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Title: The Special Operations Executive (SOE) and British policy towards wartime resistance in Albania and Kosovo, 1940-44
Author: Bailey, Roderick
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis examines the role of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the evolution of British policy towards wartime resistance in Axis-occupied Albania and Kosovo. It shows how and why Britain came to support communist elements of’ the Albanian resistance to the extent that it did, and challenges a theory that holds British communists and leftists at SOE headquarters responsible for effecting that support. The principal sources for this study are former SOE personnel, recently declassified SOE files and other hitherto untapped records. Together they illuminate SOE’s operating methods and influence on policy-makers to a greater extent than existing literature on the subject. They suggest that attempts may have been made inside SOE headquarters to manipulate the flow of information from the field to higher authority. Yet they confirm, too, that the conduct and politics of SOE staff officers had little effect on policy. The key decisions that favoured the Albanian communists were taken above the heads of SOE and to meet short-term strategic requirements and were based on an accurate assessment of the military situation on the ground. This thesis contends that Britain’s Support for Albania’s communists is best understood when placed in the broader context of Allied wartime strategy and British foreign policy. From 1940, the course and direction of SOE operations in Albania were fashioned by military requirements and constrained by the priorities of British diplomats. These factors helped ensure that, once committed to working with the Albanian resistance, Britain never pursued anything other than an impartial policy of arming all Albanians, regardless of their politics, who were genuinely engaged in action against the Axis. The communist-led ‘Partisans’ received the bulk of British support because few other Albanians, despite prolonged efforts by SOE to persuade them to come out to fight, proved willing or able to put up resistance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available