Vlora War

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Vlora War
Vlora war combined.jpg
Clockwise from top: Italian base; Albanian soldiers; Italian cannons captured by Albanian irregulars during one of the battles
Date June 4 to September 3, 1920
Location Southern Albania
Result Albanian victory
Territorial
changes
All territory (except Saseno island) under Italian control in Albania was relinquished to the Albanian state.
Belligerents
Albania Principality of Albania
Albanian irregulars
Italy Kingdom of Italy
Commanders and leaders
Albania Qazim Koculi
AlbaniaAhmet Lepenica
Albania Selam Musa  
Italy Giovanni Giolitti
Italy Settimo Piacentini
Italy Enrico Gotti  
Strength
Albania 4,000[1] *over 20,000 infantry
*200 artillery pieces
*part of Italian fleet[2]
Casualties and losses
3,000 dead 2,000 to 3,000 dead.[3]

The Vlora War or the War of 1920 (Albanian: Lufta e Vlorës or Lufta e Njëzetës; Italian: Guerra di Valona) was a series of battles between an Italian forces garrisoned throughout Vlorë region and Albanian patriots divided in small groups of fighters. The war lasted three months and had great impact in the struggle of Albania for the safeguard of its territories at a time when Albanian borders and future were discussed in the Paris Peace Conference. The Vlora War is seen as a turning point in the establishment of the Albanian independence[4]

Background[edit]

Before entering the First World War as an ally of Triple Entente the Kingdom of Italy had signed the Secret Treaty of London in which Italy promised to declare war against Germany and Austria-Hungary within a month, in exchange of some territorial gains at the end of the war. In this treaty the promised territories of Albania to Italy were treated in articles 6 and 7:[5]

Article 6 Italy shall receive full sovereignty over Valona, the island of Saseno and surrounding territory...

Article 7 Having obtained the Trentino and Istria by Article 4, Dalmatia and the Adriatic islands by Article 5, and also the gulf of Valona, Italy undertakes, in the event a small, autonomous, and neutralized state being formed in Albania Italy not to oppose the possible desire of France, Great Britain, and Russia to repartition the northern and the southern districts of Albania between Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece. The southern coast of Albania, from the frontier of the Italian territory of Valona to Cape Stilos, is to be neutrazied. The Italy will be conceded the right of concluding the foreign relations of Albania; in any case, Italy will be bound to secure for Albania a territory sufficiently extensive to enable its frontiers to join those of Greece and Serbia to the west of Lake Ochrida ..

In 1920 in the Paris Peace Conference the allies had still reached no decision on Albania's future, but Italy's claims to sovereignty over Vlorë had never been seriously challenged. Italian Prime Minister Nitti had also hoped to obtain a mandate over the rest of the country according to the Secret Treaty of London[6]

Course of war[edit]

The war started on June 4, after the Italian general Settimo Piacentini refused to hand over the Vlora district to the Albanian government. Albanian volunteers were organized by the National Defense Committee under the political leadership of Qazim Koculi and they reached the number of 4,000, while Ahmet Lepenica was appointed their commander in chief. In the meantime, Italy had 20,000 well-armed soldiers in the area. The Albanian rebels started the first battles in the city Vlora, where they used swords, sticks and stones. Some of them had even no weapons.

The advance of the Albanian troops, and the revolutionary movements [7] in Italy made the reinforcements basically impossible. On August 2, 1920 the Albanian-Italian protocol was signed, upon which Italy would retreat from Albania. This gave an end to Italian claims for Vlora and a mandate over Albania, rescuing the territory of the Albanian state from further partition. A cease-fire was announced on August 5, ending all Italo-Albanian hostilities.

