HK: Can you describe for us your political
involvement in the United Communist Party of Albania?
LS: Yes. In 1991, when the counter-revolutionary forces pulled down the statue of Enver Hoxha in Tirana, I, together with many friends, organised the movement -- revolutionary movement – of protests of the masses and especially in support of Enver Hoxha. In Gjirokastra, I was chosen as the chief of the ‘Enver Hoxha Society’ and was put at the head of the organisation of the movement and meetings -- big meetings -- in the north of Albania. Later, it was my duty to organise, together with my friends, the National Conference of the ‘Associations of Enver Hoxha’ in Gjirokastra.
After the 10th Congress, when the Party of Labour was destroyed by the Ramiz Alia faction, I, together with many friends, began efforts to reorganise the communists who had now gone to the Socialist Party. In Gjirokastra, three committees had formed a single organisation that was at the forefront in organising the Communist Party, I was chosen by my colleagues as chief of this ‘Initiative Commission’ and the representative of Gjirokastra in the Initiative Commission centre.
In November, when the Albanian Communist Party was declared legal by the Ministry of Justice, the Initiative Committee was transformed into the ‘Organising Committee’. I, together with nine of my friends and comrades, was at the head of this movement, and from this time until now, I have been chosen each time as a member of the Central Committee of Albania. During the period 1992 – 1999 I was a member of the Political Bureau. After this time, the Political Bureau did not exist -- but only the Central Committee. Now from 1991 I am the First Secretary of the Party Committee of Gjirokastra
HK: Can you describe for us the events after
Comrade Enver’s death in Albania?
LS: I have written a book together with a comrade, against the falsifiers of this story. In addition, I have written and published much material in our newspaper in Gjirokastra and other newspapers. I have given to radio and television my interpretation of the problems of communist rule and other problems of our country. During this time, I have translated from English into Albanian some of the ideas of our dear comrade Bland, especially his writings ‘In defence of Enver Hoxha’ and ‘On Stalin’, and also ‘Hardial Bains - on the existentialist roundabout’, together with many articles from the newspapers of the communist movement like ‘People’s Voice’ of New Zealand and other newspapers. These I have placed in Albanian communist newspapers of every press in the locality and given to many communists in Albania. After this, I have translated and written other material in addition to writing scientific books.
HK: I want to take you back to events when
comrade Enver died, after his death. So, what happened in the party, after
LS: After the death of Enver Hoxha, the Party and the people’s power were undermined by liberal progressive protests which step by step led the Party to paralyse the economy and to become indifferent to the masses. One fact is very important. In the time of Enver Hoxha, everyone responded to every trouble by saying, "I am writing to Enver Hoxha to rectify these problems which have come about because someone in the party has not followed his duty correctly". After the death of Enver Hoxha, people thought more about the current problems in the conference and in the organisation of the party, and discussed the right problems for the Central Committee to select to investigate, but the response was silence, not consideration of the problem. This made the cadres impotent and the masses indifferent. This separation of the cadres and the party from the masses had tragic consequences for faith in socialism in Albania -- and festered like an open wound. In 1990, this tactic was pursued with the aim of destroying socialism, and in this it was ultimately successful.
HK: I want to take you a little further back
now. How did Ramiz Alia come to power?
LS: Ramiz Alia was involved in the war of national liberation as head of the Communist Organisation of Youth. A member of the leadership, he slowly rose within the Party and after 1960 became Secretary of Propaganda in the Party of Labour. In 1970, when one group began to promote liberalisation of life in Albania, Ramiz Alia was the guiding influence within this group, but during this process he maintained an outward indifference to the group, and associated himself with the revolutionary section of the Central Committee. So, he manoevred in order to stay in good standing, but in fact, from this time onwards there was always a question mark hanging over him.
