Alchiviad Diamandi di Samarina


Alchiviad Diamandi di Samarina

Alchiviad Diamandi di Samarina or Alkiviadis Diamandi or Alcibiade Diamandi (sometimes spelled "Diamanti", "Diamandis", "Diamanthis" or "Diamantis") (Samarina, Greece, August 13, 1893 — Bucharest, July 9, 1948) was an Aromanian (Vlach) political figure of Greece, active during the First and Second World Wars in connection with the Italian officials (who had occupied parts of Greece).

From Samarina to Rome via Bucharest

Diamandi was born in Samarina (at over 1,600 metres, the village situated at the highest altitude in Greece) to a family of wealthy Aromanian merchants. After attending the Romanian primary school in Samarina, he studied at the Greek Lyceum in Thessaloniki (at that time still part of the Ottoman Empire) and on the eve of the Balkan Wars in 1912 he left (as many other Vlachs of Greece) for Romania, where he enrolled at the Commercial Academy ("Academia Comercială") in Bucharest, and graduated from it. As Romania entered World War I in 1916, Diamandi volunteered for military service, briefly serving as officer.

It is not clear whether he was discharged from the Romanian Army or rather dispatched by the Romanians to Albania where, under the Italian and French tutelage (see Birth of Albania), he became in 1918 co-founder of the short-lived Republic of Korytsá ("Korçë" in Albanian, "Curceaua" in Aromanian, "Corizza" in Italian language), which was supposed, under the makeshift name of the 'Republic of Pindus' to be the first autonomous state of the Vlachs of Epirus. While in Albania, Diamandi befriended the Albanian political figure Fan S. Noli, whose political ideals he shared.

After the withdrawal of the Italians, he sought refuge for a while at Sarandë in Albania, from where he fled to Rome - where he become involved with Benito Mussolini's Fascist political movement. He contacted the Romanian Legation and was issued a Romanian passport, with which he was able to travel to Greece. According to the Greek author Stavros Anthemides, Diamandi was 'pardoned' by the Greek authorities in 1927 for his resistance to Greek authorities.

The Athens years

Shortly after the presumed amnesty, he arrived in Athens as the "vice president of the National Petroleum Company of Romania", as an oil importer. This was coupled with importing lumber from Romania to Greece and some other business ventures. He rented a flat in the fashionable Kolonaki district, and frequented the bars and cafes of Piraeus, where he was involved in a brawl with a Greek navy captain. During the squabble, Diamandi was wounded by a bottle flung in his direction by his adversary, and the resulting scar was used to identify him later on when he was on the run.

Diamandi frequently traveled to Rhodes (which was at the time an Italian possession), managing to attract the attention of the Greek Counter-intelligence Services. It is widely assumed that the Greek government was aware that Diamandi was an undercover Romanian agent who was trying to incite the Aromanians against the Greek state. During Ioannis Metaxas's regime, Diamandi was served with an expulsion order, but he managed to avoid being forced out and conrinued his activities.

Experiments in statehood: The "Autonomous State of Pindus"

When the Greco-Italian War started, at the end of October 1940, Diamandi was already in Konitsa on the Albanian-Greek border. The invading Italians offered him the rank of "Commandatore", and he served as translator and assistant to the Italian Chief of Staff General [http://www.ww2.web64.dk/person/guzzoni.htm Alfredo Guzzoni] . After Italy's initial defeat, Diamandi was forced to seek refuge in Tirana (at that time under Italian rule) and re-entered Greece with the Italian armies five months later in the spring of 1941.

This time he went on to form the so-called "Autonomous State of the Pindus" ("Αυτόνομον Κράτος της Πίνδου") or "Autonomous Vlach State" ("Αυτόνομον Βλαχικόν Κράτος") in the territory of Epirus, Thessaly and parts of Macedonia, which was supposed to constitute a "Vlach Homeland".He started self-styling himself "Principe" and sketched the outlook of the "Principality of Pindus" for the Vlach region. Diamandi's deputy and right-hand was the Larissa-based lawyer Nicola Matushi, while the third in the hierarchy of the nascent state was Rapoutikas Vassilis. The model for the Vlach state were the Swiss cantons, united into a confederation - which meant, in this case, the "Principality".

