Category Archives: Literary Criticism

“My Life With Enver” Nexhmije Hoxha’s Memoirs (Part 1)

”MY LIFE WITH ENVER”;

Memoirs Volume I By Nexhmije Hoxha

Nobody but Enver Hoxha deserves the expression:
“Glory goes to the ones not asking for it”

COPYRIGHT:

Of the original work belongs to the author; and of this translation jointly between the author and the translators – Alliance Marxist-Leninist.

First published in Albanian; by “LIRA” Tirana 1998 (Print Run: 2000).

Publishers Preface – Alliance

This translation was commissioned and edited, with authorisation from Nexhmije Hoxha.
It was undertaken and effected by an Editorial Board drawn from the Communist League (UK) and Alliance-ML (North America). All board members, are former
members of the now defunct ‘Albania Society’ organised by W.B.Bland.

All web-materials of this book are available to be distributed – but copyright is held by this board in association with Nexhmije Hoxha.
All permissions to copy this material on the web or in print format will be freely given, provided that the material is prefaced with the above statements.
Should there be any errors remaining in translation, we apologise for these, and stress that they are solely the responsibility of the Editorial Board noted
above – not the author.

We are publishing this initially as a series on the web. In due course we will be publishing the entire authorised translation as two volumes in a bound version.
November 2005.

1. Authors Preface

I decided to write these memoirs about my life with Enver when I felt a strong need to suppress the torturing loneliness of my prison cell. I started with memories from our youth, our life together, the first meeting and love – that had connected the two of us so much. I had never even talked to my children about these matters, and I have kept these memories to myself, throughout my life.

With the passing of time, our ideal life together was embellished and transformed into a source of endless happiness, and into a moral strength that kept me alive in very difficult situations and circumstances.

Sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment, under absurd charges, it had been already determined that I would not be released until I was over 80 years old. It is for that reason that I decided to write these memoirs, so that they are left to my children, for them to learn about the life experiences of their parents, before they were born, and when they were little. And, even later, when we had not been able to find the time, to talk to them about these things.
So, my children came to learn of them gradually, by reading notes that I had secretly written in prison. They were brave enough to become my muses together with their families – they helped me to fulfill the promise that I had made to their father, my Enver.

At the suggestion of many comrades and friends, I decided to publish these memoirs, hoping that I would be able to satisfy the wishes of many veterans, the co-fighters of Enver; as well as to answer the curiosity of the new generations who would not know Enver as the leader of our country and people for nearly 50 years.

During the 7 years of social and political collapse in our country, much was said and written about Enver and his work, including much which was absurd, banal and even monstrous. In these memoirs I do not want to dwell on the many deceits and obscenities thrown into the Albanian political arena. I only reminisce and describe Enver just as he was, during his life, the war, work, political activities, and with family and friends. Fifty years is a rather long period and the memories reflected in this book are not scientific analyses of the history of that period and the role of Enver Hoxha. Even as memories they cannot completely cover that time span.

But being confined to a prison cell, it was these memories that kept me going, and it was in such a situation that I began to write them down – when allowed to do so and when I had the chance.
Each memory brought back others until they became too many to be included in a single volume and I therefore decided to divide them into two books.

Book I, is the one you have in your hands, “My Life With Enver”.

It includes first acquaintance, our love, our meetings during the time of the National Liberation War, our life in the family after liberation; the daily routine of life and work of Enver, encounters with missions sent by the Yugoslavian Communist Party, and their agents in our Party (whose aim was to include Albania as a seventh republic of the Yugoslav federation); the close friendship with the SU (Soviet Union) during Stalin’s time and, later, the betrayal of the stigmatized revisionist N. S Khrushchev and the ones following him. As chronologically ordered, these memoirs reach the year 1973, although a strict chronology is not necessarily adhered to within each chapter.

Book II reflects “The last ten years of my life with Enver”. The memories in this book are somewhat detached from each other, and this period was a rather disturbed time for the Party and our government too. Towards the end of 1973, Enver suffered his first heart attack. Since the recent years of “democracy” there has been much speculation with regard to Enver’s health. But, based upon the evidence that I have, I can categorically deny the false rumors regarding Enver’s inability to continue working in his highly responsible office. The years following were full of activities, whether in the political arena or in his personal creativity. This is evidenced by his wide ranging activities during this period, his many political initiatives and the several editions of memoirs that he wrote in addition to his ideological or political writings.

During 1974-1975, Enver had to fight against anti party activity, anti-socialists and anti-nationalist who were associated with some of the party members. I write about these in my memoirs and show how Enver handled them and survived these difficulties.

Much speculation has circulated regarding the relationship between Enver and Mehmet Shehu. Therefore, in the second book, I have dedicated a whole chapter to the special character this relationship had, and of the long collaboration and suicide of Mehmet Shehu.
A special part of this second book is dedicated, not only to personal memories, but also to Enver’s arguments on the nature of the relations with the Communist Party of China and the Chinese State. These arguments contradict not only the liberal wing that held to the theses that “Alliance with China was a wrong”, but also the other wing that complained about “the detachment from China”.

Certainly I couldn’t leave out a description of his character and personality, as a man of cultural interests, and of a broad mentality. Enver especially respected men and women of scientific, artistic and literary backgrounds. It is with great discontent that I have had to read from many politicians, writers and intellectuals’ various invented and denigrating charges, which are completely untrue.

With regards to his relation with the people – the straight-forward people – Enver was always a popular leader; with his collaborators he behaved as a friend and respected teacher, as he did with the revolutionaries and Marxist Leninists of other countries; he was a diplomat with politicians and foreign friends; and with his family and friends he was a HUMAN.

I apologize to the readers in the case of any minor inconsistencies, who should take into consideration that these memoirs were written down when I was imprisoned without any documentation available. There I was not even allowed to use my husband’s books, with which I could check and refresh my memories. I could not do this even after I was out of prison. The first six months of 1997 are well known for the political turmoil within Albania. It was a political-economical and socio-psychological crises, and in the midst of this, I was not able to access my family archives (housed in the General Directorate for Archives together with the Central Archive of the Albanian Labor Party (PPSH)). The latter was not available to me even in the second half of 1997. And I still do not have access to them, so I must submit these memoirs as such, at this time for publication.

With all the difficulties encountered in the preparation of these memoirs, I would like to say that they wouldn’t have come to light without the support and concrete contributions of friends who have assisted me as advisers for such a publication; and those who as editors who undertook the publication of this edition. I will not mention their names for the moment, for reasons which are clearly understandable, yet I express my gratitude, and my respect towards their benevolence and consistent stance in spite of unknown storms passing over our people and country.
I also express my gratitude to the publishing house that undertook bringing into the light my collected memoirs.

2. First introduction to Enver

It was because the war involving the people and its’ Party, that Enver and myself first met and then united. Any couple in love preserves as beautiful memories, their first meeting, their first introduction. Some may write poetry, some may sing songs; someone else waits for the beloved in the park, on the street, outside the schoolyard or next to the steps of the apartment. This is what usually happens during peacetime.

What about in wartime, in an undercover situation? Is love born? When you are young, love is born anytime, like flowers in the spring. The war, in spite of its wilderness and awe can’t suffocate or dry up this vivid human feeling.

I became acquainted with Enver for the first time at the Meeting for the Foundation of the Communist Youth that took place on November 23rd 1941, immediately after the foundation of the Albanian Communist Party. (November 8th 1941)

I had never seen or heard about him before. I was part of the Shkodra Communist Group, whereas he was involved in the Korca Communist Group. Even though many attempts were made to unite these youth groups, I had had the chance only to meet some girls and boys from the Youth group, but none from Korca.

It is a well-known fact that Enver led and organized the demonstration of October 8th 1941, as a joint action of communist groups, at the eve of the Party’s foundation. Here, it was for me the first time to be in the front line with Enver. But we still had not met.

I think that if the demonstration had not been successful, the Communist Party would never have been founded on November the 8th. There were some communists, such as the heads of youth groups, who did not agree to the foundation of the Party. They tried also to sabotage the demonstration. We communists, were aware that, on October 28th in the morning (as a protest against the ceremonies organized by the fascist invaders to commemorate the fascist march toward Rome as well as the Italian attack against Greece), we would have to wait at the appointed bases for the news as to whether the demonstration would take place or not.

It is a known fact that Enver, Qemal Stafa, Vasil Shanto and other communist companions, were to carry out this action, a baptism of fire for the unification of the groups and the foundation of the Party. After subsequent debates, sometime in the morning, the comrades in favor for action were victorious, and they set off to organize the demonstration. I was waiting at a friend’s house in Bami Street, which, today is called Qemal Stafa Street. Suddenly Sadik Premtja appeared saying: “the demonstration won’t take place”. I started to return home; with cold feet and a pain in my heart. But when I reached the crossroad of Qemal Stafa Street, Pazari I ri and Saraci Street, today called Shinasi Dishnica, I heard the voices of the demonstrators and the patriotic song “Come, Join over here!” Then I started running and joined the demonstrators in Scanderbeg Square, where clashes had already started. There I noticed a big man, whose head could be seen since he was much taller than the other people around him. He was trying to snatch a young demonstrator from the hands of a policeman. Who could he have been? Next to me happened to be Meli Dishnica, the sister of Esat Dishnica, who would participate in as many demonstrations as possible. I asked her: Who is he? She told me he was a professor from Korca, and that having been fired from his job, he had come to Tirana, selling cigarettes in a bar, nearby. What is his name? I inquired. His name is Enver Hoxha she replied.

In such clashes there is no time to stay and observe. Right beside me I noticed a policeman who had captured young Zeqo Agolli, whose family I knew very well. Influenced also by what Enver was doing, I jumped and clambered among them, in order to separate them. The policeman seemed surprised, as a highlander he probably didn’t feel like pushing and throwing me down to the ground, so he freed Zeqi. All around one could see the gun butts of Italian and Albanian police raging over the heads of the demonstrators. Nevertheless the demonstrators kept struggling with fists and umbrellas, which they had taken with them since it was rather cloudy weather, or even, possibly to protect themselves.

In a moment the order was passed: “Everyone towards the Government Building, to find our arrested companions”. With the flag in front, which was usually held by the girls, we headed towards the Government Building (later it became Ministry of Industry). In this case I would like to explain something: as a rule, the companion organizers of great responsibilities, were never sent to the front of the demonstrators. I, for example, would be situated on the second row, behind the flag. If one looks at the photo of that demonstration, the head of Enver is visible, and so is his tall, well built body. When the police dashed through to arrest Enver, the demonstrators immediately formed a barrier, which prevented them from arresting him. Obviously later, the fascists looked for Enver in his shop Flora, so Enver had to go underground.

After the chants in front of the Government building “we want our friends”, “Glory to Albania” “Long Live Liberty” “Down with Fascism” etc, the prime minister, Shefqet Verlaci, appeared on the stairs and mumbled something. Who would listen to him? Scared by the wild chanting, he went inside and, after some moments, our two friends were set free, bleeding. I remained speechless when I noticed that one of them was my brother Fehmi (a high school student, friend of Pirro Kondi and others, two years younger than me, i.e. 18 years old). Companions held him on their shoulders. They wanted him to say something, but he wasn’t able to. One of his eyes was swollen, closed and bleeding. I was worried that his eye had been damaged, but blood was coming from a wound over his eyebrow and probably he had been hit there and on the chin too. Beating his tongue made it difficult for him to speak. I went to him and separated him from the crowd. After we had left the crowd of demonstrators, we got into a cart and went home. I am not going to stop here to describe the shock that my mother went through, and her cries when we were cleaning the wounds. She kept saying: “Poor me, I only have two sons (sic!) and both of you are involved in the struggle …!”

Less than two weeks passed and we were sent the news that “ the Albanian Communist Party had been founded”. The Party that we had dreamed of and wished for was at last a reality for us true communists!

Two weeks after the foundation of the Communist Party of Albania, a meeting was convened to lay the foundations of the Communist Youth Movement. From all youth groups 12 delegates were selected to take part, I was the only female. The meeting took place in the house of Sabrije (Bije) Vokshi, the aunt of Asim Vokshi, the hero who gave his life in the Anti-fascist struggle in Spain. Bija was a brave and wise woman. She was used to such illegal meetings, starting from our renaissance fighter descendants and now, anti-fascist meetings.

The house of Bije was very suitable for such meetings due to its location in occupied Tirana, where the fascist terror was becoming more and more of a burden. The house was located at the end of the large Boulevard, close to the where the train station sits today. It was set among small houses, individual shops, and typical Tirana houses, built of mud bricks. Her house was also suitable for our meetings because it had two entrances. One was deep in the alley, and the other had an exit on another road that connected the end of the boulevard with the street named after to the martyr Siri Kodra. The latter, is now part of the peripheral ring-road that takes you to the hospitals.

Participants of these meetings were assigned a time to show up, and a “code” (a particular knock on the door) so that the landlady wouldn’t open the door to anyone else, even to her friends and relatives who might visit at the time the meting was about to take place. At the end of the meeting in case of danger, one could leave by jumping from the low courtyard wall, to yard to yard of the nearby houses. Qemal had escaped like this many times. Bije’s house was an important base for him. Bije’s neighbors were very kind and patriotic, anti-fascist people, who behaved as if they didn’t notice the comings and goings of the youngsters in the old lady’s house.

On November 22nd in the afternoon, the invited comrades started to come in one after another. I remember that it was dusk when I arrived at Bije’s house. I went in, and everybody sounded joyful. They stopped for a moment, probably they saw a girl comrade, and they might have been telling raffish jokes. We greeted each other with the slogan “down with fascism and liberty to the people”. We shook hands warmly, even though at the time we didn’t know much of each other, since we belonged to different youth groups.

The room in which we had gathered, had comfortable straw mattresses. A black-sheeted iron coal range rumbled merrily with a powerful fire that had reddened it in places. The room had become dim with smoke. It wasn’t cigarette smoke, the comrades mostly didn’t smoke, as they were very young. The smoke came from the bread slices, which were on the range being toasted. On a square table, next to the window, lay the caps of the comrades, on which they had placed the bombs, which seemed like red apples in fruit bowels. Of course the window was covered with a thick blanket, so that the light couldn’t be seen from outside.

The owner of the house could only offer tea from “tiliacaea”, which yielded a very nice aroma. She had to fill up the teapot many times. There were no china glasses, only aluminum ones, like those used in the military, which were not very suitable to drink from since they got hot and could burn your lips. The comrades couldn’t wait for it cool down. Furthermore there were not enough glasses for all of us, so we had to take turns. The impatient ones would take sips. Anything would make them laugh and joke. It was there that I first got to learn of Italian humor. One could distinguish Ndoc Mazi, who got jokes started, and Qemal would keep on the same line. Ndoc could laugh and die in the same way; he died like a hero, together with the other heroes from Vig.

All of us laughed at their humor. This is how Enver found us when he entered the room. He had entered from outside into the kitchen where he had left his overcoat, cap, and everything else he possessed. At first, when he entered the room, what was most noticeable was his well-built body, the tallest of all comrades in the room. His dark complexion, his very vivid eyes, his black, rather wavy hair. He was wearing a “doppiopetto” jacket of light colors, beige with brown stripes. Underneath he was wearing a handmade woollen beige pullover with a high neckband, out of which appeared the shirt collar. His trousers were sporty and fashionable for the time, somewhat wide, covering long brown boots up to the knees.

I hadn’t noticed Qemal leaving the room. When Enver entered he was with Qemal . He introduced Enver saying: “This is comrade Taras , a member of the provisionary Central Committee of the Communist Party, founded two weeks ago, on November 8th. He has been delegated to participate in this meeting in order to help set up the Communist Youth Movement.”

Most of the people present, were aware of the fact that he was actually Professor Enver Hoxha. I myself had only seen him from a distance and had heard another name, a non-Albanian one, Taras. What was this other name about? I presumed that was a nickname and, as I heard later on, he was given that name from his friends because of his body, to an extent like a well known character from Russian literature, Taras Bulba, a famous popular fighter.

Enver came around shaking hands with everyone, whilst Qemal did the introductions. Enver would stop at everyone, smiling and chatting with all of them, wondering where he had met one and then the other. When he stopped at me, Qemal said, this is comrade Nexhmije Xhuglini, about whom I have been talking to you. Then he mentioned some other things about me, which made me blush. I interrupted and said; please Qemal let’s stop this and drop the subject…..
When Enver neared the range, he stretched his hands forward to get warmer and noticed the bread toasting, saying “Ahhh this is delicious”…one of his friends asked him whether he wanted to have some tea and he replied “Why not, with great pleasure”. He had his tea and than added ”What if we start the meeting?”

It was around 9 o’clock. After the middle of the room had been cleared two or three desks were placed there. The meeting started. Representing the Central Committee of the Party was Enver Hoxha; on his right there was Qemal Stafa, on his left Nako Spiru, then myself, and on both sides sat all the delegate comrades.

Enver chaired the meeting; he introduced Qemal Stafa as the one who had been assigned by the Central Committee of the Communist Party to work with the Youth Groups. Then he read the greeting speech of the Provisionary Central Committee of the Albanian Communist party (written by himself, and whose original is now in the Central archives of the Party).
Enver presented a report about the importance of the foundation of the Communist Party and the decisions made there to unite the people on a national liberation front, to fight against fascist invaders, the traitors of Albania and to wage the anti-fascist world war.

As we saw then as later, at every meeting and in every speech about and for the youth, even at the beginning, Enver Hoxha spoke with passion. It was still November of 1941. This is why it is understandable that his words about liberty and the future awaiting us, lit up a fire in our young hearts. It gave wings to our thoughts and aspirations for the future. Our dreams seemed more attainable now, more concrete.

When Enver Hoxha got to the end of his speech, the room was filled with silence. Certainly, there was no applause, not only because of secrecy, but also because applause was not yet part of our meeting style since we hadn’t won any victory yet. What we wished for was just a beautiful vision, which one day, certainly would be transformed into reality through our struggles, our blood, our life and youth.

In the midst of this silence, Enver proposed to have a break. Not because we were tired, but it seemed we all needed to be released from emotional tensions. We all moved around. Enver moved to the other room to smoke a cigarette. We also followed him. We surrounded him; despite the fact that we were supposed to be on a break and, because we felt much freer, we started to ask questions and chat.

When we went back to the meeting room, which, during the break had been freshened up, Qemal Stafa took the floor. In the beginning he spoke about the importance of the foundation of the Party. Then he underlined the situation and the struggle of the communist youth.

After Qemal, it was decided that the meeting should be ended since it was past midnight. We moved to an adjoining room used for resting and sleeping. There were no mattresses, no beds, except for one that was Bije’s, the owner of the house. They gave that bed to me. On both sides of the room there were rugs and straw filled pillows. Comrades laid down their heads on the pillows and their bodies on the rugs. Their feet were on wood. They were covered with their overcoats, close to each other, since it was a cold night and the room had no fireplace. Some of the friends preferred to stay in the meeting room, which was heated by the range, sleeping on stools and supporting their heads on their crossed arms on the table.

Even though we were in the capital city, we slept as partisans, fully clothed, with our guns lying ready close to us, in case of danger. In the room where we slept, there was a cupboard in the wall, at the bottom of which there was a place for documents to be kept. A wooden stool covered it and on it were Bije’s clothes. In the ceiling was a space to keep guns. As Enver has said, the house of Bije Vokshi was an arsenal of guns and bombs. We compared Bije to Pellagia, mother to Pavel Vllasov. In the atmosphere of these meetings our imagination would fire up as in the work of Gorky “The Mother”. But I might say that this mother of ours, an Albanian one, didn’t fear guns, she was used to outlaws, their guns and wounds. In this room there was also a special area in which Qemal would develop his pictures. There is well known picture that he took of Enver. In it, he is wearing a moustache for a fake identity card. But from what I know, it wasn’t used for long, since the enemy obtained various documents, so the picture was burned, since it could have identified Enver.

I will digress from the meeting, to tell you about an interesting episode about this picture. On another occasion when Enver had sheltered in the house of Shyqyri Kellezi, he was notified that the house was being watched. Enver left with another comrade immediately, first asking the mother of their friend to deny anything she might be asked. The mother of Shyqyrri was a simple old lady from Tirana, nice in her manners and her humor. When the fascists presented her with the picture of Enver with a moustache, the poor old lady couldn’t help saying ‘My God’ but she immediately came to her senses, shut her mouth with her hand and became very embarrassed. They questioned her for a long time asking her whether she knew Enver, but she kept her mouth shut. She was taken to the police station but even there she wouldn’t answer their questions. She managed to convince the police that she was insane and so they released her.

The next morning of November 23rd, after we had some bread and tea, the meeting continued with discussions on both reports. The floor was given to Nako Spiru. He spoke about fascism, its risk as an ideological and military force, what it represented for intellectual scholarly youth, then he moved onto tasks for the communist anti-fascist youth.

Tasi Mitrushi took the floor on behalf of the Korca working youth, whereas Ndoc Mazi represented the Shkodra working youth. Pleurat Xhuvani took the floor on behalf of Elbasan, whereas for the Tirana student youth, Sofokli Buda who took the floor. I presented the news regarding the Girls Institute of Tirana. I underlined the positive aspect of this institute, which provided the whole country with the teachers it trained there.

Enver had met with factionist Trotskyites such as Anastas Sulo and Sadik Premte, during the meeting for the foundation of the Party. In our meeting also, as a member of the youth group, Isuf Keci, tried to contradict the party direction on various issues, such as the Anglo-Soviet-American alliance, on the external framework, for the country and the role of peasantry, on the internal framework, and other issues.

All participants were discussing vigorously, in support of the direction of our new Party. Enver in his memoirs, commented positively about my speech, and my active participation in the debates on the incorrect perspectives of the delegate of the Youth group. During the lunch break, Enver approached and congratulated me on this. At the time I took this as an encouragement for a comrade who was participating for the first time in a meeting of this sort. At this point, I would like to stress that I vigorously participated in those ideological-political debates, only because we had already had such debates about these issues at the first meeting of the women’s comrade cells, immediately after the foundation of the Communist Party. Probably our women’s comrade cell was the first cell, as it was convened on a weekday, between November 15th and the 22nd – after the end of the party’s foundation meeting, when the foundation meeting of Communist Youth started.