Orders of Battle[edit]

Albanian order of battle[edit]

Italian order of battle[edit]

Ç’është kështu që dëgjojmë

vaj medet o Vlora jonë
italianët po zbarkojnë
me pampor e me ballonë
jo mor jo nuk e durojmë.
Ngrihi shokë të sulmojmë

Vlorën tonë ta çlirojmë.
—Njerëzit e Vlorës, [2]

What is this that we hear

Alas, oh our Vlora,
The Italians are landing
With trains and parachutes,
Not taken, no we won't endure it.
Stand up friends, to attack

To liberate our Vlora.
—People of Vlora, [3]

Peace Treaty[edit]

Italian cannons captured by Albanian irregulars during one of the battles

After three months of warfare an armistice treaty was signed between Italian and Albanian government.

The substance of the Agreement was as follows:

  1. The Italian Government completely acknowledged the independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of Albania, within the frontiers defined in 1913 by the Conference of Ambassadors in London.
  2. The Italian government relinquished its protectorate proclaimed in 1917 and the occupation and administration of Vlorë and its hinterland, and renounced all claims against Albania and all interference in Albanian political affairs, and abandoned the idea of a mandate over the country
  3. The Italian government agreed to withdraw its war materials from Vlorë and its hinterland, to evacuate all its holdings on the Albanian mainland, and to repatriate at an early date the Italian troops actually stationed in Vlorë and on the littoral, and all its forces still remaining in other parts of Albanian territory with the exception of the garrison on the island of Sazan at the entrance of the Vlorë bay; Italy retained the permanent possession only of the island of Sazan, but remained in temporary occupation of Cape Linguetta and cape Treporti, both dominating Vlorë bay, with the right to fortify them; the detachment of troops at Shkodër was also to remain in that town.
  4. There would take place an exchange of prisoners, the liberation of arrested persons under a general mutual amnesty, and the settlement of outstanding questions concerning the private interests of Albanian and Italian subjects.

This treaty was the first diplomatic pact between Albania and a foreign power. Albania had used all its influence to obtain full and unreserved recognition by the Powers of the independence of Albania within 1913 frontier.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Albanian identities: myth and history Authors Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer Editors Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer Edition illustrated Publisher C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2002 ISBN 1-85065-572-3, ISBN 978-1-85065-572-5
  2. ^ Albanian identities: myth and history Authors Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer Editors Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer Edition illustrated Publisher C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2002 ISBN 1-85065-572-3, ISBN 978-1-85065-572-5
  3. ^ Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, editor, Burke's Royal Families of the World, Volume 1: Europe & Latin America (London, UK: Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1977), page 106
  4. ^ Albanian identities: myth and history Authors Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer Editors Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd Jürgen Fischer Edition illustrated Publisher C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2002 ISBN 1-85065-572-3, ISBN 978-1-85065-572-5
  5. ^ Southern Albania, 1912-1923 Publisher Stanford University Press ISBN 0-8047-6171-X, 9780804761710 p.61
  6. ^ Italy from liberalism to fascism, 1870-1925 Author Christopher Seton-Watson Edition illustrated Publisher Taylor & Francis, 1967 ISBN 0-416-18940-7, ISBN 978-0-416-18940-7 p. 578
  7. ^ June 1920 Revolt of Bersaglieri in Ancona (in Italian)
  8. ^ Albania and King Zog: independence, republic and monarchy 1908-1939 Volume 1 of Albania in the twentieth century, Owen Pearson Volume 1 of Albania and King Zog, Owen Pearson Author Owen Pearson Edition illustrated Publisher I.B.Tauris, 2004 ISBN 1-84511-013-7, ISBN 978-1-84511-013-0 page 151 [1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Akademia e Shkencave e RPSSH "Fjalori Enciklopedik Shqiptar", Tirana, 1985.
  • Jacques, Edwin. Shqiptarët: Historia e popullit shqiptar nga lashtësia deri në ditët e sotme. Trans. Edi Seferi. Tirana: Mcfarland, 1995.
  • Pearson, Owen. Albania in the Twentieth Century: A History. Volume One. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006 (ISBN 1-84511-013-7).