Albania in the 1930’s and 1940’s Part II

By | December 15, 2021

The opposition movement to Italy, at first based on isolated elements, was organized when it was able to connect with the partisan forces that arose from 1941 in Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. To a Serbian from Ipek, Dušian, and a Montenegrin from Gusinja, Melavin, we owe the first attempt to form an armed group in Albania with the task of attacking Italian troops and military equipment and inciting a revolt. They had been arrested at the beginning of the conflict with Yugoslavia and had managed to escape from Vlora, taking refuge in a village in southern Albania, Kanina. Enver Hoxha joined them almost immediately, with the prestige of a notable clandestine activity and a great organizational capacity. Corps of armed men began to operate in various points of Albania, by constantly alarming the Italian garrisons and slowly preparing an atmosphere of struggle with their disturbing actions, with their sudden attacks. Their mobility and the collaboration of the populations made it difficult to engage them in combat and neutralize their action. At the same time, the work of propaganda based on pamphlets and leaflets developed, which reached every village, in the countryside and envisaged the imminent recovery of the Albanian people, suggested the course of action to be followed, threatened reprisals against those who collaborated with the foreigner, they exalted the partisan exploits. The first congress of the partisan movement took place in Prëmet in 1942, which outlined an organic program of struggle and entrusted its direction to Enver Hoxha. Their mobility and the collaboration of the populations made it difficult to engage them in combat and neutralize their action. At the same time, the work of propaganda based on pamphlets and leaflets developed, which reached every village, in the countryside and envisaged the imminent recovery of the Albanian people, suggested the course of action to be followed, threatened reprisals against those who collaborated with the foreigner, they exalted the partisan exploits. The first congress of the partisan movement took place in Prëmet in 1942, which outlined an organic program of struggle and entrusted its direction to Enver Hoxha. For Albania history, please check ehistorylib.com.

After the armistice of Italy with the Allies (8 September 1943), when the Germans took over the occupation of the country by the Italian troops, who were only able to side with the indigenous insurgents to a small extent, certain perplexities and uncertainties that had previously prevented to large strata of the Albanian people, out of conviction or interest linked to Italy, to join the partisans and the struggle gained popularity, assumed the character of a national liberation struggle better and could count on a more active solidarity of the mass of the nation. From the primitive nuclei of partisans a real army developed, with numerous formations strong for consistency and fighting momentum, coordinated with each other. The local German commanders searched the bitterness of the reaction that possibility of dominating the situation that the troops at their disposal did not offer. The figure of twenty-two thousand Albanian dead – when compared to the one million residents of Albania – indicates how hard the struggle was during the fourteen months of German occupation. In May 1944 the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Committee was formed, which soon became the National Liberation Front (FNC), under the presidency of Enver Hoxha. In October, with headquarters in Berat, a democratic government was formed, chaired by Hoxha, who also took command of the troops. At the end of October the general attack against the German forces began which led, on November 17, to the liberation of Tirana and, in the following days, of Durazzo and Scutari. In December almost the whole Albania was under the control of the National Liberation Front. About seventy thousand men moved from Albania to Montenegro and Bosnia contributing to the struggle of Marshal Tito against the Germans.

Italian troops also participated in the partisan war. In fact, the proclamation of the armistice had surprised the 9th army in Albania, which was largely overwhelmed by the Germans. The “Perugia” division tried to offer resistance in the Tepeleni-Delvino-Santi Quaranta area, but subject to the concentric pressure of the partisans and the Germans, it was dispersed and suffered serious losses in German reprisals. The “Florence” division, which was located in Croia, having agreed with the partisans, fought with alternating events against the Germans and maintained its organic unity until 29 September 1943, the day when it became the “Italian military command of the mountain troops” and the struggle against the Germans continued in the guerrilla form.

The fact that almost no contingent of allied troops, except for a few groups of paratroopers and fighters, had participated in the national liberation gave the new Albanian government an autonomy of decisions which had repercussions on the speed of internal constitutional and social transformations. On 11 February 1945 the republic of the Albanian people was proclaimed. The National Front, coming out victorious in the elections of 2 December 1945 (93.8% of the votes), remained the arbiter of the political-social orientation of Albania. The Hoxha government was recognized in October 1944 by Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Hungary, on 10 November by Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union and, on 26 December, by France. His foreign policy orientation was immediately aimed at establishing the closest relations with the other Balkan countries, especially with Yugoslavia. One of Hoxha’s first acts was to renounce the district of Kosovo. On 10 July 1946, a treaty of friendship and mutual assistance was signed between Belgrade and Tirana, completed in December of the same year by a customs union agreement. Some Albanian circles have also envisaged the usefulness of entering the Yugoslav People’s Republic as a seventh autonomous republic.

Albania in the 1930's and 1940's Part II