Albanian History: Enver Hoxha

Histori Shqiptare : Enver Hoxha (English below)


Asnjë person tjetër nuk ka luajtur një rol më të madh në fatin e Shqipërisë në shekullin e 20-të sesa Enver Hoxha. Ai është Skënderbeu i shekullit të 20-të. Megjithatë, ndërsa udhëheqja e Skënderbeut ishte për mirë; Hoxha ishte për të keqe. Ndërsa trashëgimia e të parit i ka rezistuar kohës, trashëgimia e Hoxhës është rishkruar rrënjësisht menjëherë pas vdekjes së tij, me shqiptarët që e etiketojnë atë jo si hero, por si shejtan. Hoxha kishte përkrahësit e tij në mesin e bashkëmoshatarëve të tij, të cilët tashmë janë të moshuar dhe të vdekur, por askush nga brezi i ri nuk e vlerëson atë. Hoxha, mund të argumentohet, shkatërroi Shqipërinë dhe çoi në emigracionin masiv që pasoi kur ai vdiq. Hoxha ishte një udhëheqës kulti: ai e izoloi kombin e tij të gjithë për t’i shërbyer vetes dhe rrethit të ngushtë. Ai madje vrau miqtë dhe familjen e tij. Ai ishte karizmatik; e bëri me buzëqeshje për njerëzit. Ai nuk do të ndalej para asgjëje për t’u kapur pas pushtetit, edhe nëse kjo do të nënkuptonte ndërtimin e bunkerëve të shëmtuar mbrojtës në të gjithë Shqipërinë. I talentuar nga mashtrimi dhe persekutimi i pamëshirshëm, mund të shihet se si ai ishte një forcë e tillë. Por ai nuk ishte një forcë për të mirë; ai ishte një forcë për të keqe. Le të shqyrtojmë krijimin e kësaj figure konsekuente, por djallëzore.

Enver Hoxha lindi në jug të Shqipërisë më 16 tetor 1908. Megjithatë familja e tij nuk vjen nga gjirokastra e vjetër dhe mund të jetë shpërngulur atje nga një pjesë tjetër e Shqipërisë si nga Malësia e Veriut apo edhe nga zonat shqiptare të Maqedonisë. Babai i tij ishte një klerik mysliman. Më vonë në jetë Enveri do të përplasej me të atin për besimin e tij. Thuhet se ai dogji edhe Kuranin e babait të tij. Në mesin e viteve 1960 Hoxha e shpalli Shqipërinë një shtet zyrtarisht ateist dhe mbylli të gjitha shtëpitë e fese. Ai e bëri këtë pa dyshim sepse mendonte se feja kërcënonte mbajtjen e tij në pushtet.

Hoxha mori pjesë në shkollat ​​e mira të qytetit të tij, përfshirë të parën që mësohej në gjuhën shqipe. Ai nuk ishte i talentuar si student; por ai rridhte nga një familje e pasur që donte që ai të kishte një arsim. Pas shkollës fillore u dërgua në një shkollë franceze në Korçë. Megjithëse nuk shkëlqeu, ai përfundoi kursin. Pas diplomimit ai donte të shkonte jashtë vendit. Ai dhe familja e tij i bënë presion një bamirësi që t’i ofronte një bursë për të shkuar të studionte në Francë. Ai shkoi në Universitetin e Montpellier. Megjithatë, ai ishte një student shumë i varfër dikur atje. Ai nuk ishte i interesuar për studimet e tij. Ishte e qartë se ai nuk ishte për akademikë, dhe bursa e tij u anulua për shkak të statusit të dobët. Në fakt ai u hakmor ndaj zyrtarit që i hoqi bursën, duke e dërguar në burg, në jetën e mëvonshme kur u bë diktator.

Pas Montpellier shkoi në Paris dhe u miqësua me revolucionarët e asaj kohe, klikën komuniste franceze. Duket se këtu u mboll fara për fatin e tij. Ai donte të bëhej një udhëheqës komunist. Pas kthimit në Shqipëri ai kaloi ca kohë në shkollën e tij të vjetër në Korçë si mësues zëvendësues, duke pritur Luftën e Dytë Botërore dhe duke kërkuar kohën e tij kur të mund të godiste. Ai duhet ta ketë ditur se ishte një gjeni i keq dhe për çfarë ishte i aftë. Ai u transferua në Tiranë dhe bëri më shumë miq komunistë, ndërsa punonte si shitës puro në dyqanin e xhaxhait të tij, një punë e zakonshme për dikë që ishte i destinuar të ishte heroi i popullit të tij.

