Following the celebrations of Independence Day yesterday, today is yet another day of festivities. The 29th of November ( ‘Dita e Clirimit’) is celebrated in Albania as the day that the country was liberated from Nazi Germany during World War II.
Italy invaded Albania on April 7th 1939 and assumed control of the country. Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator placed King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy as the countries new king and made Albania one of WWII’s first victims at the hands of the Axis Powers. During the occupation of the country, Mussolini pushed Italian culture by dissuading the use of Shqip and forcing Italian to be used in schools.
Then in 1942, the National Liberation Front was set up in Albania to fight the Italians. Then as Italy was invaded by the Allied Forces, seeing Mussolini’s power fail, the Germans decided to take Albania.
The German forces invaded Albania in September 1943 firstly dropping paratroopers into Tirana and the driving the Albanian resistance into the hills and the south. The Germans later recognised Albania as a neutral and independent state and allowed an Albanian, yet German-friendly, government to be created. But this was not enough for the National Liberation Front and the continued their efforts to gain full independence from Germany, gaining full liberation on November 20th, 1944.
Not only did the partisans liberate Albania from German occupation but their 70,000 strong force also liberated Kosovo as well.
Liberation Day is important for Albanian’s as there are still people who remember first hand those days of history. A number of ceremonies and memorial services take place and people come together to honour the victims of the war and to celebrate freedom and hope.
Whilst liberation from the Nazi’s was a good thing, it did signal the beginning of what was perhaps the darkest time in Albania’s history- the rule of the brutal Enver Hoxha who would break the heart of the country and its people for decades to come.Follow The Balkanista!