Far-left British Labor Party chief Jeremy Corbyn ignited controversy by quoting at a Labor Party Christmas soirée words from the late, longtime Communist dictator of Albania Enver Hoxha. Recalling the despot as a “tough ruler,” Corbyn cited Hoxha’s warning to his reigning Communist Party that “this year will be tougher than last year.” Evidently Corbyn was bracing his Labor colleagues for even more adverse political winds in the near future.
Supposedly some of the Laborites at the Christmas party were surprised and embarrassed by their leader’s reference to Hoxha, who murdered thousands across his 40 year bloody and iron-fisted rule. Corbyn defenders reputedly insist he was only being humorous or ironic. Hopefully so, but remembering an unexceptional speech from a nearly forgotten Communist tyrant seems very eccentric.
Hoxha, who was a Communist partisan against the Axis occupiers in WWII, was a dedicated Stalinist whom the Soviets enthroned after the war. He was particularly repressive against religion and declared Albania, traditionally majority Muslim, an atheist state, destroying many mosques and churches. After Stalin’s death, Hoxha saw the Soviets as too squishy in their Communism, so he aligned with Maoist China. Mercifully he died 40 years ago, and communism fell in Albania as elsewhere in Eastern Europe 25 years ago.
Presumably Corbyn recalls Britain’s own tragic history with Hoxha, whom British intelligence, with the CIA, tried to overthrow in the late 1940s, as part of a roll-back of Soviet controlled Eastern Europe. Hundreds of Anglo-American trained Albanian anti-Communist insurgents were air dropped or landed by sea on the Albanian coast. Many of them were loyal to exiled colorful playboy King Zog, the only 20th century head of state who personally returned fire during an assassination attempt.
But over months and years each contingent of Albanian freedom fighters was quickly killed or captured, as if Hoxha’s regime had been waiting for them. Many of the Albanian anti-Communists were brutally executed, tortured or imprisoned for decades, until Communism’s fall. In fact, their doom was pre-ordained. Infamous senior British spymaster Kim Philby, who collaborated with the CIA while actually working for the Soviets, had betrayed the Albanians to his masters in Moscow. Years later, before the British could arrest him, Philby defected to Moscow, living in ignominious exile as a guest of the KGB, committing numerous adulteries with the wives of colleagues, among his countless other betrayals.
Philby died just before Communism’s fall, unfortunately, evading justice. In the 1990s, when the contents of his Moscow apartment were auctioned by his heirs, among other ill begotten assets, an official of by then post-Communist Albania suggested the proceeds go to the families of Albanian freedom fighters betrayed by Philby. But the suggestion seems to have been ignored.
The several hundred gutsy Albanians killed thanks to Philby, along with thousands more murdered by Hoxha, should be remembered. They were vindicated by Communism’s 1989 Eastern Europe collapse, which culminated with the quick Christmas Day execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his dragon lady wife, whose bloodthirsty reign equaled Hoxha’s horrors.
Maybe at his next Christmas party, Corbyn can recall the providential holiday season implosion of Communism in Eastern Europe instead of quoting, whether ironically or not, one of that era’s worst monsters.