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Profile: Albanian Partisans
Albanian Partisans was a participant or observer in the following events:
A second Albanian National Liberation Conference is held and publicly states that the Mukje agreement (see August 1-2, 1943) is “an act that violated the fundamental principles of the Peza Conference and ran counter to the interests of the war and the unity of the Albanian people.” It also decides “to take a clear stand against [the pro-western Balli Kombetar], to expose its anti-national and anti-people policy.” The Ballists are accused of undermining the National Liberation Movement by calling it “a Communist movement,” fanning chauvinism by saying Serbia and Greece are threats, and obstructing the national liberation war. They allow the possibility of cooperation, as long as the Ballists “participate in the uncompromising and relentless war against the invaders” and agree that the national liberation councils are “the sole people’s power.” The Conference states that the way to self-determination for Kosova and Cameria, an Albanian-inhabited region in Greece, is through the national liberation war. The Conference also increases the General Council from the seven representatives elected at Peza to 62, creates rules with the goal of making the NLC into Albania’s legitimate government, and integrates new anti-fascist organizations, such as the Anti-fascist Youth Union. [PLA, 1971, pp. 169-172; Kola, 2003, pp. 57]
Italy surrenders to the Allies, but the Italian commander in Albania tells his forces to surrender to the German military. About 15,000 surrender to the Albanians, and about 1,500 are organized into the “Antonio Gramsci” Battalion of the 1st Storm Brigade of the Albanian National Liberation Army. Meanwhile, about 70,000 German soldiers invade Albania. According to the official PLA history, the Germans say they are liberating Albania from Italy and that they will protect Albanian independence in exchange for Albania joining their anti-communist war. [PLA, 1971, pp. 173-174]
The Third and Fifth Brigades of the Albanian National Liberation Army enter Kosova to fight the Germans. They will later be sent north, which Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha will say allows “unrestrained mass terror against the Albanians” by Yugoslav Partisans. Others say that as many as 30,000 Albanian soldiers aid the Yugoslavs in fighting Albanian nationalists. [Prifti, 1978, pp. 197-199; Kola, 2003, pp. 61-62]
Communist official Velimir Stoinic arrives to lead the Yugoslav military mission to Albania’s general staff and to represent the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. He immediately recalls Miladin Popovic back to Yugoslavia. Popovic is blamed for alleged mistakes by the Communist Party of Albania (CPA), such as the Mukje agreement with the Balli Kombetar and statements that Yugoslavia will allow Kosova to determine its future. He also says the CPA’s policies are wrong and that the leadership must change. The CPA will later accuse Stoinic of conspiring with a pro-Yugoslav faction against leading Albanian communist Enver Hoxha so Yugoslavia can take control of Albania. [PLA, 1971, pp. 227; Kola, 2003, pp. 58]
The Third and Fifth Divisions of the Albanian National Liberation Army pursue German forces into Yugoslavia, in coordination with Yugoslav forces. Author Peter Prifti will later say around 15,000 Albanians fight in Yugoslavia and 350 or more die there. They fight in Kosova (including Pristina and Novi Pazar), Montenegro, western Macedonia, a portion of Serbia, and the Sandjak region in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, going as far as Visegrad, almost 80 miles away from Albania. Albania is alone among the European socialist states in liberating itself with only its own forces in World War II, which Front, a Yugoslav military magazine, will admit in the early 70s, breaking decades of unacknowledgment. [Prifti, 1978, pp. 197-198]
The British envoys to the Partisans oppose the fighting between the Partisans and other groups, and threaten to cut off military aid to the Partisans. A circular from the Central Committee of the CPA to local groups says “the British mission is attempting to revive and reinforce the reactionary movement against the national liberation movement,” and “they should in no way be regarded as arbiters” and will be deported if they interfere in internal affairs. Rumors begin to circulate as early as September that an Allied army will land in Albania, and local communists are told to make sure any Allied force finds the National Liberation Council and Army “as the sole state power.” There are also fears of a government in exile or a government created after a landing. In response, the British and American envoys are watched and not allowed to roam at large. [PLA, 1971, pp. 181 -182; Hoxha, 1974, pp. 193 - 195; Kola, 2003, pp. 69-70]
Albania is allowed to participate in the Paris Peace Conference, regarding the post-war settlements between the Allies and Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Finland, but is not a full participant, instead being classed with Austria. The Albanian government argues that it was a full member of the Allied effort, fielding 70,000 Albanian Partisans, including 6,000 women, against around 100,000 Italians and 70,000 Germans. It says Italy and Germany suffered 53,639 casualties and prisoners and lost 100 armored vehicles, 1,334 artillery pieces, 1,934 trucks, and 2,855 machine guns destroyed or taken in Albania. Out of its population of one million, Albania says 28,000 were killed, 12,600 wounded, 10,000 were political prisoners, and 35,000 were made to do forced labor. Albania says 850 out of 2,500 of its communities were destroyed by the war.
