I had a couple different ideas for discussion, but the evening has conspired against me and now it’s too late to give them good attention. So I’ll choose the shortest (and laziest) topic, and pick up the more involved ones as soon as it’s April 7th again. Let’s head overseas to Albania.
Albania is a small country in southeastern Europe. If you find Italy on the map, then trace a line straight east from the “heel” of Italy’s boot, your line will run into Albania. It’s kind of shaped like New Jersey, though a little bit bigger, which gives you some sense of scale.
In 1939, Italian bossman Benito Mussolini was feeling a little behind-the-curve as far as the Axis powers were concerned. Though “the Axis” didn’t yet officially exist (that would happen in 1940), there is no doubt that Germany, Italy, and Japan were all engaged in similar (and aggressive) expanionist activities. Japan was running wild in China, Germany had retaken the Rhineland and followed up with Austria (1938) and Czechoslovakia (1939). Italy had conquered Abyssinia in 1935…which was not unlike the old cliché of taking candy from a baby.
So, Mussolini reasserted his importance and, on April 7, 1939, (just a couple weeks after Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia) launched an invasion of his own. Against Albania. And against the better judgement of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III. But this action was even less significant than Italy’s victory in Abyssinia. Albanian resistance was negligible, and King Zog (stop that chuckling in the back) was paying more attention to his infant son (born on April 5th) to do much more than hop a plane with his wife and son and head for the safer climes of London.
And what’s more, Italy (though gaining a New Jersey-sized piece of property) really got nothing out of the invasion. The Albanian and Italian economies had been inexorably linked since the 1920’s. Minerals mined in Albania were already shipped to Italy. The Italian government was a strong financial guarantor of Albania. Heck, the two countries already had a military alliance, also dating back to the 1920’s.
Albanian “resistance” would last for, well, practically not at all, and Italy would take over just 5 days later. Aim high, Mr. Mussolini. Aim high.
Recommended Activity: Act out your own Albanian invasion. You be Italy. – Equivalent activities could include (but are not limited to):
- Stealing your child’s blanket when he/she is sleeping.
- Finding an ant and stomping on it.
- Giving the neighbor kid a cookie, then taking it back (just be sure the kids are small so they’re more like Albania).
- Challenging your pet hamster to an arm-wrestling contest.