Period 1914 - 1944
The Treaty of 29th of March 1864 presented the islands of Corfu and Paxos to neutrality, which was violated, firstly by the Italians. At the end of December 1915, Italy sent a military force to Corfu under the command of General Marro. They established Post Offices; they controlled the mail of the residents and they prevented the import of products. In December of 1915, after the fall of the Serbian military front, France had an order to besiege, temporarily and peacefully, Corfu Island in order to re-draw up the Serbian army, under the command of the French General Baumon. The alliance of Adad besieged Corfu from the 19th of December 1915 to the 10th of February 1916, moving the Serbian army to the island. The Corfiots accepted with hospitality the Serbians and they gave the Theatre for the sittings of the Serbian government. In 1915-1919, the Italian and French forces as well as the Serbians remained on the island. The Italians did not have any intention to pull out, but the British and the French government forced them to displace. In 1923, the Italians tried to besiege Corfu again. The morning of the 27th of August 1923, unknown people murdered the Italian engrave deputation on the Greek – Serbian border. Italy made an announcement asking within 24 hours the following demands:
- The apology of the Greek people.
- The commemoration of the dead in the Catholic Church of Athens, with all the members of the Greek government to participate.
- The honor of the Italian flag in the Italian naval squadron, which would have shipping in Faliro.
- The investigation of the Greek authorities adjoined by the Italian military attendant carnal Perone di San Martino, which should end within 5 days.
- The death penalty of the guilty people.
- The Greek government should pay the amount of 50 million Italian pounds in 5 days, as a penalty.
- The dead should be honored with military honors in Preveza.
The Greek government responded accepting the following demands:
- The Greeks accepted to present the apologies.
- The commemoration
- The honor of the Italian flag at the Embassy
- The honor of the dead in Preveza.
On 31st of August 1923, the Italians suddenly attacked Corfu. The commander Antony Foskini asked from the Prefect of Corfu to surrender the island. The Prefect refused and he informed the government. Foskini warned him that the Italian forces would attack at 17:00 and the Corfiots refused to raise the white flag in the fortress. Six-seven thousand refugees, 300 orphans plus the military hospital were lodged in the Old Fortress, as well as the School of Police in the New Fortress. At 17:05 the Italians bombarded Corfu for 20 min. There were victims among the refugees of the old Fortress and the Prefect ordered the raising of the white flag. He also protested at the violation of the International Treaty of 1864 for the bombardment of the unfortified Town and the murder of the refugees. The Italians besieged the island and set the forces ashore. From the beginning of their possession, they started the terrorism, they inflicted hard penalties on the people who had guns, and the officers declared that their possession was permanent. There were daily requisitions of houses and they censored the newspapers. Greece asked for the interference of the society of the nations, in which Greece and Italy were members, and demanded the solution of the problem through arbitration. The Italian government refused, declaring that Greece will be possessed until the acceptance of the Italian terms. On 7th of September 1923, the ambassador’s conference in Paris ended with the evacuation of the Italian forces from Corfu, which finally happened on the 20th of September 1923 and ended on the 27th of the same month.
During the Second International War, in September of 1943, Corfu was bombarded and burned by the Germans. In September of 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. Moussolini panicked by the defeat of the Italians in Egypt and the halt of his army in Riviera, and decided as a reaction, to attack Greece. Hitler saved him from a totally disaster. Moussolini wanted to possess the Ionian Islands, which he succeeded with the help of the Germans. The Italians possessed Corfu from 28th of March 1941.
The first patriotic reaction happened on the first Sunday of November. During the procession of the Saint Spyridon, the fascist young Italian-Corfiots participated, who were provoking the students of the Greek high schools. When the procession arrived in the Upper Square, the students started to leave whilst singing of the national songs. The “Carbinaria” and the “Finetsia” attacked and arrested many students, beating them and exiled some of them to the island of Othonous.
The Italians and the Germans bombarded Corfu in November 1840 and April 1841 causing catastrophic consequences. On Monday 26th of July 1943, the tyranny of Moussolini started to fall. The night of 8th of September, the Italians asked for truce, which was transmitted by radio. The enthusiasm of the Corfiots was unbelievable. On the 10-12th of September, the Germans tried to surrender the Italian garrison in Corfu, while the political prisoners were set free from the small island Lazaretto and also the women and children, who were kept in Achillion. The morning of 13th of September, Corfiots woke up to the disasters of the war. The air raids continued the whole day bombarding the port, the Fortresses and strategic points. During the night of 14th of September, the most catastrophes happened in the Jewish parts of Saint Fathers and Saint Athanasios, the Court House, the Ionian Parliament, the Ionian Academy, -in which the library was lodged-, the Schools of Middle Education, the hotels Bella Venezzia, the Custom Office the manor-houses and the theatre. There were also terrible disasters in the House of the aged people, the House of the orphans and the Psychiatric Clinic, as they could not shelter anywhere else. During the same night, the Germans bombarded the prison, but the people opened the doors and the prisoners managed to escape. The people of Corfu found shelter in the Church of Saint Spyridon, which had remained undamaged. The Germans occupied the island from 25th of September 1943 to the 10th of October 1944. During that time, many Italians had been killed or injured and around 2000 were transported to the concentration camps; a lot of people died by starvation and the Germans exterminated the Israelite Community, which the members were over 2000 people. The morning of the 10th of October 1944, the Germans pulled out from the island. That was the last act of the possession of the Second International War. Fortunately, Corfu did not meet the civil laceration, which blooded Greece, until 1949. The Ionian breeze softened slowly the bad memories and a new Corfu started to be built among the ruins.