ALBANIA 1939 - 1944
Italy opened post offices in the Albanian region of the Ottoman Empire in 1901. Italyâ€™s interest in the area dated back to the Renaissance days of the Venetian Republic. On 7 April 1939, Italy started to occupy Albania; this was met with little resistance and five days later Victor Emmanuel III became king of Albania, and King Zog went into exile in Britain. Albanian stamps were overprinted to celebrate the decision by a puppet Constituent Assembly to offer the Albanian crown to the Italian king. Four Italian definitive stamps had been overprinted to solemnize the Italian takeover but the ship delivering the majority of the stamps to Albania was sunk en route and only about 200 sets are said to have survived. On 10 December 1940, Greece overprinted 17 definitive stamps to mark the takeover of Northern Epirus. By early spring 1941 Greece was forced to leave the area, and Albania became the springboard for the Italian invasion of Greece. In 1942 a set of seven stamps featuring the Italian monarch were issued to celebrate the third anniversary of the Constituent Assembly. Airmail stamps had been issued earlier on and in April 1943, an anti-tubercolosis charity set of eight stamps was issued. On 24 July 1943, the Italian prime Minister and fascist leader Benito Mussolini was toppled by a no confidence vote. On 8 September, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies. In no time German troops flooded Albania; their takeover was mirrored on 13 definitive stamps overprinted for the occasion. By October 1944, Albania was freed and in due course overprinted stamps to celebrate the liberation of the country were issued .
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