THE <<NAIM FRASHERI>> PUBLISHING HOUSE
C O N T E N T S
OUR FIRST VISIT TO THE PR OF BULGARIA . . . .
The invitation of Dimitrov for us to visit the PR of Bulgaria * A short stop in Belgrade. Meeting with Tito * Rankovic calls Koçi Xoxe to a secret meeting. He is charged with surveillance over our activity * Emotional welcome in Sofia * Official talks * Dinner with Georgi Dimitrov. Midnight incident * The end of official talks in Kritchim. Georgi Dimitrov: <<Keep the Party pure. Let it be revolutionary, proletarian, and everything will go well with you>> * The journey through Belgrade -- Tito in Rumania * The return to the Homeland.
THE TITOITES HEADING FOR INEVITABLE EXPO-
ENSLAVING OFFERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Enslaving offers. On the Co-ordination Commission * Yugoslav militarymen pour into Tirana: <<Imminent danger is threatening Albania!>> Nako Spiru insists on putting Mehmet Shehu at the head of the General Staff of the Army. Tempo's military theses * General Hamovic demands the creation of a unified command * General Kupresanin in Tirana. Tito: <<I beg you to give us the bnse in Korça for one division.>> Notifying Stalin about the question of the Yugoslav division * The 8th Plenum of the CC -- a black stain on the history of the CPA. The temporary triumph of the Yugoslav theses * Monstrous attack of Koçi Xoxe and others on the Party and its sound cadres * Kupresanin, Zlatic and others: <<Tito wants you to demand the union with Yugoslavia.>> * Astonishing haste of the Titoites * The historic letter of Stalin * Ignominious departure of Tito's envoys from Albania.
OUR FIRST VISIT TO THE PR OF BULGARIA
Rankovic charges Koçi Xoxe with surveillance over
The invitation of Dimitrov for us to visit the PR of Bulgaria * A short stop in Belgrade. Meeting with Tito * Rankovic calls Koçi Xoxe to a secret meeting. He is charged with surveillance over our activity * Emotional welcome in Sofia * Official talks * Dinner with Georgi Dimitrov. Midnight incident * The end of official talks in Kritchim. Georgi Dimitrov: <<Keep the Party pure. Let it be revolutionary, proletarian, and everything will go well with you>> * The journey through Belgrade -- Tito in Rumania * The return to the Homeland.
Immediately after it emerged from the heroic National Liberation War, the People's Republic of Albania made every effort to establish close links of friendship with the Soviet Union, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, the People's Republic of Bulgaria and all the other countries of people's democracy of Europe.
The great friendship with all the friendly countries and fraternal peoples which we nurtured and tried to develop, to see it in practice and to strengthen ceaselessly, was founded on the National Liberation War and the blood shed by our peoples in this war against the same enemy. Despite the
great sacrifices which we made (by fighting alone in our own country and liberating it with our own forces, and by fighting beyond our state borders to assist in the liberation of Yugoslavia), we, for our part, had a proper appreciation of the great and decisive contribution of the Red Army as well as of the Yugoslav National Liberation Army and others to this liberation. The others minimized our war and taking advantage of our proper presentation of the question on the Marxist-Leninist line, used this as if <<they did everything>> and <<without them we could not do anything>>. To them Albania was an infant which had to be bottle-fed, which had to be kept under patriarchal tutelage and the voice of which had no reason to be heard in the concert of the policy which the other countries of people's democracy pursued. As I said, in the first years this spirit of underrating us was felt most in the stands of the Yugoslav leaders, who acted in this way, not only because they were unscrupulous megalomaniacs, but also because they pursued sinister aims towards us. From the others, they wanted only an official <<recognition>> of Albania on paper, with declarations from afar, but they never wanted this recognition to take concrete form in the all-round mutual links of our country with the other countries of people's democracy, including the Soviet Union. To a certain extent, this anti-Albanian policy of Belgrade yielded results and the fact is that, while the friendly countries of people's democracy recognized us officially in 1945 and 1946, in reality they recognized us from a distance and, even worse, through the <<presentation>> which Yugoslavia made of us.
Such a spirit and practice were developed and permitted at first, but not by us. Of course, this spirit had its ups and downs, had restraints and angry threats, until the Gordian knot was severed with the sword. But let us not anticipate. It must be said that Yugoslavia and Tito were interested in keeping us isolated. They had certainly manoeuvred and continued to manoeuvre behind the scenes in the direction of Bulgaria, too, and had success up until the moment when we received the invitation of the Bulgarian government and the
Communist Party, in the name of Dimitrov, for our delegation to go to Sofia.
The invitation which Dimitrov sent us was welcomed with great enthusiasm when I put it forward for discussion and approval in the Political Bureau and in the government. In the grave atmosphere of that period it was like a clear day after a stormy night fraught with dangers. I was charged with preparing the accurate formulation of the problems which we would raise and with the other technical problems, the composition of the delegation and informing the ambassadors of the friendly countries.
First, I summoned the Bulgarian ambassador whom I thanked again and informed officially of our acceptance. Only the precise date of our departure remained to be decided jointly.
Then, I summoned the Soviet ambassador and informed him, too. He implied to me that he had been informed by Moscow. I had no doubt about this, indeed, I was of the opinion that such an action could not have been taken without seeking the advice of Stalin. This was a special assurance for us. But we thought that the Yugoslavs, too, would have been informed. However, I summoned the Yugoslav ambassador, too, and informed him. He listened to me, took notes and said that he would immediately inform the government in Belgrade. I saw that the news did not please him and, as far as I could gather, he had not known about it.
<<Has the Soviet ambassador been informed about this?>> he asked me.
I replied that I had informed the Soviet ambassador. I told him also that we would talk again later when, together with the Bulgarians, we had decided the day of our departure.
<<We shall travel through Belgrade and will seek your assistance,>> I said in conclusion.
<<Of course!>> he replied.
Thus, I parted from the Yugoslav ambassador in a <<good>>, <<comradely spirit>>, although I guessed that the Yugoslavs could not be pleased that we were going to interrupt our analyses and;
postpone for later the <<Albanian question>> which they had on the agenda.
We began and ended the preparations and set out for Sofia via Belgrade. I headed the delegation and its main members were Koçi Xoxe, Hysni Kapo, and Kristo Themelko.
I was exceptionally happy to be going to Dimitrov's Bulgaria. Hysni, too, felt this same great joy. From the look of them, Koçi and Kristo Themelko, too, seemed to have the same feeling (but later it was realized that this was not so). This was the third time that I left the Homeland and went with official delegations to friendly and fraternal countries: the first time we went to Tito in Belgrade; the second time to Stalin in Moscow; and now we were going to Dimitrov in Sofia.
The love and sympathy of our people, Party and government for Bulgaria and for its outstanding leader, Dimitrov, were marked. These feelings had their foundations in the long history of friendly traditions and these friendly traditions had been strengthened during the National Liberation War, irrespective of the fact that there had been few links and contacts between us and the Bulgarian partisans. In particular, the mighty figure of Georgi Dimitrov linked us closely in an unquestioned political-ideological unity. The Marxist-Leninist ideology which inspired our parties was the steel bond which united us in all our activities.
In the past, when the Albanian people fought against the ambitions and terror of the Serbs, we were friends with the Bulgarian people and we liked, respected and assisted each other. The patriots and fighters of our National Renaissance found shelter and aid for their struggle in the bosom of the Bulgarian people; Albanian patriotic societies had been created in Sofia and there Albanian books and papers, which were smuggled into Albania, were printed. Our çetas of the time of the Renaissance and during the Balkan Wars had close fighting relations with the insurgent çetas of those parts, carried out joint actions and sheltered one another. Thus, there was a long history of very friendly links between our peoples. Our joint Anti-fascist National Liberation War strengthened
these bonds even more; although, as I said, during the war we did not have direct contacts with the Bulgarian partisans. Only on one occasion, in 1943, Bulgaranov came to Labinot to meet me. We exchanged opinions about the war, but my impression was that the Bulgarians were weak. In fact, the Bulgarian partisan war developed slowly and flared up on a broad scale only when the Red Army entered Bulgaria. In the meeting which we had, Bulgaranov spoke well of the Yugoslavs and likewise, of our Albanian units which operated in thee districts of Dibra and Macedonia. He told us that he was delegated by the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party to work with the Macedonians, whom he called Bulgarians at that time. I knew that Bulgaranov did not get along well with Tukmanovic-Tempo, who led the National Liberation War in Macedonia, but he told me that allegedly he got on well with the Yugoslavs. I pointed out to Bulgaranov that whole territories populated by Albanians had been included in Macedonia, that this was an injustice of the past and that after the anti-fascist National Liberation War the question of nationalities had to be examined according to the Leninist principles.
<<Only from this standpoint,>> I told him, <<will the problems of these zones and nations and nationalities that live in them be solved correctly. Otherwise, the old national oppression, contradictions and conflicts will continue. During the whole period of the war against the same enemy, fascism,>> I told Bulgaranov, <<the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, the Communist Party of Albania and the Bulgarian Communist Party must work towards developing friendship amongst our peoples. We must enlighten our peoples politically in order to wipe out the bitter remnants of the past and lead them to victory; the peoples who have suffered from the injustices perpetrated by the Great Powers and the chauvinism of Balkan states must win the right to self-determination. This is what we think about the Albanians of those Albanian regions which were annexed to Yugoslavia.>>
Seeing that I had opened the way, Bulgaranov, too, began
to speak about the question of Macedonia, which he called part of Bulgaria.
I allowed him to express his opinion and did not enlarge on this question. I knew that the Yugoslavs, for their part had a tendency to minimize and disparage the war of the Bulgarians. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for this was the question of Macedonia.
Apart from this meeting, we had no other contacts with the Bulgarian comrades during the years of the war, but we ceaselessly cultivated the feelings of fraternal internationalist friendship for the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarian Communist Party (which, as I recall, was called the Bulgarian Workers' Party at that time). The personality of Dimitrov, who had won world fame, played a major role in this. The name of the hero of Leipzig, of the General Secretary of the Comintern, was on the lips of all the communists and anti-nazis of the world. After the great classics of Marxism-Leninism, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, we loved, admired and listened to him. Dimitrov was one of Stalin's closest friends and collaborators, therefore our going to Sofia and meeting Dimitrov was a great joy for us.
With these pure, friendly feelings for the friendly allied countries, our delegation set out and arrived in Belgrade on December 12. The welcome which we received at the railway station was extremely cool, but <<officially>> the Yugoslavs showed themselves more than <<correct in protocol>>: Kardelj, Rankovic, Simic (at that time Foreign Minister), Hebrang (Chairman of the Planning Commission), Tempo and a number of other personalities of lower rank had come out to meet us. As I said, our visit to Bulgaria was taking place at the time when Tito and company had gone on the attack against us, therefore, the turning out at the station of all these <<top-level authorities>>, as Koçi Xoxe called them, was something of a surprise to us. However, everything had its own explanation and the Yugoslavs had carefully calculated the actions they took. In public, the great rifts which had been created in the relations between our parties and countries had still not be-
come apparent and the Yugoslavs were striving to develop their attack in complete secrecy. Indeed, to eliminate any suspicion about this attack, they even made some gesture of <<friendship>> and <<fraternity>> towards us such as the turning out of <<top-level personalities>> at the station. But all these things were done reluctantly and coldly. We knew nothing of diplomatic rules, protocol and formalities, such as ceremonies, etc., and did not even notice these things, but the fact is that, except for a few extremely official words of greeting demanded by protocol, Tito's comrades said not another word to us. However, there was no reason for this coldness to make an impression on us. Likewise, it made no impression on us that they took us to stay in what was virtually a private house (nationalized, of course). They told us it had been the home of Stoyadinovic, the Great-Serb fascist reactionary, who, in the time of the Yugoslav monarchy, talked with Ciano about dividing Albania with Mussolini's Italy.
Regardless of the cold reception, the accusations which Zlatic had made and the grave situation that had been created in our country as a result of these accusations, I considered it necessary to utilize the time of our stay in Belgrade for a meeting with Tito, with the aim of talking directly with him about how the truth stood. For this reason, we decided to ask for a meeting with him, even if he did not invite us himself. As allies, we also considered it proper to inform him about the aims of our visit to Bulgaria, to tell him about the importance of the treaty which we expected to sign with fraternal Bulgaria and which we considered as a reinforcement of the treaty which we had with the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. Naturally, on this occasion we could also exchange opinions with him about the international situation, but the main thing, if this were possible, was that we wanted to speak openly about our internal matters and the tense relations with them. This was our disposition when we arrived in Belgrade.
At the moment when we were parting from Kardelj and Rankovic, after they took us to the gate of the house where we
were to stay, I put to them our request for a possible meeting with Tito.
<<Yes,>> said Kardelj, cold as a snake. <<Comrade Tito himself wants to meet and welcome you, perhaps this evening. We shall inform you at the proper time.>>
Not long afterwards they informed us that Tito was awaiting us for a <<meeting of welcome>>.
It is true that we were somewhat <<excited>> about meeting these <<great men>>, because that is how they presented themselves and that is how they wanted us to consider them. Whether a warm, comradely situation or a tense and frozen atmosphere was created depended on their character and stands. Two days later we were to meet Dimitrov for the first time, were to become acquainted with him and, I must say, that Tito could not compare with the outstanding leader of Bulgaria. They were as different as night from day, and I do not make this judgement from the standpoint of today, but these were my authentic impressions at that time. Tito remained haughty and cold with us, with measured, studied gestures and never allowed himself the mistake of making a gesture or saying any word which showed comradely closeness and warmth. No, nothing of the sort could be seen about him, everything was pre-considered and cold. In 1946, during the first meeting with him, we said that this might be his character, but now we were realizing that the meaning of Tito's coldness had another explanation. He wanted us, even in appearance, to stand at attention before him, as before the patriarch.
On this occasion Tito did not receive us in the Palace of Dedinja, but in a simple house within the city of Belgrade, I think in a street which is called Rumunska. It was a pleasant two-storeyed house of the old style, encircled by a high wall. We entered the hall, where, if I am not mistaken, Tito, Kardelj, Rankovic and Djilas welcomed us. Tito was dressed in grey woollen clothing and with shoes of the same colour. He stood as stiff as a ramrod. He simply gave us his hand, while asking after our health, and, when this ceremony
was over, led us into his office which was off to one side. It was a longish room with a window nearly as wide as the room. Near the window was his working desk and in the middle of the room another long table. Apparently, the meetings of the Bureau were held there or Tito used it to summon other people about the work. We were to take our places at the table and, as usual, they would sit on one side and we on the other.
<<Please sit down,>> said Tito and remained standing himself. I took my seat and my comrades were preparing to take theirs, one after the other, beside me. But Tito intervened and said:
<<Comrade Xoxe, you sit here,>> and indicated the big chair which stood empty at the head of the table. We were all dumbfounded by this action of Tito's. However, I calmly told Koçi, who was as red as a beetroot:
<<Go there where he tells you.>>
<<No, Comrade Marshal, I can sit here, let Comrade Enver sit there,>> Koçi replied to Tito.
<<No, no,>> said Tito, <<come here, you, too, can sit here.>>
I quietly told Koçi again to go where he was told. Thus this provocation was closed. We all took our seats. Tito took out his cigarette holder in the form of a pipe, put in a cigarette and lit it and then pushed the packet towards me saying:
<<Here, have a cigarette.>>
I told him I had given up smoking (this was not true, but I did not want to smoke his cigarettes after what he had done). Then Tito said to me:
<<The comrades informed me that you are going to Bulgaria and, of course, you will meet Dimitrov. Are you pleased with the prospect of this visit?!>>
I told him briefly about the purpose of our visit to Bulgaria, said that this had been a long-cherished desire, stressed the sympathy and love which the Albanian people had always displayed for Bulgaria, its people, and especially, for the outstanding leader of Bulgaria and the international communist and workers' movement, Georgi Dimitrov. I went on to
say that we expected to hold talks with the Bulgarian comrades about strengthening mutual relations between our parties and countries and in this context we thought we would sign such documents which would reinforce not only the independence of our two countries, but also the relations between the People's Republic of Albania and the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. Tito listened to me with a frown on his face, his head held high, looking at me with those cold glassy eyes.
When I had finished, Tito turned to Koçi and said with a smile:
<<Of course, you have prepared yourselves to benefit from the experience of the Bulgarian Communist Party. . .>>
<<We may be given the occasion to do such a thing, too, but we have unlimited possibilities to receive the experience of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia at any moment and about everything,>> replied Koçi.
From beginning to end Rankovic sat without moving a muscle of his face, merely smoking cigarettes with his long white holder.
Then Tito began to speak. Not undeliberately, he virtually ignored everything I had said, where we were going, and what we were going to do. It was clear that with this stand he wanted to show us that it was of no importance at all to him what we were going to do with the Bulgarians. In other words, this meant that they did not like the visit we were about to make, because he concentrated his whole talk on <<the strengthening of Albanian-Yugoslav relations>>, that <<these relations have great importance for Albania>>, that <<you Albanians must struggle against shortcomings and mistakes which are noticed in the work of your Party and state apparatuses>>, in order not to hinder <<the great aid given to you by Yugoslavia>> which made <<sacrifices>> for us etc. etc.!
My impression was that Tito granted us this meeting before our departure for Bulgaria to <<remind>> us that, whether to Sofia or to Moscow or anywhere else, <<our road passed
through Belgrade>>. By talking in this way he <<set the limits>> for us with the Bulgarians.
I thanked Tito for <<his valuable advice>>, assured him sincerely about the love which we continued to nurture for the friendly and fraternal Yugoslav peoples and, just as I was preparing to start on our problems in which, according to him, we had <<mistakes and shortcomings>>, he stood up.
<<We shall have the opportunity when you return from Bulgaria,>> he said, and walked out of the room, inviting us to watch a film together.
After the film, from which I can remember nothing at all, they gave us a coffee, or as they say in Gjirokastra, <<the time-to-go coffee>>. We shook hands and parted. We thought that we would have no other contact with the Yugoslav leaders. But they had proposed to Koçi Xoxe individually and without my knowledge that he should meet with Rankovic or Koçi had sought such a meeting himself. Most likely, however, Rankovic asked to meet Koçi.
This occurred that evening before we left by train for Bulgaria. We were resting before dinner when Koçi and Shule came into the room where I was sitting with Hysni and said to me:
<<Comrade Enver, Shule and I are going to go to meet Marko (Rankovic) and discuss with him how the work of the Party should be organized at brigade and division staff level.>>
<<Wouldn't it be better when we come back?>> I asked him. <<Make the request now and you'll have more time on our return.>>
<<No,>> replied Koçi, <<it's better to get it over and done with this evening and then our minds are at rest.>>
<<All right,>> I said, <<off you go.>>
Koçi and Shule went to see Rankovic while Hysni and I stayed in the house, indeed we did not wait dinner for them because the Yugoslav comrade accompanying us <<advised>> us to have dinner, since the <<comrades might be late>>.
When they returned from the meeting, both Koçi and Kristo looked satisfied and happy, because they had received
<<detailed and complete explanations about the method of work of the party at brigade and division level>>. The outcome of this night-time meeting between Rankovic, Koçi and Shule was to emerge in Sofia.
The reasons which Koçi and ShuIe gave for their visit to Rankovic in these circumstances did not convince me in the least, and no doubt, did not convince Hysni, either, but we said nothing to each other; we pretended that we found the visit natural.
The next day we left for Bulgaria. Anton Jugov and many other comrades of the Bulgarian leadership welcomed us very warmly at the border. We embraced and kissed like the closest comrades and brothers. They brought us best wishes from Dimitrov and told us that he personally and all the other comrades of the party leadership and the government would welcome us at the main station in Sofia. Our first contact with the representatives of the Bulgarian people was warm and moving. Ordinary people embraced us, welcomed us and wished us success on our visit and in strengthening the mutual relations between our two countries and peoples. I greeted them with a brief statement in which I expressed the great feelings of love which the Albanian people nurtured for the fraternal Bulgarian people and our belief that our friendly relations would steadily advance, and ended by calling:
<<Long live your great leader Georgi Dimitrov!>>
The people burst into a long ovation. In accord with the national tradition they gave us bread and salt, while a young girl presented me with a beautifully embroidered traditional Bulgarian costume.
<<Each stitch in this costume is an expression of love for the Albanian people from the Bulgarian people,>> she said, her eyes filled with tears of enthusiasm, and embraced me.
In this atmosphere we set out for Sofia.
We arrived. A great crowd had turned out to meet us, headed by the leadership and the great Dimitrov, with his manly face graven like a true revolutionary, with his long
hair blowing free, because he had removed his fur cap, despite the cold and the falling snow. He welcomed me on the platform, gave me his hand, pressed me to his chest and kissed me. It was a very moving moment for me. I flung my arms round his neck and did not release him. My eyes were filled with tears of emotion, because the day had come that the Party and the people sent me here to meet this great teacher of the proletariat, from whose example, teachings and advice I had learned, as his loyal pupil, how to stand and fight against the fascist invaders, against enemies of the people and the working class for the liberation of my Homeland, for the formation and tempering of my Party, for socialism and communism.
