Article Albania in the first half of the XNUMXth century. Independence and World War II we ended with a report on the liberation of Albania from the occupiers, which took place practically without the participation of foreign troops. Now we'll talk about the difficult stories this country after World War II.
The territories of Albania seized under Mussolini and Hitler had to be returned, but the Albanians, thanks to the support of Stalin, managed to preserve their independence: their lands were not divided between neighboring states, as Churchill suggested.
The first country to recognize the new government of Albania headed by Enver Hoxha was Yugoslavia, already in May 1945. In December 1945, diplomatic relations were established between Albania and the USSR.
Albania between Yugoslavia and the USSR
At that time, some politicians of Albania did not exclude the possibility of uniting with Yugoslavia into a single federal state (Tito was not averse to including Bulgaria in this federation, but was against the entry of Greece and Romania into it, which was also discussed). Some steps were taken to unite the armies of Yugoslavia and Albania, agreements were reached on a customs union and the equalization of currencies - dinar and lek. A supporter of integration with Yugoslavia was the Minister of Internal Affairs of Albania and a member of the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labor Kochi Dzodze (it was he who was elected first secretary of the Communist Party of Albania in November 1941, this post he ceded to Enver Hoxha in 1943).
Other prominent representatives of the "Titovites" were the head of the Agitation, Propaganda and Press Department, Nuri Huta, and the head of the State Control Commission, Pandey Christo.
Enver Hoxha, on the contrary, advocated the preservation of the independence of Albania and was oriented not towards Yugoslavia, but towards the Soviet Union. And in his sympathies, he was by no means hypocritical. Dmitry Chuvakhin, ambassador of the Soviet Union to Albania in 1945-1952, called this country "the most reliable and loyal ally of the USSR."
In June 1945, Enver Hoxha attended the Victory Parade in Moscow and agreed with the leaders of the USSR on technical and economic assistance to his country.
I. Stalin and E. Hoxha
After the deterioration of Soviet-Yugoslav relations, the Albanian government decisively sided with the USSR. Already on July 1, 1948, the Albanians canceled the treaties with Yugoslavia and expelled the advisers and specialists of this country. Supporters of rapprochement with Yugoslavia were arrested, Kochi Dzodze, the head of the Titovites, was sentenced to death in 1949. In the same 1949, Albania was admitted to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), and in 1950 the city of Kuchova was named Stalin and wore it until 1990.
In Tirana, two monuments were erected to the Soviet generalissimo, to which every day the townspeople completely voluntarily brought flowers, and visitors from the villages - homemade halva. The fact is that many in Albania (especially in mountain villages) sincerely considered Stalin a hero two and a half meters tall, who could bend horseshoes with his hands, and also a powerful sorcerer. Thus, the Soviet leader was perceived by the Albanians as a Russian Skanderbeg, about which they also talked a lot and are still telling. It is said that in the early post-war years in Albanian villages, people even prayed at the busts of Stalin, smearing them with sheep's fat and sometimes blood. It was thanks to his strength and magic, many Albanians believed, that Joseph, who came from a poor family, became the ruler of a huge great country and defeated Hitler. Stalin's authority in this country is still very high, and if local residents want to convince an opponent, they often refer to the fact that Stalin “did this” or “did so”. For example, Mercedes cars in Albania are considered very prestigious, also because Stalin allegedly always drove exactly this brand.
Monument to I. Stalin at the plant. Stalin, Tirana
In 1958, a separate brigade of Soviet submarines and auxiliary units were stationed on Sazani Island.
Enver Hoxha appreciated the danger from Yugoslavia so highly that on his initiative the construction of a fortification system was organized. This is how the famous “Albanian mushrooms” appeared - concrete fortifications, the first of which was built in 1950. The first bunker was tested by an ancient and time-tested method: the chief engineer entered the building, which was then fired from tank guns. Everything ended well. And then the bunkers were built because of the fear of aggression also from Western countries and even the USSR.
It is often read that more than 700 thousand bunkers were built in total - 24 per square kilometer, one for four citizens of the country. This is not true: the exact figure is known - 173, which is also a lot. Huge funds were spent on the construction of these useless structures (the cost of building one bunker was approximately equal to the price of a 371-room apartment), and now they stand everywhere as a kind of monuments of the era, they are photographed with pleasure by tourists, of which there are still not very many.
Some of these structures are used by local residents as warehouses, chicken coops, sheds, and the largest are used as cafes and even mini-hotels, but most, of course, are empty.
Bunkers on the Albanian beach
In Tirana, two museums located in government bunkers are currently available for visiting: BUNK 'ART and BUNK' ART 2. The first was opened in 2014, this is the former bunker of Enver Hoxha, the prime minister, the central government office and the general staff, he is located on the territory of a military unit on the outskirts of Tirana (you can go with your passport): 5 floors, 106 rooms and 10 exits. The atmosphere surprises with its modesty - this is not what tourists usually expect from the "dictator's" apartments:
ZIS-110, presented to Enver Hoxha by Stalin in 1950 at the BUNK 'ART museum
Photo of Enver Hoxha and Soviet officers at the BUNK 'ART Museum
The second museum, opened in 2016, is located in the city center next to Skanderbeg square - this is the bunker of the Ministry of the Interior, it has 24 rooms and 3 exhibitions.
Museum BUNK 'ART 2, Tirana
Break of relations with the USSR
Relations between the USSR and Albania deteriorated sharply after the XX Congress of the CPSU and the infamous Khrushchev report, about which the American historian Grover Ferr said:
Of all the statements of the "closed report" that directly "expose" Stalin or Beria, not a single one was true. More precisely, among all those of them that are verifiable, every single one turned out to be false. As it turns out, in his speech, Khrushchev did not say anything about Stalin and Beria that would turn out to be true. The entire "closed report" is woven entirely of this kind of fraud.
