By Shyqyri Ballvora – Doctor of historical sciences
The great struggle against the fascist aggressors and their aggressive and expansionist policies brought about an all-round activization of the broad masses of the people, a new regrouping of political forces, and major changes in international relations. A world anti-fascist front, in which many states and broad anti-fascist national liberation movements of the countries under fascist occupation took part, was formed with the common aim of destroying fascism.
Every people and every country has its own experience in regard to the alliances they have had to enter with other peoples and countries when they had to fight against a common enemy. Our people, too, have their own experience in this field and in the course of history they have tried to join forces with external allies to resist the common enemies. The historical experience of our people shows, however, that in most cases the Albanian people found no understanding of their efforts, so they had to go along the road of history relying on their own forces, their resolute struggle for freedom and independence. In recent times the Great Powers have treated Albania as a token for barter. Even those states which posed as its allies frequently trampled underfoot the national interests of the Albanian people by means of secret dealings behind the scenes and conducted bargainings about the national territories and rights of the Albanian people, thereby jeopardizing Albania’s freedom and independence.
Therefore, the Communist Party of Albania, the only political force leading and organizing the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War of the Albanian people, could not fail to keep present this historical experience, the disillusionment of the Albanian people about those states which posed as their allies and the guarantors of their freedom and independence.
The Albanian people started their war against the fascist occupiers before the outbreak of the Second World War and a long time prior to the formation of the Anti-Fascist Coalition of the Great Powers.
The National Liberation Movement in Albania emerged and developed as a movement without encouragement and interference from abroad. As a consequence, the policy and strategy worked out by the CPA proceeded only from the lofty national interests and aspirations of the broad masses of the people.
Right from the outset the Communist Party of Albania stressed the absolute necessity of linking the anti-fascist liberation war of the Albanian people with the world anti-fascist war of the peoples and states fighting against fascism.
In its programmatic documents the CPA pointed out that with the outbreak of the Second World War and, especially, with the participation of the Soviet Union in this war, the political and military alliance of the peoples and states aligned in the World Anti-Fascist Coalition, the international solidarity and the mutual assistance among the peoples and states that fought against fascism, had become indispensable conditions for the attainment of a complete and speedy victory over the aggressor fascist states. The CPA always considered the world anti-fascist war as a powerful support for the Albanian people and the other peoples languishing under fascist bondage.
In the first steps of its activity the CPA declared that the Albanian people would fight to the end and uncompromisingly against the fascist aggressors to make their contribution to the common struggle for the destruction of fascism. In July 1942, speaking about the great vigour of the National Liberation War, Comrade Enver Hoxha, the leader of the National Liberation War, stressed at the same time that “the Albanian people are setting up a joint front to win back their freedom, they are joining their forces those of the peoples of the Soviet Union, the homeland of the workers and peasants, with those of the democratic peoples, the British and the Americans, they are fighting side by side with the other peoples enslaved by fascism; the Albanian people are taking part in the struggle for the liberation of mankind from the fascist barbarians.”1
In its relations with the Great Allies and the peoples fighting against fascism, the CPA laid at the foundation of its policy the principles of cooperation and mutual assistance in the struggle against the common enemy, of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other and applied these principles with the greatest determination and consistency.
Assessing the Anglo-Soviet-American alliance, in general, as a necessary condition for the achievement of a speedy and complete victory over the aggressor fascist states, the CPA, nevertheless, maintained a differentiated stand towards the members of the Anti-Fascist Coalition. The members of this Coalition were states with different social and political systems. On one side stood the Soviet Union, a socialist state which unreservedly supported the revolutionary and liberation movements of the peoples of the world. The Soviet Union opposed fascism in order to defend the great gains of the October Revolution and to help the peoples liberate themselves from fascist bondage.
In the assessments of the alliance embodied in the Great Anti-Fascist Coalition, says Comrade Enver Hoxha, “...We had to be neither sectarian nor liberal, but while considering it fruitful in the context of the fight against Nazism, it was necessary that we should never forget what the governments of the United States of America and Great Britain represented for our people, that we never forget their savage nature as capitalists and colonialist oppressors, that we should never forget the countless wounds they had inflicted on the body of our Homeland... We had to fight to win our freedom with sacrifice and bloodshed, and we must never allow foreign enemies to gamble with the fate of our country and our people as in the past.”2
So, by recognizing Britain and the United States as allies in the common struggle against fascism and appreciating the contribution of these two powers in the war against the fascist states, the CPA and the National Liberation Front never forgot their aims at ensuring their hegemony in the world after the end of the war. Britain and the United States wanted the political groups and social forces linked with the Anglo-Americans to emerge on top of the more powerful national liberation movement in every country so as, after the war, these forces could seize political power and retain their social and economic privileges by hitching their countries to the chariots of the imperialist powers. Churchill told the commander of the allied forces in the Mediterranean, General Alexander, that Albania, too, should be a fertile soil for the British. As the leader of an imperialist power, Churchill tried to maintain and expand the zones of influence of Britain in Europe and the Balkans, in particular. In this direction Albania was under the sight of British diplomacy. The British government thought that the time had come for it to intervene in the political life of Albania so as to have this country of particular strategic importance under its control after the war.
