|Birth Day:||October 16, 1908|
|Death Date:||Apr 11, 1985 (age 76)|
|Birth Place:||Gjirokaster, Albania|
As per our current Database, Enver Hoxha died on Apr 11, 1985 (age 76).
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After dropping out of both the the University of Montpellier and the Sorbonne, he opened a small business that was quickly shut down by the fascist, Italian-controlled Albanian government. Soon thereafter, he joined the Communist Party of Albania.
The Hoxha family was attached to the Bektashi Order. In 1916 his father brought him to seek the blessing of Baba Selim of the Zall Teqe.
After elementary school, he followed his studies in the city senior high school "Liria". He started his studies at the Gjirokastër Lyceum in 1923. After the lyceum was closed, due to intervention of Eqrem Libohova Hoxha was awarded a state scholarship for the continuation of his studies in Korçë, at the French language Albanian National Lyceum until 1930.
In 1930, Hoxha went to study at the University of Montpellier in France on a state scholarship for the faculty of natural science, but lost an Albanian state scholarship for neglecting his studies. He later went to Paris, where he presented himself to anti-Zogist immigrants as the brother-in-law of Bahri Omari.
From 1935 to 1936, he was employed as a secretary at the Albanian consulate in Brussels. After returning to Albania, he worked as a contract teacher in the Gymnasium of Tirana. Hoxha taught French and morals in the Korça Liceum from 1937 to 1939 and also served as the caretaker of the school library.
Women were forbidden from obtaining a divorce, and the wife's parents were obliged to return a runaway daughter to her husband or else suffer shame which could even result in a generations-long blood feud. During World War II, the Albanian Communists encouraged women to join the partisans and following the war, women were encouraged to take up menial jobs, as the education necessary for higher level work was out of most women's reach. In 1938, 4% worked in various sectors of the economy. In 1970, this number had risen to 38%, and in 1982 to 46%.
On 7 April 1939, Albania was invaded by Fascist Italy. The Italians established a puppet government, the Albanian Kingdom (1939–43), under Shefqet Vërlaci. At the end of 1939, he was transferred to the Gjirokastra Gymnasium, but he soon returned to Tirana. He was helped by his best friend, Esat Dishnica, who introduced Hoxha to Dishnica's cousin Ibrahim Biçakçiu. Hoxha started to sleep in Biçakçiu's tobacco factory "Flora", and after a while Dishnica opened a shop with the same name, where Hoxha began working. He was a sympathizer of Korça's Communist Group.
On 8 November 1941, the Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Party of Labour of Albania in 1948) was founded. Hoxha was chosen from the "Korca group" as a Muslim representative by the two Yugoslav envoys as one of the seven members of the provisional Central Committee. The First Consultative Meeting of Activists of the Communist Party of Albania was held in Tirana from April 8 to 11, 1942, with Hoxha himself delivering the main report on 8 April 1942.
In July 1942, Hoxha wrote "Call to the Albanian Peasantry", issued in the name of the Communist Party of Albania. The call sought to enlist support in Albania for the war against the fascists. The peasants were encouraged to hoard their grain and refuse to pay taxes or livestock levies brought by the government. After the September 1942 Conference at Pezë, the National Liberation Movement was founded with the purpose of uniting the anti-fascist Albanians, regardless of ideology or class.
By March 1943, the first National Conference of the Communist Party elected Hoxha formally as First Secretary. During WWII, the Soviet Union's role in Albania was negligible. On 10 July 1943, the Albanian partisans were organised in regular units of companies, battalions and brigades and named the Albanian National Liberation Army. The organization received military support from the British intelligence service, SOE. The General Headquarters was created, with Spiro Moisiu as the commander and Hoxha as political commissar. The Yugoslav Partisans had a much more practical role, helping to plan attacks and exchanging supplies, but communication between them and the Albanians was limited and letters would often arrive late, sometimes well after a plan had been agreed upon by the National Liberation Army without consultation from the Yugoslav partisans.
