As it sought to realise the external policy objectives of the US Government during these years – objectives that included the overthrow of the Soviet Government and the communist regimes in many Eastern European countries – the CIA believed that by training Albanians living in Western countries, who openly declared themselves to be anti-communist and ready to fight against the regime of Enver Hoxha, and by sending these exiles to Albania it would be possible to put an end to communist rule in the country.
The first signs of an (attempted) uprising and armed struggle against the installation of a communist regime in Albania were recognisable in early 1945. Armed anti-communist groups were formed, particularly in Northern and Northeastern Albania. Their objective was to overthrow the communist authorities and create the right conditions for an intervention in the country by Anglo-American forces. The communist regime reacted speedily and brutally in putting down such attempts. Several illegal political organisations were also active in Albania alongside these armed groups. In 1946 and 1947 state security forces got wind of the activities of such organisations. Many members were arrested and sentenced to death.
The operations against the regime of Enver Hoxha organised by the American CIA and the British secret service in Albania between 1949 and 1954 are amongst the most notable examples of an organised military attempt to overthrow a communist regime in Central and Eastern Europe, but they also represent one of the first cases of Western secret services training armed groups and then sending them into their home countries with the task of overthrowing a Soviet Bloc communist regime with the help of paramilitary forces.
According to this concept, Albanians who had left home during the war were to return to Albania and organise themselves into small armed groups. Their role was to whip up anti-communist emotions in their regions and provoke a popular uprising as a means of organising nationwide opposition to Hoxha’s regime.
Experience shows, however, that a communist regime cannot be overthrown from outside unless this is favoured by the internal circumstances. One of the main reasons that the operation failed was the fact that most Albanians were not yet aware of the inhumanity of the regime of Enver Hoxha in Albania.
The end of the Second World war did not mean the end of violence for many regions in Eastern Europe. The establishment of Communist-led governments often met not only civil but also armed resistance. These actions were taken by partisan groups and paramilitary forces which in some cases had been formed already during the war to support axis forces. In other cases – like Poland’s Armia Krajowa – they fought Nazi and Soviet occupiers with the same fervour. The aims of the ﬁghters were the end of Communist rule and – like in the Baltic region – independence from the Soviet Union. Diﬃculties in accessing sources and research taboos as well as a focus on other aspects of the Cold War are reasons why violent resistance in Europe after the Second World War is a topic yet rather underestimated and comparably little investigated by historiography. This book gives a comprehensive ﬁrst overview of the ultimately futile attempts to end the rule of Moscow and her proxies.