Albanian Kingdom (1928–39)
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"Atdheu mbi te gjitha"
"Homeland above all"
Himni i Flamurit
Hymn to the Flag
The Albanian Kingdom in 1935.
|Historical era||Interwar period|
|-||Established||1 September 1928|
|-||Italian invasion||7 April 1939|
|-||Government exiled||9 April 1939|
|-||1930||28,748 km² (11,100 sq mi)|
|Density||34.9 /km² (90.4 /sq mi)|
The Albanian Kingdom (Gheg Albanian: Mbretnija Shqiptare, Standard Albanian: Mbretëria Shqiptare) was the Constitutional Monarchal rule in Albania between 1928 and 1939. During this period, Albania was a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy. Albania was declared a monarchy by the Constituent Assembly, and Zog I was crowned king. The kingdom was supported by the fascist regime in Italy, and the two countries maintained close relations until Italy's sudden invasion of the country in 1939. After the end of World War II, the Albanian King was not allowed to return, as the Albanian Communists liberated the country from the Fascists and installed a Socialist regime. Albania was the only European country led by a Muslim monarch after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1922.
In 1928, Zogu secured the parliament's consent to its own dissolution. A new constituent assembly amended the constitution, making Albania a kingdom and transforming Zogu into Zog I, "King of the Albanians." International recognition arrived forthwith, but many Albanians regarded their country's nascent dynasty as a tragic farce. The new constitution abolished the Albanian Senate, creating a unicameral Assembly, but King Zog retained the powers he had enjoyed as President.
Soon after his coronation, Zog broke off his engagement to Shefqet Vërlaci's daughter, and Verlaci withdrew his support for the king and began plotting against him. Zog had accumulated a great number of enemies over the years, and the Albanian tradition of blood vengeance required them to try to kill him. Zog surrounded himself with guards and rarely appeared in public. The king's loyalists disarmed all of Albania's tribes except for his own Mati tribesmen and their allies, the Dibra. Nevertheless, on a visit to Vienna in 1931, Zog and his bodyguards fought a gun battle with would-be assassins on the Opera House steps.
Zog remained sensitive to steadily mounting disillusion with Italy's domination of Albania. The Albanian army, though always with 15,600-strong, sapped the country's funds, and the Italians' monopoly on training the armed forces rankled public opinion. As a counterweight, Zog kept British officers in the Royal Albanian Gendarmerie despite strong Italian pressure to remove them. In 1931 Zog openly stood up to the Italians, refusing to renew the 1926 First Treaty of Tirana.
During the crisis of 1929–1933, Zog asked the Italians for a loan of 100 million gold francs in 1931, and the request was approved by the Italian government. In 1932 and 1933, Albania could not make the interest payments on its loans from the Society for the Economic Development of Albania. In response, Rome turned up the pressure, demanding that Tirana name Italians to direct the Gendarmerie; join Italy in a customs union; grant Italy control of the country's sugar, telegraph, and electrical monopolies; teach the Italian language in all Albanian schools; and admit Italian colonists. Zog refused. Instead, he ordered the national budget slashed by 30 percent, dismissed the Italian military advisers, and nationalized Italian-run Roman Catholic schools in the northern part of the country.
By June 1934, Albania had signed trade agreements with Yugoslavia and Greece, and Mussolini had suspended all payments to Tirana. An Italian attempt to intimidate the Albanians by sending a fleet of warships to Albania failed because the Albanians only allowed the forces to land unarmed. Mussolini then attempted to buy off the Albanians. In 1935 he presented the Albanian government 3 million gold francs as a gift.
Zog's success in defeating two local rebellions convinced Mussolini that the Italians had to reach a new agreement with the Albanian king. Relations with Italy were improved in 1936. A government of young men led by Mehdi Frasheri, an enlightened Bektashi administrator, won a commitment from Italy to fulfil financial promises that Mussolini had made to Albania and to grant new loans for harbor improvements at Durrës and other projects that kept the Albanian government afloat. Soon Italians began taking positions in Albania's civil service, and Italian settlers were allowed into the country.
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|History of Albania|
The 11 year rule of King Zog I is noted for a great wave of modernization of the country, which had suffered five centuries of harsh Turkish rule. To fulfill the modernization of a backward country, a great amount of money was needed. The money was obtained from Italian loans. The Italians loaned the Albanians 1.837 billion Italian Liras.
In 1928, the Basic Statute was adopted, along with a Civil Code. Furthermore, an agrarian reform was instituted, removing ferexhesë. The Islamic law was replaced by the Swiss Civil Code, following the model of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey. King Zog supported the introduction of modern architecture, and sought to improve welfare, trade balance, and the education of the Albanian youth.