Within Albania, repeated attempts were made during the war to remedy the communications difficulties which faced partisan groups. In August 1943, a secret meeting, the Mukje Conference, was held between the anti-communist Balli Kombëtar (National Front) and the Communist Party of Albania. The result of this was an agreement to:
The Permet National Congress held during that time called for a "new democratic Albania for the people". Although the monarchy was not formally abolished, King Zog was barred from returning to the country, which further increased the Communists' control. The Anti-Fascist Committee for National Liberation was founded, chaired by Hoxha. On 22 October 1944, the Committee became the Democratic Government of Albania after a meeting in Berat and Hoxha was chosen as interim Prime Minister. Tribunals were set up to try alleged war criminals who were designated "enemies of the people" and were presided over by Koçi Xoxe.
After liberation on 29 November 1944, several Albanian partisan divisions crossed the border into German-occupied Yugoslavia, where they fought alongside Tito's partisans and the Soviet Red Army in a joint campaign which succeeded in driving out the last pockets of German resistance. Marshal Tito, during a Yugoslavian conference in later years, thanked Hoxha for the assistance that the Albanian partisans had given during the War for National Liberation (Lufta Nacionalçlirimtare). The Democratic Front, dominated by the Albanian Communist Party, succeeded the National Liberation Front in August 1945 and the first post-war election was the held on 2 December. The Front was the only legal political organisation allowed to stand in the elections, and the government reported that 93% of Albanians voted for it.
At this point, relations with Yugoslavia had begun to change. The roots of the change began on 20 October 1944 at the Second Plenary Session of the Communist Party of Albania. The Session considered the problems that the post-independence Albanian government would face. However, the Yugoslav delegation led by Velimir Stoinić accused the party of "sectarianism and opportunism" and blamed Hoxha for these errors. He also stressed the view that the Yugoslav Communist partisans spearheaded the Albanian partisan movement.
Hoxha's governance was also distinguished by his encouragement of a high birthrate policy. For instance, a woman who bore an above-average number of children would be given the government award of Heroine Mother (in Albanian: Nënë Heroinë) along with cash rewards. Abortion was essentially restricted (to encourage high birth rates), except if the birth posed a danger to the mother's life, though it was not completely banned; the process was decided by district medical commissions. As a result, the population of Albania tripled from 1 million in 1944 to around 3 million in 1985.
Hoxha declared himself a Marxist–Leninist and strongly admired Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. During the period of 1945–1950, the government adopted policies and actions intended to consolidate power which included extrajudicial killings and executions that targeted and eliminated anti-communists. The Agrarian Reform Law was passed in August 1945. It confiscated land from beys and large landowners, giving it without compensation to peasants. 52% of all land was owned by large landowners before the law was passed; this declined to 16% after the law's passage. Illiteracy, which was 90–95% in rural areas in 1939 went down to 30% by 1950 and by 1985 it was equal to that of a Western country.
On 11 January 1946, Zog was officially deposed and Albania was proclaimed the People's Republic of Albania (renamed the People's Socialist Republic of Albania in 1976). As First Secretary, Hoxha was de facto head of state and the most powerful man in the country.
Anti-Yugoslav members of the Albanian Communist Party had begun to think that this was a plot by Tito who intended to destabilize the Party. Koçi Xoxe, Sejfulla Malëshova and others who supported Yugoslavia were looked upon with deep suspicion. Tito's position on Albania was that it was too weak to stand on its own and that it would do better as a part of Yugoslavia. Hoxha alleged that Tito had made it his goal to get Albania into Yugoslavia, firstly by creating the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Aid in 1946. In time, Albania began to feel that the treaty was heavily slanted towards Yugoslav interests, much like the Italian agreements with Albania under Zog that made the nation dependent upon Italy.