In June 1941, Diamandi found himself in Grevena and then he went to Metsovo, where he founded the "Party of the Kοutso-Vlach Community" ("Κόμμα Κοινότητας Κουτσοβλάχων") which was part of the "Union of Romanian Communities" ("Ένωσις Ρουμανικών Κοινοτήτων"). A "Vlach Parliament" was summoned in Trikala, but no laws were adopted - since the Parliament was mostly for show; the Italians were not keen on sharing power in the region. Nevertheless, the parliament did issue a series of local regulations aimed at restricting the use of the Greek language in favour of Aromanian. It also carried out Dimanadi's wish to have the town and village entry signs in Greek replaced with new ones in Aromanian and Italian. Thus, Metsovo became "Aminciu" in Aromanian and "Mincio" in Italian, Nympheon became "Nevesca" and "Nevesa", Samarina was made into "Santa Maria" etc.

A Vlach Manifesto in occupied Greece

On March 1 1942, Diamandi issued an ample "Manifesto" which was published in the local press and republished by Stavros Anthemides in 1997 (in his book on the "Vlachs of Greece"; see bibliography). The "Manifesto" was co-signed by leading Vlach intellectuals such as:
* the lawyer Nicola Matushi
* Prof. Dimas Tioutras
* the lawyer Vasilakis Georgios
* the physician Dr. Frangkos Georgios
* the teacher A. Beca
* the businessman Gachi Papas
* the physician Dr. Nikos Mitsibouna
* Prof. Dim. Hatzigogou
* the lawyer A. Kalometros
* the engineer Niko Teleionis
* Vasilis Tsiotzios
* Prof. Kosta Nicoleskou
* Prof. Toli Pasta
* Dim. Tahas
* Prof. Stefanos Kotsios
* Prof. G. Kontoinani
* Dr. Kaloera
* Prof. Toli Hatzi
* Giovani Mertzios of Neveska (whose son [http://www.tamos.gr/mertzos.htm Nik. Merztios] , in a twist of history, is a well known pro-Greek Vlach author of Greece)
* Pericli Papas
* Prof. Virgiliu Balamace (related to Nick Balamace, currently the Secretary of the [http://www.farsarotul.org 'Society Farsarotul'] in the United States)
* ing. S. Pelekis
* K. Pitouli
* the lawyer Toli Hatzis
* Dim. Barba

Two Vlachs of Albania and Bulgaria, Vasilis Vartolis and the Samarina born writer Ziko Araias, known also as [http://convorbiri-literare.dntis.ro/FAIFERdec3.html Zicu Araia] also endorsed the "Manifesto". In Romania, it was co-signed by the Veria-born George Murnu, a professor at the University of Bucharest. Diamandi travelled to Bucharest shortly after he met Murnu, and together they attended a meeting with the then Leader ("Conducător") of Romania Marshal Ion Antonescu, and the Foreign Minister Mihai Antonescu. The status of the Principality of Pindos was discussed.

One option favoured by Diamandi was to put the Principality under the sovereignty of the Romanian Crown (as an associated "free state"). Diamandi, as a Prince, would then have the right to attend the "Consilii de Coroană" ("Crown Councils"), which were to be held in Bucharest or in the Transylvanian Alps mountain spa and ski resort of Sinaia. Another option was to link the principality to the ruling Italian House of Savoy. None of these options was to be realised.

Refuge in Romania

Towards the second year of the Italian occupation, guerilla actions broke out in the area, between the supported by the Allied Forces and the Italo-German side. The chaos that ensued drove Diamandi to leave (either that or he was ordered back) to Romania. Diamandi was arrested by the Romanian police on February 21, 1948. He died in the Prefecture of Police in Bucuresti some month later.

After Dimandi's abdication a baron of Hungarian-Aromanian descent named Gyula Cseszneky was proclaimed Prince of the Pindus as Julius I, but neither Prince Julius, nor his brother Michael ever set foot on the territory of the state - nevertheless, some Aromanian leaders governed in their name.

Matoussi escaped, first to Athens than to Romania too, while Rapoutikas was shot dead by one of the Greek factions involved in guerilla activities just outside Larissa {the Greeks then tied his corpse on the back a donkey and paraded him through the Vlach villages of the Pindus - this was intended in order to scare the local populace and as a final proof that the Pindus Principality had reached its end).