In 1982 comrade Enver Hoxha presented Ramiz Alia to the anniversary celebration of the ‘Conference of Peza’ as a trusted comrade. From this time Ramiz Alia began a campaign throughout the country to examine the development of the economy and investigate the state of relations between the Party and the masses. Ramiz Alia in this process presented himself as a friend of Enver Hoxha, and became anxious from this time to establish his authority having no great standing in the Party, unlike, for example, Hysni Kapo who had died some years before from cancer of the pancreas.
In 1985, after the death of Enver Hoxha, Ramiz Alia was chosen as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour with just a one vote majority. With great difficulty, after this time, to sweeten the alternatives to the communists and to the people he began a process which in time was to have bad consequences. At first he began to speak every day of Enver Hoxha -- not to promote the life and work of Enver Hoxha (because the people knew what Enver Hoxha stood for) -- but to firmly associate himself with Enver in order to create support for his future actions. During this time, he erected many statues of Enver Hoxha, in Korca, Tirana, and other cities and also named various organisations, places and enterprises after him. After this, he began to undertake certain actions. Every weekend there was a requirement to do ‘voluntary’ work and yet during the week there was little work to do because of the liberalising of the organisation of work. Despite this, voluntary work still had to be done all day on Sunday. So, Ramiz Alia became unpopular and had little authority. In 1990, he wrote a book and began to give interviews to People's Voice where he said, 'I have begun this process and taken it step by step in order not to create contradictions and clashes between the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces’. I tell this story to illustrate clearly that Ramiz Alia has been an enemy of the Party of Labour, and was not a follower of Enver Hoxha, but rather the enemy of both the Party and of Enver Hoxha.
HK: Has Ramiz Alia admitted his role in the
revisionist betrayal in Albania at any stage?
LS: Ramiz Alia is viewed by the people as a revisionist. During the gatherings where the people rose up against the vandalism of the counter-revolutionary forces in Tirana -- when the statue of Enver Hoxha was pulled down -- thousands and thousands of people thought that Ramiz Alia had betrayed them. This was the perspective of the people as far as Ramiz Alia was concerned.
HK: Has Ramiz Alia himself admitted anywhere
his role as a revisionist?
LS: Ramiz Alia has not admitted his role as a revisionist, but when he said, 'I prefer this to progress very slowly . . . . very slowly’, it is clear that this is a counter-revolutionary view in Albania.
HK: Now, let me go back, you talked about statues
of Hoxha being erected after his death by Ramiz Alia. Let me ask you, was
there a cult of personality whilst Enver was alive and if so, who was responsible
LS: Enver Hoxha said before his death, ‘for me, don’t make any monuments; I will go to my war, to the partisans, to the martyrs of the National Liberation Struggle’. This was the word of Enver Hoxha – and this advice was followed. Afterwards Ramiz Alia started erecting statues and naming organisations after Enver Hoxha, only to discredit him, contrary to the living teaching of Enver Hoxha about how to view the figures of leaders. This was a process which aimed to discredit Enver Hoxha.
HK: So, very similar to the process that took
place in the Soviet Union?
LS: Yes. The same thing as was promoted by the Khruschevites, who then used it to blame Stalin himself for ‘the cult of personality’.
HK: After Enver Hoxha’s death, revisionism
swept Albania very quickly and triumphed very quickly. Why do you think
LS: There were always elements of revisionism among the ranks of the Party of Labour. The revisionists knew that one day, there would be no Enver Hoxha. They existed, but were unable to realise their plan to destroy Socialism. But revisionism progressed quickly after the death of Enver Hoxha because the conditions to develop these ideas were in place.
HK: Comrade, can you describe the political
education, particularly of the youth in the days of Enver Hoxha. Was it
deficient or was it good?
LS: Education has been a difficult process, on which Enver Hoxha gave advice, but in practice this process must be improved. The revolutionary process was developing, however, this was not principally from the working classes but from the children of communists, showing that this process was not optimal.