Albania, the only predominantly Muslim country in Europe at that time, largely owing to Turkish influence in the region, had not, like the Ottoman Empire, identified religion with ethnicity. In the Ottoman Empire, Muslims were viewed as Turks, Orthodox Christians were viewed as Greeks, and Catholics were viewed as Latins. Hoxha believed this was a serious issue, feeling that it both fueled Greek separatists in southern Albania and that it also divided the nation in general. The Agrarian Reform Law of 1945 confiscated much of the church's property in the country. Catholics were the earliest religious community to be targeted since the Vatican was seen as being an agent of Fascism and anti-Communism. In 1946 the Jesuit Order was banned and the Franciscans were banned in 1947. Decree No. 743 (On religion) sought a national church and forbade religious leaders to associate with foreign powers.
At the Eighth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party which lasted from 26 February to 8 March 1948, Xoxe was implicated in a plot to isolate Hoxha and consolidate his own power. He accused Hoxha of being responsible for the decline in relations with Yugoslavia and stated that a Soviet military mission should be expelled in favor of a Yugoslav counterpart. Hoxha managed to remain firm and his support had not declined. When Yugoslavia publicly broke with the Soviet Union, Hoxha's support base grew stronger. Then, on 1 July 1948, Tirana called on all Yugoslav technical advisors to leave the country and unilaterally declared all treaties and agreements between the two countries null and void. Xoxe was expelled from the party and on 13 June 1949, he was executed by hanging.
By 1949, the US and British intelligence organisations were working with King Zog and the mountain men of his personal guard. They recruited Albanian refugees and émigrés from Egypt, Italy and Greece, trained them in Cyprus, Malta and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and infiltrated them into Albania. Guerrilla units entered Albania in 1950 and 1952, but they were killed or captured by Albanian security forces. Kim Philby, a Soviet double agent working as a liaison officer between the British intelligence service and the US Central Intelligence Agency, had leaked details of the infiltration plan to Moscow, and the security breach claimed the lives of about 300 infiltrators.
After the break with Yugoslavia, Hoxha aligned himself with the Soviet Union, for which he had a great admiration. From 1948 to 1960, $200 million in Soviet aid was given to Albania for technical and infrastructural expansion. Albania was admitted to the Comecon on 22 February 1949 and remained important both as a way to pressure Yugoslavia and to serve as a pro-Soviet force in the Adriatic Sea. A submarine base was built on the island of Sazan near Vlorë, posing a possible threat to the United States Sixth Fleet. Relations remained close until the death of Stalin on 5 March 1953. His death was met with 14 days of national mourning in Albania—more than in the Soviet Union. Hoxha assembled the entire population in the capital's largest square featuring a statue of Stalin, requested that they kneel, and made them take a two-thousand word oath of "eternal fidelity" and "gratitude" to their "beloved father" and "great liberator" to whom the people owed "everything".
From 16 May to 17 June 1955, Nikolai Bulganin and Anastas Mikoyan visited Yugoslavia and Khrushchev renounced the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Communist bloc. Khrushchev also began making references to Palmiro Togliatti's polycentrism theory. Hoxha had not been consulted on this and was offended. Yugoslavia began asking for Hoxha to rehabilitate the image of Koçi Xoxe, which Hoxha steadfastly rejected. In 1956 at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev condemned the cult of personality that had been built up around Joseph Stalin and also denounced him for many grave mistakes. Khrushchev then announced the theory of peaceful coexistence, which angered Hoxha greatly. The Institute of Marxist–Leninist Studies, led by Hoxha's wife Nexhmije, quoted Vladimir Lenin: "The fundamental principle of the foreign policy of a socialist country and of a Communist party is proletarian internationalism; not peaceful coexistence." Hoxha now took a more active stand against perceived revisionism.
Unity within the Albanian Party of Labour began to decline as well, with a special delegate meeting held in Tirana in April 1956, composed of 450 delegates and having unexpected results. The delegates "criticized the conditions in the party, the negative attitude toward the masses, the absence of party and socialist democracy, the economic policy of the leadership, etc." while also calling for discussions on the cult of personality and the Twentieth Party Congress.