Finally, after all the issues had been presented, and were addressed, we passed onto the election of Communist Youth Central Committee. It was decided that it would be composed of five people. Candidacies were presented in a way, which today, might seem strange. Numbers, not names were presented and each of the numbers listed the characteristics of a person. I believe the candidacies were proposed in principle by the Provisionary Central Committee of the Party, and supervised by Enver Hoxha and Qemal Stafa; based also on the discussions taking place in that meeting. The characteristics listed included: duration of involvement in communist groups, what was the activity in which the person had been involved, education, origin, social background, profession etc. all in all, these were general characteristics on which the delegates would base their vote.

The candidacies presented were approved by everyone. The names of the comrades elected are well known. Elected as political secretary was Qemal Stafa; Nako Spiro was elected organizational secretary; and Nexhmije Xhuglini, Tasi Mitrushi and Ymer Pula were elected as members. The latter was from Kosova and when he was sent to organize the Communist Youth, he was replaced by the distinguished, brave and active worker, Misto Mame. Later changes occurred, since Qemal Stafa was killed less than six months after the meeting. Nako Spiro replaced him as secretary general, and Misto Mame was appointed as organizational secretary.

Since my election to the Central Committee of Communist Youth I was assigned to work with the Tirana Youth, and I was elected as its political secretary. I was also assigned to work with the organization of the Communist Youth in Durres and Elbasan, to where travelled several times. After the elections were finalized, the Foundation Meeting of the Communist Youth, which became a nucleus for the broad organization of antifascist youth, was closed enthusiastically. Calling it an uncontained enthusiasm would not be fair, as we couldn’t scream or shout or clap hands there. But in a low voice we sang the “International” and our revolutionary songs learnt in our underground activities. I can say that it was our hearts singing rather than our mouths. But we closed the meeting at this point and followed Bije eagerly into the kitchen because, being young, and after such a beautiful job, we felt hungry!

What I call a kitchen was a large area, characteristic of Tirana houses, sometimes called house of fire. It was extended with compressed soil and lacked a ceiling and a fireplace. A thick chain hung from the blackened trunks caused by smoke, and was used to hang copper jugs or mess tins. When meetings such as ours were organized with many participants, big kettles were placed on the grills where pasta would be boiled or even polenta. But we Dibra People call the polenta ‘Bakerdan’. That very day, when the meeting was over, some of the most active delegates, led by Qemal, asked Bije to prepare halva: “The fascism halva, Bije, at the meeting, we decided to bury it! This is a closed question!”

And everyone would laugh their hearts out as if this “job” was a wedding. !……

These are very beautiful unforgettable memories. And they are memories that are a mixture of joyful moments and sad feelings, such as those for the friends that you have fought and laughed with, and have since “left”.

3. The day in a new course of my life.

On April 7th 1942, as usual on the Commemoration Day of the Albanian invasion by Fascist Italy, a demonstration took place in Tirana. It was one of the best organized and most powerful ever, by the student youth, workers, communists and anti-fascists.

Normally demonstrations occurred in the morning, before noon. All the youth, having been notified of this activity, would arrive gradually, as if by chance. They would fill the upper part of the boulevard that today leads you to the train station, looking as though they were having their everyday walk. At the moment when the organizer gave the signal, the girls would unfurl the flag, and the walkers, so notified, would start marching towards Scanderbeg Square. It was then that the crowd would turn and meld into a compact mass, bursting into patriotic songs (such as “Come, join here!” “For the motherland!” etc.), until they clashed with the Fascists who would immediately attack them.

This time it was different. Thinking that the demonstration would be organized as usual, in the morning, the Fascist invaders and their mercenaries were alert from the early morning hours. Behind the Municipality (now the National Historical Museum), a cavalry unit stood prepared. They had been waiting in vain all day long.

The demonstration, as planned, broke out in the afternoon and, instead of it being directed towards Scanderbeg Square, it took off in the opposite direction. It went towards the end of the boulevard and entered the ring road in the direction that takes you to Siri Kodra Street: the destination being the house where the Party had been founded. But at the crossroads of Siri Kodra and Hospital road, in front of the demonstrators were many Fascist police, Albanians recruited to serve the invaders.

The girls were right in the front. They were, as usual set in the first line, since it was thought that it would be rather difficult for the invaders to hit a woman. And this is what happened. When the Fascists and mercenaries pointed their bayonets towards our chests, we told these poor Albanians that had accepted to serve the occupiers: “Shoot at us, shame on you, behaving in such away with your Albanian sisters and brothers!” At least the Albanian police stepped aside since they didn’t know exactly what to do.

After this break, the demonstrators continued their march. The crowd stopped in front of the Madrassa. Amidst the chanting of various slogans, a short speech was held and then the demonstrators were disbanded.

I had participated in all the demonstrations, but apparently, in this last one, I had been more noticeable. So, I was now an implicated figure. On the morning of April 12th, someone knocked on my door. The son of my uncle, Skender Xhuglini, went outside to answer it. He found armed militia at the front door.

A feeling of alarm passed through the room. It was obvious that they had come to arrest me. There was only one way to escape, and that was through the courtyard door! The greatest concern I had was not for myself but for the others. It might seem paradoxical, but one night before, Drita Kosturi, through her sister, had entered a college of nuns that gave embroidery lessons etc., and had brought a young Italian nun to be sheltered temporarily in our house. She was anti-fascist and for this reason she didn’t want to lead a nun life. We had to find a solution to this problem. The Italians must be prevented from capturing her. In the meantime, as Skender was chatting with the militia at the door, we took care of the nun. We dressed her in some clothes of my mother’s and since her head was shaved she had to wear a scarf to cover it. We also told her to behave like a mute, so that she wouldn’t have to speak.

After Skender had seen off the militia and closed the door from inside, we finally breathed a sigh of relief. When we asked him how he had got rid of the militia; he replied that he had put the militia under some pressure by saying: “how can you an Albanian highlander, a faithful person, come here to take an Albanian girl and then hand her over to the Italians? Don’t you feel ashamed? Apart from that, she is not in here…” , in addition to other words. The militia had answered: “ OK, I will come again another time…” but, as we learned later, he had come to make us aware, indirectly, that I had been included in a list of people to be arrested. He was the brother of a communist and had become part of the militia, on the orders of the Party itself, in order to provide ‘inside’ information.

Of course, there was no time to loose. As soon as he left I got dressed and I told my mother I would let her know of where I would be and where we could meet. I would also let her know where the nun could be taken. We hugged each other and then I left the house. From that moment my parents were left all alone with Skender, because my brother Fehmi Xhuglini, even though he was 2 years younger than me, was forced to live undercover. He left Tirana to go to Elbasan, since he was directed to work with the youth there. Our house was situated in a blind alley, that connects Pazari I Ri (Avni Rustemi Square and the old Postal service) with Dibra Street or as it was known at that time, the Hospital.

Because I was a wanted person it was not possible for me to leave the house and walk up to the end of the street because I might have run into a patrol. I therefore headed towards Qemal Stafa Road moving from courtyard to courtyard and from door to door of the various neighbor’s houses. After reaching the end of the street, I relaxed and started to think about where I might get some lunch before going on to attend the meeting of the First Consultation of Party’s Activities to which I had been invited. I decided to go and pay a visit to some relatives of my father. It was seldom that I and my mother went to visit this family, so questions such as “What might have happened to her? What might have brought her here” were unavoidable. Anyway, it was not necessary to give explanations. I stayed there until 4 p.m., then I set off for the house of Bije Vokshi where the meeting would be held.

By dusk, all the delegates of the districts had arrived. This was an activity meeting to which all

political and organizational secretaries, elected in the conferences of the districts were invited, to make reports and receive consultations.

These conferences were begun after the foundation of the Party and the establishment of the basic organizations of the Party. Also invited were members of the Central provisionary Committee (7 people), and the Central Committee of Communist Youth (of which I was member).

The tables were arranged differently from the meeting for the Foundation of the Communist Youth, since the number of participants was much bigger. The tables surrounded the four angles of the room, creating a space in the middle. Though not all were true tables, on two angles were trunks supported by boxes. The stools to sit were constructed more or less in the same way, since it was impossible to find enough chairs for all the participants. The chair-person of the meeting sat in between two doors, next to the wall that separated this room from the porch. I happened to sit on a corner of the table attached to the chair-person’s table. In some of the plenary meetings

Enver would come and sit on the corner of the same table and would converse with me.
Once he told me: You have a nice pen, it seems to write beautifully. Would you give it to me? ’’ “You can take it if you really want it” – I replied smiling, “but as you can see it is a lady’s pen”.

It was as thin as a finger and had a red silk threaded plume. I was fond of that black and red pen which I had had for a long time, ever since the time when I used to see it in the window of the bookshop of Lumo Skendo (Mithat Frasheri).

This shop was situated on Royal Road which, after the liberation was called the Street of the Barricades. In this bookshop, I and many friends, would pay a visit everyday after school, to look for any interesting books. We would go there everyday and would be full of awe, when the son of the great renaissance man, Abdul Frasheri, Mithat, prim in his elegant suit, with an overcoat and stiff, white as snow, shirt collar, keeping his head up and his pince-nez spectacles on the nose, would come and serve us. Somewhat further up, on the other side of the road, there was this other bookshop, “Argus”, that was equipped with copybooks, pencils and other school equipment. But at Lumo Skendo’s you could find more serious books, in foreign languages too. There I had bought a little book, the size of a packet of cigarettes, with Carducci’s poems, and another from Leopardi, whose poems I admired during the period of my youth. I remember some verses even today…

O natura , O natura,
Perchè non rendi poi
Quel che prometti
Ai figli tuoi
[nature, oh nature, why can’t you offer your sons what you promise.

Italian in the original]

When I told Enver that the pen had been purchased with my first salary as a teacher and that I had done some teaching only for three or four months in 1942, until the day I was forced to leave home and school; he asked me: “Is it only this pen you could buy with your first wages?” – “No”, I replied, “I bought also a coat for myself, because I didn’t have one. I also began giving a lump sum to my maternal grandmother (a quarter of a napoleon which was about 1 dollar and equal to 25 lek at that time), so she would have some pocket money. The remaining part of my wages, I gave to my mother, for the household expenditures.”

When I mentioned the money for my grandmother, Enver started laughing and asked me:

“What about your grandmother? What would she need the money for?”

I replied: “She needed the money to buy cigarettes, since she was not the kind to ask for money from everyone. “
“If I had known” – said Enver – “That your grandmother smoked, I would have sent her a packet of cigarettes from ‘Flora’ Do you know where Flora is?”
”I know” – I told him – “We pass by that road very often”.
”Why haven’t you visited then?” – he asked me, whilst his smiling eyes were shining more and more as he glanced at me.
”Why should I come” – I replied in a devilish way – “I don’t smoke and I don’t drink either”.
”Well, I know, but if you had come, we could have met each other earlier” – he continued on this track.
These words and jokes of Enver, later took on a meaning, which I hadn’t sensed at the time.

Usually, during wartime, these types of meetings were quite intensive and covered a wide range of topics of national importance and, for security reasons we worked both day and night. The consultation started at around 8 p.m. (April 12th 1942) and continued on until 3 or 4 o’clock a.m.

There were so many delegates that there was some difficulty in making the sleeping arrangements. Some of the comrades would lay down wherever they thought possible, or sit on stools. Some laying their heads on another’s shoulders or even on the meeting tables. I, being the only female, was as usual, more “privileged” in such cases. I would use Bije’s bed; the only bed in the house, and I would sleep with my clothes on and take my shoes off. As soon as I lay down I fell asleep.

I don’t know what the time might have been when I heard a slight noise. The dawn was breaking. At first I thought I was dreaming; I heard some steps that passed by my bed and someone stopped, pulled up the blanket and covered my shoulders and back, even though, as previously mentioned, I was sleeping with my clothes on. The first thought that crossed my mind was that it was my dear mother. But when this someone removed a lock of hair from my face, I woke up completely, but didn’t open my eyes until I heard the steps move away.

When I opened my eyes I saw Enver’s back as he entered the kitchen. I am not sure whether he had slept or not, because when I went to bed I had left him smoking on the porch of the house.
What did I feel in those moments? What did I think? I can truly say that at the time I didn’t think that this act of his was an expression of love. I was pleased that among the leaders of the party we had such comrades. I was getting to know Enver during the meetings and could see that they would take care and behave warmly with us, just as Enver had acted at that moment with me. I was especially delighted that a friend approached me and took care of me, even with the simple act of pulling the blanket over me while I slept, because, it was on that same day that I was nearly arrested and I had left my home and parents. He was a friend who, with his jokes and his warm hand touching my forehead, wanted to create a homey environment for me, trying to relieve me of the sadness of being separated from my beloved parents, whom my brother and I had left alone at home.

This is all I thought at that moment since I didn’t know Enver very well: I didn’t know his age, or whether he was married or not. I was 21 at the time, but he looked much older due to his well-built body, and I wouldn’t have thought of anything else during those days.

It was wartime. War is war and not a wedding ceremony. It doesn’t leave you time to have fun and love. It was nearly midday, when into the house of Bije Vokshi came one of our guards, who, together with two other friends, had been keeping watch around the house for suspicious movements. They let us know that there was a patrol wandering about. The comrades of the Central Committee decided to take some preliminary measures in order to be prepared. They ordered the guards to keep their eyes open and follow the movements of that patrol on the road. In the meantime lunch was prepared.

After lunch we thought that we would continue with the meeting, while always keeping a lookout for any suspicious movements. But we received some bad news. Njazi Demi had been arrested! He owned a house that was a base for our undercover comrades. The house was called “the house of the frogs”. It was next to the oldest bridge in Tirana, and was classified as a cultural monument, and was close to the building where the Italian headquarters was situated during the war (after the war this building was occupied by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth). Later the same building was given to the Committee of the Anti-fascist National liberation War Veterans.

This friend, now arrested, presented us a great risk, even for the meeting to take place. This was because Njazi Demi had close contacts with Bije, and under torture, could be forced to expose us. It was immediately decided therefore that the meeting be postponed to the next day and all the delegates left. They were notified that the meeting would continue, not in the same place, but in the house of Misto Mame.

Before we left, Enver gave some directives; the two tables were to be placed in the two different rooms, whereas the other two where to be moved to the kitchen. The long stools without backrests (there were many of them), were taken to the porch, and placed around the walls. Some of them were taken to the kitchen as well. So the room where the meeting was taking place was empty now, though not at all clean since the comrades had moved around with their dirty shoes. There were cigarette-butts on the floor as well. I had to roll up my sleeves and start washing everything. Bije would go outside at the well and fill in the buckets with water and bring it to me. Meanwhile Enver had defined the interval of time for the comrades to leave from both the doors, so that they wouldn’t be noticed by the neighbors or by any spies that might happen to be around.

When all the friends had left, Enver having been the last in the house, came and leaned on the door case. He was looking at me as I was scrubbing the wooden floor with a brush. I was on my knees on the wet floor.
”So you can wash perfectly well, can you not?” – he said laughing
”Did you think that I couldn’t? I am from a Dibra background”.
– “Those who have a Gjirokastra background are quite the same” – he said.
– “I don’t know, I haven’t seen Gjirokastra Houses, but I do know something else. In communism women and men will be equal; so- I continued smiling- men will have to work just like the women do, that is to say that you have to take those carpets that Bije brought and dust them outside…..! “
– “Right, comrade, with great pleasure”, he said and without taking long, went outside, dusted them and brought them inside.

Together with the owner of the house we put the carpets in place, we set the rugs on two corners of the walls, put down the pillows for the guests, covered the table next to the window, put an ashtray on it and a flower pot. The house now seemed ready for even a visit by any “severe guests” with pistols and chevrons. Enver warned Bije to check to see if any of the comrades had possibly left any bombs or pistols under the rugs or pillows; then he asked me:
”Where are you going tonight?” He knew I had left home and couldn’t go back there.
“ I don’t know”, I replied “I don’t know where to go! “
“What do you mean by that? Don’t you have an aunt or an uncle here in Tirana?”
”No, I have no one in Tirana other than some relatives of my father. I have never been to their house for dinner or lunch. If I visit them it means I will have to let them know what the situation is, and I don’t really know if they can shelter me after that.”

Let us bear in mind that it was the end of April 1942, a few months after the Communist Party was founded, and a few days after the powerful demonstrations. Those were the days of fascist terror, days when people were arrested and killed.

Then Enver said:
”You will join me wherever I go then.”

I couldn’t do otherwise. I didn’t even have the time to think. I put on my clothes very quickly. In that period of struggle we tried to disguise ourselves in every way possible. We mostly used elegant dressings, wore hats in order to cover parts of our face, or wore silk scarves on our heads, which was very fashionable at the time. Our real saviors were the dark sunglasses. You might ask where we could find these expensive elegant clothes that helped avoided the suspicions of the fascists and their spies. Friends, supporters, the people helped us. On some occasions I have also used a black yashmak, which I didn’t like much because the fanatic Dibran Muslims wanted very young girls to wear it. I hated the idea and couldn’t walk with it on. We had to move fast, the girls wearing the yashmak daily had to walk slowly and were always accompanied on the road. Lowering the yashmak was not only forbidden, it was also unwise.

When Enver saw me with a brown scarf and the dark sunglasses, he couldn’t help making compliments on the transformation I had gone through. We started laughing. Then we said goodbye to the owner of the house and left. Enver arranged his hat on his forehead, took the bicycle and when we reached the outside door, told me:

“You will sit here in the front. Watch your legs, they shouldn’t touch the chain…“

I was surprised. I had never been on the bicycle with a boy. Then all the way I would feel so uncomfortable. I began to resist: ‘No I can’t “; and in the same time I felt funny.

Then I told him;
”It’s a shame, people will see us, they will say how does it happen that such a signorina gets on a bicycle?! “
”There’s no time for discussions,” he said, “it is getting dark and the house we are going to is on the other side of the city.”

As a matter of fact it was getting late, and the time of the “coprifuoco” [curfew, Italian in the original] was near. All the people had to go into their houses at a certain time, depending on the season, as soon as it started to get dark. It was worse to walk with Enver. It was very risky had the militia stopped us on the road. He was well equipped with bombs and a revolver. Enver was also sentenced to death and was one of the most wanted by the fascists and their hunting dogs.
I didn’t resist for long and got on the front side of the bicycle. At that time I didn’t weight more than 50 kg.

My first adventurous trip on a bicycle was not associated with any incident. Some years after the liberation of the country, when we met foreign friends, Soviets, Bulgarians etc. and exchanged ideas about our traditions. They would also ask us about the way we had known each other and become married. Enver would always say joking: “I kidnapped Nexhmije, according to the Albanian tradition, but I didn’t use a horse. I used a bicycle”… “
We would laugh endlessly. This memory is marvelous for me even today when I think of it.

The house where Enver took me that night was a one-story house, near the Electric Power Plant, in front of “Qemal Stafa” school, in Durres Street. There was no courtyard and you could enter directly onto the small porch, where there were some rugs and a table for four people. There were two rooms and a small kitchen inside. It was inhabited by two sisters, one of who was the fiancé of a friend of Enver’s, Syrja Selfo, a tradesman and sworn anti-fascist. He had rented the house, which served as a spare base for Enver, and it had never come under suspicion. This base was only known to Gogo Nushi, nephew of Enver, and Luan Omari, an activist of the Youth organization.

Both sisters were very hospitable and kind to me. They also prepared for us something quick to eat. After dinner we really enjoyed the discussion. We started to discuss the origin of man. I was very passionate about the Darwinian theory on species evolution and the struggle for survival of the species. So I became very active, just like in the time in the groups, when we had read

publications of Engel’s’ on this issue. Enver was only listening and most probably was trying to let me have my say. I was only able to understand this later. When we were alone he told me: “members like you from the Shkodra group give much importance to theoretical studies”.

And indeed, we were some of the best students in the class. But the workers too were eager to learn more. Vasil Shanto for example was one of the most distinguished workers, and so was Qemal, his best friend; he would take good care of Vasil’s education. So did Kristo Themelko, he wouldn’t leave without first having us explain to him the “Anti-Duhring” of Engel’s. We in turn would make him teach us how to use the revolver.

After we talked with Enver, I went to sleep with the sisters in their room. It was impressive, how they would take care of their hair and their bodies. In the bedroom there were only two beds, on the floor. In one of the beds the two sisters would sleep while I would sleep in the other. The other room was much better furnished, with two sofas covered in red fur and a big carpet. At a corner there was a covered mattress that obviously was used anytime that Enver would show up.
The following day we woke up early. We had a coffee there and separately set off to Misto Mame’s home, which was far away, in the other part of the town, near the place where he was killed. From that square, surrounded by rack berries, you could get to Hospital Street, to the other part to Bami Street, (now Qemal Stafa Street) and if you kept straight on you would get to Bardhyl Street. Today the square doesn’t exist any more, on the site many houses, flats have been built and the streets are arranged in a different way. From the city center you can get there by walking along “4 Deshmoret Street”. Misto’s house was just an ordinary Tirana “room of fire”; sprinkled with soil exactly the same as the kitchen of Bije Vokshi.

As soon as I got there, the other participants of the meeting started to arrive. They entered one by one. Before the meeting had even started, the alarm went off; the activities of the comrades entering the house had been noticed by the neighbors and by the children playing nearby. They had become curious. Justifiably so: why were there all those well-dressed men, some in hats, some in caps, some in dark sunglasses…?!

This house was had to be written off for the meetings too. Some comrades were sent to see what the situation was at the Frog’s house and also with the person who had been arrested. I don’t remember if he was set free or if we had make sure that he wasn’t tortured.

Thus, due to this difficult situation it was decided to return to Bije Vokshi’s house and there we continued with the meeting, with which I go into details. It has been described in the published documents of the Party.

After the consultation meeting, I didn’t see Enver until the 5th of May, the day when Qemal Stafa was shot dead.

