Enver Hoxha deposed King Zog on January 11 1946, and then declared himself head of the People’s Republic of Albania. At his death in 1985, the tyrannical dictator was the world’s longest surviving Community leader. But what about the rumours that his secret homosexuality drove the bloodlust of his insular and paranoid regime?
Enver Hoxha grew up in a poor country with a rural economy and mostly illiterate citizenry. However, his father could afford to educate his son, and Enver consequently received a scholarship to study in France. Following his return home in 1936, he became a teacher.
In 1939, Mussolini’s Fascist forces invaded Albania, prompting King Zog to ransack the treasury before abandoning his subjects. Hoxha joined the Communist resistance and, by 1943, headed it. He later enumerated the losses his country suffered from the war.
“Out of a population of one million, 28,000 killed, 12,600 wounded, 10,000 political prisoners in Italy and Germany, and 35,000 made to do forced labour. Of the 2500 towns and villages, 850 ruined or razed to the ground. All communications, ports, mines and power installations destroyed. Our agriculture and livestock plundered, and our economy wrecked.”
No fan of his fellow Communists in neighbouring Yugoslavia, Hoxha allied himself with the USSR’s Joseph Stalin, modelling his own personality cult on Stalin’s. Before long, Enver Hoxha was Supreme Leader, Great Teacher and Stupendous this, that or the other.
However, following Stalin’s death, Hoxha and new Soviet leader Khrushchev failed to hit it off. He moved on to China’s Mao Zedong but, that also ended in tears. Albania became renowned as Europe’s poorest and most isolated country.
The Enver Hoxha regime
During Hoxha’s 40-year reign, Albanians risked arbitrary imprisonment and summary execution. Attempting to leave the country meant death. All religion was banned, as were saxophones, beards and Picasso.
The regime murdered up to 25,000 people. Thousands more found themselves incarcerated in forced-labour camps.
Enver Hoxha also introduced a law punishing homosexuality with 7-years in a labour camp.
“Albanian Stalin, gay and murderer”
But after the tyrant’s death, Hoxha’s translator fled the country and applied for asylum in Greece. He offered up bucket loads of dirt on his former boss. Newspapers published the salacious details under sensational headlines: ‘Albanian Stalin, gay and murderer’.
Ilir Bulka attributed blame for the dictator’s paranoia and blood lust to his secret homosexuality.
“Hoxha started having homosexual affairs in Paris before the Second World War.
“The psychological fear of being laughed at made him hang on to power at all costs, even if that meant mass murder.
“To refuse Hoxha’s advances was tantamount to a death sentence. His paranoia grew as he became older and sicker, making him kill many of his lovers after forcing them to have sex. His cold-blooded killings of friends and terrible purges were like vicious lover’s quarrels or crimes of passion.”
Newspapers wet themselves reporting that Hoxha strolled along lines of soldiers choosing f_ckbuddies like a shopper perusing produce at an outdoor market. A whole new spin on the old parade ground command to ‘Present arms’. Bulka’s story sounded straight out of a 1970s softcore sexploitation script. But the bukkake wenches of the tabloid press lapped it up.
Other sources also claimed Hoxha began his homosexual exploits in Paris. But exploring your sexuality in the French capital was already a tired trope by 1985. The 20th-century literary landscape is littered with artists, authors, acrobats and Anglicans discovering their anal, penile, vaginal or tracheal g-spots in the shadow of Notre Dame.
Bulka explained away Hoxha’s wife, a fellow politician and equally ruthless, by claiming she knew and didn’t care.
Chronicle in Stone
One of Albania’s most famous exiles supported Bulka’s allegations. After ten years in an Albanian prison for insulting the regime, Arshi Pipa escaped and moved to the US. In the 1980s, he was hired to translate Albanian author Ismail Kadare’s Chronicle in Stone. A work of tragic-comic genius, the book is based in Gjirokastër, the hometown of both the author and Enver Hoxha. Characters include a gay husband, a hermaphrodite and a ‘woman with a beard’.
Pipa claimed that those able to read between the lines would discern Kadare’s cunningly insinuations of Hoxha’s homosexuality. But Kadare still lived in Albania. He vehemently denied the accusation, knowing he risked being arrested and shot.
Years later, Kadare admitted to believing Hoxha had homosexual encounters in Paris but continued to deny that his book referenced the dictator.
So, what is the truth? Was he, or wasn’t he?
Ilir Bulka reiterated the truth of his 1985 statements as recently as 2016. Yet, no corroborating evidence has emerged from either Albanian archives or foreign intelligence communities. If Hoxha chose his generals cum f_ckbuddies from hot lusty recruits and then black widowed them when they bored him, wouldn’t some record remain?
As for Paris, did the apparently widespread rumour of his youthful exploits have some basis in fact? Or did a well-dressed young man freshly returned from the sophisticated City of Light appear wildly effeminate to uncultured Albanian farmworkers?
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, except when there’s not.
Queer people are, of course, just people. Therefore, like other people, some will be very good, most of us average, and some, like Enver Hoxha – whatever their sexuality – arseholes.
Read more: January 10 <— On this day —> January 12
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