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Context of 'November 3, 1944: Albanian Communists Distrust British and American Envoys'

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The First Conference of the National Liberation Council for Kosovo and Metohia meets at Bujan, Albania, and proclaims that the way to Kosovar Albanian self-determination is to unite with the Yugoslav Partisans. The Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia for Kosova, the Communist Party of Albania’s branch in Tropoja, and the “Perlat Rexhepi” Battalion of Shkodra (Albania), which is operating around Gjakova, organized the conference. The National Liberation Council has 51 members, including 42 Albanians. The Council unanimously endorses a resolution that “Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau [Metohia] is a province inhabited for the most part by an Albanian population, which today, as always, wishes to be united with Albania… the only way for the Albanian people of Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau to be united with Albania is to fight together against the blood-thirsty Nazi occupiers and those in their pay.” The signers, from the Council’s Presidium, include Mehmet Hoxha, Pavle Jovicevic, Rifat Berisha, Xhevdet Doda, Fadil Hoxha, Hajdar Dushi, and Zekerija Rexha. According to Enver Hoxha, General Secretary of the Party of Labor of Albania, the Yugoslav Communist leadership will subsequently cover up the resolution; that “Kosovo should be restored to Albania” was endorsed by the Yugoslav Communists in 1928 and 1940, at the 5th Party Conference. (Prifti 1978, pp. 227-228; Hoxha 1982, pp. 117-118)

For most of the war, Britain ignores Albania, and does not recognize a government in exile under Ahmet Zog. Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha will later say that Greece would have considered such a move a hostile act by the British. By 1942 at the latest, the British expected a Balkan Federation of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Yugoslavia to be formed after liberation. The War Office sends a memo to an office in Bari, Italy, in 1944 admitting that Britain cannot stop the partisans from winning political power and seeking Soviet assistance, so, “We must therefore aim at strengthening our position with partisans now in order that after the war we may be able to influence the partisan government.” By this point, envoys from the Special Operations Executive division, as well as some American envoys, are with the major Albanian political groups and they are receiving British aid. The envoys to the Partisans accept the War Office’s decision, but those with other groups believe more should have been done, up to a British or American landing in the fall of 1944 as happened in Greece. British army officer Julian Amery will later write: “Firstly, it was wrong to abandon the Albanians to Hoxha’s evil regime and Stalin’s imperial designs. Secondly, [Vlora] and [Sazan Island] control the Strait of Otranto, the entrance to the Adriatic, an important naval gateway.” (Kola 2003, pp. 67-70)

The British envoys to the Partisans oppose the fighting between the Partisans and other groups, and threaten to cut off military aid to the Partisans. A circular from the Central Committee of the CPA to local groups says “the British mission is attempting to revive and reinforce the reactionary movement against the national liberation movement,” and “they should in no way be regarded as arbiters” and will be deported if they interfere in internal affairs. Rumors begin to circulate as early as September that an Allied army will land in Albania, and local communists are told to make sure any Allied force finds the National Liberation Council and Army “as the sole state power.” There are also fears of a government in exile or a government created after a landing. In response, the British and American envoys are watched and not allowed to roam at large. (PLA 1971, pp. 181 -182; Hoxha 1974, pp. 193 - 195; Kola 2003, pp. 69-70)


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