When the ceremonies at the station were over, we got into cars to go to the premises of the Bulgarian government. Dimitrov and I were in the first open car and we passed through long lines of people crowding the streets, the foot paths, the squares, the windows and balconies. Albanian and Bulgarian flags, portraits and slogans about Albanian-Bulgarian friendship could be seen everywhere. What boundless love of the people for Dimitrov, for Stalin and for Albania! The square in front of the palace was packed with people. From the balcony of the palace we were to greet the fraternal Bulgarian people.
Before we went out on the balcony we stayed very close to Dimitrov. He was great in his exemplary modesty. He asked me about our people, our Party, our comrades. He spoke Russian while I spoke Albanian, because I knew very little Russian.
When we came out on the balcony, amidst ovations from the people, the voice of Dimitrov boomed out. He had a powerful, resonant voice though his breathing was laboured because it was hindered by asthma; he spoke with enthusiasm, with fire, with boundless love for our people. While listening to him I had my gaze fixed on him and in my mind I recalled his titanic struggles, the torture and suffering he had undergone for the cause of the world proletariat, thought about this proletarian who could never be broken, but who
rose continually like Antaeus, amidst the storms, for the triumph of the revolution.
My speech, too, was warmly received by the people of Sofia, because it was simple and expressed the ardent love and deepest feelings of our people and Party for the Bulgarian people, the Communist Party of Bulgaria and Dimitrov personally. I gave a brief outline of the history of our people in the past and during the National Liberation War, of our close Leninist links with the Soviet Union, with the heroic Red Army, with Stalin, and with Dimitrov's Bulgaria. I also mentioned our relations with the new Yugoslavia.
In the official joint talks of the two delegations, I spoke on behalf of our delegation and Dimitrov on behalf of the Bulgarian delegation.
I made a relatively lengthy exposition in which I described the development of the National Liberation War and the principles which guided our war. I related how the first foundations were laid and the people's state power was created during and after the war; I spoke about the formation of çetas and the National Liberation Army in the heat of battles and actions; about the mobilization of the people and the creation of the National Liberation Front. I described what policy we pursued in connection with the Front and the main forms of the work, pointing out the historical fact that the Front was led by the Communist Party, that neither in the Front nor outside it did we have other parties within the country. Then I spoke about the Party, without which nothing could have been achieved, spoke about the directives which we received from the Comintern, etc., etc.
I went on to give an outline of the general political and economic situation and very briefly touched on our relations with Yugoslavia. Of course, this was neither the place nor the occasion to go into detail about our relations, whether good or bad, with Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav leadership. What was going on in Tirana in connection with these relations I tried to keep deep within myself, to avoid implying to the Bulgarian comrades or anybody else that something bad was
occurring between us and Tito. Later, when the moment came, when the situation had ripened and become clear, then everything would be stated openly. The Bulgarian comrades themselves did not give us the occasion and did not ask us to go into detail about our relations with Yugoslavia. They had displayed Tito's portrait along with the portraits of Stalin, Dimitrov and me, and they, too, spoke only in general about their friendship with the fraternal peoples of Yugoslavia, their joint road for the construction of the new life, and that was all.
In my exposition, then, I got over the question of Yugoslavia without any embarrassment and pointed out to the friends that our internal political situation was strong, but that we were struggling against numerous, all-round difficulties for the development of our economy.
I spoke about the subversive activity of the Anglo-Americans. We were waging a continual war against agents dropped from the air, landed from the sea, or infiltrated over the border from Greece, and the latter country was carrying on ceaseless unrestrained propaganda making claims to Southern Albania and remained <<in a state of war>> with the People's Republic of Albania. I stressed that all this propaganda and subversive activity did not frighten our people at all, but on the contrary, they were being strengthened and tempered, increasing and sharpening their vigilance day by day.
Comrade Dimitrov congratulated me on my exposition and, to tell the truth, I retain to this day the impression that I had passed a great test, because I was worked up about being in the presence of Dimitrov, although, amongst all the great leaders that I have ever met, he was the most unpretentious. The respect and love which I had for him were precisely the factors which increased my emotion.
After I had spoken, Dimitrov rose and made a fiery speech about our friendship and especially about our people and their heroic wars.
We listened with the greatest attention to his words, to his profound thoughts when he spoke about the important
role of the Soviet Union and the great Stalin in the question of the crowning with success of the Second World War and the establishment of the new order in our countries. He opened to us a broad horizon about the problems of the foreign policy of our socialist countries, together with the Soviet Union, and the savage policy of Anglo-American imperialism and its satellites, against which we had to wage a stern fight in all fields. Dimitrov touched on the question of Greece where monarcho-fascist reaction ruled, as well as on the disturbed and unstable situation in neo-fascist Italy and stressed:
<<They will be powerless to harm Albania because the new People's Albania knows very well how to defend itself and we shall defend ourselves together.>>
Going on to mention the Treaty of Friendship, Collaboration and Mutual Aid between Albania and Yugoslavia, Dimitrov, in the name of the Bulgarian government and people, proposed that a treaty of friendship and mutual aid should be signed between Albania and Bulgaria, also, which we had foreseen, too.
Our enthusiasm reached its climax. I stood up and in a brief and moving speech, because I could hardly speak from joy and emotion, I said:
<<We are completely in agreement with your proposal. Our people and government will be extremely happy and grateful. This is a day of historic importance for our people,>> etc.
We embraced and kissed. There had never been a happier day for us. It seemed to us that we had gained the heavens. We would make even more secure the borders of our Homeland for the freedom of which our people had shed so much blood through the centuries.
I am not going to speak about the ceremonies and visits which our delegation made in Sofia to the different institutions and factories, because there were many of them, and after all these years I cannot remember them all one by one, but the enthusiasm and love which the Bulgarian working people and working class displayed for the Albanian people have remained unforgettable for me.
In one great festive evening in Sofia they awarded me the title <<Honorary Citizen of Sofia>> and I remember that that evening we sang and danced with ordinary citizens and the Bulgarian leaders, just as if we were in Albania.
At one moment (I don't remember whether it was during this evening or at the dinner he put on to welcome us) Dimitrov said amongst other things:
<<Our people honour and respect your people and your wonderful traditions and qualities. Since the time of my childhood I've heard the saying amongst our people, 'May you be as dauntless as the Arnauts, i.e., the Albanians.' Your quality of never bowing your heads in the face of any difficulty or danger is very well known amongst us.>>
I looked at him carefully right in the eye in order to understand whether he had said this quite casually or had something else in mind, but I was unable to discover anything. He smiled at me and raised his glass.
<<Yes,>> I said, <<this has been a feature of our people over the centuries. They have been attacked by many enemies, have done battle with them, have shed their blood, have made great sacrifices, but have never bent the knee. Now that we have the Party this feature is being further strengthened. We shall never give way in the face of any difficulty or obstacle, Comrade Dimitrov.>>
<<Good luck!>> he said and we clinked glasses. <<Long live your people!>>
As I said, there were many visits and they were very cordial. At one cooperative that we visited they took us to a field of strawberries. I remember that we were accompanied there by Traicho Kostov, a deputy prime minister and minister of internal affairs of Bulgaria (the Bulgarian counterpart of Rankovic who was condemned after the exposure of the Titoite betrayal and rehabilitated when the Khrushchevites came to power), as well as by Georgi Traikov, general secretary of the Bulgarian Popular Agrarian Union, who at that time was deputy prime minister and later was elected president of the Presidium of the People's Assembly of the Peo-
ple's Republic of Bulgaria. Men and women welcomed us there. After we talked, an old man asked me about Georgi Traikov:
I told him who he was, but the old man got up and said to him:
<<Where are you, brate ?[*] You are the chairman of our Agrarian Party and in all my long life I've never seen you!>>
This made an impression on us, because it was evidence of the weak links which these people had with the masses. Regardless of the fact that Traikov was of Stambolisky's' Agrarian Party, the Bulgarian Communist Party kept him very close to the leadership and, indeed, they told us that he was a communist, but they did not declare this.
The official dinner which Dimitrov put on for us will remain unforgettable. He was wearing a black suit. He seated Nexhmije on his right side while I, facing him, had his wife on my right. I remember a small but very significant detail. Before we began the speeches and the eating, Dimitrov gathered up the large range of spoons and forks he had in front of him and said to the waiter:
<<Take these away, I've no need for twenty. One knife, fork and spoon is enough for me.>> He was such a simple man that he could not tolerate bourgeois luxury and customs. Inspired by his simplicity, I, too, filled the waiter's hands with nickel-plated cutlery.
After Dimitrov had spoken I replied with very warm words, some of which I devoted to the great figure of Dimitrov, to his major role as a leader, not only of the Bulgarian communists, but of all the communists of the world, and described him as a pupil and very close collaborator of the great Stalin, etc.
* brother (Bulgarian in the
 Leader of the Bulgarian Popular Agrarian Union founded in 1889.
indelible impressions to the residence in which we were staying, a palace of ex-King Boris. After we sat down in the sitting-room to smoke a cigarette and to talk over the impressions we had from the dinner, we went to our bed-rooms. But I could not sleep. In my mind's eyes I was going over the impressions of the meetings and the warm words of Dimitrov, calling back to my mind his life of the undaunted fighter, the efforts and sacrifices he had made for the cause of his people and the world proletariat. It must have been well past midnight when I heard a knock at the door. I got up and opened it. At the door-step were Koçi Xoxe and Shule with frowning faces.
<<What has happened? Have you still not gone to sleep?>> I asked.
<<We've not gone to sleep because we want to talk with you,>> said Koçi.
<<Is it that urgent?>> I asked. <<Couldn't you wait till next morning?>>
<<Shule and I are so worried that we could not sleep,>> said Koçi Xoxe. <<So we want to talk now!>>
I stared at them fixedly for a moment, told them to wait for me in the sitting-room till I threw something on my back and uent inaide [went inside? -- DJR]. Hysni had heard the knocking at the door of my bed-room and the voices after midnight and appeared at the door of his bed-room.
<<Come, Hysni,>> I said. <<Koçi and Shule have something urgent to tell us!>>
We sat down in the sitting-room and Koçi Xoxe began saying:
<<I and Shule did not like your speech at the dinner and do not agree with what you said about Dimitrov!>>
I opened my eyes in astonishment and shot a glance at Hysni, who was just as astonished as I was.
<<We are not in agreement with all those epithets you used about him. We don't say that Dimitrov is not an outstanding man, but you gave him a major role.>>
<<I made no mistake in what I said. I did not exaggerate anything about Dimitrov,>> I replied. <<I should have said more, because he deserves it. It's you who are wrong, although I don't understand how such a thing causes you so much torture that you can't sleep for it! Not only ought we to speak of Dimitrov,>> I continued, <<but the whole revolutionary and progressive world has spoken about him in ardent terms which he fully deserves!>>
Hysni intervened angrily, talking my side:
<<What are you saying? What are these out-of-place things?! Everything in Comrade Enver's speech was correct!>>
Koçi jumped up and said:
<<That's what you think, but we think otherwise, we disagree with you.>>
<<We'll settle this matter in Tirana,>> I told them in a stern tone. <<This disagreement must not hinder us from carrying out our work with success and accomplishing the task with which the Party and the government have charged us.>>
<<Yes, yes,>> exclaimed Koçi, <<but in all that speech in which you praised Dimitrov so much you ignored Tito completely and did not say one word about him. I do not agree that Dimitrov should outshine the grandeur of Tito, his capacity and reputation as an outstanding revolutionary. Tito is the greatest figure and the most brilliant image of the peoples of the Balkans. You said, 'Dimitrov is an outstanding international figure', but this must be said about Tito, because he really is such a figure, and Tito's Yugoslavia today should become the very centre of the peoples of the Balkans.>>
Then, I realized why they could not sleep and what all this <<concern>> was about and why they disagreed with us. I immediately remembered their meeting with Rankovic in Belgrade and understood the whole significance and reason for that meeting, allegedly to receive party instructions, but, in fact, to receive directives to keep us under surveillance lest we go beyond the limits dictated by the Yugoslavs, <<to correct>> us and to act in support of the secret directives of Tito-Rankovic.
I told Koçi and Shule:
<<This is a provocation you are committing, because I think that a toast at an official dinner in Bulgaria was not the place to speak of the merits of Tito. I mentioned Tito when I spoke of our friendship with Yugoslavia, and it seems to me that this was correct and sufficient, therefore, I do not budge from my opinion.>>
<<We do not agree with you!>> persisted Kristo and Koçi red-faced.
<<Neither do I agree with you. We shall discuss this question in Tirana. Now let us go to bed because we have work to do tomorrow,>> I said curtly and stood up.
<<I'm in full agreement with the opinion of Comrade Enver,>> interjected Hysni and we went to our bed-rooms to lie awake all night.
This was the first incident that occurred in Bulgaria with Koçi and Kristo. There was to be another, this time in the form of an <<amendment>> to a document which we were to sign in connection with the development of trade between the two countries. It was a simple normal document drafted in principle, as is done in such cases. The two <<adherents to principles>> (put up to this by Rankovic) told me that we should add to the text the words <<in agreement with Yugoslavia>>.
I told them that it was not good for us to ask for such a thing to be put in.
<<In practice no one ties our hands to prevent us acting as we see best,>> I went on. <<If we see it beneficial we sell and buy in Bulgaria, too, of course, first of all fulfilling the obligations we have under the agreements signed with Yugoslavia.>>
However, since it was impossible to convince them (they were convinced about dependence on the Yugoslavs), in the end I said:
<<Propose some sort of amendment and discuss it in the preparatory commission.>>
Eventually, at the plenary meeting, on the intervention of Dimitrov, Kolarov, one of the Bulgarian leaders and a comrade of Dimitrov's, formulated something of this nature and the incident was closed. Koçi Xoxe had something to report to his colleague Rankovic when we returned!
In our free time the Bulgarian comrades came and talked with us about various problems. Kolarov, too, was very unpretentious and friendly with us. One day he talked to us about Stalin, about the heroism of the bolsheviks, about the difficult situation in the Soviet Union after the revolution, about the 1st Five-year Plan and the enthusiasm of the masses. He also told us about his work in the Comintern and the time when he was sent to work in Mongolia.
<<How difficult it was there!>> related Kolarov. <<The country and the people were just as in the depths of the Middle Ages, the lamas and the monasteries ruled. Each family was compelled to send one or two sons to become lamas. The lama institutions were all centres of Japanese espionage. The nomadic people were completely illiterate, ignorant, syphilitic, and suffered indescribable poverty. Doctors, medicines, bread were unknown to them. All they had was meat kumis (mare's milk), sheep-skin clothing, horses, and nothing else. Belief in religion and mysticism were complete. When people died in Ulan Bator they did not bury them, but there was a pit and they threw them in there. Sometimes they threw them in still alive. On account of the climate the bodies did not putrify but 'dissolved.' The people lived in tents. With the aid of the Soviets the people's regime of Suhe Bator began to build some apartments,>> continued Kolarov, <<but no one would move into them. Great propaganda was necessary about everything, down to the smallest things, and in particular, a great struggle had to be waged against the influence of the lamas and their despotic structure supported by the Japanese.>>
 At that time vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers and minister of foreign affairs of Bulgaria.
The moment came when we were to go to Kritchim, where we were to sign the agreements. On the way we visited historical sites, factories and cooperatives. Everywhere we were welcomed with indescribable joy and enthusiasm. Along the railway great masses of people standing in the snow cheered <<Hurrah!>>. The train stopped, we were given gifts, started again, and thus we arrived at the place, the name of which I can't remember, where we were to leave the train and go to Kritchim by car.
When the train stopped the cheering crowd broke through the cordons and blocked the road. Dimitrov and I were the first to struggle through. Dimitrov said to me:
<<They'll be here a long time. If we wait for the comrades we'll be caught up in the people again, therefore let you and me get in the car and 'break through'>> (in a word, he meant like the comitadjis of old). And that is what we did. Dimitrov, I and the guard drove ahead through the snow. The convoy was a long way behind.
<<We have no security guards, brate,>> the driver said to Dimitrov.
<<Drive on! We have the people to protect us,>> replied Dimitrov.
Near Kritchim the people had blocked the road.
<<You must speak to them!>> Dimitrov said to me. <<In Russian?>>
<<How can I speak to them?>> I said. <<I know a little Russian, but I can't speak with those few words I know.>>
<<Davaj,>>* said Dimitrov, <<you speak Albanian, because even without knowing Albanian, I'll translate faithfully for you, since I know what you want to say to them, for our feelings are the same, we have the one heart.>>
And that is what we did. We stood up in front of the people, I spoke in Albanian with a few Russian words, and the dear old man translated into Bulgarian.
* Come on (Russ. in the original).
When we got back into the car Dimitrov said to me:
<<The peasants won't be surprised how I know Albanian, because the Bulgarians and the Albanians have always been brothers and comrades-in-arms.>>
Dear, beloved Georgi Dimitrov, honey flowed from your mouth, as our people say!
Finally we reached Kritchim. Kritchim is a big village where the kings of Bulgaria had the best lands and had built a beautiful hunting palace, both for summer and winter. In this palace, which was now the property of the Republic, we were the guests of the Bulgarian party and government and Dimitrov personally. In this beautiful place there was a marvellous park, with flowers growing in open beds and in hot-houses, which flourished and bloomed winter and summer. There they cultivated many kinds of trees, including some tall strong coniferous trees called sequoia, brought from Canada, as they told us. In this park they kept and fed animals and birds which had been tamed and acclimatized.
Here something unexpected and unpleasant happened through Kristo Themelko. On the second day he had got up early in the morning, taken a shot-gun and gone out into the park. When we had all gathered downstairs Shule came in <<triumphantly>> carrying a big dead bird.
<<I shot it in the park,>> he said proudly.
<<What have you done!>> exclaimed Yugov. <<These are rare birds which we protect. We don't kill them, they are the ornaments of the park. But it doesn't matter!>> he added to cover his annoyance. Kristo Themelko's feathers drooped worse than those of the bird he had shot. We felt very sorry and ashamed about what had happened.
In Kritchim we ended the talks, concluded and signed the Treaty of Friendship, Collaboration and Mutual Aid. It was a solemn moment, especially for my comrades and me. The signing was done in the entrance hall. There a big table had been placed at which Dimitrov and I sat. We signed the documents, exchanged them, shook hands with each
other and embraced strongly. We had signed an historic act of great importance which ensured the People's Republic of Albania against the eventual threats of enemies. The Albanian people and their Party would welcome with great cheering and enthusiasm this treaty signed with the Bulgarian people, their old friends who had now emerged into the light of socialism under the leadership of Dimitrov and the Bulgarian Communist Party and with the decisive aid of the Soviet Union and Stalin.
The snow had covered everything and on this joyful day everything looked marvellous. I forgot the villainous intrigues of Koçi Xoxe who strutted around like a <<big gun>> in his lieutenant-general's uniform, without which he never failed to appear in order to give himself authority.
After we had eaten and congratulated one another, photographs were taken to mark the occasion and Dimitrov proposed we take a ride through the park. Everybody agreed. Landaus, each drawn by two black horses, were awaiting us.
<<You come with me,>> said Dimitrov and we got in together with an interpreter. It was a marvellous drive. For me it was a great honour to sit so close to Dimitrov, my beloved teacher of communism and the revolution. On the way he began to ask me about comrades he had known, about Ali Kelmendi, about the democratic priest Fan Noli, and Dr. Omer Nishani. Then he asked me:
<<What happened to the Trotskyite Zai Fundo?>>
<<We shot him,>> I said. <<He turned out to be an agent of the British and the feudals!>>
 This treaty which we signed with Dimitrov was a symbol of the friendship between the Albanian and Bulgarian peoples, whereas now that the revisionists, such as Zhivkov and company -- obedient lackeys of the Soviet social-imperialists, have come to power, this treaty is a dead letter. As to the friendship between our peoples, it will remain alive as it was in the time of our Renaissance men and in the time of the unforgettable Dimitrov. (Author's note.)
Then I asked Dimitrov what he thought about our Party and its line during the war and now.
<<It is a courageous, revolutionary party of the new type, as Stalin teaches us. The line of your Party has been correct. As far as I can judge it has shown maturity in the mobilization of the Front and the rallying of the people in it. Since there were no bourgeois parties in your country, you did well that you did not permit or encourage the formation of them, because they would have caused you difficulties, as they are trying to cause us. Look here, Comrade Enver,>> continued Dimitrov, putting his hand on my knee, <<keep the Party pure! Let it be revolutionary, proletarian and everything will go well with you!>>
Dear Georgi Dimitrov! What he told me as we drove through the snow that morning in Kritchim is implanted in my mind and my heart forever. As long as I live I will be faithful to it and will fight to ensure that the Party is revolutionary and proletarian!
These were unforgettable moments, unforgettable days for our people and especially for me.
We parted from sister Bulgaria, from the great Dimitrov, from the Bulgarian people and comrades with tears in our eyes, thanking them from our hearts for their hospitality, for the great and sincere friendship which they displayed for our people, for the Party and the People's Republic of Albania.
All the members of the delegation were very happy at the prospect of returning to the Homeland and informing the people and Party about the great political results which we had achieved. In regard to aid in the economic field, despite the great poverty in our country, we did not ask for any on account of the fact that the Bulgarians were in great difficulties, too, and the Soviet Union was assisting them. For their part, they did not make any concrete proposal either, but, of course, the way was open to reciprocal trade and to the according of some credit when the situation became more favourable for them.