Chapter 4. When Qemal Stafa was killed

I was at Gjike Kuqali’s house when I heard this bad news. We were holding a meeting there with some youngsters. The shock was so strong and the news so unexpected that it was impossible to continue the meeting. Some burst into tears, while others were completely speechless. Someone was sent to learn more of what had happened.

With a deep anguish in my heart, I felt jittery and thought of Enver. What was he doing at that moment? Qemal was both Enver’s and my best friend. I had known him ever since the time of the early communist groups, he was my first teacher. Whereas for Enver, he was his closest collaborator since the first steps of the foundation of the Albanian Communist Party and through the revolutionary and patriotic struggle to liberate the country from the fascist invaders.
Where could I find Enver at this time? I decided to go to the house where he had taken me by bike that strange night, and it was there that I found him. After my “coded” knocks, he himself opened the door. Our sad faces showed that we both were aware of what had happened and both knew of the tragic ending of our comrade, Qemal. Enver closed the door, turned to me, put his arm on my shoulder and sat next to me on the couch in the hall, which I described in the notes concerning the first time I had visited this house.

I don’t know how much time passed without us saying a word. We were shocked. I was about to start crying and could hardly stifle my whining, which had blocked my throat. I didn’t want to seem weak either. He lit a cigarette again; he would inhale deeply (the ashtray on the table seemed a mountain of cigarette ends).

Finally he broke the silence. “Qemal left us, we lost him. We lost a very dear friend, a revolutionary intellectual with a great perspective for the Party and Albania “. He was much moved and had tears in his eyes at saying those words.

After a while I asked: “What do we know? How did it happen?”

Enver started telling me that comrade Gogo (Nushi) was the only one from the Tirana Party committee who knew about the secret base where Enver would shelter us. He had also brought Shule (Kristo Themelko) who had been together with Qemal but had survived the attack and broken the siege. He had explained also that there had been three female comrades. Drita Kosturi, Qemal’s fianceé ; Maria, the fiancéé of Ludovik Nikaj and Gjystina, a cousin of Maria, married to Zef Ndoja. I was thinking that it was normal for Drita to be there, because she was seeing off her boyfriend, Qemal. He was going to leave either that day or the next for Vlora. But what about the other two girls? What were they doing there? They only know Qemal slightly and didn’t have any work relations with him, or with Drita. Later it was discovered that Ludovik, the fiancéé of Maria, was a spy for ISS, Italian secret service. Ludovik, had obviously followed the movements of the two, somewhat featherbrained ladies, and had consequently discovered Qemal’s Base. For me this is the most convincing explanation. The other possibility was that; one of our comrades, who had rented the base, had been arrested. Possibly the house rental document was found in his pocket. It might have been due to this, so that the base had become suspicious and later came under siege.

From what Shule had said, Ludovik had been the first to escape from the back of the house, in order to cover the escape of the female comrades. Whereas Qemal had stayed until he made sure that they had left. Qemal headed towards the river, but obviously, the siege had become more narrowed down and the fascist troops concentrated on him. Qemal had tried to withdraw, fighting until he fell under the hail of bullets of the Italian fascist militia and the local mercenaries.

I think that the attitude of Drita Kosturi was poor and indecent, having been influenced by elements of some secret plan to mask the figure of Qemal Stafa. She has presented many options during media interviews regarding his death. Such was the case recently when she absurdly suggested that Qemal had committed suicide; this fifty years after his death! Qemal not only showed that he was brave, but also that his disposition was one of spiritual nobility. He sacrificed his young life in order to protect his comrades-in-arms, whoever they were.

Enver told me he had severely criticized Shule for thinking only of himself and his friends, and for leaving Qemal alone without any protection. His face was full of gloom and made more so by his moustache; nevertheless many hours had passed since his meeting with Kristo Themelko. It started to get dark, but we didn’t even think of eating. I got up and made some coffee for both of us. We sat on the table, in the middle of the room, where we stayed and talked about Qemal until very late; about how we both came to know him. I spoke about my first meeting with Qemal somewhere in the summer of 1937.

Passion about literature and an aspiration for a better-emancipated future for all Albanian society had ‘hooked me up’ with Selfixhe Ciu, whose nickname was Columbia. She wrote articles in the newspaper entitled ‘Bota E Re’ (The New World) and in other progressive media of the time. I was not intimidated when I met with her, since I was in the same class as her sister, Hanushe. Through her I also got to know Olga Pellumbi and Mila Gjehoreci, who wrote for the same newspapers. I felt myself in good company with them, and we discussed the serious problems of contemporary society. We would exchange ideas on various literary works, which had an emphasis on high revolutionary notes, such as those of Migjeni and others.

As I said, my first meeting with Qemal occurred in the summer of 1937 in a Tirana house, in Bami Street (today it is named after Qemal). When I showed Enver this house, he told me that further down the blind alley was the house of his older sister, Fahrije. When I first met Qemal, there was no one in the house. It was summer, and the owners of the house may have left to visit some nearby village (people at that time didn’t go to the beaches). After a coded knock on the door, Qemal himself opened it, and, after I gave the password, he shook hands with me and headed towards the house. I sat on a straw filled rug. The rug covered all the surface of the floor along the wall. Qemal took a chair and set it in front of me. Certainly, he had been told about me, but despite this, he questioned me on several matters, such as, my educational background, status, family relations, etc. Evidently he wanted to know whether I could commit myself to the organized communist revolutionary movement. From the very start of our conversation, he seemed to me a very serious and mature comrade. I was astonished when I later found out that he was only 17 years old and therefore only one year older than myself. I learned a lot from that conversation with him. Qemal took a long time to explain the work we had to do as communists and especially regarding the work to be done with the communist girls, at the students’ group of the Girls’ Pedagogic Institute from Tirana. At that time, this institute was the only high school for girls open to all Albanians; especially those from the South, where fanaticism was scarce and schooling was much valued. The girls would join the institute aiming at becoming teachers in order to support themselves and their families. But Qemal underlined the fact that a lot of work should be done with those young girls who remained at home and whose life was more closed, confined and somewhat pitiful.

I can say that it was with this meeting that I started my commitment to the Shkodra Youth Communist group. For some time I was unaware both that the group I was a member of, was named the Shkodra Group, and the basis for its’ name. I thought that the center of our activists was Tirana and the leaders of our group were Vasil Shanto and Qemal Stafa. With the trial of many communists in 1939, we came to know about the existence of several other groups.

I told Enver, that I thought that Qemal didn’t get a very good impression about my revolutionary spirit, because, not only did I not say much, but I was also very embarrassed. On that day, there was an incident which, when I look back on it, makes me laugh, but at the time caused me much embarrassment. During our meeting, a beautiful cat entered the room and was obviously missing the tenants of the house who had left it by itself. It came around my legs and then jumped onto my lap. I have always loved cats and without diverting my attention from what Qemal was saying, I started to caress the cat. Unexpectedly I heard him say meekly: “Leave the cat!” And he then went on with his conversation, about directives related to our work. He let it go, but I couldn’t help thinking about this incident for days.

After this meeting, Qemal organized and then became leader of the girls’ cells. This cell had members such as: Liri Gega, Fiqret Sanxhaktari, Drita Kosturi as well as myself. We had some meetings with Qemal, where we learned about communist theories and the tasks we had to undertake. We also made reports on the work done. But these meetings with Qemal didn’t last long since he had to leave for Florence, Italy in order to attend university studies. Drita Kosturi left, too. She also left to attend studies in Florence. She said she had lived in the same house with Qemal. Another friend that went to Italy to study had told me that she (Drita) clung so close to Qemal that in the end he had to get engaged to her.

Was Qemal one of those youngsters that would get engaged without first falling in love? I can say no. Above all, Qemal was honest and it might be that in certain circumstances he could have felt pressured to get engaged. I knew Drita Kosturi very well, and in spite of her being older than me by two or three classes, we got on well with each other, since we were part of the same cell.

I freely visited her house and got to know her family members. She had been raised without her mother in a patriotic liberal family. She was a kind of anarchic revolutionary. She was open minded, but not that balanced, and somewhat messy in her life and in her work, and didn’t normally dress well. Although she didn’t know what conspiracy was, she didn’t lack courage.

I told Enver about the activities of our group during the May Day celebrations when Drita would wear a red ribbon in her hair and would go to the pastry shop on Royal Street where all the communist students would meet, including Qemal and his friends. “You probably know that shop don’t you?”, I asked Enver. “It is opposite the store of the big businessman, Shaho. So the network of secret agents were very well aware that Drita was a communist, and certainly knew of the relationship that she had with Qemal.”

During our discussion, I remembered what Bije Vokshi had once told me about Drita. She didn’t really like Drita being so disorganized and flighty. Bije, loving Qemal very much, had asked him once: ” Son, how come you are mixed up with that girl?” He had answered: “Eh, dear Bije, this is the way it is; I can’t help it anymore, and she already knows all about the bases and all our comrades”.

Qemal was an emancipated person, educated and free of prejudices, but one never knows. Perhaps he wasn’t completely free from the prevailing, albeit incorrect mentality of the communist militants who, for the sake of the group’s interests, for our undercover communist work, and, to create bases, believed that marriages had to be arranged. It was due to this mentality that Zylfije Tomini married Xhemal Cani and, as a consequence, the house where the party was founded, was established. They also arranged the marriage between Zef Ndoja and Gjystina, in order to establish the house on Shebeke Road, which became the base for the second Provisionary Central Committee and where the experts of the Central Archive Committee were setup. After the betrayal of Ludovik Ndoja, this house fell into the hands of our enemies. The marriage of Selfixhe Ciu to Xhemal Broja was arranged in the very same way and they were sent to Shkodra.

When I told Enver that a communist comrade had been found for me to marry but that I didn’t want to go through with it because I had never met him; he laughed and said: “Well done Nexhmije!” For him this reaction had another meaning, but I understood it only to be an approval of my reasonable attitude. I told him that this is why the foundation of the party is something more for us young women communists, because we had been saved from certain marriage alliances dyed in red and from certain allegedly golden plated chains. In fact we had had enough of the chains of our conservative families, who lived in accordance with contemporary traditions.

Following this conversation, about the mentalities and mistakes of the communist groups of the time, Enver spoke at length to me about the load of work the party and the communist youth had to face. Not only had they to work on organizing the war against the fascist invaders and the unleashed propaganda of their collaborators and local traitors, but also on the enlightening of the minds and awareness of the common people, so that the girls and women would be viewed under a different light. They were to be treated like human beings and when the party and the people won the war, they would be entitled to equal rights with men.

Qemal was a very funny youngster, and we reminisced about his jokes. Enver told me about his efforts to teach Qemal how to sing Vlora songs, and how he had to join in. Qemal was never able to do this because he would start laughing! “Let’s sing something from Shkodra”- he would say,- and would take the banjo and play, singing merrily. Though deep in thought when we would sit down to work, there were moments when we took breaks and he would suggest playing with colorful glass marbles which he always keep in pocket.

He was still young and these marbles apparently reminded him of the games of early childhood.

I also told Enver how well I remembered the power that Qemal’s laughter had, as well as Vasil’s (Vasil Shanto). When I used to visit Vasil’s home I would often be quite shocked after my meetings with representatives of various groups because of the use of bad language. Once, when I was to have a meeting with a girl from the youth group, I couldn’t believe my ears at the vulgar language that I heard her use; language that I wouldn’t expect even a man to use! Voicing my displeasure, I said to Qemal and Vasil: “I will never ever attend meetings with people such as this.” Qemal and Vasil burst out laughing because they were aware of what I had heard, but that I was unable to repeat it to them.

Did you know, I asked Enver, that the nickname “Delicate” had been given to me by Qemal? And do you know why? It was not because of my outward appearance but because of my intolerance regarding bad language. And, even when Qemal said that he thought that there should be more refined manners and stricter attitudes (I was not sure if he was serious about this or not), he would laugh and make fun. Despite this and his youth, Qemal was the perfect educator for the youngsters and was a wonderful communicator and agitator with people of every age.

I also remember that anytime he was given the occasion, he would have warm chats with my mother. Once, before I had gone underground, a meeting of the Central Youth Committee took place in my home at which, Nikko and Misto Mame also participated. Qemal sat and talked at length with my mother. She would speak freely with him and it was obvious to everyone what an open and charming man he was. At this meeting, he said to her: “Mother, we have to face great difficulties and, in order to overcome them, it will require much effort and many sacrifices before we obtain our liberty.”

I also spoke to Enver about my last meeting with Qemal, two days before he was shot and killed. He came to the home of Hysen Dashi to participate in a meeting of the Youth Circuit Committee for Tirana. We used to call the house “February 66′” and Enver would go there quite often. The meeting was interrupted several times because the night was full of tension due to the constant barking of the neighborhood dogs and it was known that there were patrols everywhere. In order to help relax the young people at the meting, Qemal expressed a wish (that unfortunately, he would never be able to realize) – full of joy and optimism he said – ‘Our day will come; a day of liberty, when all of us will be able to walk along the boulevards singing and chanting and we won’t mind what others will say of us…”.

While Enver and I were talking at the table on that day of calamity, the owners of the house returned from having lunch in the city. We were unaware that it was so late and hadn’t thought about eating. The owners offered to prepare something warm for us to have, but we told them we were not hungry and that some bread and cheese would suffice. Enver also asked for some tea because his throat was dry from his continuous smoking. He asked them about what was happening in the city. They said that people were worried and were wondering who had been killed (those who didn’t know Qemal). They also wondered who else had been there with him, and if anyone else been arrested or killed? There was a general alert and the police and fascist militia were in a very agitated state. Many patrols were to be seen on the streets.

We started to talk again about Qemal; of his courage and culture. Enver told the owners of the house that, the next day Qemal was to have left for Vlora to take care of some work. They had met on the previous day and said their goodbyes. “How could I have known,- said Enver with tears in his eyes- that it was a farewell and not a goodbye?!” It had been only 7 months since the Party had been founded and we needed to do much work. We faced a big battle and the Party and the People needed as many individuals of Qemal’s capabilities and stature.

After dinner we switched on the radio to listen to the daily news. It was difficult to listen to Radio Tirana during the war, because it was difficult to put up with the propaganda of our enemies. We listened to the Moscow news in French and also from the BBC in London, and, as we usually did during the war, we commented on these programs. Then we split to go to sleep. But sleeping was impossible since we still had the noise in our ears of the bullets entering the body of our friend.

In order to honor the memory of Qemal Stafa; this patriotic communist, one of the main leaders of the Albanian Communist Youth, Enver purposed that the fifth of May (the day on which he was barbarously killed), should be commemorated as Martyrs’ day of the Antifascist National Liberation War, against the Nazi fascist invaders. This day became a symbol of honor and a national holiday.

——————————————————-END THIS SELECTION———————————————–

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” Part I: Albania at the Crossroads: Annihilation or Liberation

At dawn on April 7, 1939, Italian fascist troops invaded Albania. This act brought Albania to the brink of extinction. Italy’s goal was the subjugation and assimilation of the entire Albanian population and territory under its fascist flag. The Albanian nation, with the oldest indigenous population in the region, was to be destroyed. The desires and aspirations of the Albanian people who had fought empire after empire for their independence and for democracy, were to he drowned in Albanian blood.

Italy’s brutal aggression against Albania was the culmination of many decades of intrigues and schemes by the Great Powers of pre-war Europe. These schemes were hatched in the early 1900s when the Ottoman Turkish Empire began to disintegrate, after occupying Albania for over 500 years. Like vultures, the Great Powers (Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Russia) competed to benefit from the Ottornan Empire’s decay by dominating the newly emerginq states.

They sought to colonize and exploit the Balkan states, including Albania, because of their rich natural resources and strategic location. Balkan countries, such as Greece and Serbia, in alliance with one or another of these Powers, had designs of their own on Albanian land. Serbia had already annexed the Albanian region of Kosova in 1913. This success only whetted the appetite of the Serbian rulers, who wanted the northern half of remaining Albanian lands, while the Greek government laid claim to the southern half.

The conditions inside Albania in the early 1900s did not permit a strong independent state to emerge. Nonetheless in 1912 there was a general uprising; Albania declared its independence and a democratic government was formed headed by Ismail Qemali. The Qemali government was ousted by the Great Powers intrigues before the First World War.

Ismail Qemali

Albanian people defeated Italy’s attempt to annex Vlora and surrounding lands. In 1924, Albania’s efforts were crowned by the establishment of the democratic government of Fan Noli, which proclaimed an independent Albania and defied the annexationist aims of the Great Powers and their Balkan allies. However, the Albanian landowners and merchants, high clergy and their imperialist allies did not support a democratic government. Within 6 months, the Noli government was overthrown by a coup, carried out by Ahmet Zog and supported by Serbia, British and Italian capital. Zog came to power as the president of the Albanian republic, but shortly proclaimed himself King.

Zog’s government proceeded to sell Albanian resources, labor and territory to the highest foreign bidder in exchange for riches and political and military support. From his coup in 1924 until the mid-1930s, Zog pursued an “open door” policy with Britain and the U.S., as well as with Italy. These countries were given “favored nation” status, and permitted to export large quantities of manufactured goods to Albania while extracting natural resources at very low cost. U.S. and British corporations were granted oil and mineral concessions; the Italian capitalists invested in mines and built factories which were worked by peasants driven from their land. In order to support these concerns’ needs for roads, ports, electricity and other services, the Albanian people were heavily taxed and workers in these enterprises were paid extremely low wages.

King Zog

As the Depression gripping the imperialist world deepened in the mid-1930s, the U.S. and Britain were unable to maintain close economic ties with Albania. Italian capitalists took advantage of this to increase their control over Albania. King Zog signed agreements which opened Albania to economic plunder and gave the Italian government such privileges es the right to intervene militarily in Albania if it were attacked. To protect its investments and to assist Zog in quelling any resistance to its plunder of the Albanian people, Italy provided troops which were housed and fed at the expense of the Albanian population.

As World War II approached, Zog paved the way for the Italian fascist invasion of Albania. Under his direction, the national defense of Albania was stripped; increasingly, the governmental policies of Albania were dictated from Italy. On April 7th, 1939, Italy invaded Albania. The invasion and the brutal occupation which followed were the logical conclusion of the schemes of the Great Powers, the Jong-term designs by Italy on Albanian territory, and the pro-imperialist “open door” policy of Zog, which had robbed Albania of the ability to maintain its independence. The invasion was also a part of the plans of the fascist Axis powers to destroy the then-socialist Soviet Union and to establish world domination.

Italian troops invade Albania

Despite tremendous obstacles, the Albanian people rose to defend their country and to fight for liberation in the face of Italian invasion. From the earliest days of the occupation, the working people, peasants and patriotic intellectuals organized a war of national liberation in Albania. This was from birth an anti-fascist war, aimed at defeating the fascist occupation and establishing a democratic, independent Albanian republic. lt was, therefore, also an anti-imperialist war with the goal of achieving Albania’s permanent independence from domination by any foreign power and in support of the whole coalition of anti-fascist, anti-imperialist forces and governments.

Throughout 1939 and 1940, various groups were organized to fight the threatened destruction of the Albanian nation through assimilation into Italy. This broad resistance movement was initiated and led by small communist organizations which had formed shortly before the Italian occupation and by groups of patriotic and democratic Albanians opposed to foreign domination of their country. Under this leadership, armed units of fighters were formed in the cities and carried out sabotage and attacks on Italian posts. Secondary school students and teachers demonstrated against the Italianization of education and the suppression of the Albanian language and culture. Workers organized strikes and sabotage in the factories. Peasants hid or destroyed grain and animals rather than have them feed the Italian occupiers.

Albanian Partisans

The political views and philosophy of the Albanian communists found support among the working people and progressive intellectuals of the country from the beginning of the national liberation war. This was the case because the communists were the only organized political force in Albania actively fighting the fascist enemy. Through this fight, they were proving themselves to be outstanding leaders, able to show the people the steps and methods by which liberation could be achieved.

Enver Hoxha, leader of the Communist Party of Albania (the CPA), later the Party of Labor

In order to provide the necessary leadership and centralization of the anti-fascist struggle, in the fall of 1941 the communist groups and individuals joined to form the Communist Party of Albania (the CPA, now the Party of Labor of Albania). Representing the working class of Albania, this Party took up active battle against fascist occupation from its birth, in stark contrast to all other existing political groups. No other organization existed which was engaging in a war of national liberation, nor was any other group capable of leading such a war. Led by Enver Hoxha, the CPA was the only organization to call for the nation-wide war against fascism and the formation of an independent, democratic Albanian republic. In the face of severe repression, the CPA undertook to lead the Albanian people in the anti-fascist national liberation war. During the winter of 1941-42, men and women were recruited by this Party to form guerrilla units, based an the older armed groups in the cities. New units were established in the countryside, where they fought both offensive and defensive battles against the Italian army. In addition, these units broke into grain reserves to distribute food to the peasants, who were being forced to support the fascist occupiers while starving themselves. Together, the peasants and the armed guerrilla units defended villages from fascist attacks and reprisals, cared for wounded and gathered supplies. At the same time, the guerrilla units integrated with the population and helped to maintain the cohesion of Albanian society by planting crops, tending livestock and helping repair war damage to fields and homes. In the course of all these activities, the CPA showed the Albanian workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals that the Communist Party of Albania fought to rid Albania of occupation, that they undertook these battles for and with the working people and not for some personal benefit.

Albanian Partisans march in Tirana

At the same time, the CPA was also fighting tooth and nail to build and protect the political unity of all anti-fascist Albanians. Victory against a large, well-armed occupation force like the Italian army was possible only if every single able-bodied Albanian who was willing to fight was integrated into the struggle for freedom. Accordingly, the CPA worked with any individual regardless of religious or political differences.In order to further the unity being produced through common battle, the CPA organized the first national conference of anti-fascist fighters at Peza in May of 1942. The Conference of Peza included representatives of communists and revolutionary patriots from every part of the country and from every fighting group. Under the political leadership of the CPA, these individuals adopted a unified basic program of struggle against the Italian occupation, with which all participants agreed. The two goals of this program were to conduct the armed struggle against occupation forces until liberation, and to establish an independent, democratic republic of Albania.

