From Julius Caesar to Henry Kissinger, international statesmen who publish their memoirs have frquently been accused of trying to rewrite history to their own advantage. But now from tiny Albania comes a new classic: a 1,600-page diary designed to prove that its author, Enver Hoxha, is the only genuine Communist ruler left.
Entitled "Reflections on China", the diary is ostensibly an insider's day-to-day account of the lopsided "eternal alliance" between 2.5 million Albanians and over 800 million Chinese, which began in 1961 and finally fell apart in 1978. But, in the process of describing his gathering doubts about the Chinese leadership, Hoxha manages to question the credentials of virtually every other Communist leader.
The lavish two-volume book, translations of which are being handed out by Albanian embassies abroad, is also interesting for the clues it provides to the future intentions of this strategic Balkan state. For all Albania's isolationist behavior and almost pathological fear of neighboring Yugoslavia, it is clear it cannot survive without an economic lifeline to the outside world.
Hoxha, the son of a middle-class Moslem landowner, came to power in Albania after leading a Communist uprising during World War II.He quickly turned his backward country into "a citadel of true Marxism-Leninism," while switching his political allegiance from Belgrade to Moscow to Peking.
Today, at the age of 71, having run out of left-wing partners, Hoxha is gingerly opening Albania up to Western trade -- while seeking to preserve its ideological purity. Educated in France and Belgium, he has acquired a schizophrenic view of the West: He both needs it and loathes it.
His memoirs, which are being treated in Albania as the publishing event of the decade, reflect this hybrid background. The prose alternates between turgid Marxst analysis to the spicy comments of a feudal chief turned embittered revolutionary. The judgements range from simple peasant insults to intriguing insights into the tangled worlds of Communist and Balkan politics.
Above all, Hoxha makes clear that he is not fooled by his own rhetoric. In 1968, when the Albanian press was calling China "the bastion of world revolution," he confided to his diary: "The Chinese are turning the cult of Mao [Tse-Tung] almost into a religion, exalting him in a sickening way.
"They are talking about Mao in the way Christians talk about Christ."
Several years later: "Some Chinese ambassadors are so brazen, so shameless, they make you want to vomit. They say to our ambassadors, 'There is no friendshp like that between China and Albania, it will be everlasting,' and other such rubbish."
His comments on fellow Communist leaders, past and present, make entertaining reading. The Soviet Union's Nikita Krushchev: "This renegade . . . all the water of the Volga cannot cleanse him of his sins." Leonid Brezhnev: "When he talks about communism . . . it is like the noise from a tin can to a dog's tail." China's Den Xiapoing: "the filthy fascist." North Korea's Kim II Sung: "a pseudo-Marxist . . . A vacillating, revisionist megalomaniac."
The present Chinese leader, Chairman Hua Guofeng, is made fun of for trying to arrange his hair like Mao: "(Hua) has allowed that thick black hair of his, as straight as a procupine's quills, to grow -- then cut it and combed it cunningly to give his head the form of Mao Tse Tung's with his forehead uncovered.'
The only Communist leader for whom Hoxha has a good word is the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin -- a man whom he evidently regards as a paragon. Glossing over the purges of the 1930s, he writes: "Stalin was a great man, a grat revolutinary, and so he will remain through the centuries. The mistakes of Stalin, if they exist, are minor ones."
For all the abuse and rhetoric, the diaries also contain some genuine historcial insights. Hoxha reveals that when Chou En-lai visited Moscow in November 1964, a high-ranking Soviet marshal suggested to him that he get rid of Mao "in the same way that we overthrew Khruschchev." When he bridled at this idea, Brezhnev later gave the excuse that the marshal had been drunk.
Hoxha also claims that the Chinese repeatedly tried to get Albania, Yugoslavia, and Romania to form a tripartite "Balkan alliance" against the Soviet Union.
But, inevitably, it is on Albania's own internal situation that the diaries shed most light. The historical fear of neighboring Yugoslavia comes through strongly (Hoxha's hero Stalin once suggested that the Yugolsavs "swallow" Albania), does Albania's chronic need for foreign economic aid and expertise.
It is clear from the diaries that the Chinese left Albania (they claim to have spent some $5 billion in aid to the country) with work on many projects, including a hydroelectric power plant, unfinished. In an intriguing development last month, the Yugoslav trade minister hinted that Yugoslav experts might be sent to Albania to complete these schemes.
A measure of Hoxha's desperation is his insistence that political and ideological differences with Yugoslavia and the West must not be allowed to affect economic ties. This also explains why, while ruling out relations with both the United States and the Soviet Union, Albania has stepped up its diplomatic and other contacts with Western Europe in recent months. CAPTION:
Picture 1, Nikita Khruschev; Picture 2, Leonid Brezhnev; Picture 3, Josef Stalin; Picture 4, Mao Tse-tung