Even Koçi Xoxe and Kristo Themelko seemed happy. I
had the impression that they had understood the stupidity of what they had done and I thought that that unpleasant scene was forgotten. I thought that the very close and friendly stand of Dimitrov and all the Bulgarian comrades towards us, our Party and our country had caused them to assess their stand towards the course followed by our Party, especially in its relations to the Yugoslav leadership, in a different light. They should have realized that for us, neither the world, nor socialism began and ended in Yugoslavia. They should have understood that our Party, our country had their own role and importance which we had to ceaselessly safeguard and strengthen. Hence, it was the opportunity for them to start to clear the rubbish out of their heads. I saw a certain joy in their eyes and gestures, and our train journey through Bulgaria and Yugoslavia towards Belgrade passed happily. We sang, asked the Bulgarian and Yugoslav guards about the places we were passing through and they explained to us where battles had taken place, etc. We asked one another: Will Tito receive us?
As I said, when we passed through Belgrade he told us that we would talk about <<our relations>> when we returned and I knew that if they began, these talks would be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, matters had to be carried through to the end.
However, as soon as we arrived at the railway station in Belgrade it was obvious that talks were not going to take place. Apart from an even more frigid atmosphere than the last time, now only a few third- and fourth-rate officials had come to meet us. We got into cars and, after they took us to the same place where we stayed before, they prepared to depart in order to leave us <<in peace>>. I asked the one who had been appointed to <<accompany>> me, or more correctly, to see me off, whether he knew when we were to meet Tito according to the promise made.
<<Comrade Tito,>> said the official <<officially>> left two days ago for a friendly visit to Rumania!>>
I nodded my head to let the official know that I under-
stood everything clearly and held out my hand to him. Neither he nor the others made any proposal for a program or suggested a meeting with any other comrade of the Yugoslav leadership. And I made no request either. The next day we set out for and arrived in Tirana.
THE TITOITES HEADING FOR INEVITABLE
EXPOSURE AND DEFEAT
Enslaving offers. On the Co-ordination Commission * Yugoslav militarymen pour into Tirana: <<Imminent danger is threatening Albania!>> Nako Spiru insists on putting Mehmet Shehu at the head of the General Staff of the Army. Tempo's military theses * General Hamovic demands the creation of a unified command * General Kupresanin in Tirana. Tito: <<I beg you to give us the bnse in Korça for one division.>> Notifying Stalin about the question of the Yugoslav division * The 8th Plenum of the CC -- a black stain on the history of the CPA. The temporary triumph of the Yugoslav theses * Monstrous attack of Koçi Xoxe and others on the Party and its sound cadres * Kupresanin, Zlatic and others: <<Tito wants you to demand the union with Yugoslavia.>> * Astonishing haste of the Titoites * The historic letter of Stalin * Ignominious departure of Tito's envoys from Albania.
The <<analyses>> which began in our leadership after the accusations which they made through Savo Zlatic and after the suicide of Nako Spiru convinced the Yugoslav leadership that its strategic plan for turning Albania into the 7th Re-
public of Yugoslavia was proceeding as had been envisaged. In order to disguise themselves before giving the final blow the Yugoslavs made a temporary <<retreat>>. They no longer attacked us directly, began to murmur about their <<feelings of friendship>> towards sister Albania and loudly advertised the <<aid>> which they gave us, on paper, of course. All over Yugoslavia, at meetings and rallies, on the radio, in the press, etc., they said that <<in grave and difficult days we stand beside our Albanian brothers>>, that <<for all our poverty we must save something and send it to Albania>>, and indeed, with collection boxes in hand, the Titoite jugglers even organized campaigns to collect charity for <<the poor>>.
All this was a truly insulting and demagogic farce worthy of those who want to cover up and disguise tragedies with buffonery. Especially at the moments when we were to set out for Bulgaria this farce was played with greater fervour, Tito sensed that the unexpected invitation which we received from Dimitrov to visit Bulgaria was not something fortuitous: undoubtedly he saw in it the intervention of the Soviets and, first of all, of Stalin.
At the same time, this <<popular internationalist aid>> which was trumpeted inside and outside Yugoslavia was to serve the leaders of Belgrade as that layer of powder which is sprinkled over a massacred corpse. They hoped that the Albanian people would be blinded by the Yugoslav buffonery of <<solidarity>> and not realize that they were being stabbed in the back.
We ourselves now saw that something unpleasant and evil was being hidden behind all this <<beautiful>> facade. When Belgrade smiled, we had the feeling that something evil was being prepared for our Party and country. <<The stick and the carrot>>, the accusations and <<promises>> of Tito and his henchmen were being felt and seen in their true light, as links of a chain, in Tirana.
However, in all this farce of <<friendship>> we saw the other side of the medal: the fever of fear and anxiety which haunted the chiefs in Belgrade, step by step, in the crime
which they were preparing to commit. Every action, every tactic of theirs against us, bore within itself the seeds of their inevitable exposure and the defeat of the plot. And the more the chiefs of the CPY were to hasten to commit their evil deed against us the nearer they were to approach their ignominious and inevitable doom.
On the eve of 1948, as a New Year <<gift>>, the leadership in Belgrade concentrated its attention on us in two fields in particular: first, in the economy and second, in the field of defence, in the army.
In regard to the Party, they thought that they already had it completely in their hands. Since the Berat Plenum, their henchmen, especially Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo, had become complete Titoites, had been perfected in the methods of conspirators, so that even without the direct interference of the Yugoslavs it was thought that they could guide the situation created according to the taste of their masters.
Thus, the Yugoslavs thought that in their agents recruited in the leadership of our Party they had the key to success, their strongest point; whereas in fact precisely here lay one of their weakest points, which would lead them to exposure and defeat.
This had to do with the anti-Marxist, Trotskyite concept of Tito and company about the party, its role and its functions. According to them, the base of the party was the <<mob>>, was the <<claque>> which need be given no attention because it had no role other than to obey, blindly and without any opposition, the orders and directives which came <<from above>>, from <<the leadership>> and especially from the <<strong hand>> in the leadership.
Proceeding from this concept, both in their own party
and in ours, they had concentrated their attention mainly on <<the top ranks>>, on winning over a pro-Titoite lobby in the leadership, a lobby which, according to them, would lead the whole party like a flock of sheep into Tito's fold. However, when the time came, precisely this anti-Marxist concept was to lead its bearers to the brink of disaster. Four or five recruited agents, however powerful, would be nothing in face of the colossal strength of our Party which had been educated and tempered to lead the people on the course of safeguarding and strengthening their freedom, and not up the blind alleys where Tito and his gang wanted to drive them.
However, this was to be proved later. At first, Tito and company thought that through their agent, the organizational secretary Koçi Xoxe, they had our Party <<in their grip>> and since, according to them, matters would go like clockwork in the Party, they concentrated their main attention on our economy and army.
On the basis of <<proposals>> of the Yugoslav leadership, which Zlatic had presented together with the accusations, at the beginning of December Zlatic came with another Yugoslav, Sergej Krajger, with a bundle of files under his arm. Present from our side were Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo and I. They <<congratulated>> us on being rid, at last, of Nako Spiru, the element who <<has complicated and harmed matters and has even managed to cause mutual frictions and doubts between us>>, and then they opened the files.
<<Now,>> said Zlatic, <<we want to put forward the question of the Co-ordination Commission more concretely. Comrade Krajger, one of our best experts on economic problems, has been charged by our leadership to carry the burden of chairman of this commission. It will be a Yugoslav-Albanian commission, that is, Albanian representatives will take part in it, too. It will follow the course of the development of the economy of our countries in detail, so that everything will be harmonized, that is, well co-ordinated.>>
<<When we met at the beginning of November,>> I said to Zlatic, <<I asked you what the character of this commission
would be and in what relationship the respective governments of the two countries would be with it and its competences. We are still completely unclear about this.>>
<<You are right,>> <<conceded>> Zlatic, <<because greater problems have preoccupied you. I shall reply to the best of my ability. You mentioned an extremely delicate problem, 'the relationship between the commission and the respective governments of the two countries'. I want you to understand me correctly in what I am about to say. The very idea of an economic union between our countries cannot be concretized without a common organ which, you might say, will stand and function between our two governments. If the work of economic union for the Yugoslav side is left solely in the hands of the Yugoslav government and, for the Albanian side, solely in the hands of the Albanian government, then troubles, conflicts, frictions and everything else will arise for us. The Co-ordination Commission will be the organ which eliminates these dangers.>>
<<Then is it to be an organ above our governments?>> I asked.
<<No, it will not be above the governments. Its competences will extend in the first place only over economic matters, thus in the other fields all the competences remain in the hands of your government.>>
<<What is that? Does that mean we are to be 'relieved' of economic matters?>>
<<You are misunderstanding me!>> exclaimed Zlatic, angrily. <<I did not say you should be relieved of the economy. I said that the field of competences of the commission will extend only to economic matters and moreover, even here, the commission will be engaged with the problems which have to do with common plans, with the most effective ways for the co-ordination of plans, with the definition and detailing of the budgets, investments and income, with checkup on the accomplishment of tasks and measures which will be allocated, hence with all the major problems in this field. After that let the government decide about the economy.>>
<<And what is left in all this for our government to decide, as you say, when the Co-ordination Commission knows and settles everything?>> I asked him.
<<I don't know why you are afraid of this commission, Comrade Enver,>> exclaimed Zlatic. <<You are proceeding from a mistaken idea about it and consequently you look on everything with suspicion. The matter cannot be discussed on this basis. You should have faith in the advantages of the commission. Our comrades in Belgrade have considered it carefully, have studied all the advantages of it and that is why we demand that the commission should be formed. It will be an organ to assist both you and us, will have a great deal of work and many tasks and I regret that you are questioning everything. We came with the idea that the time was over when doubts and frictions began over every issue.>>
<<My question was sincere and very concrete,>> I said calmly. <<I don't believe that either Comrade Tito or you want us to accept ideas or projects about which we are not clear.>>
<<I agree with you,>> Zlatic <<backed down>>. <<But I say with conviction that you would not question us so much, if you had more faith in the sincerity and fairness of our proposals. Everything we say is for your benefit. Without an intermediary co-ordinating organ our governments will be faced with major difficulties. Our governments should not quarrel with each other through the fault of a few directors or specialists of the economy. Let comrades competent in this field solve the economic problems, let them have the friction with one another and find the proper solutions. Comrade Krajger is ready to cope with all the difficulties which will arise. Let the governments decide the major questions. That is clear. I don't know what Comrades Xoxe or Kristo have to say?>>
<<We thank you from our hearts for all this aid and these ideas which the Yugoslav leadership gives us,>> replied Koçi Xoxe there and then. <<I'm not a specialist in these matters, because the economy is not my sector, but I know in
my own mind that the Co-ordination Commission will advance the work and the things that occurred in the past will not occur again. I don't think that the Comrade Commander has no faith in you, either, but the economy is very complicated. Moreover, Nako Spiru confused us and we do not understand what is being done.>>
<<Quite right!>> Zlatic congratulated Xoxe. <<These problems of the economy are very difficult and complicated, especially those of economic union. In Belgrade the cream of our economic specialists are engaged in this work. I don't want Comrade Enver to misunderstand me, but I myself do not thoroughly understand all the secrets of these matters. If I knew them I would tell you. The main thing is the good spirit. Comrade Xoxe put it correctly. He is not a specialist, but his class instinct leads him to correct conclusions. Those who come from the intelligentsia ought to learn from him!>>
Koçi Xoxe nodded his head very pleased with himself over the pat on the back they were giving him.
<<In our leadership there is a splendid harmony,>> continued Zlatic. <<Let us take the relations between Tito and Kardelj. Comrade Tito has the class instinct and Kardelj relies heavily on this instinct.>>
What he was hinting at was self-evident. But now there was no limit to their shamelessness.
After we debated for an hour or so about the <<nature>> of the commission and I several times heard such remarks as <<you do not want to understand,>>, <<you do not want to believe>>, etc., Koçi Xoxe cleared his throat and said the final word:
<<I think the commission should be created as the Yugoslav comrades say. The advantages which this commission will bring us will convince any comrade who has hesitations. From our side we should appoint Comrade Pandi Kristo to engage directly in this work. Of course, Pandi has not gone deeply into economic problems but the main thing is that he has the class instinct well developed. . .>>
In this situation and in these circumstances of pressure
and blackmail we were obliged to accept Tito's first offer, the creation of the Co-ordination Commission which, however camouflaged, comprised in the Titoites' plans the initial form, or embryo, of a future government of the state of occupation.
Very quickly, all the filth from this essentially neo-colonialist creation would begin to stench.
My opinion that this commission might turn into a kind of government over the government was being confirmed completely. Krajger gathered in his hands almost all the competences of our government, signed and sealed everything which had to do with the Albanian economy and its ways of development. In the framework of the Co-ordination Commission various sub-commissions were set up, which represented duplicates of our government departments. And whereas up till now, with the earlier forms of <<collaboration>> the Yugoslavs had robbed us as thieves, from now on they robbed us openly, legally, as owners.
In time and cautiously we were to oppose them in this field, too, but initially, when the <<economic union>> was still covered with phrases about <<friendship>>, our responses were limited. As soon as I mentioned to Koçi Xoxe any doubt or concern about the decline of our economy, he immediately tried <<to pacify>> me:
<<Why do you worry about the economy?>> Xoxe said to me. <<Now that we have signed the economic treaties with Yugoslavia the aid will come. The important thing now is to prepare for the analyses of the Plenum which have remained up in the air.>>
Several times on end I asked Pandi Kristo to inform us how the work in the Co-ordination Commission was going, but he answered the same way as Xoxe. Indeed Pandi did not know how to put two words together, did not know how to report, therefore he said curtly:
<<Comrade Commander, don't you worry about the economy, because Comrade Krajger and the commission take the closest interest in it.>>
The coming Plenum of our Central Committee, where
the discussion would take place in the spirit of Tito's accusations, was being used by the agents of Belgrade as a means of blackmail to intimidate us and compel us to accept what they told us.
Meanwhile militarymen poured into Tirana as never before. Yugoslav generals, colonels, majors and captains with shining epaulets came and went in Albania as though it were their own domain. They brought with them the great <<concern>> of the Yugoslav leadership about the <<extremely acute>> situation abroad and about <<the imminent danger>> which was threatening our countries as never before! The great noise Tito's men were making about this <<alarm>> had been echoing in our ears for two years.
Of course, it was more than true that the situation around our countries was not calm and without dangers, but it seemed to us that all that tension and alarm in which Tito's emissaries presented the situation was unjustified. It seemed to us that things were being exaggerated.
As in all the other fields, here, too, it was soon to emerge that they were aiming at something else.
The Belgrade leadership was making ready to present its next <<offer>>. In appearance this offer had to do with the <<joint>> defence of our freedom, but in essence it was nothing but an official demand to hand over the freedom and independence of our country as a gift to the chauvinists of Belgrade.
For years they had been trying to achieve this through the most <<suitable>> and least <<obvious>> ways and means, but without success. This is what had happened with their feverish efforts to take control of our army, to orientate and organize it as a part, a corps of the Yugoslav army, subordinate to the Yugoslav staff.
For us the question of the army had always been sacred, like the question of the Party itself. It had been created, organized, educated and tempered with the teachings of our Party, with the great experience of the liberation wars of our people, and with the experience of the Soviet army. In
regard to the political, ideological and military education of our army, the problems have been decided categorically on the correct Marxist-Leninist road of our Party.
The basis of our National Liberation War was partisan warfare, the fighting experience of our forefathers, which was enriched in the new conditions of a modern war, therefore, during the war we further enriched our experience with that of the revolutionary war of other peoples and, first of all, the Soviet peoples. All this experience we gathered for ourselves and elaborated for ourselves, because right through the war up to the complete liberation of Albania we had no contacts at all with the Soviet army, which did not pass through our country.
However, the fact is that for our army the Red Army, which was born from the Great October Revolution, was the most beloved army, and from the first days of Liberation we set ourselves the task of educating our army with lofty patriotism on the Marxist-Leninist road and with the example of the Red Army of Stalin.
We began to send many cadres and militarymen who had just come through the war to uchilishche *, to other military schools and academies in the Soviet Union, which always accepted them and we were whole-heartedly greateful for this.
We sent very few cadres to the Yugoslav military schools, because in the first years after Liberation the Yugoslavs had few such schools. They themselves, like us, sent large numbers of their sons to study in the Soviet Union. Thus we did not have obvious frictions with the Yugoslavs over this question, they did not express displeasure that we preferred the military schools of the Soviet Union and not theirs. The frictions, their anti-Sovietism and anti-Albanianism were to be displayed openly later, precisely when their bourgeois nationalist and chauvinist sentiments began to assume more marked and more numerous forms, when their megalomania,
* Russ. in the original.
their sense of the <<capability>> and <<capacity>> of the <<great and powerful Yugoslav state>> began to be cultivated and developed. This was apparent in the military sector as in all other sectors.
Taking advantage of those links which had been created during the war years between our two parties (and this we regarded as a normal and necessary thing), the Yugoslavs aimed to leave our army in a deplorable condition, without organization and without sound leadership.
Initially we asked them to give us the regulations they had, with the aim that we would study them and adapt them to our conditions. They sent them very readily, accompanied with <<specialists on the regulations>>. However, they caused us a great deal of trouble. Every three to four months the regulations were changed. The training was not carried out on a studied basis, but just as it pleased one or the other Yugoslav <<specialist>>.
The reason was not that they did not know. No, they wanted to leave our army weak and disorganized, with the aim that it would not be able to take counter-action against them later when the appropriate moment came.
A damaging role in this situation was played by Kristo Temelko, the Director of the Political Directory of our Army, who had fought well and was sincere, but after the Berat Plenum, Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo got their hooks into him, having in mind that he was of Macedonian origin, and he was implicated in the ranks of the elements who worked in favour of every <<orientation>> that came from Yugoslavia.
I frequently summoned Shule and asked him angrily:
<<What is this? Further changes to the regulations?>>
<<Don't misunderstand us, Comrade Commander!>> he said. <<We are in the first steps. We are going to build a modern army. At the time when we had none at all, the first regulations were a good step towards modernization. When the second ones came, obviously, they were improved. Later they changed them again. They work, these clever devils, rack
their brains and regulate the regulations. There is no end to perfection, Comrade Commander!>>
<<That's all very well, there is no end to perfection, but this situation must come to an end,>> I told him. <<What is this? As soon as our soldiers start to learn one set of regulations you replace it with another!>>
<<It's all to the good.>>
<<No,>> I said, <<this is disorganization rather than organization.>>
I saw that the situation was not changing and discipline was falling apart. I observed that, although I was Commander-in-Chief, I was virtually pushed to one side, in order to deal with <<the most important things>>, a little of everything. Things could not proceed in this way. Nako, as one completely involved in the game which was being played <<far from me>>, brought me all kinds of unpleasant facts and stories which he learned from his <<men>>. I was convinced that the army must be taken firmly in hand. Among the first measures which I decided to take was the reorganization of the General Staff. When we discussed this question, Nako proposed insistently that Mehmet Shehu should be placed at the head of the General Staff because he was <<a born soldier, well trained, who had proved himself>>.
<<It's true he has proved himself,>> I told Nako, <<but from two aspects, both good and bad.>>
As to his bad aspects I had in mind especially his sectarian acts during the war, as well as the other fact that when we had criticized him for his sectarianism, he had swung to the opposite, to opportunism. I had in mind also that he frequently acted on his own, he was conceited, demanded discipline from the others, but was not all that disciplined himself towards the line of the Party and the orders of the General Command, to the point that during the National Liberation War he did not carry out the order for the movement of the 1st Division to the north, until he was given a second clear-cut order.
These were the things I had in mind in regard to Mehmet Shehu's negative aspects when Nako proposed to me his
appointment as chief of the General Staff. Of course, from what we knew of him at that period, I also took account of his positive aspects, which impelled me to believe that under the leadership of the Party he would rid himself of those negative traits which we recognized in him. Likewise, the fact that he was studying in the Military Academy in the Soviet Union added to my hope that Mehmet Shehu would strongly oppose the mish-mash which the Yugoslavs we creating in our army. With people like Tahir Kadare, Nexhip Vinçani and Pëllumb Dishnica, and some others, the situation could not be corrected.
We put forward the proposal in the Bureau and, after some minor hesitations, even Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo agreed. We summoned Mehmet Shehu from Moscow, where he was studying in the <<Voroshilov>> Academy, and at our first meeting I told him about the situation in our army, related the history of the Yugoslav regulations and before I had really finished he burst out with extreme expressions as was his habit:
<<The brilliant military strategic art of the Red Army will find its most complete affirmation in the whole life of our army. We shall place the regulations of the Soviet Army in the hands of every soldier and will not allow even a full-stop or a coma to be altered in them. . .>>
<<This is not what's wanted, either,>> I told him. <<We long ago gave the orientation that we should have our own regulations, which should not be just a complete translation of the regulations of sister armies. The mistake the comrades have made up till now has been that they have based themselves only on the Yugoslav regulations which have been time after time. We must not permit such anomalies any more. Account must be taken of the Soviet regulations, first of all, and the good points of the Yugoslav regulations must be looked at, but we must work to ensure that our regulations are based on our own experience, with the objective that in the future we shall have regulations which are completely our own.>>
<<This is what I wanted to say,>> replied Mehmet Shehu.
backing down and promising solemnly: <<We shall decide everything in a creative way, on the basis of the line of the Party and our rich experience of the National Liberation War.>>
Thus, applying the Stalinist art in the organizational and ideo-political structure of the army in our conditions, we decided to adopt the Soviet military regulations as the base. At the same time we asked Stalin to send us some Soviet military advisers as well, to assist in the organization of the General Staff and the detachments. Stalin sent us good men with military and political experience.
