Albania 1939-1944

Italy, a province of which Albania now formed, had remained neutral in the early stage of the war. Only when it became obvious that France could not stop the German advance, Italy had entered the war on Germany's side in June 1940. In an attempt to gain military victories which made him appear as an equal to Hitler, Mussolini on October 28th 1940 ordered Italian troops from Albania to invade Greece. Surprisingly, the Greeks not only stopped the Italian advance, but pushed them back into Albania, again occupying southern Albania (Nothern Epirus), drawing support from the regional Greek minority. Only when Germany forced a military alliance including Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and launched the Balkan campaign in June 1941 did the Greek front falter; all of Yugoslavia and Greece were occupied.
All areas with Albanian population majority - Albania proper, Kosovo, a strip of land in western Macedonia and Greek Epirus, now found themselves under Italian administration.
Italy signed an armistice in September 1943; German troops took over the hitherto Italian administrated regions on the Balkans peninsula, including Albania proper.

Meanwhile the Albanian Communist Party had been founded in 1941. Germany, heavy pressed by the Russians had few troops to spare for the occupation of mountainous Albania, of little strategic importance as it was unlikely to be selected as an invasion site by the Allies, communist partisans thus had room to operate. In September/October 1944 the German occupation force withdrew from Greece; on November 29th 1944, the Communists, lead by Enver Hoxha, were in control of Albania.
During the withdrawal process, Germans attempted to win over the Albanians by raising the prospect of a Greater Albania including Kosovo and parts of Macedonia.
At the Yalta peace conference, the big three had partitioned post-war Europe into spheres of influence; Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia fell into the British sphere. Yet Britain had had no part in the liberation of Albania; the country had been liberated by Albanian partisans.