In 1956, Hoxha called for a resolution which would uphold the current leadership of the Party. The resolution was accepted, and all of the delegates who had spoken out were expelled from the party and imprisoned. Hoxha stated that this was yet another of many attempts to overthrow the leadership of Albania which had been organized by Yugoslavia. This incident further consolidated Hoxha's power, effectively making Khrushchev-esque reforms nearly impossible. In the same year, Hoxha traveled to the People's Republic of China, which was then enduring the Sino-Soviet split, and met Mao Zedong. Relations with China improved, as evidenced by Chinese aid to Albania being 4.2% in 1955 before the visit, and rising to 21.6% in 1957.
The State University of Tirana was established in 1957, which was the first of its kind in Albania. The Medieval Gjakmarrja (blood feud) was banned. Malaria, the most widespread disease, was successfully fought through advances in health care, the use of DDT, and through the draining of swamplands. From 1965 to 1985, no cases of malaria were reported, whereas previously Albania had the greatest number of infected patients in Europe. No cases of syphilis had been recorded for 30 years.
Relations with the Soviet Union began to decline rapidly. A hardline policy was adopted and the Soviets reduced aid shipments, specifically grain, at a time when Albania needed them due to the possibility of a flood-induced famine. In July 1960, a plot to overthrow the Albanian government was discovered. It was to be organized by Soviet-trained Rear Admiral Teme Sejko. After this, two pro-Soviet members of the Party, Liri Belishova and Koço Tashko, were expelled, with a humorous incident involving Tashko pronouncing tochka (Russian for "full stop").
On 7 November 1961, Hoxha made a speech in which he called Khrushchev a "revisionist, an anti-Marxist and a defeatist". Hoxha portrayed Stalin as the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union and he began to stress Albania's independence. By 11 November, the USSR and every other Warsaw Pact nation broke relations with Albania. Albania was unofficially excluded (by not being invited) from both the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. The Soviet Union also attempted to claim control of the Vlorë port due to a lease agreement; the Albanian Party then passed a law prohibiting any other nation from owning an Albanian port through lease or otherwise. The Soviet–Albanian split was now complete.
Like Albania, China defended the "purity" of Marxism by attacking both US imperialism and "Soviet and Yugoslav revisionism", both equally as part of a "dual adversary" theory. Yugoslavia was viewed as both a "special detachment of U.S. imperialism" and a "saboteur against world revolution." These views, however, began to change in China, which was one of the major issues which Albania had with the alliance. Also unlike Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the Sino-Albanian alliance lacked "... an organizational structure for regular consultations and policy coordination, and it was also characterized by an informal relationship which was conducted on an ad hoc basis." Mao made a speech on 3 November 1966 in which he claimed that Albania was the only Marxist-Leninist state in Europe and in the same speech, he also stated that "an attack on Albania will have to reckon with great People's China. If the U.S. imperialists, the modern Soviet revisionists or any of their lackeys dare to touch Albania in the slightest, nothing lies ahead for them but a complete, shameful and memorable defeat." Likewise, Hoxha stated that "You may rest assured, comrades, that come what may in the world at large, our two parties and our two peoples will certainly remain together. They will fight together and they will win together."
Starting on 6 February 1967, the Party began to promote secularism over Abrahamic religions. Hoxha, who had declared a "Cultural and Ideological Revolution" after being partly inspired by China's Cultural Revolution, encouraged communist students and workers to use more forceful tactics to discourage religious practices, although violence was initially condemned.