Hoxha bëri një pakt me djallin. Dy agjentë erdhën nga Serbia për të ndihmuar në formimin e partisë komuniste shqiptare, Dushani dhe Miladin; për shkak të ndikimit të tyre negativ – në fund të fundit ata donin të instalonin një njeri që do t’i lejonte Serbisë, rivalit të Shqipërisë, të mbante provincën të Kosovës – ata mbështetën Hoxhën, si liderin e partisë, më joparimoren e grupit. Kudo që kishte një luftë për pushtet, Hoxha do të fitonte përmes persekutimit. Sapo mori pushtetin në vitin 1944, ai ekzekutoi rivalin e tij kryesor, Koci Xoxe, si dhe krerët e partive kundërshtare, Ballin Kombëtar dhe Legalitetin; partitë që komunistët i kishin ftuar më parë të bashkoheshin në luftën për çlirimin e Shqipërisë nga nazistët dhe fashistët. Në pleqëri, Hoxha e përfundoi mbretërimin e tij të terrorit duke ekzekutuar përkrahësin e tij kryesor, Mehmet Shehun. Ai vdiq në vitin 1985, pas 40 vitesh në pushtet.

Lëvizja komuniste është kritikuar gjithmonë në Perëndim. Nëse jo qëllimisht keq, sigurisht që nuk është e mençur. Edhe nëse fillon të funksionojë siç duhet në fillim, ekonomia e saj gradualisht ngec. Komunizmi duket si mashtrues. Megjithatë, në atë kohë ata ishin të rinj që aspironin për diçka më shumë, dhe në fakt shumica e komunistëve kishin qëllime të mira. Megjithatë, një problem me revolucionin komunist – ose ndoshta me të gjitha revolucionet populiste – ishte se ai ishte subjekt i uzurpimit nga një udhëheqës i keq. Hoxha ishte pikërisht tipi i liderit joparimor që uzurpoi lëvizjen, kur revolucioni ishte në fillimet e tij dhe e ktheu komunizmin në diktaturë. Hoxha me taktika te padrejta ngjiti majen. Pasi e bëri këtë, ai nuk e lëshoi ​​kurrë. Ai e bëri këtë përmes mashtrimit, persekutimit, ekzekutimit, izolimit dhe internimit. Ai është ende një emër i njohur në Shqipëri… për te keqe.

(in English)

No other person has played a greater role in the fate of Albania in the 20th century more than Enver Hoxha (Hodja). He is the Skanderbeg of the 20th century. However, While Skanderbeg’s leadership was for good; Hoxha’s was for ill. While the former’s legacy has withstood the test of time, Hoxha’s legacy has been radically rewritten immediately after his death, with Albanians labeling him not as a hero but a villain. Hoxha had his supporters among his peers who are now old and dying out, but no one of the younger generation esteems him. Hoxha, it can be argued, ruined Albania and led to the mass immigration that ensued when he died. Hoxha was a cult leader: he isolated his nation all to serve himself and close circle. He even killed his friends and family. He was charismatic; he did it with a smile for the people. He would stop at nothing to cling on to power, even if it meant building unsightly defensive bunkers all over Albania. Gifted at deception and ruthless persecution, one can see how he was such a force. But he was not a force for good; he was a force for ill. Let us examine the making of this consequential, yet villainous figure.

Enver Hoxha was born in the south of Albania on October 16th 1908. However his family does not come from old Gjirokastra stock and may have moved there from another part of Albania such as the Northern Highlands or even the Albanian areas of Macedonia. His father was a Muslim cleric. Later in life Enver would clash with his dad over his faith. It is said that he even burnt his father’s Quran. In the mid 1960s Hoxha declared Albania an officially atheist state and shuttered all houses of worship. He did this no doubt because he felt that religion threatened his hold on power. 

Hoxha got to attend the good schools of his town including the first one that taught in Albanian. He was not gifted as a student; but he came from a well-to-do family who wanted him to have an education. After grade school he was sent to a French school in Korca. Though he did not shine, he completed the course. Upon graduation he wanted to go abroad. He and his family pressured a benefactor to offer him a scholarship to go study in France.  He went to the University of Montpellier. However, he was a very poor student once there. He was not interested in his studies. It was evident that he was not for academics, and his scholarship was revoked because of poor standing. In fact he got revenge on the official who revoked his scholarship, sending him to prison, in later life when he became dictator.

After Montpellier he went to Paris and made friends with the revolutionaries of the day, the French communist clique.  It seems that here the seed for his destiny was planted. He wanted to be a Communist leader. Upon his return to Albania he spent some time at his old school Korca as a substitute teacher, waiting out World War II and biding his time when he could strike.  He must have known he was an evil genius, and what he was capable of.  He moved to Tirana and made more communist friends, while working as a cigar salesman at his uncle’s shop, an ordinary job for one destined to be his people’s hero. 