The complete and unreserved involvement of the Albanian people in the war against fascism impressed world opinion. The British and American government, directly interested in the development of events in Albania and anxious not to let it slip outside their control, were forced to recognize the liberation war of the Albanian people, thereby considering Albania not only de facto but also de jure an active member of the World Anti-Fascist Coalition.
In December 1942 the foreign ministers of Britain and the United States of America officially declared that they recognized no claim of Italian imperialism on Albania and that they wanted to see the independence of Albania re-established. The Soviet government made another declaration in which it expressed its sincere desire for the liberation of Albania, the re-establishment of its independence, and sympathy and praise for the war of the Albanian people against the occupiers of their country.
The official declarations of the three main Powers of the World Anti-Fascist Coalition which highly appreciated the liberation war of the Albanian people and expressed themselves for the reestablishment of the independence of Albania had a particular historical value because these Powers committed themselves publicly to respecting the independence of Albania and recognized the insurgent Albanian people as an ally of the nations and states members of the Great Anti-Fascist Coalition. Proceeding from the historical reality that had been created in Albania, the British and American governments tried to capitalize on the political circumstances, so their declarations, along with the recognition of the anti-fascist war of our people, also had essential reservations. While the declaration of the Soviet Union recognized the independence and territorial integrity of Albania without any reservation and limitation, the declaration of Great Britain and the United States made the position of Albania after the war conditional on any agreement that could be made among the Balkan states in the future; besides, the Western governments saw the question of Albania’s borders as a question that would be solved at the Peace Conference after the war.
Their stand towards Albania was, as always, based on the traditional imperialist principle of treating the smaller countries as token for barter.
In the particular case of Albania, their aim was, first, to eliminate the Communist Party from the leadership of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War of the Albanian people, second, to impose their policy and strategy on the National Liberation War in Albania, and third, to bring the political groups linked with the Anglo-Americans to the leadership of the struggle of the people so as to prevent the triumph of the people’s revolution and manipulate “the independence of Albania”, according to their imperialist interests, in the historical conditions that would be created after the victory over the fascist states. The British and American plans for a settlement in the Balkans after the war also provided for meeting the territorial claims of the Serb and Greek monarchies to the detriment of Albania.
One of the reasons for which the British and American diplomacy did not insist on the creation of an “Albanian government” in exile was also the fact that they wanted to have their hands free in their stand towards Albania after the war and, in particular, they wanted, as the foreign minister of Britain admitted, “not to offend the Greek and Yugoslav governments” in exile, because in this manner relations with these governments would be gravely affected, as they had always the partition of Albania among the main points of their programs. Apart from this, the creation of an “Albanian government” in exile with Zog or without him, as the British diplomats themselves foresaw, would arouse strong feelings of indignation towards the British policy in Albania.
In the meantime, beginning from April 1943 the British government sent its military missions to Albania which were to follow the National Liberation War of the Albanian people from close quarters and to encourage and support the pro-Anglo-America political groups through which it intended to further its aims. Only in June 1943 did these missions establish official links with the National Liberation General Council and, with the setting up of the General Staff of the National Liberation Army, were they accredited to it. One behalf of the Allied Mediterranean Command the allied missions told the leaders of the National Liberation War of the Albanian people that their task was to get to know the situation in Albania from close quarters and to assist with weapons and other materials the political forces that fought against the Italian army which was the enemy of both sides.
However, their true aim was to subject the National Liberation movement to the Anglo-American policy and strategy, to support the bourgeois and landowner reactionary forces, to oppose them to the Communist Party which led and guided the National Liberation Front, the liberation war of the Albanian people.
