Revolutionary Democracy is honoured to be given special permission by Nexhmije Hoxha to publish excerpts of the first volume of her memoirs of her ‘Life with Enver' which were published from Tirana in Albanian in 1998. This volume gives new insights to the life and work of Enver Hoxha from his early days as a partisan leader in the struggle against the Italian fascist occupation, the threats of Yugoslavia under the leadership of Tito, the warm relations with the Soviet leadership when it was headed by J.V. Stalin and the problems generated by the rise of Khrushchev.
In February 1956 the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was convened. Enver participated as the head of the delegation of the Labour Party, while I was an invitee. I sat in the gallery together with the wives of the Soviet leaders. By my side was Molotov’s wife, who only greeted me and did not say another word. All the time she remained silent and seemed uneasy not only with me but also with the other Soviet women there. Later we understood the tense attitude of Molotov’s wife.
We attended the proceedings of the Congress, the explanatory reports of the Central Committee given by Nikita Khrushchev, the discussions of the delegates, nd the greetings of the foreign delegations that lasted for some days. There was nothing to attract one’s attention, neither from the applause nor from the tiring sessions. At the end of the proceedings, we heard that a meeting was to be held ‘in camera’ with only the Congress delegates to be in attendance. As it soon became clear, Khrushchev had read a closed report ‘On the Personality Cult and its Consequences’, prepared by a commission led by the philosopher Pospelov, a candidate member of the Central Committee. A copy of this closed report was given also to the foreign delegations, but only to read.
After we had eaten lunch together, we went to our suite in the ‘Sovetskaia’ hotel. Enver said to me ‘You go to bed as I still have some work to do.’ By midnight I still wasn’t asleep. I could hear that in the other room somebody was reading and a discussion was going on. I woke up at two o’clock in the morning, and saw that Enver had still not yet come to bed. I got up worried and I found him sitting at the round table in the living room.
He was reading and sometimes making notes. He looked exhausted, gloomy and upset. In front of him, he had a crystal ashtray that was full of cigarette butts and the room was very smoky. I said to him, ‘What’s the matter? Why don’t you come to bed? Couldn’t you read that tomorrow?’
Khrushchev’s Secret Report – Enver’s Feedback
Exhausted and upset as he was, he explained what he was reading. He told me that this was the closed report that was read to the session of the Congress that was held in camera, and that he was ordered to read it in private and not to talk about it with others. Nevertheless, as Enver told me, he had called Mehmet and they read it together. ‘It is a nasty report, -this is not how I know Stalin’ – Enver said.
I sat down on the armchair totally shocked, while Enver stood up and kept walking around the room, he spoke sometimes in a low voice, hinting to me that the room could be bugged. Then he mentioned some of the best moments and impressions from his five meetings with Stalin. He kept smoking the cigarettes one after another and from time to time, he repeated these words ‘I cannot believe..., I cannot believe!’ He mentioned all the celebrities that had written about Stalin with the most carefully selected and apprising words for him, and of the meetings that they had had with him. These persons included; Roman Roland, Roosevelt, Churchill and many others. ‘How can we uproot his name from our people’s hearts?’ Enver said to me that night ‘How can we deny and not mention his role in the last 40 years of Soviet Power, which with the all-inclusive developments, in industry, in economic and military potential that he created, Stalin’s Soviet Union faced the wild Hitler armada? The sons of all nations united in the powerful state of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics attacked by calling out ‘Za rodiny, za Stalina! (For the country, for Stalin!)’. Millions of people gave their lives in the Great Patriotic War. They wrote the glorious and unprecedented history of Leningrad, Stalingrad and the holding up of the victorious red flag above the Reichstag, in Berlin.
Then Enver began to develop his concern over the impact that this notorious report would have on the discrediting, not only of Stalin, but also of the Soviet Union, as the first country of the communist system. How would this ‘propagandists arsenal’ be utilised, which Khrushchev and friends had offered to the imperialists and international bourgeoisie in order to weaken and attack the regimes in the communist countries and people’s democracy, as well as the entire communist and labour movement throughout the world. Enver dwelt particularly on the problems that would be raised within our party. He pointed out, as far as I remember, that, ‘with this report it deepened even more the political and ideological gap between our Party and the Khrushchev revisionists’. ‘This will also influence the economy.. .We cannot just go and read this report to our people. We have held high Stalin’s name as the commandant of the Red Army that repressed Hitler’s horde, and which has affected even our country. Stalin was the one who ‘stopped’ Tito and his plans to overcome Albania, by rescuing our country from the chauvinist and enslaving targets of Yugoslavia’.
