The rare interview of Nexhmije Hoxha for the Greek newspaper: I cannot accept that my husband was a criminal

2023-07-12 19:43:45Histori SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
Enver and Nexhmije Hoxha

Interviewed by: Stavros Ximas

Amid the developments of the immigration/refugee crisis in Europe, the death in Tirana of 99-year-old Nexhmije Hoxha, the wife of Enver Hoxha, the "Black Widow" of the Balkans, went almost unnoticed in the daily news. The "spider" woman, as they called her in post-communist Albania, gave two interviews for the "Kathemerini" newspaper and the journalist in question (published on March 3, 2020 - editor's note), where with her request, one of them should be published only after she passed away. The one that is published is the first interview and the unpublished one will follow, which is essentially an interview of Nexhmije Hoxha with Nexhmije Hoxha herself, a kind of manifesto, where the philosophy of the dictatorial regime is clearly visible. I considered it an obligation to fulfill her wish.


Nexhmije Hoxha, the wife of Enver Hoxha, was 81 years old when I met her for the first time in 2004 and had an admirable clarity of thought. She wrote books about her life with the Albanian leader, the persecutions and vicissitudes after the regime change, she followed the political developments from a distance and was proud "for everything we built all these years". He lived in a small, poor apartment in Laprakë, on the outskirts of Tirana, in the direction of the airport, where during the communist regime the pularites were located. She didn't have her own house, because as she told me, "the democrats refuse to give it to me only, they gave it to everyone else". He receives a pension of 80 dollars and the children help him.

The daughter took a warehouse and transformed it into an apartment; and there settled the once powerful Nexhmije Hoxha, to spend her remaining years, in the company of her very old sister-in-law and the memories of a past era, which for others was the darkest period of Albania, while for herself Nexhmijen, it was when the rebirth of the Albanian people happened. He did not want to talk to Greek journalists because he had a bitter experience. A Greek reporter visited him before and "wrote in a magazine, things that horrified me and that, of course, I had not told her." It took the intervention of her son, Iliri, a calm and cultured character, to convince her.

When I met her, after a heavy downpour in Tirana, it was dark and the photojournalist and I had to cross an unlit, muddy road that led to the entrance of her house. He welcomed us with a smile and treated us to traditional Albanian coffee and raki, the coffee that cost him 1,800 days in prison.

"At the time of our government, we did not have such phenomena. Not that it did not rain, but the wells were cleaned, there were channels for the removal of water, not this crap, which is happening now", was her first comment, when he saw us as porridge and mud.

Simple, kind and proud, she must have been a very beautiful woman in her youth, just to see her youthful portrait hanging on the wall. I had in front of me for four hours, the most hated face of post-communist Albania. "Spider woman", "black widow", "witch", "Hoxha's monster", as they called her after the dethronement, who during the absolute rule of her husband, trembled at her, or fell on their knees. In the small salon, Hoxha's photographs predominated and in the library his works.

Enveri with Nexhmija in a sweet love pose, on the shore of the lake in Pogradec; Nexhmija with Enver and their three children and grandchildren; a giant photograph of Enver in one of the Party resorts in a carefree pose; a large painting where she is with her husband and other partisans during the meeting of Peza in 1942, a historical moment for Albanians, where the anti-fascist front was created.

"These are among the few objects that we were able to save. They took the others from us and still keep them. These are my husband's personal archive, our family archive, photographs, personal gifts and Enver's 25,000 books. I'm not saying that they should give back to us those that are state-owned, but I want them to give me back the personal and family belongings that they keep illegally". Nexhmije Hoxha was arrested immediately after the collapse of the system and sentenced to 12 years in prison. They accused him of many things: abuse of power, orchestrating torture and executions, up to embezzlement of public money for excessive coffee consumption. All other charges were dropped and her trial will remain in the political-judicial chronicles "like the coffee trial".


How did coffee get into your pursuit?

