Albania Enters the Modern World

16 October will mark the birth of Enver Hoxha in 1908. Hoxha would serve as First Secretary of the Albanian Party of Labor from 1944 until his death in 1985.

Studying in various schools in Europe in the 1930’s, he would never graduate from a university but became conversant in numerous languages and throughout his life would remain a regular reader of the French language newspaper, ‘Le Monde’ and the English language, ‘International Herald Tribune’.

When Mussolini’s Italian Army invaded Albania in 1939, Hoxha refused to join the Albanian Fascist Party, and was promptly fired from his job as a French teacher. In 1942, he wrote “A Call to the Albanian Peasantry” to enlist support in Albania for the war against the fascists. People were encouraged to hoard their grain, refuse to pay taxes and/or livestock levies brought by the government.

After World War II, with the country in ruins, Hoxha led the nation on a rapid course of industrialization, electrification, and literacy training.

Most significant was the advancement of women’s rights. Albania had been one of the most patriarchal countries in Europe, where women were not even allowed to inherit anything from their parents. In 1967 Hoxha stated, “The entire party and country should hurl into the fire and break the neck of anyone who dared trample underfoot the sacred edict of the party on the defense of women’s rights.”

His book, ‘Laying the Foundations of the New Albania, Memoirs and Historical Notes’ is available in the Memorial Library which University Staff can access with their WisCard ID.