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Belligerents and Participants
When a revolt against Ottoman rule broke out in 1911, Albania had been a province of the Empire for nearly 500 years. Neighboring armies engaged in their own conflict with the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars then began violating Albania’s borders. This led to Albania’s northern regions to occupied by troops from Serbia and Montenegro, while Greece occupied Epirus to the south. During this unrest Ismail Qemal, leader of the Albanian nationalist movement, declared the independence of his country on November 28, 1912. This move however was not accepted by the other European powers that were only willing to accept its autonomy from Turkish rule. This position changed by the end of the Second Balkan War, and in July 1913 Albania was finally recognized as an independent state by the London Conference. With their own agendas in the forefront, the powers at the Conference awarded large provinces to Greece and Serbia leaving about half of all ethnic Albanians outside of the new nation’s borders.
As the armies of Serbia and Montenegro withdrew, the Young Turk Essad Pasha created a provisional government based in n Tirana with Serbia’s help. When Qemal agreed to transfer his power to the Commission, Essad also agreed to dissolve his rival government in January 1914. The Commission then chose a foreigner, Prince Wilhelm of Wied, to rule over Albania. Knowing nothing of the country he soon proved unpopular, and he returned to Germany at the outbreak of the Great War to join the army. Under the Commission’s direction a Regency government based in Vlore was set up that September.
With the support of Serbia, Essad Pasha returned to Albania at the beginning of the Great War; and after taking control of most of the country he reestablished his provisional government in Tirana. Though not a participant in the attack on Serbia, Albania was flooded with the fleeing remnants of the Serbian army after their final defeat. Though rescued from the coast by Allied vessels, it left two-thirds of Albania in the hands of pursuing Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian troops by January 1915. This occupation led to the fall of the Tirana government and Essad took refuge in southern Italy with contingents of the Serbian army. He would eventually set up a government in exile in Paris where his supporters proclaimed him King of Albania.
While there was no open warfare with the Central Powers in Albania, Bajram Curri led an ongoing insurrection against the occupying troops in the northern mountainous regions. These irregular fighters were sometimes captured on postcards but Albania as a whole did not get much attention from postcard publishers of any nation.
After Italy joined the Allies in 1915, they landed troops in Albania that July and quickly became embroiled with the Austro-Hungarians occupiers. The fighting continued until November when the Austro-Hungarians were finally pushed out of Albania, which allowed Italian forces to link up with the French at Lake Ochrida who had moved up from Salonika. The recognized Albanian government in Vlore, which had remained in power all this time, now fell. The French now occupying the province of Korce set it up as an autonomous region in December. This inspired Italy to arrange for an Albanian republic to be set up under its own protection in June 1917.
By the end of the War, Albania was in political chaos with no one in full control. Italy installed a provisional government of Regency in the region it occupied. France would give up its control over Korce and the territory was then put under the control of the Regency in May 1920. While preparing to return to Albania for his inauguration, Essad Pasha was assassinated on the streets of Paris in June by a democratic ideologist. The struggle for domination over Albania by neighboring States would continue.
The Austrian artist Karl Ludwig Prinz was a painter who supplied many images to the Austrian Red Cross for their charity cards. His panoramic landscapes generally tend to only incorporate subtle hints of military activity, but those that portray Albania only appear on cards as pure landscape. All these towns and places however had military significance related to the War.