Memorie.al publishes an unknown archival document extracted from the Central State Archive in Tirana, (fund of the former Central Committee of the ALP), which belongs to 1957, where there is a record of a meeting of Enver Hoxha with a group of writers and artists from the most famous of that time, starting from: President of the League of Writers and Artists of Albania, Dhimitër Shuteriqi, writers Kole Jakova, Sterjo Spasse, Nonda Bulka and Llazar Siliqi, sculptors and painters Vangjush Miho , Photo by Stamo and Kristina Hoshi, composers Prenk Jakova and Çesk Zadeja, etc. The full minutes of that meeting with the conversation held between Enver Hoxha with the most famous writers and artists, which took place a day before the first Congress of Writers and Artists of Albania, which was also attended by a member of the Politburo and Deputy Prime Minister Spiro Koleka.
“Let’s take for example the works of comrade Vangjush Mio because I know him as an old man, together with Nonda we had teachers. He has a lot of pictures and sketches where the characteristics of our popular style have come out well. Therefore formally we do not want architects in this meeting. We specifically want you, as an engineer, to encourage them to work closely with the painters and when they come down to see the life of the people instead and to put this spirit into their sketches. They should not work only according to books. Keep in mind the economic side as well, but this does not lead you to create blocks without much taste and beauty. I think the national characteristics of our constructions are not such that they cost much to build. In all fields such as literature, art, architecture, work must be done and works must be created that the people love, understand and feel “.
This was stated, among others, by Enver Hoxha in a meeting held with writers and artists on May 15, 1957, attended by some of the most famous personalities and names of art, culture and literature of that time, starting with the President of the League of Writers and Artists of Albania, Dhimitër Shuteriqi, writers Kole Jakova, Sterjo Spasse, Nonda Bulka and Llazar Siliqi, sculptors and painters Vangjush Miho, Foto Stamo, Kristina Hoshi, composers Prenk Jakova and Çesk Zadeja and others, etc. of the Politburo and Deputy Prime Minister Spiro Koleka.
Regarding the conversations that Enver Hoxha had with that group of writers and artists, some of the most famous personalities of Albanian art, culture and literature who were a day before the first Congress of the League of Writers and Artists, the archival document introduces us with the process- the minutes of that meeting, which Memorie.al publishes for the first time.
Minutes of the conversation between Enver Hoxha and a group of writers and artists on May 15, 1957
May 15, 1957
Continued from the previous issue
COMRADE ENVER: These are not dreams, these are plans, reality and they will definitely come true. You know what prospects oil has for us, there we will grow new staff. The staff we have is heroic, they work, they have learned the craft, but how many others will we still need. We should rejoice that millions of tons of oil reserves have been discovered in our country. And what is a refinery? 4 refineries will be built in the future, even bigger than the ones we have. There is oil all over Albania, up to Shkodra, Korça and Gjirokastra. It is therefore a burden to hire our writers, painters, composers, to enter the heart of the working class and from there produce such works as to replace the excessive conferences that take place and sometimes upset the people.
A novel is of great importance and our conference speakers, if they read your novels well, will be able to inspire people better for work. Our agriculture also has a great perspective. Collectivization, this topic has been captured by some; let’s see now what Fatmir has done to us that he has entered the Maliq Farm. But with a flower does not come spring, people say. The issue of agriculture should concern everyone that a great revolution is taking place in our village, with collectivization. Then there are the big contradictions in the village besides the flaws and mistakes. We are reprimanding the people of the Party, the leaders of the Party committees, that in some cases the Party line is not implemented properly and well. There are contradictions not only between the peasants, but also between us communists.
Many determined villagers have joined the Party, but there are still many who are not well educated. The communists in the village should have understood that they had to be the first to join the agricultural cooperative, but some of them were not convinced. The issue of traditions and family ties has also had an impact. There are party leaders who tell the communists: either with the father, or with the cooperative. However, his father made his head, the family is a family, says the Party, therefore this is important, but they do not take these into account and find the opportunity and expel them from the Party. So in the village there is war, there are contradictions. One of the weapons of our Party for resolving these contradictions is your writings.
