Memorie.al/ publishes some archival documents extracted from the Central State Archive in Tirana of the fund of the former Central Committee of the ALP, which belong to the years 1965-1967 when the communist regime of Tirana started the open war against religious beliefs and religions, prohibiting and closing by law all institutions and places of worship throughout the country. How was Albania declared the only atheist country in the world and the resistance and opposition of various believers from Shkodra, Elbasan, Gjirokastra, etc., who in 1965, began to send letters and complaints to Enver Hoxha, asking him to not to give up and not to touch the religious institutions, even reaching threats, such as a group of believers from the district of Elbasan, who wrote in their letter to the main leaders of the Party, that they would march towards Tirana, if the Ballije Mosque would be demolished!
Although the communist regime of Enver Hoxha had started the war and the crackdown on religious institutions and various clerics of the three faiths since his coming to power, in December 1944, when the executions, imprisonments or deportations of hundreds of Hundreds of clerics, the ban on religion and the demolition of various places of worship and religious institutions, undertook only in 1967. At that time, after sanctioning by a special law the ban on religion, official Tirana declared Albania as the only atheist country in the world. To that absurd and unprecedented decision that had been taken at that time by the senior communist leadership of the ALP and personally Enver Hoxha, which was initially camouflaged by attributing it as an initiative and request of some high school youth organizations. of Durrës and Tirana, there were many strong objections and reactions from both the believers and the clergy of the three faiths, who exercised their religious activity in our country. But the reactions and objections of various clerics and believers were further aggravated, when the directive of the senior leadership of the ALP, for the legal prohibition of religion and the demolition of places of worship and religious institutions, was becoming a reality by senior leaders of the ruling party in different districts of the country. They, disguised under the slogan “Declare war on backward customs”, immediately launched attacks on churches, mosques, tombs, tekkes, monasteries and other places of worship, destroying, destroying and flattening most of them., then turning them into crop centers, stables, warehouses, grain warehouses, etc. In those attacks on religious institutions, schoolchildren, military units and fanatical activists of youth organizations were initially sent, who acted according to the directives and instructions they received from the district party committees. At that time, when the attack on religion and the demolition of various places of worship had just begun, some of the top clerics as well as numerous believers from all over the country remembered that this was indeed an initiative of school youth organizations. And, to prevent what was happening, they began to send letter after letter to the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Albanian Labor Party, Enver Hoxha, denouncing the actions taken by the party and government leaders against religious sites. in districts. With those letters and complaints, they hoped that the main leader of the Party would intervene with his absolute authority and stop the actions that were taking place. A large part of these letters and protests that were sent to Enver Hoxha at that time, are in the Central State Archive in Tirana, and some of them, Memorie.al is publishing in this article.
The Bishop of Shkodra, Dom Ernest Çoba writes to Enver Hoxha
One of those senior Catholic clergymen, who reacted first to the decision of the senior leadership of the ALP to demolish the churches, was the Bishop of Shkodra, Monsignor Ernest Çoba, who in a letter complained directly to Enver Hoxha, making him aware of what was happening to the religious sites of the Catholic faith. In that short letter he wrote:
Comrade Enver Hoxha
First Secretary of the ALP Tirana
I address you, the leaders of the people, as follows:
On the national road horn Rozafat Castle, is the Sanctuary of the Millennium Devotion, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Good Counsel, a continuous monument of religion and homeland.
On 1.6.1966 we were informed by the Presidency of the Executive Committee of the People’s Council of Shkodra District that on the 6th of this month it will be included in the military zone and therefore its operation will be suspended.
We are ready to make sacrifices for the well-being of the homeland, even with our lives. However, we earnestly ask that, for the sake of their faith, you consider and act to continue the function of the sanctuary in question.
With selected honors
Ernest M. Çoba
Bishop, President of the Catholic Church of Albania.
Shkodër on 1.6.1966.
