Military history of Albania during World War II: Wikis

Advertisements
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

(Redirected to Albanian Resistance of World War II article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Albanian Resistance of World War II
Part of World War II
Partisans in Tirana.jpg
Communist partisans in Tirana, 28 November 1944.
Date 1939–1944
Location Albania
Result Albanian Partisans victory
Belligerents
Flag of Albania 1946.svg Albanian Partisans Italy Kingdom of Italy (from 1939 to 1943)
 Nazi Germany (from 1943 to 1944)
Flag of Albania (1939).svg Kingdom of Albania
Flag of Albania (1939).svg Balli Kombëtar (from 1943 to 1944)
Commanders
Flag of Albania 1946.svg Enver Hoxha
Flag of Albania 1946.svg Spiro Moisiu
Flag of Albania 1946.svg Mehmet Shehu
Italy Francesco Jacomoni
Nazi Germany Hermann Neubacher
Flag of Albania (1939).svg Shefqet Verlaci
Flag of Albania (1939).svg Lef Nosi
Strength
From ~4,000 in 1942 to ~70,000 regular(partisans) and irregular (territorial troops) in November 1944. More than 600,000 troops, stationed or passed through Albania during the period 1939–1944.
Casualties and losses
28,000 including civilians. 26,594 enemies killed, 24,245 wounded and 20,800 prisoners.
Total casualties:~79,000

The Albanian Resistance of World War II was a movement of largely Communist persuasion directed against the occupying Italian (until 1943) and then German forces in Albania, which led to the successful liberation of the country in 1944.

Contents

Communist and Nationalist resistance

Advertisements

Beginnings of the Communist movement

Faced with an illiterate, agrarian, and mostly Muslim society monitored by King Zog's security police, Albania's Communist movement attracted few adherents in the interwar period. In fact, the country had no fully-fledged Communist Party before World War II. After Fan Noli fled in 1924 to Italy and later the United States, several of his leftist protégés migrated to Moscow, where they affiliated themselves with the Balkan Confederation of Communist Parties and through it the Communist International (Comintern), the Soviet-sponsored association of international communist parties. In 1930, the Comintern dispatched Ali Kelmendi to Albania to organize communist cells. But Albania had no working class for the communists to base their ideas on, and Marxism appealed to only a minute number of quarrelsome, Western-educated, mostly Tosk, intellectuals and to landless peasants, miners, and other persons discontented with Albania's obsolete social and economic structures. Forced to flee Albania, Kelmendi fought in the Garibaldi Battalion of the XI International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War and later moved to France, where together with other communists, including a student named Enver Hoxha, he published a newspaper. Paris became the Albanian communists' hub until Nazi deportations depleted their ranks after the fall of France in 1940.

Enver Hoxha's and Mehmet Shehu's early years

Enver Hoxha and another veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Mehmet Shehu, eventually rose to become the most powerful figures in Albania for decades after the war. The dominant figure in modern Albanian history, Enver Hoxha rose from obscurity to lead his people for a longer time than any other ruler. Born in 1908 to a Tosk landowner from Gjirokastër who returned to Albania after working in the United States, Hoxha attended the country's best college-preparatory school, the National Lycée in Korçë. In 1930 he attended the university in Montpellier, France, but lost an Albanian state scholarship for neglecting his studies. Hoxha subsequently moved to Paris and Brussels. After returning to Albania in 1936 without having earned a degree, he taught French for years at his former lycée and participated in a communist cell in Korçë. When the war broke out, Hoxha joined the Albanian partisans resisting Italian occupation. Shehu, also a Tosk, studied at Tirana's American Vocational School. He went on to a military college in Naples but was expelled for left-wing political activity. In Spain Shehu fought in the Garibaldi International Brigade. After internment in France, he returned to Albania in 1942 and won a reputation for brutality fighting with the partisans.

Beginning of the Albanian Communist and Fascist parties and the National Liberation Movement

After the invasion of Albania by Italy in April 1939, 100,000 Italian soldiers and 11,000 Italian colonists who wanted to integrate Albania to Greater Italy settled in the country. Initially the Albanian Fascist Party received support from the population, mainly because of the unification of Kosovo and other Albanian populated territories with Albania proper after the conquest of Yugoslavia and Greece by the Axis in Spring 1941. Benito Mussolini boasted in May 1941 to a group of Albanian fascists that he had achieved the Greater Albania long wanted by the Tirana nationalists.

In October 1941, the small Albanian Communist groups established an Albanian Communist Party in Tirana of 130 members under the leadership of Hoxha and an eleven-man Central Committee. The party at first had little mass appeal, and even its youth organization netted few recruits: the Albanian Fascist Party of Tefik Mborja had strong support in the country population after the Albania annexation of Kossovo.