As it is known, the pressures against our country started after Stalin’s death, when Khrushchev and his staff came to power in the Soviet Union. That night we recalled also Khrushchev’s visit to Belgrade in May 1955, where he made a criticism in front of Tito on ‘Stalin’s faults’ and ‘oversights’ that needed to be swept away from the relationship between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
Naturally, the Soviet Union was the ‘head’ of the socialist camp and we agreed. The great conductor required his orchestra to obey his baton. Likewise, the ‘Mother-party’ required that her ‘daughters’ would follow her. After Khrushchev’s visit to Belgrade, we were required to improve on our relations with Yugoslavia, which were frozen until that moment. The Soviet Embassy suggested to us that we attend the reception of the Yugoslav legation in Tirana, on the national day of Yugoslavia, the anniversary of the meeting of AVNOJ (Anti-Fascist Council of the People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia – RD), which was on November 29th, when we celebrated our own national day. The entire leadership of the Party and Government went there. The Soviets explained that our participation would be the icebreaker to our relations with Yugoslavia. However, despite all the slivovitz, wines and champagne that flowed during this reception, the ice did not melt at all. The talks were politically correct, without mentioning ‘the rope in the house of a hanged man’, given that it was a feast, which was related to the war of the two nations against the Nazi fascist invaders. At this time, began the careful overthrow of the economic and the governmental blockade in our relations.
However, Khrushchev had his own plans and had undertaken commitments in front of Tito. He had undertaken commitments even in front of the western powers, maybe not through sealed papers and letters, because, after all, he was the head of a superpower as was the USA. However, these promises were clear because of the fact that he was giving a ‘lead’ to the west with tempting and demagogic slogans on nuclear and general ‘disarmament’, for ‘a world free of weapons and wars’, etc. The boisterous tom-toms of the press and of the mass media on what Khrushchev had said and did, inflated his mind to the point where he sometimes spoke loosely, pointing to the ‘tomb’ of the imperialists, and sometimes behaving like a loiterer and not as a representative of a great and famous country, as was the Soviet Union at that time. One of these cases was in the United Nations when he banged on the podium with his shoe, becoming a subject of ridicule. Enver justifiably called Khrushchev ‘a clown’. But this clown had great power. He also had his plans to approach Tito. Khrushchev needed this approach and, according to him, for three reasons:
Firstly, he aimed to return and to bind the broken links in the field of politics, economics and military matters in this strategic Slavic juncture. It would be even better if he towed Albania behind him, because in this way he could expand along the Adriatic coastline and acquire the key to the Otranto channel.
Secondly, through Tito and Yugoslavia he could expand the influence of the Soviet Union, this new social imperialist power, in the ‘so called’ movement of Non-Aligned of some of the countries of Asia and Africa etc.
Thirdly, by approaching Tito with this Western flattering, and by reporting Stalin’s ‘crimes’, he aimed to win the trust of the West and to guarantee to the rival superpower (the USA), that the Soviet Union would walk in a new way ‘to construct a world free of weapons and wars’.
Enver has analysed systematically in his later writings the immediate and remote objectives of Khrushchev for the future of the Soviet Union and where they would lead it. He has pointed out the repercussions of the revisionist policy in the view of its submission, first for the Soviet Union itself, but also for the socialist camp and the entire world communist movement.
However, that night, when Enver read Khrushchev’s closed report, he also developed his opinion about the ‘card’ that Khrushchev was playing and how he was playing it. Enver assessed the consequences of Khrushchev’s and the Soviet Union’s initiatives and their cooperation with Tito and Yugoslavia on the future of Albania. He was smoking all the time and he said that night, ‘During all these years, Yugoslavia presented many risks for Albania, but, since 1948, we had the protection and support of the Soviet Union both in the economic and political aspects. Even though the economic support was not at that level that it could have been, it gave an impetus to the socialist construction within our country. Moreover, the Soviet Union gave us unlimited support in the field of defence, in the preparations of the military cadres and in other areas of life. Now these risks are far greater and more hazardous, because the other end of the noose is in the hands of the very Soviet Union, which, up until yesterday, was our ally and now, together with Yugoslavia, will tighten the noose to the maximum around our country!
