National Liberation Movement (Albania)

The National Liberation Movement (Albanian: Lëvizja Nacional-Çlirimtare; or Lëvizja Antifashiste Nacional-Çlirimtare (LANÇ)),[1] also translated as National Liberation Front, was an Albanian communist resistance organization that fought in World War II. It was created on 16 September 1942, in a conference held in Pezë, a village near Tirana, and was led by Enver Hoxha. Apart from the figures which had the majority in the General Council it also included known nationalists like Myslim Peza. In May 1944, the Albanian National Liberation Front was transformed into the government of Albania and its leaders became government members, and in August 1945, it was replaced by the Democratic Front.

National Anti-Fascist Liberation Movement
Lëvizja Antifashiste Nacionale Çlirimtare
LeadersEnver Hoxha
Dates of operation1942–1945
AllegianceCommunist Party of Albania
Active regionsAxis-occupied Albania
Allies Yugoslav Partisans
 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom
Opponents Germany
Albanian Kingdom
Balli Kombëtar
Battles and warsWorld War II:

The Albanian National Liberation Army (Ushtria Nacional-Çlirimtare) was the army created by the National Liberation Movement.[2]


Italian invasionEdit

Albania did not put an organized resistance to the Italian invasion (April 7–12, 1939). However different Albanian groups of patriots such as Mujo Ulqinaku and Abaz Kupi made a brief resistance to the invasion force in Durrës on the day of invasion. Durrës was captured on April 7, Tirana the following day, Shkodër and Gjirokastër on April 9, and almost the entire country by April 10.[3]

Initial resistance groupsEdit

At the time of the Italian invasion, the Shkodër communist group included Qemal Stafa, a student, Vasil Shanto, an artisan, Liri Gega, an intellectual, Imer Dishnica, a doctor, Zef Mala and others.[4] The leaders were Mala, Shanto, Stafa and Kristo Themelko.[5] The Shkodër group's activities also spanned over Kosovo and western Macedonia, and the organization included several emigrants from Gjakova and other places in Kosovo, who had moved to Albania between 1930 and 1937.[4] In spring 1941, Shanto and Stafa met with fellow Communist Fadil Hoxha due to his earlier contact with Yugoslav communist Miladin Popović.[6] Miladin Popović and Dušan Mugoša were the Yugoslav delegates that helped unite the Albanian communist groups in 1941.[7]

After the Italian invasion there was no general resistance to the Italian army, although some local leaders like Myslim Peza, Baba Faja Martaneshi, Abaz Kupi etc. created small çetas (small detachments) which from time to time undertake small attacks on Italian forces. Meanwhile, the communist activity in Albania increased and culminated with the creation on 8 November 1941 of the Albanian Communist Party.

Establishment of the Communist Party and first detachmentsEdit

Following the German attack on Russia, Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito under Comintern directives sent two Yugoslav delegates Miladin Popović and Dušan Mugoša to Albania. These two helped unite the Albanian communist groups in 1941.[7] In August 1941, the Albanian Communist Party was established through the agreement between the Shkodër (led by Shanto and Stafa), Korçë and Tirana (led by Enver Hoxha) communist groups.[8] After intensive work, the Albanian Communist Party was officially formed on November 8, 1941 by the two Yugoslav delegates with Enver Hoxha from the Korça branch as its leader.[9]

The communist party began to create from December 1941 to the beginning of 1942 their own groups of resistance made up of 5-10 people. These detachments started to engage in various acts of sabotage to the Italian forces. They also started to make antifascist propaganda in order to gain the attention and the support of the masses.[10]

As of 1942 the local press and the foreign consulates began to report an increasing number of attacks. The most spectacular act of sabotage was the interruption of all telegraphic and telephone communications in Albania in June and July 1942. Although the communist activity was increasing, the main concern for Italians were the northern bands. The Italians had given up on governing Northern Albania. The security posts composed of gendarmes in Northern Albania were mostly concerned for their own security and rarely ventured themselves outside their posts, and convoys along the roads were to be accompanied by strong Italian military detachments.[11]