Mysterious Diamandi's incomplete life story

There are many gaps in the biography of the secretive Prince Diamandi, and he is scarcely mentioned in most of the few books that deal with the period). According the to the German scholar Dr. Thede Kahl (see bibliography), Diamandi was for a while Kingdom of Romania's Consul in the Albanian port Vlorë just opposite across the strait of the Italian town of Otranto. The Greek historians usually avoid mentioning him altogether, while other scholars who give vague reference to him (such as [http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:Em-AtIkJOLwJ:www.bibliopolis.de/thetis3.html+lena+divani+italo-romanian&hl=en Lena Divani] or Mark Mazower) make sure that they clearly distance themselves from Diamandi hence bestowing upon him apelatives like "extremist" and "shameful", failing to bring to the surface new data or impartial information as to the personality of Diamandi.

Alkiviadis Diamandi is given mention in 1995 by the British author [http://www.lively-arts.com/books/unwritten_places.htm Tim Salmon] in his book about the Vlachs of Greece (see bibliography) as follows::"A pro-Mussolini teacher called Dhiamantis who returned to Samarina during the Occupation and tried to set up a fascist Vlach state the Principality of Pindus. It is possible that the idea of autonomy struck a chord in some nationalistic Vlach breasts but they certainly were not the collaborators he accused them of being." The author finds the precedents of Diamandi's movement in the Vlachs' desire of separateness, which he sees as a sign of "strength". Other pasages of his book emphasize this aspect as well.

He writes::"Up to the 1920s the Vlakholoi - the Vlach clan as it were- had been so strong that the government could not really interfere with them. There had been Romanian schools (financed from Romania from around the Treaty of Berlin in 1881 which forced the Turks to cede Thessaly to Greece, drawing the frontier through Metsovo and thus dividing the Greek Vlachdom in Yannina, Thessaloniki and Grevena up until 1940. In fact, there was one in Samarina itself."

Vlach Legionnaires and Iron Guardists

There are today few references to Diamandi and his "Roman Legion" in the Greek media. Yet recently there seems to be a revived interest in this obscure period of Vlach history. The English Professor Clogg recently published an article for the daily newspaper "Kathimerini", sheding light on this issue. The following is a fragment of it, with the permission of the author: [http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_ell_100002_08/10/2005_61665] (Saturday, September 8th, 2005):

"Just before Christmas 1944, as the " [http://www.greekworks.com/content/index.php/weblog/extended/december_1944_civil_war_in_athens/ Dekemvriana] " raged in Athens, the Germans called for Greek-speaking volunteers from among these Iron Guardists for a mission to Greece. Three Greek-speaking Vlach volunteers were dispatched to Guntramsdorf near Vienna. Here they were billeted with 11 Vlachs who had retreated from Greece alongside the German forces. These 11 may well have been involved with the "Vlach Roman Legion", created by the Italians in Thessaly and Epirus.

"The 14 were then trained for the mission by an Oberleutnant Prinz and a Lieutenant Lorre. This lasted for less than three weeks and involved the use of machine guns, automatic pistols and pistols, along with camouflage and sabotage techniques, including the use of time fuses and booby traps. Two of the party were sent to Murau for training as wireless operators. The entire group was trained for parachute landings, although in the turmoil of the rapidly disintegrating Third Reich they never completed a practice jump.

"The mission team was initially scheduled to be parachuted into Greece on the night of January 30-31, 1945, when there was a full moon, but the flight was called off due to bad weather. A fortnight later, however, on February 13, the party was hauled out of a cinema and told they would be flying that night. They were given last-minute instructions by Lieutenant Lorre.

"As they subsequently told their British interrogators, the mission was given £700 in pounds sterling and dollar bills, along with 50 gold sovereigns. Two radio transmitters, with appropriate codes, two light machine guns, two automatic pistols, together with explosives, detonators, fuses and timing mechanisms were packed into four containers which were to be dropped with them. The party was dressed in civilian clothes for they were not part of any military unit, neither German or Romanian, and each member was given a revolver before embarking on a Junkers 52 at Wiener Neustadt airfield base.

