World War Ii and the Rise of Communism, 1941-44
Between 1941 and 1944, communist partisans and nationalist guerrillas fought Italian and German occupation forces, and more often each other, in a brutal struggle to take control of Albania. Backed by Yugoslavia's communists and armed with British and United States weaponry, Albania's partisans defeated the nationalists in a civil war fought between Italy's capitulation in September 1943 and the withdrawal of German forces from Albania in late 1944. Military victory, and not the lure of Marxism, brought the Albanian communists from behind the coulisses to center stage in Albania's political drama. While Albanian writers never tired of pointing out that the communists "liberated" Albania without a single Soviet soldier setting foot on its territory, they often neglected to mention that the communist forces in Albania were organized by the Yugoslavs and armed by the West or that the Axis retreat from Albania was in response to military defeats outside the country.
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