The Communist Regime: 1944 to 1985

Unlike the other communist satellites, the Albanians had no direct support from Moscow. In addition, Tito openly desired to annex Albania into Yugoslavia. Consequently, Enver Hoxha took a very isolationist view. Yugoslavia's efforts to replace him with a more pliant leader only spurred Hoxha to utilize every ruthless and devious device to solidify his position. The Yugoslavian effort to topple Hoxha incited him to violently eliminate all political, social, economic, and cultural opposition.
The head of the secret police and security forces, Koci Xoxe, unfortunately was pro-Yugoslavian. Hoxha eventually eliminated this threat when Stalin and Tito suffered a schism in 1948. Not only was he able to eliminate internal and external threats, but he was also able to establish Albania's first ties to Moscow. Upon several visits to Moscow, Hoxha soon became an avid disciple of Stalin due to their mutual bloodthirsty and Machiavellian paradigms.
Hoxha suffered a double blow after Stalin's death in 1953. First, Nikita Khrushchev (a reformist and anti-Stalinist) came to power. Second, in 1955, Russia began to rebuild ties with Yugoslavia after eight years. Hoxha was pressured to end his hostility toward Tito, and grudgingly had to make some superficial gestures towards Yugoslavia. The stress between Albania and Moscow continued to mount as Hoxha took personally their attempts to force him to accept reforms and abandon Stalinism. In 1960 Albania sided with China during their early ideological disputes with Moscow. Consequently, Moscow broke off diplomatic relations in 1961 and stopped all economic, industrial and military aid.
The Chinese took up these roles, but the alliance was short lived. On the one hand, Hoxha embraced Mao's cultural revolution. He began a violent campaign in 1967 when religious leaders were arrested and executed, and all religious practices were declared illegal. He even went so far as to declare Albania as the world's first official atheistic state! On the other hand, the cultural and size that existed between China could never be spanned. The rift widened in the 70's when China, much to Hoxha's horror, opened relations with both Yugoslavia and the United States. The alliance was finally severed in 1978 when China withdrew its economic, industrial, and military aid.
Once again Albania was completely isolated both ideologically and economically. Hoxha spurned the outside world and declared that Albania would become a model socialist republic on its own. However, the industrial plants of the 50's, built with Soviet aid, were outdated and rapidly deteriorating. A shortage of machinery led to widespread manual labor on collective farms. Hoxha's paranoia complicated matters as his highly centralized bureaucracy impeded any hope of improvement. The people were bombarded with contradictory government propaganda. There was a constant demand to increase production but people were also encouraged to rely on their own efforts for survival.
In 1981, in an effort to ensure the succession of a younger generation of leaders, Hoxha executed several party and government officials. He then withdrew from the forefront and most state functions were assumed by Ramiz Alia, who succeeded Hoxha when he died in 1985.