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Mbretnija e Shqiperia e Madhe/Kingdom of Great Albania

Population

5,000,000

Capital

Durres (1914-1920, and after 1948)

Head of State

His Highness, Prince Wilhelm of Wied, Skanderbeg II Vilhelm Vidi, Prince of Albania (1914-1925), His Royal Highness, Zog I, Skanderbeg III, King of the Albanians (1928-1939), His Royal Highness, Viktor Emanueli, King of Albania (1939-1947), His Serene Highness, Carol Victor of Wied, Skenderi Viktor Vidi, Regent and King of Albania (1947-1973), His Serene Highness, Prince Carl I, King of Albania (from 1973)

Ruling Party

Partia Fashiste e Shqiperise (1939-1948), Garda e Shqiperise se Madhe (1948-1976), Partia Nacional Socialiste e Shqiperise (from 1976)

Head of Government

Shefqet bey Verlaci (1939-1946), Maliq Bej Bushati (1946-1949), Mehdi Frasheri (1949-1963), Xhafer Ibrahim Deva (1963-1978), Hasan Dosti (1978-1983), Abas Ermenji (from 1983)

System of Government

Italian Fascism imposed as result of annexation and personal union with Italy in 1939. Albania has subsequently moved toward National Socialist Germany. Personal union ended in 1947, independent Fascist Party established 1948, becoming constitutionally National Socialist in 1976.

HistoryEdit

Albanian territory of 1939 enlarged with Serbian Kosovo, parts of southern Montenegro and north-west Macedonia.

After the death of his father, the new Emperor of Italy Umberto II decided to end the personal union with Albania. The country would continue to be part of the Italian Empire and to pay homage to Rome, but with an independent monarchy restored. This was designed to placate Albanian nationalists who had not reconciled themselves to the Italian annexation, as well as the Germans who now favoured partial Albanian independence.

Italian General Lorenzo Dalmazzo had managed to reach an agreement with the Albanian nationalist movement not reconciled to the occupation, the Balli Kombetar. In 1943 Ali Kelcyra, representing the Ballists and Dalmazzo signed an agreement uniting them in opposition to the pro-Yugoslav and pro-Communist bandits in the country and allowing their re-entry into the government of Albania. A similar deal was struck with the pro-Zogist or Legalist Movement of Abaz Kupi, facilitated by Fiqri Dine, unifying all anti-Communist forces in the country. In recognition of his achievements, Dalmazzo was made Governor of Albania.

Despite the integration of the Legalists, King Zog’s persistent denunciation of the Italians from exile made him an inappropriate choice to retake the throne vacated by Umberto. An interim Regency Council (Keshilli i Larte i Regjences) was established with four members representing each of Albania's confessional communities: Albania's Northern Catholics were represented by Father Anton Harapi of the Catholic Franciscan Order, with Lef Nosi representing the Southern Orthodox Christians. The Northern Sunni Muslims were represented by Fuat Dibra, with Southern Shiites represented by Mehdi Frasheri.

The government headed by the Regency Council also represented the religious and tribal heterogenity of Albania. This includes representatives of the Bektashi, Sunni, Catholic and Orthodox faiths, as well as Ghegs, Tosks, Chams, Arvanites, Kosovars, Labs and Arbereshe.

The Regency Council was divided as to who should take the throne. Catholic opinion favoured the maintenance of a link with Italy via a Savoy monarch, or a restoration of the German House of Wied. Orthodox opinion suggested resurrecting the old claim of another German princeling, Prince Kiril Saxe-Coburg of Bulgaria. Elite Muslim opinion would have opted for a native Muslim dynasty, though the Zogist claim, in the person of Zog I or his son, Prince Leka Zogu, had limited appeal.

Ultimately, the German Prince Carol Victor of Wied, heir to the interwar Principality of Albania, was invited to rule first as Regent, then as king, at the behest of Germany. Carol Victor had served as an officer in the German army in Romania, and it had long been suspected that Germany would push for the restoration of his line to the throne of Albania. In November 1941, Count Ciano had openly accused the Germans of aiming to construct a new Albanian state led by Prince Carol Victor, which would be anti-Italian and whose militia would take oath directly to Hitler. At that time however, the Germans reassured him they had no such ambition for the prince.

