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The Saga of Kosovo
The CPA-CPY Connection, 1941-1948
When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, communists everywhere were eager to help the motherland of communism. But how? The Yugoslav Communists had an underground organization, but not the A1banians. In Albania there were groups of frustrated intellectuals, mostly western educated, who wanted to serve their country. A few were communists, but most of them were Marxist-oriented liberals who were unhappy with the political, economic, and cultural level of the Albanian masses. The few communists wanted to pool the scattered energies of all disgruntled individuals and groups into an organized movement. The immediate problem was that there were no Albanian communist cadres or party organization to carry out policies and instructions. From one point of view, this was a good thing, because it offered an opportunity for a fresh beginning, with no burdens from the past.
A clandestine meeting was called in Tirana on November 8, 1941, where members of all these scattered groups were introduced to two experienced Yugoslav Communist organizers, Miladin Popovich and Dushan Mugosha, sent to help the Albanians organize the Albanian Communist Party, which in turn would organize a leftist resistance movement. Enver Hoxha, son of a Tosk Moslem landowner from Gjirokaster and a one-time government stipendist in France and Belgium, was elected Secretary General of the new Albanian Communist Party. The puppet government a puppet resistance of quisling Kruje was thus faced by leader, Hoxha. Since that time until the Stalin-Tito break in 1948, the Communist Party of Albanian (hereafter referred to as CPA) remained an appendage of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (hereafter referred to as CPY).
More recently, Albanian Communists, with Enver Hoxha in the forefront, have been trying to project an image of resentment because of that appendage arrangement. However, the resentment must have been the best kept secret in Albania, because the newly-founded party was a carbon copy of the CPY in every respect, inside and out. On September 16, 1942, the National Liberation Front was founded (in Peze) -- dominated by clandestine communist cadres--with the task of coordinating guerrilla warfare against the occupier. In July 1943, an important conference of the Central Committee of the CPA was held in the village of Kucake (near Korce), attended by Yugoslav instructors. In those "two years of happy and promising start"--as Enver Hoxha himself characterizes the CPY-CPA connection--Kosovo and its fate were simply ignored in public pronouncements. In his book, The Titoites, published in Tirana in 1982, Hoxha says: "The Party issued many statements about its stand on the national question, but in none of them did it make a clear pronouncement other Albanian regions on the future of Kosovo and other Albanian regions after the war. This could not fail fail to disturb and confuse the Albanian population of these zones" (p. 87).
In the spring and summer of 1943, however, "in meetings and quarrels with [Tito's emissary] Vukmanovich Tempo," according to Hoxha, the question exploded full blast. Tempo complained about Albanian Communists who display "Greater Albania sentiments" and the tendency to become "a reserve of the enemy." The disgruntled Hoxha allegedly replied: "It has never been the custom of the Albanian people to unite with the enemy... that they have their mind on Albania, this is no more than natural. And don't attempt to change their minds, because you will never succeed. For them the national question is vital and this is precisely the point that should be grasped... In my opinion it is quite out of place for you to employ the expression of 'greater Albania'." (p. 89)
Now it was Tempo's turn to be "gravely offended," and he demanded an explanation. He got it, Hoxha's way:
Comrade tempo, the slogans and concepts of 'greater Albania' or 'lesser Albania' have been anti-Albanian slogans and contrary to the objective historical truth ... we have never raised the question of 'greater Albania' or 'lesser Albania' and never will... reactionaries of every kind... through these anti-historical and anti-Albanian fabrications... want to alienate our people from the Party and sabotage the National Liberation War... In short, Comrade Tempo... we use the term 'greater Albania' only on these occasions and in this sense, and will never permit it to be thought that since we attack the bearers of the pseudo-slogan 'greater Albania' we are allegedly in favor of some 'lesser Albania'... We are for the Albania which, both as a territory and as a nation, is one and one alone. (Ibid., p.90.)
Hoxha is probably right when he now tries to convey the impression that in 1942-1943, many Albanian Communists could not follow the Yugoslav logic of having the Kosovo Albanian partisan units under the command of the CPY. If Kosovo was part of Albania, as they believed, if Albanians were one indivisible people, with their own Communist Party, why should some Albanian fighters be commanded by Albanians and others by Yugoslavs? Moreover, Albanians were suspicious of the idea of one over-all "Balkan Staff" leadership, which would coordinate the policies and actions of all Balkan communist parties. The Albanian staff, says Hoxha, "would be under the command of. . . the 'Balkan Staff,' which undoubtedly would have to be led by the new 'strategist' of national liberation wars, Josip Broz Tito" (p. 92). Eventually, the whole idea was discarded.
