By Benet Koleka
TIRANA, February 26 (Reuters). Nexhmije Hoxha, widow of the Albanian Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, died on Tuesday at the age of 99. Her son fell dramatically out of favor after his death, but remained the strongest defender of his isolationist regime.
Most Albanians consider Hoxha’s 40-year rule when the country, like North Korea, was cut off from the world and an omnipresent secret police forcefully acted against dissent as a dark period in their history that caused widespread misery and a massive exodus after the collapse of communism.
But Nexhmije Hoxha, who was imprisoned for nine years shortly after Albania was the last country to overthrow communism in 1990, remained faithful to his memory.
“When compared to the West, living standards can be considered modest, but there was an egalitarian spirit,” she said in a 2008 interview.
Enver Hoxha, who died in 1985, banned private property and religion, ran a centralized economy that sealed off the country’s borders and was littered with thousands of pillbox bunkers and millions of concrete posts covered with sharp spikes to protect the Airbourne he feared To hold troops.
He allied with the Soviet Union and China to later part with them while remaining an enemy of the West.
His wife died in her house on a desolate site where battery chickens were once raised, surrounded by books and photos of her husband, children, and grandchildren that she had taken with her when she was evicted from her sprawling communist mansion.
She headed his propaganda machine, an institute for Marxism and Leninism and the Democratic Front, an umbrella organization that served as an instrument of control for the Communist Party.
“The goal of my trial was political because I was Enver Hoxha’s widow,” she said, telling Reuters her belief about a $ 360 sum spent on mugs and glasses that had broken when visiting mourners came to offer condolences to her husband.
She said she didn’t recognize the streets when she got out of prison, and admitted that some things had improved since 1990.
She had recently published a memoir book that a representative of the association of former political prisoners detained by Hoxha’s regime described as hateful.
“An executioner left Albanian society that … was convicted … for spending money on coffee. A charade of post-communist governments has decided not to punish their (real) crimes,” Besim Ndregjoni told the broadcaster News24 TV.
More than 6,000 people were executed under the rule of Enver Hoxha as opponents of the regime and more than 34,000 were imprisoned, of which around 1,000 died, while 59,009 were estimated to be internally exiled by the association. (Reporting by Benet Koleka; editing by John Stonestreet)