A short 2 minutes video that everyone should know about Albanian history.
Albania is a country that has been divided between clans. Some feuds go back for many centuries. Strong empires have occupied the eastern Adriatic region historically. During 20 years in the 15th century, some Albaian clans formed an alliance to fight the Ottoman empire. Gjergj Kastrioti (1403-1468) was the leader of this alliance and is better known as Iskander Skanderberg. In 1444, the Turkish army eventually surrendered to the alliance led by Skanderberg, which lead to a national unity that was not centralized. In 1468, Skanderberg died after being wounded in the battle of Lezhe, a battle fought against the Ottoman Turks.
Albania, which had been under Roman Catholic influence, returned to the Muslim control of the Ottoman empire. Albanian independence is still symbolized by a red flag with Skanderberg’s emblem on it. The Ottoman occupation lasted for five centuries. The Albanian language was standardized during the 19th century by a group of intellectuals.
The Albanian language borrows from Greek, Latin and Slavic dialects. A literary style was created for educational purposes. Sami Frasheri frounded the Society for the Printing of Albanian Writings in 1879 in an effort to make Muslim, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Albanians accept the use of this standardized Albanian language in schools. Education remained under the control of the Ottoman empire during most of Albania’s history.
Albanian-based education was banned by Greeks and students were educated in Turkish or in Greek instead. The Albanians who were exiled in Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Egypt or in the U.S. kept using the Albanian language and used it in printing and writing. Textbooks were printed outside of Albania and smuggled in the country. During the late 19th century, the economy and politics of the Ottoman Empire eventually dissolved. Servians, Romanians, Montenegrins, Bulgarians and Greeks gained independence from the Ottoman Empire during the early 20th century and the Albanians eventually gained their independence too.
There were different guerilla movements inside of Albania that worked along with Albanians who supported the Young Turk movement in an effort to bring down the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman government made the Albanian language the standard in schools in 1908 and Albania gained more autonomy from a political point of view. However, things changed in 1909 when a new Turkish government came to power. Albania gained local autonomy in 1911 thanks to the efforts of the Albanian resistance.
Albanians had control of their own educational system, taxation, military recruitment and could use the Latin script for their language.
Albania declared its own independence in Vlores in 2012 after the Balkan wars in 1912 and 1914 that opposed the Ottoman Empire and Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro.
A was held in London in 1913 where the full independence of the country was granted and recognized by the different European powers, including Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain and Austria. Other nations played a part in shaping the future of Albania, more so than the Albanians themselves. The Great European Powers favored the preferences of Serbia and Montenegro regarding Albanian districts. The Albanians who lived in western Macedonia and in Kosovo would live under Serbian jurisdiction.
Albania became independent and was organized as a constitutional monarchy. Wilhelm zu Wied, a German prince, came to Albania to rule but was not prepared for this function. The prince could barely rule over the cities of Vlores and Durres. He left Albania after only six months. Albania was used to make deals during World War I. Serbia, Montenegro and Italy were promised parts of Albania to support the German and Austrian armies.
This is another instance of other nations playing a part in determining Albania’s future. The U.S. intervened and allowed Albania to remain independent after the end of Word War I. A new kingdom was formed and called Yugoslavia, including Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Ahmed Bey Zogu, an Albanian leader was backed by Yugoslavia, which felt he could be controlled so that Belgrade could obtain more Albanian territory.
Zogu took control of Albania and appointed himself as President in 1924 and as King in 1928 against the wishes of Yugoslavia. King Zog received support from Italy against Yugoslavia. Italy had a strong influence over Albania for the next 15 years. Muslim schools were replaced with Roman Catholic ones and Italian became the main language used in education. Zog used censor and repression to rule. The Italian military eventually got rid of King Zog in 1939.
Albanian Royal Family King Zogu and his wife pictured in London England, 1944 as he attends a wedding at the Egyptian embassy in London during World War Two.
The King fled into exile and Italy controlled Albania until it surrendered in 1944. The Allies never recognized King Zog and his government during the King’s exile. A communist insurgency with Enver Hoxha at its head was the only thing that stood up to Italian and German occupation. The support of the United Kingdom was enough to allow for the creation of a People’s Republic of Albania at the end of World War II. Hoxha’s government got rid of any opposition during the next five years. Communist authorities took control of the media in 1944 and the media was eventually nationalizied in 1946. Marxist values were spread by all media outlets to support the communist rule of the government.
Writers and artists were asked to rewrite the history of the country to show that communism brought modernity to a backwards population. Communist economic programs were supported by the press, TV and radio, literacy was encouraged and some anti-religion campaigns were launched. Media used Albanian nationalism to make communism more attractive and to support the dictatorship’s agenda. The government was behind all the newspaper and everything that was printed was carefully checked. The few radio and TV stations fully supported the communist credo of the government.
TV and radio producers, film makers, journalists, writers and editors joined the community party or were put under a lot of pressure to follow the guidelines of the party. Enver Hoxha remained in control of the country for the next four decades, during which dissent was brutally suppressed.
Albanian people were denied their Human Rights and Albania became more isolated from European countries. China became the primary ally of the country. The country’s most popular newspaper, Zeri I Popullit (the Voice of the People) was published by the communist party.
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