Enver Hoxha

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Enver Hoxha (pron. Hodzha), 1908-1985, prime minister of Albania 1944-1954, and head of the Party of Labour of Albania from its foundation (as the Communist Party) in 1941 until his death. Dismissed from his teaching post following the 1939 Italian invasion, Hoxha became political leader of the communist resistance movement which took power in November 1944.

Ultra-orthodox in his leanings towards the model of communist rule adopted in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, Hoxha severed relations with his former Yugolsav communist allies following their ideological breach with Moscow in 1948, executing defence minister Koçi Xoxe (pron. Kochi Dzodze) a year later for aleged pro-Yugoslav activities.

Finding his brand of communism increasingly isolated in Europe following new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's repudiation of Stalin's excesses in 1956, Hoxha in 1960 aligned Albania with China, severing relations with Moscow the following year. In 1967, at the height of Chinese leader Mao Zedong's "Cultural Revolution", Hoxha procaimed Albania the world's first atheist state.

Mao's death in 1976 and the defeat of the left in China's subsequent inner-party struggle led to Albania's retreat into political isolation, as relations between the two countries cooled in 1977-1978. Prime minister Mehment Shehu was reported to have committed suicide following a further dispute within the Albanian leadership in December 1981.

Hoxha's death on April 11, 1985 led to some relaxation in internal and foreign policies under his successor Ramiz Alia as communist party rule weakened throughout eastern Europe, culminating in Albania's abandonment of one-party rule in 1990 and the reformed Socialist Party's defeat in the 1992 elections.