The Albanians' creeping suspicions were in part attributable to Vukmanovich-Tempo, whose overbearing attitudes did not always suit his position as "Tito's ambassador." He was known for his inclination to behave like a "bear in the green house" (Tito's description). But there was more. Another CPY Central Committee member (Ivan Milutinovich) apparently echoed similar attitudes somewhat later when two Albanian delegates brought to Montenegro some requests for urgent aid. On their return, the two reported in dismay to Hoxha: "There is another Tempo in Montenegro [Milutinovich] ... He accused us of being 'Great Albanians'." (Ibid., p. 103). Then came Tito's letter of December 6, 1943 to the CPA. Hoxha states that in that letter Tito accused the leadership of the CPA of maintaining "the stand which the reactionary Albanian bourgeoisie maintains" (ibid., p. 104). Hoxha believes that Tito's lecture came as a result of Albanian constant prodding as to "why the CPY considers it right to demand the 'immediate' unification with Yugoslavia of a zone inhabited by Slavs [Istria] and did not consider right the analogue case of Kosovo and other regions torn from Albania" (p. 106). There they were, two sister communist parties, who thought that they had found the magic recipe for the solution of the national question, futily exorcizing themselves of bourgeois nationalistic vampires!
A turning point in the CPY-CPA connection seems to have been the moment when in 1943 the Yugoslavs demanded that the Albanian Communists disassociate themselves from their entanglement with the nationalisticmovement, Balli Combetar. At the meetings in Labinot, and Kucake, Vukmanovich had warned his Albanian comrades that Balli Combetar had adopted the "same tactics as the Chetniks in Yugoslavia," i.e., to avoid confrontation with the occupier and to wait for the Allies to disembark. It was not a good idea, therefore, to plan on setting up a joint National Liberation Council that included Balli Combetar. Nevertheless, in July and August 1943, representatives of the two movements met in the village of Mukaj, and reached an agreement on collaboration. Balli Combetar at first insisted on a demand that Kosovo remain a part of Albania after the war, but finally agreed to let the question be decided after the defeat of the Axis. The CPY, however, wanted to eliminate the Albanian nationalist movement. At a stormy session of the top CPA body, Hoxha, realizing that he was in a minority, exercized self-criticism, and soon thereafter the Albanian partisans attacked the Balli Combetar. From September 1943 (when Italy capitulated) until November 1944 (when the CPA installed itself in Tirana) full scale civil war raged in Albania.
Following the Yugoslav example, the National Liberation Front created the Albanian Anti-Fascist Liberation Council, which in turn proclaimed itself the national government, forbade King Zog to return, and consolidated its grip over the liberated territories. It is of interest to note that of all East European "socialist states" emerging after the war, Albania was the only one that was spared the presence of Soviet troops. The installing of Albanian Communist rule in Albania was the product of a welloiled coordination of strange partners: the CPY provided the political guidance, while the Anglo-American command in Italy made it possible for Albanian Communist units to be amply supplied. The whole ascent of Enver Hoxha seems unreal: two partners who disliked each other supporting the bastard who hated the guts of both of them!
The Albanian question was never raised at either Teheran or Yalta. Albania was a non-person country, plainly and truly a "quantite negligeable." Of course, Stalin was very much aware of Albania's position as a satellite of Yugoslavia, and to visiting CPY leaders in January 1948, he said: "We have no special interest in Albania... You ought to swallow Albania--the sooner the better." (Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin, New York, 1962, p. 143).
As the war ended, Belgrade was the first to recognize the government in Tirana, and in July 1946, the two governments concluded a Friendship and Mutual Assistance Pact. War-ravaged Yugoslavia provided Albania with extensive economic, military, and cultural aid, as well as schooling and professional training for Albanians in Yugoslavia. Bilateral treaties were signed, a customs union was set up, and monetary conversion agreements concluded. Be it noted, Yugoslavia got very little in return. Yugoslavia also sponsored proposals for Albania's admission to the United Nations and other international agencies.
In October 1947, Hoxha expressed his appreciation for the many Yugoslav favors, stating: "Our state is moving ahead and will progress because it has at its border Marshal Tito, who is supporting us to develop our country, to improve the life of our people. Yugoslavia, together with the Soviet Union, is protecting us from the American imperialists." (Vladimir Dedijer, Jugoslovensko-arbanski odnosi, 1939 - 1948 [Yugoslav - Albanian Relations ]; Belgrade, 1948, p. 97).
Disagreements arose, however, after the Yugoslavs sent a squadron of military aircraft to Albania, in response to an alleged but phoney danger of possible intervention from Greece. The Yugoslavs insisted on a military pact and a unified command, which meant putting the Albanian army under the command of a Yugoslav general. Hoxha was in a state of panic, yet it seemed that there was little that the Albanians could do. In desperation, Hoxha pulled out his ace card--he appealed to Stalin.
