This collection of 6 larger photographs showcases events in Albania in April 1938 and a year later, in April 1939, when Fascist Italy invaded the country. The first four photos show the scenes from the wedding of Albanian King Zog (1895 –1961) with a Hungarian noblewoman Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony (1915-2002) on April 27, 1938, which was one of most famous social events in Albanian history of the 20th century. The last two photographs show Tirana on the day of Italian invasion on Albania, with king’s sister, Princess Myzejen lading the Women’s Army Corps, and a quiet main street of Tirana, the Zogu I Boulevard, four days after the invasion.
The photographs are as follows:
1. Amazon’s Wedding March. The Amazon Regiment, daughters of leading families, giving their salute as they march past their commanders – sisters of King Zog – during a rehearsal for the wedding celebrations at Tirana to-morrow, when the King of Albania will marry Countess Geraldine Apponyi, who is known as “The White Rose of Hungary”. (newspaper article pasted verso)
Keystone… April 24, 1938. Black and white photograph with contemporary hand-made retouches, verso contemporary stamps, manuscript notes and mounted newspaper article (Very Good, slightly stained verso). 24 x 29,5 cm (9.4 x 11.6 inches).
2. Thousands of Picturesque Peasants Pour into Albanian Capital for Wedding of King Zog. (Pictures by Air). O. P. S. Elderly Albanian peasants in their national costume consisting of trousers tight at the ankle and fez-like hats, waiting outside one of Tirana’s picturesque buildings, to see the King Zog and his bride pass by. (mimeographed text pasted verso)
HHS / B. Keystone. April 27, 1938. Black and white photograph with contemporary hand-made retouches, verso contemporary stamps, manuscript notes and mounted blue mimeographed title (Very Good, soft tiny folds in the upper part, slightly dusty verso). 24 x 29,5 cm (9.4 x 11.6 inches).
3. The narrow streets of Albania’s capital were packed with excited crowds. Sunburned peasants and their children had journeyed down from the wild mountains for the celebrations, and this typical bunch made one of Tirana’s old walls their grandstand. – Picture by air. (newspaper article pasted verso)
Keystone… [April 27, 1938]. Black and white photograph with contemporary hand-made retouches, verso contemporary stamps, manuscript notes and mounted newspaper article (contemporary hand-made retouches, contemporary folds slightly scuffed with tiny loss of image). 24 x 29,5 cm (9.4 x 11.6 inches).
4. The Band Plays for Kind Zog and His Bride (Pictures by Air). 27. 4. 38. O. P. S. Albanian soldiers entertain the crowds waiting in the streets of Tirana with some music while they wait patiently for a glimpse of King Zog and his beautiful Bride. HHS / B. Keystone (mimeographed text pasted verso).
HHS / B. Keystone. April 27, 1938. Black and white photograph, verso contemporary stamps, manuscript notes and mounted blue mimeographed title (Very Good, slightly dusty verso). 24 x 29,5 cm (9.4 x 11.6 inches).
5. Italian Troops march into Albania. Italian troops have now landed in Albania and are occupying the country, it is officially reported from Rome.
The troops are reported to have met with some resistance at the port of Durazzo, but this was overcome. Bombing planes dropped leaflets. Albania has been under Italian influence for some years.
Photo shows Princes Myzejen, sister of King Zog, leading a parade of the Women’s Army Corps in Tirana, Albanian capital. April 7th 1939. PN. g. (mimeographed text pasted verso)
Planet News Ltd. April 7, 1939. Black and white photograph, verso contemporary stamps, manuscript notes and mounted black mimeographed title (Very Good). 19 x 30,5 cm (7.5 x 12 inches).
6. Boulevard Zogu. Mosque in background. (hand-written title verso)
April 11, 1939. Black and white photograph, verso contemporary stamps and manuscript notes (some minor scratches in the upper and lower part). 23,5 x 30 cm (9.2 x 11.8 inches).
In 1928, Albania became a kingdom and Zog I (1895-1961) was declared the King of Albanians, after serving as Prime Minister of Albania (1922–1924) and President (1925–1928). Born Ahmet Muhtar, he was allegedly related to Scanderbeg through his mother’s family line. In 1928, Zog I proclaimed a constitutional monarchy similar to the contemporary regime in Italy. He also created a strong military and police system and instituted the Zogist salute, flat hand over the heart with palm facing downwards, as seen here on the photos.
Zog I tried to modernise the country by abolishing Islamic law in Albania and adopting in its place a civil code based on the Swiss one. He banned hijab and founded strong female military troops, which were lead by his sisters, titled Princesses Zogu. In 1938, Zog opened the borders of Albania to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany
King’s six sisters, Adilé, Nafijé, Senijé, Myzejen, Ruhijé, Maxhide had a large influence on the image of Albania in the world. Not only they were leading their own female troops in full makeup, but they were also known as fashion icons, visiting foreign countries, including the United States, and appearing in newspapers.
On April 27, 1938 king Zog married a Hungarian noblewoman Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony (1915-2002), an event covered by newspapers from all over the world.
Connection with Fascist Italy and Invasion
Benito Mussolini, the leader of the Italian fascist government, was a big supporter of Zog’s government. In 1930s, after the worldwide depression, Albania became financially almost completely dependent on Italy. On Zog’s wedding, in April 1938, Benito Mussolini was one of the main guests.
Almost a year later, on April 7th, two days after a birth of Zog’s only son Leka. Italy invaded Albania, which surrendered facing no significant resistance.
The royal family fled soon after to England, and later to Egypt, France and New York. On king Zog’s death, his son Leka was pronounced King of the Albanians by the exiled Albanian community.