Belishova, Liri (1923—)

views updated

Belishova, Liri (1923—)

Albanian politician and World War II partisan leader. Born in the village of Belishova in 1923; educated in Tirana; married Nako Spiru.

Fought against German and Italian occupying forces (1941–44); wounded and lost an eye; served as president of People's Youth (1946–47); purged and exiled until 1948; politically rehabilitated (1948); and elected to Central Committee of Albanian Communist Party (ACP); elected to Central Committee and Politburo of ACP; named secretary of ACP secretariat.

Europe's poorest nation Albania did not declare its independence from the Ottoman Empire until 1912. Remaining impoverished and isolated until World War II, Albania underwent a radical transformation in the early 1940s when a new spirit of fierce national pride emerged. This nationalistic movement was led largely by a small but determined group of Communist revolutionaries, who built a reputation as tough guerrilla fighters, and Albanian patriots combating the Italian and German occupying armies.

Liri Belishova was among the few women in Albania's leadership elite in the 1940s. Born in a village named Belishova, she graduated before World War II with a degree from the Tirana Girls Pedagogical Institute. Already an ardent Communist before the war, she joined the partisan movement soon after its creation in 1941. She fought with a partisan unit throughout the bitter and bloody war, losing one of her eyes. In 1945, she married Nako Spiru, an important Communist functionary who was a member of both the Central Committee and the more powerful Politburo. Starting in 1944, Belishova was a member of the Albanian Antifascist Youth organization, and, in 1946, she was leader of the Albanian delegation to the Third Congress of Yugoslav Youth held in Zagreb. She also traveled to Moscow for a Soviet Physical Culture Festival. During these years, Belishova was president of People's Youth, the Communist-controlled national youth organization.

The suicide of her husband in 1947 marked an abrupt end to her political career. Belishova lost her jobs and was unceremoniously transferred to the city of Berat as a schoolteacher. In 1948, after the Titoist elements were drastically purged from the Albanian Communist movement, she was rehabilitated and elected to both the Central Committee and the Politburo of the party. In 1954, she was elevated to the important post of secretary of the party secretariat.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia