In 1910 the Albanian
populous was made up of Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, Turks and Albanians.
Ethnic and tribal problems existed, with the Albanians, blood feuds among
their own were also a part of their lives. The poor Albanians were
armed with flintlock rifles, the middle class were armed with the Peabody
Martini and the wealthy were armed with Mausers M1890, M93, M1903.
The Serbs in Albania were supplied arms by Austria and were armed with
the M90 and M95 Mannlichers. The Albanians were anxious to throw the Turks
out of the country and rule themselves, so in May 1912 the Albanians rose
against the Ottoman Empire and took the Macedonian capitol, Uskub.
The Young Turks, who had taken power in 1909, acceded to some of the rebels'
demands, but the First Balkan War erupted before a final settlement could
be worked out. Albania remained neutral through both of the Balkan
wars, during which the Balkan allies the Serbs*,
* and Greeks*,quickly
drove the Turks to Constantinople. The Serbís took much of Northern
Albania, and the Greeks captured Janina and parts of Southern Albania.
will take you to our pages for these countries and the rifles used by these
On November 28,
1912 Albania was declared an independent country and a provisional government
was setup. In July 1913, the Great Powers opted to recognize an independent,
neutral Albanian state ruled by a Constitutional Monarchy and under the
protection of the Great Powers. The August 1913 Treaty of Bucharest
established that independent Albania was a country with borders that gave
the new state about 11,500 square miles of territory and a population of
800,000. Serbia withdrew from northern Albania and Greece from Southern
Albania. The treaty, however, left large areas with majority Albanian
populations that were not within Albanian borders, and failed to solve
the region's ethnic problems.
Turkey 1914 to
Powers choose Prince Wilhelm of Wied, a thirty-five-year-old German army
captain, to head the new state. In March 1914, he moved into a building
hastily converted into a palace.
that the Great Powers did not award it Southern Albania, encouraged uprisings
against the Albanian government, and armed Greek bands carried out atrocities
against Albanian villagers, killing, burning, stealing and raping without
mercy. Italy, Montenegro and Serbia were also plotting against
the new government.
overcame Albania after the outbreak of World War I and Prince Wilhelm departed
the country in September 1914, and joined the German army to serve on the
Eastern Front. In late 1914, Greece occupied Southern Albania, December
28, 1914 Italy occupied Vloree, and in May 29, 1915 Serbia and Montenegro
occupied parts of Northern Albania.
By the end of 1915
the Serbian Army faced defeat and after being attacked from several directions,
by the Austro-Hungarian, German, Bulgarian and Turkish forces, the decision
was made to retreat South through the Prokletije Mountains. After
reaching the Adriatic coast the Army was transported by the French to Thessaloniki.
Under the secret Treaty of London signed on April 26,1915, the Triple Entente
powers promised Italy that it would gain the Central and Southern lands
and act as a protectorate over Albania in exchange for entering the war
against Austria Hungary. Serbia and Montenegro, were allocated Northern
Albania. The treaty left a tiny Albanian state that would be represented
by Italy in its relations with the other countries.
By October 1918
Italian and French forces had expelled the Austro-Hungarian forces from
Albania. During this time period Italy captured and was given as
war reparations Steyr M95s in 8x50mm and unlike, Serbia that converted
them to 8mm short rifles, they did not. The Italians used these weapons
to arm their Colonial Armies in Libya and Ethiopia, manufacturing 8X50Rmm
ammo into the 40's. In 1920, 3,000 Albanian peasants attacked the
Italians forcing them to withdraw from the country they thought, but the
Italians actually withdrew because Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize
the Treaty of London.
Some 15,000 Japanese
rifles were given to Suojeluskunta soon after the Finnish Civil War. The
Japanese rifles given to Suojeluskunta were little by little replaced with
Mosin-Nagant rifles in 1920's. So the Japanese rifles were gathered
back and put in storage in the late 1920's. Some 8,000 that yet remained
in Finish Army warehouses were sold to Albania in 1928.
This was not the
end to Italian intervention in Albania as Italy once again invaded in April
1939 and occupied the country, setting up a puppet government. The
Italians were armed with Carcano M91 rifles M91 cavalry carbines,
M91TS carbines, M91/24 and M91/28 TS carbines, M38 Carbines of both types
in 6.5 and 7.35, M91/38 carbines of both types, M38SR in 6.5 and 7.35,
M38 Beretta SMG, 8mm M1935 Fiat Revelli MG and M30 Breda light machine
guns in 6.5 and 7.35 mm, as well as a full complement of heavier armament,
including the 75mm 1875/1927 field gun, which along with their other heavy
armament was obsolete. Italy's army of 1,600,000+ would have
been quite capable of fighting on one front, but it had been split in two,
one on the North Africa Front and one here in the Balkans.
Italy invaded Greece from Albania on October 28 1940 and after going five
or six miles into Greece found themselves bogged down against larger forces
than they had anticipated. Greece launched a counter assault and
pushed the Italian forces back into Albania. Italy had absorbed
7000 men from the Albanian Army into their own to help fight against the
Greeks and they did very badly, even firing against their own troops.
Italy was being over run and the Germans came to their aid, invading from
Bulgaria and quickly over taking the country. Albanians played a
part in over running Yugoslavia, where they did better, with the Germans
and Italians, for which they were given Kosovo.
In 1941 Enver Hoxha
formed the Communist party of Albania, later called the Party of Labour.
Hoxha became first secretary of the party's Central Committee and political
commissar of the communist-dominated Army of National Liberation.
He was prime minister of Albania from its liberation in 1944 until 1954,
simultaneously holding the ministry of foreign affairs from 1946 to 1953.
As first secretary of the Party of Labour's Central Committee, he retained
effective control of the government until his death. Hoxha
was a Stalinist and after a period of steadily deteriorating relations
with the Russians beginning at Stalins death and ending in 65, he sided
only with Red China. Albania received small arms from China after
1958, including Type 56 SKS, Type 56 AK, RPD and RP46 as well as TT, Type
59 Mak, Type 68 etc. He provided a Naval base to the Chi-Coms before
breaking with them also in 1978. During the period of 1967 to 1979
SKS's were manufactured in the Umgransh Arsenal with aproximately