After my husband's funeral in 1985, thousands of people passed by the house to console us, and according to the Albanian custom, we drank coffee. This was considered embezzlement and I was put in jail. It was a ridiculous accusation that caused international outrage, but they had their own goals.

How were the conditions in the prison? Did you receive any special treatment as a political prisoner?

Miserable. I was in prison for 1,800 days and spent very long periods in solitary confinement. I was kept in the prison of Burrel, in Tirana and then in the high security prison in Tepelena, together with 40 criminal men of the criminal law. For over a year and a half, I slept without a bed on the ground, without heating, without anything at all. I shared a toilet with men, I went out in the yard for an hour a day accompanied by a guard, I saw men being slaughtered with knives before my eyes. I had asked them to take me to the women's prisons, but they refused my request. They took me away only when they needed my cell, so they could come inside Fatos Nanon. I had set myself the goal not to kneel, not to fall, and I was not defeated.

So many years in prison, did you think, that in the same cells they rotted for decades with thousands of your compatriots with the only "crime" of political disagreement with Enver's regime? - I provoked him.

Yes, of course it crossed my mind, but I am not responsible for what the people who were imprisoned had done, because they had certainly done something, they had violated the laws of the state", he continues:

If I had gone to prison for political reasons, I would accept it, but not for coffee. Both I and my family have been in complete isolation since then and live in conditions of political persecution. My son, Iliri, wrote a letter to defend his father and he was put in prison. Agreed, why should I pay for what happened so many years in Albania?

Some say that that woman has no regrets, she will not apologize for the past. And I answer them: I can apologize to the people, if the people want it. I cannot express regret to those who destroyed Albania, who uprooted the industry, who collapsed the factories, who plunged the people into uncertainty, I do not feel it in front of them.

I believe you know that the image that has prevailed in the outside world of your husband for so many years was that of a bloody dictator, a tyrant. Many of your compatriots who can speak freely say the same thing now.

Agreed, that some try to portray Enver as a tyrant, as an animal. But the truth is different. He was a sweet man, kind to his wife, loving to his grandchildren. He read a lot, spoke French, listened to classical music, liked Strauss, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. In his free time he liked to play with his grandchildren, he had a weakness for his parents. He was careful with people and they especially loved him. He would not be able to withstand 40 years in power if the people did not want him. Albanians now understand what they lost.

I wonder how loving and "caring with people" he could be, when as a leader, he sent thousands of people to the firing squads and even more people to prison, destroying their lives and their families.

(His face changed color)

Now that they have the power, they took the trumpets and say monstrous things. The truth is that there were no more than 4,000 people who were persecuted for political reasons. The rest were civilian convicts. The data is not mine, but the judicial body's. We do not deny that we have been harsh, we say so even today. However, we would not be able to protect this small state from the foreign powers that wanted to destroy it. Agree, let them say the bad things, but don't hide the great work that Enver did for the people. I cannot accept that my husband was a criminal.

It may annoy you, but I will not insist on the human side of your spouse, which you do well to protect. In this house, you live together with Enver's beloved sister, as you called her. This woman remained a widow, shortly after her marriage, still a young girl, and this happened because Enver sent her husband, i.e. her brother-in-law, to be shot and destroyed her life. I can't perceive it, I don't know if you can.

(He didn't show any sign of annoyance or shock...)

Listen. My brother-in-law was Foreign Minister in the Quisling government during the invasion of the country, and Enver had warned him, ever since. When later the trials of the collaborators of the Germans took place, the one who could ease the indictment against him was the former Party secretary and Minister of the Interior, Koçi Xoxe. But he, it was revealed to be a former Yugoslav agent, was waiting for Enveri to ask him for this, so that he could then use it against him, but my husband did not. He said to his sister: go to Koçua, maybe he'll forgive her, I can't interfere in the affairs of Justice. And so, his son-in-law was sent to be shot. There was no other way...

How did you meet your husband?

