fierce advocate for Albanian independence, and Enver became deeply influenced by his ideas, especially after Albania gained independence when Enver was four years old. In 1930, Hoxha enrolled at the University of Montpellier in France on a government scholarship, but was soon expelled for poor academic performance. From 1934 to 1936, he worked as a secretary at the Albanian consulate in Brussels and studied law at the local university. He returned to Albania in 1936 and started teaching in Korçë.

Rise to Power

Hoxha lost his teaching job in 1939 after the Italian occupation of Albania for refusing to join the Albanian Fascist Party. He opened a tobacco shop in Tirana, which soon became a meeting place for a small communist group. With the help of Yugoslav communists, he founded and led the Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Albanian Party of Labor) in November 1941, as well as the resistance movement (National Liberation Army), which came to power in November 1944. Hoxha declared himself a devoted Marxist-Leninist and admired Stalin. He built his state based on the Soviet model and when his former allies, the Yugoslav communists, ideologically diverged from Moscow in 1948, he severed ties with them and a year later executed his main political opponent, Defense Minister Koçi Xoxe, on suspicion of working for Yugoslavia. Under Hoxha's direction, rich landowners had their lands confiscated and consolidated into collective farms, while the landowners themselves were imprisoned or killed. Albanian propaganda proudly claimed that communist Albania fully met its food needs, developed industry, electrified most rural areas, eradicated illiteracy, and diseases.

The Reality

However, with the fall of the communist regime, it became evident that Albania was far from being the advanced, industrialized country the propaganda claimed. In fact, it was a backward nation, not only compared to Western capitalist countries but also to Eastern Bloc countries like Bulgaria and Romania. The praised industrial development turned out to be a myth, with outdated farming methods still being used in agriculture, and telephone communication, already common in neighboring countries, remaining a novelty for most Albanians, except for high-ranking Communist Party officials. Workers' wages and living standards were remarkably low by European standards, leading to mass emigration of Albanian workers to neighboring Greece and Italy, where even as illegal immigrants, they lived much better than at home. The only real legacy of Hoxha was the unimaginable complex of 600,000 concrete bunkers scattered throughout the country (with a population of 3 million), which were intended to be used as observation posts and artillery fire positions. Interestingly, about half of them were directed not against external enemies, but against Albanian cities and villages. This revealed Hoxha's paranoid nature, as he feared both American invasion and revolution in his own country. Hoxha remained a staunch Stalinist even after Nikita Khrushchev accused Stalin of mass violations of socialist legality at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. This led to Albania's isolation from other European socialist countries. In 1960, Hoxha sided with China in the Sino-Soviet conflict and broke off relations with Moscow the following year. In 1968, Albania withdrew from the Warsaw Pact in response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact countries. The only country in the Warsaw Pact with which Albania maintained relations was Romania, whose leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Internal Policies

Hoxha's domestic policies followed the Stalinist model, which he admired, and the cult of personality surrounding him in Albania closely resembled the cult of personality of the Soviet leader whom he considered his ideal (even the military uniform and insignia were copied from the Stalinist era Soviet models). The Albanian secret police, Sigurimi, used repressive methods borrowed from the KGB and the East German Stasi. Every third Albanian either served sentences in labor camps or was subjected to interrogations by the Sigurimi. To suppress independent thinking, the regime conducted systematic purges, firing opponents from their jobs, sending them to forced labor, and even executing them. Traveling abroad was only allowed for official purposes to avoid dispelling the myth of Albania's advanced economy. Any display of individuality or creativity in cultural life was stifled, and art and literature could exist only to the extent that they served government propaganda.

Human Rights Violations

According to a report by Amnesty International in 1984, the human rights situation in Albania was extremely dismal. Hoxha's regime deprived citizens of freedom of expression, religion, movement, and association, even though the 1976 Constitution formally guaranteed these freedoms. In practice, certain articles of the Constitution legally restricted the use of political freedoms, which were seen as contradicting the established order. Moreover, the regime restricted people's access to any information other than what was disseminated by state-controlled mass media. The Sigurimi constantly violated the inviolability of individuals, homes, and correspondence, and carried out illegal arrests. Judicial bodies made decisions based on political expediency, denying the accused the opportunity to present evidence in their favor, often without any formal legal proceedings. Mao Zedong's death in 1976 and the defeat of the "Gang of Four" in the ensuing intra-party struggle in 1977-1978 led to a Chinese-Albanian conflict and Albania's complete political isolation. Hoxha accused both Moscow and Beijing of revisionism.

Later Years and Death

In 1981, Hoxha carried out another purge, executing several party and state officials. It was reported that his closest associate, Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, committed suicide after another internal conflict within the Albanian leadership in December 1981, but there are often speculations that he was actually killed. A few years later, Hoxha stepped back from politics, handing over most of the responsibilities to Ramiz Aliu. After Hoxha's death on April 11, 1985 (at the age of 76, exactly one month after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union), Albania's internal and external policies became less harsh due to the general crisis of the communist system in Eastern Europe. In Albania, this led to the abandonment of the one-party system in 1990 and the defeat of the reformed Socialist Party in the 1992 elections.