Mehmet Shehu and class struggle Albanian style

In the autumn of 1982, Enver Hoxha explained, he had “examine a problem that is as delicate and important, as well as dangerous for the fate of the Homeland. I do not want to dwell on the issue of which we are now aware, that the enemy and traitor Mehmet Shehu, for 40 years has worked in our country, organising plots to overthrow popular power and liquidate the Party. We know these plots because we discovered them ourselves. Today I want to emphasise the issue that all the plots have been revealed by the Politburo and not State Security.” [i]

As far as the outside world could see, Hoxha had internally attacked and humiliated his most important and loyal companions. For decades Hoxha’s most loyal acolyte was his long-standing comrade-in-arms, prime minister Mehmet Shehu. An old revolutionary who had distinguished himself as a commanding officer of a brigade in the Spanish Civil War, returning to occupied Albania, via a spell in an internment camp in France. He had a fearsome reputation as ruthless military strategist, commander of 1st Partisan Assault Division of the National Liberation Army. He led the forces which liberated the capital, Tirana, from the Germans in November 1944. Albania was the only country in Europe, indeed the only country in the world occupied by any of the Axis powers, which freed itself without a foreign army landing on its territory in force.

After the German withdrawal, General Shehu became chief of the general staff under Enver Hoxha.  When Xoxe was sacked as Albania’s internal affairs minister in October 1948, he was replaced with Mehmet Shehu. He served as the Prime Minister of Albania from 1954 to 1981. From 1974 he was also the Minister of People’s Defence while from 1947 to his death he was a deputy of the People’s Assembly. Shehu was clearly the number two in the power hierarchy. [ii]

The backstory lays in the previous winter, when on December 17. a marathon session of the Secretariat was held to review and analyse the self-criticism of the former Prime Minister, Mehmet Shehu because of a family matter involving the engagement of his son, Skender to a volleyball player who happened to have family with a “bad political biography”, links to an exiled anti-communist dissident in the US. Whether the suspicion aroused by this liaison or the speculation that Shehu’s favoured re-establishing official links with foreign western powers sealed his fate has remained unproven.

When Hoxha learned of this engagement he confronted the prime minister and accused him of neglecting the class struggle. Shehu had the engagement annulled.

Hoxha gave him the task of writing a self-criticism

The session, that began in the afternoon continued until late hours, involved a litany of criticisms and accusations that politically “crucified” Mehmet. He was attacked and humiliated at the Politburo meeting. Hoxha himself sent out many and partially contradictory signals. He acted as an interrogator, but at the same time staged himself as a kind of impartial arbiter. He also ostensibly cleared Shehu of any possible allegation of having acted with hostile intent.

However, it was reported that Shehu appeared demolished and paralysed. The next morning Shehu was found shot in his bed with a pistol next to him. He committed suicide according to official sources.

Hoxha declared him an enemy before the Politburo. A few hours later, at a CC emergency plenum, he spoke of a “masked and dangerous enemy” whose aims and plans had to be revealed. Hoxha claimed that the suicide could only be explained by the fact that Shehu’s conscience must have been burdened by “other mistakes, exceptionally serious ones, and acts still unknown to the party.”

In conclusion, he had Shehu posthumously expelled from the party as a “dangerous enemy” along with his wife Fiqrete as his “close collaborator in anti-party and hostile activities.” The Shehu family was immediately placed under house arrest.

Whether Mehmet Shehu committed suicide as officially stated, or was killed on orders from Hoxha to resolve an argument is still rumoured today. Enver dismissed such speculation in his presentation of the case against his old colleague:

“The foreign news agencies related the fact as we had given it, that Mehmet Shehu «committed suicide in a crisis of nervous breakdown.» Here and there some comment secretly paid for by the Yugoslavs was made. However, even the Yugoslavs were unable to exploit this act in their official press, apart from charging a students’ newspaper in Zagreb to write about the «drama» which had occurred at the meeting of the Albanian leadership (according to the version which the UDB had planned). According to this newspaper, «… Mehmet Shehu fired some shots with a Chinese revolver of this or that calibre(!), but Enver Hoxha’s comrades killed him. The fate of Enver Hoxha is not known…»