But this letter of Monsignor Çoba, apparently, was not handed over to Enver Hoxha, as one of the senior officials of the Central Committee of the ALP in Tirana, through an information he provides on this issue, considers it closed. that problem. In that letter, dated 16 July 1966, and entitled
“Information on Ernest Çoba’s telegram”, reads:
“He is the president of the Catholic Church. Through a telegram addressed to Comrade Enver, he writes that the Executive Committee of the District People’s Council has informed him that the Blessed Virgin Mary, located on the national road, the horn of Rozafat castle, will be included in the area. its operation will be suspended, so it is requested that this issue be considered. This was immediately discussed with Comrade NK, who announced that the Executive Committee, based on its powers, has decided in advance that the site be designated an area Ernest Çoba did not say anything at the time, but now that he is complaining, he has been told to remove the luggage he had inside the church, as his comrades-in-arms would make some explosions and isolate the place. Comrade NK also announced when he was a friend Enver in Shkodra, had been informed of this decision and had not been reprimanded. This telegram was also informed by Comrade Haki, who talked to Comrade LD himself, to call and explain Ernest Çoba. cried and clarified Ernest himself, but he is not a good man and confuses them at work. “We think the issue is considered over.”
Central Committee: Find the author of the letter
The letter of the Bishop of Shkodra, Monsignor Ernest Çoba, sent to Enver Hoxha in 1967, seems to have brought great concerns to the senior officials of the Central Committee of the ALP of that time. According to documents found in the General Directorate of State Archives in Tirana, the apparatus of the Central Committee in Tirana sent a letter to the Party Committee in Shkodra, requesting that the matter be viewed by it. But most worrying for the Central Committee of the ALP in Tirana, seems to have been an anonymous letter sent to Enver Hoxha by a believer in the city of Shkodra. In the reply of the Party Committee of that district (signed by the secretary L.R.), sent to the Central Committee, among other things, it is stated that the author of that letter could not be found. The letter, dated April 20, 1965, reads:
“Explanation of your letter No. / 33/1 Dt. 21. I.1965.
As for the above, we inform you that for the urgent needs of the army and with the approval of the Catholic Bishop, the army has been authorized to enter the cell of the Black Stone church.
But the military command, considering the great needs that the church with the cell had on the other side, are under one roof, so the movement of civilians nearby is not allowed, it has also occupied the church. We have instructed the military command to take measures to liberate the church as soon as possible, although on their part this presents difficulties. On the other hand, this problem has been raised with the people, that the church will be held for some time until conditions are created for its release. On the issue of going to work on Sundays and religious holidays, this has been voluntarily requested by the cooperatives, considering the needs of working in the cooperative and it is not true that administrative measures have been taken on this issue. “We could not find the author of the letter.”
Anonymous complaint: “Comrade Enver, here is what the leader of the Party in Shkodra is doing”!
One of the many letters that were sent in the years 1965 – ’67 to the address of Enver Hoxha by different believers, is that of a person living in the city of Shkodra, which like most of those letters is anonymous, without name. The letter reads, inter alia:
“The party, as the organizer and inspirer of all the victories of our people, has given evidence of self-sacrifice in every direction. In this letter I am talking about some inappropriate measures that are being taken by the Party Committee. During the NÇL war. The enemy and so on. first clergy, had waged a great war and propaganda against our Party, saying that the communists did not believe in God, destroyed churches and mosques, etc. Well at that time this thesis of theirs was strongly opposed, moreover Measures have also been taken against those communists who are ostensibly atheists. What is happening today? But the words of the clergy are being confirmed today, because in fact in our city the church and the mosque have been demolished and some have been turned into state warehouses and what has irritated the people of Shkodra the most is the leadership of the Party Committee of our city headed by PT, which has a lot to develop the cult and what PT says will be done or otherwise the devil will get in. He has reached the culmination point of thought my in religious matters, he today seeks to emerge as a new reformer against religion, using some inappropriate forms and methods that with full conviction you as a Party leader have not given him such instruction. Here is what this prominent personality did: he ordered special forms to be filled out by Party secretaries in the work centers at the following points:
- Who keeps icons in the house and will you keep them or remove them?
- In case one of the family members dies, will you bury them with a priest or imam?
- Which of the employees or family members celebrated religious holidays such as Eid, Christmas and others?
- Who fasts Ramadan and will you spoil your mothers and fathers?