In mid-1942, however, party leaders increased their popularity by calling the young peoples to fight for the liberation of their country from Italy. This propaganda increased the number of new recruits by many young peoples eager for freedom. In September 1942, the party organized a popular front organization, the National Liberation Movement (NLM), from a number of resistance groups, including several that were strongly anticommunist. During the war, the NLM's communist-dominated partisans, in the form of the National Liberation Army, did not heed warnings from the Italian occupiers that there would be reprisals for guerrilla attacks. Partisan leaders, on the contrary, counted on using the desire for revenge such reprisals would elicit to win recruits

Nationalist resistance

A nationalist resistance to the Italian occupiers emerged in October 1942. Ali Këlcyra and Mit’hat Frashëri formed the Western-oriented and anticommunist Balli Kombëtar (National Front). Balli Kombëtar was a movement that recruited supporters from both the large landowners and peasantry. They opposed King Zog's return and called for the creation of a republic and the introduction of economic and social reforms. Their leaders acted conservatively, however, fearing that the occupiers would carry out reprisals against them or confiscate the landowners' estates. The nationalistic Geg chieftains and the Tosk landowners often came to terms with the Italians, and later the Germans, to prevent the loss of their wealth and power.

Between Italy's surrender and German occupation

With the overthrow of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime and Italy's surrender in 1943, the Italian military and police establishment in Albania buckled. Albanian fighters overwhelmed five Italian divisions, and Italian recruits flocked to the guerrilla forces. The communists took control of most of Albania's southern cities, except Vlorë, which was a Balli Kombëtar stronghold, and nationalists attached to the NLM gained control over much of the north. British agents working in Albania during the war fed the Albanian resistance fighters with information that the Allies were planning a major invasion of the Balkans and urged the disparate Albanian groups to unite their efforts. In August 1943, the Allies convinced communist and Balli Kombëtar leaders to sign the Mukje Agreement that would coordinate their guerrilla operations. The two groups eventually ended all collaboration, however, over a disagreement on the postwar status of Kosovo. The communists supported returning the region to Yugoslavia after the war with the hope that Tito would cede Kosovo back to Albania peacefully, while the nationalist Balli Kombëtar advocated keeping the province. The delegates at Mukja agreed that a plebiscite should be held in Kosovo to decide the matter; but the communists soon reneged on the accord declaring that the communist delegates had not followed the orders they were given by the party leaders. Later, the communists were attacked by Balli Kombëtar forces, igniting a war that was fought for the next year, throughout Albania.

German occupation

Germany occupied Albania in September 1943, dropping paratroopers into Tirana before the Albanian guerrillas could take the capital, and the German army soon drove the guerrillas into the hills and to the south. Berlin subsequently announced it would recognize the independence of a neutral Albania and organized an Albanian government, police, and military. Many Balli Kombëtar units cooperated with the Germans against the communists, and several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the German-sponsored regime. The partisans entirely liberated Albania from German occupation on November 29, 1944. The Albanian partisans also liberated Kosovo, part of Montenegro and southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The National Liberation Army consisting of up to 70 thousand people, also took part in the war alongside the antifascist coalition.

Albania was part of Allied forces and for the Albanians this was one of the proudest moments of their history.

By that time, the Soviet Army was also entering neighboring Yugoslavia, and the German Army was evacuating from Greece into Yugoslavia.

Communist takeover of Albania

Provisional Communist administration

The communist partisans regrouped and gained control of southern Albania in January 1944. In May they called a congress of members of the National Liberation Front (NLF), as the movement was by then called) at Përmet, which chose an Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation to act as Albania's administration and legislature. Hoxha became the chairman of the council's executive committee and the National Liberation Army's supreme commander. The communist partisans defeated the last Balli Kombëtar forces in southern Albania by mid-summer 1944 and encountered only scattered resistance from the Balli Kombëtar when they entered central and northern Albania by the end of July. The British military mission urged the remnants of the nationalists not to oppose the communists' advance, and the Allies evacuated Kupi to Italy. Before the end of November, the main German troops had withdrawn from Tirana, and the communists took control by attacking it. A provisional government, which the communists had formed at Berat in October, administered Albania with Enver Hoxha as prime minister.

The consequences of the war

Albania stood in an unenviable position after World War II. The NLF's strong links with Yugoslavia's communists, who also enjoyed British military and diplomatic support, guaranteed that Belgrade would play a key role in Albania's postwar order. The Allies never recognized an Albanian government in exile or King Zog, nor did they ever raise the question of Albania or its borders at any of the major wartime conferences. No reliable statistics on Albania's wartime losses exist, but the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration reported about 30,000 Albanian war dead, 200 destroyed villages, 18,000 destroyed houses, and about 100,000 people left homeless. Albanian official statistics claim somewhat higher losses.