A scenario modelled on westerns with gunfights which occurred in the saloons at the time! But what could they do? This is what they wanted! But their agent was buried like a dog, or better to say that their trump card, the super agent of the CIA and the UDB in Albania was thrown away for nothing.” [iii]

Mehmet Shehu, who had delivered a speech, The History of the Albanian People is written in blood [iv] joined the litany of traitors: Yugoslav use of the Koci Xoxe group, Khrushchev revisionists through Liri Belishova and Koco Tashko, the putschist plot of Beqir Balluku, Abclyl Killezi and others the subject of such accusations.

Jon Halliday’s speculative discussion in London Review of Books described Hoxha’s allegations as widely greeted with derision as a figment of Hoxha’s paranoia. Support for the credibility of the accusations was sought by delving into official British state archives, “this does not prove anything except wishful thinking”. The well-researched investigation From the Annals of British Diplomacy: The Anti-Albanian Plans of Great Britain during the Second World War according to Foreign Office Documents of 1939-1944 by Arben Puto contains no reference to British intelligence’s speculations. Published in 1981 in an English language edition, the foreword is dated April 1976. However, Halliday offers the scenario that Puto found the files in which Shehu was portrayed as a ‘pro-British element’. He had to show them to Hoxha, who saw documents drawn up by British intelligence agents, some of whom were later active in the invasion of Albania in 1949, which list his prime minister as No 2 on a list of ‘pro-British elements’ to be protected and ‘built up unobtrusively’, Halliday suggests “would have been enough to detonate lethal suspicion in a chronically suspicious mind.”

This provoked readers’ response, raising the point:

“if Mr Halliday is right in thinking that Puto passed information concerning Shehu culled from FO archives to Enver Hoxha, this must have happened by autumn 1972. In which case the question obtrudes itself: why, despite his ‘chronically suspicious mind’, and the ‘lethal detonation’ which these documents set off, did Hoxha sit on them and take no further action for another nine years?” [v]

Associated Press reported in July 2001, nearly 20 years after his reported suicide, the remains of former Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu were found on 21 July near the Erzen River in the village of Ndroq between Tirana and the Adriatic. [vi]

The death of Mehmet was a curtain-raiser for the last major purge of the Hoxha era. Idrit Idrizi suggests the purging of prominent party leaders clearly elevated and consolidated the position of Ramiz Alia, as his successor. The succession to Hoxha (aged 73 in December 1981) was a political concern. A number of party leaders who had started rising to power in the course of the 1970s, with striking aggression and cynicism, had helped Hoxha push his old guard into the abyss. [vii]

The Albanian leadership would publicise its past struggle citing examples of early anti-party groups like the Koci Xoxe’s group, and in later years, the Party uncovered and liquidated the hostile groups of F. Pacrami and T. Lubonja, of B. Balluku, P. Dume and H. Cako, and of A. Kellezi, K. Theodhosi and K. Ngjela. In a reference to Lenin calling purging a law of development of the revolutionary party of the working class,    

“Our party has never allowed opportunist softness, liberalism and sentimentality in the implementation of this law.” [viii]

The ripples from the suicide of Mehmet Shehu led to a deeper investigation of his political career. Released in the 6th volume of his Selected Works was Enver Hoxha’s Speech delivered at the 4th Plenum of the CC of the PLA in September 24, 1982, A Synopsis of the Secret Activity of the Enemy Mehmet Shehu laying out allegations, unsubstantiated by others investigation, and in the absence of non-party archival sources, testimony or Wikileak type revelations. Enver Hoxha also laid out the details of Shehu’s alleged plans to poison him at the alleged behest of the Yugoslav authorities in the publication The Titoites (1982). [ix]

The Albanian leadership, as if to emphasis the political nature of the incidents, was told by Enver Hoxha that these traitors were “not discovered by the State Security. The State security then acted to conduct the investigation … [Again] This work was done by the Central Committee, not by the State Security. All of these constitute a major minus for State Security … those who acted in the most dangerous way, it turns out that they were gathered in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and in the Ministry of National Defense.”   Alluding to Begir Balluku , after 22 uninterrupted years of service as the Minister of Defense  with a group of officers purged, tried and then shot in 1974/75. Enver Hoxha alleged in his memories that the “enemy groups” of Abdyl Këllezi (Minister of the Economy) and Beqir Balluku (Minister of Defense) had drafted their inimical plan based on suggestions from Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China.[x]

