Πέμπτη 7 Μαρτίου 2024

The Day The Dodecanese Joined Motherland Greece

The Dodecanese is the last part of modern Greece that was integrated into the national core.
On March 7, 1948, the King of the Greeks Paul and Queen Frederica, in a frenzy of excitement, arrived in Rhodes accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister Konstantinos Tsaldaris, ministers, military and other officials. Head of the Central Dodecanese Committee, the pioneers of the Dodecanese struggle, the doctor from Kalymnos Skevos Zervos and the university professor Michael Volonakis from Symi. After the playing of the national anthem, the Minister of the Interior, Petros Mavromichalis, reads the royal decree from outside the headquarters:

On the annexation of the Dodecanese to Greece
Paul A!
King of the Greeks
We decide and decree:

Article 1
The islands of the Dodecanese, Rhodes, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Astypalaia, Nisyros, Patmos, Chalki, Kasos, Tilos, Symi, Kos, Leros and Kastellorizo, as well as the adjacent islets, have been annexed to the Greek state since October 28, 1947.
This law, passed under D! of the Revising Parliament and ratified by us today, be published in the Government Gazette and be implemented as a law of the state.
In Athens on January 3, 1948 Pavlos A!

After the reading of the Royal Decree, the King, moved but with a firm voice, reads the following speech to the people of the Dodecanese:

"At this moment of joy, I bring to the Greeks of the Dodecanese the fraternal greeting of the Greek People.
Today's holy day, on which the liveliest pulse of Greece is satisfied, is the happiest day of my life. I thank God because I had the honor to surround the Dodecanese with my active affection and to see the Blue and White wave in its Greek sky.

Today was filled with a lot of blood and many tears, but only with blood and tears are stories written, like the Greek one.
The Dodecanese was one of the brightest stars in the sky of the ancient Greek civilization. She has always been a glorious bulwark of the struggles of the Race and the mother of proud and valiant children.

It has always been a source of radiation of the Greek spirit. The Dodecanese is not only Greek, it is Greece.
I am happy and excited. I feel the souls of our dead brothers of the last glorious war fluttering joyfully around us, and my thought at this moment turns to the Great Apont, my late brother King George, the victor of the Albanian War.

In the name of the satisfaction of the most sacred human rights,
In the name of glorious Greek History,
Before the eternal Greece and before the Almighty God
I sanction the annexation of the Dodecanese to Motherland"

After the reading of the royal proclamation, the royal couple goes up to the island's Command Hall where they unveil a commemorative plaque with the inscription "GENERAL ADMINISTRATION OF DODEKANIS - MARCH 7, 1948". The Incorporation of the Dodecanese into Greece has now formally been completed.

Since the Byzantine years, several of these rulers had passed away (the John knights (1309-1522), the Ottomans (1522-1912), and the Italians (1912-1946). Their desire to unite with Greece took a more concrete form from the beginning of the second decade of the 20th century, after the end of World War I. However, there had been other conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean that had changed the status quo in this sensitive-geostrategically-area: the Italo-Turkish War (1911 -1912) and the two Balkan wars (1912-1913). Especially the Italo-Turkish war, which broke out in September 1911, constitutes a landmark event for the history of the Dodecanese.
The Italian government, under the leadership of the liberal Giovanni Giolitti, in its attempt to follow in the footsteps of the other Great Powers (England, Germany, France), which expanded their colonial possessions in the wider area of the eastern Mediterranean, proposed the securing of a zone exclusive control over it. In order to succeed in this venture, the Italians presented as a pretext the defense of the interests of the Italian community of Tripoli in Libya, in cooperation with the Sultan, since the region was threatened by the Berber Muslims. Thus, the Italians send troops to the - under formal Ottoman occupation - coasts of North Africa, declaring war on the Sublime Gate. The resistance met by the Italian forces from the Ottoman counterparts operating in the region was strong, especially after reinforcements were sent from the coasts of Asia Minor. Thus, the Italians will not hesitate to extend the field of military operations to the Aegean coast, in order to cut off enemy reinforcements. In April 1912, the Italians attacked the Dardanelles straits with a lightning-fast naval attack, surprising the military and diplomatic authorities of the Ottoman Empire, while at the same time an expeditionary landing force, led by general Giovanni Amelio, first occupied Astypalaia and then Rose. Until May 1912, the Italians managed to occupy another eleven islands (Chalki, Nisyros, Tilos, Leros, Lipsi, Kalymnos, Patmos, Kos, Karpathos, Kasos, Symi), at which point the complex of islands occupied by them took the name "Dodecanese".
The Italian military authorities and responsible Italian actors followed from the beginning a policy of misleading the Greek population of the islands, assuring them that the occupation was of a temporary nature (in the context of warring Italian-Turkish relations) and promising the granting of autonomy, in order to prevent possible resistance movements. However, the inhabitants of the islands react immediately. On June 4, 1912, representatives from all the Dodecanese organized, in Patmos, a Pan-Dodecanese conference, deciding the creation of the autonomous "Aegean State" as a first step towards union with Greece, a move which pushed the Italians to harden their stance (proceeding to arrest the pioneers of the intended union with Greece. The era is turbulent with continuous developments and Italian foreign policy tries in every way to gain international footholds, in order to annex the islands, so it agrees with Turkey to cede them, and Turkey, in turn, to recognize Italian sovereignty in Libya. This arrangement is not carried out, due to the outbreak of the Balkan wars, from which Greece emerges doubled in size, without, however, succeeding in annexing the Dodecanese, as these placed under the temporary control of Italy, which acts as an international observer. It is a given that the Italians are delaying their diplomatic moves in order to settle the Dodecanese question in their favor, since they considered the islands necessary for their visions of maritime sovereignty in Mediterranean.