I saw him for the first time at a party conference in Korça, in 1941. I was then working in the communist youth, he was a party leader and I almost fell in love with him, from the first moment. At that time I was 21 years old, young, spontaneous. I don't know if they told you, but Enveri was also a very handsome man. Apart from his beauty, I was impressed by his stunning speech. We met secretly, because it wasn't official, and later we got married.

(Nexhmije Hoxha was an active member of the regime. She served as a member of the Central Committee of the Party, worked for "people's democracy" from various positions. Many people claim that she had a great influence on Enver and some say that in the last years of life, when Enveri was very ill from the effects of diabetes, she was actually running Albania)

What answer do you give to those who say that when your husband was too burdened, you were the real leader of the country?

I know this, but it is a myth that was spread and is spread by all those who wanted to humiliate and destroy his image. I have data, documents, which prove that until the last moment he signed and made decisions himself. There is no doubt that until the last moment he had a clear mind and worked hard. I was his secretary. Because he had difficulty with his vision, I read the newspapers and letters and wrote what he dictated to me. Many times I got tired and when I read a letter to him as if he was mindless, he would correct me saying that it is not so, go back to the previous point. These, two weeks before he died.

I remember, when he was on the verge of death, he received a fax with one of Konstantinos Karamanlis' speeches. I read it quickly, but he insisted go back, let's see how he said it, read it to me again. I don't remember exactly what it was, but he insisted. I'm telling you this story so you can understand how good it was until the end.

At first, he wouldn't let me read the faxes, but then his eyes got tired. I was always close to him, as he suffered from diabetes attacks. When in the end, they had put serums on him at home, there was going to be a ceremony for the opening of the borders in Kakavija, and he called a secretary to the house, to tell him what had to be done. He wanted to determine the details of who would go, what he would do specifically. They presented him with a plan, which provided for a ceremony with few officials and diplomats, but he asked, why not make a big popular celebration, ordinary people from both sides of the border come and meet, sing and dance . Then a minister told him that there is a fear of people fleeing to the other side of the border. Enver replied that he was sure, that no one would run away, and indeed, that's how it happened.

Really, if you weren't afraid that people would flee from Albania, why did you surround the country with electric wires?

Albania was a small country that had to protect its borders, we were neither the Soviet Union nor China, which also protected their borders. As you well know, there were not a few times that enemies tried to enter Albania to harm us. There were hostile circles that did not want the best for Albania.

Can you tell me some of Enver Hoxha's mistakes?

Enveri nuk bënte gabime. Nuk mund të quhet gabim eksperimenti që bëmë te një shoqëri e re. Gjithçka bëmë këtu, në ekonomi, në kulturë, për njeriun, ishin gjëra të reja. Ne bëmë një eksperiment, hapëm një rrugë të re për herë të parë në këtë vend. Ndodh të bësh ndonjë gabim në ekonomi, por nuk quhet tamam gabim. Shihni rolin që pati Enver Hoxha në stabilitetin e Ballkanit. Nuk e them unë, e theksojnë politikanë të mëdhenj të rajonit, gjithë analistët politikë. Është e ditur që çështja kosovare ndikonte në marrëdhëniet tona me Beogradin, por kurrë s’erdhi Enveri në konfrontim me jugosllavët, se e dinte se ç’pasoja do të kishte në rajon. Në marrëdhëniet me Greqinë ishte shumë i kujdesshëm. Ndonëse ekzistonte ligji i luftës, nuk arritëm në ekstreme. Në çdo bisedë që bënte burri im me turqit, a nënshkruante ndonjë marrëveshje, e merrte gjithmonë parasysh Greqinë. Nuk donte të shkaktonte mospëlqime. E informonte gjithmonë palën greke.

Sipas mendimit tuaj përse dështoi eksperimenti juaj?

