Liberation Day in Albania is commemorated on November 29, the day that Albania was liberated from Nazi Germany in 1944. The holiday celebrates the Albanian resistance during World War II during the time the country was occupied by German forces.
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During World War II, Italy invaded Albania in Mussolini’s efforts to build an Italian Empire in the Mediterranean, deposing King Zog. Italy used Albania to launch an attack on Greece, drawing the German’s into the Balkans. When Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, Germany occupied Albania, but withdrew in 1944. Liberation Day, recognised on November 29, recognises the day when Italian and German troops were driven out of the country. It is the day after Albanian Independence Day, which is celebrated on November 28.
Traditions and Activities
On Independence Day, citizens of the country gather to honour the victims of World War II and celebrates the freedom they gained when the Nazi’s were driven from the country. A national ceremony is held in Tirana that includes a memorial service for victims and recognition of Albanian heroes who fought for freedom. Businesses and government offices are closed for the day so that citizens can spend the day with family and friends. Many people celebrate by hanging the Albanian flag on balconies or porches to show their allegiance to their freedom. Families gather for meals while others attend concerts or other activities planned for the day. The day often includes a trip to Martyrs’ Cemetery, where 900 victims of World War II are buried. The cemetery is located just outside of Tirana with views of the city and surrounding mountains. It is the site of the Motehr Albania statue.
One of the most common things to do on Albanian Liberation Day is to listen to stories told by soldiers and others who lived during the German occupation of the country. Many of those who survived the invasion and occupation are still alive, so their stories are told to keep them alive. Many ceremonies include speeches from those who lived during that era as well as those who fought for the freedom of the country. Even those who were members of the Communist party speak of what it was like learning that Albania had earned its liberation. Some speak of listening to the radio during the day of liberation, even though it put them at grave risk. Speeches made by those who survived on both sides of the occupation are often shared and written for generations to come in order to keep the memory of what liberation means alive in young people.