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The Enverists

Enver Hoxha
Enver Hoxha

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA or UCK to give its Albanian initials,) originated in the clandestine cells of Kosovars, at home and abroad, during the 1980s and even earlier. Generally they were microscopic groups which constantly quarrelled and more often than not framed their commitment to the Kosovo cause in terms of a devotion to Enver Hoxha, the Stalinist dictator of neighbouring Albania. "The question of Marxism-Leninism or Enverism is a vexed one," writes Judah, "especially as the KLA were later accused of having these roots and therefore, in a politically motivated non sequitur, of still being committed Enverists."

However, according to Daut Dauti, the Kosovar journalist, who was at university at this time [early 1980s]: "The Marxist-Leninists were for an armed uprising in the 1980s. They had no idea what Enverism was – they just wanted to get rid of the Serbs." Especially after 1981, these people believed that the Albanians running the autonomous province were simply Serbian puppets and were angered that some Serbs did hold important jobs. Bardhyl Mahmuti, a member of one of those underground groups, recalls that, "It was not a question of ideology, rather Leninist theory on clandestine organisations." Not to mention the fact that making the right revolutionary noises secured at least a little help and money from Tirana. Xhafer Shatri, who spent eleven years in prison, says that despite the bombast the Enverist groups were, in fact "purely nationalist" but adds that "Albania was our only help."

As Judah points out very few Kosovars could go to Albania at the time, as it was virtually sealed off, so in the minds of many it became "an almost mythical land of socialism, equality and well-being for all. In fact, it was a vicious, poverty-stricken Stalinist hermit state."

However, those few who visited either did not realise this, because they had little opportunity to mix with ordinary people, or would never dare say so openly for fear of putting at risk their interlocutors or the family they had visited. There was, however, an even more powerful taboo on speaking about Albanian realities, and that was that the political correctness ruling in Kosovo at the time meant that anyone who dared say publicly that Albania was not the promised land risked being branded as pro-Serb. Later, Hydajet Hyseni explained the Marxist-Leninist cum Stalinist issue this way:

of course we were not Stalinists – the greatest outside influence came not from Stalinists but from the west and Albanian immigrants in the United States. The identification with brother Albania was actually weak. It was on the level of fantasy. Most activists knew nothing about Albania. Since they had never been there, they could afford grand illusions. It is similar to the orphan child who has never known her mother; she can easily glorify her. I was one of those who had those fantasies about Albania.

[pp: 106-107]

Kosovo: War and Revenge. 2002, Second Edition. [Yale University Press]

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