S’mund ta them unë, nëse dështoi komunizmi apo socializmi. Ne ende s’kishim arritur të vendosnim socializmin në Shqipëri, ishim në fazën e parë, vetëm pak vite dhe nëse u bënë disa gabime, jo vetëm te ne, por edhe në shtete të tjera, ne shihnim se ç’mund të bënim gjatë kësaj kohe. Çfarë vendi gjetëm e ku e shpumë. Gjetëm një Shqipëri në Mesjetë, atë morëm nga Ahmet Zogu, me bujqësi të prapambetur, sëmundje që bënin kërdinë. Ne themeluam demokracinë popullore. Gjithçka u bë nga fillimi.

Binte shi edhe në kohën tonë, por s’kishte përmbytje. Atëherë ama kishte kanale të pastra. Tani përmbytet qyteti. Kjo tregon se çfarë është bërë. Kur morëm pushtetin në Shqipëri, vetëm 365 njerëz kishin mbaruar gjimnazin, 95% e popullsisë ishte analfabete. Nuk mund të bënim gjëra spektakolare. Nuk kishte as rrugë, as trena, as elektrifikim, as industri. Shqipëria ishte i vetmi vend, që s’e kishte kaluar kapitalizmin, shkuam direkt nga feudalizmi në socializëm. Duke parë në televizor, disa atëherë pandehnin se kapitalizmi ishte i mirë dhe do t’i bënte menjëherë të pasur. Por, ata që shkuan sot në ato vende, sidomos rinia, e panë, që gjërat s’ ishin ashtu siç dukeshin. Jam e sigurt, që me ndryshimet që ndodhën, populli shqiptar s’fitoi asgjë. Te ne gjithçka shkoi mbrapsht, nga centralizimi shtetëror, shoqëria u hodh në det të hapur dhe kush arriti të dilte, vijoi kaosi, anarkia.

Me këtë rast do t’iu them diçka, që dua ta shkruani: im shoq kishte një dashuri të veçantë për popullin grek.

A është e vërtetë, që para se të vdiste Enveri kishte caktuar si pasues të fshehtë Ramiz Alinë?

Jo, por të gjithë dinin që Ramizi do të bëhej. Kur jetonte Enveri, Ramizi u bë Kryetar i Parlamentit, që ishte njësoj me postin e Presidentit të Republikës. Kryeministri Mehmet Shehu kishte vdekur, Aliaj ishte tashmë drejtuesi i ri i departamentit të ideologjisë së Partisë. Partia e shihte që Aliaj kishte një lloj ngjitjeje.

Përderisa përmendët kryeministrin Mehmet Shehu, më thoni u vetëvra në të vërtetë apo e “vetëvranë” shërbimet sekrete të Partisë, siç thonë tani në Shqipëri?

E risjellin shumë shpesh këtë çështje, madje edhe tani së fundmi, por nuk ekziston asnjë dyshim që u vetëvra. Është e dëshmuar me fakte…

Sivjet, u festuan 60 vjet nga krijimi i Frontit Kombëtar të Shqipërisë, që u themelua nga Enver Hoxha dhe ju nuk ishit e pranishme. Përse?

Se gjithë familjen tonë e kanë vënë në izolim politikanët e sotëm. Unë nuk kam shtëpi, kjo dhomë është e vajzës sime. Gjithë pasurinë time, fotografitë e burrit tim, arkivin familjar, librat e tij, i mbajnë, dhuratat e mia personale, sendet e mia, të gjitha i mbajnë. Familja ime hoqi shumë, më mirë mos t’i përshkruaj. Dakord, na dëbuan nga shtëpia që ishte e madhe dhe shtetërore, por na sollën këtu, që s’ishte shtëpi por një depo, ne e rregulluam. Mua më arrestuan dhe bëra 5 vite burg, 1800 ditë.

Si e kujtoni rënien e statujës së Hoxhës në sheshin Skënderbej, ç’u bë atë ditë të 1991-it?