China entered into a four-year period of relative diplomatic isolation following the Cultural Revolution and at this point relations between China and Albania reached their zenith. On 20 August 1968, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was condemned by Albania, as was the Brezhnev doctrine. Albania then officially withdrew from the Warsaw Pact on 5 September. Relations with China began to deteriorate on 15 July 1971, when United States President Richard Nixon agreed to visit China to meet with Zhou Enlai. Hoxha felt betrayed and the government was in a state of shock. On 6 August a letter was sent from the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labour to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, calling Nixon a "frenzied anti-Communist". The letter stated:
In 1969, direct taxation was abolished and during this period the quality of schooling and health care continued to improve. An electrification campaign was begun in 1960 and the entire nation was expected to have electricity by 1985. Instead, it achieved this on 25 October 1970, making it the first nation with complete electrification in the world. During the Cultural & Ideological Revolution of 1967–1968 the military changed from traditional Communist army tactics and began to adhere to the Maoist strategy known as people's war, which included the abolition of military ranks, which were not fully restored until 1991. Mehmet Shehu said of the country's health service in 1979:'
China never intervened in what Albania's economic output should be, and Chinese technicians worked for the same wages as Albanian workers, unlike Soviet technicians who sometimes made more than three times the pay of Hoxha. Albanian newspapers were reprinted in Chinese newspapers and read on Chinese radio. Finally, Albania led the movement to give the People's Republic of China a seat on the UN Security Council, an effort which would prove successful in 1971 when it replaced the Republic of China's seat. During this period, Albania became the second largest producer of chromium in the world, which was considered an important export for Albania. Strategically, the Adriatic Sea was also attractive to China, and the Chinese leadership had hoped to gain more allies in Eastern Europe with Albania's help, although this effort failed. Zhou Enlai visited Albania in January 1964. On 9 January, "The 1964 Sino-Albanian Joint Statement" was signed in Tirana. The statement said of relations between socialist countries:
The result was a 1971 message from the Chinese leadership stating that Albania could not depend on an indefinite flow of further Chinese aid and in 1972, Albania was advised to "curb its expectations about further Chinese contributions to its economic development". By 1973, Hoxha wrote in his diary Reflections on China that the Chinese leaders:
In response, trade with COMECON (although trade with the Soviet Union was still blocked) and Yugoslavia grew. Trade with Third World nations was $0.5 million in 1973, but $8.3 million in 1974. Trade rose from 0.1% to 1.6%. Following Mao's death on 9 September 1976, Hoxha remained optimistic about Sino-Albanian relations, but in August 1977, Hua Guofeng, the new leader of China, stated that Mao's Three Worlds Theory would become official foreign policy. Hoxha viewed this as a way for China to justify having the U.S. as the "secondary enemy" while viewing the Soviet Union as the main one, thus allowing China to trade with the U.S. "the Chinese plan of the 'third world' is a major diabolical plan, with the aim that China should become another superpower, precisely by placing itself at the head of the 'third world' and the 'non-aligned world'." From 30 August to 7 September 1977, Tito visited Beijing and was welcomed by the Chinese leadership. At this point, the Albanian Party of Labour had declared that China was now a revisionist state akin to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and that Albania was the only Marxist–Leninist state on Earth. Hoxha stated:
Hoxha and his government were hostile to Western (American and British-led) popular culture as it manifested in the mass media, along with the consumerism and social liberalism associated with it. In a speech on the Fourth Plenum of the Central Committee of the PLA (PLA-CC) on 26 June 1973, Hoxha declared a definitive break from any such Western bourgeois influence and what he described as its degenerated bourgeois culture. In a speech in which he also criticised the "spread of certain vulgar, alien tastes in music and art", which ran "contrary to socialist ethics and the positive traditions of our people", including "degenerate importations such as long hair, extravagant dress, screaming jungle music, coarse language, shameless behaviour and so on", Hoxha declared:
Hoxha suffered a heart attack in 1973 from which he never fully recovered. In increasingly precarious health from the late 1970s onward, he turned most state functions over to Ramiz Alia. In his final days he was confined to a wheelchair and suffering from diabetes, which had developed in 1948, and cerebral ischemia, from which he had suffered since 1983. On 9 April 1985, he was struck by ventricular fibrillation. Over the next forty-eight hours, he had repeated episodes of this arrhythmia, and he died in the early morning of 11 April 1985 at the age of 76. Hoxha's body laid in state at the building of the Presidium of the People's Assembly for three days before he was buried on 15 April after a memorial service on Skanderbeg Square. The government refused to accept any foreign delegations during the funeral and even condemned the Soviet message of condolences as "unacceptable". He was succeeded as head of state by Ramiz Alia after his burial, who gained control of the party leadership two days later.