The Central Committee of the CPA, when it saw that the allied missions were more and more interfering with our internal affairs and openly supporting the enemies of the National Liberation War, instructed in the directives of November 3rd 1943:
“In many regions there are British missions which try to poke their noses into our political affairs, and particularly into our internal organizational and military affairs. They are trying to unite with the reactionaries, to organize them in order to use them in the event of a landing here. The British officers carry out this activity sometimes openly and sometimes secretly... We must behave correctly towards them, at the same time taking a clear-cut stand. They must not be permitted to interfere in our internal affairs, and must in no way be accepted as arbitrators between us and reaction.”3
The main cause of the disagreements between the leadership of the National Liberation War of the Albanian people and the Allied Mediterranean Command was the fact that the leadership of the National Liberation War in Albania could by no means accept the demand of this Command that the National Liberation War of the Albanian people should be subject to “allied (Anglo-American) strategy”. According to this strategy, the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War in Albania should carry out only military, not political, tasks. As for the political future of Albania, according to the British and American politicians, it would be decided at the International Peace Conferences after the war. Besides the Allied Mediterranean Command demanded from the Albanian National Liberation Army that its war should not assume the character of a general uprising but be limited to actions on a tactical scale, with small-scale isolated strikes on the routes of communication of the enemy. The Allied Mediterranean Command also insisted that the approval of the British liaison officers had to be taken for any combat action of the formations of the National Liberation Army and that, in particular, the detachments of the ANLA should not undertake any action against the collaborationist forces of Balli Kombëtar, Legaliteti, etc. because the Anglo-American allies considered these actions as civil war which was against the plans of the allies.
These demands of the Allied Mediterranean Command were considered as interference in the internal affairs of the war of the Albanian people. The General Command of the ANLA made it clear to the Allied Mediterranean Command that the ANLA accepted neither orders, nor control, nor a strategy from outside. The military actions of the ANLA, whether of a strategical, operational or tactical character, were the direct application of the military plans of the General Staff and the General Command of the ANLA. The Anti-Fascist National Liberation War of the Albanian people, based on the forces and human sources of the Albanian people, had its policy and strategy which was worked out by the Communist Party of Albania.
One et the more common means the Anglo-American command employed to exorcise pressure on the General Command of the ANLA were its supplies of weapons, food and clothing for the ANLA. It thought that the fate of the National Liberation War in Albania depended on these supplies, so it used them as a means of pressure to force the leadership of the war of the Albanian people to accept the conditions set by the Allied Mediterranean Command, that is, to accept a policy and strategy imposed by the Anglo-Americans.
The Command of the ANLA never accepted the conditions set by the Allied Mediterranean Command. Therefore, the leader of the Communist Party and the National Liberation War made it clear to the partisan commands of the ANLA, “Do not let yourselves be deceived by the promises of the British. Theirs are only words and they do not keep their promises. We shall wage the war with the weapons we capture from the enemy.”4
During the whole period of the National Liberation War the National Liberation Front led by the CPA acted in strict observance of the spirit of the Great Anti-Fascist Coalition, implementing with the greatest possible correctness the norms and principles which regulated the relations between the members of the Coalition.
British and American and, more recently, Soviet authors have tried to minimize and even negate the importance and decisive role of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War of the Albanian people in the liberation of the country and the winning of national independence. They declare openly and unequivocally that Albania owes its liberation only to the war of the Great Powers members of the Anti-Fascist Coalition, that the only decisive factor for the liberation of Albania was the war of the Great Allies. Albanian historiography has always stressed the decisive contribution of the war of the World Anti-Fascist Coalition, especially the war of the peoples of the Soviet Union led by J. V. Stalin in the defeat of fascism. However, the winning of the national independence and the triumph of the people’s revolution in Albania was first and foremost the result of the titanic struggle of the Albanian people under the leadership of the CPA. Relying on their own forces and with the assistance and support of the nations members of the World Anti-Fascist Coalition, they succeeded in liberating their country without the need for the foreign armies to come to our country. Neither the Soviet Army, nor other allied armies set foot on our country.
With the decisions of the Congress of Përmet (May 1944) the foreign policy of the CPA fully assumed the character of a state policy. With its historic decisions the Congress of Përmet, the first great National Assembly which had emerged really from the bosom of the people, laid the foundations of the new democratic state. The great changes of historic importance which came about as a result of deep-going revolutionary transformations, conditioned the whole internal and foreign policy of the new sovereign and independent Albania. The acts of the Albanian government which emerged from the Congress of Përmet and its relations with the other states testified publicly to the fact that Albania came out for the first time in the international arena as a truly independent and sovereign state whose foreign policy was based on the principles of complete equality, non-interference in internal affairs, internationalist solidarity and mutual assistance with the peoples that fought for freedom and independence.