In 1929, the world was caught by a major crisis caused by overproduction. Its effects were very damaging to Albania. It was in this year when Zog saw the first signs of the crisis, mainly in the financial and monetary system, but they became more sensitive in 1930. The peak of the crisis was between 1934 and 1935. Most industries were paralyzed or went bankrupt. The crisis deeply affected all credit systems. At this time, due to the ongoing budget deficit and financial difficulties evident in many areas and sectors of the country, loans were taken from Western countries, but the majority was from Italy. In 1931, Albanian agriculture was affected by a major drought, which caused serious consequences in the national food supply. In 1932, as a result of this situation, 33% more wheat and corn was imported.
The crisis of 1930–34 differs in many ways: the percentage of the population living with non-agricultural employment was reduced from 15.9% in 1930 to 15.4% in 1938. Albanian exports grew from 2 million gold francs to 12 million between 1923 and 1931, but fell back to 1923 levels within the next two years. A difficult situation occurred between 1935 and 1936, when the government was forced to distribute emergency food aid in poor areas. Places that sold Albanian goods placed tariffs on imports of cheese and butter. Traditional markets in Greece and Turkey wool were flooded, as they sold goods for cheaper prices than in the Soviet Union. The crisis affected the livestock, which accounted for 70% of the total national exports. Another significant impact was the establishment of the so-called "tax xhelepit", which decided to head / livestock. In 1933, the state cut the taxes by 50%.
Through all the turmoil of the interwar years, Albania remained Europe's most economically backward nation. Peasant farmers accounted for the vast majority of the Albanian population. Albania had practically no industry, and the country's potential for hydroelectric power was virtually untapped. Oil was the country's main extractable resource. After the Italians took over the oil-drilling concessions of all other foreign companies in 1939 by creating the company "Sveja", a pipeline between the Kuçovë oil field and Vlorë's port expedited shipments of crude petroleum to Italy's refineries. This was a society company who dealt with the natural resources of Albania, and the first credits were obtained from this society, that was created to steal Albania's natural assets. Albania also possessed bitumen, lignite, iron, chromite, copper, bauxite, manganese, and some gold. Shkodër had a cement factory; Korçë, a brewery; and Durrës and Shkodër, cigarette factories that used locally grown tobacco.
In 1934, the price of the grain reached the lowest level, at about 7.5 gold francs. A strong decline in prices, mainly in the agricultural and livestock industry, affected the monetary and credit policies of the National Commercial Bank. In the years of the crisis, the bank reduced the amount of currency in circulation, which and worsened the deflation. The artificially increased value of the franc lowered the prices of products. In mid-1935, Albania entered a recovery phase. Industry recovered, and Zogu created tax incentives, especially for cement factories, which were made exempt from taxes for three years.
Between 1933 and 1935, economic development emerged in the agriculture, livestock and industrial capital industries. Construction of roads and bridges began, along with 53 telegraph postaro links. During much of the interwar period, Italians held most of the technical jobs in the Albanian economy. Albania had four ports. These were the ports of Durrës, Shëngjin, Vlorë and Sarandë. Albania's main exports were petroleum, animal skins, cheese, livestock, and eggs. The primary imports were grain and other foodstuffs, metal products, and machinery. In 1939, the value of Albania's imports outdid that of its exports by about four times. About 70 percent of Albania's exports went to Italy. Italian factories furnished about 40 percent of Albania's imports, and the Italian government paid for the rest. Between 1931 and 1936, foreign capital, especially Italian, Albanian government dictated the conclusion of a customs union. This union, at that time, would include the Albanian economy in the Italian economic system and opening without limitation the Italian capital. Customs Union will be hit directly the interests of newly Albanian bourgeoisie. But the state budget, will be deprived of an important source of income, such as those by customs. At the same time increased the dependence of Albania by the Italian finance. ROC formally accepted the deal, but then refused. In 1938 there was a general activation of the national capital in the industry. In this period, the number of enterprises reached 244, while the number of employees at State administration rose up to 7.435. Industrial production rose, while agriculture was in arrears. In 1938, the total area of agricultural land estimated at 2,874 acres, about 39.5% of the occupied state and private property, while smallholders owned 60%.
Cereal production in Albania did not meet the needs. Wheat production is estimated at about 38,000 tons, while that of maize at 143,000 tons. After the crisis, the production of industrial crops rose. Tobacco accounted for about 2,600 acres. Also grew cereal crops. Were planted about 1.2 million root for cereal crops, 100,000 citrus root, 41.5 million vineyards root, 1.6 million olive trees root. During the '36–'38 period was observed recovery of the economy. Trade amounted to 32.7 million gold francs, with 65% growth. Exports grew by 61.5% and imports by 67.3%.Exports in '38 represented 66.3% of the 1928 level. During the '36–'38 state budget had increased. Albanian kingdom period was characterized by the growing number of utility works in capitalist and in 1939 were 36 enterprises in the construction industry.
