HALL OF INDEPENDENCE OF ALBANIA (1912-1939)

 

The Hall of Independence of Albania is on the third floor of the National Historical Museum. Various collections of historical objects are illustrative of the life and work of outstanding personalities in the history of the Albanian people. On 28th November 1912, the National Assembly of Vlora declared the establishment of the first national government, and on 4th December 1912 there was elected the Provisional Government, and its Prime Minister was Ismail Qemali. The Provisional Government took measures concerning the reformation of the judicial administration, tax collection, and the beginning of the new school year 1913-1914. It also made some concession agreements. Esat PashaToptani was against the Government of Vlora, and, on 12th October 1913, he announced the formation of “Pleqësisa e Shqipërisë së Mesme” in Durrës. Esat Toptani’s movement gave a heavy blow to the state-formation process. One of the most impressive objects exhibited in this hall is the Morse telegraph machine, branded “Czeija, Nissl &Co., Vienna”, with an ink recorder, which was produced in1896. The machine was used by the Provisional Government of Vlora in the years 1912- 1914.

The London Conference of Ambassadors convened on 17th December 1912. On 22nd March 1913, the Conference of Ambassadors drew up the northern and north-eastern borders of the Albanian state. On 11th August 1913, the Conference established the southern and south-eastern border of Albania. The decisions resulted in the partition of the Albanian lands. On 29th July 1913, Albania was officially recognized as an independent, neutral state, under the guarantee of the Great Powers, led by a foreign prince. Of great interest to the visitors is the doublet of Isa Boletini.

On 7th March 1914, when he arrived in Durres, Prince William of Wied was welcomed by the Albanians, because they believed that he would change the destiny of this country. The new Albanian government was formed on 17th March 1914, under the leadership of Turhan Pasha Permeti. Prince Wied had hardly arrived when he found the country in a state of civil war: Greece was occupying the “Northern-Epirus” in the south, and, a mass uprising was underway in central Albania. Also, the Great Powers were at war with one another and couldn’t help him. Under these circumstances, his regime collapsed, and on 3rd September 1914, Prince William of Wied was forced to leave Albania.

In this hall, there are exhibited the hat and belt of the uniform of the Irish captain, Duncan Heaton-Armstrong (1886-1969), the personal secretary of Prince Wied. The objects represent some of the symbols of the first uniforms during the rise of the state.

The outbreak of World War I had serious consequences for the independent Albanian state. On 26th April 1915 there was signed a secret pact between the Triple Entente and Italy, which provided for the annexation of some Albanian provinces to Italy and the neighbouring countries. The front line between the fighting armies in Albania was Valona-Berat-Pogradec. On 10th December 1916, the French military authorities and the Albanian national representatives signed the agreement for the establishment of the Autonomous Province of Korca, which lasted until 16th February 1917.

The Congress of Durres was held on 25th December 1918. The delegates decided to form the Interim Government, whose chairman was Turhan Pasha Përmeti. The Albanian government delegation and the representatives of the Albanian colonies abroad presented to the Peace Conference in Paris several memoranda and petitions in defense of the national cause.

The Congress of Lushnja was held from 29th to 31st January 1920. The delegates put forward the idea of the full independence of Albania. The congress elected the government (High Council and National Council), under the leadership of Sulejman Delvina and moved the capital from Lushnje to Tirana. On 11th February 1920, the High Council and the National Council were based in Tirana.

Vlora War broke out in 1920. It forced the Italian government to withdraw its troops from Vlora and respect the sovereignty of the state. During August 1920, the Albanian rebels seized some parts of eastern Albania, but their victory did not last long.

On 17th December 1920, Albania became a member of the League of Nations. During 1920-1924, the country took the first steps towards parliamentary democracy. But, at the same time the political ambitions for power became stronger. The National Council approved the extension of the Statute of Lushnja.

The patriotic movement for the independence of religious institutions in the country reawakened.

After the assassination of Avni Rustemi, there began “The June Movement” of the year 1924. On 16th June 1924, an interim government was formed, headed by Fan Noli. On 19th June, it announced its “Twenty Point Program”, which aimed to “eradicate feudalism” and establish democracy. The government undertook some economic measures, but failed to “eradicate feudalism”. Ahmet Zogu returned to Albania with the backing of Yougoslav forces and well-armed local forces recruited by Ceno Kryezi. He entered Tirana on 24th December, and Noli’s government fell.

On 21st January 1925, the Constitutional Assembly proclaimed the Albanian Republic and on 31st January, Ahmet Zogu was officially elected the first President of the Republic. With the help of the British advisors, he reorganized the gendarmerie, and in 1926, with the help of Italian instructors he began to organize the army. The centralization of state administration settled the regional

differences and weakened the rule of local Begs (Lords) and chieftains. In 1925, the Albanian Parliament approved the concession agreements concerning oil search; The National Bank of Albania was founded and there was signed a loan agreement with the Italian government, offered by the “Society for the Economic Development of Albania”.

At its meeting of 1st of September 1928, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a kingdom and Ahmet Zog the King of Albanians, named Zog I. The Kingdom of Albania consolidated the foundations of the modern Albanian state. It adopted a modern legislation, similar to that of Western countries, consisting of the criminal code, the civil code and the commercial code. During the years 1928-1937, there were built a lot of new roads and bridges. Postal services, air and naval forces improved. These services had a significant impact on the unification and the Europeanization of the Albanians.

National independent life resulted in the modernization of lifestyle, especially in the cities. During this period there were built public gardens, power stations and cinemas. In 1938, there was set up the first national radiostation. Face veil was banned by a special act. The development of national education witnessed impressive achievements. Literature and arts made considerable progress

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