Tag Archives: Alexandros Zaimis

High Commissioner Zaimis

In September 1906, following the elections which came after the Theriso Revolt, Prince George had had enough of Crete, and Crete had had enough of Prince George. His replacement, who took office shortly after George’s departure from the island on 25th September, arriving there on 30th September 1906, was Alexandros Zaimis; twice previously Prime Minister of Greece and ‘…an experienced politician not noted for superabundant energy (energy was the last thing the Powers wanted in Crete).’[1]

Alexandros Zaimis High Commissioner of Crete.

Alexandros Zaimis High Commissioner of Crete.

Zaimis arrived in Canea and was greeted with an appropriate military guard of honour, the British contingent apparently being provided by the Royal Navy, as shown on the contemporary postcard photograph below.

The arrival of High Commissioner Zaimis. Canea 30 September 1906.

The arrival of High Commissioner Zaimis. Canea 30 September 1906.

Interestingly, an almost identical photograph – note to positions of the rowing boats – was used on another postcard  This time more detail of the event is added; however, the date given is one month out.

High Commissioner Zaimis arriving Canea. Note the incorrect date.

High Commissioner Zaimis arriving Canea. Note the incorrect date.

Zaimis’s career as High Commissioner was relatively brief. Although appointed for a term of office of 3 years, on 12th October 1908 he was in Athens, by coincidence or otherwise, when  the Cretan Administration declared union with Greece. Following this Zaimis, though technically remaining High Commissioner, never returned to the island.

During his stay on Crete, on at least one occasion he made a formal visit to Iraklion. During this visit he reviewed the British troops stationed there. This parade was captured on camera and turned into a series of souvenir postcards

Parade of British Troops in honour of High Commissioner Zaimis.

Parade of British Troops in honour of High Commissioner Zaimis.

Iraklion parade for High Commissioner Zaimis.

Iraklion parade for High Commissioner Zaimis.

High Commissioner Zaimis passing British troops in review.

High Commissioner Zaimis passing British troops in review.

The exact date of the parade is, as yet, undetermined. However, if it was between his arrival in September 1906 and February 1907 it was 2/Royal Sussex, between February 1907 and February 1908, 1/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and after then until his departure, 3/King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

A regiment which definitely WAS NOT involved was the unidentified Highland regiment shown in the card below; the last Scottish regiment to serve on Crete, 2/Cameron Highlanders,  left the island  in March 1903.

Souvenir postcard of High Commissioner Zaimis - date unknown.

Souvenir postcard of High Commissioner Zaimis – date unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Holland, R. and Markides, D. The British and the Hellenes. Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850 – 1960 (Oxford, 2006). 128.

 

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Flags …yet again

In 1898 the European Powers imposed upon the newly autonomous Cretan State a High Commissioner of the Powers’ own choosing: Prince George of Greece. The Cretan people were not consulted. George’s arrival was delayed by a dispute over the nature of the flag for the new state but he eventually arrived in December 1898.

While the photograph below showing the High Commissioner being escorted through the then capital Canea by an escort from three of the four Powers, is undated, it’s unlikely to be Prince George. In the first place there aren’t that many people around and secondly there are no British troops in sight. It’s more likely to be the High Commissioner who succeeded George in 1906; Alexandros Zaimis, a former, and future, Greek Prime Minister. According to the annotation on the photograph, the escort appears to consist of French gendarmes, Italian Carabinaire, Russian troops and, leading the parade, Cretan gendarmes.

What is of interest also, given the controversy about the Cretan flag, is the presence of two Greek flags in the bottom right hand corner of the picture. This is highly unusual since the Powers would eventually take extreme exception to the flying of the Greek flag; as would the Ottoman Government. Indeed, such was the objection to the official flying of the Greek flag during the period of the Cretan State, that on one occasion the Powers intervened not only by taking down the offending flag, but also by destroying the flag pole so that it couldn’t be raised again.

Parade through  Canea

Parade through Canea