The Central Committee, comrades, thinks how high a task you of literature and art have in mobilizing the masses to build the foundations of socialism. That is why we come here with self-criticism that: although we have understood the importance of art and literature, we must understand this importance even more deeply and make efforts and facilitate the work of the comrades who perform this great task. Fellow writers and artists understand that we live in Albania and do not have extravagant views, they do not ask for extravagant things.
But in order for our painters to develop their art, they must be provided with brushes, paints, workplaces and so on. You can also work in the room of Vangjush Mios, which was left by the old man, a small oven, and he in this room also made a portrait of me as friends. I mean artists have a place to work and exhibit their work, to create an atelier, where these friends can work more freely, and then later we will do other things.
COMRADE SPIRO KOLEKA: These comrades have to fight hard, it is not that they came to us and we did not help them.
COMRADE ENVER: I believe we do not agree with that. Requests for the needs of these have come to us through the reports we have read.
PHOTO STAMO: Since 1947 we have been making reports about these things.
COMRADE ENVER: It is not done only with relations; those of the economy have now received directives on these issues as well.
COMRADE SPIRO KOLEKA: We import hundreds of millions of rubles worth of goods and not to bring what the painters need, we should be ashamed of our bureaucracy.
Responding to the opinion expressed to fight bureaucracy by satire, Comrade Enver said:
For example, Nonda Bulka does some very good satire, so comrade Nonda do not let the tip of the pen thicken (laughter). Of course you deal with other things as well. Nonda is an old talent, but where to express it before? Now he has all the possibilities. So is Sterjo Spasse who is now publishing novels that people like. So there are many opportunities in our country in this regard. As much as possible we will help you more in the interest of the people. Painter friends have nothing to do without being connected to nature and life, they are a little ahead in this regard, it is then also their craft that leads them outside the walls of the house. However few do. These, too, must show the great rush of the working class and the peasantry. This should be expressed in their works though and landscapes are of great importance. Keep the proportion. Comrade Mio can handle other genres as well, but it seems to me that he has the landscape in his blood. My opinion is that his paintings are very good, they have a lot of value and when I see them, I see the light and colors of the mountains of Korça, because I have lived there for a long time. In his works he finds realism.
COMRADE SPIRO KOLEKA: Yes, it should not only show views from Korça but also from the coastal areas.
COMRADE ENVER: Well, let him draw, but you have not drawn any painter yourself there, you have only drawn pirates (happy laughter). The captains of Himara have been heard to shear the sheep of Corfu. There were also skilled captains for merchant ships from Shkodra. We will develop the merchant navy, and we must develop the art in all directions.
VANGJUSH MIO: You have to see nature, feel it well, be seen in the moment when it is most beautiful. If you feel it brings out good things. Previously I was in the district of Korça, but it is not enough, you have to go out because you cannot do anything without leaving. The painters have to work, but we have to gather two or three more people together, go to the highlands and connect with the people there.
COMRADE ENVER: Well, you can also produce works in collaboration with each other
PHOTO STAMO: It helps that we also criticize each other’s shortcomings.
COMRADE ENVER: We have many good deeds that represent our country, our efforts. Even the Soviet comrades who came liked your works, were enthusiastic and said that these people have great perspective. In painting, we have not had traditions and support, so the efforts of our friends are to be commended. But in terms of literature, poetry, music, we also have our traditions. We should support our poets and playwrights and ask for more from them.
For example, in dramaturgy we have good things that we liked extremely much like the works of Kole Jakova which are strong and educational works. Even the novels that have been made are good, but don’t forget the novels too. These are beautiful and understood and read by the broad masses. With them you can excite and mobilize people. You have to take into account the cultural level of our people. I have read Shuteriq’s novel and I liked it, but it also depends on the mood of the moment. “Our Flute” I also really liked. I mean these genres should not be neglected. Novels are good especially for our level.
