Histrory

 

The Times of Myth

This lovely island despite being small in size has indeed a long mythology which dates back to the ancient times. According to legend, Symi is known as being the birthplace of the three Graces (Charites), which include from the youngest to the oldest – Aglaea (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer).

However, the origins of Symi’s first inhabitants are known to us through myth and tradition. According to myth, Pontios was the first settler who came to Symi after misinterpreting an oracle given to him by the priestess of Delphi, Pythoness. She told him, “Pantes oikisousi sy, mi”, which means anybody can inhabit this island except you. Pontios thought she meant everybody should inhabit Symi. Three days after his arrival, Pontios met his death when a strong earthquake shook the island. After whom the island was named Metapontis.

In Another version, Diodorus Siculus (60-30 BC) claims that the island gained its current name from the nymph Syme who married Poseidon and gave birth to Chthonios. Her son became the leader of its first inhabitants, who originally came from Thessaly.

Yet, in another version, Eustathios of Thessalonica (1115-1195 AD), assumes that the island got its name from Glaukos who was a notable swimmer, diver, navigator and shipbuilder from Argos. He named the island after his wife with whom he came from the Carian (modern day Bodrum, Turkey) coast to settle on Symi. For this, it is postulated that the island’s first inhabitants were the Carians and the Leleges.

Pliny the elder (23 – 79 AD) and Cristoforo Buondelmonti (1385 – 1430 AD) derive that the name Symi comes from the Titan Prometheus, son of Iapetos and Themis, whom also came to the coast of the island, having stolen the creation of man from clay and the fire from the Gods and giving it to man. He taught the inhabitants how to live longer and this caused the wrath of Zeus. To punish Prometheus, Zeus transformed him to a monkey, a “Scimmia” or “mimo”.

Homer (671 – 675 BC) also mentions Symi in the Iliad for their participation in the Trojan War (1194–1184 BC)

“Nireus from Symi brings three ships

Nireus the son of Aglaea by Charopus,

Nireus, in beauty, if Peleus’s son was not there

Would be the handsomest of all the Danaans,

But he was not battle-hardened and had only a few men ”

Nireus, son of king Charopus and Aglaea, was king of the island and one of the Danaaan leaders in the Trojan War. He was renowned for his outstanding beauty, being described as the second most handsome man in the Greek camp after Achilles. Nireus was among the suitors of Helen and consequently joined in the campaign against Troy he was said to have commanded three ships. In the military conflict with the Mysian king Telephus, which occurred on the way to Troy (during the first unsuccessful attempt to reach the city), Nireus killed Telephus’ wife Hiera, who fought from a chariot “like an Amazon”. Nireus did not excel in physical strength and was eventually killed by either Eurypylus, son of Telephus or Aeneas.

After the death of Nireus and the end of the Trojan War, Symi passed to the Carians who plundered and destroyed the island before they abandoned it. Although Symi knew many times of depressions as well as prosperities, it never stopped building ships and being involved with sailing and trade. Just like the mythical Glaukos. The Symiots until today, considered him as a prototype and taking after him managed to reach his competencies and long life.

Before 2000 BC

The Dodecanese have been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the Neopalatial period on Crete, the islands were heavily Minoanized (second millennium BC). Visiting the Acropolis (Kastro) in Symi remains of Pelasgic walls still exist previously occupied by the Carians (modern Bodrum, Turkey) before they abandoned it. The Pelasgians seemed to have inhabited the island long before 2000 BC, whom seem to have come also from Asia Minor and other Aegean Islands.

1400 BC

Following the downfall of the Minoans / Pelasgians, the islands were ruled by the Mycenaean Greeks. Mycenaean remains have also been found on the Acropolis of Symi (Kastro), which dates through the Mycenaean civilization (1600 – 1100 BC).

1100 BC

From the 11th century BC and onwards, it is known that the Dorians arrived on the island. They came from north and north-western Greece, Macedonia and Epirus. Pushing south through central Greece, the Peloponnese and then into the Aegean islands. The Symiots of today are undoubted descendents of Dorian Greeks. Symiaka, the local dialect, preserves many Doric forms and, as such is studied by linguists. Standard formal Greek tends to be based on the ancient Attic dialect of Athens and Attica. It is in the Dorian period that they began to prosper as an independent entity, developing a thriving economy and culture through the following centuries

Archaic Period

The first historical reference about Symi is made by the great Greek historian Herodotus who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern day Bodrum, Turkey) and lived in the 5th century BC (484 – 425 BC).