This course which we pursued consistently did not please the Yugoslavs. They considered themselves <<insulted>> and their military attaché and his aides slandered and criticized everything and incited our officers against the Soviet advisers, the Soviet regulations and the Soviet experience. A certain Spiro Serdjentic, a Yugoslav officer who had come allegedly to exchange the political experience of the Yugoslav army with the Political Directory of our Army, but who in fact maintained contact with Kristo Themelko, Pëllumb Dishnica, etc., displayed special activity in this anti-Albanian and anti-Soviet campaign.
Although we attacked them, these actions were being carried out continuously, reaching the point when some of the Yugoslavs, beginning from the main ones, like Ambassador Josip Djerdja and Tito's <<adviser>> to us Savo Zlatic, etc., were so blinded by indignation that they took our officer comrades who had graduated from the military schools and returned to their Homeland for Soviet officers, and <<complained>> to us about this large number of <<Soviet advisers>> which we were bringing in. Later they made another attempt to set us on a wrong course. They summoned Kristo Themelko, Mehmet Shehu and some others to Belgrade, to a military meeting or seminar, at which Vukmanovic-Tempo (at that time political director of the Yugoslav army) presented <<the military theses of the Yugoslav army>>. After this, through Shule, they tried to persuade us that we, too, should adopt those anti-Marxist and openly anti-Soviet theses. Kristo Themelko,
indoctrinated by Tempo, came to me all enthusiasm, praised these theses to me, and proposed their adoption.
<<Do you have these theses written out?>> I asked him.
<<I have ample notes,>> he replied boldly. <<We were together with Mehmet Shehu at that seminar, we have everything noted down accurately.>>
<<Very well,>> I said. <<Write out these things you have presented to me, and bring them to me so that we can study them more carefully.>>
A few days later Themelko brought me the <<theses>>. They were the same ideas and claims which we had heard long ago about the <<specific experience of the Yugoslav army in the National Liberation War>>, about the <<creative application>> of military science by Tito, about the <<importance of this experience in the struggle against the stereotypism of earlier revolutions>>, etc., etc., except that now they were elevated to art, to theory. According to them, <<in the conditions of the Balkans and Europe as a whole, the experience of the October Revolution and the Red Army are no longer of value>>, because <<the new conditions are different from those of the October Revolution>>, and also because <<the Red Army belongs to a country which is thirty years ahead in the construction of socialism.>> Thus, according to Tempo, the forms of organization and functioning of the Red Army were allegedly unsuitable for us!
After I carefully studied the Yugoslavs' <<theses>> I summoned Themelko and Mehmet Shehu and gave them my clear-cut opinion:
<<In these theses there are incorrect, mistaken views and we must not adopt them in any way. We do not disdain any good experience,>> I told them, <<but these theses do not contain such a thing. Then, why should we adopt their theses when we have our own and the Soviet experience?>>
Thus, this effort of the Titoites failed, too.
From all these stands of ours, as well as from the detailed information which they received from the sources of the secret agency which they had created, the Yugoslavs were convinced that they could not use our army as a blind tool
to realize their secret aims. So they changed their tactics.
In July 1947, a big Yugoslav military delegation headed by Vukmanovic-Tempo and Koca Popovic (the former, political director and the latter, chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army) came to Albania and held intensive discussions with our representatives, Kristo Themelko, Mehmet Shehu, etc. During those days I was preparing to go to Moscow and when we returned, Mehmet Shehu and Kristo Themelko came to inform me:
<<The talks gave brilliant results,>> said Mehmet Shehu. <<The Yugoslav comrades take a serious view of the alarming situation in the Balkans and proposed to give us major supplies of military material, all-round aid and mutual collaboration in all sectors of defence.>>
<<What is meant by this collaboration?>> I asked.
<<More or less like the collaboration in the other sectors. 'The spirit of the Economic Convention should be extended to the army, too,' Tempo told us. They proposed concrete measures about raising the efficiency of the army, about the extension of military projects, about equipment, communications, clothing, etc. In short, we should have a bigger army, better equipped technically, better clothed, shod and fed. That is, a modern army. We are defining the concrete measures for this major undertaking.>>
<<All these things are necessary,>> I told Mehmet Shehu, <<but you must bear in mind our conditions. Can our economy cope with all these demands immediately?!>>
<<You must not worry about this. In the spirit of the Convention, the Yugoslav comrades agreed to cover our expenditure in the army with their budget!>>
This seemed to me extremely suspect. The <<friends>> who were fulfilling almost nothing of what they had undertaken in the economic sectors were now becoming extremely generous in regard to the army! And when Kristo Themelko considered it <<necessary>> to add to what Mehmet Shehu said, my doubts and worries were further reinforced.
<<The Yugoslav comrades are going to treat our army the
same as their army!>> added Shule. <<Tempo said that in the spirit of the Economic Convention, while unifications in the economy are important, the unification of our armies is just as important, if not more so!>>
<<What? What is this unification of the armies?!>> I asked shocked.
<<He did not say that, I did not hear it!>> Mehmet Shehu intervened quickly when he saw how shocked I was.
<<He spoke about the extension of the spirit of the Economic Convention to the army, too,>> Themelko replied quietly. <<We were together in all the talks and we agreed to everything. What is the Economic Convention? The unification of prices, equalization of currencies, customs union. I understand this spirit in the army as unification of armies.>>
<<Did Tempo say this or is this how you understood it?>> I asked, looking at him sternly.
<<Perhaps I have confused the matter,>> mumbled Shule.
<<'Perhaps I have confused the matter', you say,>> I retorted angrily. <<Why don't you rather say that you saw the relations between our armies as those between the lek and the dinar?>>
Mehmet Shehu <<declared>> once again that this <<has not been said>>. This <<would be a mistake>>, <<Comrade Shule should not make naive comparisons>>, etc.
This problem was closed, considering it a blunder of Shule. However, immediately after the accusations which Zlatic communicated to us in November, we heard with shock and regret and were finally convinced that what Shule <<had thought>>, but Mehmet Shehu allegedly <<had not heard>>(!) in July, was more than true. The Yugoslavs quite openly demanded the unification of our armies, that is, the placing of our army under the general command of the Yugoslav army.
During one of those days Mehmet Shehu came to me and said:
<<Comrade Commander, in the General Staff we are quarrelling because there is talk about the unification of the two commands of our armies and the Yugoslavs want to eliminate you!>>
These were the moments after Nako Spiru's suicide, the moments when Koçi Xoxe had drawn his sword and was brandishing it left and right. In the analyses which we were making, amongst other accusations raised were those about the <<unsatisfactory situation in the army>>, especially in the General Staff, about <<the stereotype spirit>> in which we were educating the army (!), about <<the underestimation of the military experience of the Yugoslav comrades,>> etc.
Initially these attacks were made by <<criticizing>> the chief of the General Staff Mehmet Shehu. Especially in a number of people in the Political Directory of the Army with whom the Yugoslavs were in direct contact, such a feeling was crystallizing, not only against Mehmet Shehu, but also against me. This was still not being done openly, but indirectly that is where it led, because it turned out as if I had proposed Mehmet Shehu as chief of the Staff, and supported him, etc. On the other hand, since I was Commander-in-Chief, now that it was said that <<things are not going well in the General Staff,>> this was a direct attack against me for <<permitting>> this situation!
Mehmet Shehu, who felt that his position was shaky, to save himself from this situation <<opposed>> the Yugoslavs openly (later I shall relate what this <<opposition>> was), and tried to gain my backing and support. His statement that, <<the Yugoslavs are trying to eliminate you>>, did not surprise me at those moments, because we were at the climax of the analyses in the Bureau, but nevertheless I asked him in what direction he saw this thing.
<<General Hamovic, Tempo's deputy, has come with a group of militarymen and they are demanding, not only the unification of our armies, but also the creation of a unified command which will direct the activities and training of the unified army,>> explained Mehmet Shehu.
<<I opposed them openly,>> he added.
I took a very serious view of the information which Mehmet Shehu gave me, <<informed>> Koçi Xoxe about this, too, and told him we should organize a meeting in which, in the
presence of Mehmet Shehu and Kristo Themelko, Hamovic should make the ideas of the Yugoslav leadership <<clearer>> to us.
The meeting was held, but Hamovic did not take part. He had gone to inspect the detachments personally and to make contact with the various chiefs of our army!
<<Mehmet Shehu has been hasty in the conclusion which he draws and in all the information which he has given you!>> Shule attacked him. <<We were going to inform you about everything they said at the meeting, but the matters have still not matured.>>
<<What? Do you think that I should be informed when you have decided everything? Such a thing is not permitted in any sector, least of all in the army!>> I told Themelko.
<<You are right, Comrade Commander, but we are in the phase of discussion. You are occupied with other work and Mehmet Shehu is manoeuvering to confuse us, just as his friend Nako Spiru did. It has not been said that you should be eliminated. You remain Commander-in-Chief.>>
<<Whether or not I remain, neither you, I, nor Hamovic decides this. The Party, the representative organs of the people in power decide this!>> I said to him.
<<The placing of our army under the Yugoslav command leads you to my conclusion,>> put in Mehmet Shehu.
<<Who said that the command would be Yugoslav?>> exploded Koçi Xoxe. <<It will be a joint, unified command.>>
<<You, too, have been informed about this?! How is it that you did not inform me?>> I asked Xoxe immediately.
He was nonplussed for a moment but now he had become a master of escaping from <<check-mate>>.
<<No! After you spoke to me yesterday I was worried and asked Shule. He made things clear to me.>>
It was plain that he was lying, but now lies and deception were becoming a system and it was in vain to try to discover the roots of them.
<<They are only some ideas, Comrade Commander, which apply not only to us, but also to the Bulgarian army.>> The-
melko tried to calm the atmosphere. <<We shall present the platform of unification to you when the idea is properly worked out. Mehmet Shehu is trying to split us with the aim of covering up his own mistakes. Since he became chief of the General Staff he has done nothing but damage. There is no harmony between the General Staff and the Political Directory. Mehmet Shehu wants to do everything himself, elbows other comrades out and offends people over nothing. Now he tells you that allegedly 'you are being eliminated', but when we were in Belgrade he himself eliminated you.>>
<<Kristo Themelko be careful about what you say!>> shouted Mehmet Shehu angrily. <<You are lying to the Commander for evil aims!>>
<<Do you remember what you said to Comrade Tito when we met him in Belgrade?>> replied Shule, quite unperturbed. <<'Under the leadership and supreme command of Comrade Tito our armies will become invincible'! That is what you said!>>
Mehmet Shehu's face turned red and he did not know what to say. Then he muttered:
<<That was a toast! Exaggerated things are said in toasts. And I proposed a toast to Comrade Enver, too. . .>>
<<Don't talk to us about toasts here,>> interrupted Koçi Xoxe. <<And you, Mehmet Shehu, pull yourself together. With these things that you are saying you will further alienate us from friendly Yugoslavia! When you go to Belgrade you butter up Tito, here you do the same thing with the Commander. You are dishonest with both of them. I know you very well, I know you inside out, just as I knew Nako Spiru.>>
Mehmet Shehu turned pale and seemed frozen to the spot.
<<We are going to look into your work carefully,>> continued Koçi, <<because the Plenum is coming up. We shall settle all these things at the Plenum.>>
A few days later, at a joint meeting of the General Staff and the Political Directory of the Army, Mehmet Shehu was faced with the full attack. There were plenty of grounds
on which to catch him in mistakes, all of them were gathered up against him, they were labelled as <<anti-Yugoslavism>> and the proposal to discharge him from the function he held was presented to the Political Bureau! In the existing situation the opinion of the Bureau in this case, too, was to be just a matter of form. Everything had been predetermined outside the Bureau. At the end of December 1947 Mehmet Shehu was replaced by Beqir Balluku.
It was quite obvious that things were on the decline in the army, as in all other sectors. I was fully convinced that the question of <<unification>> and the <<unified command>> was not an <<idea in the process of elaboration,>> as Koçi Xoxe and Kristo Themelko tried to present it, but a clear-cut demand. At that period, Kristo Themelko and the new chief of the General Staff Beqir Balluku were summoned to Belgrade allegedly for <<preliminary discussion and consultation>>, but it seemed to me that all this was a manoeuvre which was fraught with other dangers. I felt that it was absolutely necessary to have a quiet consultation with our comrades, but Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo did not agree that we should engage ourselves on a <<project>> when we had more <<important[>> (?) -- DJR] things in front of us -- <<the deepening of the analyses for the Plenum>>! I wanted to consult the Soviet comrades, too, but Koçi Xoxe leapt up in the air as if he were stung by a wasp:
<<Consult the Soviets?!>> he cried. <<In no way! We are not clear yet and we will confuse the VKP! Let us wait to hear what the comrades have to tell us when they return from Belgrade, and then see what to do!>>
Eventually the comrades returned. Only this time they were neither alone nor empty-handed. With them came a Yugoslav general with a resounding name, which when you heard it, created the impression that hob-nailed boots were marching <<crunch-crunch>> on the cobblestones. This was General Kupresanin. He had brought a whole suite of colonels and majors and an <<extremely urgent and important>> message for me from Tito personally.
As far as I remember, I received them the day following their arrival in Tirana. We exchanged the usual greetings and the General started directly into his theme:
<<On the special order of our supreme commander, the Minister of People's Defence, Marshal of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, I have come to you to bring a series of proposals of exceptional importance. What I have to communicate to you, as well as information about my identity, is communicated officially and in detail in this personal letter from Comrade Tito. Allow me to hand it to you!>>
He rose to his feet, stood to attention, took one step forward and held out the envelope to me, all solemnity, as if he were presenting his letter of credentials.
<<Now allow me to communicate to you orally the purpose of my dispatch here so unexpectedly. The situation around us presents greater threats than ever. We have information that in Greece the preparations are being completed for an attack which will be aimed initially against your southeastern borders.>>
He was silent for a moment, and then said to the Yugoslav officer whom he had with him:
Immediately a big map of the Balkans on which arrows, circles, flags and all kinds of other multi-coloured lines struck the eye was unrolled.
<<It is envisaged that the attack will begin in this territory,>> said Kupresanin, pointing to the border in the Korça-Erseka zone. <<We have information also that simultaneous attacks may begin from the sea. The Greek aggressive forces, supported by the Anglo-American forces and means, will try to smash your defence with a rapid general assault and then penetrate in depth. . . In these conditions, our leadership, extremely worried and loyal to its obligations under the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Aid, considers that a series of urgent measures should be taken. In regard to the main one, I shall cite textually what Comrade Tito writes to you in the letter I handed to you,>> said Kupresanin. He opened his brief-
case, took out a sheet of paper and began to read: <<Because of such an unclear situation, I beg you to give us the base in Korça for one division and for the auxiliary technical units. In this way the possibility will be created for you to secure the sector in the direction of the sea better and, in case of a provocation, our units will be able to intervene more quickly.>>
<<This is the main and urgent proposal of the Yugoslav leadership,>> continued Kupresanin. <<At the meeting they had with Comrade Tito, Comrades Balluku and Themelko agreed and, convinced that you would have no opposition either, I and the group which accompanies me came to begin work immediately. We will leave urgently for Korça to examine the terrain and see where our first division will be deployed. . .>>
<<I must interrupt you, General,>> I told him. <<Comrade Tito's proposal is of such importance that it can never be passed over with a casual communication.>>
<<Everything I said you have there in writing from Tito himself!>> replied Kupresanin.
<<This I believe,>> I continued, <<but we have just heard it. We must study it, discuss it in the leadership of our Party and state and then we shall give you our reply.>>
<<How is it possible!>> exclaimed Kupresanin in <<astonishment>>. Your comrades who are engaged directly with the army showed themselves extremely ready and reasonable.>>
<<No one has authorized our comrades to approve a proposal of any kind whatever without first having the opinion of the leadership of our Party and my opinion as Commander-in-Chief,>> I replied. <<Moreover, such an action, if not carefully weighed up, may create great problems.>>
 From the letter of J. B. Tito addressed to Comrade Enver Hoxha, January 26, 1948. CAP.
<<Whether or not we are convinced,>> I said, <<this will emerge in the end. As for the enemy, first, I think that in this situation, they have no possibility to attack us. Second, even if they do attack us, we are capable of dealing with them ourselves.>>
<<I brought the assessment of our leadership which has ample information about these preparations. Do you not believe this?!>>
<<You may have this information,>> I said, <<but one thing is now well known: a general offensive of the patriotic forces has just been launched in Greece and the government army is engaged in fighting them.>>
<<Let us assume that this is so! What is wrong with our taking preliminary measures?>> Kupresanin tried to persuade me.
<<There are several things wrong with it,>> I said curtly. <<First, we, for our part, cannot approve such an action without thrashing it out well in our leadership and I tell you that I, as Commander-in-Chief, do not agree. Second, this hasty action would create great concern amongst our people.>>
<<Comrade Tito has foreseen this,>> the General interrupted me, <<and here is what he writes in the letter: 'I think that all these actions should be carried out quietly and unnoticed.' We have instructions to organize everything in secrecy with out it coming to the ears of the people.>>
<<And you believe that this is possible?!>> I asked him. <<Do you think that the people are goats? Indeed, even if we were to agree to your proposal we could not take any action without first explaining it to the people and convincing them. The people have the right to call us to account and to reject an action which does not seem right to them. Third,>> I continued, <<such an action would increase the tension of the situation in the Balkans and in the international arena. The enemies would begin to speak in the way that suits them.>>
<<Comrade Tito has foreseen this, too,>> said Kupresanin, <<and he writes in his letter: 'The enemy will learn of such a thing, but when our units are established there we have
no reason to keep it secret, because this will show that our alliance is not a formal thing, but, on the contrary, that we are definitely determined to defend our borders together.' Indeed, Comrade Tito thinks that after the division is established in Korça,>> continued Kupresanin, <<if the press asks you or Comrade Tito about it, you should declare that 'this base has been given by agreement for the needs of the security, not only of the Albanian borders, but also of the Yugoslav borders.'>>
<<Comrade General,>> I said, <<we have discussed this more than was necessary. We heard your communication and we have Tito's letter. Now let the responsibility rest upon us. We shall give you our reply at the proper time. This is for our good and for yours.>>
<<The best thing would be for the division to be placed as quickly as possible with the aim that reaction should not have any possibility to undertake any act for the occupation of your country!>> persisted Kupresanin.
<<But the worst thing would be if, from such a precipitate action, enemies or friends were to accuse us that Albania has been occupied by the Yugoslav troops!>> I replied to the General and I saw that momentarily he went completely pale.
With this the meeting came to an end. We parted very coldly with Kupresanin and as he was leaving he asked me:
<<Will you be very long in giving your answer?>>
<<I believe it will be given at the proper time!>> I replied frigidly.
Koçi Xoxe, who had been standing there like a black monk throughout the debate, intervened and said to me:
<<The situation is very alarming, Comrade Enver, and we should not put off this internationalist aid of the Yugoslav brothers.>>
 All the quotations in inverted commas have been taken from Tito's letter of January 26, 1948. CAP.
<<If the situation is so alarming,>> I told Koçi in a loud voice so that Kupresanin would hear clearly, <<then, let the Yugoslavs deploy their army close to the north of Greece within their own borders.>>
General Kupresanin could not control his anger, he muttered something and departed. Koçi Xoxe, trying to appear <<calm>> and extremely <<concerned about the situation>>, said to me:
<<It seems to me that you were hasty. Comrade Kupresanin will notify Comrade Tito and open up problems for us.>>
<<What they are demanding is extremely dangerous and delicate. I gave him my opinion, convinced that the Bureau will be of the same opinion.>>
<<All right, let us meet and decide today or tomorrow!>> implored Xoxe.
<<No! The coming of the Yugoslav division is not a matter to be decided hastily here and now. It is a decision of importance for our future and the future of our friendship with Yugoslavia,>> I said in such a tone as to convince him that I would not budge from this.
<<I think that they, too, are concerned about our friendship,>> added Koçi. <<Is it a small thing for Yugoslav soldiers to come and be killed to defend our borders? Our divisions did this when they went to the aid of Yugoslavia.>>
<<That was a different situation. Then we were in hot pursuit of the Germans. Who are the Yugoslav soldiers going to pursue here?>> I asked him.
<<They will be the first to meet the Greeks if they attack us,>> said Xoxe.
<<If the Greeks attack us, let us meet the first assault. The friends can help us if they are concerned about the freedom and independence of Albania,>> I replied and shook hands with him.