Hoxha claimed that for 40 years, Mehmet Shehu had been working with many accomplices and on behalf of several enemy secret services to destroy socialism in Albania. One by one Minister of Health Llambi Ziçishti, his brother Mihallaq, who had previously served as head of the Sigurimi, and Foreign Minister Nesti Nase ended up behind bars. The purge of several of the highest-ranking political officials in communist Albania from 1981 to 1983, included the arrest of the removed minister of the interior, Feçor Shehu, for “high treason”. [xi]

The arrest of Foreign Minister Nesti Nase in mid-September, after Hoxha had already sent him into early retirement in the June of that year, on an alleged lack of initiative. Around the same time as Nase’s arrest, accusations were also levelled against Minister of Defence Kadri Hazbiu, who had previously headed the Ministry of the Interior for some 26 years, from 1954 to 1980. Now he was suspected of not having been sufficiently vigilant. In the face of hostile harangement before the Party leadership bodies, Hazbiu’s denial of treason and his reiteration of his loyalty to Hoxha critically threatened the success of the show trial against him.

The arrests within the political elite were then accompanied by allegation that back-dated the activities of seemingly regime loyalist to involvement in crimes in the early days of communist rule. Those levelled against Minister of Defence Kadri Hazbiu were that he had been involved in the crimes of Koçi Xoxe, the minister of the interior executed in 1948 and Enver Hoxha’s former arch-enemy, and subsequently in Mehmet Shehu’s conspiracy plans. That such traitors could remain brooding within, and rise to the leadership of the Party and State, for such a length of time does not seem to have stimulated a response other than repeat the constant, and much-vaunted calls for vigilance and implementation of party education. No structural or managerial issues addressed why they survived and thrived, even nurtured during the building of socialism in Albania.

Hazbiu was accused of not having carried out comprehensive purges of ‘Feçor Shehu’s main brood’ in the Ministry of the Interior, expanding the circle of suspects. During the “trial” against Hazbiu, the two Deputy Defence Ministers Veli Llakaj and Nazar Berber, faced Hoxha who accused them as complicit saying  Shehu had planned a military coup with them.

The purge also reached the PLA Institute for Marxist-Leninist Studies. It was not its director, Hoxha’s wife, but the deputy director Ndreçi Plasari who was held accountable for the praise of Mehmet Shehu in the institute’s publications. He was also accused of having concealed a document of the British secret service concerning the then prime minister, which he had found in the London archives. [An event raised earlier and alluded by Jon Halliday.] Plasari ‘s compliant self-reproach was that he had been an opportunist, a coward and politically short-sighted. However, he never acted with, nor had he ever suspected that Shehu was a traitor.

Enver Hoxha accused them all of being traitors and part of a monstrous conspiracy on behalf of hostile foreign powers and under the leadership of Shehu. The documentation of accusations  from the Politburo and Secretariat of the Party of Labour of Albania of “hostile activities” implicated dissidents real and imagined from within the Party and state are translated and reproduced in the extensive postings on the anti-regime Memorie.al of archival material sourced from the Central State Archive (fund of the former Central Committee.)

In connection with the alleged conspiracy under the leadership of Mehmet Shehu, two prominent court proceedings, one civil and one military, took place almost parallel to each other. In the first, the defendants were Mehmet Shehu’s wife Fiqrete, his son Skënder, former Foreign Minister Nesti Nase and former Health Minister Llambi Ziçishti. The second trial was directed against Kadri Hazbiu, who was arrested two days after the CC plenum, the former Minister of the Interior Feçor Shehu, three Sigurimi officials, Mehmet Shehu’s head bodyguard and a hairdresser also accused of collaboration in conspiracy. The accused in the first trial also appeared as witnesses in the second.

