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 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]


[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 (   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 (

[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

186. The November 8th Publishing House | v 2.0

Established in Canada in 2021, this site provides access to English-language pdfs of anti-revisionist literature and the name should sound familiar. The original “8 Nëntori” Publishing House, literally meaning “8 November” in Albanian, honours the founding of the Party of Labour of Albania on November 8th, 1941. It published Enver Hoxha’s Selected Works, his Reflections, his many theoretical works, his memoirs, historical notes, and more.

The new incarnation, while republishing material from the Hoxha’s canon, aims “to promote discussion among Marxist-Leninists, even reprinting controversial figures and literature. In this work, we should note that reprinting does not mean we endorse the content — nor does it necessarily represent our views — it only means that we acknowledge that there may be some value in studying it.” Amongst its existing list are titles from the usual suspects, Lenin, Stalin, Dimitrov, Zhdanov, Ramiz Alia , Nexhmije Hoxha,  and Wang Ming and Kim Il Sung. Being based near Ottawa (formerly at Toronto), there are some specifically Canadian communist literature reprinted.

Amongst its publications is a new collection Congress of Betrayal – The November 8th Publishing House ( partially of previous untranslated comments from Enver’s Diary and other more familiar material. This selection covers the decade 1955-1966, covering such events as the 20th Congress and the denunciation of Stalin, including his epochal 1960 Moscow Meeting speech, the Hungarian counter-revolution and its source, the “anti-party” plot of Molotov et al., to the break of diplomatic relations by the Soviets in 1961, and the removal of Khrushchev and the 23rd Brezhnev Congress in 1964-66.

seek truth to serve the people

What it illustrates is the argumentation forcibly and persistently offered in the through-going contradictions with the revisionist developments under Khrushchev. Far from being a pawn in the Sino-Soviet split, as if Albania was a side show in the anti-revisionist struggle, it highlights the contribution made sincerely and independently in that anti-revisionist struggle. Having read Albania Challenges Khrushchev Revisionism (New York 1976) or The Party of Labor of Albania in Battle with Modern Revisionism (Tirana 1972) you will know what to expect, and the speech delivered at the meeting of 81 Communist and Workers’ parties in Moscow (November 16, 1960) is included in the collection. That self-reverential sense that “we have done our sacred duty to Marxism-Leninism” still pervades the selection but then again, reality proved the life-and-death class struggle they were engaged in. The disruption of the international movement and eventual disintegration did see the attempted formation and reorganisation of anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist forces. Something the Albanian party did pay close attention too.

Any evaluation of the struggle experienced by the Party of Labour of Albania led by Enver Hoxha should acknowledge it opened up the gates for the formation of the new Marxist-Leninist parties and the end of the old “fossilized and demobilized” Communist parties in the early stages of that struggle. The subsequent stance raises other questions which seems to have influenced some of the selected inclusions in the collection, before Hoxhaism was clearly delineated from Maoism,to reinforce the (contested) position that the PLA were the only forces to assess every deviationist move of the USSR correctly from the very beginning.

Congress of Betrayal | CONTENTS
























AN “ANTI-PARTY GROUP”? (July 4, 1957)












































PANORAMA OF THE YEAR 1961 (December 31, 1961).







AN OPEN LETTER (October 5, 1964)









THE OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION OF REVISIONISM …… The Khrushchevites, Tirana 1984, pp. 183-202, 2nd Eng.

Other sources of anti-revisionist material from Albania

Representative Anti-Revisionist Materials from Albania (

Banned or suppressed news in or about Albania (

Enver Hoxha Archive – English (

Enver Hoxha Internet Archive – Marxists

Enver Hoxha – Selected Works – Left side of the road

Hoxha Works – Marxist Leninist Books

Enver Hoxha – Enver Hoxha’s Books in English

The Sixth Congress (1971)

At the Palace of Culture of Tirana, the 6th Congress of the Partia e Punës e Shqipërisë, PPSh was held during November 1st-7th,  1971, and coincided with the 30th foundation anniversary of the party. A 90-minute documentary, 30 vjet PPSH, Kongresi VI i PPSh (’30 years of the PPSh, VI Congress of PPSh’), was produced of the party congress.

The 6th party congress adopted directives for the fifth five-year plan. The directives called for the transformation of Albania from an agrarian-industrial to an industrial-agrarian country. In December the National Assembly adopted the fifth five-year plan, based on the directives of the 6th party congress.

The 6th congress adopted a decision to replace the constitution of the People’s Republic of Albania. The subsequent 7th party congress, held in 1976, adopted a new constitution which declared Albania as a socialist state.

Enver Hoxha presented the Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of  Labor of  Albania subsequently published by the Naim Frasheri Publishing House.[i]

Nesti Nase, Foreign Minister, spoke of the great successes of the foreign policy of Albania, especially in the development of friendship and fraternal cooperation with People’s China. He pointed to the victory for China in the U.N. as another achievement of the continuous efforts made by Albania on the diplomatic front.

Albania’s Deputy Foreign Minister Reis Malile had thanked the delegations of those countries who supported the Albanian Resolution. The General Assembly, he said, has once and for all rejected the U.S. scheme of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”. This decision is also a heavy defeat for the Soviet social-imperialists who have made every effort to isolate China. The restoration of the rights of China is a victory in the struggle of the peace-loving states to free the U.N. from the manipulation of the two big powers, and to revive the U.N.[ii]

Enver Hoxha, Haxhi Lleshi and Mehmet Shehu sent a message of congratulations on 0ctober 27 to Mao Tse-tung, Tung Pi-wu, and Chou En-lai in Peking. The message said among other things that the restoration of the rights of People’s China in the U.N. and the expulsion of the Chiang Kai-shek clique is a result of the victorious march of the Chinese people on the road of revolution and socialism under the leadership of their Communist Party headed by the great Marxist-Leninist Mao Tse-tung. lt is a result of the correct foreign policy of People’s China and its determined struggle in defense of freedom loving and peace loving peoples and states. The General Assembly has recognized that the world cannot manage without People’s China, that without its participation no important problem can be solved.[iii]

Notably there was no representation of the Communist Party of China at the 6th congress. Reportedly the Chinese ambassador to Tirana Liu Jen Hua was occupied touring the country with a Chinese electricity group.

At the 6th Congress Hoxha indirectly criticized recent Chinese foreign policy moves by declaring that, “As long as American imperialism and the Soviet revisionist imperialism are two imperialist superpowers and come out with a common counter-revolutionary strategy, it is impossible for the struggle of the peoples against them not to merge into a single current. You cannot rely on the one imperialism to oppose the other.”[iv]  At the same time Albania had opened trade negotiations with France, Italy, and the recently independent Asian and African states, and in 1971 it normalized relations with much derided neighbours Yugoslavia and the military dictatorship in Greece.

The Congress occurred at a time of victory for the two parties and states: China’s rightful place in the United Nations Organisation had been secured in October by popular vote, in part orchestrated by Albanian sponsorship and lobbying by the Albanian mission in New York.  

Over a period of twelve years, Albania’s political conduct had been based on the view, and advocacy that the day would come when the United Nations Organisation would plead the People’s Republic of China to take its rightful place in this organisation with full rights of membership of the United Nations and the UN Security Council. [v]

 However, the previous summer, before the Congress, Enver Hoxha on behalf of the party, had sent a critical, some would say harsh and rude, letter on August 6, 1971 to the leadership of the Communist Party of China saying “ ..we make known to you that we don’t approve your decision to welcome Nixon in Beijing”. It was given the title, when published for the first time[vi] as IT IS NOT RIGHT TO RECEIVE NIXON IN BEIJING. WE DO NOT SUPPORT IT. It warned such a visit “will bring many negative consequences to the revolutionary movement and our cause“.

The Albanians later said they never received a reply to the letter.

However, in October 1971 Hoxha was informed that the Chinese would not be sending a delegation to the 6th Congress of the Party of Labour and in 1972 the Chinese did send messages notifying the Albanians that they should expect a lower level of economic activity with China in the future.

All this was hidden from the attendees of the 26 foreign delegations attending the 6th Congress of the P.L.A:

  • Vietnamese Workers’ Party (Nguyen Van Tran) and National Liberation Front of South Viet Nam (Prof . Nguyen Van Hieu) 
  • the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) (E. Hill)
  • the Communist Party of New Zealand (Vic Wilcox)
  • the Communist Party of Indonesia (Jusuf Adjitorop)
  • the Communist Party of Poland (Kazimierz Mijal)
  • the Communist Party of Malaya
  • the Communist Party of Brazil
  • the Communist Party of Italy (Marxist-Leninist) (Fosco Dinucci)
  • the Communist Party of Peru (Rafael Kaline)
  • the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of France (Jean Ferre)
  • the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (Reg Birch)
  • the Communist Party of Japan (Left) (Takayuki Anasako)
  • the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile (Ernesto González)
  • the Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) (Raúl Marco)
  • the Communist Party of Ceylon (M.C.N. Shafi)
  • the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador (Alfonso Jaramillo)
  • the Sudanese Communist Party (Revolutionary Leadership) (‘Xhabir’)
  • the Marxist-Leninist Party of Austria (Franz Strobl)
  • the Communist Party of Germany/Marxist-Leninist (Ernst Aust)
  • the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands (‘Kris Petersen’) [Dutch secret service]
  • the Marxist-Leninist Communist League of Sweden (Kurt Lundgren)
  • Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Belgium (Fernand Lefebvre)
  • the “Vanguardia Comunista” of Argentina
  • the Marxist-Leninist Communist League of Denmark (Benito Scocozza)
  • and the Marxist-Leninist Groups of Norway (Sigurd Allern)

ln addition to the delegations attending the Congress, many messages of greetings were received from those parties and groups that could not send delegations. These included messages from China, Korea, Burma, and Thailand, which were read to the Congress.