<<Well, well, but I say we should raise the matter in the Bureau as quickly as possible,>> said Xoxe as he was leaving. <<We cannot keep Tito waiting.>>
Convinced that we were facing a great danger with the bitterest consequences, I decided to carry out an action solely <<on my own responsibility>> for the first time. Through the Soviet embassy I informed Stalin about what Tito demanded of us and, while awaiting the reply, with great effort I managed to postpone raising in Bureau the proposal about the dispatch of the Yugoslav division for the time being. To this end I exploited a <<favourable>> circumstance: the decision to summon the meeting of the 8th Plenum of the CC of the Party at the beginning of February. I say a <<favourable circumstance>> because both the Yugoslavs and their agents amongst us, following the suicide of Nako Spiru, gave this meeting exceptional importance. They had made all their preparations to ensure that the Plenum officially endorsed the <<correctness>> of Tito's accusations against us and adopted the line of the unification of Albania with Yugoslavia. It was not fortuitous that the proposal about the deployment of the Yugoslav division was made on the eve of the Plenum. This was done with the aim that, under the pressure of severe measures which the Plenum was clearly going to take, we would accept the Yugoslav military intervention in Albania without raising our voice in opposition. At the same time, the urgent dispatch of Yugoslav troops to our territory would serve as open blackmail to ensure that matters in the Plenum would go in the way that suited the Yugoslavs. Thus, we would find ourselves between two powerful fires, the measures of the Plenum and the intervention of the Yugoslav army, which would create an insurmountable situation for us: this is precisely how I assessed the situation, and therefore, taking account of all the consequences, I insisted that one of these two evils should be averted. Since it was impossible to avert the holding of the Plenum at those moments, I thought that I should strive to avert the dispatch of the Yugoslav division, and in this I succeeded.
Stalin's reply came very quickly, a few days before we began the proceedings of the Plenum. Stalin told us that he did not see any possibility or danger of an eventual attack
against us by the Greek army and was in agreement with my opinion that the dispatch of the Yugoslav division to Albania was not necessary.
The Yugoslavs were furious when I communicated to them that, not only we, but also the Soviet comrades and Stalin personally did not consider the dispatch of their division in order, but nevertheless, they <<retreated>> and, temporarily, said no more about this. The <<concession>> was made, because both the Yugoslavs and their agents still thought that they had everything going their way and matters would proceed as they had foreseen.
A black stain on the history of our Party
The leadership in Belgrade and their agents in our ranks based great hopes and aims on the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA. There they aimed to crown the plot they had been working on for many years for the final subjugation of the CPA, to put our Party in such a position that it would endorse <<itself>>, <<with its own mouth>> what Tito and company dictated. Above all, the leadership in Belgrade aimed that the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA would create that situation in which, as soon as the signal was given, our Party would be obliged to accept and sign the <<unification>>, or more correctly, the annexation of Albania by Yugoslavia. After this, according to the Titoites, everything would be settled easily: our Central Committee, <<of its own free will>>, would put to the People's Assembly <<its proposal for the unification of Albania with Yugoslavia>>, the deputies <<would do what the Party told them>> and, willingly or not, would raise their hands in approval. The ceremonies would take place full of <<enthusiasm>> and <<joy>> and the world would learn the great
news that <<Albania, of its own will and on its own insistent demand, has become part of Yugoslavia>>.
Whether the others would be astonished at, would rejoice over or object to this news, would no longer matter to Tito. With our <<decisions>> in his hands, he knew that he would be able to prevent anyone who might raise any opposition to taking any action.
In order to make this <<beautiful dream>> of Tito's a reality, first of all, the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA must at all costs first reject the former line, the defenders and appliers of it, and adopt the <<new>> pro-Yugoslav line, the line of <<unity and fraternity>>! The Yugoslav leadership did not send or even ask permission for any of its representatives to take part in this Plenum. Everything was left for us to do <<ourselves>> with the aim that they would have <<clean>> hands in regard to what was to take place. But the truth is that, while withdrawing to the background themselves, the Yugoslav leaders launched their agents into activity, of course, instructing and guiding them in every step.
One of the main orientations which the Yugoslavs gave Koçi Xoxe and company at these moments was to display caution in the direct attacks which they would make against the main comrades of our leadership. This is the reason why the open attack was concentrated, at first, on Nako Spiru and two or three people around him, while in regard to the others, and especially me, they were reserved and did not come out openly. This was the diabolical tactic of taking the Albanian castle step by step, by stages, indeed, if possible, by deceiving some in order to launch them into the attack against the remainder. The Yugoslavs proved to be past masters of conspiracy, especially in the manner in which they were to operate against me.
The very development of events had put them in such a vortex that now, in the interests of their final plan, they were obliged to <<retain>> me by all means in the leadership and, in deed, to retain my <<friendship>> at a time when, for them, I should have been eliminated as early as 1944! This was the only
way in which their plan for the usurpation of Albania could be achieved without rifts, without suspicions, without objections and opposition, both from our Party and the Albanian people and from the world abroad, communist and non-communist. Otherwise, if in the suitable circumstances created for any sort of crime in November and December 1947, the attack were concentrated openly upon me and I were removed from the duties with which I had been charged, or if this were impossible, if I were wiped out, then the Yugoslav plan of usurpation would have been placed in the dock. The annexation would immediately have been linked with the preliminary attack upon and elimination from the scene of the General Secretary of the Party, the Prime Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Albanian Army, and automatically the crime would have become more than evident. The leadership in Belgrade would have been faced with the grave and irrefutable accusation that it annexed Albania through a coup d'etat by means of a plot and a hideous crime. This would bring them irreparable damage inside and, especially, outside Yugoslavia.
In Belgrade they calculated this well. Therefore, contrary to their long-standing desire to remove me from the scene as quickly as possible, contrary to the brutal impatience of Koçi Xoxe to seize all the reins as quickly as possible, the Yugoslav leadership was obliged <<not to touch me>> and <<not to remove me>> from the posts which I held for the time being, until the linking of Albania with Yugoslavia had become a fait accompli.
On this account, however, the problem presented many dangers for the conspirators of Belgrade, therefore, all their attention was concentrated on keeping me under surveillance by their agents and in complete isolation, on the creation of such a situation in which, while officially I would be General Secretary of the Party, in fact, I would have no power, either in the leadership of the Party, or in the Party as a whole, where the organizational secretary, the Yugoslav agent Koçi Xoxe, would do as he pleased; officially, I would be Prime
Minister, too, but in fact, the state power would be manoeuvred and directed by the Co-ordination Committee or Commission in Belgrade; officially, I would be Commander-in-Chief also, but in fact, our army would be directed by a Unified Command with J. Broz Tito as the Commander-in-Chief. In brief, the chiefs of Belgrade had to keep me in my former posts at those moments as a very effective disguise to legalize and conceal from the public the terrible crime they were preparing against Albania. Afterwards, everything would be easily settled: the UDB of Rankovic, the counter-part of Koçi Xoxe in Belgrade, had become masters of the most hideous crimes from the elimination of somebody without a trace to pinning of a high decoration precisely in that place where a little earlier those same hands prepared to plunge the dagger or the bullet.
I shall never forget those difficult times when, in complete isolation and convinced I was in the centre of the attack, I was obliged, among other things, to stand up to the endless provocations of Tito's emissaries and their agents.
During those days Koçi Xoxe, in particular, operated with all his ability as a conspirator to compel me to act in accord with the interests of the leadership in Belgrade. On one of these days Xoxe, swarthy, short, podgy, with bulging eyes like those of a frog, came to me and with his cynical smile said:
<<We must put out a magazine of friendship with Yugoslavia, because it has great importance, especially at these moments. You should write a warm leading article about our vital relations with the Yugoslav friends, about their aid, and especially about the contribution of the Comrade Marshal.>>
He went on to give me some <<guidelines>> on how the magazine should be and what my article should contain and from all he said I understood what was the problem worrying him and those who had given him the <<guidelines>>: the Yugoslavs needed my article to have it as a <<certificate of good behaviour>> for Yugoslavia and Tito.
Making a cool assessment of the grave situation which had been created for us, as well as of the extremely delicate and difficult problems we had to solve, I <<agreed>> to the publication of the magazine and to write the article which he sought from me. Xoxe's <<magazine>> eventually came out (in November 1947, I think), including my article, in which, in very general terms and with the odd <<fact>> from the first years of the war, I pointed out the links and friendship between our parties and countries.
However, even with this, the Yugoslavs and their agents were satisfied: the important thing for them was that the General Secretary of the CPA should write even one good phrase, even in completely general terms, about Tito's Yugoslavia, as a safe-conduct pass for the annexation.
Meanwhile, in our Political Bureau the problems were simmering and, time after time, cautiously but insistently, I told Koçi Xoxe that we must rely not on the Political Bureau and the Council of Ministers only, but must also inform the comrades of the Plenum of the Central Committee and the other main cadres of the state.
<<In no way!>> objected the <<organizational man>>. <<The comrades should not be informed because they will make a mess of things. We should go into matters thoroughly in the Bureau, consult with the Yugoslav friends and call the Plenum together when everything is ready.>>
<<It would be better if we discussed matters quietly with the comrades, or at least some of them>>, I told him. <<They have their own opinion, they know the situation where they work and their judgement would be of great assistance in arriving at the most accurate and correct conclusions.>>
<<Organizationally, that would be a breach of the rules>> objected Koçi Xoxe categorically. <<We must not bring things out prematurely. There are only seven or eight of us in the Bureau and we can't agree, let alone if we introduce others. The Plenum will dance to the tune of the Bureau only when the Bureau comes to one opinion. Otherwise, the Plenum
becomes a mess and it manoeuvres us instead of us manoeuvering the Plenum.>>
It was impossible to convince him that the manner in which we were acting was a grave mistake with serious consequences. Like the Yugoslav leadership, Koçi Xoxe had alien Trotskyite and anti-party views about the Party and even about its Central Committee. For him, too, the base of the Party and the Central Committee itself was <<the mob>>, was <<the claque>> which must do what the <<top leadership>>, the Bureau, and especially <<the strong hand>> in the Political Bureau, Koçi Xoxe himself, told them. This concept of the Party was more suitable to the Titoite plan of the usurpation of Albania, because in this way, according to them, by having the Bureau with them, they would have the whole Central Committee and indeed, the whole Party <<with them>>.
Another measure, which Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo, etc., instructed by their master, Aleksandar Rankovic, took at this period, had to do with stepping up the psychological pressure by means of surveillance, etc., over all the links of the Party and the organs of the state. Although such anti-Party, Trotskyite methods had long been used by Koçi Xoxe in secrecy, now, on the eve of the Plenum, they became the only form of <<work>>. The threats and blackmail were quite open. The suicide of Nako Spiru, the violation of the most elementary organizational rules in the Political Bureau and the Central Committee, the arbitrary dismissal from their functions of a number of comrades for <<anti-Yugoslavism>>, indiscriminate arrests, the great influx of Yugoslav militarymen, the pressures and threats <<from above>> for even the slightest attempt to argue with the Yugoslav technicians in regard to the work, the loud propaganda that was made of everything Yugoslav, etc., etc., were creating great psychological pressure and a grave atmosphere everywhere. In this same spirit, in order to prepare and work on the cadres of the Party in advance, at the end of December 1947, Koçi Xoxe delivered a speech to a meeting of activists, called in the Party School,
where he was supposed to deliver a lecture, but in fact, presented the whole platform of the Yugoslavization of Albania. This disgusting speech, prepared by the Yugoslav embassy in Tirana, was also to comprise the platform of the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a number of elements of the CC of the CPA, the organs of the state and of the army, like Xhoxhi Blushi, Nesti Kerenxhi, Pëllumb Dishnica and others, were worked on intensively and secretly in order to totally implicate them, too, in the plot. They were instructed in detail in what they had to do and at the beginning of February 1948 the Yugoslavs judged that everything was ripe: the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA was summoned and began its proceedings.
From the moment the proceedings opened, the majority of the comrades of the Central Committee were confronted with a <<new rule>>: although the Plenum was summoned over problems of very great political importance, it had not been considered <<reasonable>> to present any report! A so-called conclusion of a meeting of the Political Bureau was read to them and, to their <<astonishment>>, the organizational secretary of the Party, Koçi Xoxe, did the reading! It was quite obvious that the General Secretary of the Party had been pushed aside. Why?! Automatically, everything was linked with the <<conclusions>> which Koçi Xoxe read. Although my name was not mentioned there, it was made clear to all that I stood behind <<the anti-Yugoslav clique>> of Nako.
There is no need to speak here about the content of these <<conclusions>>, because I would be repeating all that I wrote above when Zlatic presented Tito's accusations to us. The only difference had to do with the changing of the pronouns and the person of the verbs: from <<you have violated the spirit of the agreements>> it had become <<we, under the pressure of Nako Spiru, have violated the spirit. . .>>, from <<your
 See pp. 362-373 of this book.
anti-Yugoslavism>> it had become <<the anti-Yugoslavism of our comrades. . .>>, etc., etc.
Immediately after the <<conclusions>>, which completely disorientated and shocked the comrades, the discussion began. Measures had been taken to ensure that everything would go like <<clockwork>>, moreover, apparently, without <<pressure>> and <<dictate>> from the Bureau! The <<claque>> -- Nesti Kerenxhi, Pëllumb Dishnica, etc., took the floor. In two words they expressed their indignation over <<those who have damaged our relations with the Yugoslav brothers>>, expressed their <<solidarity with the measures to strengthen these relations>> and, after this, their <<free will>> led them to other paths: the attacks and accusations from purely personal positions against Nako Spiru and <<the clique around him>> burst out. Precisely this was the main mission with which these elements had been charged by Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo. That is, they had to distract the spirit of the discussion away from the main problems which presented themselves about Albanian-Yugoslav relations, because if they were to dwell on them at length, there was the risk that, willy-nilly, the truth might come to light. Hence, from the first session of discussion, instead of saying whether or not the accusations of the Yugoslav leadership against our leadership were correct, whether or not our draft-plan was <<autarkic>>, etc., etc., the Plenum took another course: everything was centred on <<biographical investigations>> about one or the other, on unheard of accusations and concocted slanders, on competing to see who could bring up most facts about what Nako or this or that person had said in such and such a year, in such and such a place, to such and such a person.
In order to put the seal of approval on this unhealthy spirit, Koçi Xoxe got up and in his contributions to the discussion and endless interventions he related tales with the same zeal that is shown for swapping yarns in cafes. In order to make his speech <<interesting>>, one of those who took part in the discussion was saying that nothing else could be ex-
pected from Nako because <<he was a son of a bourgeois and behaved with Albania like his father with the 'Stamless ' in Durrës>>. Immediately after this, Xoxe jumped up and said to me Plenum:
<<That's just how he behaved, but those comrades who permitted him to do so must also bear the blame. He did not get away with these things with me. You know what I did to him once? I caught him in the corridors of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
'What are you doing here,' I demanded in a loud voice.
'I've come to talk with you,' he replied.
'Get out and don't let me see you here again, you've no right to set foot in the Ministry of Internal Affairs!' I told him.
'I'm a member of the Political Bureau,' the scoundrel replied without the slightest shame.
'Whoever you are,' I said to him, 'the Ministry of Internal Affairs is not the place for conversations but for other work. However, if that's what you've come for, then stay!' That's what I did to him,>> concluded Xoxe, laughed for a moment and then became serious again.
<<If we had closed the door to him everywhere then he would not have done all those evil things against us. Let the comrades speak for themselves and make criticism and self-criticism.>>
Here I mentioned only one instance, but the Plenum was full of such things from beginning to end. And all these <<tales>> were incorporated in an absurd manner as <<anti-party>>, and especially <<anti-Yugoslav>> manifestations. This <<anti-Yugoslavism>> was portrayed as <<anti-Marxism>> and <<anti-socialism>> and even <<anti-Sovietism>>. It was said that to be opposed to close relations, opposed to links with Yugoslavia means to be <<anti-socialist, anti-Marxist, anti-Party, anti-
 Albanian tobacco and cigarette commercial-industrial shareholder company created in 1925.
Albanian>> -- all the <<antis>>. This villainous manner of presenting the issue brought about that the judgments of many comrades who, in essence, were not bad at all, had no anti-party tendency, were led into errors and saw matters from this angle. Indeed, when some comrade spoke about the work in general, Koçi and his henchmen immediately interrupted:
<<If you have something to say, speak concretely!>>
Naturally, there was plenty to be said <<concretely>> about Nako Spiru and his circle, because in their lives and activities they had permitted themselves grave mistakes and violations. In particular, the unhealthy ambition of Nako, his tendency and efforts to monopolize affairs, to emerge as the big shot everywhere, to gather around himself a suite of <<chosen>> people, and <<intellectual elite>> ready to do whatever Nako told them, these mistakes were <<known to us and we had criticized them continuously.
In their contributions many comrades brought up new facts in these directions and many of these facts were well based. One such fact was the attempt of Nako Spiru, even after he was removed from his duties in the Youth Organization, to treat the organization as his <<personal contingent>>, as a <<detachment>> in the service of his ambitions. He had made similar efforts to get control of the Trade Union Organization and the Women's Organization. On his own initiative he gave these organizations <<directives>> and <<orientations>> which set them to the course of separation from the Party, just as he did with the Youth Organization.
One of the comrades said: <<Nako came to us and said:
'Look what the Youth Organization is doing! It is producing ministers, while the Party and the trade-unions are producing nothing.'>>
There were many similar examples of the monopolization of work, arrogance and conceit to be found in Liri Belishova and Mehmet Shehu, also.
We had frequently criticized these elements for all these things, and if the 8th Plenum was to meet for the examination of these mistakes and alien manifestations, this would
be more than normal. However, the 8th Plenum had not been summoned for this. Moreover, at this Plenum these short comings and weaknesses were not only inflated, added to and <<elaborated on>> in an incorrect manner, but were arbitrarily employed to prove that there lay <<anti-Yugoslavism>>. I could never reconcile myself to this <<conclusion>> arrived at for premeditated purposes through behind-the-scenes manoeuvres. The fact is that Nako and his comrades had had frictions and contradictions with the Yugoslavs, but in the instances that I knew of, I had been in agreement with them. As was clearly proved later, and as some admitted in meetings, in the final analysis they had not opposed the Yugoslavs from a principled basis and for principled aims, but had opposed the pressures and crooked aims of the Yugoslavs for their own ulterior motives. In all this distorted course which events took, it was quite obvious that following the attack on the <<clique>> of Nako Spiru, the turn would come for the attack on the other sound comrades of the Party. Though not always directly, Koçi implied that the whole responsibility for the things Nako had done rested on me. He stated openly that Nako did what he did, since he had the support in the Bureau of the General Secretary. The things which it was not suitable for him to say himself were said by his lackeys, Pandi Kristo, Kristo Themelko, Tahir Kadare, Pëllumb Dishnica, Gjin Marku and others:
The terrain was being prepared for the final attack. Several times the Plenum was told insistently:
<<Don't concentrate only on the group of Nako, take your criticism of the' leadership' further, because it has great responsibility!>>
To the chagrin of Koçi Xoxe, however, attacks against me did not occur. Then, Pandi Kristo got up and made a <<personal>> proposal:
<<Let us not repeat what has happened to us in the past by protecting the leadership from criticism. In the leadership there are comrades who have made major mistakes and they should be hauled over hot coals. I propose that we postpone
the proceedings for one or two days for the comrades to reflect and prepare themselves.>>
Everybody understood that the request was aimed against me, first of all. However, on that plane to which they had guided the discussions, that is to accusations of arrogance, crudeness, megalomania, rumour-mongering, unhealthy ambition etc., it was difficult even for Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo, let alone the other comrades of the Party to make anything stick on me. In my life as a communist and a citizen I had never permitted such manifestations. From this aspect even the <<personal file>>, which Koçi Xoxe had opened on me, was certainly quite blank. Thus, even when the discussion recommenced the agents of Belgrade waited in vain for any <<fact>> against me.
Nevertheless, their insistence had its effect. The doubt was created that <<there was something wrong with me>>.
During all the days of the Plenum, although de jure I was General Secretary of the Party, I hardly made two or three comments. The atmosphere was loaded against me. <<General Koçi>> as <<the saviour of the Party>> seemed as if he had the Plenum as his battalion and gave it orders to do what he wanted and said. I avoided intervening and facing the comrades with certain questions and facts that were simmering in my head. I thought it was neither the time nor the atmosphere. The slightest haste or tactical mistake might lead to the sacrifice of everything, and my worry was not that I would be sacrificed personally. My concern was the fate of the Party and Albania. Everything was balanced on a knife-edge.
Without dwelling any longer on the mass of accusations, slanders and <<tales>> which were spun in the Plenum, I have to say that at the end of this Plenum the Yugoslav's theses triumphed. A number of elements in the service of the Yugoslavs, such as Nesti Kerenxhi, Xhoxhi Blushi, etc., were arbitrarily co-opted to the Political Bureau and the Central Committee. The course of <<economic union>> with Yugoslavia was legalized, the draft five-year plan was rejected, the former line
of the Party was rejected. The terrain was prepared for further action. At the end of the proceedings, the question of the resolution came up. I expressed the opinion that a group should be set up to formulate the resolution which should be examined in the Bureau and that the Plenum should be summoned to discuss it and give it final approval.
<<When do you envisage we should meet?>> someone asked.
<<The work will begin immediately, but a certain time will be needed,>> I explained, <<because, as you see, the problems are very complicated.>>
<<Within a few days, indeed within a very few days, we shall organize this work and meet. We're not going to let things drag out,>> intervened Koçi arrogantly.
The conflict was even more apparent. The comrades went away convinced that the struggle within the leadership was continuing, except that now only the final clash lay ahead. Who would triumph?!
