Going ‘home’

Albians marching
Albanians marching in post-WWII celebration march in Swanston Street, Melbourne, c. late 1940s.
Source: Fikri Taip

As the news of the possible outbreak of war in Europe reached Australia, many Albanian men returned to home to bring out their wives and children. When World War II began, some Albanian men enlisted and joined the Australian war effort, such as in the defence of Darwin and in the battlefields of Papua New Guinea, the Middle East and Pacific. Others, particularly in northern Queensland, were interned as ‘enemy aliens’ during the early 1940s, and were consigned to work on road construction or farms.

The conclusion of the war saw the establishment of a dogmatic and isolationist Stalinist regime in Albania. For Albanian migrants, communication with family and kin in the former homeland was restricted. Those who had returned to Albania in the immediate pre- and post-war years were trapped, unable to return to Australia. The tradition of arranged marriages with partners from Albania was also affected.

A small number of those who returned to Albania attempted to escape, but very few succeeded. Many families suffered terrible punishment and hardships in Albania for trying to escape or simply because of their links to the Western world.