One of the more interesting minor dictators of the 20th century was Enver Hoxha of Albania.
Hoxha was born in Albania in 1908, while it was still a province of the Ottoman Empire.
The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, he was educated in France, where he became a communist. He was teaching grammar school when Albania was invaded and conquered by Italy in 1939.
Hoxha helped organize the communist partisan resistance and was elected first secretary of the Albanian Communist Party in 1943.
The partisans liberated Albania in November 1944, and Hoxha became prime minister. In 1944, Hoxha broke with Josip Broz Tito and the Yugoslavian communists over the issue of Kosovo.
A great admirer of Josef Stalin, Hoxha kept Albania closely allied to the Soviet Union until after Stalin’s death in 1953.
Viewing Khruschchev and company as revisionists who had abandoned the true path to communism, Hoxha eventually broke with the Soviet Union and allied Albania to the People’s Republic of China under Mao Tse-tung.
Relations with China soured after Chinese rapprochement with Tito’s Yugoslavia and Chinese reduction in aid to Albania.
Hoxha then declared China also to be a revisionist state, with Albania as the only true remaining Marxist-Leninist state in the world.
Internally, Hoxha’s regime was one of the most repressive in the world. Religion was ruthlessly eradicated. Archbishops, bishops, priests and nuns were tortured and executed in mass. A total of 2,169 churches and mosques were demolished.
All private property was confiscated, and landowners, merchants and recalcitrant peasants were executed.
All contact with the outside world was cutoff because people attempting to enter or leave Albania were summarily executed.
The secret police were everywhere, and every stray comment was recorded.
The Albanian Communist Party was regularly purged, with possible rivals eliminated before they became too powerful.
Industrialization, initially sparked by aid from the Soviets and China, fell by the wayside when aid was cut off. By the time of Hoxha’s death in 1985, Albania was the poorest country in Europe and one of the most backward nations in the world.
After his death, Hoxha’s body was initially housed in an enormous white pyramid-shaped mausoleum and shrine designed by his daughter.
After the fall of communism, his body was removed and buried, and the former mausoleum now houses the International Cultural Center. (Text from Rick Miller's article in Linn's Stamp News)