The Congress of Përmet expressed its complete trust in the anti-fascist alliance and its readiness to carry the struggle against fascism through to final victory.
The decisions of the Congress of Përmet to “revise ail the agreements with foreign states, to annul all the economic and political connections established by Zog’s government to the detriment of the Albanian people and conclude new agreements,”7 and not to recognize any international agreement or contract “which might be entered into by the reactionary cliques, either as a political group or government within or outside Albania”,8 clearly indicated that the Albanian people would not allow any sort of bargaining to the detriment of their national interests.
The historic decisions of the Congress of Përmet and its creation of the new Albanian state of people’s democracy enabled Albania to come out as a sovereign and fully independent state in the system of international relations.
The foreign policy worked out by the CPA during the National Liberation War and affirmed in the decisions of the Congress of Përmet as the official policy of the new Albanian state of people’s democracy expressed in the fullest manner possible the determination of the Albanian people not to permit any interference in the internal affairs of Albania and so Albania destroyed once and for all time all the bridges that endangered the freedom, independence and sovereignty of the Albanian people.
The sovereignty and independence of the new Albanian state of people’s democracy were a real historical fact. Its international recognition was only natural and derived from the obligations and pledges of the members of the Anti-Fascist Coalition. Therefore, the stand of the governments of Britain and the United States which did not recognise the decisions of the Congress of Pêrmet and the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Committee with the attributes of a provisional government that emerged from this Congress, was utterly arbitrary. The stand of these governments was in complete opposition both to the declarations of 1942 which recognized the struggle of the Albanian people and made public pledges to recognise the independence of Albania according to the rules and norms regulating the relations among the members of the World Anti-Fascist Coalition.
The Anglo-Americans not only did not recognise the decisions of the Congress of Përmet and the government that emerged from it, but even hatched up intrigues and plots against Albania’s national integrity, for its partition. Before the Congress of Përmet the Western allies had pinned all their hopes to put Albania under their control on the traitor organisations of the Balli Kombëtar and Legaliteti as well as the bairaktars of the northern regions. This is proved, among other things, by the insistent demand of the Allied Mediterranean Command that the 1st Division of the ANLA should not be allowed to pass over to north Albania and attack the treacherous reactionary forces that operated in that zone. However, this demand of the Allied Mediterranean Command was rejected by the General Command of the ANLA. Later, when these traitor organisations were definitively exposed and on the verge of their complete destruction, the Anglo-Americans sought for a pretext to land their troops in Albania. The Anti-Fascist National Liberation Committee, which carried out the functions of a provisional government, maintained a clear-cut and intransigent stand, allowing no interference of the Anglo-American Mediterranean Command and allied military missions in the internal affairs of the National Liberation War. Nor did the Anti-Fascist Committee accept the landing of parachute troops in Albania. When on the eve of the liberation of Albania the allied troops landed on the south-western coast of Albania, the General Command of the ANLA forced them to withdraw from the Albanian shores.
The Anglo-Americans did not want to recognise the people’s government which had emerged from the National Liberation War even when, at the 2nd Meeting of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Council (October 1944), it was transformed into the Democratic Government of Albania.
With their National Liberation War the Albanian people, united in the National Liberation Front under the leadership of the CPA, put an end not only to the rule of the fascist occupiers, but also to the rule of the landlords and the bourgeoisie and any dependence on the imperialist Great Powers.
In the historical conditions and circumstances created with the liberation of the country, the road of transition to socialism was opened for Albania, the only road for it to preserve and develop the historical victory achieved in the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War, to strengthen and consolidate its full sovereignty and national independence, to guarantee democracy for the broad masses of the people, to do away with backwardness and ensure the all-round and rapid development of the economy and culture of the country.
The line of sovereignty and full national independence, as a component part of the policy and strategy for the construction of socialist society on the basis of self-reliance, has its deep roots in the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War of the Albanian people led by the Communist Party of Albania.
1 Enver Hoxha, Works, vol. 1, Tirana 1983, p. 97, 2nd Alb. ed.
2 Enver Hoxha, The Anglo-American Threat to Albania, Tirana 1982, p. 19, Eng. ed.
3 Principal Documents of the PLA, vol. 1, Tirana 1971, p. 232, Alb. ed.
4 Documents of the General Staff and General Command of the ANLA, Tirana 1965, vol. 1, pp. 37, 176, 180, Alb. ed.
5 Documents of the Supreme Organs of the Revolutionary National Liberation State Power (1942-1944), Tirana 1962, p. 157, Alb. ed.
6 Ibidem, p. 140.
7 Ibidem, p. 145.
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