Kadri Hazbiu, Feçor Shehu and Sigurimi official Llambi Peqini refused to accept the charge that they had been members of a counterrevolutionary organisation. All three were sentenced to death. They were shot on the night of 9 to 10 September 1983. The same fate befell the former Minister of Health, Ziçishti. The rest of the accused received long prison sentences.

The main defendants were executed and buried in secret locations in 1983.

Anti-party groups, revolutionary justice and class struggle

The Party leadership was in no doubt that, the struggle against anti-party elements, groups and views, like the entire class struggle within the party, was an ideological struggle for the Marxist-Leninist ideology and purity of its theory, of its general line, and of the communists themselves.

The danger of capitalist restoration was understood in terms of individual degeneration of individual members, lack of Party diligences and foreign conspiracies. In post-war Albanian politics, any dispute, whether over internal or external policy, has always been given a foreign dimension reflecting both traditional Albanian xenophobia and practice from the Stalin era.

Class struggle within the Albanian party was seen in orthodox Stalinist terms that avoided the thesis of “capitalist roaders” and regenerative class exploitation developing that emerged during the cultural revolution in Mao’s China. Against the Maoist position, they can hardly argue that there is no danger of the formation of opposing, hostile currents and lines in the party, but the emergence and formation of such currents and lines, while not an unalterable fate were also rarely prevented, as seen in the experience of the Party of Labour of Albania.  

Hoxhists raise criticism of Mao aimed at the fact that he was alleged to approve the formation of hostile lines in the party and allowed recognized revisionists to continue working in the party.[xii] They misrepresent the two line struggle, personalised as Mao Tse-tung’s thesis of the bourgeoisie sitting in the middle of the party, tolerated and Mao Tse-tung allowing hostile currents to developed in the Central Committee, even though their anti-Party activities were well known.

Whereas Vice-director of the Institute of Marxist-Leninist studies, Ndreci Plasari, repeated the well-rehearsed position that “class struggle within the party is directed against enemies and traitors; against deviations, distortions and violations of party decisions and directives; against shortcomings, mistakes and gaps in the work of the leading organs and basic organizations of the party; against opportunism, dogmatism, sectarianism, and any kind of alien, un-Marxist views.”[xiii]

He noted that all the enemies and traitors who have emerged from the ranks of the Party have been rightists. Opposing the onslaught from the CPSU [xiv], Mehmet Shehu had warned:

“Messrs. plotters! Albania is a hard bone as sharp as a knife which sticks in the throat of whoever tries to bite at or swallow it.”

Not as famous as the Stasi or KGB, the Sigurimi [Drejtorija e Sigurimit të Shtetit] gets a bad press from Enver Hoxha; in essence, he implied that the Directorate of State Security failed in its duty to protect the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. Formed in December 1944 (dissolved August 1991) the mission of the Sigurimi was to prevent counterrevolutions and to suppress opposition to the existing political system. [xv] Yet, there was Hoxha explaining, that in the circumstances of an attack at the very heart of the regime, by its hidden enemies, “I want to emphasise the issue that all the plots have been revealed by the Politburo and not State Security.”

The standard western view suggests the history of communist rule in Albania is a history of recurring purges, mass arrests and campaigns of “ideological purification.” In 1948, when President Josip Broz Tito in neighbouring Yugoslavia broke with Stalinism, the Albanian party was purged of identified individuals closely associated with “Titoites and revisionists”; in 1960, top leaders were executed as “modern revisionists and Khrushchevites”; in 1977, attention was turned to the “pro-Chinese elements” and in December 1981 Hoxha’s prime minister of 28 years, Mehmet Shehu, “committed suicide” and then was denounced as an agent of the KGB, the CIA, British Intelligence and the Yugoslav secret service.

The narrative remains the same: behind domestic opponents lay foreign hands: Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, or China, after Albania broke from successive alliances with each of those countries, Albanian communists were purged and some executed. “They have been very few in numbers, but the danger they posed was very great”. One estimate indicated that at least 170 communist party Politburo or Central Committee members were executed as a result of the Sigurimi’s investigations.