HK: So there were some deficiencies. There
were some things coming through that were good, but it perhaps could have
LS: This process of education was realised through activity, admirable activity, that offered youth and children the opportunity to do heavy work on the farms. This is the best kind of education; this was part of the educational process in the time of Enver, but after this time the process of education in later years was more of a formality and lacked the seriousness of the years before the death of Enver Hoxha. It was left to be a spontaneous affair after the death of Enver Hoxha and some years later, these processes finished completely. This was a period where the youth were not prepared as before.
HK: You said earlier that revisionism had started
even during Enver’s lifetime, so if revisionism was already there during
Enver’s lifetime, perhaps you could describe, for example, what was wrong
with the organisation of collective farms and state farms? Was there sabotage
in the agricultural sector or the industrial sector?
LS: Yes. During the socialisation, collectivisation and organisation of the socialist economy the process of the creation of big collective farms began. This had some beneficial effects, for example, linking hill farms together with mountain farms, or hill farms with the plains. The natural conditions dictate the type of developments that can occur. In the mountains for example, there were sheep and other breeds, good breeds. So the people promised to maintain production all year round. This is important, because in Albania the winter is very hard with snow and freezing conditions. The majority of the socialist enterprises were in fact mountainous.
This process was developing in some fields of the economy – the state economy and collective economy. During the time of Enver Hoxha, the economy was in the control of the Communist Party and state apparatus. Following the death of Enver Hoxha this control weakened as a result of the liberalisation of the state and the party, with the ultimate inevitable result that there was less work and lower production. This created a situation whereby it was not possible to satisfy the needs of the people with respect to certain products such as milk, eggs, and cheese -- the main traditional produce in Albania. Other things that changed included the collectivisation of sheep, so that in some areas they became, in effect, the personal property of a congressman.
HK: Personal property against socialised property
LS: Yes. This property-owning or ‘liberal’ economy was voted against, and so after 6 years in 1986, these un-socialist aspects were declared unauthorised. During this process of further socialising the economy, however, some people did not return their livestock to the collective farm but used it for their own consumption, and so weakened the move back to collectivisation.
HK: So they killed some livestock rather than
give them back to the collective farms?
LS: This process was organised by a Commission, headed by Milloshi. Enver Hoxha from the beginning brought this plan to the Central Committee. He posed the question, 'Are you ready to satisfy the needs of the people for produce?', and the group replied saying, 'Yes, we can furnish them even better than before'. Enver Hoxha stopped this process in some zones. To see how things were progressing he sent in people – some of his friends in the centre at a high level – to oversee these reforms in production. The people were supportive because the sheep and livestock animals were no longer a family concern with the result that their children were now free to begin school and to achieve better academic results. There were other beneficial effects, for example to protect the trees from damage by the animals because livestock was moved to the mountain areas where there were no fruit trees or other crops. But when this process began, it was not supported by propaganda and no attempt was made to scientifically study the effectiveness of the changes.
But in 1986, Prime Minister Adil Karcani declared, 'This system has to end now.' This was a tragic result because it lead to a fall in production of those subsistence products necessary for day to day living. Now the country is not able to supply the cities because farmers are not even able to supply their own needs. There were, therefore, gross problems in the reforms in agriculture.
HK: I want to just jump forward now and ask
you to describe the background and history of Milloshi?
LS: Milloshi was chosen as a chief of the ‘Enver Hoxha Association’ by Ramiz Alia in 1991. The Sunday before the pulling down of the statute of Enver Hoxha, it was planned to reorganise the revolutionary movement because the party was paralysed, but with Milloshi, Ramiz Alia planned to control this movement. In fact, this was impossible because the revolutionary movement showed that it was against Ramiz Alia and regarded Ramiz Alia as a traitor because he caused the statue of Enver Hoxha to be destroyed.