Three or four months after Stalin’s death, in June 1953, Enver went to Moscow to put forward to the Soviet leadership some requests regarding our economic plans and our necessity to strengthen our defences. Enver has described, in lively colours, the atmosphere of those meetings by relating his impressions of the Soviet leadership who welcomed and talked with him; persons such as, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Bulganin, Beria and others.
He pointed out that in those meetings and talks, the Soviets had not acted correctly when it came to governmental and party matters. Enver went there as the Prime Minister of a fellow country and was welcomed by the Soviet Prime Minister, Malenkov, and by three or four others, who were the ministers of economy, defence etc. However, Enver noticed that something was not right between these high Soviet leaders. Malenkov sat at the top of the table, but most of the pressure came from Mikoyan, who said ‘Let’s cut a long story short... tell him what we have decided and that’s it’, while Malenkov with his lively, yellow and shining face boldly said to him ‘padazhdi!’ (wait). On the other side, Bulganin said to Enver ‘You have enemies within your army, offspring of the déclassé, due to this we could not allow our weapons to be placed into their hands.’ Enver replied firmly and with an angry tone to this unfounded charge against our army, which had been raised from the unprecedented and heroic partisan war. Then, Beria defensively said ‘it’s not as Bulganin puts it.’ . And so they went on one after the other, as though they were just cafe chats and not official talks. What’s more, this happened in the Soviet’s home, in the home country of the great Lenin and Stalin, who now were seriously betrayed and denigrated.
Exactly one year later, in June 1954, Enver went to Moscow. This time he met for the first time Nikita Khrushchev, who had become the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev wanted to point out that he was the main leader of the Soviet Union and not Malenkov, who was then the Prime Minister. Khrushchev spoke about the allocation and differences of the functions of the First Secretary of the CP from that of the Prime Minister. He might have been right in this, as was Stalin in his time. It is true that our principle was ‘The Party leads the state’, but in these two functions must not be muddled, so that the Party did not hamper the function of the mechanisms of the governmental institutions.
I will not mention any particular point of view on how the principle of ‘the Party leads’ was understood and implemented, and which existed not only in our country, but also in all the countries in the socialist and communist system. Khrushchev’s objective was not to put into practice a principle but to raise himself higher and higher, particularly in the international arena by towing behind him, without the minimum of respect, the President of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, as Bulganin was at that time along with others. Holding the post of First Secretary of the Party he lead the delegations not only to the ex-socialist countries, he also even led the talks with the leaders of the key western states and the USA, on the most cardinal international issues of the time such as, disarmament, the halting of the development of nuclear weapons etc. (If I may digress from the subject – I wanted to emphasise that the present day democratic leaders of our country are not acquainted with the practice that even the USA maintains in its contacts with or without the red tele-printer. Moreover, talks are held not with the President or Prime Minister but with the First Secretary of the CPSU. And he was the only person with power, so they knew and accepted the monism of the State-Party, while these democrats here do not recognise this and pretend that the decisions taken by the Political Bureau are of no value. The only reason for this is to keep the important leaders of the Party of Labour of Albania who have acted on the bases of the laws and decisions of the State-Party, in prison.)
In the meeting that Khrushchev had with Enver, he said that they had suggested the same thing to the First Secretary, Bierut of Poland, who was to turn over the function to Ochab. However, as it became known later, the Congress of the Polish Party elected once again Bierut as the First Secretary. Apparently, the Soviets were pressurising him, because he did not fit into the new line of Khrushchev’s objectives. However, Bierut had the trust of his Party, while in the leadership he had contradictions with its members such as Ochab, Cyrankiewicz (who came from the Social Democratic Party) and some others.
I met Bierut in Moscow. It must have been in 1957, at the Meeting of some communist and labour parties. We, Enver and I, and Bierut with his wife, found ourselves at the MalyTheatre (The Small Theatre, indeed its fame was great). There a play was being performed about the Russian sailors’ uprising on board a ship, which was led by an anarchist revolutionary, who might have indeed been a gang leader from the way that he dressed. His behaviour was that of an uncouth and harsh man. I have never seen an actor perform with such great force and skill. When he became nervous and breathed deeply, he influenced the audience very strongly because, when he let out his breath he sounded like a kind of whistle that gave us the creeps. He did this many times in order to get this effect; he may have even put something in his nose. He used this action as his ‘trick’.