Albanian Partisans

In order to achieve these goals, the Peza Conference also adopted the organizational structure of the national liberation councils. These councils acted as organs of war, through which the fighting was planned and carried out in particular regions, and civilians were organized to help the guerrilla units. The councils were also the embryonic organs of political power or government. They were empowered to pass laws, adjudicate disputes, form police and self-defense units for villages, and represent towns or regions at national conferences of anti-fascist fighters. These local councils were elected, and were directed by the Provisional National Liberation General Council, the first national, elected, representative body of proven anti-fascist fighters, who directed the overall war effort and formed the nucleus of the future democratic Albanian government.Following the Peza Conference, the liberation war made much progress, especially in the countryside. Partisan bands attacked fascist militia posts and government offices, driving the occupiers out of the villages and towns. They would then replace the puppet government with freely elected national liberation councils. The partisan units not only engaged in battles and skirmishes; they also protected the villages against reprisals, protected the people in liberated areas from thieves or spies, settled blood feuds and otherwise helped to establish a stable political and economic life for war-torn communities. From village to village the liberation battle democratic political system based on the national liberation councils was formed and protected.

In response to these successes, the Italian fascists went on the offensive in the winter of 1942-43. The Italian army conducted massive retaliatory actions, burning villages and murdering villagers. Politically, the fascists sought to derail the liberation movement by uniting with the feudal landlords, the bourgeoisie and other reactionary elements, by sponsoring a group called Balli Kombetar.

Balli Kombëtar

Balli Kombetar was specifically created to oppose the CPA’s leadership of the liberation war. It’s program was in collaboration with the fascist occupiers; it believed the national liberation war to be unnecessary and wrong. Because it claimed to stand for national unity, strength and independence, Balli was initially able to influence some people, particularly in the countryside. However, because its policy was not aimed at complete liberation and the establishment of a democratic Albanian republic, Balli refused to participate in armed actions against the Italian army, despite invitation from the CPA for joint actions.

In early 1943, the fascist puppet government in Albania fell. Its inability to defeat the national liberation forces and to govern Albania was reflective of the defeats fascism was suffering across Europe at the time. In February of 1943, the Red Army of the Soviet Union had defeated the Nazi Army at Stalingrad, and the tide of the second World War was turning in favor of the anti-fascist coalition.

During the early months of 1943, meetings of the Albanian national liberation councils were held to discuss how to take advantage of this improved situation. Plans for a general uprising against the Italian army were approved. In July of 1943 these meetings culminated in the formation of a General Staff which was charged with creating the Albanian National Liberation Army (ANLA) from the ranks of existing partisan units. The General Staff was placed under the command of the outstanding communist and fighter, Enver Hoxha. Under his leadership and that of the General Staff, the newly reorganized army engaged in larger and more frequent attacks on fascist targets. The formation of the General Staff reflected also the tremendous political growth and unification the Communist Party of Albania had been able to generate among the people by constant political education and involvement of the people in the democratic process of making political decisions.  

The Party had also paid great attention to keeping morale in the army high. lt raised the consciousness of the fighters to a high level so that they all knew what they were fighting for and had great faith in the triumph of their cause.

In addition to the military battles, the struggle was also carried out through large demonstrations against the fascist occupation, and various strikes and other battles. The partisans did tireless work to expose the fascists and local traitors and to organize cultural and educational activities among the people.

As the military and political conditions in Albania began to favor the victory of the national liberation forces, the Balli Kombetar began to show its true nature. Rather than taking up arms against the fascist occupiers who were slaughtering the Albanian people, Balli’s leadership agreed to place their organization in the service of the Italian army. They guaranteed they would prevent attacks on the Italian army by national liberation forces and agreed to undertake punitive actions against the ANLA in southern Albania. A member of Balli was appointed to the fascist puppet government. These actions clearly exposed to the Albanian population that Balli supported fascism rather than the liberation of Albania.

Enver Hoxha proclaiming the independence of democratic Albania

In the early summer of 1943, representatives of the Anglo-American Mediterranean command entered Albania uninvited to investigate the status of the Albanian national liberation war. Their findings alarmed the U.S. and British governments. Instead of a disorganized, demoralized, scattered resistance movement, they found a highly organized national army, led by a vigorous communist party, supported by fledgling governmental units on the local and national levels and enjoying the complete support of the Albanian population. Later in the summer, both the U.S. and British armies established military missions inside Albania, under the watchful eye of the Albanian National Liberation Army. From the moment they set foot on Albanian soil, these missions acted to support Italian fascism and King Zog. Their aim was to undermine the leadership of the national liberation war by the Communist Party and the Provisional General Council. They funneled money and weapons to Balli, which in turn used them against the ANLA, in support of the fascist occupiers. Britain and the U.S. demanded that the ANLA lay down its weapons, stop the national liberation war, and limit itself to supporting Allied military efforts to “liberate” Albania from outside. Almost in unison with these Allied demands, very similar pressure was exerted on the CPA and the Provisional General Council by leading members of the Yugoslav Communist Party and its national liberation front. These leaders visited Albania during this period to express the opinion that the Albanian national liberation war was being waged entirely improperly. They too demanded that Albania abandon its independent antifascist liberation war, and fight primarily as an arm of the Yugoslav national liberation army. At this crucial juncture, the CPA and the Albanian people rejected all pressures to stop their national liberation war, and to unite with forces such as Balli, who had openly supported the fascist occupation of Albania. The liberation war was broadened and continued and in the late summer of 1943, Italy was unable to hold Albania any longer. Italy capitulated to the Allies and some of its troops then joined with the Albanian partisans to fight the Nazis.

The German Nazi army had been making occasional forays into northern Albania for some time, in battles against the liberation forces. In late September, 1943, they invaded Albania full scale. The Nazi occupiers were determined to decimate the Albanian national liberation movement. But the movement could not be crushed. Bloody battles occurred throughout the fall. In October, less than a month after the Nazi invasion, the ANLA shelled the Parliament building of the fascist government in Tirana. In response, the Nazis unleashed a ferocious military effort called the Winter Campaign of 1943-44 in an all out effort to destroy the CPA and the ANLA and to force Albania into submission. They planned to reach these goals by encircling the ANLA and destroying it, while terrorizing the population into subjugation. A curfew was imposed and violators were shot on sight. The Nazis proclaimed that they would hang ten to thirty people for every German soldier killed in Albania.

Thousands of communists and anti-fascist fighters were sent to concentration and Labor camps inside Germany and imprisoned in Albania, where they were tortured, starved or worked to death. Anti-fascist fighters captured by the Nazis were publicly hung to deter others. The Nazis also tried to destroy the national liberation movement by coming to terms with Balli Kombetar and using it against the ANLA in military actions. In addition, the Nazis supported the formation of another collaborationist political group, Legaliteti, which played a role similar to Balli, but with less influence. Neither severe military repression nor political ploys could silence the Albanian national liberation movement. All through the terrible winter of 1943-44, the Albanian people grew closer to the CPA and the national liberation councils because it saw them continuing to fight for independence and democracy under the most difficult conditions. Outflanking the enemy deep behind their own lines, launching surprise attacks an supply lines to fortifications, undertaking long distance marches to attack at night where and when the enemy least expected it, the ANLA escaped destruction and undertook counter-offensive attacks against the Nazis forces. In April, having defeated the German offensive, the ANLA undertook one of its own, scoring major victories at Korca, Pogradec and Berat, among other locations.

The great unity between the Albanian people and the leadership of the national liberation war provided the political basis for holding the First Anti-Fascist National Liberation Congress at Permet in May of 1944. This Congress elected the Anti-Fascist Council which was responsible for laying the groundwork for the Albanian state of people’s democracy. In addition, the Permet Congress took decisions of great importance to the newly emerging Albanian state: to prevent King Zog from returning to power; to not recognize any other government set up inside or outside of Albania against the will of its people; to continue the liberation war until independence and the formation of the people’s democracy. Because it sanctioned the overthrow of the old ruling classes, the Permet Congress established a government in which the control and leadership of the workers and peasants, through the Communist Party, was ensured. Finally, the Congress agreed to launch a general offensive against the German occupiers.

Factors internal and external to Albania favored a general offensive at this time. Outside of Albania the Nazis were in retreat. The Red Army of the Soviet Union was already helping to free Romania from occupation. Inside of Albania, the failure of the Nazi Winter Campaign, the growing unity of the Albanian people, and the drafting of the new structure for the Albanian government all signaled that the time for a general offensive was at hand. In June of 1944, the offensive began.

Tirana, Albania: Taking part in ceremonies which was freed from Turkish rule about 32 years ago, Albanian partisans parade through the streets of Tirana, the country's capital, on November 28th. Albanians celebrated their liberation from German rule, as well, on this anniversary. Representatives of the U.S., Britain and Russia attended the ceremonies. December 20, 1944 Tirana, Albania

With the initiation of the general offensive, all of Albania joined in a massive effort to expel the Nazis from its territory. At the same time, some final steps were necessary to ensure that the new Albanian state would be a democratic people’s republic. Accordingly, one month before liberation, a meeting of the General Council in Berat proclaimed the establishment of the Democratic Government of Albania. Its officials were elected and agreement was reached to organize the election of a Constituent Assembly that would draft a new Constitution for the democratic People’s Republic of Albania. The Berat meeting formalized the national liberation councils as organs of government and adopted the “Declaration of the Rights of Citizens” ensuring basic democratic rights to all individuals.

The new leadership of the Democratic Government faced immediate serious threats to Albania’s independence. In late October of 1944, ignoring the Government’s rejection of Allied armed Intervention in Albania, Allied troops landed in southwestern Albania with the goal of occupying the whole country. The new Government stood firm, refusing to permit these troops to remain in Albania; under the direction of the National Liberation Army, they were removed from Albanian soil. At the same time, British troops in Yugoslavia attempted to cross into Albania from the north, but were prevented by the Albanian Army and population. Rather than giving in to Anglo-U.S. pressures and influence, the new Democratic Government established diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union, recognizing in that then-socialist country a staunch ally.

Despite the threatened invasion of Albania by Allied troops and despite the vicious military blows by the retreating Nazi Army, the ANLA liberated all of Albania on November 29, 1944. By the force of their own arms, the Albanian people expelled the last Nazi troops and proclaimed the establishment of an independent, democratic people’s republic of ‘Albania. The first step in the people’s revolution in Albania — the country’s liberation had been taken. The Italian and German occupation of Albania from 1939 to 1944 took a great toll on the Albanian people. 7.3% of the population of 1,200,000 was killed or maimed and up to 3.9% were deported to Germany as slave labor or imprisoned in Albania during this five years. Thirty percent of all villages were destroyed. One-third of all farm animals were killed. All electric power was disrupted and all bridges had been blown up. The few factories which were not destroyed had no raw materials with which to operate.

Despite massive losses and damage, the anti-fascist national liberation war of the Albanian people had scored a decisive victory. It had expelled the fascist occupiers and established an independent Albanian government. Additionally, the national liberation war had swept away the rule of the old exploiting classes, by preventing the return of Zog or the foreign or Albanian capitalists and merchants. The new democratic government, elected by the Albanian people, was composed of tested leaders from the working class and peasantry, the same people who had made up the national liberation councils and led the partisan units, the same people who were leaders and members of the Communist Party of Albania, the political party of the Albanian working class. However, the victory of the national liberation war on November 29, 1944 was not the end of a history of struggle for independence. It was the beginning of a new history of struggle in Albania to protect the triumph of the people’s revolution and to initiate the uninterrupted construction of socialism.

Statue of "Mother Albania" to celebrate the liberation of the country

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” Introduction

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” is a 1984 pamphlet about socialist Albania by the Albania Friendship Society. It was published in the United States in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the liberation of Albania and the victory of the people’s revolution, November 29, 1944 – November 29, 1984. “New Albania” is a groundbreaking English language pamphlet about the accomplishments of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. It will appear here in its full and unabridged form.

 — Espresso Stalinist

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” Part I: Albania at the Crossroads: Annihilation or Liberation

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” Part II: Socialist Construction in Albania

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” Part III: Social and Cultural Development in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania

“New Albania: A Small Nation, A Great Contribution!” Part IV: International Relations and the Foreign Policy of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania 

“NEW ALBANIA” TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface…1
Introduction…1
I. Albania at the Crossroads: Annihilation or Liberation…3
II. Socialist Construction in Albania…10
— The People’s State Power…10
— The Socialist Economy…14
— The Revolutionization of Society…20
III. Social and Cultural Development in Albania…24
— The Albanian Educational System…24
— Health Care in Albania…27
— Women’s Emancipation…29
— The Greek National Minority…31
— Aspects of Albanian Culture, Past and Present…32
IV. International Relations and the Foreign Policy of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania…38
V. Conclusion…44

This pamphlet is dedicated to Ruth and Jack Shulman, whose friendship for the Albanian people and tireless defense of their post-liberation achievements have been instrumental in educating a new generation of working class and progressive people about the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania.

Preface

This pamphlet is presented in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Albania and the triumph of the people’s revolution.

It is the result of a collective effort by organizations in the U.S. who have been working to bring the message of the Albanian experience and successes to the U.S. people, and in particular, the U.S. working class. Some of the participants in this project have visited Albania on rnany occasions since liberation and have seen with their own eyes the remarkable successes which are recounted in this pamphlet. Valuable resource materials were found in a variety of Albanian publications, including Portrait of Albania, The History of the Party of Labor of Albania, New Albania and Albania Today magazines, and the Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania.

This year also marks the first time that organizations in several U.S. cities will be gathering together to hold joint celebrations of the anniversary of the liberation of Albania, on November 29, 1944. Wt urge you to join with us in celebrating this historic occasion and in building friendship between the peoples of the U.S. and Albania

Albania Friendship Society
of Southern California,
Los Angeles, California

Albania Information Project,
New Orleans, Louisiana

Albania Report,
New York, New York

Chicago Area Friends of Albania,
Chicago, Illinois

U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization,
Boston, Massachusetts

Introduction

Forty years ago an November 29, 1944, the people of Albania, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Albania (now the Party of Labor), liberated their country from the Nazi occupation and the local ruling classes.

After liberation, the country stood in ruins, ravaged by the fascists. Not a single working factory was left standing, agriculture was virtually destroyed, and the people were plagued with starvation, disease, high infant mortality rates and an average life span of 38 years.

Today Albania is an independent, self-reliant, modern industrial-agrarian society. There are no exploiting classes. The great advantages of the socialist system with its planned economy, can be seen in the fact that there is no economic crisis in Albania, no unemployment and no inflation. There are also no taxes, while medical care, child care, paid vacations and paid maternity leave are provided at little or no cost to individuals. Albania has no foreign debts or credits and is free from domination by the imperialist powers. All these conditions result from the socialist system which now exists in Albania.

Today, Albania is the only socialist country in the world. It stands in firm Opposition to the two superpowers — the U.S. and U.S.S.R. — and their preparations for imperialist war.

The lessons of how Albania achieved these remarkable successes in only 40 years have great importance to the people of the world and the United States. The imperialists and reactionaries have tried to hide the truth about Albania’s liberation and the successes of the revolution because they know these victories are a tremendous inspiration and example for all oppressed people.

Khrushchev and Molotov on Beria

I post these excerpts here for a balanced view of Beria’s role in order to encourage dialectic analysis of whether he was a Marxist-Leninist or a revisionist. I post these here despite serious misgivings about the thesis that “Beria poisoned Stalin,” a theory for which I’ve found no evidence except for the book “Molotov Remembers,” which was published by an anti-communist after Molotov’s death.

 — Espresso Stalinist

No sooner had Stalin fallen ill than Beria started going around spewing hatred against him and mocking him. It was simply unbearable to listen to Beria. But, interestingly enough, as soon as Stalin showed these signs of consciousness on his face and made us think he might recover, Beria threw himself on his knees, seized Stalin’s hand, and started kissing it. When Stalin lost consciousness again and closed his eyes, Beria stood up and spat. This was the real Beria–treacherous even toward Stalin, whom he supposedly admired and even worshipped yet whom he was now spitting on.

Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 318

During his [Stalin] last days I had in some sense fallen out of favor…. I had seen Stalin for five weeks before he died. He was absolutely healthy. They called for me when he was taken ill. When I arrived at the dacha some Politburo members were there. Of non-Politburo members, only Mikoyan and myself, as I recall, had been called. Beria was clearly in command.

Stalin was lying on the sofa. His eyes were closed. Now and then he would make an effort to open them and say something, but he couldn’t fully regain consciousness. Whenever Stalin tried to say something, Beria ran up to him and kissed his hand.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 236

CHUEV: Beria himself was said to have killed him.

MOLOTOV: Why Beria? It could have been done by a security officer or a doctor. As he was dying, there were moments when he regained consciousness. At other times he was writhing in pain. There were various episodes. Sometimes he seemed about to come to. At those moments Beria would stay close to Stalin. Oh! He was always ready…

One cannot exclude the possibility that he had a hand in Stalin’s death. Judging by what he said to me and I sensed…. While on the rostrum of the Mausoleum with him on May 1st, 1953, he did drop hints…. Apparently he wanted to evoke my sympathy. He said, “I did him in!”–as if this had benefited me. Of course he wanted to ingratiate himself with me: “I saved all of you!” Khrushchev would scarcely have had a hand in it. He might have been suspicious of what had gone on. Or possibly… All of them had been close by. Malenkov knows more, much more, much more.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 237

MOLOTOV: It is totally obvious that he kept his plan secret, a plan aimed against building Communism in our country. He had another course–a course for Capitalism. This faint-hearted traitor, like other faint-hearted traitors whom the Party has dealt with satisfactorily, was planning nothing less than a return to Capitalism.

I must again draw your attention to Beria’s attempts to establish ties with Rankovich and with Tito, which Comrade Malenkov has already mentioned.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 30

What Beria proposed would never have come up for discussion in Stalin’s time. Stalin made a public statement when the GDR was created, that this was a new stage in the development of Germany, and that there could be no doubts about this. Stalin was the sort of man to sacrifice everything for the sake of socialism. He would never have abandoned the conquest of socialism.

I objected that there could not be a peaceful Germany unless it took the road to socialism. Therefore all talk about a “peaceful Germany” implied a bourgeois Germany, period.

I consider Khrushchev a rightist, and Beria was even further right. We had the evidence. Both of them were rightists. Mikoyan too.

…Being a rightist, Khrushchev was rotten through and through. Beria was even more of a rightist and even more rotten.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 336-337

He (Beria) was unprincipled. He was not even a communist. I consider him a parasite on the party.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 339

I regard Beria as an agent of imperialism. Agent does not mean spy. He had to have some support–either in the working class or in imperialism. He had no support among the people, and he enjoyed no prestige. Even had he succeeded in seizing power, he would not have lasted long.
…a big scum.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 340

He was a good organizer, a good administrator–and a born security operative, of course. But quite without principles.
I had a sharp clash with Beria the first week after Stalin’s death. It is quite possible that I was not the one to meet either his or Khrushchev’s requirements. Their policies would not have differed greatly.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 341

…he (Beria) was, in any event, a dangerous character.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 343

CHUEV: Beria is called a diehard enemy of Soviet power.
MOLOTOV: I don’t know whether he was a diehard or some other kind of enemy, but I do know he was an enemy.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 343

EDITOR: Molotov wonders with good reason whether Stalin really died a natural death. Shortly before Beria was liquidated by his fearful colleagues, he took credit for Stalin’s death. He confided to Molotov that he had “saved them all,” implying that he had killed Stalin or at least seen to it that the stricken Stalin did not receive adequate and timely medical attention.

Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 161

Grover Furr: Rejoinder to Roger Keeran

Written by Grover Furr

Let me begin by acknowledging the positive. Keeran correctly identified one error in my book. On page 30 I wrote:

Stalin did refer to Trotskyites in very hostile terms. But he did not advocate persecuting them [i.e. Trotskyites].

As Keeran notes, this is wrong. I should have written:

Stalin did refer to Trotskyites in very hostile terms. But he did not advocate persecuting former Trotskyites.

I’m grateful to Keeran for noting this error. Unfortunately, it is the sole valid criticism in his long review.

Keeran has fundamentally misunderstood my book Khrushchev Lied. This is clear from the title of his review: “Khrushchev Lied But What Is the Truth?” Moreover, in many places he utterly distorts what I have written.

Keeran expects me not only to prove that Khrushchev lied – he concedes that I do this successfully – but, somehow, to reveal “what really happened.” He writes:

The point of studying history is to understand what happened. Disputing Khrushchev’s views does not provide an alternative account of what happened. Furr admits this and says his study cannot satisfy the curiosity about “what really happened.”

Keeran has misconceived the subject of my book, which is the 61 “revelations” about Stalin (and Beria) Khrushchev“revealed” in his infamous “Secret Speech” to the 20th Party Congress in 1956.

In Chapter 10 of my book in a section titled “Exposing a Lie is Not the Same as Establishing the Truth” (143-145) I state:

Analysis of Khrushchev’s prevarications suggests two related but distinct tasks. By far the easier and shorter job is to show that Khrushchev was not telling the truth. This is the subject of the present book.

I then anticipate Keeran’s objection:

The interested student will naturally want to know more than the mere fact that Khrushchev lied. Once convinced that Khrushchev’s version of reality is false, she or he will want to know the truth – what really happened.

But the present study cannot satisfy that curiosity. (143)

ALL of Keeran’s criticisms stem from his inability to understand this essential distinction.

Keeran writes:

In spite of this disclaimer, Furr does suggest an alternative to Khrushchev’s view, and his alternative view is not credible.

Keeran is wrong. Nowhere in my book do I “suggest an alternative to Khrushchev’s view.” Why? As I explain on the same page:

A separate investigation would be necessary in each case – virtually, sixty-one studies for as many falsehoods. (143)

Without reference to what I have actually written Keeran repeatedly imputes to me some “interpretation” or other. Then he finds these constructs “not credible” [2] and — blames me! But they are his constructs, not mine!

Again and again Keeran falsely asserts that I state things in my book that are simply not there.

Yet, by trying to absolve Stalin entirely for the cult around him, Furr strains credibility.