6th century BC

Herodotus reports that the island was a member of the Dorian Hexapolis, (6th century BC), a religious and political federation of six cities which included Cnidus (Knidos), Rhodes (Ialisos, Kamiros, Lindos) and Kos. The center of this federation was the temple of Poseidon at the Triopion cape (after Triopas, the legendary founder of Knidos).

499 BC

This development was interrupted by the Persian Wars, during which the islands were captured by the Persians for a brief period. Following the defeat of the Persians by the Athenians

480 BC

After the battle of Salamis in 480 BC, Symi was under the control of the Athenian League and Symi was used as a naval base and as an arsenal repository.

478 BC

Symi joined the Athenian-dominated Delian League.

431 BC

The Peloponnesian War broke out; they remained largely neutral although they were still members of the League.

411 BC

The Battle of Symi took place between Sparta and Athens. The Spartans then, made an alliance with Persia. The alliance was made by Therimenes, who handed the Spartan fleet over to Astyochus once the negotiations were complete; Therimenes later drowned at sea. Astyochus was instructed to sail to Cnidus to meet up with twenty-seven ships from Caunus, equipped for them by the Persians. Meanwhile, the Athenian fleet was stationed at Samos under the command of Charminus. Charminus knew the Spartans were coming, having been informed by the Melians, and prepared to meet Astyochus at Syme.

The fleets met during a storm, with poor visibility, and after many of the Spartan ships had become separated from the main fleet. With about twenty ships Charminus battled with the Spartan left wing, the only portion visible to him, and sank three ships. However, the rest of the Spartan fleet then arrived and surrounded the Athenians. Charminus retreated to Halicarnassus after losing six ships. The rest of the Athenian fleet came out from Samos and sailed to Cnidus, but neither side was willing to fight another battle. It is also noted that the Rhodian leader Dorieus sided with the Spartans and supported their fleet against the Athenians.

It is also mentioned that after the defeat of the Athenian fleet by the Spartans a victory monument was erected in Symi, but its location still remains unknown. It has been suggested that the stone circle at the top of the line of windmills, accounts for this; however, it is still disputed.

408 BC

In 408 BC, aiming to best serve the interests of his homeland, Dorieus withdrew from the Athenian Confederacy. The island’s fame was to be further promoted, when settlers from Ialyssos, Kamiros and Lindos jointly founded the city of Rhodes, on an orthogonal grid plan, in the Hippodameian manner. The three cities of Rhodes united to form one state, which built a new capital on the northern end of the island, also named Rhodes; this united Rhodes was to dominate the region for the coming millennia. Other islands in the Dodecanese also developed into significant economic and cultural centers; most notably, Kos served as the site of the school of medicine founded by Hippocrates.

404 BC

The Peloponnesian War ended; the Dodecanese were mostly removed from the larger Aegean conflicts, and had begun a period of relative quiet and prosperity.

357 BC

However, the Peloponnesian War had so weakened the entire Greek civilization’s military strength that it lay open to invasion. The islands were conquered by the king Mausolus of Caria.

340 BC

The Dodecanese islands were conquered by the Persians.

332 BC

Alexander the Great swept through and defeated the Persians in, to the great relief of the islands’ inhabitants, and they became part of the rapidly growing Macedonian Empire.

323 BC

Alexander the Great dies, without having time to put into place any plans for his succession. Fighting broke out among his generals, the Diadochi, with three of them eventually divides up much of his empire in the Mediterranean area. During the fighting Rhodes had sided with Ptolemy, and when Ptolemy eventually took control of Egypt, Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt, together they formed the Rhodo-Egyptian alliance which controlled trade throughout the Aegean. Led by Rhodes, the islands developed into maritime, commercial and cultural centers: coins of Rhodes circulated almost everywhere in the Mediterranean, and the islands’ schools of philosophy, literature and rhetoric become famous.

305 BC

Another of Alexander’s generals, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, was upset by this turn of events. He sends his son Demetrius Poliorcetes, also a general; to invade Rhodes with an army of 40,000. However, the city was well defended, and Demetrius—whose name “Poliorcetes” signifies the “besieger of cities”—had to start construction of a number of massive siege towers in order to gain access to the walls. The first was mounted on six ships, but these were capsized in a storm before they could be used. He tried again with a larger, land-based tower named Helepolis, but the Rhodian defenders stopped this by flooding the land in front of the walls so that the rolling tower could not move.