"Their mission was to radio information three times a week on the political situation in Greece, with particular reference to EAM/ELAS; on the strength and location of British forces; and on the strength and popularity of the Greek government and of the forces at its disposal. Through intrigue and propaganda they were to foment civil strife and bad blood wherever possible. At a later stage, they were to sabotage roads and bridges. They would be supplied by parachute drops. It was intended that some members of the mission should, if possible, actually join ELAS. They were given no contacts in Greece and no arrangements were made for their evacuation. Instead, bizarrely, they were told to await the return of German forces to Greece. Presumably in their internment camps they had been so cut off from accurate information that they had little idea as to how badly the war was going for the Germans.

"Upon parachuting into Greece at 3 a.m. on February 14, the party, as often happened with such missions, was widely scattered. A group of seven was unable to link up with the other members of the team. Nor were they able to recover the crates containing their supplies, which appear to have been collected by local villagers. The seven soon became aware of the hopelessness of their situation and decided to embark on the perilous journey from the Peloponnese overland to Romania.

"They did not get very far before being captured. They had been dropped near Kerpini. After lying up for a day, they gradually made their way northward, via Valtesinikon, Karvouni and Kato Klitoria to Kalavryta, which they reached at midday on February 17. Here they took the train to Diakopton, where they arrived on the evening of the same day. That same evening, two members of the party went into a "kafeneio" in Diakopton where they made the mistake of offering a gold sovereign in payment. The cafe owner was unable to offer change for such a valuable coin, whereupon they proffered a dollar bill. They seemingly had no Greek money with them. Their behavior aroused suspicion and they were arrested by two members of the Greek armed forces. The arrested men revealed where the other five members of the party were staying. One of the members of the second group was also arrested on February 17 in hiding in Dafni, while there were reports of another member being held captive in Kalivia. Yet another member of this second group had parachuted into a tree and was reported to have been captured in Mouria.

"A top secret account of their abortive mission is contained in a report compiled in Corinth on February 20, 1945, by a British officer, Captain P.M. Gardner. He took part in the interrogation of the leader of the party, Ion Adanucu, and of one of the wireless operators, George Varduli. The other members are listed as George Geagea, the deputy leader; Vasile Ciunga; Nicolae Anagnosta, the second wireless operator; Achile Gulea; Anton Janculi; Miltiadi Zeana; George and Vasile Dica (presumably related, perhaps brothers); Panaiot Simu; Sterie Cutova; Naum Colimitra and Spiru Hasioti. "This mission party, which may not have been the only one despatched to Greece at the time, was launched two months to the day before Vienna was liberated by Soviet troops. The subsequent fate of the party is not clear. Were they repatriated to Romania? Here their fate in a country where the Communists, bitterly hostile to the Iron Guard, were remorselessly tightening their grip would have been harsh, just as it would have been had they found themselves in Russian-occupied Vienna. Did they disappear into the sea of displaced persons in a Europe freed from Nazi tyranny? Or did they, like a number of Iron Guardists, end up in Francisco Franco's Spain or in South America?

It has also been supposed that Diamandi ended up with them in hiding in the abovementioned locations and subsequently assumed another identity.

From medieval Thessalian Wallachia to Diamandi's 'Principality': an outline of Vlach secessionist trends in Greece

It has to be said that Diamandi never enjoyed 'good reviews' from the historians. Quite the contrary. Labeled as extremist and collaborationist, he is often presented as being an 'aberration'. Yet these scholars often forget that the history of the Vlachs in Greece is in itself a long struggle for achieving own statehood and separatness. Diamandi is not the odd exception but the rule. In fact, he based his secessionist doctrine on this long tradition of Vlach rebellion and penchant for separatness and secession.

As their Latin language to which they stubbornly clung for two thousand years shows, the Vlachs are proof of the presence of these Roman conquerors in Greece. As Tom Winnifrith points out, having conquered for good 'Greece' (in fact the Greek city sates) already at 146 B.C. the Roman legions settled their own kind in the strategic locations and along Via Egnatia. The Greek state ceased to exist as such. Greece was restored in its lesser version only at 1831.

