Memoirs from my Meetings with Stalin
Our stand towards the Yugoslav leadership from the years of the war. The 1st Congress of the CPA. Policy of terror in Kosova. On the Yugoslav divisions which were to be deployed in Albania. The Titoites aimed to overturn the situation in Albania. On the war of the fraternal Greek people. Erroneous views of the leadership of the Greek Communist Party. The British want naval bases in our ports as a condition for recognition. The road of the economic and cultural development of Albania. On the situation of our peasantry. On the history, culture, language and customs of the Albanian people.
I went to Moscow again on March 21, 1949, at the head of an official delegation of the Government of the People's Republic of, Albania and stayed there until April 11 that year.
Mikoyan, Vyshinsky, and others, as well as all the diplomatic representatives of the countries of people's democracy had come out to welcome us at the Moscow airport.
We had the first official meeting with Vyshinsky the day after our arrival and on March 23, at 22.05 hours. I was received by Comrade Stalin in the Kremlin, in the presence of Vyshinky and the ambassador of the USSR to Albania, Chuvakhin. I went to this meeting with Spiro Koleka and Mihal Prifti who, at that time, was our ambassador in Moscow.
Comrade Stalin received us very warmly in his office. After shaking hands with each of us in turn, he stopped in front of me:
"You look thin in the face," he said, "have you, been ill? Or are you tired?"
"I feel very glad and happy to meet you again," I replied and, after we sat down, I told him that I wanted to raise several questions with him.
"Take all the time you need," he said with great goodwill, so that I would talk about anything I considered necessary.
I gave Comrade Stalin an exposition on a series of problems. I spoke in general about the situation in our Party and country, the recent events, the mistakes recognized, as well as about our stand in connection with the Yugoslav question. I told him that, as a result of the influence of the Trotskyite Yugoslav leadership on our leadership and the excessive trust of some of our leaders in the treacherous Yugoslav leadership, grave mistakes had been made, especially in the organizational line of the Party, as noted by the 11th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Albania, the proceedings of which had been held in the light of the Letters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) addressed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the Resolution of the Information Bureau "On the Situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia".
"The Central Committee of our Party," I told Comrade Stalin, "fully endorsed the Resolution of the Information Bureau and we condemned the treacherous anti-Albanian and anti-Soviet course of the Trotskyite Yugoslav leadership in a special communiqué. The leadership of our Party," I pointed out, "for many years had encountered the hostile conspiratorial activity of the Titoites, the arrogance and intrigues of Tito's envoys - Vukmanovich-Tempo and Dushan Mugosha.." Among other things, I mentioned that on the eve of the liberation of Albania, Tito, seeking to achieve his anti-Albanian and anti-Marxist aims, sent us a delegation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, headed by its special envoy, Velimir Stoynich. At Berat, he and his secret collaborators, the traitors Sejffulla Maleshova, Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo and others, behind the scenes, prepared their reprehensible and dangerous moves which constituted a serious plot against the correct line followed by the Party during the whole period of the war, against the independence of the Party and our country, against the General Secretary of the Party personally, etc. Although it knew nothing about the plot that was being concocted, the healthy section of the leadership of our Party there and then energetically opposed the accusations made against it and the line followed during the war. Convinced that grave anti-Marxist mistakes had been made at Berat, among other things, I subsequently presented to our Political Bureau the theses for the re-examination of the Berat Plenum, but, as a result of the feverish subversive activity of the Yugoslav leadership and its agents in our ranks, these theses were not accepted. "The further development of events, the Letters of the Central Committee of your Party as well as the Resolution of the Information Bureau," I told Comrade Stalin, "made the situation completely clear to us, the hostile activity of the Yugoslav leadership with Tito at the head was uncovered and proved and the plotters in the ranks of our Party were thoroughly exposed at the 11th Plenum of the CC of the Party. The 1st Congress of the OPA endorsed the turn taken by the 11th Plenum of the Central Committee and made it more thorough-going. It appraised the political line followed by the Party since its founding as correct, and found that the peculiar distortions which became apparent after Liberation, especially in the organizational line of the Party, were the result of the Yugoslav interference and the treacherous Trotskyite activity of Koçi Xoxe, Pandi Kristo and Kristo Themelko."
I mentioned that both Koçi Xoxe and Pandi Kristo were dangerous agents of the Yugoslav Trotskyites in the ranks of the leadership of our Party, that with the guidance, support and backing of the Yugoslav Titoites they had made every effort to usurp the key positions in our Party and our state of people's democracy. In all their treacherous activity they had put themselves in the service of the national-chauvinist and colonialist policy of the Trotskyite Yugoslav leadership towards the People's Republic of Albania. I added that Kristo Themelko was one of those most influenced by the Trotskyite Yugoslav leadership and had implemented its directives in the sector of the army unreservedly. "However," I went on, "after the betrayal of the Yugoslav leadership was fully uncovered, he admitted his mistakes and made self-criticism before the Party."