The message from the C.C. of the Chinese C.P. was greeted with special enthusiasm. lt praised the P.L.A. for its resolute struggle against imperialism, revisionism, and reaction, for its support of oppressed people and nations and genuine Marxist-Leninist parties. “You have made important contributions t0 the world revolutionary cause and set, a brilliant example of proletarian internationalism for the revolutionary people the world over,” it said. The message also lauded the advances made during the past five years in socialist revolution and construction, in the further revolutionization of Party and State life, in consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat. lt reaffirmed the unbreakable revolutionary friendship between the two people based on Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, in the common struggle against the common enemy. “We will always stand firmly on your side, fight shoulder to shoulder, unite as one, and advance hand in hand.” [vii]

The judgement of the Swiss based Marxist Leninist Nils Andersson was that

“An important demonstration of the reality of the Marxist-Leninist movement was the celebration of the 5th Congress of the PLA in November 1966, which was attended by the CP of China and 28 Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations from the five continents. There was great enthusiasm, for Albania it was one of the great moments in its history, it had defeated the revisionist and imperialist blockade; for new parties it was the first time they had been able to get together in such great numbers.” [viii]

At the time of the 6th Congress the situation had grown more complicated with political contradictions appearing in the anti-revisionist camp, partly due to China’s policy directions and the immature nature of those new parties whereby the role that tailism and creeping adulation could play in that recognition. The high expectations of a unified international structure emerging, evident at the 5th Congress, were stymied by the positive opposition of the Chinese party to encourage such arrangements. The overtures for party relations with revisionist parties and recalibration of foreign policies were all of concern. For the Albanians, China’s improving relations in the Balkans and overtures to Romania’s Nicolae Ceaușescu raised the hackles. Albanian scholar, Yiber Marku looked extensively at the new parties disquiet behind the scene at the 6th Congress.[ix]

Mijal centre stage with Enver

During the informal meetings with many foreign communist delegations that that occurred China’s absence did not pass without comments, some of which indicated dissatisfaction with China’s acts within the communist camp. The Austrian delegate, Franz Strobel, commenting on Nixon’s visit, wondered rhetorically, ‘when is Nixon coming to Albania?’. He labelled the Chinese decision to not send a delegation to foreign party congresses as ‘extraordinary, as the same internal situation in China… Nixon’s visit to China has caused confusion within communists.’ There is anecdotal evidence that when the Marxist-Leninist Party of Austria approached the PLA with its concerns over Nixon’s visit to China, the advice it received was to continue to support the CPC and discipline those in the organization who were arguing for the Party to publicly condemn what they characterized as the CPC’s capitulation to imperialism.

Some of these delegates met in Tirana with the Chinese ambassador in Albania, Liu Zhenhua. One of them, David Benkis, representing the Communist Party of Chile (m-l), lamented the lack of financial assistance that Geng Biao had promised to give him in Albania during this congress. In another meeting, he complained of the treatment that the CCP had reserved for certain parties, which he alleged was not based on the equality among parties. A meaningful comment came from the Chilean delegate on Chinese policy when he affirmed in an informal meeting that ‘China now prioritizes the interstate relations, rather than inter-party relations. This offered the best explanation of the departure in Chinese foreign policy from its ideological radicalism, to state pragmatism in international relations.

The Belgian delegate, presumably Fernand Lefebvre, after meeting Hoxha, is reported to have said, ‘You are different from China’, without further elaborating.

At the previous 5th Congress Jacques Grippa, the leader of the Communist Party of Belgium (m-l) , and European fixer among the pro-China groups, had expressed to the Albanian party his great dissatisfaction with certain Chinese policies. He had been in China during 1966, and lamented the fact that he been kept completely uninformed about the Cultural Revolution. Grippa was not alone in his frustrations over the lack of information. Kazimierz Mijal told similarly of his meetings with Chinese diplomats in Tirana, that the information provided about the Cultural Revolution was ‘very vague’, or sometimes clearly inaccurate, as it was when he was told the Cultural Revolution would be over within the year (1968).  Grippa eventually sided with Liu Shao-chi and was expelled from the anti-revisionist movement in no small part to Albanian reports, to the Chinese and others, of Grippa’s criticism

Kazimierz Mijal, representing the PCP (m-l), in presence of the Brazilian delegate, affirmed that the ‘Chinese refusal to send a delegation leaves room for speculation by the revisionists that there is no unity between China and Albania’. Mijal reinforced his contrariety to China’s decision to not participate at the congress, when on 5 November he told the Chinese ambassador in Tirana, Liu Zhenhua, ‘I am against Chinese decision to not participate at the congress, which itself has raised debates and speculations of a possible disunity between China and Albania’.

During the informal talks, the small foreign delegations discussed also the events in China. . Some delegations, such as those of Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, asked to meet the Chinese ambassador. The main topic of their discussion in Albania was the extent of the reformation in China. These small parties were concerned about their futures, of the ideological axis upon which they had built their action. Among these groups, British communist Reg Birch is said to have a confidential document for Hoxha regarding a meeting he allegedly had with Chinese comrades, with whom he had discussed the current situation in China. No such document was found in the Albanian party archive, nor is it clear if he relayed it to Hoxha.

Disequilibrium in what were often low level contacts in the first place, saw a disentanglement by some organisations as there was an overshadowing issue that all the Marxist-Leninists had to consider, and that was the change in the relationships that the Chinese party had initiated with revisionist parties. This contrasted with the Albanian refusal to countenance such political relationships. Some of the Marxist-Leninist organisations agreed with the Albanian stance without openly criticising Mao and the Communist Party of China.

 In the informal discussion periods, the Spanish Marxist-Leninist implicit rebuke the Chinese for having re-established relations with “the revisionism of the renegade, anti-patriot and agent of the oligarchy, Santiago Carrillo,” and argued that: “One of the principal tasks of Marxist-Leninists is that of carrying on and intensifying ‘the struggle against every kind of revisionism and opportunism, wherever it may arise, regardless of the mask that it may don…. For this reason it is not possible to support, to deal with or to reach agreements with one type of revisionism in order to combat another kind) since they are all linked by the common denominator of enmity to the revolution·, to Marxism-Leninism, and are all instruments of reaction, imperialism and social-imperialism. The divergences between revisionists are nothing but a matter of struggles between rival cliques and constitute a proof of their bourgeois ideology and degeneration.”

The subsequent ritual reference to “all the Marxist-Leninists of the world, headed by the Albanian Party of Labor and the Chinese Communist Party” — indeed, the order (Albanians first, Chinese second) might be regarded as further evidence of a shifting of loyalties from Peking toward Tirana. Even in their closest period there were visible differences in the emphasis of the PLA and CPC. These political cleavages came to the forefront in 1977-78 but have their seeds in the Sino-American rapprochement at the start of the Seventies. French Marxist Leninist, Patrick Kessel recalls a visit to Tirana in 1972, and the discreet manner of the PLA’s objection to the role of the army in China during the Cultural Revolution and Nixon’s visit . The new element, evident since the 7th Congress, was, for Kessel, “the directly questioning of the part played by Mao Zedong”. [x]

Reflecting on China’s relations with the Party of Labour in  1973, Hoxha imitated in his political diaries (not published until 1979, after the Sino-Albanian break)  that “Chou En-lai, Li Hsien-nien and Mao have cut off their contacts with us, and the contacts which they maintain are merely formal diplomatic ones. Albania is no longer the ‘faithful, special friend’. For them it comes at the end of the line, after Rumania and Yugoslavia in Europe … it is quite obvious that their ‘initial ardour’ has died.”[xi]

 In April the same year Geng Biao, who was in charge of relations with foreign parties, was reported by Enver Hoxha as informing the Albanians that “China does not approve the creation of Marxist-Leninist parties and does not want the representatives of these parties to come to China. Their coming is a nuisance to us but we can do nothing about them, for we cannot send them away. We accept them just as we accept the representatives of bourgeois parties.”[xii] Whatever the truth of the matter, it was believed by many.

The deterioration in the relationship between the two allies simmered for the rest of the decade until the rupture in 1977/78 offered stark ideological alignment that divided the anti-revisionist movement.


[i]  In Enver Hoxha (1982)  Volume IV –  February 1966 – July 1975. The «8 NËNTORI » Publishing House Tirana  p683

[ii] See also

[iii] Quoted in the American publication Albanian Report Vol 2 No.2 October-November 1971

[iv] Hoxha 1982: 698

[v]  Enver Bytyçi (2022) In the Shadows of Albania-China Relations (1960-1978) Cambridge Scholar Publishing, particularly Chapter 3

[vi]  Hoxha 1982 p665


[viii] Nils Andersson The Origins of the Marxist-Leninist Movement in Europe.  Unity & Struggle No. 28, September 2014

[ix] The next paragraphs draw heavily on an extract from Ylber MARKU’s  Sino-Albanian relations during the Cold War, 1949-1978 : an Albanian perspective.

[x] Quoted in Tirana builds an Internationale.

[xi] Hoxha, Enver (1979). Reflections on China . Vol. 2. Tirana: 8 Nëntori Publishing House.

[xii] Hoxha, Enver (1985). Selected Works Vol. 5. Tirana: 8 Nëntori Publishing House.p693

Research Note ~ Albania’s African contribution

Albania’s part in the anti-revisionist establishment of a contact network and expanding the assistance to foreign communist groups everywhere was partly explored in a study by Albanian journalist Ylli Molla, of the help given through political and military training by the Albanian authorities. [i]

Marku‘s academic study noted that, with the collaboration of Jacques Grippa in Belgium, strong ties were established with illegal communist groups in Congo Brazzaville, where Grippa had good connections with the revolutionary groups.[ii]

In late 1966 a meeting was organized in Rome, with the help of the Albanian embassy, and was attended by Congolese members of an illegal group. Secretly these members went to Albania for military and political training.

Speculation is that if it not been for the Chinese support, Albania would not have had the power to finance parties and train illegal groups from four continents. We know that the Albanian party passed on financial contributions from a fund set up as Chinese aid to various Marxist-Leninist groups[iii] . Elidor Mehilli, drawing upon Albanian archives for his study “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World” made the observation that in the early 1960s the

“Albania’s party devised a special hard currency solidarity fund to assist Marxist-Leninists groups around the world. Initially it consisted of 700,000 US dollars. China issued half a million, and the rest came from internal funds. Here was the ruling party of a country that still struggled to feed its inhabitants, projecting itself as a source of revolutionary activism in the Third World and in Western Europe. In 1964, the party Secretariat disbursed money to marginalized Polish Marxist-Leninists; the Belgian Communist Party; the Communist Party of Brazil; the Communist Party of Peru; the Italian Marxist-Leninist paper Nuova Unita; and groups in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Columbia. Activists in Australia and Ceylon were hired as foreign correspondents for the party daily. Small sums also went to a coterie of Marxist-Leninist characters in Paris and London (the short lived Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity), as well as in Vienna. The United States-based Hammer and Steel received modest contributions as well. Beyond the funds, Albanian officials established direct links with Iranian Marxist-Leninists (the Revolutionary Organisation of the Tudeh Party held its first congress in Tirana in 1965). Indonesian students enrolled in Tirana’s university, and a few Indonesian Communist officials were treated to paid vacations.” [iv]

Albania provided financial aid, political and military training for other militants, employed overseas Marxists on its propaganda work on radio and in print, provided scholarship for foreigners at the Lenin Party School and lecturers on guerrilla warfare and the Albanian experience.[v]

Albania, in coordination with China, did not train these groups with the exclusive goal of a communist revolution. What was most important was to challenge the imperialist, including Soviet power and influence in Africa. The two Congolese states, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were illustrative of this.