Enver Hoxha and Zhou Enlai, representing China, defiantly left the congress, without waiting for its official closing. In revenge, Khrushchev tried to organize a conspiracy against Enver Hoxha with the aim of removing him from power, but attempts to criticize the Albanian leader at the III Congress of the Albanian Party of Labor completely failed.
During a visit to Albania in 1959, Khrushchev made a final attempt to return Enver Hoxha under his influence, persuading him to recognize the "line of the CPSU" as correct, but failed. After that, on the initiative of Khrushchev, "offended" by criticism from the Albanian side, the already agreed program of Soviet aid to this country for 1961-1965 was canceled.
But Khrushchev was especially enraged by the speech of Enver Hoxha on November 7, 1961, in which he accused Khrushchev "of creating his own personality cult and glorifying his merits in defeating fascism." This was the truth, which no one in the USSR had yet dared to say to Khrushchev. Relations with Albania were severed (restored only in June 1990). Thus, Albania became the second socialist country in the Balkans after Yugoslavia that had no diplomatic relations with the USSR.
It is curious that Khrushchev is still not liked in Albania - even by "democrats", and the word "Khrushchev" here is an insult.
In 1962, Albania withdrew from the CMEA, in 1968 - from the "Warsaw Pact" organization.
Now Albania was guided by China (which, by the way, provided this country with assistance on more favorable terms than the USSR), and from other socialist countries cooperated with Vietnam, Cuba and the DPRK, as well as with Romania.
The portrait of Enver Hoxha on the front page of the People's Daily (the organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party) dated October 16, 1968.
On December 21, 1964, Enver Hoxha and Mao Tse Tung acted as prophets by issuing a joint statement "On the birthday of I. V. Stalin":
The criminal actions of Khrushchev and his henchmen will have long-term consequences, they will lead to degeneration, and then to the destruction of the USSR and the CPSU.
Mao Jedong then added:
After 1953, nationalists and careerists, bribe-takers, covered by the Kremlin, came to power in the USSR. When the time comes, they will throw off their masks, throw away their membership cards and openly rule their counties like feudal lords and serf-owners.
Albanian caricature of Khrushchev
By the way, it was Albania that represented China's interests at the UN for 10 years.
Social policy in Albania by Enver Hoxha
Albania has never been a wealthy country (and it is not today). Even now, the bulk of the working-age population is employed in agriculture (58% of all workers). However, the social policy in this state (given its modest possibilities) under Enver Hoxha seems surprising to many. The salaries of officials and party functionaries were then constantly decreasing, while the salaries of workers, peasants and employees, on the contrary, were growing. There was no inflation, and prices, on the contrary, showed a downward trend. Workers, schoolchildren and students were provided with free meals, travel to the place of work or study was also free. School books and uniforms were free. Since 1960, income tax has been abolished in Albania. After 15 years in the profession, every Albanian was entitled to an annual free spa treatment and a 50 percent discount on the purchase of medicines. Paid maternity and childcare leave for women was then two years. After the birth of the first child, a woman received a 10% increase in salary, after the birth of the second - 15%. After the death of one of the spouses, members of his family were paid a monthly salary or pension of the deceased for a year.
Fighting blood feud
The unconditional merit of Enver Hoxha and his associates was the prohibition of blood feud (the punishment for attempts at revenge was death). This custom in Albania appeared in the 300th century during the reign of Prince Leka III Dukadzhini, when the terrible Code of Honor ("Kanun") was drawn up, which allowed killing a "bloodman" anywhere except his home (therefore many people did not leave their homes for years). At the same time, one should know that in Albania, second cousins, and grand-nephews, and the most distant relatives of the second husband's aunt's wife, whom she has never seen, are members of the same family. The average number of men in one such family reaches 7 - one can imagine the scale of the massacre in the event of a blood feud. The first attempts to ban "Kanun" were made by King Ahmed Zogu before the beginning of World War II, but he did not achieve great success, unlike Enver Hoxha. 1992 years after the death of Enver Hoxha (in 2018), the custom of blood feud was revived in Albania. It is believed that by 12 at least 40 thousand people were killed by “bloodsheds” in the country (for comparison: according to official data, over 7 years of socialist rule, XNUMX thousand “enemies of the people” were shot).
After the death of Mao Tse Tung in 1976, Albania passed a law banning foreign loans and borrowings. By this time, Albania fully provided itself with industrial goods and foodstuffs and even actively exported its products to the countries of the "Third World".
In 1978, Enver Hoxha, who was finally disillusioned with Mao's successors, stated that
Albania will pave its own path to a socialist society.
This new ideology was called "Hoxhaism" and was characterized by criticism of the United States, the USSR, China and Yugoslavia at the same time. Some parties and movements abroad fell under the influence of this ideology, for example, the Italian Party "Communist Platform", the Workers 'Communist Party of France, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey, the Workers' Party of Tunisia, the Malian Labor Party, the Voltaic Revolutionary Communist Party (Burkina Faso), the Communist the Gadar Party of India and others. It seems surprising, but then Albania could even afford to sponsor foreign parties and organizations friendly to it.
Enver Hoxha and his entourage retained the warmest feelings towards Stalin and his associates, and after the death of V. Molotov in 1986, the new Albanian leader, Ramiz Alia, declared national mourning in Albania.
In the next article we will finish the story about Albania, talk about the recent history of this country and about the Albanian diaspora abroad.