The Vlachs were for the first time incorporated in Greece only at 1881 when Thessaly was offered to Greece by the Great Powers shortly after the Treaty of Berlin. The bulk of the Vlachs became part of the Greek state as recently as 1913 after parts Epirus and Macedonia became part of Greece after the Treaty of Bucharest. Since the times of the Byzantine Empire, the Vlachs revolted permanently and did not stand the foreign rule. The Byzantine historian Kekaumenos writes about revolt of Vlachs of Thessaly in 1066 under their chieftain "Verivoi". Niketas Honiatis describes a Great Wallachia comprising Thessaly, as opposed to other two "Wallachias" quoted by Frantzes: "Little Wallachias" in Acarnania and Aetolia, and an "Upper Wallachia" in Epirus and Macedonia. The existence of these free entities is confirmed by the Western chronicles of Geoffroy de Villehardouin, Henri de Valenciennes, Robert de Clary, and those who wrote about the rebellion of the Vlachs of the Chaemus (Chalcidice) Peninsula, 1196 A.D.

As the Greek historian John Koliopoulos points out, when Thessaly became to be part of Greece at 1881, the bulk of the Vlachs of this province petitioned the Great Powers of the time to be let to stay within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire where they thought they enjoyed more freedom of movement.

Terminology

*The "Legion" Diamandi had gathered under his leadership made reference to the Roman Empire's Legio V Macedonica. Chosen for the common belief that Legions were the factors behind the modern-day Romance languages and Latin Europe, the name particularly enhanced the connection with Romania - as the Vth Legion had spent time in both Macedonia province and Dacia - and presumably complimented Italian Fascism and its claim to Imperial dominance).

*The names of the main institutions and of the Principality itself were given in Greek and, were possible, Romanian. Reference in Aromanian was not available.

Bibliography

*Evangelos Averof-Tositsas, "Η πολιτική πλευρά του κουτσοβλαχικού ζητήματος" ["The political aspects of the Aromanian question"] , Trikala reprint 1992 (1st edition Athens 1948), p. 94
*Stauros A. Papagiannis, "Τα παιδιά της λύκαινας. Οι ‘επίγονοι’ της 5ης Ρωμαϊκής Λεγεώνας κατά την διάρκεια της Κατοχής 1941-1944" ["Wolf children. The ‘descendants’ of the 5th Roman Legion during the occupation 1941-1944"] , Athens, 1998
*Anthemidis, Axilleas, "The Vlachs of Greece". Thessaloniki: Malliaris 1998 (Greek).
*Tim Salmon, "Unwritten Places", Athens Lycabettus Press, 1995 (see p.149 and 215)
*T. J. Winnifrith, The Vlachs: "The History of a Balkan People", Palgrave Macmillan, 1987
*Kahl, Thede, "Ethnizität und räumliche Verteilung der Aromunen in Südosteuropa", "Münstersche geographische Arbeiten", 43, Münster 1999. ISBN 3-9803935-7-7 (see pp. 55-56 on Diamandi)
*Koliopoulos, John, "Greece: The Modern Sequel", Hurst 2001
* [http://www.ajarmsbooksellers.com/cgi-bin/ajarms/9732.html "Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the German Police, Army and & SS 1943-1945", New York 2000]

External links

* [http://www.vlahoi.net/almyros/propaganda.htm About Diamandi and the Romanian propaganda] ("in Greek language")
* [http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/europe/Aroumains.htm Les Aroumains] , by Université Laval Montreal
* [http://www.vlachophiles.net/des.htm Objects of desire: Wrangling over the Vlachs in Bucharest and Athens]
* [http://www.vlachophiles.net/blaxoi-article.doc Οι Βλάχοι της Ελλάδας και η Παρεξηγημένη Ιστορία τους]
* [http://maillists.uci.edu/mailman/public/mgsa-l/2003-January/001321.html Christos D. Katsetos - The Political Side of the Kutzovlach Affair Revisited?]
* [http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=83 Ellinika Tagmata Asphaleias] and [http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=84 Ethelontiki Chorophylaki]
* [http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/dictionar_de/d/dictionard_12.pdf Pocesul Comunismului]
* [http://starnarcosis.net/obsidian/soubalk2.html Regnal Chronologies: Northern Greece]


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