Immediately after the 8th Plenum the meetings of activists and conferences to <<inform>>, <<explain>> and engage the base in the struggle against the hostile activity of Nako Spiru, etc., were commenced. They had deliberately brought into the meetings of activists those elements who had personal <<accounts>> to settle with Nako and his comrades. The anti-Party explosion became even more grave. Koçi and his whole band went to the meetings in Tirana like victors and I am making no mistake when I say that they were more like the infamous trials of the inquisition than meetings. Everything was presented black and grave. My name was completely eliminated. When it was mentioned on same occasion, it was simply alluded that I was the supporter of Nako Spiru and even the chief of the <<anti-Party clique>>.
<<General Koçi>> was enjoying the fruits of his work. The former thick-head Xoxe (his pseudonym was Trashi [the Thick]), our ex-quartermaster of stores at Panarit, the sinister figure of the Bureau and the government, was now inflating himself like the frog in the fable. He opened and closed the
meetings of activists. Frequently, these meetings were turned into events like the noisy press conferences of the chiefs of the bourgeoisie: a question would be asked from the floor and answered there and then by the <<competent>> person. He was asked about everything, from the problems of the <<plot>> to the situation in Honolulu and how the elections would go in Italy!
Xoxe answered on the spot. He even defined the percentage of Italians who would vote for <<Democracy>>, etc., etc.
I shall not dwell on this euphoria, but I want to point out that both in the Plenum and in the meetings of activists, Xoxe further elaborated his former hostile ideological and political views:
<<The political party of the broad masses of the people, that's what the Front is,>> declared Xoxe in Tirana and continued: <<The people should see in the Front the force that waged the war, that brought about the unification and is carrying out the construction of the country. . . And for this reason, the Front must really organize, equip the people with conscience and prepare them morally and politically. All this should be done under the banner of the Front, in the framework of the Front.>>
The forceful repetition of this anti-Marxist view at these moments had a clear purpose: according to Xoxe and to those who had taught him, our Party had done what it had to do and now it remained for the Front, that is the people, to proceed on that road which was opened, that is on the road of accepting, without opposition, any orientation which would be pronounced from <<above>>.
 Koçi Xoxe's answers in such <<meetings of activists>> and conferences, as well as his contributions to the discussion are found in the minutes kept in the CAP.
the intelligentsia for whom he had always nurtured a visceral hatred.
<<The question of the intellectuals,>> he said, <<is even more difficult, because the professors, doctors, engineers and others have been to school abroad. These intellectuals have never thought about the people, are not the sons of the people and have always wanted to cause splits in our country. In the case of Nako Spiru, who studied abroad and who managed to reach the leadership of our Party, we have the best example of this!>> Xoxe concluded his address.
In fact, the warning had been given long before. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, under the direction of Koçi Xoxe, Nesti Kerenxhi etc., had opened files, not only on all our patriotic and revolutionary intellectuals, but on all those who dared to express any opinion which was not in conformity with the Yugoslav orientation. These elements were described as <<men of the pen>>, <<men of the school>>, and the club was to fall upon them. Ignorance and blind obedience -- that was what the Yugoslavs and Koçi Xoxe needed in Albania.
This, then, in general outline, was the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA which, only a few months later, we were to describe quite rightly as a <<black stain on the history of our Party>>.
For a moment this Plenum allowed the Trotskyite line of the Titoites to triumph. For a moment, the correct line, which our Party had pursued and defended, was rejected. For a moment both the Political Bureau and the Central Committee were disorientated. The skilled craftsmen of the workshop of the UDB in Belgrade, the military <<delegates>> and diplomats of Tito and their lackeys, the clan of Koçi Xoxe, managed to push aside the General Secretary of the Party and to load the <<blame>> for many mistakes on to him.
I say <<for a moment>>, without by any means intending to underrate the great damage which this bitter event brought us, or to minimize that part of the responsibility for this, which belongs to us. No, I say this because the indisputable
truth about this Plenum is that from the moments when it took place, the majority of the Central Committee of the Party saw and felt that a very grave mistake, a distortion with fatal consequences was being made, but matters had developed in such a way that, for the moment, the mistakes were elevated to a line.
Immediately after the Plenum the majority of the comrades, in one way or the other, openly expressed their reservations about and opposition to everything that was said and decided at the Plenum and the fact is that, despite the feverish efforts of the agents of Belgrade, the anti-Marxist spirit and line which the 8th Plenum made <<official>>, did not extend in the Party and the life of the country. The other fact that, just three or four months after the 8th Plenum, in June 1948, our Party publicly denounced the anti-Marxist deviation of the Yugoslav leadership, also shows that the 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA was a diabolical machination which was imposed on the Central Committee from outside. The 11th Plenum of the CC of the CPA, held in September 1948, and the 1st Congress of the CPA, held in November 1948, prove this even more clearly. Everything that had been said and decided at the 8th Plenum was unanimously and indignantly rejected. Obviously, only something which had had no real basis, something alien, imposed, false and hostile, could be rejected so quickly and with such indignation.
Nevertheless, it was to take some months to re-establish the truth. At first, the situation was extremely grave, complicated and frequently there seemed to be no way out.
Soon, however, we were to see an astonishing haste in the actions and efforts of the leadership in Belgrade and their agents to get the <<Albanian question>> over and done with as quickly as possible. Their pressure and insistence on deciding things quickly, there and then, made an impression on us and we were to sense in these actions the signs of a fear which accompanied their bearers, although we still did not know the reason for and the meaning of this unexpected
haste. We knew only that whoever is in a rush has a problem and in this rush might break his neck. Fortunately for the freedom of the people and independence of Albania, this was the fate and the finish of the anti-Albanian plot of Tito and his agents Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo and company.
The Titoites' rush towards defeat
With the turn which events took immediately after the 8th Plenum, the possibility existed that our Albania, its war time wounds still unhealed, would fall into the clutches of a new slavery. Now, however, this slavery was not to come through aggression, but by <<request>>, by <<official demand>>. And this shameful act for which neither our contemporaries nor the future generations would ever pardon us, was not to be carried out and signed by a puppet parliament like that of Zog, but the danger existed that it would be carried out by our own People's Assembly under unrestrained pressure and demagogy, by <<endorsing>> the proposal of <<the Central Committee of the Party>>.
This is where the work of Koçi Xoxe, the blind tool of the CPY and Tito, was leading, this was the course that events took after the notorious Plenum of February 1948!
In this situation my position was grave. I was in isolation and under ceaseless surveillance. But at no time did it cross my mind to surrender.
In the first place, I had confidence in the Party and its Central Committee. The first wave of Xoxe's damage would subside, the comrades would see matters with cooler heads and more objectively, would reflect and take the proper stand. This would occur especially at the moments when the comrades learned that Xoxe and company were preparing to make a gift to the <<Yugoslav saviours>> not of a piece of Vermosh
or a Shën-Naum, but of the 28 000 square kilometres of Albania! I had the unshakeable conviction that this would make matters completely and finally clear, that the people would see where the traitor and bandit General was leading the country.
This would be the signal for the general alarm. The comrades would say <<no>> and I, together with them and at their head would repulse the <<proposals>> of the Titoite leadership. This was the first pillar to which I clung firmly with complete conviction that our cause would not be lost.
Second, even if the Party were to make the tragic mistake of accepting the distorted decisions of a disorientated leadership, the people would not accept this mistake. For 7-8 years on end the Party and its leadership had guided, inspired and convinced the people that for us there is no cause more lofty and sacred than the freedom, independence and progress of the Homeland. This call had been made in the years of the war and repeated whenever necessary. The heroic deeds and wars of our people for freedom and independence, even when they did not have the Party, are renowned, let alone now when they had a leading staff which had emerged from the bosom of the people and had won recognition in the flames of the war for national liberation and for a people's democratic Albania. Many times the people had risen in defence of their rights. That is why the people whole-heartedly supported the speech of the representative of the new Albanian state at the Peace Conference in Paris in the summer of 1946. In that speech there is a powerful piece about our inviolable borders. Its attack was aimed in many directions. It was a warning about the aims and provocations of the Anglo-Americans and the Greek monarcho-fascists, but was also a hard knock for any other chauvinism, hence, for the Yugoslavs, too.
 The Serbian Kralj Karadjordjevic, together with Wrangel's Great-Russian bands, brought to Albania his agent -- the bandit Ahmet Zog, who, as a great traitor to the Homeland, gave Yugoslavia Shën-Naum of Pogradec and Vermosh as a gift in return for this assistance.
I was convinced that if need be, the people would once again repeat with force and majesty their brilliant patriotic and fighting traditions and not allow the historical tragedies and injustices of the past to be repeated in 1947 and 1948.
These two fundamental factors (the Party and the people) were the two powerful pillars which gave me strength, which told me to act cautiously, with patience and maturity, convinced that when I was beside them and at their head there was no force which could conquer us. Very quickly it was to be proved how correct this judgment was.
The Yugoslavs were wrong at Berat, they were wrong again now and they would be wrong in the future, precisely, because, as I said above, they had a distorted anti-Marxist concept about the party and in the first place about where it has its roots, where the source of its successes and victories lies. They thought that with some backstage manoeuvres, with some agents at the head, with the isolation or liquidation of one or the other opponent, with some blackmail and threats, they could cancel out a whole war in which the people shed a great deal of blood, in which the workers, the peasants, the youth, the women and the freedom-loving progressive intellectuals saw the road to salvation and on which they based their aspirations for a better future.
In these notes and reminiscences I am obliged to speak about and describe those things which occurred around me, about the fact that for a long time I was alone against four or five in the Bureau, about the fact that even the Plenum of the Central Committee, as at Berat and now, was somewhat disorientated by the intrigues behind the scenes and the manoeuvres of the conspirators. Let us not forget that at Berat and at the 8th Plenum some people were co-opted in crooked ways in order to strengthen the crutches of the conspirators. All these things had a negative influence on our struggle. But the fact is that when matters where taken to the Party it showed itself solid, demanded a reckoning to the end and did not permit any violation of its glorious course
or any deviation of its future. Frequently rank-and-file members of our good people attribute to me certain merits which do not belong to me in coping with these enemies and analogous cases later. It should be understood clearly that if the enemies were unable to eliminate me at Berat and again and again later, this occurred not so much because they were afraid of me simply as a person, but rather because they were afraid of the people, of the Party and of the National Liberation Army with which we had linked ourselves in the war through a correct line, worked out and applied, not by one head, or by five or six people, but by the whole Party which was inspired by Marxism-Leninism, by all those cadres, communists or not, who gave their lives willingly. And it could not have been otherwise: tens of thousands of partisans had not fought against one slavery to enter another; the working class could not relinquish its leading role which it had won with bloodshed and sacrifice; the poor peasants did not fight to give the aghas their land, their sweat and their votes again, as Sejfulla Malëshova and others like him wanted; our patriots and intelligentsia could not accept the absurdities of the <<proletarian>> mind and heart of Koçi Xoxe who demanded that the glorious names and figures of Skanderbeg, Naim Frashëri and others like them be forgotten and wiped out.
No, our Party and people would not and did not allow the vital victories, which the Albanian people had sought for centuries and finally had achieved with torrents of blood and sweat, to slip through their fingers.
Besides these two fundamental factors, I also bore in mind that we were living in other times. We were living in the time of Lenin and Stalin, in the time when socialism was being built in a series of countries, when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union led by Stalin and the communist parties of other countries were in existence, when the Information Bureau had been created, etc. Our Party was not a member of the Information Bureau, but since it was a communist party, recognized by the Comintern thanks to our struggle and efforts, I was convinced that if necessary, the sister parties
would come to our aid. I thought that it could not be only we who sensed and saw the truth about Tito, and I was not mistaken. True, the stands and actions of Tito were expressed more openly and savagely in our country, since he considered us <<small>> and thought he could gobble us up more easily, but I had the belief that the others could not be asleep and were not blind. We had some signs and signals in this direction. I had received the first signal immediately after I had informed Stalin about the dispatch of the Yugoslav division. Stalin's reply was <<No>>. He said nothing about Tito or the leadership of the CPY, but from his reply that, <<We do not see any immediate threat from outside and hence the dispatch of the Yugoslav division does not seem reasonable to us>>, I understood that there must be disagreements between the CC of the CPSU and the CC of the CPY. Even more important, from Stalin's reply I understood that our correct opposition would not be in vain.
As I said above, I summoned Savo Zlatic and Kupresanin and told them that we did not consider it reasonable that the division should come and that for this we had also consulted with the Soviet leadership. They were soured and furious, but they had to <<accept>> our refusal, like it or not. It is not difficult to understand why this <<retreat>> occurred. This is the manoeuvre of aggressors of all times. They <<give way>> to the extent that is necessary, with the aim that after they blind your eyes they will hurl themselves upon you with all their fury. If they were to arrogantly insist on the dispatch of their division to Korça, then the opinion that <<the Yugoslavs want to occupy us>> would become more evident and this would undoubtedly lead to opposition and matters could become badly complicated for them.
After the 8th Plenum, when they thought that the terrain was prepared for a further advance, they took another step: they decided that we should break off any contact or possibility of consultation with the Soviet comrades.
Zlatic came to me one of those days, <<congratulated>> me on the <<success>> of the Plenum and said:
<<You did well that you rejected the autarkic five-year plan. Now you will go ahead more easily with the one-year plan. We will give you everything, because it is a joint plan.>>
I was sure that he had something in his mind that had brought him to me. I waited for it to come out.
<<Now,>> he continued, <<together with the five-year plan many things connected with it will be dropped, too. Now that Nako and his ideas are gone, get rid of everything else from his spirit, from the suggestions, advice and the advisers who taught him that business!>>
<<To whom are you referring?>> I asked him.
<<Please don't misunderstand me,>> he replied, <<I say that the friendship between us and the Soviet Union should be as strong, long lasting, steel-like, honest and internationalist as possible. This is Tito's instruction, too. But now that you have quite rightly rejected Nako's autarkic plan, what are the Soviet comrade advisers going to do in Albania? They will be hurt and quite rightly so. Nako led them up a blind alley. . .>>
He went on and on about the fact that <<you have no further need>> for the Soviet advisers, <<possibly you should let the technicians stay and work>>, but without <<us interfering with them, or they with us>>.
<<Is this Tito's instruction, too?>> I asked in such a tone that Zlatic found it difficult to distinguish whether I was asking sincerely or with sarcasm.
<<Comrade Tito gives general instructions,>> he replied diplomatically. <<Friendship is the general consideration. But in the concrete instance what I say comes within the framework of friendship.>>
On this occasion Zlatic <<protected>> Tito, but some months later, in the self-criticism which Kristo Themelko was to make at the 11th Plenum, amongst many other things he testified as follows:
<<When I went to Belgrade in March, at the reception which Tito reserved for me, he spoke to me about the Soviet advisers and asked me: 'How do you get along with them?' Influenced as I was by Koçi, Pandi and the Yugoslavs,>> con-
tinued Themelko, <<I told him, 'We are discussing whether we should send them away, because they interfere in our affairs.' Tito said: 'We put up the money and the others poke their noses in. This won't do.'>>
This occurred precisely at the time when Zlatic, for his part, asked me to send the Soviet advisers away.
<<Comrade Zlatic,>> I replied, <<I do not consider your judgement correct. If Nako 'blinded' the Soviet advisers, as you say, we will know how to find a common language with them. They are very necessary to us and we have not noticed any sign of discontent amongst them.>>
<<Nevertheless, you should look into this matter,>> replied Zlatic. <<Put it forward in the Bureau and listen to the opinion of the comrades. . . !>>
The need for me to do this did not arise. The threads had been co-ordinated in advance, and at the first meeting of the Political Bureau, Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo and Kristo Themelko said quite openly: the Soviet advisers should be sent away!
<<Not because we don't like them, not because they are no good, but simply because we have no need for them!>> said Pandi Kristo. <<Moreover,>> reasoned Pandi <<profoundly>> (he had not long begun to become something of an orator), <<to keep these valuable Soviet advisers here, where there is no work for them, is not an act of kindness and gratitude to the Bolshevik Party and the beloved country of the Soviets. Their country has great need for them, while we are keeping them here without any need at all. Therefore,>> he concluded, <<I propose we should put the problem to the Soviet comrades in a fraternal way, explain to them why we are taking this step and tell them this is only for the time being! Later. . . we shall see. . .>>
 From the minutes of the 11th Plenum of the CC of the CPA. CAP.
<<Oh, please! If you are opposed then say so, but without irony!>> interjected Koçi Xoxe. <<You always speak with irony. And you should bear in mind,>> he crowed, <<that the 8th Plenum put things in order and got rid of the enemies. You are offending us. . .>>
<<I don't want to offend you,>> I said, <<but it seems to me we are taking a bad step. To say that we have no need for the Soviet advisers means that we have no need for the advice of the Soviets, for their experience, for the great experience of that party and socialism in the Soviet Union!>>
<<Don't generalize quite simple things in this way!>> Koçi Xoxe <<defended>> himself. <<We are referring to a concrete matter, simply to that of the plan!>>
I was convinced that this was not so. The problem went deeper. The demand of Zlatic and the Yugoslav agents led to that wrong anti-Soviet course on which the Titoite leaders had set out long ago.
Faced with the opposition of me, Hysni and Gogo, the remainder of the Bureau made a <<retreat>>, but on condition that in the coming days we shall thrash out this idea and decide it>>, as Koçi Xoxe said.
However, when more than anything else the Yugoslavs needed quiet and secrecy for the realization of their annexationist plans, certain circumstances made them rush their activity in regard to Albania. We still did not know these circumstances, but their haste began to become quite obvious.
Kristo Themelko, who had just returned from a trip to Belgrade, came to me and said:
<<Even Tito received me, not to mention Comrades Tempo and Popovic! They accompanied me all day! Our relations are warm again. I secured all the aid for the army and for defence. It had never crossed my mind that they would give us so much: weapons, equipment, clothing! They told me they would even maintain our army with food. Yugoslav engineering detachments will come to build roads and bridges and other strategic projects. They will fill the whole country with steel and concrete. And the important thing is that they
told me that all these things 'we shall include in the Yugoslav budget'.>>
He raised his head from his papers about <<aid>> which he had in front of him and was astonished when he saw that I was listening to him with complete indifference.
<<Don't you believe me?>> he asked. <<Ask General Kupresanin and you will see!>>
<<Did they put anything else before you?>> I asked him to imply to him that we had finished.
<<Lots of lunches and dinners!>> he said. <<But apart from what I mentioned we did not speak about other problems.>>
I got up from my chair in order to escape the annoyance he was causing me, but he said to me:
<<Comrade Commander, I have some other things on my own behalf. That reply of the Soviets still remains unclear to me. It is my opinion, but what if we ask them why they do not agree to our accepting the Yugoslav division.>>
<<Stalin's reply is clear,>> I said. <<There's nothing more to clarify!>>
<<Oh, very well, but it seems to me that business is still bothering the Yugoslav comrades. What if we ask Moscow to reconsider their reply once more. Perhaps they will tell us to accept the division.>>
<<We gave the Yugoslavs our reply and if they are not clear let them ask Stalin themselves!>> I replied curtly.
<<That doesn't seem right to me. My opinion is we should repeat the request!>>
I was not impressed so much with Themelko's request to ask Moscow again as with his expression used in and out of place <<it's my opinion>>. I stayed to hear more.
From his <<own opinion>> he brought out very <<interesting>> proposals: the creation of a unified command, <<if not for the whole army, at least for those forces which will operate together with the Yugoslav division, if we permit it to go to Korça>>; especially <<his>> great desire for the union of Albania with Yugoslavia as quickly as possible in a federation (!) etc., etc.
<<While I was in Belgrade this time,>> he added in a hushed voice, <<I learned a great secret from a very reliable source. Bulgaria is almost united with Yugoslavia. Their union is only a matter of weeks or months. My heart tells me, Comrade Commander, that we should not allow Bulgaria to leave us behind. For my part I say we should take the initiative first. Let us tell Tito to unite with us first and then with Bulgaria.>>
<<Shule has been wound up properly,>> I thought very worried, but I controlled myself and asked him quietly, but with irony:
<<Are all these things your own opinions?!>>
<<On my honour, they are my own opinions!>> he <<vowed>>.
<<The proposals are very 'interesting'!>> I told him. <<Write them out just as you presented them to me and we shall raise them in the Political Bureau. Let us discuss them there!>>
<<I'll do that,>> replied Shule, <<but I mentioned them to you first in order to hear your opinion. They would be more sure of acceptance if we were to present them to the Bureau as our common proposals and desire.>>
<<In no way!>> I told him. <<Such a desire has never crossed my mind and, second, I have no reason to assume the 'merits' which belong to you! Write them out and present them yourself!>>
No more than three or four days later, General Kupresanin requested a meeting with me. I received him and from his first words he began to present, <<on his own behalf>>, the same <<desire>> and proposals which Kristo Themelko had presented to me.
Right from the start I sensed that all this was organized and directed from afar, but I was astonished at the unexpected haste with which it was insisted that we should discuss and approve these proposals. My suspicions about this haste were even further increased when, two or three days after General Kupresanin, Savo Zlatic came to me.
He too began to speak about the <<new spirit>> in the relations between our two countries, about the <<unprecedented
extension>> of economic and cultural exchanges, of joint projects and plans (which had remained only on paper) etc., etc.