- Has school principals ordered children up to 9th grade to ask if they are circumcised and will they be circumcised?
- He forced the employees of the state apparatus to go through the neighborhoods and go home to ask them if you were fasting and drinking a glass of water?
- He forbade the ringing of bells not only for religious holidays, but also for the ringing of the clock, which is the greatest ignorance.
(AQSH F 14 / A. / p. S.T.R.U. 1965 D.1014 f.2)
The threatening letter of the Elbasan believers, for the non-demolition of the Ballije Mosque: “Comrade Enver, protect our mosques, because we will come to Tirana”
The decision of the Central Committee of the ALP in 1967 to close all religious institutions and places of worship, which was initially camouflaged as an initiative of school youth organizations, provoked strong reactions and opposition from various believers in all districts of the country. This is what happened in the District of Elbasan, where a group of believers from the villages and the city sent three letters to Enver Hoxha, even threatening him that in case their complaint not to be preceded would not be demolished Ballje mosque, they would march to Tirana. In those letters, among other things, they wrote: ”
Comrade Enver Hoxha
This is the second letter we are sending to you, Comrade Enver, and for a while the workers were stopped for demolishing the Ballje mosque, well, but today on dt. On October 27, 1965, the Jama’at began to demolish the mosque and the believers were saddened and demanded that the mosque in question not be demolished and remain in place. We know that religion is free and we enjoy all religious rights and therefore we demand that the Ballje mosque is historic, but if we do not accept it as historic, we should decorate and fix it, but only keep the mosque in place and not destroy it. From the religious, from the Mosques and the believers of the city of Elbasan. Only your command forbids any action.
We remain with high hope.
The third letter of the Elbasan believers to Enver Hoxha
Comrade Enver Hoxha
This is the third letter we send you and nothing was done for the Ballje mosque in Elbasan, but they continue to destroy it. It is a great sin to break a mosque like this, which is very good and which is in the middle of the city. I go to the Chairman of the City Committee that it is a mosque that would be destroyed if it were a church, it would not end like this and the Mufti of the city of Elbasan together with the head of religion in Tirana, look to get money and did not ask about mosques , but they look to fill their pockets, and for the mosques they have no galleys but one thing is that the mosques have been hit by the people and the people ask you how bad it is that the mosques are being demolished today and that many of them have become warehouses that they stand out because they are inside the city. As for the Mufti of the city, he did it as he pleased, the imams of the city and the village are afraid of him like that with cobras on his belt and they do as he is told out of fear that he threatens them, therefore all this has come with The Mufti of the City has been made, therefore we ask that the mosque not be demolished until it is too late, if we too as religious enjoy all the rights as those who do not believe, see our right, or order the demolition of all mosques so that we may know that we as believers do not enjoy the rights as all, but to be corrupted, together with the Mufti of the City who has deified religion to this state. We ask that the mosque not be demolished before it is too late and that the Mufti be removed from our religion altogether. If the demolition is not stopped and the mosque is repaired, on Tuesday the 2nd we will come a part of the believers to meet with you to clarify. With respect, Xhemiati and the believers of the city and villages of Elbasan. Lesson with full hope.
(A.Q.Sh. f.14 / A.P. S.T.R. V.1965 D.1014 fq.76)
Letter from Gjirokastra to Enver Hoxha: I am glad you are well and healthy with what your soul desires
In addition to threatening letters from various believers who complained and objected to the closure and demolition of places of worship and religious institutions, at that time, letters were sent to the highest party and state bodies and their main leaders. others where the concern of the believers was presented in softer tones. This, among other things, is made known by a letter from a citizen from Gjirokastra, in which it is written:
Dear and honored friend Enver.
I rejoice that you are well and healthy with all that your soul desires. Two or three days ago, you came out of Baba Zejneli’s Tekke in the coffin of Shuqur Çuçi, but when they carried out the bones of Father i Shuquri, they left without taking a stone written in Turkish, that this stone should be placed where the bones of Shuqur’s fathers, this stone is written in Turkish letters indicating the name the other date viz. is like a memory. If you want, write to the Committee here to take it and put it in the grave, hugs, be well and sound “.