Visitors, according to Ylli Molla, were said to include Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (1945 -), Kabila (1939-2001),  Amazonas (1912-2002),Omar Bongo, Arafat (1929-2004), Khalil – Abu Jihad (1935-1988).

At the 5th Congress in 1966 there had been a delegation address by the Revolutionary Communist party of Sudan. In 1971, at the Party of labour’s 6th Congress there were 41 parties that either sent a delegation or a message addressed to the congress, No African delegates were listed.

Storm centres of the world revolution may have been in Asia, Africa, Latin America, but publically there was little acknowledgement of African-based fraternal parties. Even in press articles on neo-colonialism in Africa[vi] it mentions no fraternal organisations, although it may have been signalling a sub textual criticism of their Chinese allies as the article looks at US policy and expansionismas the main support of the exploiting colonial system in Africa. Albanian main interest lay in Latin America and Europe in terms of fraternal groups as demonstrated in the aftermath of the 1978 split with the Communist Party of China.


From November 1964 there were regular and sustained foreign language programs broadcasting the Albania’s uncompromising Marxist-Leninist worldview.

The external service Radio Tirana was one of the largest broadcasters in Europe, with a massive megaWatt transmitter operating on 1395 kHz, broadcasting in 20 foreign languages, apart from Albanian targeting Albanians living abroad. These broadcasts were in the following languages: Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Persian, Russian, Greek and Bulgarian.

Radio Tirana would broadcast commentaries such as

– “Success of the liberation struggle of the Sarawak people”
– “Congo Kinshasa – The liberation struggle is expanding”

– “The flames of the armed struggle of the Mozambique patriots are spreading constantly”
– “Guinea-Bissau is resolutely leading the fight against the Portuguese colonialists” (1971)

-” The armed struggle of the patriots of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea -Bissaus records new successes “(1972)
-“The two imperialists Super Powers – Sworn Enemies of the Angolan People “

 – “The people of Angola are constantly expanding their struggle against the Portuguese colonialists” (1974)

A consequence of the Sino-Albanian split was that Albanian relays of Chinese broadcasts were discontinued from July 1978. The relays consisted of half-hour broadcasts in Czech, English, Hausa (to reach Nigeria), Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish and Turkish, totalled 91 hours. There were also New China News Agency transmissions in French and Spanish for 54 hours a week.

After the breach with China, the location of main supporters of the Albanian line were in organisations based in Latin America and Western Europe with a core group of twelve organizations begun to hold regular conferences with the goal of building the unity of Marxist-Leninists.[vii]

An African group who sided with condemnation of Mao Zedong Thought was the clandestine Union des communistes du Dahomey founded in 1976, it was listed as the Communist Party of Dahomey, as fraternal delegation at the 8th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania held in 1981. Renamed Parti Communiste du Bénin, the PCB was associated with the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle). It published En Avant printed in Canada and smuggled into Benin. It was only legally recognized on September 1993.

Probably the most successful of organisations allied with the Hoxhaist wing of the 1980s anti-revisionist movement was the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigrai (MLLT) who were at the core of the TPLF.

“At the beginning of 1980 comrade Enver Hoxha’s latest writings managed to find their way to the TPLF. It was a very important event in the history of the development of the (ML) core. Mao Tse-Tung’s thought which hitherto, had been taken as a development of Marxism-Leninism by the Core was mercilessly exposed in comrade Enver Hoxha’s book, Imperialism and Revolution, and set the whole Core reading and re-reading this book.[viii]

There were claims for elsewhere: Upper Volta, Dahomey, Senegal, Angola and elsewhere in Africa of the Marxist-Leninist movement going from relatively simple propaganda activities to active involvement in the struggle against suppression of workers and their unions. The Canadian newspaper IN STRUGGLE! refered to La Flamme published by the Communist Party of Dahomey; ECH-CHOOLA published by the Tunisian Communist (Marxist-Leninist) Group ECH-CHOOLA; Le Protetaire published by the Union of Communist Struggle of Upper Volta, that vied with a rival Marxist-Leninist group , the Voltaic Revolutionary Communist Party. [ix]

[i] Molla, Ylli, Guerrillas made in Albania: the story of Arafat, Kabila, Lula, Amazonas and fighters from 11 countries, who were prepared politically and militarily by Albanian educators (Tirana: Botolarart, 2016)

[ii] Ylber MARKU (2017)Sino-Albanian relations during the Cold War, 1949-1978 : an Albanian perspective

[iii] Elidoe Mehilli (2017) From Stalin to Mao: Albania and the Socialist World. Cornell University press p218.

[iv] Elidor Mehilli  (2017) “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World” Cornel University Press  p218

[v] Other studies include

Pedrazzi, Nicola, The Italy that Enver dreamed of: partisans, communists, Marxist-Leninists: the Italian friends of popular Albania (1943–1976) (Nardò: Besa, 2017)

Carlos Hugo Studart Corrêa, ‘In some place in the Amazon rainforests: the memories of the two guerrillas of Araguaia (1966–1974)’, PhD dissertation, Universidade de Brasília, 2013.

[vi] Paskal Milo, Neo-colonialism in Africa. Albania Today #1 1973

[vii]  See; State of the Movement (1999) Section 2: The Albanian Intervention pp 47-126.

[viii] . Some Stands of the Marxist-Leninist Core of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, T.P.L.F.

[ix] In  Struggle! #182, November 27, 1979.

130. Research Note~ Albanian Attitude towards the Cultural Revolution

In the Western commentaries of the 1960s, when Chinese and Albanian interests coincided in their struggle against Soviet revisionism, much was framed in terms of Albania being a bridgehead for the Chinese in Europe as if Albania was a springboard, the European outpost of Mao’s revolutionary policy and Chinese penetration of the European based communist movement.

An article from the influential British think-tank Royal Institute of International Affairs reflecting this narrative was “Albania: A Chinese Satellite in the Making?” by Anton Logoreci ([i]), while Newsweek could headline an article “Albania: Mediterranean Maoists”[ii]  and they reflected the lack of attention paid to the internal dynamics of People’s Republic of Albania and that Western approach devalued the actual value and experience of the Albanian revolution and its achievements in the poorest of the European countries. demonstration

Clearly Albania was the strongest supporter of China not only within the international communist movement, but in efforts to break the American quarantine of the People’s Republic. In concluding that Albania was fully committed to ideological and economic dependence on China, it underestimated the domestic roots of Albania policy and its independent motivation of Albanian national survival and pride in those achievements and its chosen path. For all the references to Stalinist Albania, that Stalin remained an irremovable reference point for Hoxha, was overshadowed in the narrative of the “Mediterranean Maoists”. The “deal” was seen as unequivocal ideological support of the Albanian leadership on the part of Mao’s China as accompanied by substantial material aid; even in the aftermath of the break down in the alliance, western commentators would argue the break with China left Albania with no foreign protector as if that was a prime diplomatic concern.

Albania did became a major recipient of Chinese foreign aid, receiving huge economic and military assistance. China could never materially satisfy the exorbitant requests for full industrial plants, massive amounts of equipment, and military aid. The total assistance from China to Albania amounted to ten billion renminbi. It was, according to a Chinese estimate, equivalent to 6 billion US dollars then. [iii]

“Sometimes our Albanian friends had too big an appetite for Chinese assistance,” Fan CHENGZUO told an international seminar.[iv]

It was the political relationship that had brought the two together, that shared anti-revisionist stance, and it was political divergence that saw the collapse of the relationship. As an alliance it was ideologically based, party propaganda, in turn, Albania lauded China as the crucial factor in the building of socialism. The shared opposition to modern revisionism did not mean a shared understanding of its causes nor its avoidance. There was an emerging explanation coming out of China that was accelerated during the Cultural Revolution that the Albanian party were reluctant to endorse in practice whilst eventually rhetorically supporting the events in China.

In the Sixties, Zhou Enlai, Politburo member Kang Sheng, deputy premier Li Xiannian, and leading Cultural Revolution activist Yao Wenyuan all made similarly highly publicized visits to Albania.

Symbolical of that relationship was seen in 1964 when Zhou Enlai stayed in Albania for an unprecedented nine days


1964 Premier Chou Enlai in Tirana 

Peking Review #1  January 3, 1964 & Peking Review #2 January 10, 1964

1964 Zhou in Albania-a memoir


“Memorandum of Conversation, between Comrade Zhou Enlai and Party and State Leaders of Albania, 27-29 March 1965,” March, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Tirana, AQPPSH-MPKK-V. 1965, D. 4. Obtained for CWIHP by Ana Lalaj and translated for CWIHP by Enkel Daljani.


Zhou Enlai also paid a visit to Albania from June 24 to 28, 1966

1966 hoxha_conversation_with_chou_en_lai_entry in his Political Diary.


Memorandum of Conversation between Albanian Labor Party Delegation and the Chinese Communist Party Leadership,” October 12, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Tirana, AQPPSH-MPKK-V. 1967, L. 19, D. 20. Obtained by Ana Lalaj and translated by Enkel Daljani.

Memorandum of Conversation between comrade Enver Hoxha and a delegation of Chinese Red Guards (led by Yao Wenyun) , July 08, 1967. National Archives of Albania (AQSH), F. 14/AP, M-PKK, 1967, Dos. 43, Fl. 1-18. Obtained and translated by Elidor Mëhilli.

