Dark days in the Balkans: life under Enver Hoxha and beyond

For many in the West, Albania remains as remote and shadowy as the fictional Syldavia of the Tintin comics. The country came into existence only in 1912, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Its first ruler, King Zog, was ousted by Mussolini when he invaded in 1939. Hitler used Albania as a springboard for the Nazi invasion of Greece. The national resistance against Italy and Germany was led by the Albanian partisan supremo Enver Hoxha (pronounced ‘Hodger’). After expelling the hated occupiers, in 1946 the artful Hoxha proclaimed himself head of a newborn socialist republic. With his dangerous wife Nexhmije (the ‘Lady Macbeth of the Balkans’) he turned Albania