Stalin, who was listening attentively, asked:
"What are these three? Are they Slavs, Albanians or what are they?"
"Kristo Themelko," I said, "is of Macedonian origin, whereas Koçi Xoxe is of Albanian origin, although his parents lived in Macedonia."
I went on to tell him about the exceptionally great importance which the Letters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union addressed to the Yugoslav leadership and the Resolution of the Information Bureau had for our Party. "In the light of these documents, which came out at very crucial moments for our Party and people," I told Comrade Stalin, "the character and the aims of Yugoslav interference in Albania became completely clear to the Central Committee of our Party." After giving a general outline of the many radical measures our Party had taken to put an end to the ferocious antiMarxist and anti-Albanian activity of these agents, I told him that, although we encountered and opposed their crooked activities as early as the waryears, still we were conscious of, our responsibility, because we should have proved more vigilant.
Here Comrade Stalin interrupted me with these words:
"Our letters addressed to the Yugoslav leadership do not contain everything, because there are many matters that emerged later. We did not know that the Yugoslavs, under the pretext of 'defending' your country against an attack from the Greek fascists, wanted to bring units of their army into the PRA. They tried to do this in a very secret manner. In reality, their aim in this direction was utterly hostile, for they intended to overturn the situation in Albania. Your report to us on this question was of value, otherwise we would have known nothing about these divisions which they wanted to station on your territory. They implied that they were taking this action allegedly with the approval of the Soviet Union! As for what you said, that you ought to have shown greater vigilance, the truth is that in the relations with Yugoslavia there has been lack of vigilance not only by you but also by others."
Continuing my discourse, I told Comrade Stalin that the difficult moments created by the Titoites and by the monarcho-fascists who were acting against our country under orders of the American and British imperialists, were overcome successfully thanks to the correct line of the Party, the patriotism of our people and the assistance of the CP of the Soviet Union.
This was a major test from which we learned a great deal to correct our mistakes, to consolidate the victories achieved up till now, and to fight to strengthen and develop them further. Our army accomplished its tasks with courage and lofty patriotism.
During the difficult period we went through, the patriotism of the masses was very great. Their trust in our Party, in its correct line and in the Soviet Union was unshakeable. The activity of the internal enemy was short-lived. I told Comrade Stalin that we had neutralized the hostile activity of those who had put themselves in the service of the Trotskyite Yugoslav leadership. We adopted differentiated stands towards those who, in one way or another, were implicated in the anti-Albanian activity of the Trotskyite Yugoslav leadership. Some of them made self-criticism over the mistakes they had committed in good faith, while those who were gravely compromised were already rendering account before the people's court.
"Protect your, Homeland and the Party," Comrade Stalin said. "The enemy must be exposed thoroughly, with convincing arguments, so that the people can see what this enemy has done and be convinced of the menace he represents. Even if such an enemy, utterly discredited in the eyes of the people, is not shot, he is automatically shot, morally and politically, because without the people he can do nothing at all."
"The trial which is now going on in Tirana," I told Comrade Stalin, "is being held with open doors and everything that is said in the court room is published in the newspapers.
"At the same time," I added, "those who have thoroughly understood their mistakes, who have made sincere and convincing self-criticism, we have treated patiently and magnanimously, and have given them the possibility to make amends for their mistakes and faults through work, through loyalty to the Party and the people. We have even thought we should send one of them to study in the Soviet Union," and I mentioned one name.
"Really?" Stalin asked me and looked me right in the eye. "Have you requested that this person should come here to study? Do you still have political trust in him?"
"We do," I said, "his self-criticism has become more and more profound and we hope that he will correct himself."
"But does he want to come here?"
"He has expressed the wish to come," I said.
At this point Chuvakhin added some explanations in support of my opinion.
"Well, then, since you have weighed this matter well, Comrade Enver, let him come..."
Continuing the conversation, I told Comrade Stalin that during the same period the Americans, from Italy had parachuted groups of saboteurs into the south and north of Albania. We killed some of these saboteurs and captured the remainder. Foreseeing the difficulties on our southern border and wanting to have the forces available for any eventuality, we first had to undertake a mopping-up operation in North Albania against the groups of political and common bandits who operated within our borders under the direction of agents sent in by Rankovich, and we did this. These bands in the service of the Yugoslavs carried out a number of assassinations. Our mopping up operation ended successfully: we wiped out some of them and all the others crossed over into Yugoslav territory, where they remain to this day.
"Do they continue to send in other saboteurs?" Stalin asked.