Zeri I Popullit editorial, The Albanian Edition of “Quotations From Chairman Mao tse-tung” – A Great and Precious Gift From the Fraternal Chinese People, reproduced in Peking Review #44 October 27, 1967  PR1967-44

In June 1966, Zhou Enlai visited Albania. Shortly before he landed in Tirana, Zëri I Popullit (People’s Voice), published on its third page an article that for the first time reported on the Cultural Revolution. Zhou Enlai in his visit had had a long conversation with Hoxha, aimed at finding the roots of revisionism as a phenomenon. Zhou went back to the early stage of Stalin’s rule and tried to convince Hoxha that Stalin was not infallible as he had thought, but now Hoxha stated that ‘he [Zhou] did not convince us at all.”[v]

Still the outward appearance was very different:


For both sides, when it comes to describing the bilateral relationship between China and Albania, expressions such as “unbreakable,” “arm-in-arm,” and “growing with each passing day” no longer cut it; better expressions include “strong as steel and pure as crystal,” “advancing from climax to climax,” and even direct quotations from poetry like“ long distance separates no bosom friends.” We who were responsible for drafting speeches at that time were all racking our brains to come up with better phrases or expressions.[vi]

Later was exposed (after the breach in the relationship) the disconnect between the public utterances and supposed entries into Hoxha’s private diary at the time, his increasing sceptical views on China and its relationship with Albania.[vii]

There is no evidence that the Chinese sought to impose their Cultural Revolution on the Albanians, as Hoxha accused them in his later published accounts.

The Albanians rejected the main ideological driver of the Cultural Revolution the issue of existing class antagonism under socialism, and in their own activities the Albanians insisted that the loss of party control was unacceptable. There were no calls to ‘Bombard the Headquarters’ appearing on Tirana’s walls.

“Albania, instead, maintained that the main purpose of the revolution had been the removal of the exploitative classes, and of the bourgeoisie as a class. Without this, the communists would have not considered their historical task of liberating the proletariat as accomplished. Perhaps, Shehu maintained, what was let was only the remnants of the bourgeoisie, and therefore not the class as an entity still able to challenge the political power of the communists” [viii]

After all, conditions in Albania were radically different from China’s. Albania’s specific context as an underdeveloped country, which did not precipitate the emergence of a strong bourgeoisie or its subsequent development into a powerful class.

There were differences in practices: unlike in China, the Albanian ‘Ideological and Cultural Revolution’ was less disruptive, mainly serving the ‘further’ consolidation of what Albanian leaders called the total socialist revolution.

The old idealist ideology of the exploiting society still has deep roots and exerts a powerful and continuous influence. When we speak of this influence, it is not just a matter of «a few remnants and alien manifestations that appear here and there», as it is often wrongly described in our propaganda, but the influence of a whole alien ideology which is expressed in all sorts of alien concepts, customs and attitudes, which are retained for a long time as a heritage from the past, have social support in the former exploiting classes and their remnants, in the tendencies to petty-bourgeois spontaneity, and are nurtured in various forms by the capitalist and revisionist world which surrounds us. [ix]

With no ‘revisionists’ to contend with, it addressed more practical goals and intensified policies that had already been in place since the establishment of communist rule such as female emancipation, and the eradication of religious beliefs. The campaign was carried out always under Hoxha’s control and did not cause turmoil, as in launching it, he had warned that ‘our party is not an arena where the class struggle will manifest. It is the party itself who leads the class struggle, it does not allow groups of revisionists within it.

The Albanian view of class struggle within the country was that

It is waged against the remnants of the exploiting classes, overthrown and expropriated, but who continue to resist and exert pressure by every means, first and foremost, through their reactionary ideology, as well as against new bourgeois elements, degenerate revisionist and anti-Party elements, who inevitably emerge within our society. It is also waged against bourgeois and revisionist ideology which is retained and expressed in various forms and degrees of intensity, as well as against the external pressure of imperialism.[x]

The propaganda rhetoric papered over Chinese differences with the Albanian vision of class struggle which acknowledged class struggle is reflected within the Party, however targeted the crimes of bureaucrats rather than a regenerative class enemy.

On July 8, in fact, Hoxha received a delegation of Red Guards and showered them with ihoxhae001p1praise, told the Red Guards that Mao was “a shining ideological and political beacon” for the international communist world. Albania asked for and were gifted 100,000 volumes of the Little Red Book.

Between the two sides, there were frequent high-level contacts and a broad range of cooperation; there was also a steady flow of large amounts of assistance from China to Albania; and the two countries piled on each other high praises and constantly exceeded reception and other official protocols for each other. [xi]

Shehu and mao

Visiting China, Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu spoke declaring that the Albanians,

“We hold that one’s attitude towards China’s great proletarian cultural revolution is the touchstone for distinguishing between Marxist – Leninists and revisionists and opportunists, and between genuine revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.”  The Albanian party and people, he concluded, had “consistently supported the great proletarian Cultural Revolution and will support it to the end.” [xii]

It was Mao Tse-tung’s that proclaimed [xiii] 

Beacon quote

A sentiment echoed in the Marxist-Leninist movement internationally.

See also When Enver Was A Maoist



[i] The World Today Vol. 17, No. 5 (May, 1961), pp. 197-205

[ii] Newsweek August 14, 1967

[iii] Estimate from Fan Chengzuo, graduate of Tirana University in 1957, served as an Albanian translator for Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, and was appointed as the Ambassador to Albania from 1986 through 1989. Quoted in Sino-European relations during the Cold war and the rise of a multi-polar world- A Critical Oral History, Edited by Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann, and Charles Kraus (2015) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[iv] Fan Chengzuo’s recollections are contained in Xiaoyuan Liu and Vojtech Mastny, eds.,China and Eastern Europe, 1960s– 1980s: Proceedings of the International Symposium: Reviewing the History of Chinese – East European Relations from the 1960s to the 1980s (Zurich: Center for Security Studies, 2004), p. 184

[v] Quoted in Ylber Marku (2017) China and Albania: the Cultural Revolution and Cold War Relations, Cold War History, 17:4, 367-383

[vi] Fan Chengzuoin Sino-European relations during the Cold war and the rise of a multi-polar world- A Critical Oral History, Edited by Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann, and Charles Kraus (2015) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[vii] Explored in Elidor Mëhilli’s chapter on “Mao and the Albanians” in Cook (2014) Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History . Cambridge University Press.

[viii] Quoted in Ylber Marku (2017) China and Albania: the Cultural Revolution and Cold War Relations, Cold War History, 17:4, 367-383

[ix] Enver Hoxha (1982) Selected Works IV February 1966-July 1975. Tirana: the < 8 Nentori> Publishing House p164 See for a hostile view: Pano, “The Albanian Cultural Revolution ”Problems of Communism, 23, 4, 1974: 44-57

[x] Enver Hoxha (1982) Selected Works IV February 1966-July 1975. Tirana: the < 8 Nentori> Publishing House p165

[xi] Fan Chengzuo in Sino-European relations during the Cold war and the rise of a multi-polar world – A Critical Oral History, Edited by Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann, and Charles Kraus (2015) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[xii] Peking Review October 27th, 1967:18

Mehmet Shehu met Mao Zedong on September 30, 1967, and on October 12, 1967. For the Albanian records of conversation, see Ana Lalaj, Christian F. Ostermann, and Ryan Gage, “‘Albania is not Cuba’: Sino-Albanian Summits and the Sino-Soviet Split,” Cold War International History Project Bulletin Issue 16, Spring 2008

[xiii] Peking Review #46 November 11, 1966: 5

Related posts:

Re-tuned to Radio Tirana

The PLA on Modern Revisionism

63. Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania

Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania, part two

33. Enver Praises Mao (1973)

Tirana builds an Internationale (1)

A working note~ MLLT

Tigrai [i] : Enver’s little known admirers

Probably the most successful of fraternal organisations allied with the Hoxhaist wing of the 1980s anti-revisionist movement was the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigrai (MLLT) who were at the core of the TPLF.

Following the military coup of 1974, a faction of the military under Mengistu Haile Mariam began to seek closer ties to the Soviet Union. Through a series of purges , first of military opponents, and from mid-1977 through 1978, acting on requests from Soviet advisors to rid the country of Chinese and Maoist influence, Mengistu turned other left factions, in a terror killing many thousands more, especially student and youth activists. At the same time undercut the civilian left’s popularity through the military junta’s appeals to Ethiopian patriotism. The national liberation struggles in Eritrea and Tigari were against the Ethiopian state headed by Mengistu, supported by massive numbers of Cuban troops, as well as advisors from the Soviet Union, East Germany and South Yemen. Mengistu’s largely military-based state communist party, the Workers Party of Ethiopia, was formed in 1984. Mengistu was overthrown in 1991 by a coalition of military forces dominated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

In the 1970s there was a network of solidary support from the ML organisations for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) against the pro-Soviet Ethiopian Derg military regime; it was mainly the national sections of the Worldwide Union of Ethiopian Students (WWUES) that drew attention; the Tigrayan struggle did not appear as frequently on the radar of activists. There was established in the early 1980’s the expatriate organisation, Union of Tigray In Europe.

Although the TPLF, as its name indicates, was a nationalist front encompassing

different social classes, the leadership and the leading elements – later known as Merih Baeta – were disciples of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung. They believed that a socialist revolution would transform Ethiopian society and that rights to self-determination would be respected. Initially, the TPLF leadership considered embracing the Chinese model of a ‘New Democratic’ revolution. This New Democracy led by a communist party was propagated by the TPLF until the beginning of the 1980s.

“At the beginning of 1980 comrade Enver Hoxha’s latest writings managed to find their way to the TPLF. It was a very important event in the history of the development of the (ML) core. Mao Tse-Tung’s thought which hitherto, had been taken as a development of Marxism-Leninism by the Core was mercilessly exposed in comrade Enver Hoxha’s book, Imperialism and Revolution, and set the whole Core reading and re-reading this book.

The so-called three-world’s theory was the easiest of all Mao’s anti-Marxist slanders to dispel and was immediately repudiated by the Core.”

On the question of Mao Tse-Tung’s thought in general the core decided to handle it with care and profundity. It was decided to re=research the Marxist classics, to critically study Mao Tse-Tung’s thought and all the defense that Maoists could bring in its defense in view of Comrade Hoxha’s book.”[ii]

The left-oriented TPLF leadership with its eclectic views of socialism that had been leading the movement. The self-described Marxist-Leninist core had begun shaping up only after the formation of the organizing commission in early 1983. It was consolidated at a founding congress held 12 to 25 July 1985.

On 25 July 1985 the MLLT was formally set up ‘…after over 10 years of struggle and preparation’. Although the MLLT’s first chairman was Abbay Tsehaye, the chief ideologue and architect of the party was Meles Zenawi, future Prime Minister of Ethiopia and leader of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF. Looking at the ideological course the TPLF navigated, the whole objective of the TPLF leadership was essentially to defeat the Derg military regime and embark on ‘a national democratic revolution [to] pave the way for a planned socialist economy free of exploitation of man by man, in the interest of the masses’ (Manifesto of TPLF, February 1976: 25-27).

