Reasons for the Italian invasion/protectorate of Albania?

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albacore
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Reasons for the Italian invasion/protectorate of Albania?

Post by albacore » 28 Mar 2021 17:35

What were the deeper reasons for this and what was really hoped to be achieved?
Typical English-language summaries that it was to gain prestige within the Pact of Steel (avoid becoming a junior partner etc) + take advantage of the timing of Germany's business with Czechoslovakia seems like the usual oversimplification of things surrounding Italy in such sources. Was not King Zog/Albania already on a pretty tight leash?

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wm
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Re: Reasons for the Italian invasion/protectorate of Albania?

Post by wm » 28 Mar 2021 19:22

March 15, 1939
Events have accelerated during the night. After a meeting between Hitler, Hacha, and Chvalkovsky,' German troops began their occupation of Bohemia. The thing is serious, especially since Hitler had assured everyone that he did not want to annex one single Czech. This German action does not destroy, at any rate, the Czechoslovakia of Versailles, but the one that was set up at Munich and at Vienna.
What credence can be given in the future to those declarations and promises, which concern us more directly?
It is useless to deny that all this concerns and humiliates the Italian people.
It is necessary to give them satisfaction and compensation: Albania.
I spoke about it to the Duce, to whom I also expressed my conviction that at this time we shall find neither local obstacles nor serious international complications in the way of our advance.
...
I saw the Duce again in the late afternoon. He is fully aware of the hostile reaction of the Italian people, but he affirms that we must, after all, take the German trick with good grace and avoid being "hateful to God and to His enemies."'
He mentions again the possibility of a coup in Albania, but is still doubtful. Even the occupation of Albania could not, in his opinion, counterbalance in world public opinion the incorporation into the Reich of one of the richest territories of the world, such as Bohemia. I am convinced it will not come to pass.
Ciano's Diary

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DrG
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Re: Reasons for the Italian invasion/protectorate of Albania?

Post by DrG » 13 Apr 2021 01:52

Ciano had started toying with the idea of the occupation of Albania since mid-1937 (at least August), probably with the aim of securing its full economic control by Italy (without constant need of bribing its local elites) and, to some extent, to himself (he always regarded Albania as his own fief and the basis of his political power, in contrast to Balbo's Libya). Since the Anschluss there was also a fear, in Italy, about German further expansion towards the Balkans. In May 1938 Ciano informed the German ambassador that Albania was in the Italian sphere of influence, in order to make it clear that no German activities were acceptable in that country. During the Grand Council of Fascism of 30 Nov. 1938 Mussolini stated openly that: "We need Albania to gravitate towards the Balkan region. We will contrast the German penetration line, along the Danube, with the Durres-Istanbul line."
When Yugoslavia was under Stojadinovic' govern, Mussolini and Ciano also thought about an alliance with it, comprising an Italo-Yugoslav partition of Albania as an incentive for its signing. After the fall of Stojadinovic' (5 Feb. 1939), which Ciano thought could have been sponsored by the Germans, this option was dropped.
In early 1939 there was also an Italo-German incident about Albanian oil fields. On 10 Feb. 1939 the German ambassador von Mackensen was informed by Ciano about the Italian complaints for the news about German economic expansion in Albanian oil, but the German reply was completely unsatisfactory, in fact von Weizsäcker told Attolico (the Italian ambassador in Berlin): "The Italians should be grateful to the Germans for not undertaking enterprises in Albania without informing Rome about them". On 24 Feb. 1939 (or a few days earlier) Ciano informed the Yugoslav ambassador of the coming Italian occupation, the ambassador replied proposing a partition, but without Stojadinovic' as prime minister this request did not get an Italian positive reply. Then, on 25 Feb. Mussolini informed the French Government, through the businessman Paul Baudouin, of his intention to occupy Albania. The German partition of Czechoslovakia played a role, but was just a part of a larger scheme, and it provided only a confirmation of the German South-Eastern expansion.
The occupation of Albania was not necessarily aimed at its full annexion, given that King Zog could have accepted to stay on his throne under an Italian protectorate. For example, the Italian aircrafts transported two sets of leaflets that they should have dropped on Albania. One set was grateful to Zog for having accepted the Italian protection, while the other set was announcing the instauration of a new regime. This latter alternative was the one which was actually implemented.
Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner.

albacore
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Re: Reasons for the Italian invasion/protectorate of Albania?

Post by albacore » 20 Apr 2021 20:47

wm wrote:
28 Mar 2021 19:22
DrG wrote:
13 Apr 2021 01:52
Very interesting, thank you both!

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