Kur rrëzuan statujën e Enverit, ditën tjetër ulërisnin, që do të digjnin shtëpinë e Enverit dhe që do na varnin të gjithë. Dhe vërtet, që ditën tjetër erdhën dhe na rrethuan shtëpinë. Kishin marrë thasë, që të na plaçkisnin më parë dhe më pas t’i vinin zjarrin. Por Garda atëherë, që i ishte besnike Enverit, na mbrojti. Orët ishin shumë të vështira, ekzistonte rreziku të na vrisnin. Rojet këmbëngulën që të na largonin nga shtëpia, mua, fëmijët dhe nipërit e mbesat dhe të na fshihnin. Unë refuzova. Këto u bënë kur qe Kryetar, Ramizi. Atje afër ishte dhe një tank lufte. Shoferi bëri një xhiro rreth e përqark, ata u trembën e ikën. Ishim tre familje, kunata ime qe 90 vjeç, nipërit e mbesat të vegjël. Më vonë, mblodha çka munda nga objektet më të rëndësishme personale të tim shoqi. Librat e tij ishin rreth 25 mijë. Dokumentet shtetërore i ka shteti dhe kjo është e drejtë. Por, librat dhe dedikimet ndaj tij, përse s’m’i kthejnë? Janë pesëdhjetë libra me firma shkrimtarësh të njohur, si Andre Marlaux, etj.

Çfarë ndodhi tamam dhe e zhvarrosën gjatë natës bashkëshortin tuaj, që ta shpien në varreza të përbashkëta?

Ishte 3 maj i 1993-it. Isha në burg. I morën fëmijët në mesnatë në telefon dhe u thanë, që në 5 të mëngjesit të jenë te Varrezat e Dëshmorëve, që të marrin eshtrat e babait të tyre. Madje dërguan dhe dokument gjyqësore fshehurazi, me siguri, që të mos mësonte populli aktin makabër. U mblodhën fëmijët e shkuan atje, por nuk iu lejua të afroheshin. Morën eshtrat dhe i shpunë atje ku ndodhen tani, në varrezën e Yzberishtit. Fëmijët s’dinin si të ma thonin. Ky ishte momenti më i vështirë i jetës sime. Unë isha në burg dhe ata nxirrnin eshtrat e tij. Në traditën popullore, ky akt përbën përdhosje.

Pyetët ndonjëherë veten se përse kryeministri i sotëm Sali Berisha - doktori personal i burrit tuaj, u soll me kaq mëri ndaj bashkëshortit tuaj të vdekur, i cili më parë i kishte besuar gjënë më të çmuar, shëndetin dhe jetën e tij?

(Shpërtheu, duke ngritur për herë të parë zërin)

Berisha është një gënjeshtar. S’ka qenë kurrë doktor i Enverit. Nuk bënte pjesë as në grupin që e ndiqte. Ishte vetëm te komisioni i doktorëve për kurimin e anëtarëve të Komitetit Qendror. Ka qenë një komunist i betuar, që kur ishte 23 vjeç, por qëllimisht i pështjelloi gjërat, që të dukej i mirë para amerikanëve. Do t’ju zbuloj një ndodhi. Kur një herë, andej nga fundi, burrin tim u desh ta çonin në spital, Berisha shkoi në sallën e spitalit dhe e përshëndeti. Sikurse thoshte më pas i ngazëllyer, nuk do ta lante kurrë dorën, që të ruante përherë erën e Enverit.

Tentoi shumë herë të na afrohej, për të hyrë në grupin e mjekëve të Enverit, por kur mësova rreth biografisë së tij, që vjerra e tij kish qenë partizane e Titos dhe më pas punonte për shërbimet sekrete të Beogradit, thashë që ky njeri nuk do ta kalojë pragun e shtëpisë sime dhe s’e kaloi. Nuk e harroi këtë se është njeri hakmarrës dhe ndaj më dërgoi në burg me akuza qesharake.