At the founding Congress behind the long podium were large portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin dominating the entire hall. The communist force of the [TPLF sponsored] Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (EPDM) and some ten other pro-Albanian Marxist-Leninist communist parties from Europe and the Americas were invited to the founding congress. Tamrat Layne, then Meles’s comrade-in-arms, led the EPDM delegation. While the German ML party sent a Mr. Kafka as a one-man delegation, the other nine ML parties sent messages of solidarity read out at congress.

The MLLT publically emerged appealing to a (universalist) Marxist-socialist ideology but at the same time claiming a solution for Tigrai (that is ‘secession’) instead of for Ethiopia as a whole. There were still adjustments and concealments that the party leaders had to make to gain the West’s support and still maintain their old ideology. Meles Zenawi later argued that the TPLF’s Marxist principles had been hidden so that the anti-Marxist western community, where relief aid came from, would not know about them. The TPLF thus failed to develop a strong relationship with its strategic allies, namely Marxist-Leninist parties worldwide, because it did not approach them openly. Meles Zenawi called this opportunism and classified it as a mistake of ‘pragmatism’.

The TPLF’s reorientation of Marxism-Leninism from the Chinese to the Albanian interpretation, in the work of Aregawi Berhe (2008), was described as:

“also the making of Meles after he read a journal sent by the Union of Tigraians in North America (UTNA). The Albanian conviction regarding the ‘Three Worlds’ theory put the Soviet Union and the United States of America on the same footing as the ‘First World’ countries, but considered the former to be more aggressive and dangerous than the latter.

For Meles and his supporters, the Stalinist revolutionary line and the Albanian

version of socialism were truly Marxist-Leninist. The Chinese path, which had embraced the national bourgeoisie as a strategic ally in its new democratic revolution, was discarded as a ‘revisionist system capitulating to the bourgeois order’. The MLLT was to be constructed on these ideological foundations.”

In May 1984, in a self-assessment of its activities, MLLT stated:

“Proletarian internationalism can only, mean to follow the correct Marxist-Leninist line and wage the revolution accordingly in one’s own country and support this with every means possible throughout the world. Therefore there can be no question of proletarian internationalism without a correct Marxist-Leninist Line.

At this time, such line is the line define by the Party of Labour of Albania and other sisterly Marxist-Leninist parties and groups. That line is the foundation of proletarian internationalism throughout the world. The attitude towards that line is the demarcation line between genuine proletarian internationalism and phoney internationalism.”[iii]

Despite this professed allegiance the MLLT were not listed among the fraternal foreign delegations and guests who took part in the 9th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania in November 1986.

[i] This section’s account draws heavily upon the work of:

Aregawi Berhe (2008) A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (1975-1991): revolt, ideology and mobilisation in Ethiopia. Vrijte Universiteit: Amsterdam

Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line, the section on Anti-Revisionism in Ethiopia

Tefera Negash Gebregziabher (2019) Ideology and Power in TPLF’S Ethiopia: A Historic Reversal in the Making? African Affairs, Volume 118, Issue 472, July 2019, Pages 463–484,


[ii]  Some Stands of the Marxist-Leninist Core of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, T.P.L.F.

Posted at Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line


[iii] Some Stands of the Marxist-Leninist Core of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, T.P.L.F.

On the Character of Our Epoch

Albanian opposition to the “Three World Theory” split the anti-revisionist movement in the late 1970s and was ideologically rooted in a reading of what constituted the modern world as found in the orthodox analysis supplied and available from Lenin onwards. In his “Reflections on China” Enver Hoxha wrote: “We are opposed to the views of the Communist Party of China about the ‘third world’, because they are anti-Marxist, revisionist views. […] The main points of our opposition to the Chinese are over issues which are closely linked with one another: over the question of the ‘third world’, over the stand which should be maintained towards the two superpowers, and over ‘proletarian internationalism’, that is, over the strengthening of the unity of the Marxist-Leninist communist parties.” Concern about China’s foreign policy predated the 1976 Congress report and publication of the lengthy editorial published on July 7, 1977 in Zëri i Popullit, entitled “The Theory and Practice of Revolution”.

ON THE CHARACTER OF OUR EPOCH was published in 1982 and consisted of quotes from articles written by Lenin and Stalin. The Preface by the Albanian “8 Nentori” Publishing House can be read as explaining the contemporary foreign policy themes and stand at that time defended by the Albanian Party. This selection was said to have had contemporary significance relating to “the fundamental problems of our times, the major questions concerning the world revolutionary liberation movement”.


on the character of our epochThe present collection comprises parts of V. I. Lenin’s and J. V. Stalin’s works which dwell on the character of our epoch and the strategy and tactics of the revolution. In these works, the fundamental problems of our times, the major questions concerning the world revolutionary Iiberation movement, are subjected to a penetrating dialectical analysis.

The works included in this collection follow in chronological order.

In V. I. Lenin’s works of the first revolutionary period “What the ‘Friends of the Peoples’ Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats”, “What Is to Be Done?” etc, a series of programmatic theses and tasks in the revolutionary struggle of the Russian proletariat, are formulated. In his work “Two Tactics of Social- Democracy in the Democratic Revolution” Lenin ideologically smashed the petty-bourgeois tactical platform of Mensheviks and international opportunism, provided arguments of genius for the Bolshevik tactics, worked out the tactical fundamentals of the Marxist party of the new type, armed the working class for the further development of the revolution and laid the foundations of the revolutionary tactics.

Of particular significance are the works “Two Worlds” and “Differences in the European Working Class Movement” which constitute an exposure of opportunism in the European working-class movement and the traitorous policy of the leaders of the Second International. A series of writings as e.g. “The Position and the Tasks of the Socialist International”, “The War and the Russian Social-Democracy” etc, are dedicated to the struggle of Bolshevism against opportunism in the Russian and international working-class movement against Trotskyite Liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries and the opportunists of the Second International. In the work “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” the author provided argument for and developed the Bolshevik programme of the national question, expounding on the concrete historical way of how this question should be treated.

In a number of works written in the period 1914- 1915, as e.g. “Socialism and War” etc, V. I. Lenin raised the banner of struggle against imperialist war and internationa1 social-chauvinism, laid the foundations of the theory and tactics of the Bolshevik Party on the question of war, peace and the revolution.

In the article “Opportunism, and the Collapse of the Second International”, V. I. Lenin tears the mask of apostasy and of the betrayal by the opportunist leaders of the Second International and the West- European socialist parties, and defines the tasks and tactics of the revolutionary Social-Democracy in the struggle against international opportunism.

In his work “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” V. I. Lenin propounds his ideas of genius on imperialism as the highest and last stage of the development of capitalism; as monopoly parasitic and senile capitalism, as moribund capitalism, as an unprecedented increase of exploitation, oppression and reaction in all the fields and as the eve of the proletarian revolution. On the basis of this analysis Lenin formulates a new theoretical thesis on the possibility of the triumph of socialism first in one capitalist country, and on the impossibility of its triumph in all countries simultaneously.

In the article “A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism” V. I. Lenin criticizes the anti- Marxist attitude of the anti-party Bukharin-Pyatakov group and explains the Bolshevik programme on the national question in the new historical conditions.

In the work “The State and Revolution”, V. I. Lenin developed and defended the Marxist theory of the state against distortion and vulgarization by the opportunists, while in the work “The Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky” denounces the opportunism and obsiquiousness of Kautsky and other leaders of the Second International towards the imperialists.

In the work “Left- Wing Communism – an Infantile Disorder” V. I. Lenin showed that international opportunism is the chief enemy within the working class movement and stigmatized the leaders of the Second International as collaborators of imperialist banditism.

Treating the character of our epoch in his work “Two Camps” J. V. Stalin says:

«The world has definitely and irrevocably split into two camps: the camp of imperialism and the camp of socialism. The struggle between these two camps constitutes the hub of present-day affairs, determines of whole substance of the present home and foreign policies of the leaders of the old and the new worlds.»

  1. V. Stalin’s major work “The Foundations of Leninism” is dedicated to the theoretical argumentation of Leninism as the further development of Marxism of the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolutions.

It played a very important role in the struggle of the Party against Trotskyists and all other enemies of Bolshevism.

In “Political Report of the Central Committee, (The Fourteenth Congress of the CPSU(b), in The International Situation and the Tasks of the Communist Parties” and in other works, the author proves with all-round argument the soundness of the general line of the Bolshevik Party and denounces the defeatist attitude of Trotskyists and Zinovievists who advocated the restoration of capitalism.

In the works “Concerning Questions of Leninism” and in other works J. V. Stalin upholds the decisions of the Fourteenth Congress of the CPSU (b), exposes the malicious distortions by Zinoviev – Kamenev group, discloses the attempts of New Opposition to arouse in the Party the feeling of mistrust in the triumph of socialism in the USSR and their attempts to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. J. V. Stalin lays special emphasis on the absolute necessity of preserving and strengthening the organs of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the conditions of the existing capitalist encirclement and the danger of intervention.

In his writing “Notes on Contemporary Themes” and in other works J. V. Stalin, besides other problems lays stress on the unity and indivisibility of the national and international tasks of the socialist revolution; he defines the line of the party in the field of foreign policy in the conditions of the threat of a new aggression against USSR and sets the new tasks for strengthening the defence potential of the Soviet Union.

In the political reports to the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Congresses of the CPSU (b) J. V. Stalin- makes a detailed analysis of the economic crisis of world capitalism and points out the exacerbation of contradictions in the capitalist system, and indicates the superiority of the socialist system over the capitalist system. J. V. Stalin treats the aggravation of the political situation in the capitalist countries, the relations among these countries, as well as the preparations for a new world war by the imperialists.

The teachings of V. I. Lenin and J. V. Stalin on the character of our epoch and on the revolutionary strategy and tactics are valid even in our days. The present-day capitalist society is developed according to the same objective laws which Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin have discovered.

«Properly applied» as Comrade Enver Hoxha has put it, «Marxism-Leninism and its immortal principles will inevitably bring about the destruction of world capitalism and the triumph of the dictatorship of the proletariat, by means of which the working class will build socialism and march towards communism.»



Re-tuned to Radio Tirana


“Ju flet Tirana” (“This is Tirana speaking”) foreign language programmes of Radio Tirana began on November 22nd 1964.

The new building of Radio Tirana was inaugurated in December 1965 with 8 transmitting studios, 5 recording studios, 5 montage studios, central and a large music studio.

