How Enver Hoxha eliminated all the founders of the Communist Party

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The unknown history of the participants of the founding meeting of the Communist Party of Albania, whom Enver Hoxha eliminated all of them, starting from the period of the War with Anastas Lula and Sadik Premten, and then continuing with Koci Xoxen, Kristo Themelko, Tuk Jakova, Sotir Vullkanin, Ramadan Çitakun and Koço Tashko. The only ones who escaped punishment were Pilo Peristeri who was left in the post of the Director of the Autotractor Factory and Sinan Hasani, who during the war was sent on a mission to Kosovo from where he never returned and after the death of Tito he reached the post of the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia…

80 years ago, on November 8, 1941, some members of the communist groups of Shkodra, Korça and Tirana, who had been exercising their illegal activity since the mid-30s, gathered in a house in Tirana and announced the creation of Albanian Communist Party. A few months later, Enver Hoxha emerged at the head of that party, who for nearly 45 years ruled Albania with an iron hand, installing here one of the most ferocious dictatorships of the Stalinist model. Even those who founded the Communist Party and brought him to its head did not escape the iron hand of Enver, who throughout the period of his despotic rule filled Albania with camps and prisons for political opponents. Who was the man who made the first efforts to create the Communist Party in Albania, who were those who participated in the founding meeting on November 8, 1941, and how did Enver Hoxha eliminate all of them, by executing, imprisoning or interning them?

Koço Tashko: I took Enver because we needed a Muslim

One of the people who first tried to create a Communist Party in Albania was Zef Mala, who, since the mid-30s, led the Communist Group of Shkodra. In July 1939, he gathered a group of communists and announced the creation of a communist party. After the exile of Zef Mala in Ventotene, Italy, his friends lost contact with him, due to the impossibility of communication. This caused his party to completely disintegrate. Regarding the existence of this party, Koço Tashko has testified: “When I went to Italy to ask Italian friends for help in mediating the establishment of the party, they did not welcome me at all. Maybe they knew Zef Mala’s Communist Party, founded in July 1939.” After Koço Tashko could not get the help of the Italian communists, he went to Yugoslavia and asked them for the same. The Yugoslavs suggested to him that the member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Miladin Popovic, who was interned by the Italians in the Pekin camp, could do that job very well. Koço Tashko accepted their suggestion and the action for the release of Miladin was entrusted to Mustafa Gjinishi and Guri Dhori, Tashko’s friend. After his release, Miladini settled in Tirana in the house of Shyqëri Këllezit, which was the base of the Communist Youth Group. After many talks that Tashko made with the leaders of the three groups, it was agreed that they would hold a meeting at Bojka Lazëri’s house, which at that time was rented by Xhemal Cani with his wife Zylfia. Before the meeting, Tashko had agreed in principle with the leaders of the two groups that when they discussed the creation of the Party, none of the main leaders would be elected to the position of political secretary. Tashko has testified about this: “Those days when we decided to gather the groups, it occurred to me to take Enver Hoxha into our group, whom I had arranged to work in Tirana, at the hardware store of my friend, Esat Dishnica. This had to be done because other members of our group such as: Mihal Lako, Koçi Xoxe, Pilo Peristeri, and some others, were in Korça preparing for the November 7 demonstration. Enveri was known as an intellectual, he had been a professor at the Lyceum of Korça and had studied for some time in France. In the same way, he was a mouth and a pen, he had an appearance to be admired. Among the main things I thought about taking Enver with me to that meeting was that he was of the Muslim faith, because the rest of us were all Orthodox. This thing had to be done because a Muslim had to represent the entire Muslim population that Albania had,” Koço Tashko testified regarding Enver’s participation in that meeting.

 

The founding meeting of the NPSH

The meeting for the formation of the NPSH began on the evening of November 8, 1941, and the representatives of the three groups came there. From the Korça Group were Koço Tashko, Pilo Peristeri, Koçi Xoxe, Sotir Vullkani and Enver Hoxha. From the Shkodra Group were Qemal Stafa, Vasil Shanto, Kristo Themelko and Tuk Jakova. And from the Youth Group were Sadik Premtja, Anastas Lula, Ramadan Çitaku and Sinan Hasani. Miladin Popovic and Dushan Mugosha were also present there, for whom the three groups had agreed to act as mediators and help them with procedural matters. In addition to the mandated delegates, there were also other persons without the right to vote, such as Skënder Çaçi, etc. In the same way, there were guards around the house and many trusted persons commanded by Ali Demi. From the beginning of the meeting, the debates started, since Lula and Premtja did not agree with the Korça Group’s proposal to announce the formation of the Party once and then discuss the problems that the groups had between them. According to Friday’s testimony, it is said that the Youth Group had no notice at all that the party would be created at that meeting, but they had gone there thinking that the meeting that they had left halfway a few days ago at Bije’s house would continue. Little bit. After Miladin’s intervention, the proposal to form the Party was put to the vote and won, then the discussions were held. With a full vote in the evening of November 8, the establishment of the NPSH was announced and the corresponding resolution was drawn up. For this, Enveri wrote in his memoirs: “It was a solemn moment and I hugged everyone. That evening I hugged Anastas and Sadik for the last time”. The meeting continued for another seven days, and Tashko was the one who was heard the most of all, for the reason that he was the oldest communist with a mandate from the Comintern. On the last day of the meeting, the Central Committee was elected, where Qemal Stafa, Ramadan Çitaku, Koçi Xoxe, Tuk Jakova, Enver Hoxha, Gjin Marku and Kristo Themelko won. This came after Enver cunningly proposed that Tashko, Premtja and Lula be the three members of the commission that would choose the Central Committee and this was approved leaving them out of the Central Committee.