After this time, when we began to organise the Communist Party, Milloshi didn’t come to us because according to advice given by Ramiz Alia, it was very early to re-organise the Communist Party in Albania. He gave no opinion of Alia, but said he was preparing to organise two groups in Tirana. In fact, he had nobody in these organisations, but wanted to stand separately from our communist movement. It was our intention to recruit people to our communist movement, such as the chief of the ‘Enver Hoxha Association’. So, after two months of our work aimed at organising the Communist Party, he came along to us on the 10th September, and subsequently declared that this was the day of the foundation of the Communist Party. In fact, the Communist Party was actually created by the group in Tirana on 1st September, contrary to the claims made by Mr Milloshi.
In this first meeting we decided to call our party the ‘Labour Party’. Milloshi declared, 'If you don’t rename it the Communist Party, I will leave'. We didn’t want our party splitting right from the beginning and so we promised to use the name Communist Party. We aimed from the very start for a collective leadership and Congress because there was no one among us who in the eyes of the people could take the place of Enver Hoxha. During this time we decided to see who would make the most contribution and then the Congress will eventually choose one of us to be Secretary of Party.
In fact, Milloshi came to head the communist party through a ‘putsch’, following a statement to television and radio on the anniversary celebrating the founding or our young organisation, on 23 November 1991. From the moment he told me before the beginning of the ceremony that he had written to the head of television declaring that he, Milloshi, was now chief of the Communist Party, I protested against this. I pointed out that this was effectively a putsch, and would be his own responsibility, and that the communists in my city would hold him to account. So, the meeting began and Milloshi made the very declaration I had advised him against. The next day I advised the Initiative Commission to appeal to the masses over Milloshi, but when it came to a vote, there were five votes for Milloshi, and five against Milloshi. The result was that Milloshi became the leader. During this time, however, Milloshi was not regarded as a leader within the Central Committee. I, together with some of my friends, opposed his actions as contrary to the statute norms of the Party. Every man according to statute must be mandated by the Communist Party, if they choose to act without this mandate then soon the Party will be destroyed, as in fact, was the case with us.
Later, Milloshi sabotaged the printing of our newspaper. He took a decision to publish a newspaper but this was not put into practice. We began publishing in December 1991, but Milloshi then terminated our agreement with the publishing house only five months later. Other sabotage included taking documents essential for the election of March 1992 with the result that our Party was automatically excluded from taking part in Parliament, when there was a possibility we might have had a number of representatives. In 1992, in May, he went to Korea to sign the opportunist Pyongyang declaration, which declared its intention to defend the ‘socialist world’ when in fact Albania had, up to the death of Enver Hoxha, been the last and only socialist country in the world.
Milloshi declared to the Central Committee in Germany that Korea was a true socialist country and Kim Il Sung was a true Marxist-Leninist. This provoked a great debate between my comrade in Gjirokastra and Milloshi. There our Central Committee split and fought to organise a world conference after the local election in July, but at this time, we invited Milloshi to Gjirokastra to give an account of his behaviour and why he had made such statements, and for all his actions contrary to the principles of our Party and norms of our statute. Then Milloshi came to Gjirokastra at the end of June and in the debate which followed (lasting until after midnight) he came out to state, 'I don't recognise this committee of parties because it opposes my position.' Following this Milloshi broke connections with our organisation in Gjirokastra. After this time, Milloshi created a group out of the Central Committee and presented his group as the Party and himself as the chief of the Party. Now this group has only a few members once again, because many have come to us in our Party. The last split occured in August 2000, and fought with us in the December Congress.
Milloshi made many declarations, one of them was in a letter saying that Mao Tse Tung was a great revolutionary, and if there were contradictions with Enver Hoxha, this was no more than a normal phenomenon and something to expected in the life of great leaders. This is an anti-Marxist opinion, because Enver Hoxha held that the attitude towards Mao Tse Tung thought represented a demarcation line between Marxist-Leninists and anti-Marxists and Revisionists.
