Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Principate of Pindus, Vlach "Roman Legion "

Purpose of this thread is to gather any information regarding the actions of the known as "Principate of Pindus" Italian fascists’ movement. Nazi occupation in Greece as - elsewhere in Europe - led to a complete breakdown of state and society. During the war, the Axis powers had attempted to stir up ethnic discord in Greece, but with relatively little success. Italians had tried to promote a Vlach "Roman Legion" in Central and North Greece Bulgarians had encouraged Macedonian autonomists the known Ochranain the Kastoria area.Italians and Germans in Epiros, in northwestern Greece, both had tried to build up a 5th column among the Muslim Albanians (Chams) around Filiates.

Wartime Italian propaganda had, for its part, talked freely of a Koutsovlach minority and the need to create an autonomous Koutsovlach state. This particular form of propaganda had been stronger in Thessaly, where the notorious Alkibiades Diamandis was active, but it also affected Macedonia after it gained supporters in theprefecture of Grevena. Diamandis, a pro-Italian lawyer from Samarina, had rallied local leaders in 1942 and, in collaboration with the Italians, established a 5th column known as the Roman Legion. His ultimate aim had been to create a so-called Principate of the Pindus.lu On hearing Diamandis's manifesto, and indeed, motivated by the prospect of immediate material gain, a small number of the Vlach-speakers in Grevena had been moved to follow him and declare fealty to the Italian occupiers.

Linguistic affinity, real grievances and opportunism made a nunlber of the northern Pindus Vlachs 5usceptible to Italian propaganda for the establishment of an autonornous Vlach principality under Italian rule.

Greece has died and the Ronian Empire is born,' declared the pro-Italian Vlachs of Grevena where they welcomed the Italian troops in April 1941. The prospect of autonomy, but even more the expectation of satisfying more inmiediate needs, made many Vlachs of the region offer to collaborate with the Italian authorities.

However, the vast majority of the Vlachs had remained loyal to Greece, despite the legionaries' pressure, and this prevented the issue from assuming greater proportions in Macedonia.

Evangelos Averoff ( Greek Former Minister), himself a Vlach and a student of the Vlach question, maintained that the reason for the negligible response of the Pindus Vlachs in Metsovo to the calls of Italian propagandists for the establishment of an independent Vlach principality under Italian protection was their long identification with the modern Greek national state. Averoff was active during the occupation of the region by the Italians in trying to keep prominent Vlach families from associating with the Italian authorities. As a result, he was deported to Italy, where he was kept hostage till the liberation.

The 1st prince of this “Principality” was the Aromanian Alchiviad Diamandi di Samarina, who established his court. He left the state in 1942, and took refuge in Romania, and his successor for a very short time was Nicholas Matoussi, before the title was offered to the Milvanyi family in recognition for their role in supplying the Italian Army with cereals.

Gyula von Milványi-Csesznegi was a Hungarian-Croatian baron of Pecheneg origin and he was convinced that the Vlachs of the Moglena valley were descendants of medieval Pecheneg tribes.

He reigned as Prince Julius between August-September in 1943, did not hold any real power, and his brother Michael never set foot on the territory of the state. Nevertheless, some Aromanian and Slav Macedonian leaders governed in their names.

In 1944 the Nazi German authorities recognized M. Hatzi as leader of their Aromanian supporters.

In 1942 a faction of Bulgarian (VMRO) offered the “Royal” throne of Macedonia to Alkiviadis, but there is no evidence whether he accepted it. Alchibiades was a patron of the arts and an amateur sculptor himself .

Triple Occupatίon swept away old structures αnd changed the entίre landscape. It forced υpon in Greece and generally in whole occupied Europe α regime whose brutality it had ίnflicted οη other contίnents, but had not expected to suffer at home. The shock caused established systems of rule and thought to disintegrate. Ιn this way Nazi-Fasist rule acted as the catalyst for α serίes of unpredictable political and social reactions.That's why we have this Italian Fashist movement and the influence adversely some Vlachs.

As Mazower quoted
Nowhere perhaps were the consequences more tragic than Greece where occupation merged almost imperceptibly with a civil war whίch devastated the country till the end of the 1940s.

  1. Zambounis, Michael - Kings and Princes of Greece, Athens 2001
  2. Papakonstantinou Michael: Το Χρονικό της μεγάλης νύχτας
  3. Divani Lena: Το θνησιγενές πριγκιπάτο της Πίνδου. Γιατί δεν ανταποκρίθηκαν οι Κουτσόβλαχοι της Ελλάδας, στην Ιταλο-ρουμανική προπαγάνδα.
  4. When the war is over, Mark Mazower
  5. Plundered Loyalities, Ioannis Kolliopoulos, 1999


  1. very interesting . i am "haunting" notices on this unit ( composition, uniforms etc), but i found anything . have you any photo of Diamandi and of the memmber of his "Legion"?

  2. Paolo I dont have any pictures of Diamandi or the Legeon. According Koliopoulos the armed members were 400-450 in 2000 total sum. Propably the armory came from the Greek army depot because some other Units that coloborated with the occupying forces use equipment from those depot. We talk for 1941 and 1942 years only.

  3. thanks .
    a friend of mine , some years ago ,in Rome,was able to speek with a veteran of the legion. He tell they have a standard grey green uniform of italian army , with no stars at the collet ( this is a distintion for Italians only). unic distintion was , no the front of sidecap a red double ^with belove a metallic roman number I, probabily becausea are the first ( and unic ) "cohoort" of the Legion .
    I know in Greece was write a Book on this By stavros Papagiannis , " Ta paidà tis likainas" ( sorry for my greek , i only know a bit of old greek from hiht shool). Have you reed this book?

  4. I dont have read the specific book (Wolf children. The descendants of the 5th Roman Legion during the occupation 1941-1944) Paolo.
    The specific historical issue in Greece consider as a spot in the whole view regarding the WWII occupation era. Dont forget that the Vlachs - first of all - expelled theirs co-speakers that commited crimes (treason and common)and consider them as enemy of the Greeks.

    Koliopoulos suggest two Greek works:

    -Koutsovlach Question, a book by Evangelos Averov
    -"The Vlachs of Greece and the Italo-Romanian propaganda", a academaic essay by Lena Divani.


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