Deputy director of the PLA Institute for Marxist-Leninist Studies, Ndreçi Plasari, subjected to questioning in the aftermath of Mehmet Shehu’s death, had summarised that

“class struggle within the ranks of party organisations is linked, and cannot but be closely linked with the class struggle in the ranks of the people against the blemishes from the old society, against petty-bourgeois psychology and all remnants of old reactionary ideologies, against backward customs, as well as with the struggle against the [external-added] bourgeois-revisionist aggression.”[xvi]

The Sigurimi had proved effective in smashing the various plots of Albanian émigrés given Western support for their efforts to overthrow the Communist government in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and even in September 1982, The New York Times reported “The Albanian Interior Ministry announced that a ”band of Albanian emigre criminals” landed by boat on the Adriatic coast of Albania and were ”liquidated” five hours later.”  But in the face of the political and ideological opposition at the apex of the state, and although it was responsible for purging the party, government, military, and its own apparatus, the Directorate had failed to detect Mehmet Shehu’s alleged forty years of counter-revolutionary activity.

Unspoken incompetence characterises the narrative that spun around the death of the Albanian communist Mehmet Shehu. There is the failure to detect his alleged activities over the span of four decades, and his failure to decisively fulfil the alleged sabotage and destruction of socialism in Albania. There is also the implicit criticism raised that the Directorate of State Security failed in its duty to protect the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania.

Enver tells it to Zhou

Enver Hoxha explained at length, in a conversation with Zhou Enlai, the Albanian leadership limiting view on class struggle within the party, and capitalist restoration. The degeneration of party life and conspiratorial activity by traitors and revisionists elements are seen as key factors in the undermining of the socialist state. The PLA analysis was that a worker aristocracy made up of bureaucratic cadres was being created in the Communist Party of the USSR, and that bureaucratic distortions led to ideological and political distortions, to the creation of the current of modern revisionists.[xvii]

 “The seizure of power by the Soviet modern revisionists from within, without using weapons or violence, is so to speak, a new phenomenon. We think that in fact Stalin had not envisaged this, for the Soviet Union least of all. He never underrated the ferocity of the elements left over from the exploiting classes who, the closer they draw to their grave, the more fiercely they fight socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but we think that considering the state these remnants were in, Stalin assessed the internal situation as sound and correctly foresaw that the ally which could revive these remnants was foreign imperialism. Stalin put the stress on the danger from outside, while we can say that he did not foresee the full implication of the danger of the revisionist elements who, as a result of many subjective and objective circumstances, might emerge within the party and the socialist state and be gradually transformed, wittingly or unwittingly, consciously or unconsciously, with or without a premeditated plan, into an anti-Marxist trend, especially within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union itself. He was convinced that if some anti-party hostile activity emerged within the party, this might be developed and organized in the usual ways, but he was also firmly convinced that this activity would be attacked and liquidated by the same methods and forms that had been used to expose and liquidate all such activities in the past.

… If there is anything for which we can blame Stalin it is the fact that after the war, and especially in the last years of his life, he did not realize that the pulse of his Party was not beating as before, that it was losing its revolutionary vigour, was becoming sclerotic and, despite the heroic deeds of the Great Patriotic War, it never recovered properly and the Khrushchevite traitors took advantage of this. Here, if I am not mistaken, is where we must seek the origin of the tragedy that occurred in the Soviet Union

…  generally speaking, no errors of principle will be found, but we shall see that little by little the Party was becoming bureaucratized, that it was becoming overwhelmed with routine work and dangerous formalism which paralyze the party and sap its revolutionary spirit and vigour. The Party had been covered by a heavy layer of rust, by political apathy and the mistaken idea spread that only the head, the leadership, acted and solved everything. It was this concept of work that led to the situation in which everybody, everywhere, said about every question: «The leadership knows this», «the Central Committee knows every Committee does not make mistakes», «Stalin said this and that’s the end of it». Many things which Stalin may not have said at all were attributed to him. The apparatuses and officials became «omnipotent», «infallible», and operated in bureaucratic ways, misusing the formulae of democratic centralism and Bolshevik criticism and self-criticism which were no longer Bolshevik. There is no doubt that in this way the Bolshevik Party lost its former vitality, it lived by correct formulae, but only formulae; it carried out orders, but did not act on its own initiative.

