By Adrian Civici
Albanians have honored and adored Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, perhaps more than the other peoples of the former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. What about Marx and Engels, although he lived in the period 1818-1883 and 1820-1895, did they know the Albanians and their problems in the Balkan Peninsula? What did Lenin and Stalin think about Albania and Albanians?
In the years when Marx lived, the “Albanian problem” in the Balkans and in the Ottoman, Empire was still faint. By the middle of the 19th century, the Turkish Empire was in the throes of the “Eastern Question”, at a time when the Balkans, including the Albanians, were seeking to fulfill their national dream. Greece gained its independence in 1821, Serbia in 1878, in the same year that the Albanians established the Albanian League of Prizren, but gained independence only in 1912. But Albanian history and culture, especially the era of Skanderbeg, was known and present in European literature and culture.
In this view, given the erudite and polyhedral efforts and nature of Karl Marx, in his work, various works or passions, insofar as he has been researched and published so far, are found, though few, only in three cases, and some “direct” writings or assessments about Albanians, their language, folklore, history and behavior.
I read the first information about Marx’s assessment of Albanians in an article by scholar and writer Nasho Jorgaqi in 2016, in which it was written that “Marx’s interest in the history and character of the Albanian people is met from an early age. In his youth, during the efforts he made for his scientific formation, he would study and summarize the history of several countries, starting from the history of France to Schlosser’s “World History”. Of particular importance to us are the notes drawn from the study of the history of the Ottoman Empire.
In them he mentions the Albanians and speaks with sympathy and truth about them. “Among other nations,” writes the young Marx, “we are focusing first and foremost on the Albanians.” This is a brave highland people, who make up the indigenous population of the country lying on the slopes of the Adriatic coast; he speaks his own language which belongs to the great family of Indo-European languages ”. In Albanian history, Marx’s attention is drawn primarily to the era of Skanderbeg’s wars and his personality. For him, the work of our National Hero has objectively served the progress of humanity. Highly appreciating the anti-Ottoman war of the Albanian people, he describes it as “A blow against the only truly military state of the Middle Ages, which opposed the emerging historical development and world progress.”
The second information of Marx’s interest and legacy for Albanian culture is related to “a folklore album” prepared by Marx in his youth, an album that was not compiled for publishing purposes but remained merely a manuscript, but was compiled as a collection of songs. popular of different peoples, which Marx specially summarizes and presents in 1839 to his fiancée Jenny Westfalen in Berlin.
According to Nasho Jorgaq, at the top he has this dedication: “German, Spanish, Greek, Latvian, Estonian, Albanian, etc. folk songs, collected and copied from various collections for my dear Zhen. K. Marks, Berlin 1839”. There is also an Albanian folk song entitled “Albanian Song” and is accompanied by the words: “Made known in Lord Byron’s notes in” Child Harold’s Pilgrimage “, The 30th Pilgrimage”. “This song was not chosen by chance by Marx but, firstly, because he liked it and, secondly, because it was taken from a serious guaranteed source, such as Byron’s famous poem.”
Unfortunately, the third case where Marx talks about Albanians (Arnauts), Slavs, Greeks and the Balkans is a very negative and contemptuous attitude, especially in one of the most delicate and decisive moments in the history of the Balkans and Albanians, the moment of the Congress of Berlin of 1878, which had on its agenda the revision of the Treaty of St. Stephen and the territorial and political reconception of the peoples and states of the Balkans, the Congress where the fate of the Albanian people and its territories was at stake.
Beyond the denigrating and cynical attitude and expression of the German Chancellor, Otto Bismark, that “there is no Albanian nation… that Albania is simply a geographical expression”, or the disregard of the Albanian issue by the Berlin Congress, it seems that Karl Marx has also sided with of negative attitudes and opinions about Albanians and their right to be valued and recognized as an independent state in their centuries-old territories.
In an article published by the Albanian-American scholar Marash Mali in Florida USA, “Ethnic Albanian from the truth to the dream”, (highlighted as a source: Congress of Berlin, 1878, full edition, Curcio, 1934, volume VII), there is a Marx assessment of the Albanians to the Congress of Berlin in 1878, in which it is written that the Arnauts (Albanians) are partly Christians of the Greek Orthodox orthodoxy and, partly Muslims, where judging by what we know they are little prepared for to be civilized. Their predatory tendency should force any neighboring government to keep them under severe military pressure, as long as industrial progress in neighboring countries does not provide them with jobs, e.g. wood-cutter and water-carrier.” There is no denying the fact that he called the peninsula “European Turkey”. “It is a natural wealth inherited from the ancestors of the southern Slavic race. The Slavs’ rivals are only the Arnaut barbarians and the Turks, who have long been widely regarded as the fiercest opponents of civilization and progress, on the contrary the Slavs are the only bearers of civilization.
By Friedrich Engels there are no published positions or specific and direct comments on Albania and Albanians, but only indirect analysis of the peoples of the Balkans, which indirectly means Albanians.
In an article by Fatos Lubonja “Albanians and nationalism” published in the magazine “Përpjekja, 2011”, it is said that in the XIX century, addressing the issue of nationalism, Engels speaks of historical peoples and non-historical peoples. According to him, the first, where he introduced the largest states of Western and Central Europe, had known how to build viable states and therefore would be able to build such in the future.
The latter, among whom Engels introduced the South Slavs, some minorities of Western Europe as well as some other third world countries, who lacked the ability and energy, had to disappear, according to him, from the scene of history for facilitate the development of historical nations”. In the context and the historical period of Engels’ analysis, the Albanians are also part of the peoples and states destined to disappear from the scene of history.