304 BC

A relief force of ships sent by Ptolemy arrived, and Demetrius’ army abandoned the siege, leaving most of their siege equipment. To celebrate their victory, the Rhodians sold all of the siege equipment that Demetrius left behind for 300 talents and decided to build a colossal statue of their patron god, Helios.

292 BC

After 12 years, in 280 BC the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant statue of the Greek god Helios, was finally erected on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos, a student of sculptor Lysippos. Even until today it is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus of Rhodes stood 34 meters tall, almost the same as the statue of liberty today, making it the tallest statues of the ancient world.

224 BC

The Colossus was destroyed by an earthquake!

164 BC Early Roman times

Rhodes signed a treaty with Rome, and the islands became aligned to greater or lesser extent with the Roman Empire while mostly maintaining their autonomy. Rhodes quickly became a major schooling center for Roman noble families, and, as the islands (and particularly Rhodes) were important allies of Rome, they enjoyed numerous privileges and generally friendly relations. These were eventually lost in 42 BC, in the turmoil following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, after which Cassius invaded and sacked the islands. Thereafter, they became part of the Roman Empire proper. Titus made Rhodes capital of the Provincia Insularum, and eventually the islands were joined with Crete as part of the 18th Province of the Roman Empire.

Evidence of the Roman occupation can be seen at Nimborios (Emborios) in the form of a Roman floor mosaic and the early Christian Basilica. The original basilica was a vast structure which now has on its ground plan two much smaller successor churches plus the mosaic which was almost certainly part of the floor of the basilica.

The Romans were the major power here from the 1st century BC till the mid 4th century AD when they split their empire between the western section, (Rome) and the eastern, (Byzantium). More evidence can be found at the Symi Folk Museum, upper Horio in the parish of Agia Triada. These artifacts, including pedestals and sculptures, have been collected from all around the island.

Byzantine times

In the 1st century, Saint Paul visited the islands twice, and Saint John visited numerous times; they succeeded in converting the islands to Christianity, placing them among the first dominantly Christian regions. Saint John eventually came to reside among them, being exiled to Patmos, where he wrote his famous Revelation.

In Symi at the Kastro, at the bottom of the final slope you will see the last remaining evidence of a Byzantine wall. This consists of flat large, dark grey boulders.

1204

Constantinople was conquered by the Franks. The governor of Rhodes, Leon Gavalos, made himself Caesar and created his own independent state (in which Symi was also included) which had its headquaters on Rhodes

1224

Byzantine fleet of the emperor John Vatatzes, led by the great domestikos Andronicus Palaeologus, conquered Rhodes.

1261

Symi came under the jurisdiction of the Nicaean Empire, with the occupation of Constantinople by Michael VIII Palaeologus, it was again part of the Byzantine state.

1278

The governor of Rhodes, Krivikiotis, gave Rhodes and the surrounding islands to the corsair Delkavo of Genoa.

1282

Genoan admiral of the Byzantine Empire, Andronicus Palaeologus, received, together with his brother Ludovicus, the island as a reward for halting the Turks and Catalans.

1309

Rhodes and the other islands of the Dodecanese, except Karpathos, Kassos and Patmos, were conquered by knights of St John. Under the regime of the knights’ occupation, Symi had many privileges; it was self-governed and its inhabitants made progress in shipbuilding, shipping and trade. They had only to pay a tax to the battalion which was known as an ‘mortuario epitaph’ and which, in 1353, reached the sum of 500 Turkish aspra (silver farthings). Evidence of the occupation of the Knights of St John can be seen on ‘the iron gate’, the original entrance to the Kastro fortification. You will see here the coat of arms, on a marble plaque, of the Grand Master D’Amboise (1503 to 1512) and, on the blue and white church inside the Kastro grounds, stone plaques showing the coat of arms of the hospitaller order and those of other Grand Masters.

1444, 1480

Barricaded within this fortified kastro and despite their disadvantage in numbers, the Symiots were able to repel invasions by the Sultan of Egypt in 1444 and Mehmed II in 1480. Finally, however, the citadel at Rhodes fell to the large army of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1522, and the other islands were overrun within the year. The few remaining Knights fled to Malta.