"We think that they have not given up. The policy of Tito and Rankovich to lure Albanians into their territories in order to organize groups of saboteurs and wreckers with them, met defeat, and at present there are very few defections. Our government has taken economic measures and the political and organizational work of the Party has been strengthened. The imperialists are training groups of wreckers abroad, just as the monarcho-fascists and the Titoites are doing on their part. The Italians are not lagging behind. Our present plan is to rout the remnants of the bandits at large in our mountains for whom we have already made things very difficult, and to destroy their bases, which are among the kulaks, especially. Most of the reactionary groupings in the cities have been smashed by the State Security Forces which have scored many successes. Our Party put things in order in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a former centre of the Titoites, and the State Security has become a very powerful and much beloved weapon of the Party and our people. The Party has set itself the task of strengthening its positions more and more each day in order to cope with and smash all the attempts and attacks our many enemies may make.
"The Party is growing stronger from day to day," I went on to tell Comrade Stalin. "In the ranks of our young Party there is great courage and great will. The ideological and cultural level of our party workers is low, but there is great eagerness to learn. We are working in this direction to improve the situation. We still have many shortcomings in the work of our Party, but with persistent efforts, with confidence in the future and with the experience of the Bolshevik Party, we shall eliminate these shortcomings."
In continuation of the talk, I gave Comrade Stalin a general outline of the economic situation in Albania, the results achieved and the big struggle the Party and the people had waged and were waging to cope with the difficulties created in the economy by the hostile work of the Yugoslav Trotskyites and their agents. I told him that our people were unpretentious and hard-working, and they had mobilized themselves under the leadership of the Party to overcome the backwardness and the difficulties created and to carry out the tasks set by the 1st Congress of the Party.
I told him that the 1st Congress of the Party, along with the socialist industrialization, had laid down the guidelines for the strengthening of the socialist sector in agriculture by increasing the state farms and stepping up the gradual collectivization in the form of agricultural cooperatives, which the state would support politically, economically and organizationally.
"Have you set up many such cooperatives? What criteria do you follow?" Comrade Stalin asked.
Here I explained to him that the Congress had given the orientation that the collectivization of agriculture should be carried out gradually, patiently and on a voluntary basis. On this road we would neither rush things nor mark time.
"In my opinion," said Comrade Stalin, "you must not rush things in the collectivization of agriculture. Yours is a mountainous country with a relief that differs from one region to another. In our country, too, in mountain areas similar to those of your country, the kolkhozes were set up much later."
Then I went on to speak about the work that was being done in our country to strengthen the alliance of the working class with the working peasantry, about the assistance the state gave the individual peasant, the increase of agricultural production and the policy of procurement of agricultural and livestock products.
"This has very great importance," Comrade Stalin said, "and you are right to devote attention to it. If the Albanian peasants need tractors, other farm machines, draft animals, seeds or anything else, you must help them. Moreover," he continued, "you must also dig canals for the peasantry, then you will see what it will be able to do. In my opinion, it is better that the peasant pays his obligations to the state for the above aid in kind."
"The state must set up machine and tractor stations," continued Comrade Stalin. "You should not give the tractors to the cooperatives, but the state should help the individual peasants plough their land, too, if they seek this help. Thus, little by little, the poor peasant will begin to feel the need for the collectivization.
"As for surpluses of agricultural products," Comrade Stalin went on, "these the peasants must dispose of as they like, for, if you act otherwise, the peasants will not collaborate with the government. If the peasantry does not see the aid of the state concretely, it will not assist the state."
"I do not know the history and characteristics of the bourgeoisie of your country," said Comrade Stalin and then asked: "Have you had a merchant bourgeoisie?"
"We have had a merchant bourgeoisie in the process of formation," I said, "but now it has no power."
"Have you expropriated it entirely?" he asked me.
In answering this question, I told Comrade Stalin about the policy the Party had followed as early as the war years in regard to the well-to-do classes, about the great differentiation which had taken place as a result of the stand of the elements of these classes towards the foreign invaders, about the fact that most of them had become collaborators with fascism and, after staining their hands with the blood of the people, had either fled together with the invaders or, those who did not manage to get away, had been captured by the people and handed over to the court. "In regard to those elements, mainly of the patriotic middle and petty bourgeoisie, who were linked with the people during the war and opposed the foreign invaders," I went on, "the Party supported them, kept close to them and showed them the true road to serve the development of the country and the strengthening of the independence of the Homeland. As a result of the hostile activity of Koci Hoxe and company, unjust stands and harsh measures were taken in the recent years towards some of these elements, as well as towards some patriotic intellectuals," I told Comrade Stalin, "but the Party has now forcefully denounced these errors and will not allow them to occur again."
Comrade Stalin said that on this, as on any other problem, everything depended on the concrete conditions and situations of each country. "But I think," he stressed, "that in the first phase of the revolution, the policy followed towards the patriotic bourgeoisie which truly wants the independence of its country should be such as to enable it to help in this phase with the means and assets it possesses."
