On 7 April 1939 Italian troops occupied the independent kingdom of Albania, turning it into an Italian dependency. In the spring of 1941, with the fall of Yugoslavia, Kosovo and other border regions were annexed to Albania creating Greater Albania. After the Italian capitulation in September 1943, the country was occupied by the Germans until the end of the war. Partisans drove out the last German occupying troops from Albania on 29 November 1944.
On the eve of the Second World War, there were about 600 Jews in Albania (out of a total population of a little over one million), 400 of whom were refugees, mostly from Germany and Austria. The largest Jewish community lived in Kavajë. After the occupation of the country in 1939, Jews were forbidden to leave the country, and were removed from the coastal cities to the country’s interior. After Kosovo was annexed to Albania, about 100 Jewish men and their families were taken from Prishtina prison to Berat. As Jews in Albania remained at first unmolested, the country attracted several hundred Jewish refugees from other countries. Jewish refugees who had reached Prishtina (Kosovo) were transported to a camp at Kavajë. Smaller numbers of Jewish refugees could also be found in other localities, including the capital Tirana. In September 1943, Albania came under German control and the situation of the Jews worsened. In the beginning of 1944 the Germans ordered the Jews to register. In April 1944 some 400 German and Austrian Jews who had taken refuge in Tirana and Durrës were first interned in Prishtina (Kosovo) and then deported to Bergen-Belsen, where at least 300 of them died. At the end of the war, Albania had 2,000 Jewish inhabitants.
II. Archival situation
The National Archives of Albania (Arkivi Qëndror i Shtetit or A.Q.SH) are located in Tirana. The Archive was created by governmental decree as a centralized state organ on 6 August 1949. Next to the National Archives in Tirana (which also holds the archives of the formerly ruling Party of Labour), there are also District Archives.
Which archives are (most) relevant to Holocaust research remains to be investigated.
For further reference:
Nika, Nevila & Liliana Vorpsi (Sokol B. Bega, transl.), Guidebook: a reference to records about Jews in Albania before, during, and after the Second World War (Tirana: the General Directorate of Archives of Republic of Albania, 2006).
Udhërrëfyes: një referencë mbi dokumente rreth hebrejve në Shqipëri përpara, gjatë dhe bas Luftës së Dytë Botërore (Tirana: State Central Archives, 2006).
For information on the content and structure of the EHRI national reports, please consult the introduction.