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 occupation forces.
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 continued 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 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 Aromanians (Vlachs) 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 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 '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 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 Greek Resistance 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 nobleman 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 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 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 passages of his book emphasize this aspect as well.
- 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.
- 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, where possible, Romanian. Reference in Aromanian was not available.
- 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
- Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the German Police, Army and & SS 1943-1945, New York 2000
- About Diamandi and the Romanian propaganda (in Greek language)
- Les Aroumains, by Université Laval Montreal
- Objects of desire: Wrangling over the Vlachs in Bucharest and Athens
- Οι Βλάχοι της Ελλάδας και η Παρεξηγημένη Ιστορία τους
- Christos D. Katsetos - The Political Side of the Kutzovlach Affair Revisited?
- Ellinika Tagmata Asphaleias and Ethelontiki Chorophylaki
- Pocesul Comunismului
- Regnal Chronologies: Northern Greece