Some History of the OSS in Albania during WWII

Map Albania - CIA
Map Albania - CIA

In World War II the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) placed intelligence and operating agents in enemy-controlled Albania. The OSS in Albania provided a wealth of intelligence via radio transmissions. The operational and intelligence teams of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Office of Strategic Services infiltrated by sea or parachute and linked up with nationalist and communist Albanian resistance fighters based in the interior mountain regions. The occupying German and Italian military units were clustered along the coast, main roads, and large towns and cities.

As was the case in many East European countries during World War II the better organized and more successful resistance movements tended to be of a communist flavor. Albania was no exception – and the SOE and OSS in Albania were reluctantly placed in a position to work with these communist partisans. This caused some friction between the SOE and OSS. The SOE had the lead in Yugoslavia and were in support of Tito’s Communist groups. The OSS was not in favor of this policy but had to bow to the British policy.

Although the SOE was the principal mentor of the OSS early in World War II – the OSS later became more independent. In the Balkans the competition between the two agencies usually saw the OSS in Albania take the subordinate role; this was reversed later in the war when the two agencies worked together (or maybe apart) in Italy. [1]

One OSS intelligence team was exceptionally successful – and this was largely in part due to the abilities and courage of its radio operator. On December 31, 1943 Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nic Kukich landed on the coast of Albania after a boat insertion with his three-man team. He would leave and depart a few times but spent much of 1944 and 1945 in the areas of Albania occupied by the Germans and Italians. Read more of his exploits in “Nick ‘Cooky’ Kukich: Covert Operative in Albania”Warfare History Network, November 8, 2016.

Footnotes:

[1] For more on the OSS / SOE relationship during World War II read “Office of Strategic Services versus Special Operations Executive: Competition for the Italian Resistance, 1943-1945”, Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4, Fall 2015, pp. 41-58, by Tommaso Piffer, MIT Press Journals.
www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/JCWS_a_00596

References:

The OSS in World War II Albania, by Peter Lucas. Published by McFarland & Company, Inc., 2007. Available at Amazon.com.

Special Operations: AAF Aid to European Resistance Movements, 1943-1945, by Warren, Harris Gaylord, 1947.
https://archive.org/details/SpecialOperationsAAF

The Dawn of SOWT: OSS Weathermen in the Balkans, 1944, by Bryan David Carnes, Marshal University, 2015.
http://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1933&context=etd

A Laconian’s Story of espionage, Fosters.com, June 3, 2007. http://www.fosters.com/article/20070603/GJNEWS02/106030294

“Peter Lucas: Albania enshrines OSS heroes”, The Lowell Sun, May 20, 2014. www.lowellsun.com/peterlucas/ci_25797841/peter-lucas-albania-enshrines-oss-heroes

Bibliography: OSS and SOE Operations in the Balkans – Albania, Intellit, Muskingum University.
http://intellit.muskingum.edu/wwii_folder/wwiioss_folder/oss_bal_alb.html

Albanian Resistance during World War II, Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanian_resistance_during_World_War_II

About John Friberg 167 Articles
John Friberg is the Editor and Publisher of SOF News. He is a retired Command Chief Warrant Officer (CW5 180A) with 40 years service in the U.S. Army Special Forces with active duty and reserve components.