However, the ultimate goal of the local Italian authorities, as well as the Italian government, was the permanent occupation and annexation of the Dodecanese, as is evident from the treaty signed between Italy and Turkey (in Ouchy, Switzerland, in October 1912 with which the Dodecanese became a pledge of the Italians for their claims in North Africa against the Ottomans), but also by securing the possession of the islands by Italy, in the context of the secret treaty of London (1915), in order for it to join the side of the Entente forces in World War I and the treaties concluded in Paris reveal the contradictions that exist in the Allied camp, where powers with conflicting interests coexist such as Greece and Italy. The developments, at least at the beginning of the negotiations, seem to be favorable for Greece regarding the Dodecanese issue. On 7/16/1919, the Tittoni-Venizelou agreement is signed in Paris, which largely satisfies the Dodecanese demands: Italy cedes the islands to Greece, apart from Rhodes, which was to remain under Italian rule for another 5 years, until let its inhabitants decide by referendum if they wished for its union with Greece. The Treaty of Sèvres, signed by Eleftherios Venizelos in July/August 1920, vindicates the Greek positions, as - according to its provisions - Turkey renounced in favor of Italy all rights and titles over the Dodecanese, while with another special international treaty ("about the Dodecanese") Italy renounces in favor of Greece all its rights and titles over the islands. Italy, of course, still violates its signatures towards Greece, weakened by the war effort in Asia Minor, thus canceling the agreements. The rise of fascism in Italy gives further impetus to Italian imperialist views on marenostrum, regarding the Mediterranean area. The arrival, in 1936, of the Dodecanese as commander of De Vecchi, replacing the mild-mannered Mario Lago, is associated with the hardening of the Italian attitude towards the local population, as he implements an operation to alienate the islands: restriction of urban Greek schools, imposition of Italian as a language at all levels of education, teaching of Italian instead of Greek history, dismissal of Greek teachers, ban on the circulation of Greek publications. But the national spirit of the islanders is not shaken, on the contrary, it is strengthened, as we can see, with the formation of the Dodecanese Volunteer Regiment immediately after Italy's attack on Greece (from those who managed to escape from the islands) and its participation in the operations in Albania, while Dodecanisios is also the first Greek officer who falls in favor of the nation in this war (Lieutenant Alexandros Diakos on November 1, 1940). The fall of Mussolini on July 25 and the capitulation of the New Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio on September 8, 1943, also known as Arnistizio, marks dramatic developments in the Dodecanese, whose command is assumed by German general Ulrich Kleeman. The islands remained under German occupation until 1945, when they were handed over to the British on 8/5/1945. On 5/15/1945, the cruiser "Averof" arrives in Rhodes, where the archbishop of Athens and all Greece Damascenes (as the first Greek head of state, having the status of Viceroy) arrives in Rhodes. The British military administration lasted until 31/3/1947, when the islands were handed over to the representative of Greece, Vice-Admiral Ioannidis. On 9/1/1948, their official annexation to Greece took place with the passing of Law No. 518 by the 4th revising Parliament of the Hellenes (by which they were defined as "the islands of the Dodecanese Rhodes, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Astypalaia, Nisyros, Patmos, Chalki, Kasos, Symi, Kos, Leros, Tylos and Kastelorizon, as well as the adjacent islets, are annexed to the Greek state from October 28, 1947") and the establishment of the General Administration of the Dodecanese. On 7/3/1948 the King of the Greeks Paul and Queen Frederica arrive in Rhodes, accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister Konstantinos Tsaldaris, ministers, military and other officials, validating and formalizing the integration of the Dodecanese into the Greek state.
Footnote: 1. Kastellorizo was not occupied by the Italians in 1912, but came under French rule in the period 1915-1921, when the French also ceded it - by agreement - to the Italians.

Bibliography Loukatos Spyridon, "Dodecanese", History of the Greek Nation, vol. IE', Athens 1978, pp. 460-472. *Fotakis Zisis, "The Greek Naval Race 1840-1944: the historical context, its stations and components", "World events" volumes (2)