Albanian Nationalist Youth Groups: Albanian Lictor Youth/Gioventý del Littorio Albanese (GLA)


Figure 1.--Here boys at a GLA camp in Elbasan, Albania, are raising the flag in the morning. The GLA was the Albanian version of the Italian Balilla. The uniforms are simple, but similar to thatbof the the Balilla. The boys are wearing black shirts and fez, scarfs and short pants. As usual among Balilla groups, the footwear is the most varied garment, reflected by the affluence of the family. Here one of the lead boys has sandals and two are barefoot. The younger camper boys are all barefoot. This would have been just before th Italians surrendered to the Allies and the arrival of the Germans.

Youth groups were not very important in Albania. A small Scouting movement was founded (1922). There was a small natiinalist youth group--ENGA. We do not yet know much about ENGA. It appears to have been aa group modeled on the Balilla. Even before the Italian invasion there was a substantial Italian presence in Albania. The Italians when they invaded Albania (April 1939) established a Albanian Fascist Party which in reality rather than a nationalist group was a front organization for Italian control of the country. Italy invaded Albania, but did not annex the country. Albania nominally remained a separate country. King Victor Emnauel replaced King Zog as king of Albania. The Albanian Lictor Youth (Djelmnia e Liktorit Shqiptar / Gioventý del Littorio Albanese--GLA) was the youth organization of the Albanian Fascist Party. The GLA was one of the associated organizations of the Albanian Fascist Party, stipulated in its founding statute, formalized by a decree issued by the Italian vicegerent (June 2, 1939). Giovanni Giro was assigned to set up a Fascist youth movement shortly before the Italanian invasion. He was largely usuccessful, but did manage to stir up a diplomatic incident. After the Italian invasion (April 1939), anotherv Utalian Fascist was assuigned to organize a Fascist party and assocted organizations--Achille Starace. Starace was an important Fascist organizer. After creating the GLA, the small ENGA group was merged into it. The GLA like ENGA was modelled after the Italian Baillla and was controlled by the Italian occupation authorities in Albania. The GLA uniforms were similar to those of the bailla. As with the Bailla, girls were organized in Female Youth of the Lictor (Gioventý Femminile del Littorio). This was note worthy in conservative Albanian Muslim society. Boys up to age 14 years of age were organized in Balilla-like groups. The Italian occupation officials built an impressive marble palace for the GLA in Tirana. It was in the same complex as the Casa del Fascio, one of a series of lavish buildings that appeared in the city during the Italian occupation. Interestingly, Ramiz Alia, who would served as the last Communist head of state of Albania (1985-92) was a GLA member. He joined the Communist resistance movement when the Germans arrived (1943).

Background

Youth groups were not very important in Albania. A small Scouting movement was founded (1922). Albania was a poor very backward society. Scouting does best in more modern countries with a substantial middle class.

ENGA

There was a small nationalist youth group--ENGA. We do not yet know much about the ENGA. It appears to have been a group modeled on the Balilla. We have, however, been unable to find any information about ENGA. Even before the Italian invasion there was a substantial Italian presence in Albania. It was part of Missolini's policy to expand Italian commercial vand cultural acrivities in Albania.

Italian Invasion

Mussolini, perhaps enbolded by Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia and KLithuania (Memel) (March 1939, invaaded Albania. Giovanni Giro was assigned to set up a Fascist youth movement shortly before the Italanian invasion. He was largely usuccessful, but did manage to stir up a diplomatic incident. The Italians after invading Albania (April 1939) established a Albanian Fascist Party which in reality rather than a nationalist group was a front organization for Italian control of the country. Italy invaded Albania, but did not annex the country. Albania nominally remained a separate country. King Victor Emnauel replaced King Zog as king of Albania.

Founding

The Albanian Lictor Youth (Djelmnia e Liktorit Shqiptar / Gioventý del Littorio Albanese--GLA) was the youth organization of the Albanian Fascist Party. Notably the GLA shield used the Italian acrionym (GLA) and not the not the Albanian acronym (DLS). The GLA was one of the associated organizations of the Albanian Fascist Party, stipulated in its founding statute, formalized by a decree issued by the Italian vicegerent (June 2, 1939). After the Italian invasion (April 1939), another Italian Fascist was assigned to organize a Fascist party and associated organizations--Achille Starace. Starace was an important Fascist organizer. After creating the GLA, the small ENGA group was merged into it. The GLA like ENGA was modelled after the Italian Baillla and was controlled by the Italian occupation authorities in Albania. The Italian occupation officials built an impressive marble palace for the GLA in Tirana. It was in the same complex as the Casa del Fascio, one of a series of lavish buildings that appeared in the city during the Italian occupation.

Name

The name of the organization, notably has nothing to do with Albania, but entirely orienrd to Italy. The Lictors were members of a special class of ancient Roman civil servant, with the special task of attending and guarding magistrates. Their symbol and weapon was a fasces called in Latin "fasces lictoriae". Mussolini took the fasces lictoriae as symbol of his movement. In the early time the name was "Fasci di combattimento" (Fighting Fasces) later "Partito Nazional Fascita" (National Fascist Party).

Age

Boys up to 14 years of age were organized in Balilla-like groups. We are not sure about at what age they began, but the boys in the camp photograoph here look very young.

Gender

As with the Bailla, girls were organized in Female Youth of the Lictor (Gioventý Femminile del Littorio). This was note worthy in conservative Albanian Muslim society.

Membership

We have only limited information, but we do not think GLA was a mass organization like the Bailla or Hitler Youth. Even the Bailla itself did not include all Italian children. The GLA almost surely was much smaller even in poroprtion to population. We suspect many of the mnembers were middle class families in Tirana or perhaps other cities and were primarily those families connected in some way with the Italians.

Uniforms

The GLA uniforms were similar to those of the Bailla. We note fezes and black shirts along with short pants. Footwear varied. As Albania was such a poor country, many of the children went barefoot. We notice siome sandals..

Notable Members

Interestingly, Ramiz Alia, who would served as the last Communist head of state of Albania (1985-92) was a GLA member. He joined the Communist resistance movement when the Germans arrived (1943).

Sources








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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 10:50 PM 1/9/2008