Furthermore, thousands of Chams (Tsams, Albanians living in Northern Greece) were driven out of Greece with the justification that they had collaborated with the Nazis.

During the Nazi occupation most Jews in Albania proper were saved, although others in the Kosovo region were deported and killed.[1]

See also

References

External links


Albanian Resistance of World War II
Part of World War II
Date 1939 - 1944
Location Albania, Kosovo
Result Partisan victory
Belligerents
Albanian Partisans
File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946) Kingdom of Italy (from 1939 to 1943)
 Nazi Germany (from 1943 to 1944)
Balli Kombëtar (from 1943 to 1944)
Commanders
Spiro Moisiu
Enver Hoxha
many
Strength
From ~4,000 in 1942 to ~70,000 regular(partisans) and irregular (territorial troops) in November 1944. More than 600,000 troops, stationed or passed through Albania during the period 1939-1944.
Casualties and losses
28,000 including civilians. 26,594 enemies killed, 24,245 wounded and 20,800 prisoners.
Total casualties:~79,000

Contents

Communist and Nationalist resistance

Beginning of the Communist movement

Faced with an illiterate, agrarian, and mostly Muslim society monitored by Zog's security police, Albania's communist movement attracted few adherents in the interwar period. In fact, the country had no fully fledged communist party before World War II. After Fan Noli fled in 1924 to Italy and later the United States, several of his leftist protégés migrated to Moscow, where they affiliated themselves with the Balkan Confederation of Communist Parties and through it the Communist International (Comintern), the Soviet-sponsored association of international communist parties. In 1930, the Comintern dispatched Ali Kelmendi to Albania to organize communist cells. But Albania had no working class for the communists to base their ideas on, and Marxism appealed to only a minute number of quarrelsome, Western-educated, mostly Tosk, intellectuals and to landless peasants, miners, and other persons discontented with Albania's obsolete social and economic structures. Forced to flee Albania, Kelmendi fought in the Garibaldi Battalion of the XI International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War and later moved to France, where together with other communists, including a student named Enver Hoxha, he published a newspaper. Paris became the Albanian communists' hub until Nazi deportations depleted their ranks after the fall of France in 1940.

Enver Hoxha's and Mehmet Shehu's early years

Enver Hoxha and another veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Mehmet Shehu, eventually rose to become the most powerful figures in Albania for decades after the war. The dominant figure in modern Albanian history, Enver Hoxha rose from obscurity to lead his people for a longer time than any other ruler. Born in 1908 to a Tosk landowner from Gjirokastër who returned to Albania after working in the United States, Hoxha attended the country's best college-preparatory school, the National Lycée in Korçë. In 1930 he attended the university in Montpellier, France, but lost an Albanian state scholarship for neglecting his studies. Hoxha subsequently moved to Paris and Brussels. After returning to Albania in 1936 without earning a degree, he taught French for years at his former lycée and participated in a communist cell in Korçë. When the war erupted, Hoxha joined the Albanian partisans. Shehu, also a Tosk, studied at Tirana's American Vocational School. He went on to a military college in Naples but was expelled for left-wing political activity. In Spain Shehu fought in the Garibaldi International Brigade. After internment in France, he returned to Albania in 1942 and won a reputation for brutality fighting with the partisans.

The beginning of the Albanian Communist Party, the Albanian Fascist Party and the National Liberation Movement

After the invasion of Albania by the Kingdom of Italy in April 1939, in the country settled 100,000 Italian soldiers and 11,000 Italian colonists who wanted to integrate Albania to Greater Italia. Initially the fascist Albanians received support from the population, mainly because they obtained the unification of Kossovo and other albanian populated territories after the conquest of Yugoslavia and Greece by the Axis in spring 1941. Benito Mussolini boasted in May 1941 to a group of Albanian fascists that he had done the Greater Albania wanted by the Tirana nationalists.

In October 1941, the small Albanian communist groups established in Tirana an Albanian Communist Party of 130 members under the leadership of Hoxha and an eleven-man Central Committee. The party at first had little mass appeal, and even its youth organization netted few recruits: the Albanian Fascist Party of Tefik Mborja had strong support in the country population after the Albania annexation of Kossovo.

