Although Albania emerged from the Second World War as an appendage of Yugoslavia, the Albanian Communist regime soon turned against Yugoslavia and forged an alliance with the Soviet Union. However, after the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev launched a campaign of de-Stalinization, Albania’s alliance with the USSR steadily eroded and collapsed altogether by the early 1960s. The PRC under Mao Zedong emerged as the new patron for the only Stalinist regime left in Europe. This article draws on recently declassified archival materials to reassess how and why Albanian Communist leaders shifted from one alliance to another. Both ideological and security considerations shaped the decision-making process. The article sheds light not only on Albania’s Cold War history but also on the history of Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc.

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