Here also Aragon writes novels, but the subjects he deals with are heavy for the masses, he has not been able to properly fix the characteristics of war. Therefore as much as possible to take into account the level of people when writing. As for music, I agree that we should write both opera and symphony, of course, but also other genres that mobilize the masses, such as the compositions of Trako, Gaqo Avraz, etc., are good. All these things the congress should deal with, not to leave them in silence.
So, to create a symphony, you and others, to use all genres, in this regard should not be neglected that you can write a stream of works, but sometimes for one thing even a satire with 5 lines is enough to make the effect of proper. It’s worth a lot that man holds in his head. You are able to better understand the importance of having connections with people; there is the greatest source of inspiration. If you do not get the experience and opinions of the people cannot move forward. And preserve the pure spirit of Marxism in your works, the spirit of the glory of the people.
The party will help you, strongly, that this whole issue has taken a big leap. In the future, in the years to come, we have the conviction and belief that even greater opportunities will be given to you, and these that we say will be needed not only issues of novels but also of music, sculpture, etc. Even sculpture will become really necessary. But why? Because new factories will be built, new houses, new parks will be opened and these will definitely beautify the country. So far we have not had the opportunity to think about such things.
Now opportunities will inevitably be created and you will have ample scope to express your patriotic feelings and skills and what you have done will not be enough. Therefore, you, the pioneers of the new culture of our country, must be careful about rising new generations, because in the future your forces will not be enough. With the measures that will be taken, we will greatly increase our products and we will not be left with the slogan that the plan will be realized every 28 or 29 November, but we will take such measures that the annual plan will be realized before the deadline. This will create opportunities to give the people as many products as possible. So there are great opportunities with us.
“But the mentality of the peasant must also change, especially that of Tirana, who sows corn with great delay. It will take more time, men,” he says. But why not plant it? Because everyone gets that matarana with a pound of milk and the basket with 10 eggs and comes to town. In some other places in January you will find corn still in the fields and straw which is a good food for cows to increase milk production, thus losing much of its nutritional qualities. Only the harvest of the plant, not when the tyrant does, but a little earlier, and their silage, not in pits with cement or ordinary pits, but on the ground, makes the straw to preserve the nutritional qualities and immediately the cow, what the tyrant takes 300 liters, increases production to 800 liters.
If you only calculated this how much production would increase across the country. Years later, the first secretary of the Party Committee of the Peshkopi district came to the Secretariat and began to cry that the cattle of this district were dying. It is not possible, he said, to keep cattle for the winter. Courses Lushnja, Kavaja etc. do not let us graze in these areas to which our villagers have come for centuries. If we cut it, we told him to do whatever you want, your cattle will stay in the Bishop. He gathered his mind, went to Peshkopi, gathered the Party, the people and the youth that he had not gathered and was told how to solve this problem.
And the solution was found for beauty, they mobilized in summer and created very large reserves for winter in the mountains, and Peshkopia was the only place in Albania that did not suffer anything cattle in winter. As many such opportunities there are. I only talked about the opportunities in one sector, so we will try to create abundance and we will take these measures as soon as possible, fight bureaucracy and move forward as soon as possible. We have perspective in other directions as well. We will dry swamps even this five-year-old. In Maliq we will turn the remaining small lake into productive land. Then trees and fruits will be made from all sides that Albania is the richest country that can be in this direction.
Përmeti (addressed to Nonda Bulka) will become a miracle full of cherries, apples, grapes, etc. These are simple and possible things to think about. The fields will not be occupied with trees in any way, they will become terraces, and we will find the belt where every tree loves the climate. But why are they neglected? The people have longed for bread. We will make bread, but we must understand that fruits have a great value, in addition to food for the people. What do the Greeks do? They buy us our Tropoja chestnuts, what they do, wrap them in a bright paper and export them to Argentina and get foreign currency. But why can’t we do it in this job as well? There are cases that even rot us.