In mid-1942, however, party leaders increased their popularity by calling the young peoples to fight for the liberation of their country, that was conquered by Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946). This propaganda increased the number of new recruits by many young peoples eager for freedom. In September 1942, the party organized a popular front organization, the National Liberation Movement (NLM), from a number of resistance groups, including several that were strongly anticommunist. During the war, the NLM's communist-dominated partisans, in the form of the National Liberation Army, did not heed warnings from the Italian occupiers that there would be reprisals for guerrilla attacks. Partisan leaders, on the contrary, counted on using the lust for revenge such reprisals would elicit to win recruits

Nationalist resistance

A nationalist resistance to the Italian occupiers emerged in October 1942. Ali Klissura and Midhat Frashëri formed the Western-oriented and anticommunist Balli Kombëtar (National Front). Balli Kombëtar was a movement that recruited supporters from both the large landowners and peasantry. They opposed King Zog's return and called for the creation of a republic and the introduction of some economic and social reforms. Their leaders acted conservatively, however, fearing that the occupiers would carry out reprisals against them or confiscate the landowners' estates. The nationalistic Geg chieftains and the Tosk landowners often came to terms with the Italians, and later the Germans, to prevent the loss of their wealth and power.

Between Italy's surrender and German occupation

With the overthrow of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime and Italy's surrender in 1943, the Italian military and police establishment in Albania buckled. Albanian fighters overwhelmed five Italian divisions, and Italian recruits flocked to the guerrilla forces. The communists took control of most of Albania's southern cities, except Vlorë, which was a Balli Kombëtar stronghold, and nationalists attached to the NLM gained control over much of the north. British agents working in Albania during the war fed the Albanian resistance fighters with information that the Allies were planning a major invasion of the Balkans and urged the disparate Albanian groups to unite their efforts. In August 1943, the Allies convinced communist and Balli Kombëtar leaders to sign the Mukje Agreement that would coordinate their guerrilla operations. The two groups eventually ended all collaboration, however, over a disagreement on the postwar status of Kosovo. The communists, supported returning the region to Yugoslavia after the war with the hope that Tito would cede Kosovo back to Albania peacefully, while the nationalist Balli Kombëtar advocated keeping the province. The delegates at Mukja agreed that a plebiscite should be held in Kosovo to decide the matter; but the communists soon reneged on the accord declaring that the communist delegates had not followed the orders they were given by the party leaders. Later, the communists were attacked by Balli Kombëtar forces, igniting a war that was fought for the next year, throughout Albania.

German occupation

Germany occupied Albania in September 1943, dropping paratroopers into Tirana before the Albanian guerrillas could take the capital, and the German army soon drove the guerrillas into the hills and to the south. Berlin subsequently announced it would recognize the independence of a neutral Albania and organized an Albanian government, police, and military. Many Balli Kombëtar units cooperated with the Germans against the communists, and several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the German-sponsored regime. The partisans entirely liberated Albania from German occupation on November 28, 1944. The Albanian partisans also liberated Kosovo,part of Montenegro and southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. National Liberation Army consisting of up to 70 thousand people, also took part in the war alongside the antifascist coalition.

Albania was part of Allied forces and for the Albanians this was one of the proudest moments of their history.

By that time, the Soviet Army was also entering neighboring Yugoslavia, and the German Army was evacuating from Greece into Yugoslavia.

Communist takeover of Albania

Provisional Communist administration

The communist partisans regrouped and gained control of southern Albania in January 1944. In May they called a congress of members of the National Liberation Front (NLF), as the movement was by then called) at Përmet, which chose an Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation to act as Albania's administration and legislature. Hoxha became the chairman of the council's executive committee and the National Liberation Army's supreme commander. The communist partisans defeated the last Balli Kombëtar forces in southern Albania by mid-summer 1944 and encountered only scattered resistance from the Balli Kombëtar and Legality when they entered central and northern Albania by the end of July. The British military mission urged the remnants of the nationalists not to oppose the communists' advance, and the Allies evacuated Kupi to Italy. Before the end of November, the main German troops had withdrawn from Tirana, and the communists took control by attacking it. A provisional government the communists had formed at Berat in October administered Albania with Enver Hoxha as prime minister.

The consequences of the war

Albania stood in an unenviable position after World War II. The NLF's strong links with Yugoslavia's communists, who also enjoyed British military and diplomatic support, guaranteed that Belgrade would play a key role in Albania's postwar order. The Allies never recognized an Albanian government in exile or King Zog, nor did they ever raise the question of Albania or its borders at any of the major wartime conferences. No reliable statistics on Albania's wartime losses exist, but the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration reported about 30,000 Albanian war dead, 200 destroyed villages, 18,000 destroyed houses, and about 100,000 people left homeless. Albanian official statistics claim somewhat higher losses.

Furthermore, thousands of Chams (Tsams, Albanians living in Northern Greece) were driven out of Greece with the justification that they had collaborated with the Nazis.

See also

References

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message