This is false. Nowhere in my book do I “absolve Stalin” either partially or entirely for the “cult.” Instead, I cite a great deal of evidence which shows that Stalin opposed the disgusting “cult” around himself. (8)

Keeran remarks:

Stalin may have opposed renaming Moscow, but he apparently did not object when scores of other cities, towns, streets, squares, parks, factories and so on were named after him and when his pictures and statues became ubiquitous. Unlike Fidel Castro, Stalin did not do as much as he might have to discourage the cult that developed.

Keeran wishes Stalin had fought the “cult” even harder. Don’t we all! But this would be a legitimate criticism of my book only if I had tried to “absolve Stalin” – which I never do.

I do, however, make the following remark:

Some have argued that Stalin’s opposition to the cult around himself must have been hypocrisy. After all, Stalin was so powerful that if he had really wanted to put a stop to the cult, he could have done so. But this argument assumes what it should prove. To assume that he was that powerful is also to assume that Stalin was in fact what the “cult” absurdly made him out to be: an autocrat with supreme power over everything and everyone in the USSR. (8) [3]

Keeran states:

The book’s problems start with its title and argument. To call every Khrushchev revelation a lie has dramatic appeal and a figurative truth, but no one in their right mind could buy this as literal truth, because no one in their right mind could imagine Khrushchev or anyone else speaking for hours before a congress of the Communist Party about revelations that contained nothing but falsehoods.

Keeran may not “buy” it – but that is exactly what Khrushchev did! In my book I prove that every one of the 61 “revelations” Khrushchev made is false (except for one minor one, which I could not either verify or disprove).

Keeran confuses the words “statement” and “revelation”

A reader, however, has to wait until page 142 to hear the author acknowledge that “it would, of course, be absurd to say that every one of Khrushchev’s statements is false.” Yet, by not admitting that Khrushchev’s “revelations” artfully mixed truths and lies, this absurdity is precisely what Furr is guilty of. (Emphasis added)

This is all wrong. Khrushchev made many “statements”, or assertions, in the Speech that were not “revelations”, i.e. accusations against Stalin (or Beria). It is these 61 “revelations” that are false – not every single statement that Khrushchev made. The “absurdity” is Keeran’s own failure to recognize this elementary distinction.

Keeran compounds his confusion by stating:

Furr makes no effort to sort out the truth and falsehood of Khrushchev’s speech, but proceeds to focus only on what in Khrushchev’s statements were dubious, even if it means lumping together the trivial, disputable and half lies with the significant, provable and total lies.

Once again, Keeran again substitutes the word “statements’ for “revelations”. Then he accuses me of mixing the two up!

Concerning my treatment of Khrushchev’s remarks on the murder of Sergei M. Kirov Keeran writes:

Furr argues that Khrushchev’s insinuation was baseless and that the opposition leaders convicted were in fact part of a murder conspiracy. Furr is right on the first count but fails to prove the second.

This is completely false! Nowhere in this book do I “argue… that the opposition leaders convicted were in fact part of a murder conspiracy.” I do not do so because a lengthy, separate study is required get to the bottom of the Kirov murder. [4]

Keeran outlines at some length what he understands of the scholarship on the Kirov assassination. His is not an informed discussion; Keeran really knows very little about this question. [5] But even if Keeran knew much more than he does – so what? It is all irrelevant to a review of my book. I do not discuss the Kirov murder in my book. I discuss what Khrushchev said about the Kirov murder, and I prove that Khrushchev lied about it.

Keeran:

In spite of Furr’s claim about “every” Khrushchev revelation being a lie, Furr actually does not dispute much that Khrushchev said about the repression.

Of course I do not study, examine, or “dispute” all the statements Khrushchev made in his Speech! Only the 61 so-called “revelations” are the subject of my study. These are the accusations that shook the world; that caused half the world’s communists (outside of the communist countries themselves) to quit their parties; that led directly to the Sino-Soviet split, and later to Gorbachev’s ideological smokescreen by which he justified the return to predatory capitalism and the breakup of the Soviet Union.

It is manifestly unfair of Keeran to call my book “deeply flawed” because I stick to proving what I set out to prove, rather than examining other questions that Keeran wishes I had studied instead.

That does not mean I accept all of Khrushchev’s other statements as true – far from it! We have more than enough evidence today to prove that Khrushchev lied about many other matters as well. But a study of all of them is far beyond the scope of this one book.

Keeran writes:

… Furr asserts that Khrushchev “seriously distorted” Stalin’s words when he said that Stalin tried to justify mass repression by saying “as we march forward toward socialism class war must allegedly sharpen.”[32] Furr asserts that Stalin actually said, “the further we advance…the greater will be the fury of the remnants of the broken exploiting classes, the sooner they resort to sharper forms of struggle.”[33]

Does Furr really believe that the slight variation in words makes any difference in the meaning? Stalin’s words differ from Khrushchev’s paraphrase, but the meaning does not.

Keeran has distorted both Khrushchev’s false allegations and what Stalin really said. Here are Khrushchev’s words:

Stalin’s report at the February-March Central Committee plenum in 1937, ‘Deficiencies of party work and methods for the liquidation of the Trotskyites and of other two-facers’, contained an attempt at theoretical justification of the mass terror policy under the pretext that as we march forward toward socialism class war must allegedly sharpen. Stalin asserted that both history and Lenin taught him this.

On pages 42-3 of my book I quote Stalin’s words and point out that Stalin did not “justify” any “mass terror policy.” On page 274 I quote very similar words by Lenin of May 27, 1919. In order to prove that Stalin was striving to follow Lenin’s example I cite a speech by Stalin in 1929 in which he cites Lenin’s quote.

Khrushchev omitted this fact – of course, for it would not help him dishonestly smear Stalin. But why does Keeran not point it out to his readers?

Keeran:

Still, Furr seems to hold a version of the repression something like this:…

Wrong again! I give no “version of the repressions” in this book (and note that Keeran has to use the words “seems to hold”.) He continues:

Though Furr is correct about Stalin’s statements and the First Secretaries’ actions, this hardly proves that Stalin opposed mass repression.

Of course I do not prove that – because “mass repression” and Stalin’s role in it, is not the subject of my book. Again Keeran is “criticizing” my book because it is not a different book – one that I never wrote.

Likewise,

Granted that authorizing mass executions of persons duly convicted by the courts was not the same as ordering them, still Stalin’s signature showed that he was fully aware and supportive of the most extreme punishment for those convicted of serious crimes against the state. Furr seems loath to acknowledge this.

As Keeran admits, I prove Khrushchev lied in saying Stalin “ordered” mass executions. That is all I set out to do. My book is not about “mass repression” or Stalin’s attitude towards it.

Concerning the famous “torture telegram” Keeran states:

… Furr may be right in questioning the provenance of this wire and whether it was ever sent. Moreover, Furr is certainly right that in quoting the telegram Khrushchev omitted sentences so as to put Stalin in the worst possible light, that is, omitting sentences where Stalin stressed that physical pressure was permissible only “as an exception” and those sentences where Stalin condemned those who had abused these methods.

So Keeran admits I am right! But then he raises another “straw man”:

Khrushchev’s skullduggery notwithstanding, the telegram clearly showed Stalin’s willingness to condone torture in exceptional cases such as where a convict refused to divulge the existence or whereabouts of co-conspirators still at large. Had Furr acknowledged this … his account would have been forthright and useful rather than a strained effort to argue that every Khrushchev allegation was simply a lie.

But I do indeed “acknowledge this”. I wrote (78):

The first thing we should note, for our purposes, is what Khrushchev omitted – the entire passage in boldface (see Quotations). This passage does several things:

• It qualifies, limits, and restricts the conditions under which “means of physical pressure” are to be used.

So Keeran is wrong again. But there is an even greater distortion in Keeran’s words here, for he claims that my study is “a strained effort to argue that every Khrushchev allegation was simply a lie.” This is more than just false. it is what every anticommunist accuses me of — that my research is somehow biased in favor of Stalin; that I am a “Stalinist”.

I reject that term. In all my research I strive for objectivity – to discover the truth “and let the chips fall where they may.” Early in my book I write:

The most influential speech of the 20th century – if not of all time – a complete fraud? The notion was too monstrous. Who would want to come to grips with the revision of Soviet, Comintern, and even world history that the logic of such a conclusion would demand? It would be infinitely easier for everyone to believe that I had “cooked the books,” shaded the truth – that I was falsifying things, just as I was accusing Khrushchev of doing. Then my work could be safely ignored, and the problem would “go away.” Especially since I am known to have sympathy towards the worldwide communist movement of which Stalin was the recognized leader. When a researcher comes to conclusions that suspiciously appear to support his own preconceived ideas, it is only prudent to suspect him of some lack of objectivity, if not worse.

So I would have been much happier if my research had concluded that 25% of Khrushchev’s “revelations” about Stalin and Beria were false. However, since virtually all of those “revelations” that can be checked are, in fact, falsehoods, the onus of evidence lies even more heavily on me as a scholar than would ordinarily be the case. (4)

Like it or not, every “revelation” Khrushchev made against Stalin and Beria in the Speech is false (with the one exception previously stated). Not only did I not “strain” to prove this – I was subjectively unhappy that it is so.

Evidently Keeran too is unable to accept this astounding fact. No wonder! Over 50 years ago the worldwide communist movement was rebuilt in accordance with Khrushchev’s Speech and the many subsequent lies about Stalin by Khrushchev and his henchmen. To accept the fact that Khrushchev did virtually nothing but lie in this world-altering speech shakes the foundations of the political commitments that a great many people have held for a lifetime.

No wonder, then, that many find the truth is unpalatable. But it is the duty of Marxists to look the truth, no matter how disillusioning, squarely in the eye.

Keeran states:

Though Furr expends many words parsing Khrushchev’s statements in detail and indeed spends a whole chapter categorizing the various kinds of deceptions engaged in by Khrushchev, he makes little effort to sort the truth from the lies. In the end, one is left with two competing versions of the repression. Since Furr is content to act as a defense attorney and merely attack Khrushchev’s credibility without venturing his own interpretations of events, one never knows exactly what he thinks happened.

Not one of these statements of Keeran’s is true. There is nothing “narrow” in proving that Khrushchev lied – not just occasionally, not just frequently, but consistently. This, and not anything else, is the subject of my book.

Moreover, Keeran cannot decide what he thinks I have done – or failed to do:

* First he states his disappointment that I do not “sort the truth from the lies”. That is, he chides me for failing to determine what really did happen.

* Then he contradicts himself, complaining that there are “two competing versions of the repression” – evidently, Khrushchev’s and mine.

* Whereupon Keeran complains that I do not “venture” my “own interpretations of events” so that “one never knows exactly” what [Furr] thinks happened.”

Keeran is determined to criticize me – that much is clear. But he is utterly confused about what to criticize me for! Do I give a “competing version” to Khrushchev’s that is inadequate in some way? Or do I fail to give my “own interpretation of events”?

Once again Keeran has it all wrong. I do not state my “version of the repression”. To repeat: my book is an examination of Khrushchev’s 61 “revelations” or accusations. To determine “what really happened” would require many separate and lengthy evidence-based studies.

Keeran proceeds to tell us (a) what he thinks I think; then, (b) then, what he, Keeran, thinks. (c) Finally, Keeran “channels” the long-deceased Kaganovich and Molotov to outline what he thinks they may have thought!

This is nonsense. Keeran does not know “what I think” about “the repression”. In fact, he does not tell us what he means by “the repression” — what events, during what years, he is referring to.

Moreover, what I, or Keeran, or Kaganovich, or Molotov, “think” is irrelevant and misleading. The truth is not constituted by our, or anyone’s, “views”, “thinking”, or opinions, no matter what they are. The only way to arrive at statements that approximate the truth is by the scientific process of research: mastering the secondary literature; identifying the primary source evidence; locating, obtaining, and studying that evidence; drawing correct conclusions, appropriately qualified, from that evidence. To pretend, or to suggest to others, that one can arrive at a truthful account of events by outlining what somebody – anybody — “thinks”, is to substitute idealism for materialism.

Keeran’s paragraph beginning

Still, Furr seems to hold a version of the repression something like this…

is absurdly wrong. Nowhere in my book do I give a “version of the repression”, for reasons that I have already made clear above.

Keeran’s summary of Kaganovich’s and Molotov’s “views”, starting with the passage

Kaganovich[48] and Molotov viewed Stalin and the repression, differently than Furr does. I would paraphrase their views like this…

is just as wrong-headed. To summarize Kaganovich’s and Molotov’s views one would have to (a) collect all the passages in their writings and interviews where they spoke about “the repression”; and (b) arrange them in some logical order. Only then would you be in a position to (c) “paraphrase” their “views.” Keeran does not even attempt to do that.

But assuming Keeran had done this, what then would he have? A “true” account of “the repression”? No! because we now have access to a great deal of evidence that Kaganovich and Molotov never had, including much that Khrushchev deliberately kept hidden from them (as Matthew Lenoe has recently proven).

“Opinions”, “views”, and “what X thinks” where X is some “expert” — whatever that means — are to be studiously avoided! Remember Sherlock Holmes’ famous dictum:

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (“A Scandal in Bohemia”)

If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man who believed in fairies, understood this principle materialists have no excuse for ignoring it! What we are greatly wanting is conclusions solidly founded upon an objective study of all the evidence.

Keeran clearly does not know what “the repression” refers to. But whatever he means, Kaganovich and Molotov were only peripherally involved in it. They were more than busy with other important jobs. Later, during Khrushchev’s tenure, they appeared to believe, and certainly went along with, much of Khrushchev’s account of the Stalin years. Both supported the “Secret Speech”. We know that Khrushchev kept hidden from them much of the evidence we now have. A careful, objective researcher today – granted, there are precious few such – can learn much more than Molotov or Kaganovich ever knew about these events.

In my book I examine Khrushchev’s claim that a “party commission” – it was in fact the Pospelov Commission – “determined” that many Party leaders executed after 1937 were “innocent.” This commission produced “rehabilitation reports” that were finally published in the late 1990s. In my book I study these reports and determine that they do not do what Khrushchev claimed – they do not prove the innocence of the Party leaders in question. Not even close! Therefore I have proven that Khrushchev lied. On the basis of my study of the primary sources I conclude that the evidence we have today tends to point towards their guilt, not their innocence. But I never claim that any of these persons were guilty.

Keeran gets this all wrong. He writes:

To support his view, Furr repeatedly makes sweeping references to evidence about the guilt of those punished: “the evidence we know exists,” “all the evidence we presently have,” “all the evidence at our disposal,” “a great deal of documentary evidence,” “a great deal of evidence,” “the vast preponderance of evidence,” etc., but he never actually explains what evidence he is referring to.

Apparently, he is simply referring to the well-known confessions and interrogations of the condemned, because he takes pains to argue that just because someone confessed does not mean he/she was innocent. Furr never acknowledges that confessions, particularly when given under duress, are pretty useless as historical evidence.

To review Keeran’s errors:

* I have no “view” that I am trying to “support.” As we have seen, Keeran sometimes chides me for not expressing my own views.

* All the evidence we have does indeed tends towards the defendants’ guilt, not their innocence. That’s a fact, like it or not. Khrushchev had claimed just the opposite and until the late ‘90s no one could actually see the reports Khrushchev was referring to. Now, we can. Conclusion? Khrushchev lied!

* I do indeed ‘explain what evidence I am referring to”, and in detail. I devote the whole of Chapter 11 to my study of the “rehabilitation reports.” In Chapter 4 I review the evidence we now have – which Khrushchev also had, of course – concerning the nine Party leaders Khrushchev names who were tried and executed in 1937-1938. The evidence supports their guilt, not their innocence. Yet again: Khrushchev lied!

Moreover, Keeran is completely wrong when he says that “confessions, particularly when given under duress, are pretty useless as historical evidence.” For starters, what does “pretty useless” mean? “Less useless” than just plain “useless”? So it is of some use? But what? And just what does “under duress” mean? This mealy-mouthed statement is worse than meaningless – it is an evasion of the serious question of how to approach this important category of evidence.

Then Keeran claims: “Furr never acknowledges” that his, Keeran’s, uninformed view on this subject is correct. Well, I certainly do not acknowledge the absurd formulations “under duress” and “pretty useless”! It is obvious that Keeran has never given serious attention to the question of how to use evidence from interrogations.

Here’s what I do: I devote a whole section of Chapter 10 to this question: “Torture and the Historical Problems Related To It” (147-150). I recommend it to the reader.

Keeran says:

A little later, Furr strengthens his claim by asserting that “the vast preponderance of evidence” points to their guilt. Strong words, however, are no substitute for proof. What is Furr’s evidence? Does he just mean the confessions and interrogation reports? He refers to nothing else.

And then:

One is left with warring assertions: Khrushchev’s baseless claims of innocence and Furr’s baseless claims of guilt.

But Keeran cannot quote or cite any place where I make this claim – because I do not make it. To repeat: I do not make any claim that any – much less all — of these Party leaders were “guilty.” Rather, I examine the evidence now available and show that it supports their guilt rather than their innocence. Khrushchev stated that this evidence proved they were innocent. Therefore, Khrushchev was lying.

Khrushchev’s men were looking for evidence that the men in question were innocent. Today we have the reports, kept secret until 1999. We have other evidence too, though nowhere near everything.

But Khrushchev’s men had access to everything – all the investigative reports and trial transcripts, most of which are still top-secret. We can assume that they included in their reports to Khrushchev any evidence they could find that these men were innocent. Therefore, the fact that they did not include any such evidence of innocence strongly implies that no such evidence exists.

Nevertheless, I do not conclude that they were guilty. But Keeran shows no awareness of these considerations and covers this up with empty phrases like “pretty useless” and “under duress.”

According to Keeran my book contains “an uncommon amount of speculation, insinuation and overstatement.” So why does he fail to cite even a single example of any of these? Evidently he could not identify any.

Keeran states:

If Khrushchev’s portrait of Stalin as an all-powerful, megalomaniacal, paranoid and bloodthirsty tyrant was wrong, still what is one to make of the Stalin in Furr’s dodgy portrait?

To repeat: no “portrait” of Stalin is to be found in my book. I prove that 60 of the 61 “revelations”, or accusations of wrongdoing alleged in Khrushchev’s Speech against Stalin and Beria, are false, with the majority of them outright, provable lies (See Chapter 10, “A Typology of Prevarication” and the Table on pp. 152-158). My book is not about Stalin; it is about Khrushchev’s Secret Speech.

Keeran then characterizes my “view” of Stalin:

One can hardly avoid concluding that Furr views Stalin as a leader who was removed from, or even opposed to, the mass repression occurring around him, a leader who sought individual and educational remedies to those who sought to undermine or overthrow him, and who was unfairly blamed for repression committed by others? This Stalin is no more believable than Khrushchev’s.

Yet again Keeran composes a fatuous “view” of Stalin; then imputes it to me; and then criticizes me for it! Just as Keeran’s “paraphrase” of Kaganovich’s and Molotov’s “views” is his words, his ideas, not theirs.

In discussing my final chapter Keeran admits that my speculation as to the possible reasons for Khrushchev’s massive falsifications are “plausible”. But then he posits an explanation of his own:

Nonetheless, I would suggest that Furr neglects yet another reason for Khrushchev’s behavior, namely, a desire to close the door decisively on the period and practice of harsh and widespread political repression. And he did.

No, he did not.

In September 1936 Nikolai Ezhov replaced Genrikh Iagoda as head (People’s Commissar) of the NKVD. In November 1938 Ezhov was replaced by Lavrentii Beria. According to the widely-publicized “Pavlov report” prepared for Khrushchev in 1953 and widely reprinted the number of persons sentenced to death in 1936-1940 were as follows: [6]

1936 – 1,118
1937 – 353,074
1938 – 328,618
1939 – 2,552
1940 – 1,649

In 1939 death sentences under Beria were less than 1% of those under Ezhov. In 1940 they were less than ½ of 1%. No mass political repression occurred during Stalin’s postwar years. The “Ezhovshchina” (= “bad time of Ezhov”) was never repeated.

The conclusion is inescapable: It was not Khrushchev, but Stalin and Beria who ended mass political repression, and they did it in late 1938. Moreover, I show in my book that Khrushchev himself had more blood on his hands than anyone else: the numbers of people executed in Moscow, then in the Ukraine, during the time Khrushchev was First Secretary in those places, exceeded all other areas. [7]

After Stalin’s death Lavrentii Beria was illegally arrested, tried and executed or, as many think, simply shot outright on June 26, 1953. That is, one of the leading members of the Soviet government — Beria was both Minister of State Security, the MGB, and of Internal Affairs, the MVD — and of the Party — Beria was a member of the Politburo, renamed the Presidium in October 1952 — was either judicially murdered, or just plain murdered. Stalin never, ever did anything like this!

Keeran concludes his review with a total distortion of what I wrote:

Furr concludes his account on an utterly false note, namely by proposing that Khrushchev’s ignominious lying can be traced to Lenin, Marx and Engels. … He … suggests a trail of blame worthy of the most hard-bitten Cold War ideologues.

I trace Khrushchev’s lies to Lenin, Marx, and Engels? Utter nonsense! Here are the exact words in my book, from Chapter 12, “Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy of Khrushchev’s Deception.”

There are historical and ideological roots to Khrushchev’s Speech, and these must also be sought in Soviet history. Stalin tried hard to apply Lenin’s analysis to the conditions he found in Russia and the world communist movement. Lenin, in turn, had tried to apply the insights of Marx and Engels. Lenin had tried to find answers to the critical problems of building socialism in Russia in the works of the founders of modern communism.

Stalin, never claiming any innovations for himself, had tried to follow Lenin’s guidelines as closely as he could. Meanwhile Trotsky and Bukharin, as well as other oppositionists, found support for their proposed policies in Lenin’s works too. And Khrushchev, like his epigones up to and including Gorbachev, cited Lenin’s words to justify, and give a Leninist or “left” cover to, every policy he chose.

Therefore, something in Lenin’s works, and in those of Lenin’s great teachers Marx and Engels, facilitated the errors that his honest successor Stalin honestly made, and that his dishonest successor Khrushchev was able to use to cover up his own betrayal.

But that is a subject for further research and a different book. (216-217)

Ever meet a “Cold War ideologue” who says things like this?

