Professor Tsamatos submits important elements of the research by pointing out that intolerant nationalism, with messianic ideas, extravagant bigotry, and with many phobic syndromes for its followers, is the path that always leads to bloody impasses and painful accounts
“After Mussolini’s rise to power, Italy’s diplomatic, and not only, involvement evolved into an uncharacteristically hostile attitude towards our country, which, many times, went through gross propaganda actions, but also open challenges, which only the sonorous Latin term provocation, could render’. These are the words of the professor emeritus of the Mathematics Department at the University of Ioannina, Panagiotis Tsamatou, who has done a substantial research through diplomatic archives and historical sources, on the geopolitical landscape in the region shortly before the Italian invasion.
Professor Tsamatos submits to the Athens Agency, important elements of the research by pointing out that intolerant nationalism, with messianic ideas, extravagant bigotry, and with many phobic syndromes for its followers, is the path that always leads to bloody dead ends and painful accounts.
Since the declaration of the Albanian state in 1912 and throughout the interwar period, Italy’s intervention in the relations between Albania and Greece has always been decisive, says Mr. Tsamatos and continues by referring to challenges, less well known, from the torpedoing of Helli or the bombing of Greek ships.
“The episodic process of drawing the Greek-Albanian border, with the assassination of General Telini and the bombardment and occupation of Corfu, on August 31, 1923, is the first and absolutely indicative sample of writing the new fascist regime in Italy.
Then came the issue of whether or not the Chams should be included in the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, where Italy had continuous diplomatic interventions, until finally, in 1926, the Chams were classified as an Albanian minority and remained in Greece.
In the final stretch of this period, from 1938 onwards, and to prepare and shape the climate of the attack of October 28, 1940, propaganda and provocations became a daily practice of Italian foreign policy towards our country. During this period, in the dark offices of the fascist party officials, ruthless and cynical plans were drawn up and implemented.
With the occupation of Albania by Italy, in April 1939, Italy’s intentions towards Greece now become perfectly clear. Italy, in the role of protector of the Albanians everywhere in the Balkans, is becoming more and more brutal in its behavior every day. The redemptive moods of the Muslim Chams of Thesprotia were systematically cultivated for years and, from one point on, were used as a propaganda vehicle to justify Italy’s attack on Greece.
An important member of the Italian fascist party, who played a leading role in the preparation of the Italian attack on Greece on October 28, 1940, was Francesco Giacomoni.
Giacomoni was born in Rigio, Calabria in 1893. He served as Italy’s Inspector General in Albania from 1939 and during the Italian invasion of Greece.
Characteristic examples of the way things, facts and situations are evaluated by the highest leadership of fascist Italy, are some excerpts from the Minutes of the Meeting at Palazzo Venezia on 15-10-1940, in the presence of Mussolini”.
When reading these minutes, comments Mr. Panagiotis Tsamatos, one wonders if the distortion of reality, as it emerges through the dialogues, is the result of misinformation or their willful obsession, in a fictitious image that they themselves had created and were competing with each other, who he will outbid her more in order to gain a greater share of the Duce’s favor.
Specifying the actions for the provocations decided at the meeting in the Palazzo Venezia, Giacomoni writes to the Undersecretary of Albanian Affairs Benini, from Tirana on 19-10-1940.
“…I am preparing Albanian elements, verified courageously, especially Tsamuriites, who will have the mission to secretly enter Greek territory and at the time when our army will march, to commit with the help of their friends beyond the borders, the following acts:
a) destruction of telephone and telegraph wires.
b) elimination of outposts and observatories along transport lines.
c) disarmament of the gendarmes
d) firing shots into the backs of the fighting Greeks….
I have drawn up with His Excellency Commander-in-Chief Visconti Prasca the details of the events that will have to take place before X-day to justify our lightning military intervention….”
Meanwhile, the original date for the attack on Greece, which was October 26, is being pushed back to October 28 to coincide, among other things, with the anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome, the famous “Marcia su Roma” of 28-10-1922.
Ciano from Rome on 22-10-1940, with a secret message, informs the observer Giacomoni in Tirana: “… The appointed date is October 28. You must therefore proceed to the known episodes on the 26th. However, if you find that it is too late to delay the actions of the agents, do not be too dark.”
The next day, 23-10-1940, Giacomoni reports, to the undersecretary of Albanian Affairs, Benini: “I was informed of the postponement of the date of the start of hostilities to October 28, therefore, in consultation with the Supreme Headquarters, I took actions, in order to achieve the expected known episodes, on the appointed dates 25, 26 and 27, especially the following:
A bomb explosion in the port of Eda (Agioi Saranda), on the night of October 26th. on the 27th in the morning.”
Then, says Professor Tsamatos, he takes over the Stefani Agency, “a well-known crucible of false news and propaganda”, which broadcasts from Tirana on 10-26-1940. “A group of Greeks, armed with rifles and grenades, attacked an Albanian border post in the area of Kortsa…. The timely reaction of the Albanian patrol and the subsequent intervention of other Albanian units contributed to repelling the group that had managed to enter Albanian territory. Six of the attacking Greeks were captured. The losses of the Albanians are two dead and three wounded. Last night, three bombs exploded in the area of the headquarters of the Italian observatory in Porto-Eda. The Greek or English perpetrators of the attempt are persistently sought by the authorities.”
The Greek denial was a catalyst, but that was of no importance. The noise had been made. In addition to the agency “Stefani” and the Albanian newspaper “Tomori”, it was at the forefront of the propaganda war against Greece during the same period. In a report of the Greek Embassy in Rome on 27-8-1940, extensive reference is made to the publications of this newspaper. In its front pages of those days, there is talk of “bloody brutality”, at the expense of the Muslims of Thesprotia. Also, information is published, according to which “80 prominent Albanians of a certain village were summoned to a church, where the Greek elders burned them alive”.
An important role in the propaganda war was also played by the radio stations of Bari and Tirana, as well as Argyrokastro, later. Their range reached as far as Ioannina. Artful and covert propaganda of Barry’s broadcasts, revealing the Argyrokastro station, which was a creation of Giacomoni and who reports to Ciano, on 17-8-1940, that: “I made available the small portable station they had in Tirana, with a beam action 250 km and I installed it in Argyrokastro, where I intend to install the propaganda center around Tsamouria. »
The Greek ambassador in Rome, Georgios Exintaris, sending in 1945, the minutes of the trial of the Italians responsible for the defeat, among the defendants and Giacomoni, to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other things states:
“The Albanians took an active part in the fight despite being on the side of the Axis, with parts of their army, both regular and volunteer, as well as gangs. 14 battalions of the regular Albanian army took part, 3,500 volunteers consisting of gang members and black-shirted Albanian battalions (Albanian Fascist Militia), whose head, General Alessandro Biscacianti, awarded the Golden Palm of Italy, delivered a hymn from the Radio Station uh of Tirana on September 18, 1941 “for the heroism and self-sacrifice of the Albanian Militia”.
The said trial of the first-timers of Italy’s military defeat, notes Mr. Tsamatos, was given special emphasis in a multi-page report of the Italian Military Intelligence Service, on which the whole project was supposed to be based. From this report, it emerged that the Greek people would not resist the Italians and that the country would surrender without a fight.
Concluding the interview, the professor underlines, “arrogant and intoxicated by the arrogance of the “8 million spears”, they could not understand the power of the Greek people, to preserve their collective dignity”.
The dear price of our small country, in the sick bigotry of Mussolini and his company, was 13,500 dead Greeks and about 50,000 wounded and with frostbite.
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