Conference of PezëEdit

Mother Albania. The partisan monument and graveyard on the outskirts of Tirana, Albania

It was at this time (September 1942) that the Albanian Communist Party made their bold move of calling up a national conference, the Conference of Peza, which took place on 16 September 1942 in the house of Myslim Peza, a known resistance leader, (in Pezë village, near Tirana). In the conference the Communist Party of Albania invited all the Albanian resistance leaders to create a national resistance front. The Communist Party saw the creation of this front as a necessity for Albania. Its intention was to dominate this front, although some figures within the Albanian Communist Party opposed the idea of an organised front with other nationalists, fearing their possible betrayal.[11]

The conference decided to create the General Council which was composed of 10 people: seven communists including Mustafa Gjinishi, Enver Hoxha, and known nationalists like Abaz Kupi, Myslim Peza and Baba Faja Martaneshi. Mehdi Frashëri was the honorary president of the conference, a fact suppressed later by the communist history.[12]

The General Council would supervise local liberation councils. The councils in areas yet to be liberated would function as propaganda agencies, would collect material necessary for the war, conduct espionage, organize the economic struggle against Italian companies, and sabotage the collection of agricultural products by the fascists. In already liberated areas, they were to function as new state. They were to maintain law and order developing local economy; overseeing food supply, trade, education, culture, and press. They would also settle blood feuds, and maintain readiness for war.

The conference managed to set in place a joint National Liberation Movement with a provisional eight-member council, with Enver Hoxha and Abaz Kupi among them, though it was dominated by the communists.[12]

Communist control over partisansEdit

Partisan bands were organized into 50 to 60-man companies including a communist commissar, who acted as the political officer. The commander had the military jurisdiction except the cases when:

1) Orders were at variance with the [Communist] party line
2) Orders were at variance with the interests of the liberation war
3) Treason of the commander was involved

In other words, the non-communist commanders had the freedom to do exactly what they were told.[13] The Communist Party, whenever possible, directed both politically and militarily. Each partisan band had a political cell and both the political cell and the commissary were responsible to regional committees of the Communist Party. Miladin Popović, a Yugoslav communist, attended the Peza Conference as an adviser and hoped to further strengthen party controls by creating a general staff that would tie the various units together, but his suggestion was not adopted. The partisan units were supplemented by territorial units - irregular self-defense detachments made up of volunteers. They were planned for every larger village or one for two-to-three villages together. Their function was to protect the liberated zones and to serve as a source of replenishment for the regular partisan units. At the end of 1942 there were 2000 partisans plus a larger number of territorial units.[14]

Mukje AgreementEdit

The Mukje Agreement was a treaty signed on August 2, 1943 in the Albanian village of Mukje between the nationalist Balli Kombëtar and the communist National Liberation Movement. The two forces would work together in fighting off Italy's control over Albania. However, a dispute arose concerning the status of Kosovo. For the Communist party, the question should have been resolved after the war, without the presence of foreign powers on the national soil. The Yugoslavian Communist Party would have had to return Kosovo to Albania as established by the Comintern. Whereas the Balli Kombëtar proposed to fight for the integration of Kosovo into Albania. The Balli Kombëtar labelled the partisans as traitors of Albania[15] and often called them "Tito's dogs"[citation needed] while the partisans accused the Balli Kombëtar of collaborating with the Axis powers.