During this 11 years period were made serious efforts To create a national Road network which made an investment of 60 million Gold Frangs that were taken from Italian Kingdom. During the 10-year period 1929–1939 were Built up 850 km of main roads, 456 km of roads, 4,062 small bridges 10.250 ml and 76 major bridges with 2.050 ml.This period Also introduced the construction of many works of art which As the construction of the severage network, for the first time were invested to build segments of roads in northrern part of Albania.. The most important roads were Shkodër-Puka, Mat-Bishop Bridge, Krujë-Mat, Tirana-Elbasan, Lushnjë-Mbrostar, Korçë-Burrel, Burrel-Dibër, Tiranë-Shijak-Durrës, Tiranë-Ndroq-Durrës, Tiranë-Krrabë-Elbasan, for the realization of this projects were committed qualified Of engineers from Europe. He built several concrete bridges. In 1938, the value of investments reached 150 million Albanian Lek (1961 currency prices). On the eve of the fascist invasion, Albania had 300 trucks, 20 buses, 200 cars and pickups.
During 1938, 95,000 tons of cargo transported, equal to 1 million tons per kilometer. During the same period, the total turnover of goods in retail trade amounted to 3,900,000,000 ALL old (in 1947 prices). In this year (1938) the National Radio Station went on air which was established in 28 November and was called 'Radio Tirana'. Began construction of the port of Durrës. They performed works in brace works, irrigation canals, etc., which was interrupted by the beginning of World War II (1939–1945). During 1939–43, Italy calculated in Albania Albanian 141,728,184 Gold Frangs value profits. With the capitulation of Italy the quantity of banknotes amounted to 205,000,000 Gold Frangs Albanian.
Poor and remote, Albania remained decades behind the other Balkan countries in educational and social development. Only some 13% of the population lived in towns. Illiteracy plagued almost the entire population. About 90 percent of the country's peasants practiced subsistence agriculture, using ancient methods and tools, such as wooden plows. Much of the country's richest farmland lay under water in malaria-infested coastal marshlands. Albania lacked a banking system, a railroad, a modern port, an efficient military, a university, or a modern press. The Albanians had Europe's highest birthrate and infant mortality rate, and life expectancy for men was about 38 years.
The American Red Cross opened schools and hospitals at Durrës and Tirana, and one Red Cross worker founded an Albanian chapter of the Boy Scouts that all boys between twelve and eighteen years old were subsequently required to join by law. Although hundreds of schools opened across the country, in 1938 only 36 percent of all Albanian children of school age were receiving education of any kind.
During the reign of Zog primary education became necessary. Despite the meager educational opportunities, literature flourished in Albania between the two world wars.Substantial progress has been achieved in the literature, and art publishing operations.Were distinguished writers as Fan Silistian Noli, Alexander Drenova, Esad Mekuli, Ndre Mjeda, Haki Stermilli, Lasgush Poradeci, Faik Konica, Sterjo Spase, Ndoc Nikaj, Foqion Postoli, Migjeni and others. A Franciscan priest, Gjergj Fishta, Albania's greatest poet, dominated the literary scene with his poems on the Albanians' perseverance during their quest for freedom. During this period also were open 600 Night Schools for the eradication of illiteracy but in 1939, 80% of adult population were illiterate. In 1939 Albania had 643 primary schools and 18 high school the most important high schools were: Pedagogical school of Elbasan, Lyceum of Korçë, Shkodër Gymnasium and the Trade school of Vlore, those who wanted to continue further education have gone abroad (Italy, Austria, France...). In 1939 about 420 Albanians studied abroad Albania.
Daily newspapers started publishing, including: "Demokracia", "Liria Kombëtare", "Besa", "Hylli i Dritës" and "Leka" along with a large number of pedagogical and scientific publications, were open so much organisations such as "Gruaja Shqiptare" to modernize Albanian society and in 1938 the first national Radio station went on-air. These were the first steps of modernization of the country, but Albania remained Europe's most backward nation in all directions and this was the reason for not development of country enough in all aspects in economy, culture, politics and military.
Not good economic development made many different strikes revolt. in the 1936 that was held by Albanian workers working in foreign companiesin in Kuçovë Oil field, that was organized by society "Puna" and another was held in Vlorë and in February 1936 was held strike from workers and crafters in Korçë, this strike was growed into a demonstrate that was Known as the "Hunger Strike". This time was recognized Migjeni poems for poverty and social situation of that time. At 1929 was well established communist society with an ideology unknown at the time for the Albanians, Orthodox and Catholic and Islamic community also Albania do not supported this party because it was an atheistic ideology.