.. Careerism, servility, charlatanism, cronyism, anti-proletarian morality, etc. developed and eroded the Party from within, smothered the spirit of the class struggle and sacrifice and encouraged the hankering after a «good», comfortable life with personal privileges and gain, and with the least possible work and toil. «We worked and fought for this socialist state and we won. Now let us enjoy it and profit from it. We are untouchable, our past covers everything.» This was the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois mentality which was being created in the Soviet Union and the great danger was that this was developing in the old cadres of the Party with an irreproachable past and of proletarian origin, cadres who ought to have been examples of purity for the others.

…the lack of revolutionary vigilance, the weakening of the class struggle inside and outside the Party, the enfeebling of the revolutionary spirit in everything, lack of profound revolutionary political and ideological work on a mass scale and the bureaucratization of the Party brought about that a whole stratum of the Party completely lost the features of the proletariat, of revolutionaries, and became bourgeois, created its own cadres in the Party and the state and took power into its own hands.”

<< It is of decisive importance that the working class and its Party never allow the cadres to become bureaucratic and degenerate, never allow the emergence of the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie, as in the Soviet Union, where the bureaucratized and degenerate cadres, the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie, seized the leadership from the hands of the working class. «In the Soviet Union,» says Comrade Enver Hoxha, «the cadres, naturally the bad cadres — carried out the counter-revolution… Cadres have their place, their role, but they must not impose their law on the Party, but the Party and the class must impose their law on them… The cadres must understand this hegemony of the Party and its class correctly from the ideological angle and fight for the implementation of principles in practice» [xviii]

There is an evident lack of appreciation of the application of mass line, supervision from below and the transformation of social relations that sees greater control of the conditions of social life reside at a lower level within a developing socialist society. Instead, on the main focus to nipped the process of degeneration in the bud and prevent the weakening of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Albania, Hoxha said,

“…. The main task it [the Party] has set itself is to keep the revolutionary spirit consistently high, to temper and retemper itself ideologically and politically day by day, to keep its ranks pure, to purge itself of rotten elements, sluggards, mere talkers, careerists and incorrigible bureaucrats through an active struggle within the Party and the real and factual verification of the activity of each party member in struggle and life.” [xix]

There was a consistent view, expressed by Nexhmije Hoxha (1977) [xx]  that

 “All the internal enemies, without exception, are at the same time, in one way or the other, agencies of external imperialist and revisionist enemies regardless of whether these connections and this collaboration are realized directly or indirectly. The threads which unite the former with the latter are numerous. They are not united only by their common anti-communist ideology and identical aim of eliminating the Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the whole socialist order in our country. They are united also by the support they render each other in the practical activity they carry out, the former from within, the second from abroad, to achieve this aim.”

The explanation repeated, that class struggle in Socialist Albania had its source

…in the existence of remnants of the exploiting classes and in their aims and efforts to regain their lost class power, riches, privileges and prerogatives; in the hostile imperialist-revisionist encirclement and in the aims and efforts of external enemies to destroy our socialist order by means of ideological aggression or military aggression; in the emergence of new capitalist elements and new internal enemies, who become a great danger to the Party and the proletarian power, to socialism; in the blemishes from the old society which continue to exist for a long time in the consciousness of men, blemishes which become an obstacle to the proletarian ideology and policy of the Party as dominant ideology and policy; in the so-called «bourgeois right» in the field of distribution, which socialist society is obliged to use, although it limits it more and more; in the differences between town and countryside, physical work and mental work, etc., which cannot be eliminated immediately.

… The class struggle has its source not only in these things mentioned above, but also in another aspect, which is sometimes overlooked: in the aims and efforts of the working class and its ally, the cooperativist peasantry, under the leadership of the proletarian party, to uproot every last trace of capitalist society, to carry the socialist revolution through to complete and final victory, to the complete construction of socialist and communist society, to defend every victory of the revolution and prevent a return to capitalism, to eliminate classes completely, as well as to contribute in the elimination of imperialist-revisionist oppression and exploitation and the triumph of socialism on a world scale.”