Hoxha was still in the coachman's seat, but the reins of power were not solely in his hands. Several Albanian leaders were obsessed with the Yugoslav magic, acting as Yugoslav stooges and impatiently waiting for the signal to execute a putsch. Hoxha pretended that he did not know why the Yugoslavs were in such a hurry for an amalgamation with their satellite. It is difficult to believe that he did not know about Stalin's increasing dissatisfaction with Tito. By that time, Hoxha had visited both Moscow and Sofia, two cities that were always eager to pick up a good story about Belgrade. In July 1947 Hoxha did complain to Stalin about "some Yugoslav aircraft which had landed in Tirana, contrary to recognized and accepted rules of relations among states," which prompted Stalin to ask: "Are your people not happy with the relations with the Yugoslavs?" (Enver Hoxha, With Stalin, Tirana, 1981, p. 73).
Earlier events did not bode well for the future. In midsummer 1946, Tito hosted Hoxha in Belgrade and at Lake Bled, in two former royal residences. Three aspects of the visit struck the visitor: (1) the "scandalous luxury" of his host's life style, (2) the itinerary excluded Kosovo, (3) the host's failure to appear at the farewell dinner at the Albanian Embassy. Among topics discussed by the two leaders were the Kosovo problem, allegedly brought up by Tito, who wanted to know how Hoxha felt about the subject. "I went on to express to Tito the opinion of the Albanian side that Kosovo and the other regions in Yugo slavia inhabited by Albanians belonged to Albania and should be returned to it. The Albanians fought in order to have a free and sovereign Albania with which the Albanian regions in Yugoslavia should now be united. The time has come for this national problem to be solved justly by our parties" (Hoxha, The Titoites, pp. 284-285). According to Hoxha, Tito replied: "I am in agreement with your view, but for the time being we cannot do this, because the Serbs would not understand us. " In his earlier reference to this conversation, Hoxha quotes Tito as having said: "... Serbs would not understand such a thing" (With Stalin, p. 140).
Another sensitive subject that was touched upon in these conversations was the question of Balkan federation, which Hoxha maintains was never explained clearly to him by the Yugoslavs. Moreover, when Tito and Bulgaria's Dimitrov discussed federation, Hoxha was piqued because he was not informed about the talks, just as the Macedonian Communists were not.
When Stalin got wind of these talks, as well as of Yugoslavia's pressures for a Yugoslav-Albanian military merger, he made it known to the Yugoslavs that such major moves in the socialist camp were inadmissable without the blessings of Moscow.
When in June 1948, the Cominform split with Tito became public, it took Hoxha only 24 hours to denounce his yesterday's benefactor as a "traitor" and a "Trotskyike." Moreover, he says that he told Soviet leader Andrei Vyshinsky that the Belgrade leadership had followed a "chauvinistic policy" toward Kosovo "both during and after the war" (The Titoites, p. 533)
In researching the crux of the CPY-CPA relations, a major problem is in coping with Hoxha's amazing aptitude to reverse himself. He apparently thinks nothing of stating in his more recent writings some things that fly in the face of what he wrote earlier. Yugoslavs, of course, do not hesitate to reprint his original statements, but the Albanians in Albania have no way of reading them. For instance, Hoxha now states that Tito's "advice" and "instructions" of December 1942, "arrived too late to effect the issues and, consequently, were no longer of any value." (Ibid., p. 31. ) Hoxha chooses to ignore his own writing in the publication, Albania- Yugoslavia, published immediately after the war: "The Yugoslav Partisan experience represents a priceless treasure to us, of enormous usefulness in our struggle. Tito's letter marks a historic event in the history of our people." (En ver Hodzina Albanija [Enver Hoxha's Albania]; Belgrade, 1981, p. 31).
Moreover, Hoxha now says that the two Yugoslav emissaries (Miladin Popovich and Dushan Mugosha) had "no special role" whatever in founding and directing the functioning of the Albanian Party (The Titoites, p. 37). The Yugoslavs have, however, produced Hoxha's letter which he sent to Tito when Popovich was returning to Yugoslavia in 1944, in which he says: "We would show ample lack of gratitude if we failed to mention the great indebtedness our party feels toward two Yugoslav comrades--Miladin and Dushan... " (Enver Hodzina Albanija, p. 35.) What seems to bother Belgrade most is that Tirana's increase in ingratitude paralled Yugoslav pampering. In Tito's own words: ".. . that the times when we were carrying out agreements [Treaty of Mutual Aid, Friendship and Cooperation] which basically were detrimental to Yugoslavia." (Ibid., p. 262.)
Thus ended the seven-year long rosy chapter of sisterly party love, and Marxist experimentation in solving the national question--in profound repugnance and intense hatred.
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