"Lenin teaches us," he continued, "that in the first period of the revolution, where this revolution has an anti-imperialist character, the communists can use the assistance of the patriotic bourgeoisie. Of course, this depends on the concrete conditions, on the stand of this bourgeoisie towards the most acute problems the country is faced with, etc.
"In the countries of people's democracy, for example, the big bourgeoisie had compromised itself with the German invaders and had assisted them. When the Soviet army liberated these countries, the sold-out bourgeoisie took the road of exile."
He thought for a moment and added:
"It seems to me the Soviet army did not come to help in Albania. But did the Yugoslav army come to help your country during the National Liberation War?"
"No," I replied. "Our National Liberation Army, with two partisan divisions, went and fought in Yugoslav territory to assist in the liberation of the peoples of Yugoslavia".
Continuing his theme, Comrade Stalin emphasized that every communist party and socialist state should be particularly careful also in their relations with the intellectuals. A great deal of careful far-sighted work must be done with them with the aim of bringing the honest, patriotic intellectuals as close as possible to the people's power.
Mentioning some specific features of the Russian revolution, Comrade Stalin stressed that at that time, Russia had not been under the yoke of any foreign imperialist power, hence they had risen only against the exploiters within the country, and the Russian national bourgeoisie, as the exploiter it was, had not reconciled itself to the revolution. A fierce struggle had been waged for several years in that country and the Russian bourgeoisie had sought the aid and intervention of the imperialists.
"Hence, there is a clear difference between the Russian revolution and the struggle that is going on in those countries which have fallen victims to imperialist aggressors."
"I mention this," Stalin continued, "to show how important it is to bear in mind the concrete conditions of each country, because the conditions of one country are not always identical with those of other countries. That is why no one should copy our experience or that of others, but should only study it and profit from it by applying it according to the concrete conditions of his own country."
Time had slipped away unnoticed during this meeting with Stalin. I took up the thread of my discourse again and began to expound the problems of the plan for strengthening the defences and developing the economy and culture in the PRA.
"The chief of your General Staff," Comrade Stalin told me, "has sent us some requests for your army. We ordered that all of them should be met. Have you received what you wanted?"
"We have not yet received any information about this," I said.
At this moment Stalin called in a general and charged him with gathering precise information about this question. After a few minutes the telephone rang. Stalin took up the receiver and, after listening to what was said, informed me that the matèriel was en route.
"Did you get the rails?" he asked. "Is the railway completed?"
"We got them," I told him, "and we have inaugurated the railway," and continued to outline the main tasks of the plan for the economic and cultural development of the country and the strengthening of its defences. On this occasion I also presented our requests for aid from the Soviet Union.
Just as previously, Comrade Stalin received our requests sympathetically and said to us quite openly:
"Comrades, we are a big country, but you know that we have not yet eliminated all the grave consequences of the war. However, we shall help you today and in the future, perhaps not all that much, but with those possibilities we have. We understand that you have to set up and develop the sector of socialist industry, and in this direction we agree to fulfill all the requests you have presented to us, as well as those for agriculture."
Then, smiling, he added:
"But will the Albanians themselves work?"
I understood why he asked me this question. It was the result of the evil-intended information of the Armenian huckster, Mikoyan, who, at a meeting I had with him, not only spoke to me in a language quite unlike that of Stalin, but also used harsh terms in his criticisms about the realization of plans in our country, alleging that our people did not work, etc. His intention was to reduce the rate and amount of aid. This was always Mikoyan's stand. But Stalin accorded us everything we sought.
"We shall also send you the cadres you asked for," he said, "and they will spare no effort to help you but, of course, they will not stay in Albania forever. Therefore, comrades, you must train your own cadres, your own specialists, to replace ours. This is an important matter. However many foreign cadres come to your country, you will still need your own cadres. Therefore, comrades," he advised us, "you must open your university, which will be a great centre for training your future cadres".
"We have opened the first institutes," I told Comrade Stalin, "and work is going ahead in them, but we are still only at the beginning. Apart from experience and textbooks, we also lack the cadres necessary for opening the university."
"The important thing is to get started," he said. "Then step by step, everything will be achieved. For our part, we shall assist you both with literature and with specialists, in order to help increase the number of higher institutes which are the basis for the creation of the university in the future."
"The Soviet specialists," Comrade Stalin went on, "will be paid by the Albanian government the same salaries as the Albanian specialists. Don't grant them any favour more than your specialists enjoy."
"The Soviet specialists come from far away", I replied, "and we cannot treat them the same as ours."
Comrade Stalin objected at once:
"No, no, whether they, come from Azerbaijan or any other part of the Soviet Union, we have our rules for the treatment of the specialists we send to the assistance of the fraternal peoples. It is their duty to work with all their strength as internationalist revolutionaries, to work for the good of Albania just as for the good of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government undertakes to make up the necessary difference in their salaries".
