Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954

By George H. Hodos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
PRELUDE IN ALBANIA

The postwar Stalinist show trials began on May 12, 1949, with the secret proceedings against the fallen Albanian Minister of the Interior Koci Xoxe. At the same time, however, his execution belongs to the prehistory of the East European purges; it signaled the bloody climax in the Soviet-Yugoslav conflict. He was not a made-up "Titoist," but rather a Titoist without quotation marks, Yugoslavia's trusted man in the Albanian communist party.

In its basic structure the Xoxe trial is a postwar copy of the old-fashioned, classical Stalinist purges of the thirties, transferred to a Balkan country. Factional power struggles and political differences were "solved" not only with the physical liquidation of the loser, but also with his political murder, the assassination of his character. The ideological platform he represented was falsified into espionage, treason, and sabotage; his past, his personal life was dragged in the mud; and the lie became truth by his extorted self-incriminating "confession." In this respect, Xoxe's fate did not differ from that of Bukharin and the other victims of the Trotzkyist trials in the Soviet Union. He was opposed to Stalin's man in Albania, and he lost.

The Xoxe trial belongs clearly to the classical type, and it was with some hesitation that it was included in this book, the more so as a rather lengthy account of Albania's internal and external problems seemed to be unavoidable in order to understand it. But the Albanian trial is, at the same time, a bridge between the old and the new purges, linked by the specific anti-Tito content of the lies and distortions. It was the starting shot for the beginning of the new phase of show trials, the exception that proved the rule.

* * *

The Albanians had always been and still remain an exceptional case. They are a brotherless people, descendants of a proto-Germanic clan and of the Illyrs; their language is related to no other. Since 3000 years ago, when they penetrated into the Balkan Peninsula, their history has been a constant struggle for independence and a fight against any foreign influence or domination, be it Roman, Turk, Italian, German, or Slav. 1

The isolated new nation, carved out in 1912 from the disintegrated Turkish

-5-

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