As I said, during the interval, we stayed with the Polish couple. I found Bierut very simpatico, with a distinct personality, quiet and serious. The place where we were in the interval was very small and so no one else was with us. Enver exchanged opinions with Bierut about what was happening in the Soviet Union and in our countries, but it was evident that Bierut was preoccupied and frustrated. I do not remember exactly what Enver said in that short meeting, but I clearly remember how Bierut and his wife spoke, with an encouraging and warm tone ‘Look at comrade Enver Hoxha’ and then turning to Enver he said ‘This, comrade Hoxha, gets very easily upset.. ’
Not long after that, Bierut and Gottwald of Czechoslovakia caught a ‘cold’ in Moscow and died. How did he die? Nobody knows the truth. It is a mystery! Anyway, the way was opened for Khrushchev’s followers to take over the leadership of the United Polish Labour Party.
However, let’s follow the flow of the events. As I mentioned earlier, in May 1955, Khrushchev with Bulganin after him (he looked like an aristocrat, but was in fact, an obedient Muzhik in character) went to Belgrade and kneeled in front of Tito, begging his ‘pardon’ for Stalin’s ‘mistakes’ regarding the punishment of Tito’s line and Yugoslavia.
This made a great sensation in the western press; the hopes of the international bourgeoisie and of the chancellories of the states on both coasts of the Adriatic were pinned on this. When Tito’s turn came to visit Moscow, Khrushchev used Molotov as a scapegoat, and this was accomplished by taking him away from all political and governmental functions. In this way, he subdued one of the greatest revolutionaries of Lenin’s time. He was the closest cooperator of Stalin throughout his life as well as being a familiar spokesperson for the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and, he was called sir ‘nief (no). It became obvious that setting him aside was an order given by Tito and a commitment that Khrushchev had undertaken in front of him. What were the other conditions of Tito and Khrushchev’s commitments? Now these are far clearer, and can be shown one after the other.
In the summer of 1955, the Soviet ambassador in Tirana brought Enver an invitation by Khrushchev to holiday together with the family in the Soviet Union. The ambassador pointed out that many First Secretaries of the allied countries spent their holidays in the Soviet Union, in the region of Transcaucasia, which had marvellous thermal springs, or on the shores of the Black Sea. He said that this was a way to get away, for a short time, from the everyday problems of the country and that Enver had never vacationed in their country. Enver could do nothing but agree. He told me about this when he came home. He had been in a dilemma. However, in the end he said to me, ‘I could do nothing but accept the invitation, otherwise they could make a wrong interpretation’. He was referring to the fact that the Soviets were aware of Enver’s reservations towards what was being written and said in the Soviet Union about Stalin and particularly about the relations with Yugoslavia. However, Enver added that these kinds of holidays indeed were more than that, and that they were also utilised as business meetings between the parties. Thus, he could not turn down the invitation.
I did not much like the idea of going to the Soviet Union because, at that time, my children were still young and at an age that made it impossible for me to leave them alone or to take with us on the long and difficult trip. At that time, you could go to the Soviet Union only by small cargo boats, as for example, on the ‘Kotovski’, which took from 9-11 days to reach Odessa, Another day was then needed to reach Moscow after which there was a train journey to one of the cities in the Caucasus, such as Kislodovsk. One might ask why all this travel by boat and train? This was because the Soviet government did not allow our government planes to fly over its territory. Whereas, within the territory of the Soviet Union people travelled by train, maybe to be safer. Imagine, also having to make the return journey for as many days. Precisely because of these difficulties, I suggested to Enver that he go alone. He replied that he did not intend to go there alone, and so we got ready and set off together with the children.
As soon as we arrived in Moscow, Enver was called to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, where he was welcomed by Suslov, a member of the Political Bureau dealing with ideological cases. What did they talk about? Suslov talked to Enver during this meeting about such things as the experience of ‘the correction of some mistakes towards Yugoslavia and Tito’. However, Enver noticed that this was not the case. He hinted elsewhere. Suslov requested the rehabilitation of Koci Xoxe and of those who were accused as being agents of Yugoslavia. ‘The same thing will be carried out by all the parties and countries of the people’s democracy.’ Suslov said.
The summer vacations have just begun’ Enver thought. Had he come here for a vacation or for talks? What was the true aim of this vacation? He listened and listened to Suslov, then he replied more or less in this way: ‘I do not know on what grounds other countries punished some of the members of their leadership. With regard to Koci Xoxe, I say that his anti- Albanian activity is completely documented. He has been punished justifiably not only for his pro-Yugoslav inclinations, but also for his active collaboration with the UDB and his direct links with Alexander Rankovich, the minister of the interior of the Yugoslav Federation, who was one of the three key leaders around Tito, together with Kardelj and Djilas.’