<<As you see yourself,>> he continued, <<many problems have been created for us which we must cope with together. However, for this neither the good will nor the desire of both sides that the work should proceed well are sufficient. Like it or not, many difficulties arise. We have considered the matter thoroughly and judge that the conditions have matured for a big and decisive step. Our countries should be united as quickly as possible!>>
<<How should they be united?>> I asked him.
<<In the framework of a federation!>> he replied quite calmly. <<For years you, we and the Bulgarian comrades have been in agreement about the creation of this federation. We think that now the time has come.>>
<<There has been talk at times about a federation,>> I said, <<but always in principle and as a problem of the future. We, for our part, have not discussed this problem, because it was not the time and the possibilities for it did not exist. For my part, I tell you that in our conditions especially, it is still not the time to raise this problem for discussion, let alone to decide it.>>
<<Our leadership judges that the time has come,>> insisted Zlatic. <<I want to tell you in confidence an extremely secret thing: the Bulgarian comrades have agreed to unite with Yugoslavia and the question of our union is a matter of weeks or at the most months. I have been friendly with you for a long time and in my heart I don't want Bulgaria to be the first to take the initiative. Why don't you take this step first? This would make our special relations more evident in the international arena!>>
Shule came to my mind and I smiled to myself ironically. They were wound up, I thought, not only with the ideas, but even with the identical words and expressions. Meanwhile Zlatic was watching me carefully and asked:
<<What do you think about it?>>
<<I am listening,>> I said, <<carry on!>>
<<Don't take this with fear and reservations! This is step which will certainly be taken, if not today, tomorrow'. The union of our two peoples will immediately smooth out all the difficulties which have arisen and never cease arising. The thing is who will be the first to take the initiative? Comrade Tito instructed me that it would be best if the proposal came from you. This would eliminate any suspicion that we allegedly want to include Albania in the federation.>>
<<Why? Isn't what you propose inclusion?>> I asked quietly.
<<Why do you speak in this way?!>> he said as if offended. <<Perhaps I expressed myself badly! We want the union, but we do not want people to accuse us of doing this on our own behalf.>>
<<Then are they to accuse us of doing this on our own behalf?!>> I retorted immediately.
Zlatic went pale and the words stuck in his throat. I offered him a glass of water, he swallowed a gulp and tried to smile
<<I have some trouble with my throat,>> he <<excused>> himself. <<However, it seems that we do not easily agree with each other. You judge by my words; please judge by the essence. The matter is not that we do not want it, but that the thing will be done more easily if you make the proposal. We will immediately approve the proposal and it will all be done without problems. They have no reason to accuse you, because, as the small country you are, no one will think that you have made Yugoslavia a part of your country. In our case it is different.>>
<<Have you consulted with the Soviet leadership about this step which you suggest to us?>> I asked him.
<<No!>> he replied all agitation. <<This is a problem between our two countries, between our two leadership. When we have completed everything then we shall inform the Soviet comrades. However, you did well to ask me this. I have instructions from Comrade Tito that you, too, should maintain the same stand as we do. It is not good for us to worry the Soviet
comrades about something that we have not agreed upon between ourselves. I must tell you that we do not agree with the way in which you acted in connection with our division. However, for the sake of our friendship with the Soviet Union, we are withdrawing. But, if something occurs with the Greeks, let the proper person bear the responsibility. You should keep these two things in mind and please don't misunderstand us: first, the Soviet Union is truly our great friend, but it is far away, and in case of an aggression, it cannot come quickly to your aid; second, the Soviet Union as a big country must conduct a major international policy. On account of a very major interest, it may not be able to intervene in the case of an attack against you, may be obliged to accept the sacrifice of your country!>>
<<Clear!>> I said curtly, in a serious tone. <<These things you put before me are the opinions of your leadership, are they not?>>
<<Of course, they are the opinions of our leadership!>> replied Zlatic.
<<And of course you have brought them to us in writing!>>
<<No. Whether they are presented in writing or orally is of no importance. I transmitted them to you quite clearly. Between friends it is not important whether things are presented orally or in writing. The important thing is that we find a common language.>>
I felt the situation was reaching its climax. Tito's three envoys, wound up with the same <<proposals>> and the identical phrases, might be followed by others and exert their pressure systematically. Now the stand of our Political Bureau had decisive importance. After what occurred at the 8th Plenum our Bureau was on the side of Koçi Xoxe, both in content and in orientations. Gogo, Hysni and I were in a minority. This situation compelled me to keep cool, to manoeuvre with care so as to resist the great danger which was knocking at the door. At this time certain other doubts arose in connection with the Yugoslavs. Why were they insisting that we should not consult with the Soviet comrades?
Could the relations between sister parties and socialist countries be called friendly and normal when they keep secrets from one another?! Apparently something is not going well between them, I judged. The monstrous judgments that Zlatic pronounced in connection with the stand of the Soviet Union in case of an aggression against us further increased this suspicion of mine. These things were not simply suppositions of Tito and company. On the one hand they were pressure and blackmail to intimidate us, but in essence they also expressed Tito's hostile stand and assessment towards the great Soviet Union and Stalin's foreign policy. Only enemies could have and express such base opinions about the Soviet Union. But this was still just my own reasoning. From the Soviet embassy we had no signal, either for better or for worse. We had to cope with everything alone. Without delay, that is, without letting matters get worse, I demanded an urgent meeting of our Political Bureau.
<<These days,>> I said in substance, <<three comrades, Shule, General Kupresanin and Savo Zlatic have come, one after the other, asking us to propose the union of Albania with Yugoslavia. Obviously this is a step which cannot be taken lightly. The matters which they put before us cannot be solved hastily without consulting with the Party, the government and the people, without thrashing them out and discussing them in detail from every point of view. The request which is made to us cannot and must not be taken as the desire of one or the other individual. This is a major political and state problem of principle. I listened to the three comrades, but from what they told me many things remain obscure. For this reason I think that, before we discuss the matter in the Bureau, we should send Comrade Tito a letter asking him to explain to us more extensively, officially and in writing why and how he sees this step possible.>>
<<What if we listen to Shule here and try to clear things up,>> put in Koçi Xoxe <<innocently>>. <<Perhaps it won't be necessary to write a letter to Comrade Tito.>>
<<What Shule told me was his own opinion,>> I replied to
Xoxe. <<We can't take the desires of Shule as a message from the Yugoslav leadership. Am I not right, Comrade Kristo?>>
<<Yes, of course, it was my opinion,>> replied Shule blushing. <<But I'm ready to explain to you anything that was unclear!>>
<<I instructed you to present your proposals in writing,>> I said. <<You neglected this. Likewise, neither Kupresanin nor Zlatic presented anything official. We are the Political Bureau of an independent party and we represent the interests of a sovereign state, therefore, in regard to such a problem we cannot base ourselves on what one or the other says, however trusted the comrades may be. Let us send a letter to Comrade Tito to ask him to explain to us how they see the road of unification, to explain also why they asked that the proposals should come from our side, why we should unite 'irrespective of what Bulgaria does', why they consider consultation with the Soviet comrades unnecessary, etc. I consider this a normal thing and more than necessary,>> I continued. <<I think that Comrade Tito himself will be pleased that we want his personal judgment to have as a basis for taking a decision on such a question!>>
While I was speaking the faces of Xoxe, Themelko, Pandi Kristo, Nesti Kerenxhi and others sometimes looked black, sometimes went pale from the anger simmering within them. Behind my words they saw a manoeuvre that was taking the initiative from their hands. But they had no way to oppose what I presented. Willy-nilly, they <<agreed>> that the discussion should be postponed until Tito's reply came.
After so many months of the savagest pressure and blackmail, for the first time I felt I could breathe a little more easily. On such a delicate and discrediting matter as the demand for the unification of Albania with Yugoslavia, Tito would hardly make so bold as to put the demand in writing. He might send us another hundred emissaries, all to convince us that they came from the same source, they might speak with identical words, but these would no longer carry any weight. The point of Archimedes had been found and estab-
lished: we would discuss the matter in the Bureau only after Tito's official reply came in writing!
I was convinced that this meant: Never! The balance was tipping in our favour. About 15 or 20 days later, when everything indicated that the threat to us was being overcome, an unexpected announcement seemed to me to overturn everything: Savo Zlatic had arrived in Tirana with an extremely important message from the Yugoslav leadership and sought an urgent meeting with us.
We received him as soon as possible. As far as I remember Hysni Kapo and I were there from our side and from the Yugoslav side, Zlatic, Krajger, a planning <<specialist>> as a sort of secretary of the Co-ordination Commission, and I am not wrong in listing Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo, too, on the Yugoslav side.
Zlatic's uncommonly glowering face and even more the cold and haughty look which he gave me at the moment we met made my heart sing. I understood that Tito had not dared to commit the crazy act of demanding the unification of Albania with Yugoslavia in writing, over his own signature. I was still more convinced that the Yugoslavs were on the downward path when Zlatic produced some papers and began to communicate:
<<I am instructed to present to you the judgments and most recent new proposals of the Yugoslav leadership! Our leadership insists on the fact that the organizational forms of our relations do not respond to the content and essence of the relations created. Practical experience has led us to a combined economic unit and the future difficulties in the construction of socialism will be more easily dealt with, if we put the economic union on sounder foundations. Any step which we take in this direction will make the solution not only of the economic problems, but all other problems, easier.>>
 The meeting took place on April 10, 1948.
tunately for them, the <<emissary>> from Belgrade had reduced the rank of the demands. From <<political union>> he had come down to <<economic union>>. Where would it end?!
Meanwhile, Zlatic continued his presentation of the <<new>> proposals: we should proceed with an economic plan and maintain common stands towards other countries; we should have a common system on economic, trade and financial questions; we should have the same methodology of planning; common laws; open borders, common passports; the same education system, etc.
<<That means we should be like one state!>> Koçi Xoxe suddenly took heart.
Zlatic gave him a savage and angry look and Xoxe immediately hung his head, all fear and embarrassment.
<<No!>> replied Savo. <<That will be a later issue. Our leadership is not pleased with the explanations you demand about the proposal for unification. It seems that you have reservations. Very well, we are no longer repeating the request. The new proposals have to do with something in between. That is, for the time being we will appear as two states, but act as one state.>>
I turned first to Koçi as if to make things <<clearer>> to him: <<Comrade Zlatic is saying that formally we shall be separate states but in essence we shall be one with Yugoslavia. Am I not right, Comrade Zlatic?!>>
<<What I considered necessary I stated clearly!>> he replied brusquely. <<As for the remainder, hear what I shall continue to communicate. Our leadership thinks that the new step should be concretized in organizational forms with the creation of a committee in Belgrade and a co-ordination commission in Tirana. The committee in Belgrade will be headed by a Yugoslav minister and have an Albanian deputy minister. The co-ordination commission in Tirana will be headed by an Albanian minister and have a Yugoslav deputy minister. Obviously, the main new thing here will be the committee. It will be a joint organ of our two governments which will assume some of the competences and responsibilities of both
states. Hence, this committee will be the beginning of the future joint government. The co-ordination commission in Tirana will be linked with it. However, while the co-ordination commission will be engaged mostly with questions of the joint economy, the committee will also be engaged with other problems. Now what is needed is that we put all these things that I presented in a joint protocol so that everything will receive the official seal and be in order, also, from the standpoint of international law.>>
<<Have you brought a draft of this protocol ?>> I asked him.
<<No,>> he replied. <<We shall formulate it here. It will be a simple matter. In it we will present ourselves as two states, but the links and accords which will be attached to it will make the existence of two states a formal question. This is the future, that is to say, the federation!>>
Everything was clear. The Yugoslavs wanted to trap us, to lead us through the <<protocol>> to that same path on which they had failed by means of their proposal for union. However, their new manoeuvre no longer indicated strength and blackmail. Now it was more like a desperate attempt, a shot in the dark in the vain hope of <<hitting the target>>. It was the moment for us to raise our tone:
<<Comrade Zlatic,>> I said, <<we listened to the new proposals of your leadership and, of course, we shall think about them, discuss them and give you our reply. However, many of the things you said are obscure, even disturbing and excuse me for saying so, not correct on your part.>>
<<Please,>> he said, <<how do you mean concretely?!>>
<<You want us to take such a step which, in essence, is the union of our two countries, the amalgamation of our two states. You said this yourself. For this you want us to draft a protocol. Twenty days or so ago you presented to us demands which would have the same result for us, except that then it was to be done through a proposal which we should make 'from our side', but on your request. Now I want to ask you: are such actions normal in the relations between sovereign
states?! We sent Comrade Tito a letter asking him to explain to us how he saw and considered the question of the unification of our two countries. You did not send us a reply.>>
<<The proposals which I presented are the reply!>> exclaimed Zlatic, making a slip, perhaps from his mad haste.
<<If what you say is true, then the problem is extremely grave. You can call it what you like, but we take this as an attempt to face us with an accomplished fact. We have no reason to deceive one another. We sought clarification on 'why we should unite now' and did not seek a protocol in which we would sign the unification.>>
<<It is not a protocol for unification!>> Sergej Krajger intervened. <<It is a protocol for better regulation of the relations between our countries, especially in the economic field.>>
<<You remember the conversation we had three or four months ago on the question of the co-ordination commission,>> I said to Krajger. <<You said this commission would iron out any disagreement and would put everything in order. In any case, the commission was created. Later you came and complained to me that matters were not going well, because our ministries did not report to you on everything you required from them. I told you in a comradely way that I was not in agreement with your requests, but on your insistence I instructed the ministries that they should do this. And what resulted from this?! Our people were kept engaged on useless studies and projects. They were engaged more in compiling reports and information for you than on seeing to the questions of the economy. Now, if we allow the committee to be created in Belgrade, we will all have to turn into reporters and suppliers of information for that committee.>>
<<Everything is done for the best,>> Krajger replied <<gently>>, <<and our aims are sincere. You should not deny our aid. You must understand that Yugoslavia is making sacrifices for you and, on the problems of aid, it treats you exactly like its own republics. But while with our republics everything is settled easily, with you, while you remain a separate state, willy-nilly, difficulties and disagreements arise.>>
<<Our orientation and concern>>, I told him, <<has been to complete the obligations to and contracts with Yugoslavia, first of all. Indeed, we have accepted such links and organisms which any other state could hardly permit. One of them is the commission which you lead. And if matters are still not going well, don't seek the cause amongst us.>>
<<I am referring to the fact that disagreements arise because we are separate,>> intervened Krajger. <<Your department sees the problems in one way, the Yugoslav department in another way. Each side is concerned with its own interest. Let me give you some examples,>> he said and made a sign to a third Yugoslav who, like a clockwork toy, quickly produced a piece of paper from his briefcase.
<<Look what occurs,>> said the Yugoslav raising his voice. <<Your side makes demands which cannot be fulfilled. Take, for instance, tweezers. You have asked for 70 000 tweezers for a year! This is the limit! You have emptied the Yugoslav market of them!>>
<<There may be unreasonable requests!>> I said to the Yugoslavs, <<but I am unable to answer you about the tool you mention. In what branch of the economy is it used?!>>
Unexpectedly, the tense atmosphere of the meeting relaxed for a moment. The interpreters began to speak with the Yugoslavs to clear up what this tool was. Koçi Xoxe was holding his head in his hands, while Zlatic was making crazy gestures: he was pulling out eyebrows with the tips of his fingers and trying to tell me something. Finally, the mystery was solved.
The interpreter started to explain to me: <<The reference is to a piece of springy steel strip bent double which is used by women to pluck their eyebrows.>>
It was not the moment to laugh, but to shout at them:
<<Shame on you that you mention such crazy things!>> I exploded at the Yugoslavs. <<Our women and girls don't even know the name of the instruments you are talking about and they never think of plucking their eyebrows! They still have insufficient food, they have no clothes for their backs and shoes for their feet, while you complain to us that
we have allegedly emptied your market of eyebrow pluckers. Keep them for yourselves. On my own responsibility I tell you not to bring a single pair to Albania!>>
<<You should not be angry. We brought this up as an example of the irregularities which are created. There are many like this,>> and the Yugoslav continued to list them: <<You have demanded so many tons of boot polish, so many thousand boot nails, so many million (I think about 7-8 million) pen nibs (?!), so many thousand kilograms of beverage essence, etc., etc.>>
<<Astonishing! Extremely astonishing!>> I said indignantly and turned to Pandi Kristo who was cowering in a corner like a shitty rabbit: <<Did you order these things? Why do you need them?>>
<<Comrade Commander, you are quite right, but the Yugoslav comrades are right, too. We don't really need those things, but when we asked for some motors and equipment for the railway, the Yugoslav comrades of the plan suggested to us that we order these, too, because their market was full of them. They told us: 'They are very cheap, order them in the framework of the credit.'>>
Surprisingly, even after this the Yugoslavs were not in the least shocked. On the contrary, Zlatic found the way out:
<<It is not important who put them in the plan!>> he explained. <<The important thing is why these irregularities occur. They occur because we still act as two separate states. Everything will be settled if you approve our proposals!>>
<<Had you anything else to communicate to us?>> I asked him.
<<Nothing. If you are ready we can begin the drafting of the protocol,>> Zlatic made bold to say in his haste.
 In the book <<Yugoslav-Albanian Relations>> (1939-1948) published in Belgrade in 1949, Tito's men have not forgotten to <<point out>> even this fact. On page 205 (edition in the Albanian language), they complain that the Albanian side <<has sent the Federal Planning Commission of the FPRY a request for 70 000 pairs of tweezers for plucking eyebrows.>>
<<To be in order in the future!>> he replied there and then. <<Some frictions, disagreements might occur. Without a protocol you might say 'we understood it this way' and we might say 'we understood it that way'. While a protocol is a document. We shall refer to it and let the responsibility lie with the proper person.>>
<<Look here!>> I said. <<You appreciate the importance of the protocol very correctly and I agree with you. But why do you not consider it correct to give us your opinions, comments and especially your proposals in documents, in writing?! You fired a barrage of them at us in November. I asked you to hand them to us in writing, but to this day you have not done such a thing. You came in December, made a whole lot of proposals, but once again orally. You came in February and March, and the same thing! We are awaiting a reply from Comrade Tito, but it does not come. Now, once again you make new proposals, but again orally. How are we to know that what you say is accurate?!>>
<<I transmit precisely the instructions of our leadership,>> he said, looking disconcerted. <<You are telling us openly that you do not believe us. Do you not believe me, or do you not believe the leadership of the CPY and Comrade Tito?>>
<<This is not the place for such questions!>> I replied sternly in a frigid tone. <<We are not discussing the content of the problems which you raised, but the way in which they are presented. We shall examine them only when you have given them to us in writing!>>
With this the meeting came to an end. As he was leaving, Zlatic was about to say something more, but apparently decided against it. The others followed him out with their heads hanging. I remained alone with Hysni.
<<Perhaps we'll have a big flare-up with them,>> he said. <<But you put them in their place. Let them consider carefully before they provoke another November. They should know that there comes a time when even our patience and calm come to an end.>>
<<Anything might happen,>> I told him, <<however, for some time I've noticed a surprising fear and confusion in all of them. I don't understand why they are rushing with such obvious chauvinist impatience to achieve the union at all costs. Nevertheless, we must be vigilant. For us everything is now clear. We shall respond to their attack with attack. There is no other way.>>
The ignominious end
<<No more than two or three days after this meeting, an important event finally cleared up and enlightened us on everything: the first letter of the CC of the CPSU addressed to the Yugoslav Titoite leadership reached us.
I read the letter right through without stopping to draw breath, and from the opening paragraphs I felt a joy and satisfaction such as I had rarely experienced in all my life. Calmly, with unshakeable arguments, the CC of the CP of the Soviet Union brought out the major mistakes and distortions in the line of the leadership of the CPY, its unrestrained nationalism and megalomania, and the course full of dangers and harmful consequences on which it was leading the Yugoslav peoples. Although our Party and country and our relations with the leadership of the CPY were not mentioned anywhere in the letter, it seemed to me as if every paragraph took account precisely of the things which had been occurring to us for years on end in connection with the Titoite leadership.
 This letter was sent to the leadership of the CPY on March 27, 1948.
which Tito and his <<emissaries>> had made against us for 6-7 years on end.
I was finally convinced that our cause was triumphing. Not only would the fierce conflict in which we were engaged with the leaders of Belgrade be resolved correctly, but more important, it would be resolved more quickly and without so many complications, battles and losses as if we were obliged to fight alone.
I summoned Hysni immediately, gave him the letter to read and saw that he, too, was filled with the same emotions, the same feelings as those I had experienced a little earlier. The time had come to breathe freely, the time had come for our Party and people to throw off that evil spirit and heavy burden which had hindered and threatened us for years.
<<We are proved right! We are going to win. Long live the Party!>> exclaimed Hysni with tears in his eyes, as soon as he finished reading the letter, and he embraced me.
<<This historic letter of Stalin explains and clears up everything!>> I told him. <<Do you remember what we talked about a few days ago?! The Yugoslavs' haste and insistence on signing the unification seemed to us astonishing and incomprehensible. Now it is clear. Through their dirty manoeuvres and pressure they wanted to get the business with us over and done with quickly, because they were uneasy about their conflict with the Soviet comrades.
<<Have Koçi and Pandi read it?>> Hysni asked me.
