Out of the rival political factions in interwar time Albania how were the communist able to take control of the country by 1944? When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, there

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Question: Out of the rival political factions in interwar time Albania how were the communist able to take control of the country by 1944?


When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, there was no such thing as a structured communist movement in Albania. Yet by November 1944, a mere three years later, the Albanian Communist Party (ACP) led by Enver Hoxha emerged as the rulers of the country. What is even more amazing is that they did so without the military might of the Soviet Union and were able to install a communist run government before the end of World War Two, in contrast to other eastern European communist states. However the path to power was not straightforward, nor without opposition.  

During the interwar period Albania’s communist movement drew few supporters. This was due to the illiterate, agrarian, and Muslim dominated society which was under constant scrutiny by King Zog’s security police. In 1930 the Comintern (the soviet sponsored association of international communist parties) sent Ali Kelmendi, an excellent public speaker to Albania to organise some communist cells. However Albania did not have a working class to exploit and the ideology of communism only seemed to appeal to intellectuals, peasants and miners who were not happy with Albania’s obsolete social and economic structures. Kelmendi who had been forced to flee Albania eventually fought in the Spanish Civil War and later moved to France, where together with other communists, including a student named Enver Hoxha, he published a newspaper.

Enver Hoxha eventually rose to become the most powerful figure in Albania for decades after the war. The dominant figure in modern Albanian history, Enver Hoxha rose from insignificance to lead his people for a longer time than any other ruler. Born in 1908 to a Muslim landowner from Gjirokaster who returned to Albania after working in the United States, Hoxha had been  educated in France and was to become as R.J.Crampton states ‘the only intellectual among the communist leaders in eastern Europe.’(Crampton, 2002: 39).

On the creation of the Albanian Communist Party in 1944 by Hoxha, he immediately turned to Yugoslavia for advice. In October 1941, the leader of Communist Party of the Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, sent two emissaries; Miladin Popovic and Dusan Mugosa to Albania to bring together the various different communist factions and create a singular party organization. ‘It is questionable whether there would have been a communist party in Albania had it not been for the initiative taken by the Comitern through the Yugoslav Communist party’ (Hammond, 1977: 275). Within a month, they had established a Yugoslav-dominated Albanian communist Party of 150 members under the leadership of Hoxha and an eleven-man Central Committee. However the party at first had little mass appeal, and even its youth organization obtained few recruits. This was due to the fact that the general populace felt it was too radical a movement to join.  Nonetheless a change of tactics in mid-1942 increased communist popularity. On Tito’s orders party activist were told to emphasise the need for national liberation and move away from Marxist propaganda. The communist attitude to highlight the national rather than social nature of their movement led to the creation of the organization, the National Liberation Front (NLF), from which a number of resistance groups joined, including several that were strongly anticommunist.

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Alongside the communist party a rival nationalist resistance to the Italian occupiers emerged in October 1942. Ali Klissura and Midhat Frasheri formed the Western- perspective and anticommunist Balli Kombetar (National Front), a movement that recruited supporters from both the large landowners and peasantry. It was ‘dedicated to forming a republican, ethnic–based Albanian state.’ (Hupchick, 2002: 374) The Balli Kombetar opposed King Zog's return to power and called for the creation of a republic and the introduction of economic and social reforms. The Balli Kombetar's leaders acted cautiously, however, fearing that the Italian occupiers would carry out severe retribution against innocent ...

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