In a private email to Keeran in October 2011 I tried to put this vital matter another way:

I think Stalin et al., like Lenin et al., and like Marx and Engels, were “the best.” None were ever better.

In my view Stalin and those who were closely associated with him, plus tens or hundreds of thousands of Soviet communists, were faithful followers of Lenin. They did in fact implement, bring into being, what Lenin wanted — socialism. “Socialism in one country”, in fact.

They did not “fail to understand”, or “distort”, etc., Lenin’s ideas. They fulfilled them.

Lenin, of course, was striving to embody and fulfill what Marx and Engels had concluded. And I believe he did understand Marx and Engels better than anybody before or since, and did in fact follow their teachings with intelligence and innovation.

But you can’t “have it both ways.” If Stalin et al., faithfully followed Lenin, and Lenin et al. (for Lenin wasn’t alone either) did likewise with Marx and Engels, then it follows that there are some fundamental problems — flaws, if you will — in this whole line of thought. Because it ended up right back with capitalism!

To put it another way: If WE, or the communists of the future, strive to do what Stalin, Lenin, Marx and Engels advocated, then AT BEST we are going to end up right back with capitalism.

But we will not have their excuse. They were the first, the pioneers. Pioneers always make mistakes. In fact, it is inevitable — mistakes are a necessary part of any process.

But making the same mistake again is NOT a necessary part of the process. To make the same mistake again is to squander the lessons of both success and of failure that the predecessors in the communist movement have to teach us.

We have to learn from their mistakes, as well as their successes. Then we, at best, will make NEW mistakes, creative mistakes, mistakes “on a higher level” (in a Hegelian or dialectical sense). Along with new successes.

But, if we pretend that “Marx and Engels had all the answers”, or “Lenin had all the answers” (many Maoists literally believe that “Mao had all the answers”; many Trotskyists, of course, believe that “Trotsky had all the answers”) — if we believe that, then we are guaranteed, AT BEST, to fall far short of what they achieved.

Marx said something about “first as tragedy, then as farce.” The tragedy of the international communist movement of the 20th century was that, ultimately, it failed.

Unless we figure out where they went wrong — ALL of these figures — then we are doomed to be the “farce.” And that would be a crime — OUR crime.

So we have to look with a critical eye at ALL of our legacy.

Marx’s favorite saying was: “De omnibus dubitandum” — “Question everthing.” Marx would be the last person in the world to exclude himself from this questioning.

I hope these remarks are helpful. They are intended in a friendly spirit, Roger. Please take them as such!

I urge readers to study Keeran’s review, then to study this response of mine. Then obtain a copy of my book – from your local library, if they have it (and if they don’t, have them buy a copy) –and study it. Decide for yourselves.

Endnotes

[1] All boldface in quotations has been added.

[2] “Not credible” is not a legitimate category of analysis anyway. What one person finds “credible” another will not. Materialists deal with evidence and its examination, not with subjective issues like “credibility”.

[3] Stalin was not a “dictator” like, for example, Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco were. Stalin sought advice and consensus. Historian Stephen Wheatcroft has called his style of leadership during the 1930s “team Stalin.” Getty and Naumov show that in February 1937 Stalin suggested a far lesser degree of punishment for Bukharin and Rykov than any of the other members of the Plenum Commission that considered it – but was overruled. (411-416)

Dmitrii Shepilov, an author that for some reason Keeran likes to cite, noted this too:

— Shepilov has told me that it is hard to lead Pravda. Of course it’s hard. I thought, maybe we could appoint two editors?

Here everybody began to protest.

— No, there’ll be a conflict of powers (dvoevlastie). … It’ll create disorder. … There’ll be nobody to consult with…

— Well, I see that the people do not support me. OK, where the people go – there also go I.

(Shepilov, Neprimknuvshii. Moscow: Vagrius, 2001, p. 237)

[4] I have now completed just such an evidence-based study of the Kirov murder. It is under contract to be published in Russia, in Russian translation, during 2012. In that study I do indeed prove that Kirov’s assassin, Leonid Nikolaev, was indeed the gunman for a clandestine opposition conspiracy. My study took a year to research and write and will be well over 400 pages in length.

[5] Keeran is obviously unfamiliar with the “scholars” he claims I should have “refuted or at least disputed.” Neither Pavel Sudoplatov nor Alla Krilina are historians with “strong credentials”, as Keeran claims. Sudoplatov was a former NKVD / MGB agent imprisoned under Khrushchev for 15 years, evidently for failing to fabricate lies against Beria. Kirilina was the longtime head of the Kirov museum in Leningrad / St. Petersburg.

Keeran mentions at least four other Cold War, anticommunist historians in this review. Every one of them is an anticommunist falsifier! I sent Keeran some evidence about two of them. Yet he still included their names in the final version of his review. Go figure!

[6] For one of many citations of these numbers see Getty and Naumov, The Road to Terror (Yale 1998) 528.
An official source for the document, in Russian, may be consulted here:
http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/1009312

[7] Those who are curious about what the evidence now available shows about the mass executions of the Ezhovshchina of roughly August 1937 to September 1938 should see paragraphs of my essay “Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform: Part One”, published April 2005 in Cultural Logic, from about par. 86 – end: http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/furr.html For a great deal of primary documentation on the Ezhovshchina, see my essay “The Moscow Trials and the “Great Terror” of 1937-1938: What the Evidence Shows” and the many primary sources linked at the bottom of this page:
http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/trials_ezhovshchina_update0710.html

December 7, 2011

Source

Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard

by Douglas Tottle

Published 1987 in Canada

Unlike the rest of the books in this on-line library, I do not physically possess this book. I am including it here, however, because of its importance and its rarity. This book is currently out of print and extremely rare. A worldwide library search reveals that this book is only present in 28 libraries, only one of them a public library, the rest being academic libraries. Of the 28 library locations possessing the book 14 are in America.

This book documents how and why fraudulent stories about the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s made the presses worldwide and have become accepted as fact by almost everyone, despite the fact that they are provably false. The stories of millions of deaths caused by famine in Ukraine in 1933 and 1934, supposedly caused by the effects of the Soviet system, were fabricated by Nazi propagandists in their propaganda campaigns against Bolshevism. The spread of these stories to America took route through the presses of William Randolph Hearst, who has also since been proven, as I have documented on this website, to have been working in collaboration with the Nazis and publishing Nazi propaganda in mainstream American publications throughout the later half of the 1930s and into the 1940s.

These fabrications, which are well documented in this book, have become almost completely accepted as facts by Americans, and these fabrications have been repeatedly used, and are still used, by politicians despite the fact that they are provably false and were provably produced by a Nazi conspirator. The fact that William Randolph Hearst was conspiring with the Nazis during the 1930s is proven outside of this book, and is a part of official American government record, yet his fabricated publications about the Ukrainian famine are still referenced as fact today.

This book does not claim that no famine took place in Ukraine, or that there were not hardships related to the collectivization programs of the Soviets. The book is an examination of the stories published about the famine that did take place, and how those stories became politicized.

A pdf copy of this book is linked below.

PDF of “Fraud, Famine and Fascism: the Ukranian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard” via Rational Revolution

Book Review: “Social Democracy: the Enemy Within” by Harpal Brar

BOOK REVIEW
‘SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, THE ENEMY WITHIN’

Harpal Brar 1995; ISBN 1-874613-04-4

INTRODUCTION

This book is a valuable contribution to the critique of social democracy and its counter-revolutionary role. The first half of the text is concerned with an examination of the origins of the Labour Party (the main party of social democracy in this country) and its record both in government and opposition. Time and again the views of the Labour Party are shown to have coincided with those of the British ruling class on every important issue affecting British imperial policy at home and abroad.

The stance of various revisionist and Trotskyite organisations which, one way or another, take a pro-Labour standpoint are examined in detail. In So doing, Harpal Brar directs effective and withering fire upon those who, whilst styling themselves as ‘revolutionaries’, insist on misrepresenting the Labour Party not only as a party which objectively serves the interests of the British working class, but also as being capable of bringing about the socialist transformation of society.

The author amply demonstrates the truth that the Labour Party is in reality both an imperialist party, and a ‘bourgeois labour party’, as characterised by Friedrich Engels, to whom this work is dedicated on the 100th anniversary of his death.

The second half of the book is comprised of articles from ‘Lalkar’, the paper of the Indian Workers’ Association, which comment upon the coal strike of 1984-5, various other economic struggles over the past fifteen years, and the relationship between social democracy and imperialist war. These illuminate the reactionary role played by the Labour Party in recent battles fought by the working class.

THE LABOUR PARTY SERVES THE INTERESTS OF MONOPOLY CAPITAL

Founded to give the working class a ‘voice’ in Parliament, the Labour Party has never been a true party of the working class, for such a party has to be revolutionary socialist in ideology. Anti-Marxist from its inception, the Labour Party preached the reformist theory that the state was a neutral apparatus which the working class could control in its own interests by obtaining a majority in Parliament. This denial of Marxian teaching on the nature of the state as an instrument of class rule also lies at the heart of those revisionist and Trotskyite organisations which offer support to the Labour Party – for example through such electoral slogans as”…. kick out the Tories and elect a labour government committed to Left policies”.

The Fabian ideology of Labour governments has always led them to operate along lines calculated to make capitalism work profitably during the (infinitely long) period of gradual, piecemeal, social reform. This illusory promise of reform has gained credence through real gains made by the working class. These have been due primarily to the rise in the value of labour power and the fact that the adjustment of wage levels to approach the higher level of the value of labour power have, by and large, been carried out through the reformist negotiating machinery.

The material basis for these gains over the past hundred and forty years have been (indirectly) the exploitation of the working people of the colonial-type countries by the British capitalist class. From the mid-nineteenth century some of the vast super-profits flowing in from colonial-type lands were used to pay an upper stratum of skilled craftsmen above the value of their labour power. This produced unions which rejected class struggle and socialist aims and confined their activities to bargaining on questions of wages, hours etc. However, despite the rise in real wages of the British working class over this period, the rate of exploitation of the workers has significantly increased. Had it not been for the ‘unofficial’ militant class struggle outside the reformist negotiating machinery, the rate of exploitation would have increased still more.

It should be emphasised that at no time has the mass of the British working class shared directly in colonial super profits. ‘Bribery’ of this kind has never affected more than a small upper stratum of the working class, and today this ‘labour aristocracy’ consists principally of the bureaucracy of the labour movement,

Despite the fact that its members are drawn mainly from the working class, and trade unions are affiliated to it, Harpal Brar clearly demonstrates that the Labour Party objectively serves the interests of monopoly capital. The abolition of ‘Clause 4’, the self-description of the party no longer as ‘left of centre’ but as ‘centre’, and the repudiation of all ‘make the rich pay’ programmatic points clearly show that the party’s appeal is directed now to all sections of the people who want a change in government, particularly to sections of the capitalist class who have suffered from the Tory policy of serving financial branches of finance capital, and not the industrial branches. It provides at present the principal reserve party of monopoly capital, which can safely be permitted to form a government at times when the Conservative Party has lost its electoral support.

TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE?

There remains the question of what a worker with a socialist consciousness should do when it comes to bourgeois elections, and here we differ from Harpal Brar, who is opposed to participation in elections.

We believe this position to be both mistaken and dangerous. Despite its limitations, “parliamentary democracy” provides a more favourable terrain for preparing socialist revolution than would exist under a fascist dictatorship, or even a corporate state. It is therefore essential for the working class to defend the democratic rights associated with “parliamentary democracy” against attempts to abolish them.

The right to vote, limited though it is, is one of the democratic rights associated with “parliamentary democracy”. To advise workers not to use this democratic vote is to imply it is of no value, and so to play into the hands of the fascist elements who seek – as part of the ideological preparation for the attempt, when objective conditions require it, to abolish “parliamentary democracy” – to inculcate the view that democratic rights are worthless. Advice to workers not to vote is harmful and reactionary.

WHICH PARTY OF THE CLASS ENEMY MOST ADVANCES THE SITUATION OF THE WORKING CLASS?

Where there is a division over policy between different sections of the monopoly capitalist ruling class, a political Party serving the interests of monopoly capital tends to become the vehicle of one or other of these antagonistic sections to put forward a policy which serves the interests of that section.

In 1970, for example, a minority of British monopoly capitalists had become convinced that their economic future lay in breaking the dependence upon United States imperialism, which had been the dominant feature of the international position of British imperialism since the second world war, and in joining the alliance of Western European powers which had been set up in the form of the European Economic Community. One of the reasons for the “dismissal” of the Labour government in 1970 was that it was tied to what had become a minority section of British monopoly capital which wished to continue the “special relationship” of dependence upon US imperialism.

These differences in foreign policy were overshadowed in 1974 by a more urgent difference in domestic policy brought to a head by the refusal of the miners to surrender to the government’s wage restraints. A majority of monopoly capitalists, now represented by the Labour Party, wanted to move away from the existing system of rigid wage restrictions and towards the building of a corporate state in which trade unions would be incorporated within the machinery of the capitalist state.

Even though the working class was not directly represented in the 1974 general election it was still able to achieve a tactical advantage by influencing the result. When the Heath government resigned, the unity of the miners in rejecting wage restraint, together with the refusal of the rest of The working class to blame the miners for hardship caused by the three-day working week brought about a split in the monopoly capitalist ruling class on this issue and forced a majority of the monopoly capitalists to organise a “dismissal” of that government. The new Labour government then instructed the National Coal Board to reach a settlement with the miners which proved a considerable advance upon what the Heath government had been prepared to allow.

To argue that policy differences amongst the monopoly capitalist class not only exist but have concrete implications for the working class is to accept that it cannot be a matter of complete indifference to the working class which party is elected to government. This is so even if there are only minor disagreements such as that relating to Value Added Tax on fuel regarding which the Tory Party was in favour and the Labour Party opposed.

The increase in cost of fuel would certainly preclude a proportion of elderly people from being able to heat their homes adequately and would undoubtedly, in turn, add to the already huge number of deaths related to hypothermia in winter months, If this became an election issue, a ‘don’t vote’ stance would ignore an issue of literally life and death significance to some sections of the working class. There may only be a shade of difference between the Labour and Conservative Parties, but that ‘shade of difference’ could represent the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of people.

All genuine socialists must advise workers to use their democratic right to vote in an election in such a way as to create the best conditions of the advance of the working class to positions of class struggle and ultimately of revolutionary struggle, which alone can bring about the establishment of a socialist society.

Since the government at the next election will be either Conservative or Labour, both of which parties represent the interests of monopoly capital, both of which represent the interests of the class enemy of the working class, correct tactics require an analysis of whether the situation of the working class would be more advanced by the election of a Labour government or by the election of a Conservative government.

Should, as for example in 1974, the advice be to vote Labour, it must be associated with the categorical statement that the Labour Party is the political tool of big business and can never be anything else. This fact is amply documented in ‘Social Democracy: The Enemy Within’, and we warmly recommend the book to all those who wish to see the social emancipation of the working class.

PCOT: “Another View of Stalin”

The PCOT in Tunisia review Ludo Martens’ legendary tome.

 — Espresso Stalinist

57th anniversary of the death of Stalin (March 5, 1953) you read in this issue of “Forward” book “Another View of Stalin” by Ludo Martens and the translation of “good return”. This book deals with Stalin’s personality from a different angle, trying to study this character that provoked a sensation and is still exposed to the fierce attacks of the bourgeoisie and revisionism, the greater the intensity after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Stalin enrolled since the age of five years of age in the episodes of Marxism confidentiality. He led several strikes and union meetings. And subjected to arrest and exile to Siberia on 5 occasions between 1902 and 1917, but he was able to escape each time.

Stalin qualified thanks to his toughness and firmness to fill several positions, including as a member of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party in 1912. And has held the post of political commissar of the Russian army in the Russian Civil War. In 1922, he served as Secretary General of the Communist Party.

Continue reading

Book Review: “Stalin’s Letters to Molotov: 1925-1936”

‘STALIN’S LETTERS TO MOLOTOV : 1925 – 1936’

(Edited by Lars T. Lih, Oleg V. Naumov & Oleg V. Khlevniuk)

(Published by Yale University Press, New Haven (USA), 1995)

Introduction

In December 1969, Stalin’s comrade-in-arms Vyacheslav Molotov turned over to the Central Party Archive at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism seventy-nine letters written to him by Stalin between 1925 and 1936. The documents are now located in the ‘Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History in: fond 558, opis 1, delo 5388.

The Russian editors point out the

“… fragmentary nature”

(Russian Editors: Preface: Lars T. Lih, Oleg V. Naumov & Oleg V. Khlevniuk (Eds.): ‘Stalin’s Letters to Molotov: 1925-1936’; New Haven (USA); 1995; p. xiv).

of the correspondence, noting that

“… the period from 1931 through 1936 is represented by only a few documents. Letters from other years (notably 1928) are missing altogether. It is not known whether Molotov turned over all the documents in his possession or only a portion of them”.

(Russian Editors: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.); ibid.; p. xiv).

Nevertheless,

“… the letters preserved contain unparalleled information”,

(Russian Editors: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. xiv).

particularly since they were not written with publication in view.

Lenin’s Testament

Perhaps the most interesting section of the book covers the so-called ‘Lenin’s Testament – a letter dictated by Lenin at the end of December 1922. during his last illness.

“In accordance with his (Lenin’s — Ed.) wishes, the letter was read out to the delegates of the 13th Party congress, held from May 23 to 31, 1924. The Congress unanimously decided that the letter should not be published … since it was addressed to the Congress and not intended for publication”.

(Note to: Vladimir I. Lenin: Last Letters and Articles; Moscow; 1971; p. 63).

In 1925 the American Trotskyist Max Eastman published ‘Since Lenin died’, which contained what were alleged to be extracts from the document concerned. However, in his Introduction, editor Lars Lih admits that Eastman’s book seriously distorted, for political motives, the content of the document:

“Previous Western interpretations have all accepted that Eastman’s book ‘correctly reproduced long extracts’ of the Testament. On reading ‘Since Lenin died’, I was surprised to find this was far from true. Not only does Eastman give a highly distorted rendition of the Testament, but the distortions all clearly serve an explicit political purpose…

‘Since Lenin died’ is an inaccurate, highly politicised account that contrasts Trotsky, with his ‘saintly’ devotion to the revolution, to all the other leaders of the party, who are nothing more than unscrupulous usurpers”

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 20-21).

Eastman claimed that his book was based on

“… his ‘chats’ with Comrade Trotsky about Lenin’s so-called testament and about the ‘main figures in the Central Committee'”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Political Bureau and the Presidium of the Central Control Commission, Russian Communist Party (17 June 1925), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.: p. 71).

Consequently, on 17 June 1925, Stalin wrote to members of the Political Bureau and the Presidium of the Central Control Commission of the RCP saying that he was convinced that the purpose of Max Eastman’s book was

“… to discredit the government of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, and that for these purposes Eastman indulges in a whole range of slanders and distortions.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Eastman’s book is libellous, that it will prove enormously profitable to the world counter-revolution (and has already done so!”), and that it will cause serious damage to the entire world revolutionary movement.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to PB and CCC (17 June 1925), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 73, 74).

Stalin proposed that, since

“… the silence of Com. Trotsky in this case may be construed only as a confirmation or an excuse for these distortions”,

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to PB and CCC (17 June 1925), in: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p.74).

Trotsky should be asked at least to refute certain statements in the book –among these the allegations that,

“… Trotsky’s true texts do not appear in public”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to PB and CCC (17 June 1925), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.) : ibid.; p.75).

and that the Party leaders had

“clapped the censorship on his’ (that is, Lenin’s -Stalin) ‘own last words to his Party”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to PB and CCC (17 June 1925), in: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 75).

Accordingly, Stalin proposed that the Politburo should

PROPOSE TO COM. TROTSKY THAT HE DISASSOCIATE HIMSELF DECISIVELY FROM EASTMAN AND MAKE A STATEMENT FOR THE PRESS WITH A CATEGORICAL REBUTTAL OF AT LEAST THOSE DISTORTIONS THAT WERE OUTLINED ABOVE”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to PB and CCC (17 June 1925). in: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 81).

On the following day, 18 June 1925,

“… the Politburo affirmed Stalin’s proposal”, (Note to: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 82).

and

“… Trotsky himself promised that he would within three days submit the text of his statement”.

(Note to: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 82).

Later in June 1925, Trotsky sent to Stalin the draft of his statement, to which Stalin responded:

“If you are interested in my opinion, I personally consider the draft completely unsatisfactory”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Note to Lev Trotsky (June 1925), in: Note to: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 82).

Trotsky appealed to the Politburo, but

“…after meeting the usual rebuff, … he began to revise the text of his statement for the press… The final text of his statement was ready by 1 July 1925”.

(Note to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 82).

Trotsky’s statement read, in part, as follows:

“Eastman proceeds to conclusions that are completely and utterly directed against our Party and capable, if taken on faith, of discrediting the Party and Soviet power…

Eastman says that the Central Committee ‘hid’ from the Party a number of highly important documents that Lenin wrote in the last period of his life (letters on the national question, the so-called testament, and so forth): this cannot be termed anything other than a slander of the Central Committee of our Party. These letters give advice on matters of internal Party organisation, yet from Eastman’s words the conclusion could be drawn that Vladimir Ilyich meant them to be printed. In fact, this is completely untrue… It goes without saying that all these letters and proposals came to the attention of the addressees and to the knowledge of the delegates of the 13th Party Congress; … If they were not published, that is because their author did not intend for them to be published. Vladimir Ilyich did not leave any ‘testament’, and the character of his relation to the Party, not to mention the character of the Party itself, excludes the possibility of such a ‘testament’…

Eastman’s assertions that the Central Committee … held up my pamphlets in 1923 or 1924 or at any other time are false…

My relationship to Eastman differs in no way from my relationship to very many Communists or ‘sympathetic foreigners’ … – certainly no closer.

His book can be of service only to the most malicious enemies of communism and the revolution, and it is therefore, objectively speaking, a tool of counter-revolution”.

(Lev Trotsky: Statement published in ‘Bolshevik’, No. 16. 1925. in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 244, 245, 246, 247, 248).