Meqenëse përmendët emrin e Titos, dua t’ju pyes nëse njohët disa udhëheqës të huaj dhe ç’përshtypje morët?

Stalinin s’e takova kurrë. Titon, dy-tri herë. Në vitin 1946 pata shkuar në Kongresin e Partisë në Beograd dhe më ftoi në shtëpinë e tij në darkë, si bashkëshorten e Enver Hoxhës. Qe atje dhe Rankoviç. Kam qenë shumë e re, e bukur dhe e çiltër atëherë. Më la përshtypjen e epshorit, që i pëlqenin gratë dhe që ishte lloji i njeriut, që i interesonte vetëm vetja e vet.

Hrushovi ishte karakter i paqëndrueshëm, njëherë thoshte kështu, njëherë ashtu, udhëheqës i paparashikueshëm, që arriti në pikën të hiqte këpucën e vet e t’i binte tribunës së OKB-së. Qe një sharlatan. Një herë na thoshte që do na jepte grurë, ditën tjetër e kthente, na thoshte,, ç’ju duhet të mbillni grurë, përderisa do ta hanë minjtë, mbillni më mirë portokalle. Ne atëherë kishim nevojë për grurë dhe ndaj kërkonim, por ai deshte ta paguanim me flori, që të na jepte. Kërkonte me ngulm, që t’i lejonim të ndërtonte bazë ushtarake në Butrint, por Enveri refuzoi.

Arsyeja ishte se nuk deshte të prishte marrëdhëniet me Greqinë dhe i parashtronte pyetjen Hrushovit, kundër kujt do shërbejë kjo bazë? Hrushovi u bë xhind, ulëriste, nuk e priste që do të merrte përgjigje negative nga Enver Hoxha. Bashkëshortja e tij ishte shumë e mirë, shumë më e mirë se Hrushovi, grua e ekuilibruar, fliste gjuhë të huaja, në ndryshim nga Hrushovi që s’dinte asnjë.

Mao Ce Dunin e takuat? Si ju duk?

Në vitin 1965 kisha shkuar në Kinë, e ftuar nga Parlamenti i Kinës. Më la përshtypje të veçantë. Ishte njeri i thjeshtë, shumë i afruar, bënte dhe humor. Ne e shihnim si Buda në fotografi. Më bëri përshtypje se ishte shumë i thjeshtë e i natyrshëm. Më pyeti sa popullsi kishte Shqipëria dhe i thashë 3 milionë. M’u përgjigj:

Doni t’iu dërgoj unë 10 milionë? Kaq vend i vogël jeni? Jeni i vogël, por jeni si tigri që rend shpejt përpara, kurse Kina është e madhe dhe është si elefanti që ecën para, por dalëngadalë.

Si jetoni këtu, në një shtëpi të parehatshme?

Banoj me kunatën time, që është 90 vjeçe. Siç e shihni, s’kam as tavolinë që të shkruaj dhe shkruaj në këmbë. Më ndihmojnë edhe fëmijët, që vitet e fundit u mëkëmbën ekonomikisht. Gjithë shqiptarët morën shtëpi, përveç meje. U dërgova letër gjithë politikanëve që kaluan nga pushteti këto vite, por më shpërfillën. Marr një pension 80 dollarësh, e pastroj vetë shtëpinë. Jam 81 vjeç dhe nuk do të më gjunjëzojnë, siç nuk u gjunjëzova në burg. Të gjithë thonë, përse Enveri nuk u la nga një vilë fëmijëve të vet? Idiotësira. Enveri s’kishte asgjë, ç’të jepte?

E ndiqni situatën politike? Çfarë votuat në zgjedhjet e fundit?

(Laughter). The last one is a secret. There are now two communist parties. I declared that I do not belong to any of them and I will not belong to them, how divided they are. Although, their programs do not change, I cannot take a position. My door is open to everyone.

Source: Kathimerini / Translated for ResPublica: ELEANA ZHAKO