1522 Ottoman Rule

The Dodecanese formed the Vilayet of the islands. It secured important privileges from Suleiman the Magnificent. With a firman, or edict, which he brought out in 1523, the island was paying every year an amount of money known as a ‘maktou’, and was free from paying any other tax, which the inhabitants of all other regions of the empire had to pay. Symi also enjoyed autonomy and self- government. All the administrative, judicial and economic powers, notes Alexandras Karanikolas, were performed by the regional elders -the oldest man (also known as the proestos, or chief) and twelve counselors- these were elected every year from the people of the island in a public gathering and were selected from, in particular, the mayor, registrars, justices of the peace, notaries, market inspectors, tax collectors and cashiers. Once elected, they were also responsible for the organization and administration of the educational and public health systems and for building and maintaining the ports and all other public works and buildings. These guarantees, combined with a strategic location at the crossroads of Mediterranean shipping, allowed the islands to prosper.

In 1755, with the firman of Osman III, the annual tax of Symi (and also that of Nisyros) was set at 60,000 aspra. On top of this, the regional elders of Symi paid 30 piastres every month to the Ottoman overseer who, he, had no particular responsibility but was merely a sign of the Turkish occupation on the island. The privileges which Symi and the other Dodecanese (or south Sporades) enjoyed, were renewed with various firmans brought out by a number of different rulers: Mehmed IV in 1652, Ahmed III in 1721, Osman III in 1755, Abdulhamid I (two) in 1774 and 1775, Selim III in 1806, and, in 1813, Mahmud II. It is said that the Symiots obtained their privileges by offering Suleiman the Magnificent bread, sponges and other goods, for which the island was famous.

During these years, the people of Symi were known for the construction of fast ships (simbequirs); a fact which led the Ottoman Empire to call them ‘Simbekild’. They were distinguished in the maritime profession and in sea fishing and sponge diving, and were able to obtain the sponges, without problem, from every sea within the empire. In addition, the port of Symi was declared free for the services which the Symiots offered of transporting the Ottoman post in a very short space of time. Stochove, a Flemish traveller who visited Symi in 1630, informs us that the Symiot ships were unbeatable as far as speed was concerned, had 9 benches and fast oarsmen, very good construction and skillful sailors at the sails. He also tells us that they confronted, courageously, the corsairs because they were fearless. When they were still children they learned to dive to a depth of 20 fathoms and to stay for a long time on the bottom of the sea from where they took the valuable fruits, the sponges, for which they gained much wealth. Six years later, the English traveller, Henry Blount, came to the island. Known as ‘Socrates of the 17th century’, he mentions something about a very strict diet for the men which they endured from a very young age in order to stay fit and supple and allow themselves to more easily fish for sponges and stay for a long time under the sea. Some of the men reached a depth of 100 fathoms and were the most coveted grooms.

The Symiots prospered and brought to their homes goods and expensive items from different ports of Europe, mainly from Italy. They took great care of their houses and there still exist on Symi excellent examples of the local architecture which have very well-preserved decoration, painted walls and ceilings, and pebbled courtyards with beautiful designs of plants and geometric patterns, As well as their houses, however, they also looked after their chapels and monasteries.

In the 18th century a school of hagiography was flourishing on the island and Symiot artists, like Gregorius the Symiot, the hiero-monk Neophytus the Symiot and others, were highly sought after and met the needs of the surrounding islands from Nisyros and Tilos to Rhodes and Karpathos. During the same period {1765 -1821), a school was flourishing on Symi in the location of Agia Marina where today the graveyard of Chorio can be found. The school was known as the ‘Museum of the Symiot Land’ and it employed many eminent teachers and had students such as Konstantinos Vardalachos. The oldest reading room of the Aegean, named ‘Aigli’, also functioned on Symi and was founded in 1872. In 1874 it brought out a year-book covering the intervening years 1872 and 1873. An indication of the prosperity of the island can be found in the elaborate icon of the Second Coming created by the famous Cretan painter Georgios Klontzas, in the second half of the 16th century, which is preserved in the Megali Panagia of Kastro.

The Revolution of 1821

Although sympathies of the overwhelmingly Greek population (only Rhodes and Kos had Turkish communities) leaned heavily towards Greece following its declaration of independence in 1822, the islanders did not join the Greek War of Independence, continuing instead a semi-autonomous existence as an archipelago of Greek merchants within the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, the 19th century turned out to be one of the islands’ most prosperous, and a number of mansions date from this era.

In 1815 the Symiots had 50 large sailing ships and the same number of fishing ships. They were doing trade with Constantinople, Smyrna, Thessaloniki and others. They lived with comfort and the women were dressed in expensive clothes.