After I thanked Comrade Stalin, I raised the question of the teams that were needed for geological and hydroelectric studies, for the construction of railways and a series of problems of the future of our industrial development. After giving a positive answer to the matters I raised, he asked me a series of questions: "Do you have many large rivers for the construction of hydropower stations? Is there much coal in Albania?" etc.
I answered Comrade Stalin and then asked whether we could send a number of cadres to the Soviet Union to be trained as specialists for some essential urgent needs of the country. "If this is impossible," I said, "then let some specialists be sent from the Soviet Union to Albania to train our cadres on the spot."
Comrade Stalin said:
"In this direction we would rather send some instructors to Albania, because were your men to come to the Soviet Union a longer time will he needed for their training, as they will have to learn Russian," etc.
Comrade Stalin recommended that we address this request to the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union and added:
"Comrade Vyshinsky has been charged with conducting all the talks from our side, therefore you must address any request to him."
I told Comrade Stalin that, in general, those were the questions that I wanted to discuss with him in regard to the internal situation in Albania and expressed the desire to give a brief outline of the political position of Albania in regard to the international situation. He looked at his watch and asked:
"Would twenty minutes be enough?"
"A little longer, if possible, Comrade Stalin," I replied.
After speaking about the tense situation in our relations with Yugoslavia, and the hostile activity of the Yugoslav traitors, the bands of criminals they had organized and smuggled into Albanian territory to carry out disruption and sabotage against our country, I spoke to Comrade Stalin about the policy of savage terror followed by the Tito clique against the Albanians of Kosova, Macedonia and Montenegro.
"Are there many Albanians in Yugoslavia?" Stalin asked me. "And what religion do they profess?"
"There are more than a million of them," I said (here Vyshinsky expressed his astonishment at such a large number which, it seemed, he had never heard of before), and continued: "Almost all of them are Moslems."
"How is it possible that they have not been assimilated by the Slavs? What links do the Albanians living in Yugoslavia maintain with those in Albania?" asked Stalin again.
"At all periods, the Albanians living in Yugolsavia have been outstanding for their ardent patriotism and their strong links with their Homeland and their compatriots," I told Comrade Stalin in reply to his question. "They have always forcibly opposed the feverish expansionist efforts of the great-Serbian and great-Slav reactionary chauvinists and their attempts to assimilate them and have preserved their Albanian national identity in every respect, with fanaticism."
"At present the Tito clique is following the same line and the same methods in Kosova and the Albanian-inhabited territories of Montenegro and Macedonia, as those used by their counterparts - King Alexander and others in the past. Kosova is a very weak spot for the Belgrade clique, hence it is using large-scale terror there, with mass deportations, arrests and forced labour, conscription to the army as well as expropriation of a large number of people. The Albanian element is particularly persecuted in Titoite Yugoslavia, because the present Yugoslav leaders are well aware of the patriotic and revolutionary qualities of the Albanian population there, well aware that for this population the national problem has been and still is an open wound which needs to be healed. Apart from this, the Titoites have turned Kosova, and the other Yugoslav regions inhabited by the Albanians into important centres for assembling Albanian quislings, bandits and spies who, instructed by the men of UDB, prepare acts of terrorism, subversion, sabotage and armed attacks against our country. The Belgrade clique has set in motion former Serbian, British and American agents, as well as Italian and German agents, in order to mobilize the Albanian reaction of Kosova and, from this reaction, to organize detachments, which, together with the other Albanian bandits, enter our territory and cause disturbances."
Then I went on to give Comrade Stalin a brief account of the Greek people's war against the monarcho-fascists and the Anglo-Americans, about the political support we gave this just war of the fraternal Greek people and, among other things, pointed out that the Greek Democratic Army stood aloof from the people.
Comrade Stalin was astonished when he heard these words and asked:
"What, what did you say?!"
I gave him complete explanations, both about this problem and about the mistaken views of Nicos Zachariades and company on the role of the party and the commissar in the army, in the government, etc.
"We think," I told Comrade Stalin, "among other things, that the leadership of the Greek Communist Party made grave mistakes in regard to the strengthening and expansion of the party in the countryside and the town during the war against the Hitlerites, and that these errors manifested themselves again during the war against internal reaction and Anglo-American intervention.
"Mistakenly believing that the city would play the decisive role in the victory over the Hitlerites and internal reaction in the years of the antifascist war the Siantos leadership ordered the Greek proletariat to stay in the cities. This brought about that the more revolutionary part of the Greek people remained exposed to the savage blows of the internal Hitlerites, while the Greek National Liberation Partisan Army was deprived of the proletariat, which should have been the motor and the leadership of the Greek people's revolution." Then I pointed out that despite the savage terror and the heavy blows the Hitlerites and internal reaction had struck at the proletariat and the revolutionary elements in the cities, the latter, in general, still remained in the cities, where they were killed, tortured, arrested and interned on islands, and had not taken to the mountains en masse, because such had been the directive of the Greek Communist Party. "Of course, even then there were important fighting actions, such as sabotage, executions of enemies, etc., carried out in the cities, but these actions were of second-rate importance in the general context of the fight of the Greek people.