Radio Tirana presents

China helped Socialist Albania soon after the inception of the Sino-Albanian alliance in the 1960s build an extensive broadcasting facilities. In 1945, there were only two radio transmitters in Albania. By 1969, there were 52 transmitters, all but eight of them short wave and Radio Tirana broadcasted propaganda in 17 languages to an oversea audience of friends and sympathisers.

During the 1970s, the station broadcast to Europe on 1214 kHz, causing interference problems for the British BBC Radio One on the same frequency. During the 1980s and early 1990s the international service was broadcast on 1395 kHz (along with various short wave frequencies) and was received throughout Europe during the evening and through the night. Radio Tirana also upset many amateur radio operators in Europe by operating transmitters in the 7 MHz (40 metre) amateur band. []

There were constant requests for reception reports.

Front and backof the QSL card sent out in the Summer of 1976sw_international_broadcasters_tirana_2

Front and back of the QSL card sent out in the Summer of 1976.

In October 1966 inaugurated at Durres (Fllaka) was a medium wave transmitter with a power of 500 kW, and 5 years later neighbouring it was installed a second transmitter of 500 kW ; both transmitters broadcast the programmes of Radio Tirana external services.

At the time of the building works Western speculation was that the Chinese were installing a missile base in Albania, mistaking the transmitter sites for rocket-launching pads. During the inaugural ceremonies in 1966, there may have been an allusion to such speculation when the transmitters were referred to as “our ideological rockets”. They reached far and wide thanks to Chinese-built transmitting stations, which made Radio Tirana on short wave one of the clearest signals in the region despite coming from a country which was one of the poorest and smallest in Europe.

The external service Radio Tirana was one of the largest broadcasters in Europe, with a massive megaWatt transmitter operating on 1395 kHz, broadcasting in 20 foreign languages, apart from Albanian targeting Albanians living abroad. These broadcasts were in the following languages: Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Persian, Russian, Greek and Bulgarian. 1977 ATA cover.jpg

Partly sustaining this foreign language output were native speakers, a small community of ideological sympathisers, resident in Tirana’s “German villas”, working to polish the presentation of the written and audio propaganda output of the Albanian institutions. Employed as translators in Albania; either in the state publishing houses, Radio Tirana or ATA (Albanian Telegraphic Agency), with some contributions at Tirana University.

“Habla Tirana. Habla Tirana. Están en sintonía de radio Tirana…”

At the beginning, there were three 30 minute radio-broadcasts in Spanish: one for Spain, more for Latin America and a joint one for both. Later, there were  two 1 hour broadcasts: for Spain and  Latin America.

A study* lists at least 23 Partido Comunista de España (marxista-leninista) militants as working as translators in Albania, the last ones to leave in 1990. The mail of PCE (m-l) came to the Spaniards of Radio Tirana always in the name of Luis Buhalance.

Other marxist-leninists, although less in numbers, came from Latin America to work at Radio Tirana and “Albania Nueva”, a bi-monthly illustrated political & social magazine. They worked as professors of Spanish language, they prepared news or edited them, they corrected the texts translated into Spanish from Albanian, and also hosted radio programs. Engaged in translating political works and the numerous writings of Enver Hoxha produced by the state publishing houses, there were also people like Ramon Sanchez Lizarralde who engaged in fiction translation, mainly the works of Ismail Kadare. Their activity and engagement lasted for a certain period of time (generally 2 to 4 years), then later they went back to their country and were replaced by other incoming couples. They were part of the propaganda machinery of the communist regime, as well, to transmit the voice and successes of the socialist Albania in the world.

* Learning the Spanish Language for Ideological, Political, and other Curious Reasons. European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research Vol 2, Issue 1 January-April 2015

New Zealander June Taylor, one of the many foreigners who worked at Radio Tirana as announcers and translators was hired in 1974 to read and translate news and stayed at the radio station for 19 years. “News arrived at the very last minute. The quality of translation left much to be desired and they were packed with boring slogans,” Taylor said. Phrases like “the army and the people are one and indivisible”, or how the “working collective of the Enver Hoxha tractor combine fulfilled the plan three months ahead of schedule” were among those she read out for years.          [Linda Spahia , Radio Tirana dumps Marxism, gets religion Reuters, December 16, 2002]

A consequence of the Sino-Albanian split was that Albanian relays of Chinese broadcasts were discontinued from July 1978. The relays consisted of half-hour broadcasts in Czech, English, Hausa (to reach Nigeria), Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish and Turkish, totalled 91 hours. There were also New China News Agency transmissions in French and Spanish for 54 hours a week.

In 1987, 66 hours of programmes were broadcast in 20 foreign languages every day. Political propaganda predominated and included: Introducing Albania, Listeners’ Letters, Culture and Art in Socialist Albania and The Song of Our Life. Radio Tirana also presented programs of revolutionary music from around the world, while the programme, “What we saw in socialist Albania” offered interviews with foreign visitors to Albania.

Here is an archived five minute studio tape of part of one of the last English broadcasts just before the influence of Enver Hoxha collapsed in Albania.

During the last months of the socialist era, overtly political programming was drastically scaled down, and the long-established practice of playing “The International” at the end of each broadcast was abandoned. The interval signal of Radio Tirana during this period was the first few bars of the Albanian revolutionary song With a Pickaxe in One Hand and a Rifle in the Other (Në njërën dorë kazmën në tjetrën pushkën). This song also served as the signature tune of Radio Tirana’s foreign language broadcasts.

After the collapse of the regime, the foreign radio service was cut to seven languages and just three hours a day. Now with spare transmitting capacity and unused equipment and no programme, the aging facilities were offered out. Religious broadcaster Trans World Radio became the main client of Radio Tirana’s foreign service and its saviour from bankruptcy. Other paying clients served include Voice of America of the United States, Germany’s Deutsche Welle and the Italian RAI.

After diplomatic relations were restored between the two former allies a rental agreement between the Albanian Radio television and the Chinese Film and Radio Television leased the Radio Centre of Short Waves in Elbasan (Cerrik) to the Chinese in December 2003 for at least 15 years. The arrangements discussed in greater detail in THE HISTORY OF RADIO TIRANA TRANSMITTERS

Related postings

For an earlier posting on Radio Tirana

A previous discussion on  Friendship Publishing II  and  Friendship publishing

The PLA on Modern Revisionism


This post reproduces an unearthed working text, part of an exploration of the nature of socialist transformation, dating from the 1980s. It was an uncorrected (or criticised) first draft that remain in the desk drawer superseded by more pressing concerns. Little more than a historical curiosity it reflects the questioning at that time.

moscow tr

Book Review: The PLA’s Understanding of Modern Revisionism.

The Party of Labour of Albania [PLA] takes pride in its “ardent defence of the Marxist-Leninist principles” and its “devasting attacks on Khruschevite revisionism.” Although pre-dating its concern to the thesis of the 1956 20th Congress of the CPSU, it was Enver Hoxha’s speech at the Moscow Meeting of 81 Communist and Workers’ parties on November 16, 1960 that marks the open opposition to modern revisionism.

To celebrate this historic event an anniversary conference, entitled “Soviet Revisionism and the Struggle of the PLA to Unmask It” was held in November 1980. The papers presented on the development of modern revisionism and the class character of the Soviet Union are far from satisfactory with their slant towards stating argument and conclusion, occasionally peppered with factual material. There seems little evidence of any deeper understanding of modern revisionism than was first expressed in the polemics of the 1960s, and actually retains obviously erroneous positions such that           “the origin of the evil in the ranks of international communism lay in the anti-Marxist thesis of the 20th Congress” of the CPSU. Asif the post war experience of the liquidation of the American CP and adoption of ‘The British Road to Socialism’ (endorsed by Stalin) were not instances in the development of revisionism.

“…the 20th Congress created real ideological confusion in the ranks of the communist parties and anti-imperialist forces on the most important problems of strategy and tactics. The campaign against Stalin cast a black shadow over the historic experience of the October Revolution and the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union and over its foreign policy.”

  • Soviet Revisionism and the Struggle of the PLA to Unmask It. Tirana: 1981 p71

The revisionists attack on Marxism through the spectre of “Stalinism” has led to a mechanic defence of Stalin. A Marxist analysis of such a dominant revolutionary and of the revolutionary tasks he led has too often been reduced to a position that he made a few mistakes but was no Khrushchev. The PLA has not moved to this position but takes an entrenched, unblinking attitude that permits only praise.

If we paraphrase the argument of the conference it becomes clear that the 20th Congress is regarded as a pivotal episode crowning a process of revisionism yet to be consolidated. However that process is dated from the time of Stalin’s death as if revisionism mushroomed up without a prior development during Stalin’s time at the helm of the party and state. Thus a fatal flaw in the Albanian analysis of revisionism is the incredulous development whereby the socialist state began to degenerate top downwards. This avoids explaining how the ‘revisionists’ came to be in positions of power.

The way in which modern revisionism is defined affects the scope of any historical analysis of its origin and continued existence as an ideology. If “the rise to power of revisionism means the rise to power of the bourgeois” then one needs to reconcile that whilst revisionism occurs in the realm of doctrine and ideas, the reproduction of an objectively determine social group, such as the bourgeoisie, requires a material base.

Why is it that the class nature of a state can be changed through a <<peaceful counter-revolution>> within the governing apparatus? Can one charge capitalist restoration on ideological revisionism without offering an explanation on the generation, organisation and capture of state power by a new bourgeois class?

Even though Lenin warned “…that the theoretical victory of Marxism obliged its enemies to disguise themselves as MarxistsThe Historical Destiny of the Doctrine of Karl Marx (1913), can ideas so alter the form of ownership of the means of production, the social relations engendered, and the economic character of the state so that the dominant social class previously represented by the state loses its power?

It is imperative to have a firm theoretical basis on which to build revolutionary strategies. And how one analysis the Soviet Union remains instrumental on one’s attitude and political practice towards the struggle for socialism. However, as evident in the conference papers, there was no repetition of Lenin’s observation in “Marxism and Revisionism” (1908) that:

“The fight against the revisionists on these questions resulted in as fruitful a revival of the theoretical thought of international socialism as followed from Engels’ controversy with Duhring twenty years earlier.”

The public polemic that took place during the early 1960s resulted in static, positional, sloganized abuse after its initial development.

