by Antonina Zhelyazkova

The survival of the Albanian identities under Enver Hoxha. The role of the isolationist policy of the regime in Tirana

Enver Hoxha stepped in Tirana in November 1944 at the head of a Communist government, and on 2 December1945 his Democratic People's Front of Albania was given a mandate to introduce a republican form of state power. The republic was proclaimed on 11 January1946. 

In the period of 1946-1948 the Soviet economic, political and ideological model was established in Albania. The Communist Party was renamed Albanian Labour Party; it backed in full the resolution of Cominform and in practice laid the foundations not only of a one-party regime in Albania, but also of the one-man dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. 

Passed was in 1967 the Decree on the Atheist State, which prohibited the three traditional religions rites in this country, the temples were demolished or profaned by being converted into storehouses, shopping places, sporting arenas, or for some other lay usage. Fear of persecution on account of observance of religious traditions was so strong that in only two or three generations people's real memory of their traditions, of the names of the closed temples, of the meaning and philosophy of faith, was lost. In 1976 the ban on religion became an integral part of the Constitution of Albania and it definitely doomed any effort to keep, even secretly, the religious customs, morality and rites. 

Even Bektashism, which has enjoyed a special place in the value system of Albanians, the southerners' in particular, and has been described as the "fourth religion in Albania", has become void of meaning. Today, at the end of the 20th century, a large part of the people in Southern Albania affirm they are descended from Bektashi families, but no one is capable of explaining what Bektashism is like, what its philosophical system, moral values and rituality are. 

In order to achieve full control over the whole population of Albania, which had proved throughout its history to be disobedient and unsubmissive to administrative systems imposed by force, Enver Hoxha and his cronies in power took advantage of their knowledge as people that came from and belonged to the Albanian ethnos. The Albanians could be put under control only in the way described by George Orwell - through erasing their collective memory and traditions, as well as by directing the whole physical and intellectual power of society and the individual to pointless efforts (like the construction of hundreds of thousands of pillboxes and their maintenance) until morality and common sense were deformed and destroyed.