Albania History: World War II and Communist Rule

From Albania, Italy attacked Greece on October 28, 1940 during World War II. Resistance organizations were formed against the Italian occupying power and the German occupying power that replaced it in September 1943, under which the Communist Party (KP; founded on November 8, 1941 in Tirana) assumed a dominant role until 1944. In addition, there was the nationalist-oriented organization Balli Kombëtar (Nationale Front, founded in 1942), which aimed to establish a “Greater Albania” and sided with them after the German invasion, and the royalist Legaliteti (founded in 1943); both fought against the Albanian communists, who were under the influence of the Yugoslav partisan movement led by J. B. Tito .

Supported by the Albanian National People’s Liberation Army (founded in 1943), which also received military aid from Great Britain, and the Anti-Fascist Council for National Liberation (founded in 1944), the Albanian CP was able to assert itself as the dominant political force in Albania. After the withdrawal of the German occupation troops (completed on November 29, 1944; Liberation of Tirana on November 17, 1944) E. Hoxha walkedwho as General Secretary or First Secretary of the Communist Party (1943–85) and Prime Minister (1944–54) determined state politics in an autocratic manner and brutally eliminated the opposition, converting Albania into a state according to Marxist-Leninist objectives (including land reform in 1945, far-reaching Nationalization program). In 1946 the National Assembly abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the People’s Republic of Albania (January 11, 1946, a constitution approved on March 14, 1946). In 1948 the Communist Party of Albania was renamed the Labor Party of Albania (PAA).

After Albania initially maintained close relations with Yugoslavia, it took sides with the Soviet Union in the Yugoslav-Soviet conflict in 1948 and leaned closely to them; In 1949 it joined the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Comecon), and in 1955 it became a founding member of the Warsaw Pact. On December 14, 1955, Albania was admitted to the UN. According to the collective leadership of party and state propagated in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death (1953), Hoxha left the office of Prime Minister to Mehmet Shehu (* 1913, † 1981) in 1954.

In the course of the de-Stalinization of the USSR in 1953-56, the Albanian-Soviet relations cooled off. In the conflict between the Soviet and the Chinese leadership, which has come to light since 1960, Albania sided with the People’s Republic of China (on December 3, 1961, diplomatic relations were broken off by the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries); since then, Albania has not accepted its membership in Comecon. Under the influence of the Chinese Cultural Revolution In 1967 the Albanian government closed all churches and mosques as part of its own “all-encompassing cultural revolution”, prohibited the activities of clergymen and the public practice of religion, and declared Albania the “first atheist state in the world” (including the establishment of a “museum of atheism” in Shkodër). In protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops (1968), Albania left Czechoslovakia on September 13, 1968 and intensified its criticism of the USSR. The more pragmatic course of the Chinese party and state leadership after the death of Mao Zedong (1976) also resulted in an Albanian-Chinese alienation (break with China in 1978, which stopped its economic and military aid to Albania).

With the entry into force of the constitution of December 28, 1976, the name of the state was changed to the Socialist People’s Republic of Albania. The Party of Labor of Albania now emphasized the “full support of one’s own strength” as a development policy principle and, after releasing China’s influence, pursued a course geared towards strict independence, which increasingly isolated the country politically and economically and sealed it off from the outside. In a further tightening of religious policy, the state now also formally did not recognize any religion and, including the private sphere, prohibited any religious activity; the 1977 Penal Code criminalized them as “agitation and propaganda against the state” and provided for the death penalty in “particularly serious cases” (performing religious acts). Shehus (December 18, 1981, under unexplained circumstances) took over Adil Çarçani (* 1922, † 1997) the office of Prime Minister (1982–91). In November 1982 R. Alia became head of state of Albania (chairman of the presidium of the People’s Assembly); After the death of Hoxha, who was surrounded by a personality cult (April 11, 1985), he also succeeded him as First Secretary of the PAA and initiated a cautious opening up of the country’s foreign policy (including on October 2, 1987 establishment of diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany). It was not until 1987 that Greece renounced Northern Epirus (Albanian region in which the Greek minority lives) the Greek-Albanian state of war from World War II.

In June 1991, according to globalsciencellc, the PAA renounced its Stalinist tradition (without completely distancing itself from Hoxha) and adopted the name of the Socialist Party of Albania (PSSh). The v. a. Sigurimi State Security Service, notorious for its repressive role against the opposition.

After thousands of members of the Greek minority had left Albania for Greece at the turn of 1990/91, there was a mass exodus of Albanians by sea to Italy (especially to the port cities of Otranto, Brindisi and Bari) in 1991, from where they returned Albania were deported. The ongoing refugee movement, repeated unrest and a general strike lasting several weeks (May – June 1991) led to the formation of an opposition multi-party government under Prime Minister Ylli Bufi on June 12, 1991, which collapsed in December 1991 and was replaced by a transitional government under Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti joined (until April 1992). In the early parliamentary elections on March 22nd and March 29th, 1992, the Democratic Party (PDSh) won, whose chairman S. Berisha became president on April 9th, 1992.

Albania History - World War II and Communist Rule