It must be noted that Trotsky does not, as has been alleged, deny the existence of the document known as ‘Lenin’s Testament’:

“Trotsky’s point is that it is inappropriate to call Lenin’s letter a ‘testament’, in other words, a literal statement of last wishes that the party was beholden to carry out”.

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 22).

Manuilsky

On 16 July 1925, ‘L’Humanité’ (Humanity), the organ of the French Communist Party,

“… published the original version of Trotsky’s statement”

(note to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 83).

and on 27 July the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party passed the following resolution:

“a) To request ‘L’Humanité’ to publish a notice that the text of Com. Trotsky’s letter regarding Eastman’s book that appeared in ‘L’Humanité’ is incomplete and distorted.

b) To request ‘L’Humanité’ to publish the full (final) text of Com. Trotsky’s letter about Eastman’s book”.

(Note to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 83).

It became known that the original version of Trotsky’s statement had been deliberately leaked to ‘L’Humanité’ by the concealed revisionist Dmitri Manuilsky:

“Soon it became clear that the original version of Trotsky’s article had been given to ‘L’Humanité’ by D. Z. Manuilsky, a member of the Comintern’s Executive Committee presidium, during his trip to France”. (Note to; Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 83).

On 1 August 1925 Stalin wrote to Molotov:

“I was told that Manulisky sent ‘L’Humanité’ the first draft of Trotsky1s article for publication, not accidentally but on purpose. If that’s true, it’s an outrage. If it’s true, then we are dealing, not with a ‘mistake’, as you wrote me, but with the policy of a few people who for some reason, are not interested in publishing Trotsky’s article in its final edited version, This is unquestionably the case. The matter cannot be left as it is. I propose … condemning Manuilsky’s intolerable action”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (1 August 1925). in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 90).

On Manuilsky’s ‘excuse’ for his action, Stalin is characteristically blunt:

“The letter from Manuilsky is cowardly and conniving.

I stand entirely by my declaration on the swindling and dirty tricks, despite the dissatisfaction of some comrades”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (18 August 1925), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 94).

Dimitrov

The book contains only one reference to Manuilsky’s close collaborator, the concealed revisionist Georgi Dimitrov.

According to the researches of Dobrin Mitchev, of the Institute of History of the Communist Party of Bulgaria:

“On 10 March (1934 – Ed.) … Georgi Dimitrov wrote to Stalin. In his letter he explained that during the year he had spent in prison he had thought a great deal about the problems of the world workers’ movement. He had been concerned above all, he specified, with questions about the strategy and tactics, the methods, the action and the functioning of the Communist International.

“The discussion took place a little later, in the presence of Manuilsky and others.

In the course of the interview, Georgi Dimitrov explained, developed his ideas, which were contrary to those of Stalin. The discussion was ardent, difficult, impassioned”.

(Dobrin Mitchev, in: Jean Méroy: ‘Dimitrov: Un revolutionnaire de notre temps (Dimitrov: A Revolutionary of Our Time); Paris; 1972; p. 184-85).

On the 7th Congress of the Communist International, which took place in August 1935, Stalin comments unenthusiastically:

“The Comintern Congress wasn’t so bad”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (5 August 1935), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 237).

— meaning, apparently, that it was not so bad as might have been expected!

Litvinov

In his correspondence with Molotov, Stalin notes that the Soviet diplomat Maksim Litvinov, a concealed revisionist, did not see things in a revolutionary way:

“Litvinov does not see and is not interested in the revolutionary aspect of policy”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (29 August 1929), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 174).

and that he had irrational confidence in such people as the British social-democrat Edward Wise:

“Litvinov . . . believes Wise and other bastards more than the logic of things”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (9 September 1929), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 177-78).

In another letter, Stalin goes so far as to speak of Litvinov — along with Nikolai Bukharin and Aleksey Rykov, later convicted of treason — as unable to see the strength of the Soviet Union:

“Rykov, along with Bukharin and Litvinov, … don’t see the growth of the power and might of the USSR”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (7 October 1929). in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 182).

Krupskaya

On 14 December 1925, at the 14th Party Congress, Lenin’s revisionist widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya, said:

“We cannot reassure ourselves with the idea that the majority is always right. … Let us recall, for example, the Stockholm Congress (of 1906– Ed.)”.

(Nadezhda Krupskaya: Speech at 14th Party Congress (20 December 1925), in: Note to Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 117).

On which Stalin commented:

“Krupskaya is a splitter (see her speech about ‘Stockholm’ at the 14th Congress). She has to be beaten, as a splitter, if we want to preserve the unity of the Party”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (16 September 1926), in; Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 127).

Ordzhonikidze

In August 1933, a number of officials responsible for the production of agricultural machinery were tried before the USSR Supreme Court for sabotage — for having supplied combines without the full complement of parts. On 22 August USSR Deputy Prosecutor Andrei Vishinsky delivered a speech in which he criticised the departments of state concerned for

“… the immense failure of the work methods of some of the most important government institutions. I mean the Commissariat of Agriculture in the first place as represented by its agricultural supply agency… I mean the Commissariat of Heavy Industry as represented by its agricultural machine association”.

(Note to: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 233).

Vyshinsky’s statement angered Grigory (Sergo) Ordzhonikidze and Yakov Yakovlev, People’s Commissars of Heavy Industry and Agriculture respectively, and

“… in Stalin’s absence, they managed to persuade the Politburo to issue a resolution criticising Vyshinsky for his allegations: ‘To point out to Com. Vyshinsky that he should not have formulated his views in a way . . . that allows incorrect accusations to be made against Heavy Industry and Agriculture'”

(Note to: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 233-34).

On which Stalin commented:

“I consider Sergo’s actions with respect to Vyshinsky the behaviour of a hooligan. … By his act of protest Sergo clearly wished to disrupt the campaign of the Council of People’s Commissars and Central Committee to provide proper equipment”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (1 September 1933), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 233).

“The behaviour of Sergo (and Yakovlev) … can only be characterised as anti-Party’, since their objective is to defend reactionary Party elements against the Central Committee”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (12 September 1933),. in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 234).

Wrecking

The letters refute the myth that Stalin believed that persons charged with sabotage were innocent, as the American editor Lars Lih admits:

“The letters indicate that … Stalin genuinely believed that the wreckers were guilty as charged”.

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.); ibid.; p. 48).

and insisted on full publication of the testimonies of the accused and the secret service:

“We must immediately publish all the testimonies of all the wreckers of the supplies of meat, fish, tinned goods and vegetables. … Why the ‘secrets’? We should publish them.

It would also be good to publish the testimonies of the ‘Intelligence Service’ agents . . . about the subversive activity of the Vickers employees, who have bombed, set fire to and damaged our factories and buildings. . . . Why is this rich material being kept secret?’. (Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (13 September 1930), in:

Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 213).

and proposed the same course be adopted in the case of the testimony of Professor Leonid Ramzin, the principal defendant in the ‘Industrial Party’ trial of 1930, if his testimony was corroborated:

“If Ramzin’s testimonies are confirmed and corroborated … that will be a serious victory for the OGPU, since we’ll make the material available in some form to Comintern sections and the workers of the world.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Menzhinsky (undated), in: Lars T. Lih et al.: ibid.; p. 196).

Checking Up

The letters throw interesting light on Stalin’s methods of work –particularly on the importance he attached to the selection of cadres and the checking-up on the fulfilment of decisions:

“The slogans ‘checking up on fulfilment’ and ‘selection of officials’ are ubiquitous”,

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction, Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.); ibid.; p. 14).

and we find him writing to Molotov congratulating him on his practice of checking-up on fulfilment:

“You’ve achieved a sample of Leninist checking up on fulfilment. If it is required, let me congratulate you on your success”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (10 October 1930), In: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 221),

“The Politburo has adopted my proposals concerning grain procurement. This is good, but in my opinion it is inadequate. Now the problem is fulfilling the Politburo’s decision. … Therefore it is necessary to demand the following from procurement organisations, the OGPU, the Collective Farm Centre, and so forth:

a) copies of their instructions to subordinate organs concerning the fulfilment of the Politburo’s decision; b) regular reports every two weeks (even better, once a week) about the results of the fulfilment of the decisions”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (21 August 1929). in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.); ibid.; p. 168).

Stalin and the World Revolutionary Movement

Finally, the letters clearly reveal that in upholding the principle that socialism could be built in one country, Stalin in no way ‘abandoned the cause of world revolution’, as Trotsky alleges;

‘”Stalin was not hypocritical in his support for world revolution, since from his point of view no sacrifice of state interests was involved.

Stalin comes out of the letters with his revolutionary credentials in good order…

As first servant of the Soviet state, he was also first servant of the world revolution…

The letters refute the Trotsky-derived interpretation of ‘socialism in one country’ as an isolationist rejection of revolution elsewhere…

The letters show that Stalin did not see revolutionary interests and state interests in either-or terms”.

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.); ibid.: pp.28, 36, 62).

For example, the letters reveal his great personal interest in the class struggle of the British workers:

“Stalin’s remarks indicate that he was very involved in the British situation”.

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 30).

Thus, when the British miners’ strike began on 1 May 1926, Stalin insisted that every possible assistance be rendered to them:

“We must publish the complete text of the resolution of our workers… in support of the British strikers in general and the coal-miners in particular in all the most important languages of the West as quickly as possible. … This is a fighting matter and should not be allowed to fall by the wayside”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (26 May 1926), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 104).

“The delegation of British coal miners should be arriving any day… They should be met ‘by all the rules of the game’ and as much money as possible should be collected for them. I’ve heard that the Americans have promised 1 million dollars. We have to collect and send possibly 1 million or 2 million roubles (less than the Americans is impossible) or perhaps a whole 3 million, The situation in England is serious, and it obliges us to make serious sacrifices'”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (2? August 1926). in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 119).

The letters also demonstrate his keen interest in, and support for, the Chinese Revolution:

“Stalin sees the success of the Chinese Communist Party as a matter of both state and revolutionary interest”,

(Lars T. Lih: Introduction, Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p.33).

and show that, despite Opposition criticism, Stalin was convinced that the Comintern’s policy with regard to China had been correct:

“Never have I been so deeply and firmly convinced of the correctness of our policy . . . in China . . as I am now”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (11 July 1927), in: Lars T. Lih et al (Eds.): ibid.; p. 143).

and he

“… insisted that the blame for the failure of Comintern strategy lay with the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party”, (Lars T. Lih: Introduction to: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): op. cit.; p.32).

which he characterised as ‘not a genuine Communist Party’:

“… unfortunately we don’t have a real or, if you like, an actual Communist Party in China. . . . What is the current Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Nothing but an ‘amalgamation’ of general phrases gathered here and there, not linked to one another with any line or guiding idea. I don’t want to be very demanding toward the Central Committee of the CCP. I know that one can’t be too demanding toward it. But here is a simple demand: fulfil the directives of the Comintern. Has it fulfilled these directives? No.

There is not a single Marxist mind in the Central Committee capable of understanding . . . the social underpinning of the events now occurring. … The CCP sometimes babbles about the hegemony of the proletariat.

But … the CCP does not have a clue (literally, not a clue) about hegemony.

That’s the reason why the Comintern’s directives are not fulfilled.

That is why I now believe the question of the Party is the main question of the Chinese revolution”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov C9 Jul1 1927), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; pp.140-41).

In 1929, Stalin even favoured military intervention in Manchuria in support of the Chinese Revolution:

“I think that it’s time to think about organising an uprising by a revolutionary movement in Manchuria. … We need to organise two double-regiment brigades, chiefly made up of Chinese, outfit them with everything necessary (artillery, machine-guns, and so on), put Chinese at the head of the brigade, and send them into Manchuria with the following assignment: to stir up a rebellion among the Manchurian troops, … to occupy Harbin and, after gathering force, to declare Chang Hsueh-liang overthrown, establish a revolutionary government. …This we can, and I think should, do. No ‘international law’ contradicts this task”.

(Josef V, Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (7 October 1929), in: Lars T. Lih et al. (Eds.): ibid.; p. 182).

Review of Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero is a novel, or perhaps a very short semi-autobiography, about rich young Americans in college, in Los Angeles. In a word, it’s a much less innocent Catcher In the Rye.

Reading this 22,000-word novel (barely longer than a short story) is as easy and as inexplicable as the feeling of gazing out a sunny window for a long period of time.

As the reader may or not may not know, your author is a near life-long fan of Mr. Ellis’s work, even though I am quick to label it reactionary. As I’ve mentioned before in my essay on postmodernism, his documentary-like style does an excellent job of examining the emptiness of life under bourgeois capitalism while at the same time doing all it can to romanticize the basis of it.

Ellis sneers at the age’s excesses while at the same time flaunting its greatest achievements. The good news is, that is barely pronounced here at all, and not nearly to the extent it would be in his second book, The Rules of Attraction.

Most of the focus is on the main character Clay, who narrates the story alone, but Ellis has masterfully made it feel as though it is third-person rather than first. This is because Clay is a passive narrator; he makes no harsh judgments. He does not limit our vision to his own. Clay has no investment in the world around him —- he merely watches and observes, opportunistically waiting for a chance for personal gain.

He is as confused and as hesitant as a youth with no identity to go with his lines of cocaine would be. In effect, this means there is never any overbearing “voice” or narrator in the story to impose a definite moral compass. Hence the reader will join Clay in his amoral, directionless carnality and in his careful disconnection.

There is much that is remarkable about Less Than Zero, for example the fact that it has virtually no plot (which is very much a good thing, there are far too few stories without plots these days; it only makes it more life-like), but more than anything what stands out is something Ellis is known for —- his descriptions of sexual encounters.

These are far less frequent here than say, in his magnum opus novel American Psycho, but they are his typical fare in that they have no pornographic appeal (quite the opposite), and are narrated with an emotionless, callous tedium and arrogant boredom which is fairly common in modern fiction, but never done quite this well. In fact, these sex scenes are only concentrated versions of the attitude of which the rest of the novel is made.

A book like this, which deals with the deepening disconnections between people under the alienation of capitalism by brutally insisting on the facts, is common, but Ellis has a voice of his own that is refreshing and pure.

Two of the consequences of the breakdown of religious belief under today’s imperialism (polls today show today that less people are religious than ever before) are

1) an increase in social awareness, and, paradoxically,

2) an increase in the focus on individualism and the physical side of life.

For if there is no higher plane beyond the grave, then surely the sole purpose of life, the highest goal any being can dedicate himself to (or so the capitalist logic goes), is to expanding and enhancing himself, to improving oneself by amorally experiencing every sensation in this world.

Taken as a whole, Ellis’s books are moralistic vilifications of human nature as selfish, bratty and excessively hedonistic, all the time not realizing that these are merely symptoms of a larger disease: the alienation felt by all, especially the youth he seems so disgusted with, under capitalism. As brilliantly honest and taboo-bashing as his stories are on the surface, and as hilariously dead-on his parodies of the so-called “American dream” may be, deep down his purposes are undeniably conservative.

Mr. Ellis would not answer to someone calling him a pessimist, though all his books are about angsty, egoistic and childish characters dealing with loneliness and drug addiction. What makes him unique is that he avoids the trap that his fellow postmodernist writers, such as the infamous Chuck Palahniuk, so often run into. Ellis refuses to say that by desensitizing oneself to the ugliness of the world, one will end up finding life more worth living, nor does he repeat the older-than-dirt cliché that “ugliness and violence can be beautiful in a way.”

No, Ellis is far too royalist for that. He has cultivated the image of the California Bohemian, the libertine, eccentric and educated “artist” who while stressing fulfillment, also stresses ethics. He sees no “better” possible relations for mankind, he sees only the avoidance of “excessive” excesses. In his mind’s eye, he sees himself as the post-beatnik, clean-cut rebel, while at the same time the lone guardian of a feudal code of honor, a pair of hands holding back the deluge of a thousand spoiled young Marquis De Sades.

To add a personal touch to this review, I read this marvelously short book that says so much in one day, in perhaps two sittings. There are no chapters to speak of, merely sections of perhaps a few paragraphs each, separated by spaces. It makes the work gently episodic but never choppy. There is nothing here as outwardly violent and raw as the sex-and-murder scenes from his later American Psycho – there is nothing here that seeks to “grab the reader by the throat” or make him experience challenging slices of animal emotion.

Less Than Zero flows so smoothly and so straightly that it can only be compared to a modern, R-rated Catcher In the Rye. Never have I read a book that so beautifully captures the lost, barren irreverence of youth while doing it in such a streetwise manner. There is never any attempt to impose an intensity or a purpose to the narrative; it merely exists. As such, it is intensely relaxing even as it is profound and fleeting.

Here, Ellis does something that so few authors can do gracefully: he relaxes his grip, and he lets the story flow.

TS Eliot rejected George Orwell’s Animal Farm because of its ‘Trotskyite’ politics

TS Eliot refused to publish Animal Farm by George Orwell because of its “Trotskyite” politics, it has been claimed.

By Stephen Adams

The poet, a former director of the publisher Faber & Faber, made his feelings clear in a rejection letter to Orwell in 1944.

Orwell succeeded in having Animal Farm, an allegory on Stalinist communism, published the following year by Secker & Warburg, after being turned down by four publishers.

But Eliot, author of The Waste Land, wrote that although he found Orwell’s writing “good” and praised its “fundamental integrity”, he thought that its argument was “not convincing”.

The letter has been released by Valerie Eliot, 82, the poet’s widow, for a BBC Two Arena documentary to be broadcast in the summer.

Animal Farm concerns a group of talking pigs who take over a farm, purportedly for the benefit of all its inhabitants, but end up running it for their own selfish ends.

Its plot sees the pig Napoleon, based on Stalin, forcing out his rival Snowball, who genuinely works for the good of the farm. Many commentators have concluded that Snowball was based on Stalin’s rival Leon Trotsky, who was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927.

In his dismissive letter, Eliot wrote that Orwell’s view “which I take to be generally Trotsykite, is not convincing”.

He argued: “We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time.”

He went on: “After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore are the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”

Eliot’s rejection might have been prompted by the political situation at the time, when Russia was regarded as an essential ally to defeat Hitler.

Animal Farm was only published in August 1945, three months after the war in Europe ended.

During the war Orwell’s usual publisher Gollancz wrote to him saying they would be “highly ill-advised” to publish because it could “apply only to Russia” rather than “dictators and dictatorships at large”.

Intriguingly, there was no preface in the first edition even though Orwell had proposed one titled The Freedom of the Press. In it, he attacked self-censorship during the war, writing: “Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.”

He wrote that Animal Farm had been rejected by four publishers, but stated only one had “any ideological motive” for doing so.

Source

Coleridge

Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” is a conversational poem that communicates the key concerns of Romantic period poetry while at the same time reinforcing idealized family relationships as a solution to the alienation of man from his own work in the capitalist social order. Continuing the general style of the other “Conversation” poems, it immerses the reader in a cold, dark-gray world of isolation which is then stirred by meditative thought and finally colored by emerging friendships and societal relations. In the beginning of “Frost at Midnight” as well as “Dejection: An Ode” and “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,” the narrator is alone after having been recently abandoned by family or friends and left to his own solitude. As in “Dejection,” where he exclaims: “Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind / Reality’s dark dream!” or in “This Lime-Tree,” where he says “Well, they are gone / and here must I remain,” in “Frosts at Midnight” he is portrayed as alone in a cabin by the fire (except for his infant son), lost inside his own mind.

Like his contemporary Wordsworth, Coleridge seems to have an eye for natural forces at work around him that are independent of his will, such as the “frost” performing its “secret ministry.” We see how the pains of alienation from his own work as a poet (not being able to control the production of his body of work) have brought Coleridge to see history and reality as completely outside of his control—as much out of his hands as the forces of nature itself. His separation from human connection compels him to wish that his newborn child, the “babe” beside him in the cradle, will live an ideal childhood in the countryside away from industrial capitalism. Remembering his own traumatic experiences trapped in a schoolhouse, Coleridge espouses a libertarian education method by which his son would learn from his environment according to his own creative urges. Coleridge, like Wordsworth, sees the country as a liberating force from the industrial city setting.

The contemplative mood is totalizing to the point of being suffocating: whereas “Dejection” at least expressed playfulness (if hidden nihilistic meaninglessness) in form, “Frost at Midnight” feels intense in its sheer calm, its words warded by blank verse formed in iambic parameter. More than this, its very structure and plot is intensely subjective, a living, breathing example of the creativity of the human imagination that Coleridge speaks of in the poem. As in the other works contained within “Fears in Solitude” however, it finds itself completely dependant on isolation and individual consciousness. Coleridge weaves his own world, generated by nothing more than his brainstorming unconscious and imagination.

Coleridge, like T.S. Eliot, was one of the leading purveyors of Romantic humanist subjectivity which sees the human subject as a free-floating social agent transcending the limitations of history. Emotions become absolute to Coleridge—he values human feelings over philosophical reason. His alienated struggles to overcome family rifts caused by his addiction are combined with poetic candor about the general functioning of the human imagination to wander to the future, present and past alike in a formless tapestry of thought.

The role of the individual in Coleridge is an attempt to resolve the crises of the subject during the industrial and monopoly phases of capitalism. This is not to say that the entirety of the poem amounts to nothing more than “bourgeois individualism,” but to show that the foundations of this psychology is designed to heal social conflicts but ends up perpetuating them. His emphasis on societal roles and evocation of domestic affections shows a split with the radical movement and a leaning towards more conservative beliefs. As such, Coleridge’s portrait of himself as a domestic family man may have been meant to answer criticisms of his so-called “radical” character by the press and the government.

There is no parody or mocking here: Coleridge is clearly endorsing bourgeois family values and must have been aware of the political meaning behind such terms. He ends up endorsing, of course, an institution that cannot be separated from its ideological values, or what is known as the “culture and society” tradition. Does the love of nature and the English landscape in the poem endorse nationalism, or perhaps some form of romantic humanism, the popular Romantic organicist philosophy of loving all of humanity? Such things are frustratingly ambiguous, though the lines “From east to west / A groan of accusation pierces heaven!” certainly seem to suggest that chaos is just outside the window. Here he is no longer predicting the destruction of England as a result of colonialism, slavery and imperialist war, but rather portraying himself as a humble family man, lover of peace and a believer in political liberty.

