Devoir de Philosophie


Publié le 22/02/2012

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Situated on the western Balkan Peninsula at the Strait of Otranto, the southern entrance to the Adriatic Sea, Albania was, at the outbreak of World War II, a monarchy with a population of a little more than 1 million. During the reign of Albania's King Zog I, Italy became increasingly influential in the country, and on April 7, 1939, the forces of Italy's Benito Mussolini invaded. Resistance was minimal, but two battalions plus a handful of tribal irregulars delayed the Italian advance for 36 hours, just long enough to allow Zog, his queen, and their infant son to flee the country. The royal family took up residence in exile in Britain for the duration of the war, although the British government did not recognize Zog as a head of state; in an attempt to discourage Italy from joining forces with Germany, Britain had, in fact, recognized Italy's annexation of Albania. Italy's king, Victor Emmanuel III, was proclaimed king of Albania, and a fascist regime was installed in the Albanian capital, Tirana. Early in 1940, the British government supported an abortive Albanian revolt against the Italians. The revolt was led from Kosovo, a Yugoslav province. When Yugoslavia was invaded by the Germans in April 1941, however, Kosovo was transferred to Albanian control, and the revolt collapsed. It was renewed during late 1942 and early 1943 under college professor and communist activist Enver Hoxha, who, encouraged by Yugoslavia's (Josip Broz) Tito, formed a partisan movement. British Special Operations Executive (SOE) operatives coordinated with and supported partisan activities beginning in 1943. Thus, a resistance movement was in place when, in July 1943, Mussolini was overthrown. A general insurrection began. Two of the five Italian divisions occupying Albania obeyed the orders of the new Italian prime minister, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, and joined the partisans. The other three divisions either joined German units or dispersed, and by fall 1943, Albanian guerrillas had seized most of the equipment of the Italian garrison. Albania was liberated from Italian occupation— only to be overrun by German forces, which instituted a regime of fierce reprisals against the partisans. This had the effect of terrorizing the civilian population, which largely withdrew its support from the resistance. The Germans, however, were more interested in neutralizing Albania than in dominating it. Mehdi Frasheri, a former governor of Jerusalem under the Ottoman Empire, formed a neutral government, which held sway over the cities and the coastal plain. The rest of the country fell prey to a variety of warlords and guerrilla leaders. Enver Hoxha decided that the time was ripe to exploit the chaos and suppress the anticommunist traditionalist resistance known as the Balli Kombetar. This prompted the Germans to align with the resistance in order to exacerbate internal discord. Through the Tirana government, Germany helped to supply the Balli Kombetar with equipment and weapons. This incited the partisans to accuse the Ballists of collaboration with Germany. The result was outright civil war, which so destabilized Albania that by early 1944, Germany had regained dominion over the coast and the major cities. At this point in the war, the Allies understood that Albania could provide a means by which the German armies could retreat, intact, from Greece. Britain once again worked to encourage and aid Albanians to abandon internecine warfare and to harass the common enemy, the German army. To this end, Britain began supplying the principal Albanian factions with arms. Unfortunately, these were used not against the Germans but to perpetuate the civil war, which expanded. When the German army began its retreat through Albania in September 1944, the tribal leader Abas 46 Albania Kupi, aided by members of the Balli Kombetar (who were on the run from communist forces), did harass retreating troops, but civil war made it impossible for British agents to incite all of northern Albania against them. As World War II wound down, the communists gained ascendancy in Albania, and all British operatives were evacuated to Italy, together with Abas Kupi and the major leaders of the Balli Kombetar. Immediately after the surrender of Germany, Albania, under Hoxha, withdrew into extreme anti- Western isolation and remained politically and economically isolated under the dictatorship of the Albanian Communist Party as the People's Republic of Albania, which became, in 1976, the People's Socialist Republic of Albania. Further reading: Fischer, Bernd Jurgen. Albania at War, 1939–1945. Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1999; Tomes, Jason. King Zog of Albania: Europe's Self- Made Muslim Monarch. New York: New York University Press, 2004; Vickers, Miranda, and James Pettifer. Albania: From Anarchy to Balkan Identity. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

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