So, it was in this way that Enver’s vacation in the Soviets’ country began. You can imagine what sort of vacation it was. He was confirming, by his meeting with Suslov, his doubts that had arisen in Tirana when he was told about the invitation to holiday in the Soviet Union. This is what they worry about, he said to me one day. They want to persuade us, not to pressurise us directly, to deal with the rehabilitation of the traitors. This annoyed him very much. The internal problems of our party are none of their business – he said to me time after time, staying in his room, and muttering as he was thinking aloud and not talking to me. I saw him in a very worried state and tried to comfort and calm him. However, during that ‘vacation’ he was loaded down even more than when he was at his office. He saw quite clearly where Khrushchev was leading the Soviet Union, the socialist camp, and the risks that threatened our country. I noticed that during all of those days he seemed restless. He was looking forward to the day when we would leave Kislovodski in the Caucasus to return to Moscow and thence back to Albania. This idea made him happy. But this happiness soon expired, when he was told that he had to stay for some days more in Moscow. Apparently, the programme of the meetings was not yet over.
We were sent to a villa outside of Moscow, which the Soviets called ‘dacha’. We were told that this had been Stalin’s house. I was surprised to hear that, because, from all the ‘dachas’ that I had seen before, this was the most modest and plain one, and it was far from attractive and comfortable. All the rooms were empty except our apartment, which had a glass screen dividing it from the other part of the house. There was a bedroom and a studio, with a desk, a phone and a couple of armchairs. This was partly a two-storey house, and there was also a room, which was a cinema. Our children slept in the middle of it. The dining room was outside. Near this, and attached to the house, was the kitchen and the rooms for the guards and the escorts. The garden was deserted and you could not see a single flower or decorative tree. It was difficult for us to believe that this had been Stalin’s house, the place where he relaxed when he came from the Kremlin or where he dined with his collaborators; the very same Stalin who worked at night and slept during the day, as has been written. On one side of the garden, there was just earth and no grass, and where some vegetables had been planted by the housekeeper. The housekeeper was a nice elderly woman. The Russian ‘babushkas’ are merry, lovely but silent, as all the Soviets that surrounded, served and accompanied us were. It was useless to ask or to try to satisfy ones curiosity about anything, as they would not say a word. Even if you asked, for example, ‘Is it true that Stalin lived here?’ you were sure that no reply would be given. Moreover, we were not permitted to take any photos in those premises. However, we sometimes clicked our camera. There is a photo in our family album of little Pranvera wearing a red dress in that house. Whereas the other photos taken there were ‘burnt’ in the labs in Moscow.
I remember that there was a storey linked to this house about a strange, feverish and after-midnight call from Mikoyan, about which Enver wrote in his book ‘The Khrushchevites’. I am describing this case in as much detail as I remember, because I do not have this particular book with me since I am not allowed to keep books written by my husband.
It was after midnight. Enver was sleeping, while I was reading the novel ‘Oblomov’. This was a very suitable novel to be read during the vacation, because the description of this character was so strong and deep and it seemed to transmit some of his fantastic ‘laziness’. However, this was the only book remaining from the others that I had taken with me from our home library in Tirana.
Suddenly I heard the phone ringing. It kept ringing. I did not intend to answer it because I knew that neither our family nor the embassy in Tirana or Moscow knew this phone number. Moreover, neither Enver or I knew it. Thus, I was convinced that it was a wrong number. The phone stopped ringing, but then I heard someone knocking loudly on the glass door of our apartment. At this, I jumped to my feet and went to open it. I did not wake up Enver. I became worried because I was thinking that maybe Ilir was ill, as he had fallen of the swing and had hurt his wrist. When I opened the door, I saw that it was one of the escort officers, who told me that Mr. Anastas Mikoyan wanted to speak to Enver on the phone. I asked him, in order to be more sure ‘Now?’ ‘Da’, he replied ‘seychas nemiedlienno’ (Yes, now and immediately).