Most interestingly, there exists a “bell-curve” in “Frost at Midnight” in which the gloomy interaction between the speaker and his subjective reality begins troublingly, reaches a dramatic, climatic peak of emotion and eventually falls under the spell of the sheer wonder of the mysterious and unknowable world. Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” marks fading moments of radical thought which are afterwards called back to reality by want of a sense of order through socially acceptable norms. He offers an idealist criticism of his own society’s social relations oddly coupled with an individualist streak that defends the rights of capital, making himself instrumental for the creation of the new conservatism.

The end result of this, unlike in “Dejection: An Ode” where the speaker’s grim numbness strips him of his creative energies and leaves him in the dark of the night, is that a healing process is started where the traditional family unit attains a sense of normalcy despite the complex pressures of an industrialized society. What “Frost” shares with the other poems is the starting point of the poet’s self and the gripping feelings of loneliness. What differentiates it from “Dejection: An Ode” is that a solution is found, and what differentiates it from “Lime-Tree Bower” is that a solution to the contradiction is found outside the author’s own mind.

“Frost at Midnight,” like the other two poems, is essentially preoccupied with the contradictions and alienation rife within Coleridge’s position as a literary producer, and specifically contradictions inseparable from his relations with a cosmopolitan audience who rejected his more radical political work. In response, Coleridge has penned his most conservative work, a classic tragedy turned on its head. His mental assault against the world in all three poems is filled with distrust of the city, of bourgeois commercialism, of colonialism and of his fellow man. He is torn between the traditional family as a desirable organic unit, his repressed radical beliefs, his addictions and personal vices, the fear of industrial setting as well as his own Romantic-era nationalism. His loss of control over his own artistic capabilities is less a “natural” or “inspirational” crisis than an escapist method from European political turbulence.

Communist League Book Review: “Molotov Remembers”


COMPASS For Communist League (UK) No 108: October 1993

Book Review: MOLOTOV’S MEMOIRS

Albert Resis (Ed.): ‘MOLOTOV REMEMBERS: INSIDE KREMLIN POLITICS’; Chicago; 1993

Vyacheslav Molotov was Stalin’s closest comrade-in-arms, and held for many years very important positions in the Soviet Union. One might have hoped, therefore, that his memoirs would have contained valuable information on the way in which revisionists managed to wreck socialism in the USSR and clear the way for the restoration of capitalism.

The Assassination of Kirov

The book does, indeed, contain one or two interesting snippets of information hitherto unknown, or little known, outside the highest circles in the former Soviet Union. For example, he tells us:

“Krushchev hinted that Stalin had Kirov killed. A commission was set up in 1956.

Tile commission concluded that Stalin was not implicated in Kirov’s assassination. Khrushchev refused to have the findings published since they didn’t serve his purpose”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ‘Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics’; Chicago; 1993; p. 353).

Revelations — About the Memoirist

Sadly, however, for the roost part Molotov’s memoirs — like most memoirs — tell us more about Molotov’s own deficiencies than about the events he recalls.

No one could question Molotov’s dedication to socialism and the working class. He followed Stalin loyally during the latter’s lifetime, but it is clear that once Stalin’s guiding hand had been removed, his political acumen was not sufficiently acute to prevent the revisionists who surrounded him from using him as their tool in the critical years from Stalin’s death in 1953 to his own expulsion from the CPSU by the revisionists in 1957.

Molotov’s Tacit Endorsement of the Attack upon Stalin

Although he defends Stalin in many respects, Molotov admits that he kept silent during Khrushchev’s savant attack on Stalin at the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956:

“Some people holding pretty much the same view blame me. ‘Why did you keep silent at the 20th Congress? To keep silent, they say, is tantamount to consent. That’s how it turned out. I kept silent and thus consented”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 351).

He gives as his reason for remaining silent that the Party was ‘not ready’ for a Marxist-Leninist analysis of events and that if he and other Marxist-Leninists had spoken out against Khrushchev’s slanders at the congress, they would have been ‘expelled from the Party’:

“The Party was not ready for such an analysis. We would simply have been kicked out. No one would have supported us. No one”. (Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 350).

He tells us that:

“I still hoped that if we remained in the Party we would be able to correct the situation gradually”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 350).

But in fact Molotov was not completely silent during the attacks on Stalin at the 20th Congress. On the contrary, at one of the open sessions of the congress he had no hesitation in

‘condemning ‘the cult of the individual”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 10; p. 14,748).

which was a clear prelude to the named attack on Stalin which followed at the secret session.

However, long after it had become patently obvious to anyone with even a smattering of Marxist-Leninist understanding that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was dominated by open revisionists who were restoring an essentially capitalist social order in the country, Molotov tells us his main preoccupation in the years following his expulsion was not so much with fighting revisionism as with trying to persuade the revisionist leaders to reinstate him in the Party:

“I send letters to the Central Committee after each congress asking them to consider my application for reinstatement in the Party.

Four times I applied to be reinstated in the Party. I wrote to Brezhnev. I am going to send another application to the 24th Congress”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 284, 356).

Indeed, he goes so far as to agree that he deserved punishment for opposing the revisionists, and merely maintains that expulsion was excessively severe:

“I ought to have been punished, true, but expulsion from the Party . .?”
(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 356).

The Case of Israel

The general picture of the development of revisionism in the former Soviet Union is now known, but it would have been useful if Molotov had filled in, from his personal knowledge, details of some of the more controversial episodes in Soviet history — such as the support given by the Soviet regime to the partition of Palestine and the coup against Lavrenti Beria.

Unfortunately, he largely fails to do perform this task.

A paper read to the Stalin Society earlier this year presented the evidence for the view that it was revisionists in the leadership of the CPSU who, under the leadership of Andrey Gromyko, Soviet Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Deputy foreign Minister, succeeded in distorting Soviet foreign policy in favour of the partition of Palestine.

Molotov, who held the post of Soviet Foreign Minister at the time, gives a very garbled version of events. He appears to say that the American imperialists were ‘opposed’ to the formation of the state of Israel, while he and Stalin ‘supported’ it:

“Q: In the formation of the state of Israel, the Americans were opposed?

A: Everyone objected but us — me and Stalin”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 65).

But it is clearly nonsense to say that the US imperialists were opposed to the formation of the state of Israel:

“US support of the partition was critical in bringing about passage of the resolution (for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel — Ed.) by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly”. (‘Encyclopedia Americana’, Volume 15; Danbury (USA); 1992; p. 533).

However, Molotov goes on to explain that what he and Stalin supported was not, in fact, the formation of a racist Israeli state, but a state of Palestine in which Arabs and Jews shared power:

“We proposed, however, an Arab-Israeli (clearly he means ‘Arab-Jewish’ ` — Ed.) union, for both nations (clearly he means ‘nationalities’ — Ed.) to live together”.

(Albert Resis (}d.): cit.; p. 65).

In other words, Molotov appears to support the view expressed in the Stalin Society paper — that Stalin supported the formation of a Palestinian state in which Jews and Arabs shared power.

The Case of Beria

In a paper read to the Stalin Society entitled “The ‘Doctors’ Case’ and the Death of Stalin”, the evidence was presented for the view that, following the death of Stalin, leading revisionists, headed by Khrushchev, deceived honest members of the leadership into believing that Lavrenti Beria was an agent of imperialism and into participating in a military-style coup against him. The sole reason which Molotov gives for agreeing to participate in the coup was that Khrushchev told him that ‘apparently’ Beria was ‘up to something’!

Molotov’s story of these events is almost identical with that of Krushchev

“If you are interested in. . . . the final. Politburo session on Beria, you must bear in mind that some preliminary work had been done before that. In this Khrushchev showed he was an exceptionally energetic and efficient organiser. The initiative was in his hands as he was the Party secretary. He was definitely a good organiser.

He summoned me to the Central Committee building, and l came over.

‘I’d like to talk to you about Beria., He can’t be trusted”.

I said: ‘I fully support this idea. He must be removed and expelled from the ‘Politburo’.

Immediately before the session we agreed that expelling Beria from the Politburo would not be enough. He had to be placed under arrest. Two days later we all gathered in session.

Khruschev was the organiser of the entire affair. Why? . Apparently he had been informed that Beria was up to something. And Beria had troops under his command.

He was arrested at the Politburo session. We were all friends. . . .

I was one of the first to speak. I said that Beria was a degenerate, . . . and that he was no communist.

Then Beria took the floor to defend himself.

Beria had arrived at the session totally unaware of what lay in store for him. .

The room was securely guarded, but sitting in Poskrebyshev’s room, which adjoined the meeting room, was a group of military officers, headed by Zhukov. The group was waiting to be called in to arrest Beria.

Malenkov pressed the button. That was the signal. The group of officers led by Zhukov entered the room.

Malenkov says: ‘Arrest Beria’.

Q: Was that a complete surprise for Beria?

A: Exactly . . .

‘I fell into a trap”, he cried. He didn’t expect that from Khrushchev.

Moskalenko was also involved. Khrushchev had him promoted to marshal.

Moskalenko was put in charge of the jail where Beria was kept”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 343, 344, 345, 346).

While the official indictment against Beria was that he was a

“. . . hireling of foreign imperialist forces”,

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p.13,029).

Molotov insists that Beria was not an agent of imperialism in this sense:

“Q: To this day, people still argue whether Beria had been an agent of some foreign intelligence service.

A: I don’t think he was”. .

(Albert Resis (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 339).

He charges Beria only with being ‘an agent of imperialism’ in that in 1953 he supported within the leadership a policy which objectively assisted imperialism:

“He played the role of an agent of imperialism, that’s the point.

I regard Beria as an agent of imperialism. Agent does not mean spy”. (Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 340).

Many years later Molotov still declares that he has ‘no regrets’ about participating in the coup and praises Khrushchev for organising it!:

“I consented’ (to take part in the coup against Beria — Ed.). I have no regrets about it now. On the contrary, I believed, and I continue to believe, that this was to Khrushchev’s great credit. That’s my opinion”.
(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid,l; p. 345).

Molotov reveals that the charge of ‘serving imperialism’ levelled against Beria was concerned with the policy which the Soviet government should adopt towards the building of socialism in occupied East Germany. The Marxist-Leninist position on ‘the export of socialism’ was put by Stalin in his interview with American newspaper magnate Roy Howard in March 1936:

“Howard: May there not be an element of danger in the genuine fear existent in what you term capitalist countries of an intent on the part of the Soviet Union to force its political theories on other countries?

Stalin: There is no justification whatever for such fears. If you think that Soviet people want to change the face of surrounding states, and by forcible means at that, you are entirely mistaken. Of course, Soviet people would like to see the face of surrounding states changed, but that is the business of the surrounding states”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Interview between Josef Stalin and Roy Howard (March 1936), in: ”Works’ Volume 14; London; 1978; p.136-37).

Stalin therefore maintained that the Soviet government’s concern with post-war Germany was limited to the question of preventing future German aggression. In a speech in November 1943 he defined Soviet war aims in this connection as to

” establish such an order in Europe as will completely exclude the possibility of fresh aggression on the part of Germany”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Speech at Celebration fleeting of Moscow Soviet (6 November 1943), in: ‘War Speeches, Orders of the Day and Answers to Foreign Press Correspondents during the Great Patriotic War: July 3rd 1941 – June 22nd 1945’; London; 1945; p. 82).

As far as can be gathered from Molotov’s somewhat garbled account, Beria maintained the position that the Soviet government’s only concern with defeated Germany should be to ensure that it was anti-fascist and peaceful, and that the question of the building of socialism in any part of Germany was a matter for the German working people:

“After Stalin’s death,. . .. Beria took an active stand on the German question. . . . Beria, who was then becoming particularly active, advanced the following argument: let it (the GDR –Ed.) just be a peaceful country. That is sufficient for our purposes’. . . . . .

Beria kept insisting that . . . . . the most important concern was that Germany must be peaceful”

(Albert Resis (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 333, 334).

However, Molotov relates, other members of the Politburo — including Khrushchev and Molotov himself, demanded that the Soviet government should move to establish a socialist society in East Germany:

“The Politburo was nearly split on the issue. Khrushchev supported my position. . . Malenkov remained silent, and I knew he would follow Beria, I objected that there could not be a peaceful Germany unless it took the road to socialism”. (Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 335, 336)

This was then, according to Molotov, the main issue which provided the pretext for accusing Beria of being an “imperialist agent”. If so, it was an issue in which Beria was following Marxist-Leninist principles, while Molotov and Khrushchev were in breach of them!

Molotov’s Failure Correctly to Assess Revisionism

Even many years after international revisionism had thrown off its mask, Molotov signally failed to recognise its counter-revolutionary character.

Indeed, despite his general admiration for Stalin, we find him repeating some of the revisionist slanders about him:

“He (Stalin — Ed.) succumbed to sickly suspiciousness.. . . . In his last years he suffered from impaired judgment.

In his last years Stalin suffered from a persecution mania”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 317, 324).

We find him praising the revisionist Yuri Andropov as a ‘godsend’:

“Andropov. . . . has introduced a fresh stream of thought and a good direction. . . .

Andropov is a godsend. .

Andropov . . . is firm in politics, a man of broad horizons, a reliable person. . . . He has proved to be quite trustworthy”.

(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 395, 407).

We find him describing the French revisionist Maurice Thorez as

“. . . a very good man — a Stalinist”,
(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 82).

and the German revisionist Walter Ulbricht as

“. a dedicated communist, a politically conscious comrade”.
(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 334).

He depicts even Khrushchev as no worse than ‘a not especially dedicated communist’

“I don’t consider Khrushchev an especially dedicated communist”.
(Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 356).

IN 1984, AT THE AGE OF NINETY-FOUR, MOLOTOV ACHIEVED A LONG-HELD AMBITION. HAVING SATISFIED THE REVISIONIST LEADERS OF HIS HARMLESSNESS TO THEIR AIMS, HE WAS READMITTED TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY.

HE DIED TWO YEARS LATER — STILL CLINGING TO THE ILLUSION THAT SOCIALISM IN THE SOVIET UNION WAS BASICALLY INTACT AND SECURE, THAT A COMMONWEALTH OF SOCIALIST STATES EXISTED, AND THAT, DESPITE SOME MINOR RIGHTIST DEVIATIONS, THE SOVIET UNION WAS ADVANCING TOWARDS A COMMUNIST SOCIETY:

“Now we have a powerful country and a commonwealth of socialist states.

I think the dreams of counter-revolution will not come true. Our state, like the entire socialist camp, is still the strongest in the world. .

We are undeviatingly moving forward, but more slowly than is desirable.

The line we are pursuing is Leninist, it is socialist, but not enough. .

We are building socialism and moving towards communism because state power and the vanguard of the people rest solidly on the policy pursued by the Party, That’s the main thing.

In our country the vanguard is preserved, it is growing it is socialist, communist — this is the main thing”. (Albert Resis (Ed.): ibid.; p. 381, 409, 413).

COMpass is published by: The Communist league, Ilford, Essex, UK

The aim of the Communist League is to establish in Britain a Marxist-Leninist Party of the working class free of all revisionist trends.

Thoughts on Postmodernist Attitudes


Kipling, Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson all address the colonial experience through a hermetically sealed bubble of subjective, individual unreality. Alex Garland in The Beach, Chuck Palahniuk in Fight Club and Bret Easton Ellis in American Psycho all explore the emptiness of bourgeois ideology in modern urban man within this same bubble, frequently arriving at the most reactionary and hedonistic of places. Why are they reactionary?

Let’s take a novel as an example. Ellis’s novel The Rules of Attraction consists entirely of stream-of-consciousness rantings from a revolving door of different narrators. As might be expected, each narrator has his/her own voice and subjective take on things.


The characters themselves are all incredibly empty and tainted by what can only be called “selfishness,” and they all find solace in hedonism through drug abuse and promiscuous sex. Do I even need to say all of them are secretly depressed and feel hollow, corrupted and lost?

What does this plot mean? Either this is supposed to be a representation of the state humanity under bourgeois ideology finds itself in (which would be a progressive work), or, more likely, it is meant to be a moralistic social critique of the state of young people today with the idea that they should “correct themselves” by falling back into the places alloted for them by the dominant social order.

Fight Club fares even worse. It starts off as an idealist “liberal” critique of consumerism, which then evolves into a promotion of primitivism and secular humanism, and then of course takes its petty-bourgeois ideas to their logical conclusion at the end, where it becomes an essentially fascist and militarist work.


Most entertainment today does this sort of thing — showing a world that has no meaning with all the class interests and prejudices that entails.

Never have intellectuals and artists displayed the hubris they show here, attributing to themselves the power to arbitrate all meaning. In the postmodernist movement, their celebration of complexity and ambiguity becomes a form of boundless egoism. Richness of meaning, which sounds good to most of us, cannot take the form of no limits on meaning, which would amount to meaninglessness.

For more information, see: Samuel Beckett. (Yes, ANY of his works.)

As Marx said, the dominant ideas of any era are the ideas of its ruling class. What does this culture say about the class nature of our society and what class interests does this movement represent? It is a petty-bourgeois, or small landowner or producer, way of thinking.

Why is this? Generally speaking, the petty-bourgeoisie, when tackling a problem, thinks in a subjective and one-sided way.

He does not practice Marxist dialectics, which analyzes things concretely and rationally from every possible angle in order to get an objective and complete picture of reality, but instead starts from his own wishes, preconceived notions and subjective desires about how actual conditions should be.

People who live in imperialist countries, intellectuals or more privileged strata of society (wealthier people, whites, petty-bourgeois) who are detached from the concrete conditions of reality often think in this way, because they have only book smarts and lack practical knowledge.

What the idealists, the postmodernists and the “free speech” advocates fail to understand is that a man’s mind is not his own. Who would deny that in each society throughout history man has operated in personal relations independent of their own will?

One of the chief discoveries of the science of Marxism, and materialism in general, is: it is not consciousness that determines reality, it is reality that determines consciousness. To imagine that the mind alone, in this case the individual mind, and the will, in this case that treasured idealist concept of the “free will,” can change reality based only on its own individual wishes is the most vulgar form of bourgeois and capitalist ideology.

How is this inherently capitalist ideology? Since subjectivism and relativism (“nothing is true, it’s all just in your mind”) is the logical ideology of late industrial capitalism, where individualism has taken its toll and everything becomes dependent on what you think, rather than what exists. This sort of thinking is also beneficial to capitalism, since it fuels the “I can make the world my own” attitude of the small producer.

This is reflected especially in the idea that scientific and materialist minds are somehow “intolerant” or “imposing” by subjecting others’ beliefs to the scientific method. This view ignores the fact that it doesn’t matter at all what one thinks of reality; what matters is what is objectively true and what is not.

The argument is frequently made that if the individual believes it hard enough or passionately enough, then it must be true. Hence, “religion is objectively true for religious people.”

Putting aside the fact that this so-called “objective truth” is therefore neither objective nor truth, this whole capitalist and postmodernist way of thinking digs its own grave.

To expand on this, here are a few key points to consider, that MUST be conceded:

  1. Reality functions and exists outside man’s own individual mind. This must be a given, since if one individual dies, reality does not cease to exist. Therefore reality is separate from the individual.

  2. Reality is not changed by the individual mind alone. If someone is falling from a cliff, wishing it is not so does not make it stop. Similarly, no matter how hard you wish it, you cannot push your hand through a solid wood table. You can imagine it, but the fact remains that your molecules repel the molecules of the wood. Even if you got two people together, one who admitted he could not pass through walls, and one who was absolutely convinced he could, the fact could still be shown objectively that both of them were incapable of it. The man who believed he could pass through walls would not be able, materially, to cross into the next room.

  3. If reality is separate from the individual mind, and is not affected by it, we must then admit that the two can disagree and be completely parallel.

  4. If we admit that the two can disagree, then there must be such a thing as concrete objective truth and mere fantasy. If the desires of the mind were the same as reality, then they could never be separate.

  5. Therefore, what is true and existing can only be measured not in wishes, but in matter.

  6. Finally, if all of the above is true, then we must say that not everything the individual mind believes is true, and that in order to be proved true it must pass the scientific method.

From these points, we can see that there are perceptions that are correct, right and actually existing, and there are those that are incorrect and not actually existing.

Logically, if something cannot be weighed or measured, it does not exist. Otherwise the very concept of “not existing” becomes moot, since the sole definition of “not existing” hinges on not being able to prove that it DOES exist.

Why? Because it is impossible to prove a negative. It is impossible for me to prove that something can’t be done.

Likewise, it is impossible to prove that something does not exist. So the only definition that there can be for not existing is the absence of proof that it does exist.

For example, it would be impossible for me to prove that there are not pink dragons flying everywhere, except for me to point out the absence of material evidence: no sight of them, no feeling of wind from their wings.

Conclusion: the capitalist ideas of relativism and postmodernism are bankrupt. Reality exists outside the individual mind, and there are right ideas and wrong ideas, as well as true and false ideas.

Crisis increases the demand for works of Karl Marx


The recent world crisis was an incentive to the demand of socialist literature, especially “Das Kapital” by Karl Marx, in which he rejects the fundamental basis of capitalism.

In Sao Paulo, city bookshops already exhausted the sale of copies of works in less than a month. In the bookstore for example, the only works in the shop had sold out in less than 15 days.

This phenomenon also occurs in other countries. In Germany, for example, demand for the book increased by 300%. The publishing house Karl Dietz, one of the largest devoted to books has sold, this year alone, 1,500 copies of “Das Kapital.” The monthly sales surpassed the sales that were ANNUAL.

David Bamford of BBC says the population sees the current crisis as a failure of capitalism and Marx’s work could help to understand what went wrong.

Besides selling books, the number of visits to the birthplace of Marx, Trier, has increased to 40,000. The curator of the Museum said he has lost count of how many visitors he has heard say that Marx was right in his criticism of capitalism.

This reflects an evolution in the thinking of society, albeit slow and gradual. More people are concerned about the crisis, more people have begun to think seriously about capitalism, reading about politics and economics. Result: confrontational force to ideas and political awareness.