Therefore we must value all things. Powerful mechanisms will come to dry the swamps. Then these will bring the development of food industry, textile, clothing, handicrafts will take another look. Our artisans have abandoned the beautiful work and expect everything to be given to them by the state. This is not fair because we lose a lot of revenue. We take the hedgehog to Czechoslovakia and bring chess toys there, but why not do it ourselves? We have wood, we have horned bones, why not make many beautiful and necessary things for the people and for export?
We will do everything and that means increasing the income of the people and instead of all these we will buy other things that will create abundance. Then the issue of mining, oil, chromium is very important for us, especially the copper that we were afraid we would run out of, but this fear has now left us because Mirdita is all copper. Yes copper has both gold and cobalt. One big thing for us is ferro-chrome which will be of great value. Thus large quantities of iron, nickel, etc. were found. Our mountains hide jewels inside. That’s why we have to get to work. For all these, to exploit them, we will have to make other hydropower plants.
COMRADE SPIRO KOLEKA: Agriculture is the basis, the bread of the people and of industry. All these miracles, all this flowering garden that must be figuratively understood, will be done with our work.
COMRADE ENVER: We are building hydropower plants, but there is a working class, machinery is coming, there are few people left and this work is going on, but in the village things are not going that way. These are great tasks but feasible, because we have a good, patriotic peasantry, ready to embrace everything. Before we talked about collectivization, but people did not understand, but by constantly talking people see and grasp new issues faster and work has now managed to curb collectivization in the highlands, but Party comrades tell us: «we do not have what can we do, they want it themselves, we have no way to stop them ». Well, such a situation was not so 3-4 years ago. The peasantry was also introduced to cotton, whereas before they did not know it, as well as to beets. Who planted it before in Korça? The peasant did not know him and did not know his benefit, so he resisted. Now the new in agriculture everywhere has sprung up and is moving forward. What are you doing now? Now that Cesku (Zadeja) has arrived, he is full of new energies.
FATMIR GJATA: He intends to make an opera about Skënderbeu.
COMRADE ENVER: I very much agree with such a thing, something can be done based on Naim’s poem. What does Kole Jakova do?
KOLË JAKOVA: Now I am working on a drama with a social theme on the family, on the rights of women and men, on family disharmony, the damage that this brings to the collective and the way I think you solve this problem.
COMRADE ENVER: What about Lazarus?
LLAZAR SILIQI: I am writing a poem. I have something to do with hydropower plants, because they symbolize the new in our country. I believe I will finish this by the end of the year.
COMRADE ENVER: What about Sterjo?
STERJO SPASSE: I have a topic that has to do with youth.
COMRADE ENVER: Let’s see now what Fatmir brings us. You see, even though he went to the fields, he did not look like a peasant, nor was he blackened at all (laughter).
Comrade Enver, speaking about literary criticism, added: Dhimitri, even when he comes here to the Central Committee, is not afraid, and let’s go of the sword, but he must fight so that literary criticism develops more vividly, and only always be fair, objective. , and principled.
DHIMITËR SHUTERIQI: Criticism requires a lot of time and work to get the right development.
COMRADE ENVER: We will gladly come to your congress and listen to you with the utmost care that this will be an important event in the development of art and culture in our country. I do not want to keep you anymore; because you also have the preparations for the “wedding”, foreign friends have also come to you. Try to make them aware of our reality so that they can help us and take advantage of them.
On behalf of all the friends thank you very much for the kindness you came and met us. This is a help not only for you, but also for us who met with representatives of literature and arts and we assure you that we will help you more than now not to please you, but to love the interest of the people, that this issue is closely connected with the improvement of the life of the people. Therefore, we wish you success in your work! /Memorie.al