I went and woke Enver up. He went drowsily to the phone. When he came back I looked him in the eye to find out what this midnight call was all about. Without asking, but with a deep frown, he exclaimed, ‘The ignoble, wakes you up in the middle of the night and offers no excuses but orders me to meet Tempo tomorrow. I am not his employee.’ Being somewhat confused, I asked him ‘Why with Tempo?’ ‘He is in Moscow and up to now he has had been having talks with Mikoyan. Now, without waiting until the dawn, he needs to be sure of my meeting with Tempo. I see that Khrushchev and his friends are working day and night, to bring the pieces together, and want to me to sit me at the same table with him.’. ‘Shall you go?’ I asked. ‘They state it as a fact, I cannot turn it down, or otherwise we would quarrel badly.’
Enver was really upset by this and he broke his promise not to smoke in our bedroom, something he had respected all these years until he gave up smoking. But as I said, he broke this promise that night and lighted up a cigarette. He did not sleep that night either. I stayed up until late to comfort him and to not to leave him alone with his boredom. I began to remind him of the stories with Tempo during the wartime, stories that he had told me regarding his meetings and talks with him.
The following day, when he came back from the meeting with Tempo, Enver told me something about what he had discussed with him. Svetozvar Vukmanovich Tempo had expressed his wish and hope that the relations between Albania and Yugoslavia would improve in the future. Enver had said ‘Certainly, but within the air of reciprocal respect and of non intervention in the domestic affairs of each country.’ I asked smiling ‘Did you argue?’ ‘No, on the contrary we even played jokes with each other. and we greeted each other as if nothing had happened before that, even though each of us very knew well the opinion of the other, of course not with respect to the individual but to the parties.’
I do not remember if at that time, the frictions between Tito and Tempo had come out in the open. These frictions apparently were not about ideological reasons, they were mainly due to Tempo’s ambitious character and his self-importance, and whose eyes were bigger than his stomach. I found Tempo fairly superficial and a tactless person and somewhat hot- tempered. Khrushchev has portrayed him really well by saying that ‘Tempo is like a bull in a china shop.’ In a few words, he did not look like a politician at all.
The report that Khrushchev read to the 20th Congress, was a biased summary of all the crimes and measures committed by the enemies of the Soviet Union and the opponents of the communist system, and he laid all of these at Stalin’s door. Even from what the Yugoslavs, Djilas and Dedijer, have written, the idea put forward is that Stalin was a harsh man. But how could Stalin be gentle in the struggle against that great pressure coming from the united anti communist forces of the international bourgeois, protected and fostered by multinational capital, and the milliards paid by the underground agencies of secret services, ranging from the notorious American CIA to the British Intelligence Service, which our country has called ‘the old fox’. These are the facts that nowadays are not denied by these secret services; moreover they vaunt with what they did. The Soviet Union could not break up as long as Stalin was alive and nobody could have changed it to the point where it is now. Was not Eagleburger praised when he came to Albania some time ago, replying to the pretension of the negotiators and the questions at a press conference regarding the USA’s support, by cynically declaring ‘The greatest support that the USA offered was when you overthrew the communist regime’. What if we say to these gentlemen, who today pose as the champions of democracy ‘What means and legal rights did you have to overthrow it?’
Many journalists and foreign TV crews have asked me about Stalin. I have expressed our estimation of the role of Stalin in the victory over the Nazi fascists and for rescuing Albania from the annexation proposed by Tito’s Yugoslavia, and I have stated that it is up to the people to judge other events. However, I have also added that ‘I do not believe a word of what is being said nowadays regarding Enver, after the overthrow that took place in Albania and in other socialist countries of Eastern Europe, in the same manner as I do not believe what is said about Stalin.’
I am also often asked by Albanian journalists and publicists ‘How do you explain Enver’s fidelity and worship of Stalin’s figure and ideas, when it is known that, after his death in 1953, many facts came to light that indicate that Stalin did not have a benevolent attitude towards Albania?’ I hold to my opinion regarding this. In most of the cases, the facts that you refer to come from Yugoslav sources, and from what Djilas and many others have written. I emphasise that they should be considered more reservedly. However, even if you consider as valid what Djilas has written about the ‘harsh and offending statements’ made by Stalin against Albania and Enver Hoxha, we must also consider that all in all they tell us that Stalin had a rather superficial or hollow knowledge of Albanian history
With regard to what Stalin has said about Enver’s figure, I would not set much store to this and I would think that Enver himself would not give importance to them even if he had read them before meeting Stalin.