The PLA now claims that the CPC’s opposition to revisionism, which it describes in terms of “great zigzags and vacillations”, were never waged from sound, principled Marxist-Leninist internationalist positions, but “from pragmatic and chauvinist great power positions” (p28). Unlike, as Professor Plasari informs us, the PLA’s “adherence to proletarian principles, its wisdom, vigilance and courage in defence of Marxism-Leninism, its correct line, our Party and our Socialist homeland.” (p9)

Moreover, the Albanians now assert that, in the summer of 1964, “Mao Zedong suddenly raised territorial claims against the Soviet union, thus openly displaying his great-state chauvinism….(and) neutralised the ideological struggle against Khruschevite betrayal, and unjustly attacked Stalin.” (p109) Whereas the resolute defence of Marxism-Leninism remains the Albanian prerogative and (supposedly) its positions offer “the best cure against revisionism”. The brief survey of the Albanian analysis of modern revisionism in practice suggest otherwise.

To paraphrase their argument:

***                        The revolutionary class struggle within the proletarian party, to safeguard its proletarian line and its Marxist-Leninist ideological and organisational unity is a law, a fundamental principle

***                        The abolition of private property and the exploiting classes becomes a reality only after the construction of the economic base of socialism.

***                        However, besides non-antagonistic contradictions which are typical of socialism, antagonistic contradictions still exist during the entire period of transition to communism. The antagonistic contradictions in socialist society have their peculiarities and are resolved in the context of the existing socialist order.

***                        Behind the scenes, Khrushchev and co. prepared the terrain when Stalin was alive and were awaiting the appropriate moment. Immediately after the death of Stalin the period up to the 20th Congress (February 1956) was the preparatory stage to gain control of key positions as inner-party struggle degenerated into struggle for power amongst individuals and groups in the leadership of the CPSU.

***                        The elimination of Beria, and exploiting the ambitions of Marshal Zhukov, meant that the main organs of internal control bolstered the 1957 putsch against Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovich.

***                        The period from the 20th Congress to the 22nd in October 1961 marked the stage that saw the process of liquidation of the policy, principles and norms of the Marxist-Leninist party.

***                        A purging of the party, between 1954 -1964, saw the expulsion of over 70% of the C.C. elected at the 19th Congress (1952) that stripped the party of its attributes as the vanguard of the working class, as the sole political force of the state and society, transforming it into a party of the apparatchiki.

***                        At the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, under the pretext of the << systematic regeneration of the party>> over 40% of the members of leading forums were replaced. Again in 1963 under the slogan of <<reorganisation of the party>> more than half the members of these forums were replaced.

***                        With the ‘New Program’ the strata of bureaucrats and apparatchiki, who usurped the leadership of the party and the state, who carried out the <<peaceful>> counter-revolution, and who seized the real possession of the means of production, consolidated into a new bourgeoisie. As such it was the logical culmination of the 20th Congress which laid the <<theoretical>> and practical basis for the course of conciliation, rapprochement and counter-revolutionary collaboration with imperialism.

***                        So according to the Soviet revisionists, in socialist society class struggle quits the stage and is replaced by unity which is considered << the most important condition for the successful resolution of contradictions>> ; they absolutize unity and conceive of it in an abstract manner. The party is disarmed by negation of class struggle.

***                        The liquidation of the proletarian character of the CPSU by the 22nd Congress, the theoretical absurdity of a so-called <<party of the entire people>> in practice eliminates the leading role of the working class. IN parties not holding state power, advocating the so-called ‘mass party’ opens the door to anyone who votes for that party, to all kinds of petty-bourgeois elements, from the ranks of the workers’ aristocracy and bureaucracy, bourgeois liberal intellectuals etc.

[This treatment of the development of revisionism lacks the ideological depth of Fiqret Sheliu’s About Some Actual Problems of the Struggle Against Modern Revisionism (pp131-181 in Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania and of the Struggle Against Modern Revisionism. )

So the counter-revolutionary process of the restoration of capitalism began with the usurpation of the leadership of the party and state, brought about by their degeneration into a bourgeois party and state. The alteration of their character, the counter-revolutionary transformation in the fields of the political and ideological superstructure, could not fail to lead to the alteration of the character of the structural base also because the new Soviet bourgeoisie could not exist and rule politically and ideologically without also creating its economic base.

Mere juridical proclamation does not define the character of ownership. What is important is its real aspect, the economic aspect. From the economic aspect, the important thing is, first who decides how property is used; second, what mechanisms are used for the administration of this property; third, who profits from his property.

With the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, state socialist property was not fragmented, but degenerated into state monopoly property. Quoting Engels, “ the economic relations of a given society presents themselves, in the first place as interests.” Analysis of the property relations from this point of view, i.e. in whose interest is property used in the Soviet Union, whom does it serve, reveals its capitalist essence. There is only a bureaucratized centralism which is made possible by the specific conditions of the Soviet capitalist order in which state monopoly property is dominant.

State monopoly property emerged during the process of the degeneration of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the party of the working class into a dictatorship and party of the new revisionist bourgeoisie.

Formally, the main means of production are not the directly the property of the bourgeoisie as they are in a classical capitalist society, however there has been an alteration to the social class structure of the Soviet Union where there are now the class of exploiters and the class of the exploited. This regardless of the fact that amongst them there are strata of different economic levels according to the place they occupy in the production and distribution of surplus value.

Such is the peculiarities of the birth, the forms of expression and economic mechanism with the aid of which the right of ownership is exercised in the Soviet Union. By formally retaining bureaucratic centralism to the economy and in the state, and taking measures <<to strengthen>> it within the bounds allowed by the intrinsic laws of the market economy, the Soviet bourgeoisie tries to present the Soviet capitalist economy as << regulated and planned >> economy.

“Thus, the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist thesis that the socialist social character of property depends on the class nature of the state, on the class in the interests of which it is used, was confirmed.” (p165)


Tirana Opens the FILES


An adjective is almost always placed in front of references to the former East European security agencies like the Stasi or Securitate, hence the Voice of America’s article describes how

“At the Museum of Surveillance, created in the former headquarters of the feared Sigurimi security service, Albanians can now inspect some of the spying paraphernalia used by dictator Enver Hoxha’s totalitarian state as well as the files kept on many of them.” (1)

A quarter of a century after the dissolution of the organisation and the state it served, the decision to build an archive and open the files and documents of the former Albanian secret police, the Directorate of State Security / Drejtoria e Sigurimit të Shtetit, commonly known as ‘Sigurimi’, active from 1944 to 1991, was taken in Tirana in 2015. The parliament passed with 84 votes a law of disclosure that will allow people to see how the “communist security apparatus spied on them.”

Sigurimi agents were sometimes called “living microphones,” because they were always listening. But that reputation was made possible by thousands of ordinary Albanians who helped them, working as official collaborators, and thousands more who functioned as more casual informants, offering up intimate secrets about those they knew. The machinery of the Communist apparatus relied on whisper networks of compromised people.” (2)

Maks Velo, a painter, was told that his art was anti-Socialist, spent most of seven years, three months and 10 days behind bars alongside other political prisoners in Spaç Prison in Shkoder. Velo requested his 250-pages long file, but then struggled to get through it. Sometimes he would start reading but have to abandon a page halfway through. There had been, he learned, about 20 people who had informed on him, among them a close friend and his former mother-in-law.

Gentiana Sula, head of the Authority for Information on the Documents of the former State Security Sigurimi (AIDISSh), said she was concerned that people living in Albania today will not understand the context in which choices were made, or not made, “It was a society taken hostage,” she says. “There was a lot of propaganda.” She said many collaborators believed they were “serving their country” and being “patriotic,” while others were coerced. (3)

enverEnver Hoxha in 1946

Throughout  its existence ‘Sigurimi’ was subject to an intensive control from the Communist Party (later the Party of Labour) which periodically changed and controlled its organization and resources. The ‘Sigurimi’, was always considered and worked as an appendix of the Party, despite being structurally embedded as a division in the Ministry of Internal Affairs

The so called ‘Platforma e Punës Operative të Organeve të Punëve të Brendëshme’ (Operational Activities Platform of the Internal Affairs Divisions), a document approved by the highest Party organ, the Politburo. Overall the five of these documents have been produced from 1948, the latest 1985 (1948, 1954, 1958, 1977, 1985). The documents established the guidelines for Sigurimi activities establishing meticulously and potentially narrowing the scope of the latest.

The mission of the Sigurimi was to prevent counterrevolutions and to suppress opposition to the regime. Although groups of Albanian émigrés sought Western support for their efforts to overthrow the state in the late 1940s and early 1950s, they quickly ceased to be a credible threat to the communist regime because of the effectiveness of the Sigurimi. Western attempts to “detach Albania from the Soviet orbit include that discussed in the study by Albert Lulshi in the 1949 Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA’s First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain (Arcade Publishing 2014)

“[For the operation’s dismal failure, h]istorians have blamed Soviet mole Kim Philby, who worked in British intelligence and knew of the operation, but Lulushi disagrees. His lively, detailed account of Hoxha’s viciously efficient intelligence service, the exiles’ terrible security, and CIA naïveté make a convincing case.”—Publishers Weekly

But the plotting did not stop as shown in the planning for a general war in Europe in the early 1950s see the OSO PLAN FOR ALBANIA.

Earlier intrigue against Albania was a study by the Albanian scholar, Arben Puto, From The Annals of British Diplomacy: The Anti-Albanian Plans of Great Britain during the Second World War according to Foreign Office Documents of 1939-44. (Tirana: The <<8 Nentori>> Publishing House.1981)

There was an atmosphere within the party that saw the country besieged. At the end of the sixties, the highest authority within the party, the Political Bureau (elected at the 5th PLA Congress in November 1966), was composed of the following members:

First Secretary, Enver Hoxha
*Adil Çarçani,
*Beqir Balluku,
Gogo Nushi,
Haki Toska,
Hysni Kapo,
Manush Myftiu,
*Mehmet Shehu,
Ramiz Alia,
Rita Marko,
Spiro Koleka,
and candidate members:

*Abdyl Këllezi,
*Kadri Hazbiu,
*Koço Theodhosi,
*Petrit Dume,
Pilo Peristeri.

(The Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania, History of the Party of Labor of Albania, Tirana, 1971, p. 606).

Out of a total of sixteen members, at least half of them (those marked with an asterisk) were purged during the seventies and eighties, alleged opponents and liquidators of the socialist cause in Albania, often co-ordinating their conspirator activities with foreign intelligence agencies.

One former official, Nesti Vako, agreed to speak with NBC News at a café in central Tirana. From 1969 to 1991 “As the operational technical chief of the Sigurimi, I produced whatever technology they needed,” said Vako, who spent 25 years as a chief engineer. Vako says that Sigurimi agents had the whole country bugged, with listening devices in coffee shops, offices and throughout all foreign embassies.