Originally under the monarchy, institutions of all confessions were put under state control. In 1923, following the government program, the Albanian Muslim congress convened at Tirana decided to break with the Caliphate, established a new form of prayer (standing, instead of the traditional salah ritual), banished polygamy and did away with the mandatory use of veil (hijab) by women in public, which had been forced on the urban population by the Ottomans during the occupation.
A year later, in 1930, the first official religious census was carried out. Reiterating conventional Ottoman data from a century earlier which previously covered double the new state's territory and population, 50% of the population was grouped as Sunni Muslim, 20% as Orthodox Christian, 20% as Bektashi Muslim and 10% as Catholic Christian.
The monarchy was determined that religion should no longer be a foreign-oriented master dividing the Albanians, but a nationalized servant uniting them. It was at this time that newspaper editorials began to disparage the almost universal adoption of Muslim and Christian names, suggesting instead that children be given neutral Albanian names.
Official slogans began to appear everywhere. "Religion separates, patriotism unites." "We are no longer Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic, we are all Albanians." "Our religion is Albanism." The national hymn characterized neither Muhammad nor Jesus Christ, but King Zogu as "Shpëtimtari i Atdheut" (Savior of the Fatherland). The hymn to the flag honored the soldier dying for his country as a "Saint." Increasingly the mosque and the church were expected to function as servants of the state, the patriotic clergy of all faiths preaching the gospel of Albanism.
Monarchy stipulated that the state should be neutral, with no official religion and that the free exercise of religion should be extended to all faiths. Neither in government nor in the school system should favor be shown to any one faith over another. Albanism was substituted for religion, and officials and schoolteachers were called "apostles" and "missionaries." Albania's sacred symbols were no longer the cross and the crescent, but the Flag and the King. Hymns idealizing the nation, Skanderbeg, war heroes, the king and the flag predominated in public-school music classes to the exclusion of virtually every other theme.
The first reading lesson in elementary schools introduced a patriotic catechism beginning with this sentence, "I am an Albanian. My country is Albania." Then there follows in poetic form, "But man himself, what does he love in life?" "He loves his country." "Where does he live with hope? Where does he want to die?" "In his country." "Where may he be happy, and live with honor?" "In Albania."
As Germany annexed Austria and moved against Czechoslovakia, Italy saw itself becoming a second-rate member of the Axis. The imminent birth of an Albanian royal child meanwhile threatened to give Zog a lasting dynasty. After Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia (March 15, 1939) without notifying Mussolini in advance, the Italian dictator decided to proceed with his own annexation of Albania. Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III criticized the plan to take Albania as an unnecessary risk.
Rome, however, delivered Tirana an ultimatum on March 25, 1939, demanding that it accede to Italy's occupation of Albania. Zog refused to accept money in exchange for countenancing a full Italian takeover and colonization of Albania, and on April 7, 1939, Mussolini's troops invaded Albania. Despite some stubborn resistance, especially at Durrës, the Italians made short work of the Albanians.
Unwilling to become an Italian puppet, King Zog, his wife, Queen Geraldine Apponyi, and their infant son Leka fled to Greece and eventually to London. On April 12, the Albanian parliament voted to unite the country with Italy. Victor Emmanuel III took the Albanian crown, and the Italians set up a fascist government under Shefqet Verlaci and soon absorbed Albania's military and diplomatic service into Italy's.
After the German army defeated Poland, Denmark, and France, a still-jealous Mussolini decided to use Albania as a springboard to invade Greece. The Italians launched their attack on October 28, 1940, and at a meeting of the two fascist dictators in Florence, Mussolini stunned Hitler with his announcement of the Italian invasion. Mussolini counted on a quick victory, but Greek resistance fighters halted the Italian army in its tracks and soon advanced into Albania. The Greeks took Korçë and Gjirokastër and threatened to drive the Italians from the port city of Vlorë. The chauvinism of the Greek troops fighting in Albania cooled the Albanians' enthusiasm for fighting the Italians and the Greeks, and Mussolini's forces soon established a stable front in central Albania. In April 1941, Germany and its allies crushed both Greece and Yugoslavia, and a month later the Axis gave Albania control of Kosovo. Thus Albanian nationalists ironically witnessed the realization of their dreams of uniting most of the Albanian-populated lands during the Axis occupation of their country.
Zog of Albanians was still the legitimate monarch of the country, but he would not get the throne back. The communist partisans during and after the war, backed by Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, suppressed the Albanian nationalist movements and installed a Stalinist regime that would last for about 46 years. King Zog was banned from entering Albania by the communists and lived in exile for the rest of his life.
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- Zara S. Steiner. The lights that failed: European international history, 1919–1933. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005. Pp. 499.
- Roy Palmer Domenico. Remaking Italy in the twentieth century. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002. Pp. 74.
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- Jacques, Edwin. The Albanians, an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present.