Enveri was elected secretary of the KPSH in March 1943

After the founding meeting, the provisional Central Committee set the tasks for all members. Enveri wrote about this: “In order to preserve unity, there was no election for chairman or secretary and we divided the jobs, where Qemali would deal with the youth, Baca (Çitaku) with finances, and I with the press and the organization of the Party.” . This statement by Enver (in the book “When the Party was born”) is not true, since according to many testimonies, Enver was only in charge of the finances of the Party. So Isuf Keçi testified that he regularly delivered to Enver large sums of money that he received from Tirana merchants for the Movement. According to Tashko, he insisted that no one be elected to the post of organizational secretary of the Central Committee, since that matter belongs to the Korça Group, and so they called Dr. Ymer Disican in that position. After the founding meeting, the members of the Central Committee were dispersed to different districts. Gjin Marku in Berat, Themelko in Gjirokastër, Tuku in Shkodër, while Enveri stayed in Tirana, where he would deal with the collection of the Party’s finances. After November 8, 1941, Enveri spent more time with Miladin at Shyqëri Këllez’s house. Regarding this, in his testimony for Memorie.al, Shyqëriu stated, among other things: “There in my house, Miladini called all the members of the Central Committee one by one and among other things, he asked them about the problem of Kosovo. When he asked Anastas and Sadik, they told him: ‘That problem has been solved on the basis of the Atlantic Charter since August 14, 1941, and on the basis of this charter, all peoples will decide with a plebiscite who they want to join. The population of Kosovo being 80% Albanian will of course join Albania. After that, great contradictions began between Miladin and Anastas and Sadik, for which Hamit Keçi testified publicly for Memorie.al, saying: “I heard it with my own ears from the mouth of Sadik on Friday when he said: ‘Miladini with Dushan they are Serbian chauvinists”. According to the testimonies of Këllez and Keç, after the contradictions that Miladin had with Sadik and Anastas, he got even closer to Enver, who supported him in those debates. This also coincides with the election of Enver as head of the Tirana District, which was carried out with Miladini’s proposal. Enveri came to the head of the Party in March 1943 when the KPSH Conference was held in Labinot. In that meeting, Dr. Ymer Dishica, who had the biggest function in the party, as the organizational secretary, proposed Enver as the General Secretary of the NPSH, which was approved by an open vote by everyone.

 

How the founders of the NPSH disappeared

After the November 8, 1941 meeting, Enver began cracking down on Central Committee members he saw as rivals in his struggle to seize the party leadership. From November 1941 to March 1943, when Enveri was elected head of the NPSH, Qemal Stafa, Vasil Shanto and Sadik Stavaleci, who were the main candidates for the head of the NPSH, were killed. For these three, according to many testimonies, doubts have been cast accusing Enver of being directly involved in their murders. Likewise, at the March 1943 meeting where Enveri was elected head of the KPSH, the decision was taken to expel Premeta e Lula from the KPSH Central Committee. For this, Enveri charged the persons for their elimination. About the murder of Anastas, Ferik Demir Çorej from Uznova in Berat, has publicly testified for Memorie.al: “On March 12, 1943, a group of partisans from Ramiz Aranitas’s squad, commanded by Orhan Frashëri, and a colonel who His name was Dhori. They told us that that night they had shot a partisan named Anastas Lula, who had defected from the leadership ranks and collaborated with the occupier, in Qafë i Glavë. He had been shot with a cigarette tied in his mouth after shouting: “Long live Albania”. After the shooting of Lula, Enver ordered the same for Sadik Friday. But after Sadiku was able to escape from the ambush that Hysni Kapo’s partisans made him in Tragjas, Enveri went to Vlora himself. After that, Sadik went into hiding and then escaped from Albania and lived in France. After these, it was Zef Mala’s turn. When he returned from exile, he went to Peza, where Baba Myslymi told him: “Go to Tirana, father and mçifu, because I can kill you.” For this, Myslymi had seen the telegram that Enver sent to Nako Spiros, where it was said: “Dear Nako, Zef Mala not only should not go to Kosovo, but he should be decorated with a lead bullet. He is not good, so he must disappear. Find a way so that it is not understood, but in no way should this matter be neglected, as Hyseni (Gogo Nushi) has done with other advice that we have given him, for which he will answer. Tarasi social blessings (A.Q.SH. pg 14, Dos 76. P 26.08.1944). After that, Zef Mala hid in Tirana until the end of the war and then ended up in prisons and exiles until he died in 1976 in complete misery. During the War, by order of Enver, Lazri, the owner of the house where the founding meeting was held on November 8, was also shot without trial.

