National Liberation Movement (Albania)

Lëvizja Nacionale Çlirimtare
Participant in the Albanian Resistance of World War II

Flag used by the Partisans
Active 1939-1945
Ideology Communism
Leaders Enver Hoxha
Headquarters Pezë
Area of operations Axis-occupied Albania under Nazi Germany
Strength 70,000
Became Albanian People's Army
Allies Yugoslav Partisans, Soviet Union
Opponents Axis powers, Germany, Italy, Balli Kombëtar
Battles and wars Albanian Resistance of World War II

The National Liberation Movement (Lëvizja Nacional Çlirimtare or Lëvizja Antifashiste Nacional Çlirimtare (LANÇ)),[1] also translated as National Liberation Front, was an Albanian 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. Apart the communist figures which had the majority in the General Council it also included known nationalist figures like Myslym Peza, etc. The Albanian National Liberation Front was later transformed in May 1944 in the government of Albania and its leaders became government members. It was replaced in August 1945 by the Democratic Front.

The Albanian National Liberation Army (Albanian: Ushtria Nacionalclirimtare) was the army created during the National Liberation Movement.[2]

Creation of National Liberation Front

Albanian resistance background

Albania did not put an organized resistance to the Italian invasion of 7 April 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]

After the Italian invasion there was no general resistance to the Italian army, although some local leaders like Myslym Peza, Baba Faja Martaneshi, Abaz Kupi etc. created small çetas (small detachments) which from time to time to 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. 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.[4]

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.[5]

Conference of Pezë

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 Myslym 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 necessary need for Albania. Its intention was to dominate this front although some figures within the Albanian Communist Party opposed the idea of an organized front with other nationalists fearing a betrayal from them.[5]

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, Myslym Peza and Baba Faja Martaneshi. Mehdi Frashëri was the honorary president of the conference, a fact suppressed later by the communist history.[6]

The General Council would supervise local liberation councils. The councils in areas yet to be liberated would function as propaganda agencies, would collected material necessary for the war, conduct espionage, organize the economic struggle against Italian companies, and sabotage the collection of agricultural products from 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.[6]

Communist control over partisans

Partisan bands were organized in fifty or sixty men including a communist commissary. The commander had the military jurisdiction except the cases when:

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

In other words, the non communist commanders had the freedom to do exactly what they were told.[7] The 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 party. Miladin Popović a Yugoslav communist, who attended the Peza Conference as an adviser 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.[8]

Mukje Agreement

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. Whereas the Balli Kombetar proposed to fight for the integration of Kosovo into Albania, the Communist representatives objected fiercely. The Balli Kombetar labelled the partisans as traitors of Albania[9] and often called them "Tito's dogs"[10] while the partisans accused the Balli Kombetar of collaborating with the Axis powers.

Albanian government

After the German Winter Offensive the communist partisans regrouped, attacked the Germans and gained control of southern Albania in April 1944.[11] 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.[12]


  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 0-8131-2742-4.
  3. A Country Study: Italian Occupation, Library of Congress Albania: A Country Study: Italian Occupation, Library of Congress
  4. 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. 127
  5. 1 2 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
  6. 1 2 Robert Elsie (2010), Historical Dictionary of Albania, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, 75 (2 ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 88, ISBN 978-0810861886, 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.
  7. 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. 132
  8. 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. 133-34
  9. Albania in Occupation and War: From Fascism to Communism 1940-1945 by Owen Pearson
  10. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present by Jacques, Edwin E. (1995). The Albanians: An Ethnic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present. McFarland.
  11. 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.)
  12. Miranda Vickers. The Albanians: A Modern History. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2000. p. 164.
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