<<No,>> I replied. <<They are not here. They have gone to the districts to propagate the 8th Plenum! As soon as they return I shall inform them.>>
<<Let us see how they receive the news. . .>>
<<Like a thunderbolt,>> I said. <<Nevertheless, it is still too early to analyse this historic letter in detail. We shall inform the other comrades of the Bureau, let them all read the letter and then we shall meet and discuss it.>>
That same day or the following day, Kristo Themelko and Beqir Balluku came to me in alarm:
<<Comrade Commander,>> they told me, <<General Kupre-
sanin asked for a meeting with us and communicated very grave accusations to us. He instructed us to transmit them to you and we came immediately!>>
<<What is the General displeased about?>> I asked.
<<About everything!>> exclaimed Kristo Themelko. <<In the first place about the economy. He does not agree with your formulation that 'the Albanian economy is based on its own forces and also relies on the aid of Yugoslavia and the fraternal countries'. Kupresanin calls this a violation of the agreement. He told me that we should not say 'the Albanian economy', but 'the joint Albanian-Yugoslav economic plans'.>>
<<Yes, yes!>> I <<encouraged>> him. <<Go ahead!>>
<<He told us that he is displeased that some time ago a director of a factory in Shkodra was arrested for hostile activity. He is of Yugoslav origin and on this account should not be touched!>>
Themelko went on to list the other <<accusations>> of the Yugoslav General: the third <<accusation>> had to do with our foreign policy: the Austrian government had proposed to recognize the People's Republic of Albania and we had allegedly made a <<fatal>> mistake -- we had not protested against this request of Austria! According to Kupresanin, we would have protested and rejected the request because, first, Austria and Yugoslavia were quarrelling with each other over the question of a Slovenian minority and, second, how could Albania be recognized by Austria without the approval of Yugoslavia?!
The fourth <<accusation>> had to do with the housing policy of the Executive Committee of Durrës: some families of Yugoslav specialists had been shifted into new houses, because the zone of their former houses had been put at the disposal of the army!
<<He was very annoyed!>> concluded Themelko. <<He listed these things one by one and communicated to us that in these conditions we could no longer collaborate in the military field!>>
<<And did you accept the 'accusations'?>> I asked them.
<<We took notes,>> Themelko told me. <<We were badly
shocked by what he said about our military relations. If they abandon the collaboration with us we are in trouble! Without their aid, how can we carry out all those plans in the army! So I asked him whether there was anything that displeased him in the army. He told us there was nothing.>>
<<Yes, there was, yes there was!>> added Balluku. <<Good seats are not reserved for the Yugoslav officers in the football stadium!>>
<<Oh, you are right, I forgot!>> remembered Shule. <<Some ignorant individual gave our officer friends ordinary seats for a football match. It could have been done deliberately, because the enemy keeps up such things.>>
<<Did Kupresanin raise the question of tickets, too?!>> I asked them.
<<Yes, he did and he was indignant about it!>> explained Shule.
<<And how did the meeting end?!>> I asked, controlling my anger with great effort.
<<Like this! We begged him not to hold it against us, told him that we would correct the mistakes, and came straight to you. It is very disturbing!>>
<<Your stand is disturbing and incomprehensible!>> I said sternly. <<My remarks are addressed first, to you Kristo, as member of the Political Bureau, but also to you, Beqir Balluku, as chief of the General Staff of the army. You had no reason at all to listen to the Yugoslav General as soon as you realized that he was speaking to you about problems which do not pertain to him. However, after your first mistake you fell into the second. Instead of indignantly rejecting the ridiculous 'accusations' he made to you, you accepted them without giving any thought to what you were doing.>>
Shule and Balluku opened their eyes in astonishment at what they were hearing, but when they saw the indignation and determination with which I was speaking they hung their heads and shrugged their shoulders as if to say, <<Even in these situations only oppose the thunderbolts of the friends like this!>>
Now it was not difficult to understand the meaning of
this new attack of the Yugoslavs! Indeed, rather than an attack this was a plan which came from Belgrade to feel our pulse. In Belgrade they had judged: <<Let us strike a new blow at the Albanians and see how matters stand. If they reply angrily, then they have been informed by Stalin about what has been going on. If not, then, in the context of new accusations, let us carry the 8th Plenum deeper so that they will be forced to jump quickly into our arms.>> It was not for nothing that on this occasion they activated the General and not the diplomat Zlatic.
I carefully weighed up the dirty provocation which they had made against us and thought that Tito should immediately receive the reply he deserved.
I demanded an urgent meeting of the Political Bureau (meanwhile Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo had returned from their <<missions>>) and we began.
<<I sought this special meeting of the Bureau,>> I told the comrades, <<to inform you of two important problems of the past four or five days.
<<The first and most important problem has to do with a letter of the CC of the CPSU sent to the Yugoslav leadership at the end of March. I shall say nothing about the exceptional importance and value of this letter because you will understand this yourselves as soon as you hear it.>>
For the first time after so many years of quarrels, debates and, frequently, meaningless rows, a complete, deep silence fell in our Political Bureau. While I was reading I could hear the breathing of the comrades. I knew the impressions and reactions which each paragraph and phrase of the letter aroused were different in the different comrades. Hysni and Gogo listened all serious attention, but I noticed that their faces and eyes were smiling; Bedri and Tuk sat in wide-eyed amazement at what they were hearing. As for Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo, Kristo Themelko, Nesti Kerenxhi and Xhoxhi BIushi, their heads were hanging and they were gasping for breath as if they were being hit in the ribs.
<<That is the content of the letter,>> I said to the comrades when I had finished. <<Now the next question is: How are we going to act after this? I think it is still too soon to discuss it. Each of us must sit down and study the letter, taking notes, so that we thoroughly understand its essence, and when we met, each of us should speak freely, as his conviction and conscience tells him. In the analyses which we have made we have often suffered from a great evil: the tendency has existed for one comrade or the other to impose on others views and stands with which they are not in agreement. We must put an end to this tendency and I think we should set the example when we analyse this letter. Second, I think we should analyse the letter of the Soviet leadership on a broader plane. It seems to me that we know the leaders of the CPY, their line and stands better than the other communist parties, because we have had contacts, agreements and disagreements with them for years. Therefore, what we say in reply to the letter of the Bolshevik Party we must link with our own experience, with our relations with the Yugoslav leadership. Third,>> I told the comrades, <<I instruct that we must be extremely careful, vigilant and prudent, especially at these moments. We should bear well in mind the fact that the problems which have arisen between the Soviet leadership and the Yugoslav leadership are strictly internal matters, still under discussion between them. It would be an unpardonable sin if anyone of us, on account of the special relations which have been created with the Yugoslav leadership, were to hasten and bring to light outside our Bureau the problems which are raised in this letter. Such an action would bring great harm to us and would also further aggravate and complicate the relations created between the Soviet and the Yugoslav comrades. Applying the norms of relations between sister parties, Stalin sent us this letter for our information, and that is all. Whether or not we express solidarity with this letter, this Stalin does not demand of us, but neither does he deny our right to do so. This will depend on us. But, as I said, we must not pronounce ourselves on this today in a hasty manner. When we are ready, we shall meet.
<<That was the first problem. From this moment, the letter of the Soviet leadership is at the disposal of each comrade of the Bureau and you may come and read it whenever you like and as frequently as you consider reasonable.
<<The second problem,>> I continued, <<has to do with a grave incident which General Kupresanin provoked two days ago.>>
I mentioned in detail all the General's <<accusations>> and pointed out:
<<Anyone can see that the things Kupresanin raised are ridiculous, without any foundation and completely unjust. As to why the General took this step, this is another problem. To my mind, this was a provocation.>>
<<In what sense?>> Koçi Xoxe hastened to ask.
<<Mainly in two senses!>> I replied there and then. <<First, perhaps the General made these 'accusations', which I don't believe he himself can consider serious, with the aim of feeling our pulse, to see whether or not we have been informed about the Soviet-Yugoslav conflict. They will measure this from our stand towards the most recent accusations. Second, perhaps they made the 'accusations' with the aim that we should act as we acted with the 'accusations' of Zlatic in November, that is, organize another 8th Plenum and be compelled to accept all those 'proposals' which they have made to us recently. I see no other possibility, and precisely on this account I suspect that the stand of the Yugoslav General is a provocation. If you, Comrade Koçi, see some other motive, tell us so that we make no mistake. . .>>
Koçi Xoxe said nothing more and after waiting a few seconds, I continued:
<<Regardless of this, it is impermissible far us to fall prey to the provocation, but neither will we be hasty and bring out things which are extremely secret and still under discussion. For this reason I think we should immediately send Comrade Tito a letter in which we explain what Kupresanin said, prove why his 'accusations' are baseless and ask him to explain what impelled the General to take this step.>>
<<Would it not be better to clear the matter up ourselves with Kupresanin?>> asked Nesti Kerenxhi, Koçi's deputy in the Ministry of the Interior, this time.
<<By no means!>> I replied. <<He is simply a military man and there is no reason why we should discuss such problems with him. Indeed, I think we should stress this strongly to Tito in the letter.
<<We should write that it does not seem to us correct that a general should come and raise these problems with us, even if they were well-based. We should say to Tito: If your comrades considered these matters important, then your ambassador Josip Djerdja or your 'delegate' Zlatic could come and point them out to us, but never the General.
<<Likewise, we should write to Tito that it seems to us astonishing that the General threatens us with breaking off collaboration in the military field, simply because good seats were not reserved in the stadium for some Yugoslav officers! We should say, also, that we do not understand why such actions are being taken and, in the end, should repeat that we are for friendly relations in the spirit of the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. We should stress this, comrades, because for some time a slogan impermissible for us has been introduced. Instead of the spirit of Marxism, some mention 'the spirit of the Economic Convention'. Such a thing is absurd. This is my opinion. Let us discuss it and reach a decision.>>
<<I am afraid of one thing!>> Koçi Xoxe threw the stone, although with a weak and trembling voice. <<Comrade Tito might link our reply with Stalin's letter and suspect that we have been informed about it.>>
<<What if he does!>> said Hysni. <<Let him suspect! He has no reason to take offence at it. On the contrary, let this impel him to inform us about the Yugoslav views, as Comrade Stalin quite rightly did about the Soviet views. Since he calls us a sister party, indeed the closest one, why should he keep these things hidden from us?!>>
<<But Tito might think that we opposed Kupresanin be-
cause Stalin's letter influenced us!>> Koçi Xoxe dared to add.
<<You have no reason to think so badly of Comrade Tito!>> I replied to Xoxe, goading him in <<his own terrain>>. <<Tito might have many faults and in my opinion he has plenty of them, but you have no reason to accuse him of a weak memory. This is not the first time we have opposed him. Without going back into past years, just during the past three or four months we have opposed him several times. We refused his demand about the division, refused the proposal about the unified command, refused the demand for the unification of Albania with Yugoslavia, now you have regrets because we are not accepting the stupidities of General Kupresanin! Do you think that we ought to hold another 8th Plenum on the basis of them?>>
<<No, you misunderstood me,>> said Koçi Xoxe submissively. <<I don't mind our writing the letter, but it seemed to me they might suspect we have been influenced by the Soviets. However, now I am convinced, I agree we should send the letter.>>
The savage Koçi was no longer brandishing the <<sword>> which the 8th Plenum gave him, nor even raising his feathers. To say that he was frightened is putting it mildly. He was experiencing the first agony of the evil deed to which he had committed himself under the pressure and manoeuvres of Belgrade, but also on account of his own unhealthy ambitions and conscience.
This occurred on April 17, 1948, as I remember very well. I remember this date, because only one day later, April 18, 1948, it became quite clear that the cause of the Yugoslavs, at least in connection with our Party and country, had come to an end. It was more than clear to me that this end would come one day, but that it would come so quickly and in such unexpected, even ludicrous, circumstances, had never crossed my mind. This is what happened:
At that period, two or three Soviet film-makers had come to our country to make a documentary film about Albania. They had finished their work and before they left
for Moscow they informed me through the Soviet ambassador that they would be very happy if I would find the time to see the film they had made. I was very pleased to accept. On the evening of April 18, I invited the film-makers to the Palace of Brigades and together with them invited ambassador Chuvakin and the main functionaries of the Soviet embassy as our guests. I also sent an informal invitation to the Yugoslav ambassador and Savo Zlatic, the Bulgarian ambassador and some others that I don't remember. From our comrades, Hysni Kapo, Koçi Xoxe, Bedri Spahiu and Tuk Jakova were present.
That was simply a social evening quite without protocol. Understandably, we gave the greatest honour to those who provided the occasion for us to get together -- our film-maker guests. Very happy that we were meeting, after we had clinked glasses they got up to prepare the projector to show us the film. Everything was going very well up to this point, we were talking and cracking jokes.
Meanwhile, I saw Savo Zlatic stand up scowling, as if the dog had stolen his dinner. He went around the table where Koçi Xoxe was sitting, approached Hysni and seemed about to say something to him, but apparently changed his mind, made a sign to Djerdja and the two came towards me.
<<Do you want to sit here?>> I said to them cheerfully, and made room for them. <<Sit down!>>
<<No, we are leaving!>> said Savo Zlatic. I saw with astonishment that his face and neck were flushed red and he was clenching his jaws.
<<Why?>> I asked him. <<Is something wrong?! Are you not feeling well?>>
<<Tomorrow afternoon or the day after tomorrow at the most, I am leaving for Belgrade,>> said Zlatic brusquely. <<But before I leave you must arrange for me a meeting with two comrades of your Central Committee to transmit our complaints.>>
He was speaking with such tension and anger that it was useless to ask him to explain what was the cause of this sudden outburst.
<<With whom do you wish to meet?>> I asked.
<<There is no further room for any preference!>> he replied savagely and with cynicism. <<With whoever is there.>>
<<Then, we shall appoint Comrade Xoxe,>> I told him, making him snort a little, <<and. . . Comrade Hysni Kapo!>>
The Yugoslavs left. I was very surprised at what occurred but, nevertheless, I gave no sign of it. We had met for something else and I did not want to arouse any concern or suspicion in the guests. The only person who did not say a word or raise his head after this was Koçi Xoxe. The gloom of his face was blacker than the darkness that fell when they started to show the film.
The following day Hysni and Koçi Xoxe met Zlatic and what they transmitted to me was truly shameless.
According to Zlatic and Djerdja, the social evening which I described above was not a social evening but an <<anti-Yugoslav demonstration>> (?!), an <<insult>> which I had allegedly made to Zlatic, the Yugoslav army and all Yugoslavia!
<<Why?>> Hysni had asked him in surprise.
<<Because Enver Hoxha had invited more Soviets than Yugoslavs, at a time when there are more Yugoslavs than Soviets in Albania! Because you had not invited General Kupresanin, had not invited Yugoslav specialists. . .>>
He had blurted out some other tales which are not worthy of mention and had concluded:
<<There can be no further collaboration with you. After this insult General Kupresanin and all the Yugoslav military men no longer have any place in Albania; we shall re-examine the economic agreements, we shall re-examine everything. We are leaving because your friendship with Yugoslavia has no foundation, our relations are worse than in June 1947 (when they made their first accusation), indeed, worse than in November (when they made their second accusation); because Enver Hoxha has always behaved with us in this way and. . .>>
Events automatically turned in a new direction, or more precisely, precipitated at new, more rapid rates.
With the departure of the Yugoslav <<envoys>> and their
suite of advisers and specialists so suddenly and for so utterly ridiculous reasons, the Yugoslav leadership finally put the seal on an indisputable truth: their hostile and conspiratorial aims and ambitions towards Albania. There is no other way to explain this sudden and ignominious departure. In all that period, we had not given any occasion for any incident or misunderstanding in our relations with them. We had been extremely correct, indeed, we had tolerated and permitted stands and actions which in other situations we would have dismissed with indignation and scorn. At the same time, they had not heard a single word about how we were going to react to the letter of the Bolshevik Party and to the Soviet-Yugoslav conflict as a whole. It was not for nothing that in the meeting of the Political Bureau one day earlier, I did not express my opinion about Stalin's letter and it was not fortuitous that I demanded that the comrades should not pronounce themselves about it there and then. I did this so that the comrades could prepare themselves quietly and freely, but also in the belief that Xoxe and his clan would immediately pass our opinions on to their masters Thus, we did not give them this weapon. Then, why did they clear out? No doubt because they were informed by Xoxe of just one fact: Stalin's letter had come into our hands. For the Yugoslavs this meant that their plot for the gobbling up of Albania had failed. They had been unable to make us yield when we knew nothing about the conflict which they had with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, let alone now when we saw that we were not alone in our efforts. Hence, convinced that they could gain nothing, they found the excuse and cleared out. In their fury and despair that they were unable to achieve their Yugoslavia of 7 republics, they no longer worried their heads about their agents. As Zlatic told me at the last moment, now they no longer had <<preferences>>. For the plotters of Belgrade, as for the plotters of all times and countries, this was more than normal. They had never liked Koçi Xoxe and the others for the colour of their eyes. They wanted them to serve as their <<internal>>
support for the carrying out of the plot. Since they failed in their purpose, to the devil with the tools! Let them do what they pleased, or what they could! If through trickery they managed to escape our justice, then in suitable situations their patrons would launch them into activity again. If they did not escape, then the Serbian church would light a candle for them, while now that the plot had failed, a heavy sentence on the agents would be convenient to the Titoite propaganda. They would accuse us of <<violations of democracy>>, etc., etc.
In order to be just and correct to the end, immediately after the crazy act which Kupresanin and Zlatic committed, we sent Tito another letter in which we expressed our astonishment and indignation about their departure without any cause from our side. Tito replied within two days, naturally, defending the action of his delegates in a few general words, and at the same time, accusing us of causing the tension in relations. And why? Tito listed three causes:
First, <<you [the Albanians] are lacking in the necessary faith in our opinions about Albania.>>
Second, <<we [the Yugoslavs] cannot agree to make material sacrifices, which are not small, in favour of Albania and to the detriment of our people, and despite this not see the improvement of our relations.>>
What Tito understood with this <<improvement of relations>> he expressed openly in the third <<cause>>:
<<If we truly desire a rapprochement,>> concluded the Marshal, <<then let us re-examine our collaboration. . . and increase it on a basis which responds to the given stage and the international circumstances.>>
As to what this <<given stage>> and these <<international circumstances>> which Tito mentioned in an undertone were, this his delegates had told us unequivocally earlier: <<the stage of federal union>> to emerge in <<the tense international circumstances>> as a <<minor power>>. After this he did
 The words in quotation marks have been taken from the letter of J. B. Tito to the CC of the CPA of April 22, 1948. CAP.
not fail to repeat the threat that they would cut off aid, re-examine all their relations with us, and he <<advised>> us to seek the culprits in <<a part of your leadership>> which had not agreed with the dictates of the Yugoslavs!
These orders and <<advice>> of the Marshal were extremely threadbare! We had long been acquainted with them, had suffered damage from them, but now they had no effect. We analysed his letter and sent him the reply he deserved. From the outset we told him openly that the leadership of the CPY should seek and find the cause, first of all, in itself, in its impermissible mistakes and stands towards us for years on end. We also pointed out in the letter that the time had come for our Party to look into the matter deeply, with criticism and self-criticism, to find the true causes of the deterioration of relations.
After pointing out that we had worked sincerely since the years of the war and after it to strengthen our friendship, we stressed that our principal mistake was that <<Our Party and its Central Committee, with great belief and trust in the CPY, have more than once accepted harsh criticisms made verbally by the CC of the CPY against our Party, against its leadership and members of our Party. These things,>> we wrote, <<we frequently accepted as indisputable, a thing which is not objective, but on the contrary, is outside the Marxist-Leninist principles and Marxism-Leninism. We admit that we have not acted correctly in this direction. . .>>
We went on to refute with arguments all the accusations which Tito made against us, one by one, explained why we considered their stands unfair and sinister and. . . we left the ball in their court to manoeuvre as seemed best to them.
The reply came very quickly, except that this time, since Tito <<was not>> in Belgrade, Djilas signed it.
In three lines he told us that our letter did not constitute any basis for discussion and waved a threatening index finger at us:
 From the letter of the Political Bureau of the CC of the CPA to J. B. Tito, May 23, 1948. CAP.
<<Meanwhile,>> he wrote, <<in order to put our relations in order as quickly as possible, we propose that you should send a delegation which, together with us, will examine all the questions and conclude protocols about our economic relations on the basis of our former proposals>>!
O tempora, o mores!
What is the explanation for this custom of revisionists?! Do they all copy one another, or does their disease drive them to find the same course? Who can forget the year 1960 and the beginning of 1961 in our battles with Khrushchev and company? Who can forget their insistent demands, after the great breach of November 1960, that we send a delegation to Moscow on any condition, in order to <<sign the agreements>>?!
The same thing with the Yugoslavs! Except not in 1960 but in 1948. On both occasions the aim of the revisionists was the same: an urgent summons to <<Canossa>> to subjugate us! But on both occasions our stand was the same. We told them where they got off.
But we are talking about our battles with the first current of modern revisionism in power, the Yugoslav current. That is how everything came to an end in the spring of 1948.
From the letter of the CC of the CPY to the CC of the CPA, May 27,
 See Enver Hoxha, <<The Khrushchevites>> (Memoirs), Tirana 1980, pp. 469-470, Eng. ed.