When he came to know Stalin personally, in the five meetings and talks that he had with him, he heard directly from him about what he thought and wished for Albania, and he obviously got to know of Stalin’s efforts and readiness to protect and support Albania. Stalin carried out all these things. During these meetings, often tete-a-tete ones, Stalin always reflected noticeable benevolence, devotion and warmth towards Enver. And he treated Enver as an equal during these meetings, as they are all described in detail in Enver’s book dedicated to his memoirs ‘With Stalin’. All these things that were seen by Enver’s own eyes, speak of a Joseph Stalin, friendly, respected, a personality who even made ‘self criticism’, who did not make unjustifiable actions, and was thus quite different from the descriptions of those who wanted to attack and denigrate him. Enver experienced first-hand these truths, and thus, he did not approve of what Djilas and Dedijer wrote and what Khrushchev and his friends spewed. They were unable to make him change his opinion and impression that he had for Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.
Pressure and blackmail of Enver and the PLA
It was the year 1956. In the Soviet Union the campaign against the cult of the individual, especially with regard to Stalin, was continuing as well as the ‘correction’ of the mistakes towards Yugoslavia. In the countries of the popular democracies the campaign for the rehabilitation of those high former leaders convicted as agents of Yugoslavia, according to the instructions dictated by the Khrushchev Soviet leadership, continued. Suslov attempted to do something like this when he called Enver Hoxha to a meeting in Moscow. But Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA), unlike the labour and communist parties of the countries of the popular democracies in Eastern Europe that had started ‘to wind up their clock as the clock of Moscow’, did not agree to blindly act and take the dictates by another party, even if it was the party of a large country, as the Soviet Union was.
In late 1956, the Khrushchevites, seeing that Albania was keeping its position, called Enver again to Moscow. This time, as in most cases, such trips were informal and they were not made public either in Albania or in the Soviet Union.
As Enver told me, this time the talks were held in a strange place: not in the offices of the Central Committee, neither in Khrushchev’s offices, but Khrushchev, along with Voroshilov, went to Enver in the dacha outside of Moscow, where he was staying during these days. They had not held their discussions in the dacha but out in the garden, walking, even though it was wintertime and very cold. Why did Khrushchev act like this? Why didn’t he hold the talks in his office? Why should serious talks like this be held outside while walking? Who was he afraid of? Perhaps it was of those who were later called members of an antiparty group; Malenkov, Molotov, Kaganovich and others that I don’t remember. Did Khrushchev still feel not sure of his position? On his side was Bulganin, with whom he went to Belgrade, and also Voroshilov. He had taken Voroshilov to the first meeting and also to this second one with Enver, maybe thinking that the respect the comrades had for this old figure would increase his credibility in front of our Party and Enver, who were not willing to follow his line. Walking, Khrushchev talked to Enver about Stalin’s ‘crimes’, and said that he couldn’t have stopped him because he (Stalin) ‘would cut off your head’. As he was saying this he demonstrated by hitting at the cabbages in the garden with a stick. While Khrushchev talked, Voroshilov nodded in approval to every word that he spoke. Enver was really reserved and only asked a few questions.
When he returned to Albania, Enver reported this to the leadership and also told them how the situation in Moscow was. The high leadership of the Party decided, as they did a year before in not accepting Moscow’s suggestions for the rehabilitation of Koci Xoxe, not to accept the conviction of Stalin’s ‘mistakes’ and of the removal of his figure from the four classics of Marxism-Leninism, as the Soviets themselves had done with the resolution of which we had been informed.
As I have mentioned earlier, Enver explained to the Russian ambassador in Tirana the reasons why the Labour Party couldn’t ‘deny’ Stalin. He told him that the Albanians wouldn’t understand and accept this action because they appreciated Stalin for his role in the leadership of the Red Army and the victory over the Nazis, and that they also appreciated his role in the salvation of Albania from being annexed by the Yugoslavia of Tito. But Moscow and Belgrade couldn’t accept this position and these hesitations of our Party. For this reason, they started cooperating and coordinating their actions against us. On one side was the Yugoslavian Legation, setting in motion its secret agents, especially in Tirana, and on the other side the Soviet Embassy, which at that time increased its contacts and cultural activities with our staff, who had graduated in the Soviet Union along with other intellectuals who sympathised with country of Lenin and Stalin.
‘Nexhmije Hoxha, ‘My Life with Enver. Memoirs, I,’‘Lira’, Tirana, 1998, Copyright with the author, 1998.
Translated from the Albanian.Click here to return to the September 2013 index.