Another position adopted by Milloshi was to ally with every communist party of the Balkans in defence of Milosevic in 1999 arguing that this was a correct anti-NATO position. We are against NATO, but at this time we had to consider two forces, one being the National Liberation Front and the other Serbian Nazi-fascism. So an alliance with the National Liberation forces was an alliance on which we were agreed. We realised, of course, that there was a need to review our position in the light of how things proceeded in practice because we recognise that the imperialist does not aim to liberate a people but rather to place them under their own oppression. The fact remains, however, that the Kosovans achieved many things as a result of liberation from the Serbians. Now Kosovans have schools, now Kosovans can live in their own land. They are not hiding from the Secret Police and are not terrorised by vigilantes, so great progress has been made in Kosovo.
Another declaration by Milloshi was a call to boycott the process of voting for the constitution of Sali Berisha, a fascist document to which the people did not give approval. Again, in 1997, he advised against participation in the general election.
So, that is a summary of those actions and declarations made by Milloshi through which, objectively, he can be seen as standing against the unification of the communist movement. Milloshi was an enemy of the communist movement in Albania, and time after time he unmasked his anti-communist face. Another role played by Milloshi was the discrediting of communist militants, for example when our Congress of Unification in December 1999 was addressed by Nexhmije Hoxha, a campaign was begun to discredit her. So, Milloshi was effectively standing in a Fascist Front, fighting against anti-fascists like Nexhmije Hoxha.
HK: The last question for tonight relates to
the influence of Nexhmije Hoxha in the new United Albanian Communist Party
and does she hold any specific positions, is she on the central committee
or anything like that?
LS: Nexhmije Hoxha has responsibility like a member of the Central Committee for the destiny of the party. She has justified her communist position in the Court of People and so have her family, especially Ilir Hoxha, the son, who has correctly shown that the Hoxha family always acted correctly within the state law. Nexhmije began to write a biography of Enver Hoxha, and these writings are important documents which will silence the enemies of Enver Hoxha who have been falsifying history, as was done to descredit Stalin.
HK: Did "fractions" exist inside the Central
Committee of the LPA? What was the role that they played in the country's
L.S.: Camouflaged anticommunist elements have always been active inside the LPA, but have never been able to come out as a declared fraction. This is because of the authority that the Party had achieved during both the anti-fascist national liberation war and the new building period. The party was consulting with the people often, fulfilling their requirements, and advancing the country with fast steps. These were some of the factors that had made the relationship Party-People unbreakable.
HK: When did Enver Hoxha see that Mao Ce Dun
was a Revisionist?
L.S.: Comrade Enver put the first question mark around Mao's views, after Mao's meeting with Khrushchev in 1956 in Moscow. The Chinese leader complimenting his host would declare that:
HK: What was Enver Hoxha's stand with George
L.S.: It is very well known that George Dimitrov was one of the supporters of the Titoists for the creation of the Balkan Federation. The Yugoslavians tried to achieve this by all ways possible, even going to the point of recruiting certain elements in the highest levels of the Party and Albanian state. On the other side they did everything possible to eliminate their opponents in Albania. One of the most ugliest portrayals of this policy that exposed the Titoists as anti-communists and chauvinists, was the backstages of the Berati conference (Where the representative of the Yugoslav Communist Party Velimir Stoinic with the help of N.Spiru, K.Xoxe, S.Maleshova, etc. did everything possible to divide the Political Bureau). The purpose of all that was to subdue the Communist Party of Albania and to swallow Albania as a seventh republic inside Yugoslavia. Stalin, informed from comrade Enver Hoxha about the continuous interventions of the representatives of the Yugoslav Communist Party in the matters of the Communist Party of Albania and in the matters of the Albanian state, was convinced that Tito was an anti-communist; moreover that not only should he not be supported on his idea of creating a Balkan Federation; but, that he should be denounced in front of the Worldwide Communist movement. One of the steps taken in this direction was also the criticism through the "Pravda" newspaper about this plan that was approved by Dimitrov as well. After this article Dimitrov made a self-criticism but nonetheless, this does not relieve him entirely from responsibility. Still in his memoirs comrade Enver has described Dimitrov as friendly.