If the Sigurimi was targeting a woman, agents might study her shoes and then make a replica pair with a bug in the heel — and then swap them out without her noticing. Vako says he was sent to China once, to study surveillance techniques. “I liked it a lot,” Vako says, of his role. “I feel very proud about my work. … I was lucky to have this job and I only applied the law.”

But Nesti Vako told BIRN that he has no remorse about his former job in the service’s headquarters.

“We served the state and the nation to save order. In some cases, we begged people’s pardon after realising, through spying, that they had been wrongly accused,” he insisted. However, he admits that some people in the Sigurimi abused their powers. “Abuses were present and mistakes were made,” he said. (4)

Before the collapse of Albanian communism in 1990, the building that now houses the Museum of Surveillance was known as the “House of Leaves” — a pun referring to both its ivy-clad walls and the “leaves” of secret police files kept on citizens. (5)


Situated in the heart of Tirana, the large trees in the courtyard and the surrounding walls conceal the two-storey villa from most by passers-by.

Built in 1931 to house the first private obstetrics clinic in Albania, the communists took it over after liberation in November 1944 and it became the Sigurimi headquarters.

In 31 rooms, visitors can now inspect the tools and techniques used by the Sigurimi to monitor and obtain information about suspects. “This museum is dedicated to those innocent people who were spied on, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and executed during the communist regime” a sign reads at the entrance.

Each of the rooms presents a different aspect of the secret service’s work. The core of the exhibition is the spying tools. Hundreds of them are displayed on tables, revealing a surprising array of equipment for such a small, poor and isolated country as Albania. Besides imported spy and surveillance equipment from Germany, Russia, Japan and China, what stands in the middle of the exhibits are the self-made Sigurimi bugs.

Ylli Pata, a journalist visiting the museum,

“I’m amazed. Now I understand that all the rumours about the efficiency of Sigurimi were true. They had the most modern technology of that time at their disposal,” he said.

Tourists visit the Museum of Surveillance in Tirana, Albania, Nov. 2, 2017.

Tourists visit

The Sigurimi did not only have good technology to pursue its work but a large network of collaborators as well. According to data in the museum, by 1949 the service already had 11,033 collaborators, 439 of whom were secret agents and 9,141 informants in the field.

In 1965, the number of total collaborators reached a peak of 16,178, with 1,088 agents and 12,332 informants.

In the last year of its existence, in 1990, the Sigurimi boasted 15,000 collaborators, among them 1,000 agents and 11,000 informants.

Unofficial sources believe that about 20 per cent of Albanians collaborated with the Sigurimi, informing on “suspicious” activities of friends, neighbours, colleagues or even family members. Western intelligence sources estimate that up to 10,000 people worked for them during the Communist period. Over that period and until the collapse of Communism in 1991, tens of thousands were imprisoned or sent to labor camps on political charges, another 20,000 were imprisoned. From 1946 to 1991, some 6,000 people, according to Albania’s Association of Former Political Prisoners, taken away by government agents and never heard from again. Their bodies were never recovered, and they are assumed to have been executed, classified as “enforced disappearances” in the language of international human rights law.

Most of the Sigurimi files were in the archive of the Interior Ministry before being transferred to the AIDSSh’s facilities. The archive’s former director, Kastriot Dervishi,   was not hopeful that meaningful insights could be gleaned from the files. During the Communist era, 90 percent of the files were destroyed every five years as a routine practice, he said. Of the files considered important enough to preserve, most were destroyed in the late Communist period by officials who wanted to protect themselves by erasing evidence of their crimes.

Mr. Dervishi estimated that the surviving documents comprised random samples from the files of only 12,000 or so Sigurimi collaborators — roughly 10 percent of the total — between 1944, when Hoxha took power, and 1991. And most of them are from the early part of that period.

“People are only interested in one thing: Who was a collaborator?” Mr. Dervishi said. They won’t find the answers for anyone still alive, he predicted.

A name appearance on the list of informers does not necessarily mean the person aided repression or harmed others, Mr. Dervishi said. About half of the listed informers never provided any significant information. And many were forced to collaborate through blackmail or threats against members of their family.

One-time doyen of the regime’s cultural elite has his own view on the value of opening the files.

“The opening of the communist secret police’s archives will help eradicate the evil that continues to poison Albanian society,” said prominent writer Ismail Kadare. “It is like draining an abscess – a painful surgical procedure but one which is essential.”

Gentiana Sula

AIDSSh Director Gentiana Sula : “The archives of the dictatorship contain painful secrets for many Albanians,” . Initial estimates suggest there are “millions of pages of documents, more than 120,000 files and 250,000 records.”

While formally not a member of the Socialist Party (Partia Socialiste e Shqipërisë – PS), Gentiana Sula has been a PS Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and Youth for three years. Apart from being a member of a family whose grandfather died in prison in 1952, at age 45, she was a biologist and worked for UNICEF. She only left her ministerial position in order to be nominated director of the Authority for Information about Documents of the Former State Security (AIDISSh).

The release of the files involved the challenges in navigating the contemporary political landscape of Albania. A key objective is to bring transparency to Albania’s fractious political scene where the allegation of collaboration or being an informer for the Sigurimi is a potent weapon which crops up on a weekly basis, whether in the press or in parliamentary exchanges. Rather than using the files as instruments to establish the truth, the parties have deployed them as weapons of blackmail to attack opponents as collaborators, or to cast supporters as sympathetic victims. Although proven cases are very rare – in 26 years, just two politicians have publicly admitted it – some lesser known figures have discreetly withdrawn from public life. The AIDISSh is legally obligated to provide information whether candidates for high state positions have collaborated with the Sigurimi or the political institutions of the dictatorship. The same holds for any candidate up for elections.

Some point to a potential conflict of interest in that Gentiana Sula’s husband, Gentjan Sula, is the owner of the construction company AgiKons shpk, which regularly takes part in public procurement procedures, and because the institution she leads is supposed to evaluate precisely those people that open and manage government tenders.

Sigurimi was “wound up” after the fall of the communist government in 1990 replaced by two new agencies, the domestic intelligence agency Sherbini Informatik Comptor (ShIK), and a military intelligence agency called ShIU.

  1. Reuters Albanians View Antique Communist-era Spyware in ‘House of Leaves’. VOA November 03, 2017
  2. Katie Engelhart, Communist-era secret police files reopen old wounds in Albania. July 23rd 2018
  4. Fatjona Mejdini New Sigurimi Museum Recalls Albania’s Sinister Past | BIRN | Tirana 26 May 2017
  5. Fatjona Mejdini New Sigurimi Museum Recalls Albania’s Sinister Past | BIRN | Tirana 26 May 2017

Information and quotes drawn from other articles include:

  • Agence France-Presse. Opening the files of despised secret police, Albania seeks answers and closure. South China Morning Post 27 March, 2017
  • Matthew Brunwasser. As Albania Reckons with Its Communist Past, Critics Say It’s Too Late. The New York Times February 26, 2017
  • Magdalena Chodownik .Inside Albania’s notorious gulag: Spac’s legacy of terror. 24/03/2018
  • New Director in Charge of Sigurimi Dossiers, Questions about Qualifications and Conflicts of Interest. Exit, explaining Albania. November 21 2016


[Extract on the former Democratic Party/ Partia Demokratike e Shqipërisë government’s use of the secret police against journalists, opposition politicians and critics of the government]

According to Human Rights Watch, under the Democratic Party (DP) government of President Sali Berisha (April 1992-July 1997), Albania became “a one party state based on fear and corruption” (HRW 1997; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997). Several sources indicate that ShIK played a key role in this transformation, committing serious human rights abuses against the DP government’s political opponents and functioning in effect as Berisha’s “political police” (Intelligence Newsletter 9 Sept. 1999; HRW Mar. 1996, 61-63; HRW 1997; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997; NHC 1998, 8-9; ATA 8 Aug. 1998). Sources indicate that under the Berisha government ShIK agents threatened or attacked journalists (Koha Jone 26 Oct. 1995; HRW Mar. 1996; ATA 14 Mar. 1996), intimidated voters at polling stations (UPI 30 Aug. 1996; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997), and used state-controlled media to conduct campaigns against political opponents of the government (HRW Mar. 1996, 61-63). Many of those arrested or detained by ShIK reported physical abuse and torture (ibid. 1997). Berisha’s former finance minister, Genc Ruli, accused ShIK officers appointed by Berisha of being heavily involved in smuggling activities (Transitions n.d.), and the British daily The Independent found evidence of ShIK involvement in organized crime, including drug smuggling (ibid. 18 Feb. 1997).

According to a report in the pro-DP daily Albania, the Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Fatos dismissed dozens of senior ShIK officials and officers after it took office on 24 July 1997 (11 Jan. 1998). Nonetheless, reports indicate that ShIK continued to operate with impunity under the new government (Rilindja Demokratike 25 Oct. 1998; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997; Albania 12 Jan. 1999). In early August 1997 the new interior minister alleged that ShIK agents were working with Democratic Party officials to form armed committees to resist efforts to restore government control in Shkoder, a Berisha stronghold 120 kilometres north of Tirana (The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997). In late October 1998 the director of the independent station Radio Kontakt sent a letter to top Albania officials and the OSCE ambassador in Tirana alleging that since it began broadcasting one year earlier, ShIK agents had “continuously threatened our journalists with physical elimination and with blowing up the radio station” (Rilindja Demokratike 25 Oct. 1998). In his letter the director alleged that in September 1998, after being “repeatedly threatened with physical elimination,” he was attacked by unknown assailants while leaving the studio (ibid.) In January 1999 the pro-DP Albanian accused ShIK of “kidnapping” a citizen on charges of terrorism and then conducting a campaign against the person in the press (Albania 12 Jan. 1999).

In 1998 the government introduced a draft law “On the National Informative Service,” which was approved by parliament on 6 August 1998 (AHC 1998, 25; NHC 1998, 8; Albania 11 Aug. 1998). The law was criticized by the pro-DP daily Albania as containing “serious flaws that may encroach upon human rights and freedoms” (11 Aug. 1998), and by human rights monitoring groups of “fail[ing] to live up to international principles” (NHC 1998, 9), and of containing ambiguous and vague provisions that “could lead to subjective interpretation, arbitrary acts and violations of human rights” (AHC 1998, 25).

Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Albania: The former and present secret police (Sigurimi and ShIK), including whether members and former members continue to exercise power and influence, human rights abuses committed by these agencies, and state protection available (update to ALB15794.E of 19 November 1993), 27 October 1999, ALB33124.E, available at: