Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

A Generation Caught between Two Eras - the Drastic Shift from Communism to Capitalism in Albania

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

A Generation Caught between Two Eras - the Drastic Shift from Communism to Capitalism in Albania

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The years 1944-1945, found Europe in a state of devastation, as a result of the Second World War, which produced millions of homeless people, a collapsed economy, huge damages to the industry and infrastructure, not to mention the number of lives lost during the war and in concentration camps and the overall hysteria towards the Jewish people. Under these conditions, the attention of the powerful European states which had to recover from one of the most destructive wars in human history, was fully concentrated on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their economy, not onto the small states, like Albania, which had been mainly used for diplomatic purposes, and to satisfy the needs of the major states in the Balkans, Northern and Southern Europe.

Albania itself was in a continuous state of turmoil. The country was drastically divided. On one side, the people were divided by religious beliefs, the south was mainly Muslim, under the influence of the Osman Empire, while the north was mainly Catholic. The political events from the Declaration of Independence in 1912, following the fragile government of Ismail Qemali, the proclaimer of the Albanian independence and the founder of the official Albanian State, were dynamic, but fractionized. With Albania being declared independent and a Republic, the most outstanding personalities of the country tried to gather forces and set their position in the governing of the country.

2. Communist Albania

The political developments of the years 1944-1945, together with the weakening of the European influence over Albania, created the best conditions for one of the national forces that was dominating the country, to come to power. The leader of this force, Enver Hoxha, taking advantage of the political and ideological differences all over the country, managed that in a very short period of time, an expansion of his influence on the vast majority of the Albanian territory. The people, already tired of the continuous turmoil and instability that prevailed in the country, saw in this new political force, some sort of hope and the first sparkles of an organization on a state level, since king Zog I period, hopes that would soon fade, immediately after the establishment of the most cruel regime that the Albanian people would ever experience.

As soon as the new Prime Minister came to office, took special care for the solution of two major issues that could threaten the stability and legitimacy of his government, first, the elimination of the political opponents, a campaign that had already begun during the war, and the second issue, the recognition of his government on an international scale and at the same time, the specification of the line to follow in foreign affairs. The elimination of the political opponents did not apply any type of exception. The establishment of the new government was accompanied since the beginning with numerous detentions, deportations and also many executions. These people were charged with crimes of all kinds, the most serious of which were high treason and cooperation with the enemy. Obviously, these accusation were never proven, and even when the accused were put before a body of judges, who were indoctrinated up to their cells, they were always found guilty, and then were sentenced to death or to numerous years in jail. The less lucky ones, were not even trialed. The communist security forces took them from their homes, and then their families would never come to see them again. The communist violence didn't spare anyone, not even women. Thus, the unprecedented violence generated what Hoxha had expected it to generate: a people terrorized to death and a drastic fall in the number of political opponents, which was translated into unlimited political power of the party in office. When it comes to foreign policy, Europe was a thread towards the totalitarian visions of the new government, and on these grounds, the political allies of the regime were the Soviet Union and the far China. …

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