When the revolution was declared, the proestos of the island sent a messenger, Nikitas Chatziioannis, to the sympathetic Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophylos Pagosta, who was on the island of Patmos, in order to consult him on how to act.They came into contact with the people of Hydra on the 29th of May 1821 and revolted. In May 1823, with the decision of the temporary administration, Symi was included into the administrative system of the revolting Greece, in the 13th region of the Aegean together with Karpathos, Tilos, Nisyros and Halki. Later this region became one of the two of the southeastern Sporades. On the 13th of April 1826 with the 10th resolution of Kapodistrias it fell into the 6th region of the islands of the Aegean together with Karpathos and those others already within this region. After the protocol of London on the 3rd of February 1930, however, Symi and the other Dodecanese islands remained outside the borders of the Greek country, a fact which saddened the island’s inhabitants. In a letter to Kapodistrias (15th of December 1830) they announced to him their decision to “be united with the Greek country.

The Ottoman commander of Rhodes, Mehmed Sukyur bey, took a series of terrorist measures in order to bring those islands which had revolted back to the Ottoman Empire. He raised taxes and, with repeated penalties, put great pressure upon them to return.In 1869 Turkey severely restricted Symi’s privileges, made the island their headquaters, established a kaimacham there and raised taxes to 45,000 piastres. It abolished the freedom of the port, installed a custom house, got customs tax and, in 1885, introduced the law for the census of goods and property, to which the inhabitants reacted so violently that the island was blockaded for seventeen days. The effort to maintain their privileges was continuous.

The economic boom of Symi continued despite these unfavorable circumstances. Trade with the large ports of the Mediterranean gave the Symiots the chance to build mansions with many floors and large, richly-decorated churches on the island. Monasteries like Roukouniotis, Panormitis and others were in their heyday. Schools, both primary and secondary, were functioning in Gialos and Chorio and there was also a community health system for the inhabitants. There was even a printing house from which newspapers and periodicals were circulated. In 1863, Photis Mastoridis introduced his sponge fishing technique which involved the use of the skafandro (sponge machine), while the fishing with the voutichtades (naked divers) and ‘gangaves’ (nets in very deep waters) also still continued.

20th century

1903 – The “Protocol of London” stated that Symi, and other Dodecanese islands, would remain outside the borders of the Greek State.

1929 – Symi had 14 Skafandra, 10 caiques with naked divers and 20 gagaves (A gagava was a sea bottom trawl, a large net held open and on the bottom by a frame, the bottom of which was a heavy iron bar with sockets at each end to take the rest of the frame which was of wood. The heavy bar would rip the sponges off the sandy bottom which would end up in the bag. They were large; there is a 6 meter bottom bar outside the nautical museum. Professor Sot. Agapitidis writes, οf the 25 to 35 men on one sponge machine 10 were divers and the rest assistants. The divers went down to the bottom of the sea wearing a diving suit of caoutchouc, sealed on all sides, a metal helmet which was connected via a pipe known as a ‘machhittso’ to a machine used by the sailors to supply it with as much air as was necessary. Together with the sponge machine, a bigger caique accompanied the deposito (a tank or reservoir) where the food supplies were kept and where the cleaning procedures were carried out and the sponges were stored.

1912 to 1942 Italian Rule

After the outbreak of the Italian-Turkish war over nearby Libya, the islands finally declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, proclaiming an independent state as the Federation of the Dodecanese Islands. This nascent state was quashed almost immediately by the invasion of Italy, which wanted the islands, and particularly the fortress of Rhodes, to control communication between Turkey and Libya. The Italians occupied all the Dodecanese except for Kastelorizo, which was later temporarily seized by France.

After the end of the war, according to the First Treaty of Lausanne, Italy maintained the occupation of the islands, as guarantee for the execution of the treaty. Following the declaration of War of Italy against the Ottoman Empire (21 August 1915), the war occupation of the islands started again.

The occupation attempted to strip the Greeks of their Hellenism and cut them off from the Christian Church. Steam ships replaced sailing ships and sailors were forced to leave to find work elsewhere. Sponge fishing declined and people emigrated. Obviously that didn’t all happen on the same day, but over a period of time. Here’s just one interesting statistic, taken from one of the volumes of ΤΑ ΣΥΜΑΙΚΑ. During the period 1912 to 1917, 15,000 people left the island for good.

During World War I, with Italy allied to France and Britain, the islands became an important British and French naval base, used as a staging area for numerous campaigns, most famously the one at Gallipoli. During the war, some of the smaller islands were occupied by the French and British, with Rhodes continuing as Italian-occupied.