Speeches reiterated the reciprocal connection and interdependence between internal and external enemies so the waging of the class struggle in Albania cannot be taken separately from national patriotism:

“All the internal enemies, without exception, are at the same time, in one way or the other, agencies of external imperialist and revisionist enemies regardless of whether these connections and this collaboration are realized directly or indirectly. The threads which unite the former with the latter are numerous. They are not united only by their common anti-communist ideology and identical aim of eliminating the Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the whole socialist order in our country. They are united also by the support they render each other in the practical activity they carry out, the former from within, the second from abroad, to achieve this aim.” [xxi]

E N D N O T E S


[i] September 20 1982, Meeting of the Secretariat of the PLA Central Committee.

[ii] Yet part of the post-justification apparently suggested a long-standing personal feud going back to when Hoxha imprisoned Shehu briefly in 1946. Nexhmije Hoxha, following the restoration of capitalism in Albania in 1991, spent six years in prison. Upon release she wrote two volumes of her memoirs which narrates some of the early post-war experiences that the PLA had of Mehmet Shehu and the relations between Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu, ‘Miqësi e tradhtuar (in Albanian), ‘Betrayed Friendship, Historical Notes and Memories on the Relationship between Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu’, Tirana, 2004.

Nexhmije Hoxha , Relations between Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu during the National Liberation War (revolutionarydemocracy.org)   Revolutionary Democracy Vol. XIV, No. 2, September 2008

[iii] Source: A Synopsis of the Secret Activity of the Enemy Mehmet Shehu. Speech delivered at the 4th Plenum of the CC of the PLA . Enver Hoxha, Selected Works, Vol. 6, pp. 568–596  

[iv] Albania Today #1 1978

[v] The Strange Death of Mehmet Shehu, London Review of Books Vol. 8 No. 17 · 9 October 1986.  Frank Walbank’s Letter Vol. 8 No. 20 · 20 November 1986. Typically, ping pong disputed correspondence ensued as Halliday’s replied to reader’s critical points questioning the scholarship involved. Halliday had edited and provided commentary in the western published Artful Albanian: Memoirs of Enver Hoxha (Chatto & Windus. 1986)  But perhaps better known later as co-author of best-selling although critically panned, ‘Mao – the Unknown Story’.

[vi] The Shehu’s family fate was equally dramatic: Skender Shehu returned from studies in Sweden shortly after his father’s death. He was detained in January 1982 and condemned to 15 years on charges of treason, espionage and sabotage, as well as plotting to assassinate Hoxha. He said the charges were trumped up. His mother Figret, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on murky accusations, one year after the death of Mehmet Shehu, died after seven years of internal exile in 1988.

The oldest son, unable to bear the family disgrace, Vladimir, electrocuted himself in 1982 after refusing to provide incriminating evidence to authorities trying to build a posthumous case against their father

The middle brother, Bashkim Shehu, a writer, was arrested after being accused the same year of disseminating unlawful propaganda. He was released in 1989 but rearrested several months later on the same charges. His untranslated autobiographical novel, Vjeshta e ankthit: Esse [Autumn of Fear: Essay] was published in Albania in 1994 . His father’s death was subject to literary treatment at the hands of Albania’s best-known novelist in The Successor by Ismail Kadare [translated by David Bellos. Canongate 2005]. Two versions of his death circulate among the people. The first, that The Successor killed himself, unable to bear the disclosure of his supposed crimes against the state; the second, unspoken, is that he was murdered by order of The Guide himself.

[vii] Idrit Idrizi, Enver Hoxha’s Last Purge: Inside the Ruling Circle of Communist Albania (1981–1983). East European Politics and Societies and Cultures Aug. 2021, doi:10.1177/08883254211036184.

[viii]  “The Class Struggle in the Party Is the Guarantee That the Party Will Always Remain a Revolutionary Party of the Working Class” Albania Today [38] 1 /1978. p19

[ix] The Titoites (1982) Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p623-628 [English-language edition]

[x] Hoxha, Enver; (1979). Reflections on China: extracts from the political diary. Naim Frasheri. pp. 110 and 124

[xi] The following accounts draws heavily upon Idrit Idrizi, Enver Hoxha’s Last Purge: Inside the Ruling Circle of Communist Albania (1981–1983) . East European Politics and Societies and Cultures Aug. 2021, doi:10.1177/08883254211036184.