1942–1943 activityEdit

1943–1944 activityEdit

The Thanas Ziko Battalion (Albanian: Batalioni "Thanas Ziko"), was a partisan battalion of the Albanian National Liberation Army, founded during the Second World War. It was composed mainly of ethnic Greeks in Albania, inhabitants of the Greek villages of the Gjirokastër area. The Battalion was established in November 1943. In the summer of 1944 it became part of the XIX Shock Brigade of the Albanian National Liberation Army.[citation needed]

Albanian governmentEdit

After the German Winter Offensive the communist partisans regrouped, attacked the Germans and gained control of southern Albania in April 1944.[16] In May a congress of the National Liberation Front was held in Përmet, during which an Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation to act as Albania's provisional government was elected. Enver Hoxha became the chairman of the council's executive committee and the National Liberation Army's supreme commander. The communist partisans resisted a German Summer Offensive (May–June 1944) and defeated the last Balli Kombëtar forces in southern Albania by mid-summer 1944 encountering only scattered resistance from the Balli Kombëtar and Legality forces when they entered central and northern Albania by the end of July. On 29 November 1944 partisan forces liberated Shkodra and this is the official date of liberation of the country. A provisional government the communists which has been formed at Berat in October 1944, administered Albania with Enver Hoxha as prime minister up to the elections of December 1945, in which the Democratic Front (successor to the National Liberation Front) won 93% of the vote.[17]


  1. ^ Miranda Vickers, James Pettifer Albania: from anarchy to a Balkan identity, C Hurst & Co Publishers, 1997 p. 291
  2. ^ Agnes Mangerich (12 September 2010). Albanian Escape: The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines. University Press of Kentucky. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-8131-2742-2.
  3. ^ A Country Study: Italian Occupation, Library of Congress Albania: A Country Study: Italian Occupation, Library of Congress
  4. ^ a b Pavlović 1996, p. 61.
  5. ^ Dedijer 1949, p. 14.
  6. ^ Dedijer 1949, p. 11.
  7. ^ a b Komunist: organ Centralnog komiteta KPJ. Borba. 1949. Дугим радом и убеђивањем на састанцима с појединцима и с по двојицом-тројицом, другови Миладин Поповић и Душан Мугоша сломили су групашки отпор код већине албанских другова. Они су успели да их убеде како је Партија неопходна радпим масама у њи- ховој борби за ослобођење од капиталистичке експлоатације и импе- ријалистичког поробљавања. Тај рад довео је до састанка 8 новем- бра 1941 године, на коме је било присутно преко двадесет ...
  8. ^ Pearson 2006b, p. 158.
  9. ^ Vickers 1995, p. ?.
  10. ^ Fischer 1999, p. 127.
  11. ^ a b Albania at war, 1939-1945 Bernd Jürgen Fischer Edition illustrated Publisher C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1999 ISBN 1-85065-531-6, ISBN 978-1-85065-531-2 p. 128-29
  12. ^ a b Robert Elsie (2010), Historical Dictionary of Albania, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, vol. 75 (2 ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 88, ISBN 9780810861886, Mehdi bey Frashëri was honorary chairman of the gathering, a fact later suppressed in communist historiography. The conference set in place a joint national liberation movement (Lëvizje Nacionalçlirimtare) with a provisional eight-member council, among whom were Enver Hoxha and Abaz Kupi, though the movement was increasingly dominated by the communists and eventually broke apart.
  13. ^ Bernd Jürgen Fischer, "Albania at war, 1939-1945", p. 132, illustrated edition, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1999, ISBN 1-85065-531-6, ISBN 978-1-85065-531-2
  14. ^ Bernd Jürgen Fischer, "Albania at war, 1939-1945", p. 133-34
  15. ^ Albania in Occupation and War: From Fascism to Communism 1940-1945 by Owen Pearson [1]
  16. ^ Albania in Occupation and War: From Fascism To Communism 1940-1945 by Owen Pearson Edition illustrated, Publisher I.B.Tauris, 2006 ISBN 1-84511-104-4, ISBN 978-1-84511-104-5 (April 5, 1944: The LNC general staff ordered the Albanian National Liberation Army to go over the offensive everywhere; the partisan detachments and units everywhere complied with this order, forcing the German invaders to ensconce themselves in towns, barracks, and in fortified centers along the main highways and seacoast.) [2]
  17. ^ Miranda Vickers. The Albanians: A Modern History. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2000. p. 164.


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