Following the war, the Tittoni – Venizelos agreement, signed on July 29, 1919 called for the smaller islands to join with Greece, with Rhodes remaining Italian. Italy should have got in exchange southwest Anatolia with Antalya. The Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War and the foundation of modern Turkey made this solution impossible. With the Treaty of Lausanne the Dodecanese was then formally annexed by Italy, as the Possedimenti Italiani dell’Egeo. Mussolini embarked on a program of Italianization, hoping to make Rhodes a modern transportation hub that would serve as a focal point for the spread of Italian culture in the Levant. The islands were overwhelmingly Greek-speaking, with Turkish-speaking minority and even smaller Ladino-speaking Jewish minority (with only a few immigrant Italian speakers).

In the 1930s the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes (of the Knights of St. John) in the city of Rhodes, was rebuilt by the Italians.

The Fascist program did have some positive effects in its attempts to modernize the islands, resulting in the eradication of malaria, the construction of hospitals, aqueducts, a power plant to provide Rhodes’ capital with electric lighting and the establishment of the Dodecanese Cadastre. The main castle of the Knights of St. John was also rebuilt. The concrete-dominated Fascist architectural style detracted significantly from the islands’ picturesque scenery (and also reminded the inhabitants of Italian rule), and has consequently been largely demolished or remodeled, apart from the famous example of the Leros town of Lakki, which remains a prime example of the architecture.

From 1936 to 1940 Cesare Maria De Vecchi acted as governor of the Italian Aegean Islands promoting the official use of the Italian language and favoring a process of italianization, interrupted by the beginning of WWII. In the 1936 Italian census of the Dodecanese islands, the total population was 129,135, of which 7,015 were Italians.

1942 to 1945 2nd World War

During World War II, Italy joined the Axis Powers, and used the Dodecanese as a naval staging area for its invasion of Crete in 1940. After the surrender of Italy in September 1943, the islands briefly became a battleground between the Germans and Allied forces, including the Italians (see Battle of Leros). The Germans prevailed in the Dodecanese Campaign, and although they were driven out of mainland Greece in 1944, the Dodecanese remained occupied until the end of the war in 1945, during which time nearly the entire Jewish population of 6,000 was deported and killed. Only 1,200 of these Ladino speaking Jews survived, thanks to their lucky escape to the nearby coast of Turkey.

The monastery at Panormitis became a centre for espionage. 1944 – 11th October, the abbot, the clerk of the monastery and a solider were executed for their roles in espionage activities. A monument now stands on the spot, near Panagia Strateri on the Panormitis-Symi road. Symi was badly bombed during the war. 1944 – 24th September, German forces destroyed the Megali Panagia of the Kastro. There are various stories about this catastrophic event. One story describes that a German officer sympathetic to the islanders knew about the action to come and spread the word among the local villagers. That evening everyone left their houses, apart from one old lady who refused to leave. She had put up with so much over the previous years and occupations (Turkish, Italian and German) and she simply would not go. She was the only person who died.

Some other accounts state it was the Allied forces that caused the explosion, and that more people perished in the explosion.

1945 – 8th May

Following the war, the islands became a British military protectorate, and were almost immediately allowed to run their own civil affairs, upon which the islands became informally united with Greece, though under separate sovereignty and military control.

In 1945 – May 8th. The surrender of the Dodecanese to the Allied forces was carried out, the treaty signed, at the house of Kampsopoulou. This building is now the Katerinettes Restaurant, on the harbour front in Yialos. Along the quay you can see the memorial plaque at the war monument. It translates,

“This day freedom whispered to me, cease twelve islands from your sorrow.”

A church service and parade are held on May 8th every year to commemorate this treaty.

1947 – 31st March

Despite objections from Turkey, which desired the islands as well, they were formally united with Greece by the 1947 10th February Peace Treaty with Italy, ending 740 years of foreign rule over the islands. As a legacy of its former status as a jurisdiction separate from Greece, it is still considered a separate “entity” for amateur radio purposes, essentially maintaining its status as an independent country “on the air.” Radio call signs in the Dodecanese begin with the prefix SV5.

The English authorities handed over the island to the Greek military authorities. 1947 – 31th March. The British flag was lowered and the Greek one was raised on the island of Rhodes. The official ceremony was held at 7th March 1948. In 1955 the Dodecanese become a prefecture with Rhodes as its capital.