"The same weaknesses," I stressed further, "were observed in the countryside, too, where the extension of the party was limited, and its organization weak and lax, with the organizations of the party frequently confounded with those of EAM. There was opportunism both in the organization and in the political line of the national liberation councils at the village level. There was duality of power and coexistence with the Zervist reactionary organizations, etc., in the liberated areas and elsewhere. We told the Greek comrades that their putting the Command of the National Liberation Army under the orders of the Mediterranean Command, their talks and agreements of an opportunist and capitulationist character with Zervas and the reactionary Greek government in exile, the predominance of peasant elements and of the old career officers in the leadership of the Greek National Liberation Army, and so on, were grave errors which would lead the heroic struggle of the Greek people to defeat. The Varkiza agreement was the logical conclusion to all these wrong actions and views - it brought about the capitulation to British and local reaction.
"However, we think that even after the capitulationist Varkiza agreement and the period of 'legality' of the Greek Communist Party, the leadership of the Greek Communist Party did not go deep enough into its former mistakes in order to correct them in a radical manner," I told Comrade Stalin. The strengthening of the party in the city and the countryside, sound links with the broad masses of the people should have been the prime concern of the leadership of the Greek Communist Party, for it was in this that it made some of its gravest errors in the past. It did not do this, because it did not have a correct appreciation of the new situation created after the defeat of fascism, underrated the internal enemy and Anglo-American reaction and was unable to foresee the great danger that would threaten it from these forces of reaction, as it should have done. It had great hopes in 'legal' activity and parliamentarianism. As a result, the party was disarmed before the enemy, lost its sound ties with the people, the peoples' revolution in Greece went through a grave crisis, and the people were given the impression that the revolution would triumph on the parliamentary road and through elections, and when reaction struck, the people were confused, taken by surprise, and in despair. The Greek people fought heroically against the Hitlerites to win their freedom, but the victory slipped from their hands because of the mistakes of the leadership of the Greek Communist Party. All these mistakes had grave consequences in the subsequent development of events, when any illusion about victory on the legal road was over, and the party had to go underground and decided to resume the war.
"It is a fact," I told Comrade Stalin, "that before it went underground the party managed to regroup part of the partisan forces, sent them to the mountains and recommenced the war. This was a very good thing. But we think that precisely at this point, the mistaken views of the comrades of the Greek leadership on the strategy and tactics they had to employ, the organization of the party in the city and the countryside, the organization of the party in the army, and in the first place, the links with the masses and the leading role of the party, crop up again.
"The comrades of the leadership of the Greek Communist Party underestimated the strength of the enemy and thought that they would easily seize power, that they would easily liberate Greece from the Anglo-Americans and the monarcho-fascists. The result of this mistaken view was that they failed to prepare themselves for a protracted, difficult war, underrated the partisan war and described the partisan forces they succeeded in regrouping as a 'regular army'. They pinned all their hopes of victory on this 'regular army', in this way neglecting the main factor - the people, and the Marxist-Leninist principle that 'the army and the people are one'. The comrades of the Greek leadership did not make a correct appraisal of the moments Greece was passing through. As a result of the defeat, the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses, had been dampened, hence this revolutionary enthusiasm had to be revived by reorganizing the party and making it strong both in the city and in the countryside, while radically correcting the old errors, and extending the partisan war over the whole of the country.
"Monarcho-fascism was terrified of two things: its great enemy the people and the partisan war." I went on with the exposition of my idea. "Both these factors were underrated by the leadership of the Greek Communist Party and the enemy was able to profit from this mistake. The enemy was afraid of a partisan war, which would be extended from day to day, would gradually draw in the masses of the people of city and countryside and would assume ever larger proportions up to the general armed uprising and the seizure of power. The enemy was spared this because of the wrong tactic of the Greek leadership which thought and still thinks that it should always station its main forces facing the enemy in a frontal war and a passive defence. That was precisely what the enemy wanted -- to nail down the main forces of the Greek Democratic Army at a few points and to smash and annihilate them there by means of its superiority in men and armaments.
