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Roman Legion (1941–43)

  (Redirected from Vlach "Roman Legion")
In dark green the area that was probably the "Principality of Pindus" ruled by the Roman Legion


The "Roman Legion" or Vlach "Roman Legion" or Vlach Legion (as it is mentioned in some cases in later bibliography) is the name used by the political and paramilitary organization created by Alcibiades Diamandi, a Vlach from Samarina who served as agent of Italy and Romania.[1]

Contents

HistoryEdit

Diamandi was active in the Greek regions of Thessaly and Macedonia during World War II, supporting the Italian and German occupation forces and promoting the creation of an autonomous Vlach state, envisioned as a "Principality of the Pindus", a name also used for a similar attempt in 1917, in which Diamanti had also been involved. Calling himself a leader and "Representative of the Vlachs of the Lower Balkans", Diamanti established a "Roman Legion" -made of nearly 1,000 "legionaries"- and helped the Italian forces to control the area and in the collection of weapons that the Greeks had hidden after the surrender of the Greek Army.

A "Vlach Parliament" (protected by the Roman Legion) was summoned by Diamandi in Metsovo (Aminciu in Aromanian) in late 1941, but no laws were adopted—since the reunion was not official: the Italians were not keen on sharing power in the region.

Diamandi hoped for the creation of a state (with capital Trikala) that would encompass all of north-western Greece. The Pindus region also spans southern parts of present-day Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but the "Principality" was restricted to the areas under Greek rule. Diamandi also met the Greek collaborationist Prime Minister, Georgios Tsolakoglou, but Tsolakoglou refused to accommodate his demands.

In early 1942 a faction of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) offered the throne of Macedonia to Diamandi, but there is no evidence as to whether he accepted it, however, his last successor, "Julius I", was always styled as Voivode of Macedonia. Diamandi eventually left the state in summer 1942, and took refuge in Romania because in the eyes of local Aromanians he was rather pro-Italian than pro-Aromanian, while the Italians considered him a Romanian agent. His successor for a very short time was Nicola Matushi, who tried to find a modus vivendi with the Greek leaders, but without success. From mid-1942 on, the armed Greek Resistance also made its presence felt, fighting against the Italians and their collaborators of the Roman Legion.

Diamanti left Greece by the end of summer of 1942 for Romania and Nicholas Matousis, a Vlach lawyer, already active as second-in-command, replaced him in the organization. Another important figure in the Legion was the Aromanian Vasil Rapotika (Vassilis Rapotikas) who was leading the paramilitary units.

In early 1943 the Italians with the support of the Roman Legion offered the vacant title of "Prince of Pindus" to the Cseszneky family, probably in recognition for their role in supplying the Italian Army with cereals. Gyula Cseszneky was a Hungarian-Croatian baron[2] in Italian service, who only nominally reigned as Voivode Julius[3] between August-September in 1943, but never actually assumed power, although some local autonomist Bulgarian-Macedonian leaders governed in his name. Whatever authority the Principality exercised, it practically ceased to exist after the Italian capitulation in September 1943, when the area was taken over by the Germans.

After some action from some resistance groups (ELAS) against members of the Legion,[4] and the withdrawal of Italian forces, the Legion ceased to exist in September 1943, while Matousis fled to Athens.

The fate of the leading figures and the members of the Legion:

  • Alcibiades Diamandi left for Romania in 1942, where he was later jailed when the Allies won and the new Communist government took power. He died in jail in Romania in 1948[5]. In Greece he had been condemned to death from the Special Collaborationist Courts (Ειδικά Δικαστήρια Δοσιλόγων) set up in 1945–47.
  • Nikolaos Matoussis also left Greece for Romania, one year later in 1943. He was also jailed and has been given to the hands of Greek authorities in 1964. In Greece, he started to serve his sentence, given to him in absentia, from the Special Treason Court after the war, but asked for re-trial and was found not guilty (at the time, several people were given pardon for their crimes, if they could demonstrate that they were not communists - so being jailed in a communist country, he had a certain good-faith testimony). He was released and in his civil rights were completely restored by a Greek court. Up to his death, in 1981, he lived in Athens.
  • Vassilis Rapotikas was captured by ELAS and was killed on the way to ELAS headquarters in end of May or on the beginning of June 1943[6]
  • The members of the Roman Legion who did not flee to Romania were tried in the Treason Courts set up in 1945-47 and were sentenced. 617 people were accused, 152 were found guilty, 91 of which did not receive a sentence since they were already in prison sentenced for treason in other cases and for 55 there was no continuation due to their death (many of them killed by the Resistance). 319 were found innocent.[7]

Leaders of the "Roman Legion"Edit

SourcesEdit

  • Τα παιδιά της λύκαινας. Οι "επίγονοι" της 5ης Ρωμαϊκής Λεγεώνας κατά τη διάρκεια της Κατοχής (1941–1944) (The children of the she-wolf, the "descendants" of the 5th Roman Legion during the period of the Occupation of Greece) (1941–1944), Σταύρος Παπαγιάννης (Stavros Papayiannis), Εκδόσεις Σοκόλη. ISBN 978-960-7210-71-5, 1999, 2004

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Οι Κουτσόβλαχοι, Εθνολογική και λαογραφική μελέτη, Α. Κολτσίδας (Antones Mich Koltsidas), 1976, σελ. 115 «...στον πράκτορα των ιταλορουμανικών συμφερόντων Αλκιβιάδη Διαμάντη»[1]
  2. ^ Hungarian Aristocracy - Barons
  3. ^ Regnal Chronologies: Northern Greece Archived 2009-06-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ British Reports on Greece 1943-1944, John Melior Stevens, Christopher Montague Woodhouse, David John Wallace, Lars Bærentzen, Museum Tusculanum Press, 1982, pp. 36-37
  5. ^ Victimele terorii comuniste. Arestaţi, torturaţi, întemniţaţi, ucişi. Dicţionar D-E, Vol.3: Dicţionar D-E, Lucrare revizuită de dr. Mihaela Andreiovici. Editura Maşina de scris, 2002, p. 73
  6. ^ Σταύρος Παπαγιάννης (Stavros Papayiannis), ISBN 978-960-7210-71-5, 1999, 2004, p. 183
  7. ^ Τα παιδιά της λύκαινας. Οι "επίγονοι" της 5ης Ρωμαϊκής Λεγεώνας κατά τη διάρκεια της Κατοχής (1941-1944), (The children of the she-wolf, the "descendants" of the 5th Roman Legion during the period of the Occupation of Greece) (1941–1944), Σταύρος Παπαγιάννης (Stavros Papayiannis), Εκδόσεις Σοκόλη. ISBN 978-960-7210-71-5, 1999, 2004, p. 434