Hoxha made a pact with the devil. Two agents came from Serbia to assist in the formation of the Albanian communist party, Dushan and Miladin; owing to their negative influence-after all they wanted to install a man who would allow Serbia, Albania’s rival, to keep the Albanian majority province of Kosovo-they supported Hoxha, as party leader, the most unprincipled of the bunch. Wherever there was a power struggle, Hoxha would win through persecution. As soon as he got power in 1944, he executed his top rival, Koci Xoxe, as well as the leaders of the opposing parties, the National Front and Legality; parties which the communists had previously invited to join in the fight for the liberation of Albania from the Nazis and Fascists. In old age, Hoxha concluded his reign of terror by executing his top supporter, Mehmet Shehu. Hoxha died in 1985, after 40 years in power.

The communist movement has always been criticized in the West. If not deliberately bad, it’s certainly unwise. Even if it begins to work out properly in the beginning, its economy gradually flounders.  Communism seems like a con. However, at the time they were young people aspiring for something more, and in fact most communists were well-intentioned.  However one problem with the communist revolution-or perhaps with all populist revolutions-was that it was subject to usurpation by a bad leader. Hoxha was the exact type of unprincipled leader to usurp the movement, when the revolution was in its infancy, and turned communism into a dictatorship. Enver Hoxha. strong armed his way to the top. Once he did so he never let go.  He did this through deception, persecution, execution, isolation and exile. He is still a household name in Albania… for ill.

Sources:

Panorama. Hoxha 2012

Enver Hoxha. The Iron Fist of Albania. 2016

History of Albania. Tajar Zavalani 1963

Albania: Thoughts on Economics

The standard of living that we all talk about is material: who can get the most goods and services at the lowest price. But there is a spiritual standard of living; the spiritual is founded on the material. One can’t be happy when one has no material goods or services. That’s why we lament poverty. But is there not an expression that says: Money can’t buy happiness. People always prioritize the material, so they immigrate. But the spiritual standard of living back home may have well been higher; friends, relatives, an easy-going pace of life. Just like economics which is founded on trade-offs, the standard of living is a trade: the material for the spiritual.

Communism tried to put the spiritual before the material. Socialization was prioritized. Good for the spirit, bad for goods and services. Socialization matters, but it cannot be the foundation of economy. Communism did not fail. It succeeded at its goal: a communal society. The Albania of Communism was warm and highly communal. Communism is not so much an economic ideology as a social ideology. Let’s not work! Let’s socialize. But socialization cannot come first. It does not produce the fruits of labor. One must put work first. Capitalism is a good economic ideology precisely because it is not a social ideology. It rewards work, and discourages socialization.

Capitalism is practical, fit for the entrepreneur. Communism was full of ideology, fit for the bookworm.


Economy is everything. People judge you by the goods you produce. The fastest way to become a good country is to produce high quality goods. “Turkey makes low quality goods,” true, but at least they produce! and export


I compare Albania to Greece and Italy but a more accurate comparison is to Macedonia Kosovo and Montenegro. They are Albania’s peers. Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro; all are small, thus unheard of


They say poor economy, bad living. But I’ve never seen as good a living as in Albania; a country with a very weak economy. Albania is great for rest and relaxation. It’s Europe’s vacation zone.


In their own place, Albanians are well off. Most people, or at least many, have the purchasing power to live well. Perhaps it is not easy to find good work but the same is true here. You can lead just as good a life in Albania as in America if not better. You will probably not achieve as much, but you may even have a better lead life with more leisure.

I read that to the Roman, a never ending empire was more important than the personal standard of living. Do we not feel this today? Of course, our empire secures our standard of living. In some level we know there is to be no personal prosperity without country. Thus we care for the greater good as our own good.


To be rich is to be safe.


The value of money is perception and status, not merely economics.


Everyone benefits from trade.


Learning beats labor. Skills raise economies.

Albania: Memories of Durres

During this visit i had a most unremarkable time in Durres; being so near Tirana, less than one hour away, my company and I drove there haphazardly one Sunday, coupling it with a visit to the Bay of Lalzi; a secluded beach that in my view outdoes the one at Durres. At Lalzi, we parked our car, walked past the woods and to my pleasant surprise were met with a white sand beach strewn with cute wooden umbrellas the kind of which I’d never seen before. The only catch was it was a cool, cloudy and somber day and not a soul was around. We strolled a bit, jumped back in the car and zigzagged through a suburban neighborhood of nice, gated houses; a concept that didn’t even exist back when I was growing up here. We only stayed in Durres for lunch, eating in the restaurant of a random hotel. The food was average, the weather dreary and rainy…

I prefer to remember the Durres of my youth. Back then, Durres was a popular beach destination. Being on the Adriatic coast not too far from Tirana, though back in those times one took the train, it was the default destination for middleclass Albanian families of all nearby towns. We went there every summer, for one or maybe two weeks.

