Hoxha, Enver


Hoxha, Enver
(1908–1985)
   Hoxha was the avowedly ultra orthodox MarxistLeninist dictator of Albania from 1946 until his death. Having first served as prime minister from 1944 to 1954 and in tandem minister of foreign affairs from 1946 to 1953, as president he championed Albanian isolationism and never wavered in his support for Stalinism. Hoxha was head of the Albanian Party of Labor (originally the Albanian Communist Party [ACP]) from its inception in 1941, and used his position as first secretary of the party’s Central Committee to retain effective control over the party and thus the country for over 40 years.
   While at the University of Montpellier, Hoxha attended meetings of the Association of Workers, organized by the French Communist Party, and contributed articles on Albania to Humanité magazine, before dropping out of his degree course. He then worked in the Albanian consulate in Brussels, furthering his knowledge of Marxism–Leninism while studying law at the university in the city. Hoxha returned home to Albania in 1936 to become a teacher in Korçe. With the Italian invasion in 1939, Hoxha was banished from his teaching post for refusing to join the Albanian Fascist Party. He then moved to Tiranë to open a retail tobacco store. Here Hoxha and a small underground faction of communists often met, and in 1941 with Yugoslav aid they founded the ACP with Hoxha as leader. At the same time they plotted the resistance movement, culminating in the birth of the National Front of Liberation, a group aimed at attaining a united front between all parties, and its military wing the National Liberation Army. The group eventually brought about Albanian liberation in November 1944, with Hoxha, as the elected president of the National Anti-fascist Committee of Liberation, the first head of the new Albania.
   Under Hoxha’s tutelage, Albania was transformed from a country of semi-feudalism still caught in the era of the Ottoman Empire, into an industrialized, if totalitarian, state. Hoxha oversaw industrialization, the development of agriculture through the introduction of cooperatives, and a program for the development of education and culture. His regime brought almost full self-sufficiency in food crops, electricity to rural areas and improved literacy rates. With this, however, came an erosion of human rights and a clampdown on political opponents, many of whom ended up in prison camps at best. The dictator was deeply committed to Stalinism, embracing the Soviet model, and severing ties with his former comrades from Yugoslavia after their ideological break with Moscow in 1948. Hoxha’s foreign policy decisions reflected his devotion to Stalinism again in 1961 when Albania broke with Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union, and forged links with Mao Zedong’s China. This association itself was ended in 1978 following the death of Mao and China’s increasing friendliness with the West. Hoxha resolved that Albania would adopt an isolationist stand and strive to become a model socialist republic alone, employing an anti-revisionist stance to criticize Moscow and Beijing. Hoxha formed alliances with whichever state suited Albania at a given juncture in time, and disengaged relations when Albanian sovereignty was threatened. He was as much a nationalist as he was a Stalinist.
   Hoxha’s brand of Marxism sat outside that of the Soviet Union, China and, for that matter, Yugoslavia, as he sought to guard Albanian Marxism and independence. Among his more distinctive acts was to declare Albania the world’s first atheist state in 1967, destroying thousands of synagogues and mosques along the way.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.