Geschichte Osteuropas und Südosteuropas




Dissertationsprojekt: Bektashi Sufi Order in the Age of Nationalism (1856 to 1939)

Godless Land-Albanian Communist Religious Policy 1945-1963 (with the main focus in Bektashi)

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Marie-Janine Calic

Albania’s communist regime was one of the most isolated countries in the world with the longest Stalinist regime that never reformed itself. This project tries to explain the Albanian communist religious policy by using the Bektashi community. While they are well known for the 1967 decision to ban religious life after demolishing almost 95% of all religious monuments. The period from 1944 to 1967 is clearly not enough research, especially when it comes to Bektashi and Sunni communities. Both of which are seen as the most loyalist by the state officials. Hoxha’s regime is portrayed as an endless bloody purge and permanent repression, meanwhile, the clergy are seen as martyrs suffering under an unparalleled ruthless atheist state.
However, the period from 1945 to 1963 was more of a coexistence and even corporation between the state and religious community. The regime saw the challenge by clergy, not about dominance, but more as a battle for the soul and heart of the people. This research look at how the state saw religion and the way how they did organize religious life in Albania. I see this policy organized in six different stages: no plan, the chaos of the middle, legalization, abnormal relationship/loyal entities, anti-clericalism, and scientific-atheism. The state reduces the power of clergy step by step, employing different methods such as property confiscation, heavily state interference on domestic issues, financial dependence, and intimidation.
This study interprets Albanian communist policy by looking in three directions what the center intended, how the periphery act and the religious community counter-reaction on the other hand. My hypothesis is that the religious policy of the period before 1964 is more based on pragmatism than communist ideology. This research is a matter of importance also for the place that religion has on nowadays affairs. While for the communist regime in Tirana saw religion based on two perspectives, first as the representative of backwardness and later as the source of division in Albanian society.
The research aims are:

1. Organization of the religious life by the Albanian communists.
2. The factors that influenced on creation and application of religious policy
3. The development of religious policy in six different stages and their specifics.
4. To what extent were the communists successful in reducing the religious impact and later banning the religion at all, in one of the most conservative societies in Europe.

For this research, I plan to use sources from Albanian archives, the press, speeches of important communist leaders, and movies.