Lenin’s influence on the history and fates of Albania is very great. This is dedicated to Lenin’s public denunciation of the “Treaty of London” of 1915, according to a secret agreement signed between the Entente powers and the Italian government to meet Italy’s claims to Albania and the expansionist greed of Serbia, Montenegro and Greece.
According to point 5 of the Treaty, the Albanian coast from the outflow of the Buna in the north to the outflow of the Drini in the south, including Shengjin, would pass to Serbia and Montenegro. According to point 6, Vlora and the island of Sazan passed to Italy. According to point 7, Italy was obliged not to oppose the eventual desire of France, England and Russia that the northern and southern parts of Albania be divided between Montenegro, Serbia and Greece, while in Central Albania the “autonomous” Albanian state would be formed. which would be under the protectorate of Italy. The denunciation of this treaty by Lenin and the opposition by the President of the USA, Thomas Woodrow Wilson of the Anglo-Franco-Italian compromise (1920) awakened the patriotic conscience of the Albanians.
As a sign of respect and appreciation for this pro-Albanian gesture, on February 4, 1924, the Albanian Parliament holds 5 minutes of mourning for the death of Lenin who was a beloved figure for Albanians and the hope for the extension of Albania to its natural borders. Lenin’s denunciation of the secret London treaty aimed at dividing Albania among its neighbors aroused in the Albanian patriots and the common people love and gratitude for Lenin. A group of deputies in the Parliament led by Avni Rustemi insisted and forced the Parliament to hold 5 minutes of mourning for Lenin that they considered the friend of the Albanians.
Referring to the researcher Ergys Alushi, it is interesting to note the attitudes of the two Albanian deputies towards Lenin: Mr. Jashar Erebara: Before entering the talks, I propose to take a 5-minute break for Lenin as well, if Wilson would speak for the good of Albania Lenin would rather talk about a greater Albania. Mr. Avni Rustemi: I am very sorry, Mr. President, that when Lenin’s name is mentioned, laughter is heard from some representatives of the Nation… but for the high human principles, his name should be spoken with respect. You know very well, gentlemen, how he defended the high principles of the people and that he was the first to denounce the secret treaty of 1915 that was for the partition of Albania. (Discussions of the Constitutional Assembly V. I No.5 meeting of VII 4 February 1924 time 3 p.m. page 64.).
Meanwhile, Stalin’s attitudes and opinions about Albania and the Albanians are negative and quite humiliating. In their entirety, I would like to highlight only two of them that have to do with Stalin’s assessments and opinions about Albania.
Referring to the historian Agim Zogaj, participant in the meeting of February 10, 1948 between the Yugoslav and Soviet delegations, led by Eduar Kardeli and Josef Stalin, the issue of developments in Albania was raised. Here is how Zogaj describes this meeting: “As usual, around nine o’clock in the evening I was sent to the Kremlin, to Stalin’s office. Stalin, Molotov and Zhdanov were there… After the usual greeting, Stalin immediately moved on to the topic: “You in Albania, the members of the Central Committee are being killed! This is very bad, very bad”! I started to explain: “Nako Spiru has opposed Albania’s connection with Yugoslavia, he has been isolated in his Central Committee”. However, I was not even finished when Stalin said in my surprise: “We have no special interests in Albania. We agree that Yugoslavia should swallow Albania”!
On that occasion he gathered the fingers of his right hand and, carrying them towards his mouth, made with them the gesture of swallowing. I was surprised by that way of expressing the gesture of swallowing by Stalin ova Again I explained: “It is not about swallowing, but about union”! However, on this occasion Molotov intervened: “Yes, this is a swallow”! And Stalin, again with his gesture: “Yes, yes, swallowing. However, we agree with that. “You have to swallow Albania, the sooner the better.”
While the former Albanian ambassador to Moscow, Shaqir Vukaj, in the book “Russia and Kosovo”, publishes an authentic dialogue of Stalin with some senior Yugoslav leaders, during which it is clear Stalin’s negative and cynical attitude and assessments of Albanians and Albania: STALIN – How do you deal with Albanians? Hoxha as if he has complained about your political advisors in their army, as if they weaken discipline, or not; E. KARDELI – This is a new thing for us. They have not told us anything about it; STALIN – What is the origin of the Albanians ?; E. KARDELI – They are descendants of the Illyrians; STALIN – I remember Tito telling me that they are like the work of the Basques; E. KARDELI – This is true; S.SIMICI – There are data that say that Albanians are the oldest people in the Balkan Peninsula. Some words from them prove that the Albanian language is older than the Greek. Their word “Aphrodite” is borrowed from the Albanian language. In Greek this does not make sense; STALIN – This people are far behind in development; POPOVICI – Albanians are very brave and loyal people; STALIN: Yes, they can be as loyal as dogs. It is characteristic of primitive peoples. To us, the Chuvash have been so loyal. The tsars of Russia kept them for personal guards; E. KARDELI – In our country, in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija even today live more Albanians than Serbs. We think that later, when we establish closer ties with the Albanians, we will give these territories to them; STALIN – But how did the Albanians happen in these territories? E. KARDELI – They settled in this province in the time of the Turks. While a part of the population has been assimilated; STALIN – But how is it possible that a people with a lower level of development could achieve such a thing? How is this explained? …
I believe that this is enough to understand what figures “famous of Marxism-Leninism” but quite negative in relation to Albania and Albanians we have worshiped or have been forced to worship and raised on a pedestal for about five decades./Memorie.al