Wednesday, May 4, 2016
When Italy Returned to Rhodes
Rhodes was then grouped with other islands in the area as part of the Isole italiane dell’Egeo or ‘Italian Islands of the Aegean’ in terms of their colonial administration. The original intent of the islands was to serve as a strategic stepping stone for further Italian expansion as part of what had been the Allied plan for the partition of Turkey which ultimately never came about. Italian naval bases were established in the islands and they would ultimately play a part in World War II but there was never any further expansion at the expense of Turkey. Early on the islands were under military rule but later a civilian administration was established. In the beginning of the period of Italian rule, multiculturalism of a sort prevailed with all ethnic and religious communities existing as they always had other than that the preeminence of the Muslims was removed. All of that changed, however, with the appointment of Cesare De Vecchi, Count of Val Cismon, was appointed governor in 1936, serving until 1940.
In the end, Italian rule over Rhodes lasted until 1943 when Marshal Badoglio arranged an armistice with the Allies. Italian armed forces were taken by surprise with this turn of events and the British and Germans both hoped to take control of Rhodes for the benefit of their own forces. The Germans, being closer at hand, arrived first and Admiral Inigo Campioni had to decide witch side to support. He chose to remain loyal to the government of King Vittorio Emanuele III and so Italian forces did their best to defend the islands from the German onslaught. At first, the fight went rather well but the surrender of Italian forces in Greece left the islands isolated and the British were in no position to support them in their resistance to the German attack. Finally, Admiral Campioni decided to surrender which caused no small amount of confusion given that Italian forces had been so successful in numerous areas. When word first filtered down, some assumed that it must have been the Germans who were to surrender to the Italians only to discover later that it was they who would have to give up.