- On the Front Line in Someone Else’s War: Mallakastër, Albania, 1916–18
- Region: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia
- Slavica Publishers
- Volume 4, Number 2, 2015
- pp. 247-263
- View Citation
Albania was not a belligerent in the First World War, but several armies fought, uninvited, on its territory. From 1916 until the final retreat in 1918 the river Vjosa formed the Front Line between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies. Drawing on contemporary documents, this article discusses the consequences for the inhabitants on the right bank, occupied by the Austro-Hungarians. There was only minor fighting on this front line, but it damaged property in villages, and men were taken hostage by the Italians. Inhabitants of the most exposed villages sought shelter elsewhere. Men were pressured into work brigades and the army; many deserted. The presence of large numbers of troops caused serious food shortages. Finally, in midwinter, the army forced the evacuation of all the riverside villages. The occupiers saw the hardship they had caused as an inevitable consequence of war, but failed to recognize their culpability in inflicting it on others.