Eliminations of the founders of the KPSH after the end of the war

After the end of the War, Enver first eliminated Koci Xoxen, accusing him of being an agent of the Yugoslavs. Koçi held the highest positions after Enver, as deputy prime minister, organizational secretary of the KPSH, etc., and was shot on July 10, 1949. Then it was the turn of Kristo Themelko and Sotir Vullkani, whom Enver hit, considering them to be bad people. Xoxes. Kristo was born in 1916 in the village of Vërnik in Bilishti (school) and had completed only 5th grade of school. After being a captain in Zog’s army in Milot, he was connected to the Communist Group of Shkodra. After the war, he was appointed Commissioner of the Third Corps in Berat with the rank of Major General, until 1947 when he was appointed Political Director of the Army. After the Xoxes attack, Enver hit him as a man of the Yugoslavs (he was of Macedonian origin) and appointed him Chairman of Crafts in Tirana, brigadier for shoemakers, barbers and tailors. But Vulkanin, who had been among the oldest communists of the Korça Group (after Koçi Xoxes) after working for some time as an officer in the background, Enver demoted him because he defended Koçi. Vullkani died in Tirana in 1964, a year after his son, Roberti, was sentenced to 15 years in political prison for an escape attempt. Then Enveri also eliminated Citak who had been with the Youth Group. After Baca was ambassador in Belgrade for some time, Enveri removed him and sent him as deputy minister for Finance and then to the Savings Bank. Çitaku died on April 9, 1990, and at that time everyone was surprised, as they did not think that the man was alive, since for years Baca had never left the house for fear of imprisonment. In 1956, Enveri also eliminated Tuk Jakova (vice-prime minister and organizational secretary of the NPSH) after, in a Plenum meeting, he objected to the manipulation that had been done to him in the museum house of the founding of the Party with the leadership figures. (Jakova died in prison and it is suspected that they poisoned her). In 1960, Enveri also eliminated Koço Tashko, accusing him of being a member of the Soviets. Tashko stayed in prison until he was 80 years old and died in exile in the camp of the Adriatic village near Mamurras. The only members of the KPSH meeting that were not hit by Enveri were Pilo Peristeri and Sinan Hasani. Enver was not harmed by Peristeri, and he formally left him in the position of candidate for the Political Bureau and Director of the Autotractor Plant in Tirana, since Pilo’s main job was to speak at the Party’s anniversaries about Enver’s “genius” Hoxha. While Sinan Hasani escaped from Enver’s blow, since during the War, he was assigned to work in Kosovo and never returned to Albania. He stayed there and after Tito’s death became President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In 1946, Pilo Peristeri did not give Enver the statement, saying that he had not been with the Korça Group

Of all the participants of the founding meeting on November 8, 1941, only Pilo Peristeri was able to escape the blow of Enver Hoxha, resisting until the collapse of the communist regime. But even he had not been able to escape “without getting wet”, since he had already paid the tribute in the first years after the war. Somewhere from 1946, when Enver Hoxha had not yet consolidated his iron power in the Party as it happened later, he sent people to Pilo Perister, to ask him for a statement where Pilo would testify, that Enver had been participant of the Communist Group of Korça since the end of the 30s. But Pilo Peristeri told the people who went to ask him for the statement, that he could not give it to them, since Enveri had not been with the Communist Group of Korça. After that, Enver sent one of his closest people to Pilo, but Pilo also answered him negatively, saying: “No bro, I’m not lying to you, Enver was not with the Korça Group.” After Enver’s second attempt with Pilo failed, he sent people to take the statement to Sotir Vulkani, but Sotir also refused to give that statement, giving the same answer as Peristeri. After that, Enver took revenge on the Perister of Vulkan by dismissing them from their positions. Sotir Vulkani was allegedly arrested for carrying weapons without a permit, and in the years that followed, his son was also arrested and imprisoned for years. But Enver had the greatest anger with Pilo, whom he initially sent to Kuçovo, which caused him a big family problem. Pilo stayed in Kuçovo until he agreed to give a statement about Enver and after that he was rehabilitated and brought back to Tirana. Source: Memorie.al

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