Later developments up to these moments in the former titoist Yugoslavia have given testimony that the federation was projected from anti-communists, in anticommunist ways and not only it could not bring together and make the nations that it was made of friendly with each other but, it made them become enernies and in war with each other, a war that still has not ended although rivers of blood have been shed.
HK: What has been the role that the antiparty
element has played in the People's Socialist Republic of Albania? Did it
dominate any ministry? Like for example the Foreign Ministry?
L.S.: The anti-party elements have existed in Albania starting from the creation of the communist groups and further on. They have attempted in secretive ways to sabotage the building of socialism. For this, they have been encouraged and supported by the outside enemy and as well as the inside enemy that was overthrown by the popular revolution. This activity was focused on the fields of economy, culture, defense, interior affairs, but without excluding the other fields as well. They were vivified especially in 1948, 1956 and in the 70's exactly with the increasing outside pressure towards the LPA and the People's Authority. There is no other way to explain the culmination of this type of action in the moments of the aggravation of relations with the Titoists, Khrushchevists and Maoists.
This is completely natural keeping in mind that both the democratic and socialist revolutions happened in a non-sterile natural and social environment, where contradictory factors worked in both the national and international levels. Because of this it was necessary for the war of classes not to stop not only outside the Party but inside as well until communism had won worldwide. The renegade Ramiz Alia, by not upholding this principle made it possible for the anti-revolutionary forces to overthrow the Popular Authority.
HK: When did the comrades understand that Ramiz
Alia was a traitor?
L.S.: The renegade Alia, after thinking that he had won the people's trust with his endless speeches for Enveri's works, encouraged a liberal-bureaucratization process in the Party and the authority, thus cutting their ties with the masses. During the consecutive concessions that he made towards the national and international bourgeoisies in the late 80's, he was becoming more and more of suspicious politician with each passing day. With the overthrowing of Enver's statue on February 20'h he became not only untrustworthy but also hated. The cries, full of irritation, of the large popular masses:
"The traitor President to be hanged by the rope",
that roared in every square and narrow street, in every village and city, are testimony that it was the moment, that his mask was finally torn even though he was still not throwing it away, but keeping it until he handed the authority to the aggressive anti-revolutionary forces that had lit up the torches to burn Albania.
HK: Maybe comrade Nexhmie Hoxha felt that Euver did not criticize publicly
the "hidden revisionists" because of the 'democratic centralization'.
L.S.: Enver Hoxha has never spared unmasking anyone at any time when he has seen that the Party's norms, the principles of Marxism-Leninism, the interests of the country and the world-wide communist movement are being infringed on. For him the country and the nation were sacred that is why he sacrificed everything in order to place them between the most honorable in the world.
HK: How can we learn from what happened in
the USSR and in the PSRA (People's Socialist Republic of Albania)?
L.S.: From the USSR's bitter experience after the death of Stalin, and from Albania's bitter experience after the death of Enver Hoxha - it is necessary to draw lessons for the future. Every straying from the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Enver opens the road for the degeneration of the Marxist-Leninist Party and the destruction of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Without making the masses conscientious, the authority cannot be taken and cannot be kept. Only a Party that has clear objectives, and that has communists that have no other interests besides those of the world proletariat can accomplish this role.
HK: Where are the archives of the PSRA of comrade
Enver, and are there any plans for the publication of the correspondence
with Stalin, Tito, Dimitrov, Mao, etc?
L.S.: Damages to the archive from the anti-revolutionary forces that have taken authority during these years of the Albanian tragedy can not be excluded. Today when all the red books continue to be collected and burned it is almost impossible to use the Albanian archives for the glorious period of Enver. As to the exact key to his correspondence with Stalin, Tito, Dimitrov, Mao, etc. his and comrade Nexhmie Hoxha's diaries and memoirs might be useful.
Note: Before this interview was completed, a meeting was held with comrade N. Hoxha where comrade HK's request was presented.