Disputed by Greece - To oppose Albania’s demands, Greece argues that Albania is at war with it. Greece also claims Gjirokastra and Korca, south of the Shkumbin River, and there is some fighting along the border. By 11 votes to seven, with two abstentions, the conference votes to discuss Greece’s territorial claims. Italian King Victor Emmanuel III blames Albania for the invasion of Greece, and Greece points to a declaration of war by the Albanian occupation government after Daut Hoxha was found murdered at the border in summer 1940.
Hoxha's Address - Enver Hoxha addresses the conference. He points to hundreds of Albanians conscripted by Italy who deserted or joined the Greeks, who then treated them as POWs. Many were later sent to Crete and joined British forces who landed there. Others joined the Albanian Partisans or were captured by Italy, court-martialed for “high treason,” and imprisoned in the Shijak concentration camp. There are other cases of attacks on Italian forces by Albanian soldiers. Hoxha also mentions attacks on Albania by Greeks, such as the over 50 homes in Konispol burned by German soldiers guided by a captain under Greek collaborationist General Napoleon Zervas on September 8, 1943. His forces also joined German forces in their winter 1943-44 Albanian offensive. They invaded and burned again in June 1944. Hoxha refutes Greek claims that Albania is treading on the rights of the Greek minority, which Albania numbers at 35,000. There are 79 schools using Greek, one secondary school, autonomous Greek local government, and Greeks in the government and military. Between 1913 and 1923, Hoxha claims there were 60,000 Albanians in Greece, 35,000 of whom were classified as Turks and deported to Turkey in exchange for Turkish Greeks. In June 1944 and March 1945 Zervas’ forces attacked Greek Albanians, and at least 20,000 fled to Albania. Hoxha will later say that what Albania terms the “monarcho-fascist” Greek government commits 683 military provocations against Albania from its founding to October 15, 1948. Hoxha claims the Greek prime minister tells a Yugoslav official at the Peace Conference that he is open to dividing Albania with Yugoslavia, but Yugoslavia refuses. Hoxha tells the conference, “We solemnly declare that within our present borders there is not one square inch of foreign soil, and we will never permit anyone to encroach upon them, for to us they are sacred.” Italy is accused of harboring Albanian and Italian war criminals, including “fascists” who assassinated an Albanian sergeant at the Allied Mediterranean High Command in Bari in March. The Italian politicians are accused of threatening Albania during recent elections. In conclusion, Hoxha asks that the Peace Conference further limit Italy’s post-war military, claims Italy committed 3,544,232,626 gold francs worth of damage in Albania, and Albania wants to be classified as an “associated power.”
US, British Opposition - These requests are opposed by the UK and US. Albania afterward considers its share of the reparations to be too low. The UK and US will later oppose Albanian participation in the Moscow conference on peace with Germany, held in March-April 1947. An American delegate will say: “We are of the opinion that, first, Albania is not a neighbor of Germany, and second, it did not take part in the war against Germany. Only some individual Albanians, perhaps, took part in this war, but apart from this there were also Albanians who fought side by side with the Germans.” [PLA, 1971, pp. 258; Hoxha, 1974, pp. 539-542, 593-614; Hoxha, 1975, pp. 90-91, 99]
Entity Tags: Turkey, Greece, Germany, Enver Hoxha, Daut Hoxha, Albanian Partisans, Albania, Italy, Napoleon Zervas, Victor Emmanuel III, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, United States of America, United Kingdom
Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle
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