[xii] See №4 / 1978 of “The Way of the Party” — Theoretical Organ of the KPD/ML))

[xiii] “The Class Struggle in the Party Is the Guarantee That the Party Will Always Remain a Revolutionary Party of the Working Class” Albania Today [38] 1 /1978.

[xiv] Khrushchev’s in his speech on Albania at the October 1961 22nd Congress of CPSU – The Road to Communism – was explicitly hostile to the anti-revisionist criticisms raised from the Albanian authorities, and scathing of its leadership under Hoxha.

“For a long time now there has existed in the Albanian Party of Labor an abnormal, evil situation in which any person objectionable to the leadership liable to meet with cruel persecution.

Where today are the Albanian Communists who built the Party, who fought Italian and German invaders? Nearly of them are victims of the bloody misdeeds of Mehmet Shehu and Enver Hoxha”.

The Albanian leaders reproach us with meddling in the internal affairs of the Albanian Party of Labor. I should like to tell you what form this so-called meddling took.

A few years ago the Central Committee of the CPSU interceded with the Albanian leaders over the fate of Liri Gega, a former member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labor, who had been sentenced to death along with her husband. This woman had for a number of years been a member of leading bodies of the Albanian Party of Labor and had taken part in the Albanian people’s struggle for liberation. In approaching the Albanian leaders at the time, we were guided by considerations of humanity, by anxiety to prevent the shooting of a woman, and a pregnant woman at that. We felt and still feel that as a fraternal party we had a right to state our opinion in the matter. After all, even in the blackest days of rampant reaction, the tsarist satraps, who tortured revolutionaries, scrupled to execute pregnant women. And here, in a socialist country, they had sentenced to death, and they executed, a woman who was about to become a mother, they had shown altogether unwarranted cruelty. (Stir in the hall. Shouts: “Shame! Shame!”)

Comrades Liri Belishova and Koço Tashko, prominent figures in the Albanian Party of Labor, were not only expelled from the Party’s Central Committee but are now being called enemies of the Party and the people. And all this merely because Liri Belishova and Koço Tashko had the courage honestly and openly to voice their disagreement with the policy of the Albanian leaders and took a stand for Albanian solidarity with the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries.

People who today advocate friendship with the Soviet Union, with the CPSU, are regarded by the Albanian leaders as enemies.

[xv] External link: History of the Museum | Welcome (muzeugjethi.gov.al)

[xvi] Plasari (1978) p17

[xvii] Enver Hoxha Our Party Will Continue to Wage the Class Struggle As It Has Always Done — Consistently, Courageously and with Maturity (June 24, 1966) The 8th November Publishing House 2022

[xviii] Quoted in Nexhmije Hoxha 2022 p38 Enver Hoxha, Contribution to the Discussion at the Meeting of the Secretariat of CC of the PLA, March 26, 1975, Central Archives of the Party.

[xix]  Enver Hoxha Our Party Will Continue (2022)

[xx] Nexhmije Hoxha (1977) Some Fundemental Questions of the Class Struggle p16

Originally Published as: “Some Fundamental Questions of the Revolutionary Policy of the Party of Labour of Albania About the Development of the Class Struggle” in the theoretical and political organ of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, «Rruga e Partisë», Nr. 6, Tirana, 1977. Reprinted 2022. Toronto: The November 8th Publishing House. P16

Nexhmije Hoxha, née Xhulgini, (1921-2020) Member of the Central Committee of the Party and from 1966, Director of the Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies. The wife and companion for forty-three years of Enver Hoxha, she was in fact a convinced, important and active communist who joined the Party very early in its history, rose in its ranks in her own right, and never shrank from her duty, as she conceived it. As head of the Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies, she oversaw the publication of her husband’s voluminous writings.

[xxi] Nexhmije Hoxha  2022 p16

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