"Taking advantage of this grave error of the leadership of the Greek Communist Party, the monarcho-fascists deprived the Greek Democratic Army of the support of the people, parted the Greek Communist Party from its mother base. With terror and killings, monarcho-fascism drove the population from all the areas where the major and the more active part of the Greek Democratic Army was stationed, not for attack, but to defend itself. We consider this a fatal mistake. In our country, too," I told Comrade Stalin, "during the National Liberation War, fascism killed and massacred the population, and put entire regions to the torch, however the people did not go into camps behind barbed wire, but took to the mountains, fought and returned to their ruined homes and there put up resolute resistance, because the Party had told them to fight and resist. Our National Liberation Army was never apart from the people, because our Party itself had its sound bases among the people. We think that the enemy succeeded in isolating the Greek partisans among the barren mountains, because the Greek Communist Party did not have sound bases among the people. That is why I said that the leadership of the Greek Communist Party deprived itself and the Democratic Army of its mother base - the people."
In conclusion, I mentioned to Comrade Stalin the threats the external enemies were making towards Albania.
He listened to me attentively and, on the problems I had raised, expressed his opinion:
"As for the Greek people's war," he said among other things, "we, too, have always considered it a just war, have supported and backed it whole-heartedly. Any people's war is not waged by the communists alone, but by the people, and the important thing is that the communists should lead it. Things are not going well for Tsaldaris and he is trying to save himself by means of the Anglo-Americans.
"As for the screams of the external enemies about partitioning Albania," he went on, "they are just to intimidate you, because I do not think there is any danger in this direction at present. This comes about not from the 'goodwill' of the enemies, but for a whole series of reasons. In the first place, Albania is a free and independent country, the people have seized power there and they will know how to defend their independence, just as they knew how to win it. Second, the external enemies themselves have contradictions with one another over Albania. None of them wants Albania to belong only to the one or the other. If Greece wants to have Albania for itself, this would not be advantageous to Italy or Yugoslavia, which would raise obstacles to this, and so on in turn. On the other hand," Comrade Stalin pointed out, "the independence of Albania has been recognized and confirmed by the declaration of the big three - the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States of America. This declaration may be violated, but that is not so easy to do. Hence, come what may, Albania has its independence protected."
Comrade Stalin repeated several times that if the Albanian Government pursued a cautious, intelligent, and far-sighted policy, then its affairs would go well.
Continuing, Comrade Stalin advised me:
"You must consider the possibilities of establishing relations with Italy, because it is your neighbour, but first you should take measures to protect yourselves against the activity of the Italian fascists."
Speaking of the importance of the recognition of our country in the international arena, he asked:
"Which other state is knocking at your door in order to establish diplomatic relations with you? How are your relations with the French?"
"With the French," I explained, "we have diplomatic relations. They have their representatives in Tirana and we have ours in Paris."
"And what about with the United States of America and Britain?"
"We have no diplomatic relations with them," I replied. "The United States of America, in 1945, made the establishment of relations with us conditional on our recognition of the validity of all the agreements it had signed with the anti-popular government of Zog. We cannot accept these agreements as lawful, because they have an enslaving character, and because the Congress of Perrmet has explicitly prohibited this. For their part," I went on, "the British want naval bases in our ports, and only then will they recognize us. They have long been trying to realize these aims.
"At the time when we had wiped out the nazi forces and liberated almost the entire country, the British, through some military missions they had in our country and under the guise of allies in the anti-fascist war, insistently demanded that as 'allies', we, together with one of their commandos, should wipe out a German garrison that remained in Saranda, our southernmost port. We accepted their request on condition that, once the operation was over, they should return immediately to where they had come from, to the sea. The operation was completed and the British not only wanted to stay there, but also intended to penetrate into the interior of the country.
"The General Staff of the National Liberation Army presented them with an ultimatum, which demanded their immediate withdrawal, otherwise we would fight and drive them into the sea. After our ultimatum the British boarded their ships and returned to Greece. But they have not given up their aims."
"You must see what is best in the interests of your country," Comrade Stalin said, and he added:
"As for the bases the British want to have in your ports, in no way should you agree to this. Guard your ports well."
"We will never relinquish them to anybody!"
I said. "If the worst comes to the worst we shall die rather then relinquish them."
"You must guard them and not die," said Comrade Stalin, laughing. "Here diplomacy is needed."
Then he rose, shook hands with each of us in turn and went away.
We met again some days later at a dinner, which was put on in the Kremlin in honour of our delegation. Comrade Stalin, I and the others were seated round the table. At this dinner, just as in all other meetings we had with him, we were impressed and moved by Stalin's great love for our country and people, his interest to learn as much as possible about the history, culture, language and customs of our people.
He started the conversation by asking me about some words of the Albanian language:
"I want to hear," he told me, "how the words: people, man, bread, gift, wife, husband and land, sound in Albanian.,"
I began pronouncing these Albanian words and he listened to me with great concentration. I remember that a funny situation arose over one of these words. He had asked me what was the Albanian equivalent of the Russian word "dar".
"Peshqesh!" I was quick to reply.
"No no!" he said, "Peshqesh is not Albanian, but Turkish." And he laughed. He had a very frank and sincere laugh, a laugh which came straight from the heart.