Certain clauses in the 1976 constitution effectively circumscribed the exercise of political liberties which the government interpreted as contrary to the established order. In addition, the government denied the population access to information other than that disseminated by the government-controlled media. Internally, the Sigurimi followed the repressive methods of the NKVD, MGB, KGB, and the East German Stasi. At one point, every third Albanian had either been interrogated by the Sigurimi or incarcerated in labour camps. To eliminate dissent, the government imprisoned thousands in forced-labour camps or executed them for crimes such as alleged treachery or for disrupting the proletarian dictatorship. Travel abroad was forbidden after 1968 to all but those who were on official business.
A new Constitution was decided upon by the Seventh Congress of the Albanian Party of Labour on 1–7 November 1976. According to Hoxha, "The old Constitution was the Constitution of the building of the foundations of socialism, whereas the new Constitution will be the Constitution of the complete construction of a socialist society."
During the Cultural and Ideological Revolution (discussed below), women were encouraged to take up all jobs, including government posts, which resulted in 40.7% of the People's Councils and 30.4% of the People's Assembly being made up of women, including two women in the Central Committee by 1985. In 1978, 15.1 times as many females attended eight-year schools as had done so in 1938 and 175.7 times as many females attended secondary schools. By 1978, 101.9 times as many women attended higher schools as in 1957. Hoxha said of women's rights in 1967:
On 13 July 1978, China announced that it was cutting off all aid to Albania. For the first time in modern history, Albania did not have either an ally or a major trading partner.
In 1981, Hoxha ordered the execution of several party and government officials in a new purge. Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, the second-most powerful man in Albania and Hoxha's closest comrade-in-arms for 40 years, was reported to have committed suicide in December 1981. He was subsequently condemned as a "traitor" to Albania and was also accused of operating in the service of multiple intelligence agencies. It is generally believed that he was either killed or shot himself during a power struggle or over differing foreign policy matters with Hoxha. Hoxha also wrote a large assortment of books during this period, resulting in over 65 volumes of collected works, condensed into six volumes of selected works.
According to Hoxha, the surge in anti-theist activity began with the youth. The result of this "spontaneous, unprovoked movement" was the demolition or conversion of all 2,169 churches and mosques in Albania. State atheism became official policy, and Albania was declared the world's first atheist state. Town and city names which echoed Abrahamic religious themes were abandoned for neutral secular ones, as well as personal names. During this period religiously based names were also made illegal. The Dictionary of People's Names, published in 1982, contained 3,000 approved, secular names. In 1992, Monsignor Dias, the Papal Nuncio for Albania appointed by Pope John Paul II, said that of the three hundred Catholic priests present in Albania prior to the Communists coming to power, only thirty were still active. Promotion of religion was banned and all clerics were outlawed as reactionaries. Those religious figures who refused to embrace the principles of Marxism–Leninism were either arrested or carried on their activities in hiding.
During this period Albania was the most isolated and poorest country in Europe and socially backwards by European standards. It had the lowest standard of living in Europe. However, as a result of economic self-sufficiency, Albania had a minimal foreign debt. In 1983, Albania imported goods worth $280 million but exported goods worth $290 million, producing a trade surplus of $10 million.
Hoxha's daughter, Pranvera, is an architect. Along with her husband, Klement Kolaneci, she designed the Enver Hoxha Museum in Tirana, a white-tiled pyramid. Some sources have referred to the edifice, said to be the most expensive ever constructed in Albanian history, as the "Enver Hoxha Mausoleum", though this was not an official appellation. The museum opened in 1988, three years after her father's death, and in 1991 was transformed into a conference centre and exhibition venue renamed Pyramid of Tirana.
Hoxha's death left Albania with a legacy of isolation and fear of the outside world. Despite some economic progress made by Hoxha, the country was in economic stagnation; Albania had been the poorest European country throughout much of the Cold War period. Following the transition to capitalism in 1992, Hoxha's legacy diminished, so that by the early 21st century very little of it was still in place in Albania.
Currently, Enver Hoxha is 112 years, 8 months and 6 days old. Enver Hoxha will celebrate 113th birthday on a Saturday 16th of October 2021.
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