Under the Regency however, pro-Italian figures in the Albanian administration were marginalized and even purged, and pro-Germany figures came to the fore. After reorganising the Albanian Fascists into the Guard of Greater Albania (in cooperation with Fascist Party General Secretary Tefik Mborja). Maliq bey Bushati handed the premiership to the German nominee, Mehdi Frasheri. He was succeeded by another pro-German, Xhafer Deva, founder of the wartime Second Prizren League, in 1963. Under Deva, Albania, like Romania, moved still further from Rome's orbit and into that of Berlin.

Eventually, after the death of Zog in 1961, the childless Prince Carol Victor adopted as his heir his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm's second son Carl, a newborn Prince of Wied. The Regency Council was reconstituted during King Carl's minority (1973-1979). The 1970s marked a nadir in relations between Italy and Albania, with the ruling Albania Fascist Party, more or less unchanged since the Italian invasion in 1939 mutating into an Albanian National Socialist Party on German lines.

Like other parts of the Italian Empire (especially Italian North Africa and Tunisia), Albania used the constitutional strife in Italy in 1969 to further distance itself from Rome.

The Albanian people as a whole are considered to be 'Aryans of Illyrian origin' by Berlin. In Nazi racial hierarchy, this places them, along with Croats, significantly above the neighbouring Serbian people. The northern Ghegs in particular are viewed as a vital mountain warrior race, in appearance taller, fairer and more slender than the Tosks.


Subdivisions of AlbaniaEdit

Albania was divided into twelve provinces by the Italian occupiers in 1939, with a thirteen (Pristina, or Kosovo) added in 1941:

  1. Lezhe
  2. Shkoder
  3. Berat
  4. Elbasan
  5. Gjirokaster
  6. Korce
  7. Levan
  8. Vlore
  9. Dibra
  10. Durres
  11. Kukes
  12. Tirana
  13. Pristina

According to the new constitution promulgated at the end of the personal union with Italy, the country was reorganised into four regions or principalities:

  • Mirdita Region: established as a unit for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Gheg Albanians in the north of the country. Includes some former Montenegrin territory (Ulqinit District). Received a large number of Arbereshe colonists from Italy, increasing the Catholic majority in the region. The largest cities are Shkoder and Lezha and the capital is Rreshen. The population is over 500,000.
  • Muzakaj Region: Tosk Albanian region, with a mainly Muslim population, predominantly Bektashi but also Sunni. It is the only region without a coastline on the Adriatic, though it does include territory between Lake Ohrit and Lake Prespes (Prespa District), annexed from Serbian Macedonia, as well as some other territory further north. Substantial numbers of Cham Albanians from Greece have been moved to the region from Greece. The capital and largest city is Berat. The population is over 500,000. The position of Regional Prefect is generall held by a member of the influential Frasheri family: Midhat Frasheri from 1947 to 1949 and Mihal Frasheri Zallari from 1958 to 1976. The Dino family of Cham Albanians is also influential.
  • Valona Region: established as a unit for the benefit of the Christian Orthodox Tosk Albanians in the south of the country. Includes some parts of former Serbian Macedonia. The capital is Vlore or Valona, while Korce and Gjirokastra serve as second cities. The population is over 750,000. The first Regional Prefect was Vasil Nosi, nephew of Regency Councillor Lef Nosi and veteran supporter of the anti-Zogist Orthodox priest Fan Noli.
  • Arbanon Region: established as a unit in which the majority Sunni Muslim Gheg Albanians predominate. Includes Pristina Province, formerly under Serbian rule, including the Pollog District of Serb Macedonia, as far east as Kumanova. The regional capital is Tirana, while Kruja and the national capital Durres are major cities. The population is over 3,000,000. The Regional Prefect is, since 1983, the young medical doctor and Gheg nationalist Sali Berisha.

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