Listening to my pronunciation of Albanian words, Comrade Stalin said:
"Your language is very old and has been handed down in spoken form from one generation to the other. This, too, is a fact which proves the endurance of your people, the great strength of their resistance to assimilation despite the storms that have swept over them."
In connection with these problems, he asked me:
"What is the national composition of the Albanian people? Are there Serbian or Croatian national minorities in Albania?"
"The overwhelming majority of our people," I told him, "is made up of Albanians, but there is a Greek national minority (about 28,000 people) and a very few Macedonians (five small villages all told), while there are no Serbs or Croats."
"How many religious beliefs are there in Albania," Comrade Stalin inquired, "and what language is spoken?"
"In Albania," I replied, "there are three religions: Moslem, Orthodox and Catholic. The population which professes these three faiths is of the same nationality - Albanian, therefore the only language used is Albanian, with the exception of the Greek national minority which speak their mother tongue."
From time to time, while I was speaking, Stalin took out his pipe and filled it with tobacco. I noticed that he did not use any special tobacco, but took "Kazbek" cigarettes, tore them open, discarded the paper and filled his pipe with the tobacco. After listening to my answer, he said:
"You are a separate people, just like the Persians and the Arabs, who have the same religion as the Turks. Your ancestors existed before the Romans and the Turks. Religion has nothing to do with nationality and statehood."
And in the course of our conversation, he asked me:
"Do you eat pork, Comrade Enver?"
"Yes, I do!" I said.
"The Moslem religion prohibits this among its believers," he said. "This is an old, outdated custom. Nevertheless," he went on, "the question of religious beliefs must be kept well in mind, must be handled with great care, because the religious feelings of the people must not be offended. These feelings have been cultivated in the people for many centuries, and great patience is called for on this question, because the stand towards it is important for the compactness and unity of the people."
The dinner passed in a very warm and comradely atmosphere. After proposing a toast to the Albanian army and the Soviet army, Comrade Stalin again mentioned the question of the struggle of the Greek people. He spoke with deep sympathy about the brave and freedom-loving Greek people, about their heroism, their sacrifices and the blood they had shed in their just war.
"Both we and you, all the revolutionaries and peoples are with the just struggle of the Greek people, with their demands for freedom and democracy. They will never lack our ideological and political support and backing,"said Comrade Stalin among other things. "You," he went on, "who border on Greece, must be particularly careful and vigilant in order to cope with any provocation of the monarcho-fascists against your country."
In the course of the dinner toasts were drunk to all the comrades in turn. A toast was drunk to Omer Nishani too.
Raising his glass time and again, Molotov urged me to drink more and, when he saw that I was not fulfilling his desire, asked:
"Why so little?! Last night you drank more!"
"Ah, last night! Last night was another matter," I said, laughing.
Then Molotov turned to Comrade Stalin:
"Last night," he said, "I dined with Comrade Enver at Vyshinsky's. The news reached us that yesterday, March 31, a son was born to Enver Hoxha in Tirana. In our rejoicing, we drank a bit more."
"Congratulations!" said Stalin immediately, raising his glass to me: "Let us drink this to the health of your little son and your wife!"
I thanked Comrade Stalin wishing him good health and a long life for the good of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet State, for the good of the revolution and Marxism-Leninism.
Several hours passed in this warm and friendly homely atmosphere. Both my comrades and I retain indelible memories of the behaviour and features of the glorious Stalin, of that man whose name and work struck terror into the hearts of the enemies - imperialists, fascists, Trotskyites, and reactionaries of every hue, while they aroused joy and enthusiasm in the hearts of the communists, proletarians and peoples, and gave them added strength and confidence in the future.
All through the dinner he was in the best of spirits, happy, laughing, extremely attentive in the conversation between us, and trying to make all present feel completely at ease. At about 23 hours Stalin suggested:
"What about some coffee?"
We all rose and went to the adjacent room. While coffee was being served, at a table nearby two Soviet comrades were laughing and trying to persuade Xhafer Spahiu to drink a bit more. Xhafer was resisting and said something to them. This scene did not escape the ever attentive Stalin who said jokingly to the Soviet comrades:
"Oh, this is not fair! You are not on an equal footing with the guest - you are two to one!"
We all laughed and continued talking and joking just as in a circle of intimate friends. Then Stalin rose again:
"Comrades," he said, "now I invite you to the cinema."
We all rose and Stalin led us to the Kremlin cinema, where he personally chose the films our delegation would see. They were some documentary colour films with scenes from various parts of the Soviet Union, as well as the film "The Faraway Bride".
This brought our second visit to Stalin to a close.
 Former general secretary of the Greek Communist Party, an opportunist and capitulator to Anglo-American reaction. (E.H.)
 At that time president of the Presidium of People's Assembly of the PRA. (E.H.)