Alcibiades Diamandi

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Alcibiades Diamandi (in Greek: Αλκιβιάδης Διαμάντης) (sometimes spelled Diamanti or Diamantis) (August 13, 1893 in Samarina, Greece – July 9, 1948 in Bucharest, Romania) was an Aromanian (Vlach) political figure of Greece, active during the First and Second World Wars in connection with the Italian occupation forces and Romania. By 1942 he fled to Romania and after the end of the Second World War he was sentenced by the Special Traitor's Courts in Greece to death. In Romania jailed by the new Communist government and he died there in 1948.

From Samarina to Bucharest[edit]

Alcibiades Diamandi was born in 1894, in Samarina, into a wealthy Aromanian (Vlach) family. He studied at the Greek Gymnasium in Siatista, continuing his studies in Romania where he became involved in the Aromanian separatist movement. During the course of World War I he served as a non-commissioned officer in the Greek army. In 1917, he formed an armed Aromanian separatist band that operated in the Pindus mountains, then part of the Italian protectorate over Albania. With the tacit approval of the Italian authorities he proclaimed the foundation of the Principality of the Pindus centered in Samarina, with himself as prince. Following a diplomatic protest by Greece, Italian troops departed from Epirus as did Diamandi who was charged with sedition. Returning to Romania in the early 1920ies he entered the Romanian diplomatic service and was appointed consul at Sarandë in order to influence the local Vlach population. It is believed that in 1925 he became an agent of the Italian intelligence services. Diamandi's involvement in illegal economic activities led to his removal from the Romanian diplomatic corp. In 1927, Diamandi received a pardon from the Greek government.[1]

The Athens years[edit]

Shortly after the presumed amnesty, he arrived in Athens[2] 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.

2nd World War: The "Roman Legion" of Diamandi assists the Italian occupation forces while he promotes the idea of Vlach Autonomy[edit]

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 Commendatore, 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 discussed a 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". This planned state or canton is sometimes called "Principality of Pindus" (the name used to mainly refer to the events in Pindus in August 1917). Diamandi's deputy and right-hand was the Larissa-based lawyer Nicolaos Matussis, while the third in the hierarchy of the nascent state was Rapoutikas Vassilis.

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 meeting was mostly for show; the Italians were not keen on sharing power in the region.

A Vlach Manifesto in occupied Greece[edit]

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 Nicolaos Matussi
  • 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 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"). 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[edit]

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 Communist Secret Service ”Securitate” on February 21, 1948. He died in the Prefecture of Police in Bucharest some months later supposedly under torture by Soviet Agent Mihail Dulgheru.[3]

Matoussi escaped, first to Athens then 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 so-called Roman Legion had reached its end).

Mysterious Diamandi's incomplete life story[edit]

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 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". Archived from the original on 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2013-09-24.  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.

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.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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
  • Koukounas, Demosthenes (2013). Η Ιστορία της Κατοχής [History of the Occupation] (in Greek). II. Athens: Livani. ISBN 978-960-14-2687-7.