As Mussolini assumed dictatorial power in early 1925 through deception, brute force and most of all, the weakness of Italy's government and King Emmanuel III, Paulovians came under the shadow of the Blackshirts. The apprehension within the mainland Principality reached a height in November 1926 when all Italian opposition politicians are arrested, national newspapers handed over to Fascist proprietors and all non-Fascist political activity prohibited.
The ruinous Italian economy saved Paulovia from being subsumed by Mussolini's territorial ambitions. The world economic depression forced il Duce to treat the Principality with kid gloves due to the financial benefits Italy accrued from its associations with Paulovia; it was a temporary peace.
In late 1926 the Paulovian government begain depositing state funds throughout Europe and the United States, and sent physical treasures such as art works, archives and antiques to secret vaults on the various Paulovian islands. Vines from the mainland were also sent to the islands and planted in anticipation of disruption to wine production on royal and private vineyard estates.
Left: Vineyards and olive groves flourish on the Paulovia Islands
Occupation and Migration
Following Italy's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and declaration of King Victor Emmanuel III as Emperor of Ethiopia, the Paulovian Royal Family moved their government from the Italian peninsular at St.Paulo, to the Miraggio Islands. Fearing an imminent seizure of mainland Paulovian territory, thousands of anti-Facist Paulovians and exile Italians left the mainland for the relative safety of the Miraggio and Amarantine Islands. Hundreds of other Paulovians of Anglo, Russian and Greek descent migrated to the Omorfee and St.Andreas Islands.
This mass migration was seen by the Facists as an open invitation to occupy Neuvo Volturno and St.Paulo. The Paulovian Army had been run down to a mere shadow of its former self after the First World War and most able bodied men had travelled with the royal party. The units that remained could offer no resistance to the thousands of Blackshirts that crossed the border to declare the liberation of the Neuvo Volturno region. Indeed the Prince Constantine ordered the troops not to resist any occupation attempts for fear of civilian casualties. The Paulovian government protested to Mussolini without result. By April 1939 Neuvo Volturno was securely held by Italian troops as Mussolini continued his expansion programme and invasion of Albania.
Ochi ! - No!
Following the capitulation of France in the summer of 1940 Mussolini clung to his dream of a new Italian empire. Italy invaded Greece from Albania following Mussolini's ultimatum to the Greeks to surrender on 28 October 1940. This is answered with a defiant "no !" (ochi !). The Greek Army quickly pushed back the Italians and advanced into Albania, occupying one third of the country. Hitler responded by sending assistance via Yugoslavia to secure the Balkan flank in anticipation of Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union.
British troops landed in March 1941 at Piraeus, Greece and on Crete to bolster the Greek defence against the Germans and Italians. Landing alongside the British on Crete was an anti-Fascist volunteer unit from Paulovia comprising of regular and militia troops called the Paulovian 1st Hellene Combatto Legionare (PHCL). Significantly, as the unit name suggests, the unit was equally comprised of Italian and Greek ethnic Paulovians at the insistance of HRH Prince Constantine in a symbolic act to promote national cohesion and identity. A number of the PHCL's officers were ex-British Army officers or of Anglo-Paulovian descent.
On 24 April the British rearguard at Thermopylae Pass in Greece was broken and the British embarkation to evacuate Greece began on 30 April 1941. Crete was successfully occupied by German Airborne forces following a fierce running fight along the length of Crete. The PHCL fought long and hard to defend part of the airfield at Maleme, and later the embarkation areas for evacuation alongside British and ANZAC troops. The remnants of the PHCL were finally taken off Crete by fishing boats at night and were landed in Alexandria, Egypt. The survivors of the Crete campaign were unable to return to the Paulovian Islands until after the war in 1946 having served with the British in the North Africa campaign in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, their main battle honour being El Alamein. A small number of Greek Paulovians served with the Greek special forces unit, the Sacred Band.
Defeat and Exile
German tanks in Greece
The fall of Greece and the Balkans sounded the deathknell for Paulovian territory in Neuvo Volturno. The Paulovian Miraggio and Amarantine Islands were 'liberated' by Italian troops in June 1941 and the Omorfee and Andreas Islands were occupied by German troops in July 1941. The Royal family and the government embarked on a British warship in May 1941 and went into enforced exile in Britain, only returning to re-establish Paulovian government in September 1945. The occupation by Italian and German troops was a quiet yet hard period to endure for Paulovian islanders. Thankfully the Paulovia Islands did not suffer the brutal and bloody experiences of many Greek and Italian islands.
Neuvo Volturno and its capital St.Paulo were totally destroyed during the German defence of the area from 1943, significantly by Allied bombing and shelling leading to its capture by American and British forces in January 1944. In the confusion and devastation diplomatic efforts to secure the territory by the Paulovian government went unheeded or unheard. The military government assumed control of Neuvo Volturno and handed its administration to the new Italian Republic in 1946. The historic Principality of Paulovia on the Italian peninsular effectively came to an end. However, the Principality survived throughout the Islands. In 1953 the Italian Republic formally subsumed Neuvo Volturno into Italy but recognised the Miraggio and Amarantine Islands as Paulovian. The Greek government recognised the Omorfee and Andreas Islands as Paulovian in 1959.
After the war the task of rebuilding Paulovia from the remnants of its former territory and limited resources proved a major task. Although the Paulovian Islands had not suffered the destruction of many other areas in the region, worldwide demands for assistance and materials delayed the development of the Principality beyond a basic agrarian economy. Despite pleas for US aid under the Marshal Plan by Paulovia, the Principality failed to secure significant financial assistance from its former allies, while Greece was cursed with a brutal civil war and Italy was busy with its own reconstruction programme.
Slowly, the Paulovia banking and investment industry, once the mainstay of the Paulovian economy, was re-established on the Omorfee and Miraggio Islands. By 1962 Paulovia had regained a respected position within the international banking industry and was able to compete with other small tax havens for investors funds and business. Agriculture remained a major source of state income along with the development of gourmet food and wine exports, a luxury yacht marina on Miraggio, and controlled but limited tourism.
In 1974 the Republic of Cyprus was invaded by Turkey following an attempted Greek mlitary coup to overthrow the Makarios government. This bitter and tragic episode in the long history of the island left thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots homeless. During this chaotic period the Royal Paulovian Cyprus Estates were occupied by Turkish troops and sadly still remain beyond Paulovian administration today.
Above: Secluded harbour on Miraggio Island
Left: Greek Cypriot refugee camp 1974
By 1997 the Principality was still behind the standards of living for other island communities in the region. This was due to the lack of co-ordinated government and infrastucture to enable an improvment to the islands and quality of life of its people. The Royal Family had lived abroad in mainland Europe, Britain, Greece and Cyprus, and had neglected its duty. Many young Paulovians had begun to leave the islands for Greece and Italy, a situation that could not continue.