765.75/459: Telegram

The Minister in Albania (Grant) to the Secretary of State

28. Legation’s 27, April 8, 10 a.m. In a short speech to the Albanians and assembled Italian troops at the City Hall Ciano declared “Italian troops have come here to give Albania pronounced peace, justice and work which is the Fascist style. In this way the Italian people reaffirms their unalterable friendship for the Albanian people.” The former Orthodox Archbishop Vissarion, replying to Ciano, said “We welcome Italian troops for we were betrayed by those of our Government who are no longer here” and to this Ciano replied “That is exactly why we have come. To free Albania from further tyranny.”

About an hour subsequent to Ciano’s arrival at Tirana the Italian First Secretary called at the Legation and inquired of the Secretary of this Legation as to report that Queen Geraldine and her baby were being cared for at the American Legation. He indicated that Count Ciano was desirous of learning whether the Queen was in a place of safety or somewhere in the interior of the country since further military operations were contemplated in the interior. The Secretary intimated that Italians [would?] do nothing to harm the Queen implying that if it were known that the Queen was [not?] in a safe place military operations would cease in the interior. When the Italian Secretary expressed great solicitation for the well being the Queen and her 3 days old baby I remarked that the act of forcing her to flee 2 days after the birth of her baby was difficult to comprehend. I informed the Secretary that the Queen had not been at the American Legation. In this connection I wish to inform the Department that when it first became definitely known that the Italians might land troops in Albania relatives of the Queen asked me if I would take her in the Legation in the event of an emergency. I replied that I would be pleased to do so provided of course the Bang requested it. A report late this afternoon is to the effect that the Queen had reached Salonika and that the King is in Athens.

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At 4 o’clock this afternoon approximately 2,000 troops on motorcycles and trucks passed the Legation on the Elbasan highway. Presumably they are enroute to Elbasan and perhaps to Korcha. 300 transport planes landed at the Tirana airport this morning with 1,000 soldiers. Bombers have been flying over Tirana throughout the day.

In my conversation with the Secretary of the Italian Legation this afternoon when he mentioned the possibility of further military operations against the Albanians I expressed surprise and the earnest hope that further bloodshed might be avoided. Subsequently the Secretary called the Legation and said that in view of my anxiety over the possibility of further bloodshed he wished to inform me that telegrams from all the principal towns of Albania extended welcome to the Italians and submission to their orders. He indicated that there is now no need of further hostilities since the troops were not undergoing further resistance. It appears that Italian propaganda has resulted in the formation of small committees of friendly officials who are now purporting to speak for the entire population. In this connection it is also reported that Ciano has brought with him a large sum of money for distribution. General Zeff Sereggi personal adjutant to Bang Zog and recently appointed Minister to Rome who resigned his commission the day before hostilities has returned to Tirana with Count Ciano. The German Minister von Pannwitz and his secretary were present this morning in full morning regalia to greet Ciano. It is reported from Italian sources that Italian officials believe that since no government exists they propose to establish one probably during the day. The broadcasts from Rome charging that it was necessary for the Italians to take action in Albania in order to keep order are bitterly resented here by Albanians with whom I have talked and among the majority of my colleagues it is the subject of ridicule and jest. There is absolutely no truth in the Italian assertion in my judgment which is based on more than 3 years of close observation of the habits and customs of these people. Albania has been viciously occupied by her supposed friend and ally.