One particular vacation to Durres that comes to mind is 1990. I know this because it was a World Cup year, and being a young Albanian kid, I was mad about soccer. I was only seven but I understood the game and I loved watching it and playing with my friends outside on the dusty asphalt of our apartment building. Today, except for the World Cup, you can’t pay me to watch your soccer! I prefer football but back in that time and place I was a fanatic, like my brother and our friends. All the men in the country were soccer heads. All the women never watched a single game! But now times have changed there and girls and women participate in athletics.

That year a friend and colleague of my dad’s was also vacationing with his family in Durres. This guy had a kind of gift at getting ahead in life under communism. He always found a way to make friends with those in power and in turn secure advancement for himself and his family under the most meagre of material circumstances. Well, in Durres, he did it again! He had pulled some strings, and booked a room for his family in the fanciest hotel in town, reserved at that time for western tourists and the political elite only. We would visit them daily and live the high life which to me today seems standard, but back in that day when material possessions were so very lacking, everything this hotel had was a big deal.

It was the at that very hotel that I first became exposed to color television. At home, all throughout my life we only had black and white TV. Seeing this new color TV set in the lobby of the hotel was a huge deal. It was a new thing for us. Moreover, it was absolutely awesome because that World Cup I mentioned was taking place at this time. We could watch games on color TV! Boy oh boy, I have seen one of the wildest soccer games of my life on that TV. It went into overtime and then into penalties. We were loving every second of it, only as a fanatic can!

Another incident that took place at this hotel was more comical. It was here that I tasted Coca Cola for the first time in my life. But not in the usual way, where one buys a drink and enjoys it. No, we weren’t staying at the hotel so I suppose we weren’t allowed to buy anything. Besides we didn’t know what coke was. Anyhow, my mom, my brother and I, and her friend and her two sons went up to an empty table spontaneously on a patio cafe where the privileged westerners had just leisured and left all their pop cans. Well, we saw the remains of a dark fizzed drink at the bottom of their glasses. Out of curiosity to know what it was, and perhaps to see what the fancy tourists were having, we picked up their cans and had a taste. It was awesome! It was Coca Cola. It was also pathetic that our country’s economy could not even provide us that…

Albania: Then and Now

Today, Albania has all material goods that money can buy. What it lacks is not material, but rather spiritual. People don’t care for their neighbor, because the country’s social fabric has been torn. One extreme, communism led to the other, extreme individualism. But I will give credit where credit is due. In many aspects Albania today has made many improvements. Power and water is one big example. In the eighties when I was living there as a kid power and  water outages were a fact of daily life. Today, they are far less frequent. Moreover, as Communism was collapsing, food shortages were also turning commonplace. My grandma stood in line at 6 AM to buy milk and eggs for the day, every day. Today there are no food lines. Back then there were no other goods for purchase. There were very few stores.  Today there are many stores with many goods. Back then, finding something, whether be it clothing, or some other commodity like a home appliance was comically difficult.

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In Communism,  scarcity was appalling. For example, when one needed a suit or a jacket he couldn’t just go out and buy it. There were no suit or jacket stores. There were a few stores that sold dubious fabrics at certain times of the year. One had to buy the fabric then find a tailor, a friend of a friend, secretly mind you, because private enterprise was illegal and pay him under the table. Home appliances were assigned by the State. Apartments were assigned. Cities were assigned. Universities and majors were assigned. Everyone was a state employee; doctors, lawyers, garbage men… Pay for all workers was the same, seven dollars a month. So nobody worked hard; why try when there is no prospect of upward mobility? People socialized a lot for they were one big state run family; the catch was they could say nothing against Comrade Enver, the dictator, and the regime.

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Finally, when the system did collage, the populace went mad. It all erupted into a self destructive spree against its own society. Any and all things were looted, vandalized, violated. My school windows were broken. The hanging lamp in my classroom was clipped off at the ceiling. Neighborhood trees were chopped off at the roots. Nights were spent in a state of fear. New European embassies were stormed by throngs of Albanians desperate to leave. Cargo ships were madly boarded by the same crowd of desperate people. With standing room only, they made three or four trips to the nearby Italian coast. Greece, close and reachable by bus or even foot, became the most frequent immigrant destination.  Such was the frightful state of Albania that kicked out my family along with many others in the early 1990’s.