Cesare Maria De Vecchi was born on the 14th November in the year 1884 in Casale Monferrato (located in The North West Of Italy). After completing his studies in Law, he went on to be a very successful Lawyer in the city of Turin.
After the First World War, he returned to Italy after his service and became a dedicated member of The Fascist Party (a political party set up by Benito Mussolini from 1922 to 1943. He later became the Commander of the Blackshirts, which was a military wing of The Fascist Party pledging loyalty and an oath to Mussolini.
He was one of the 4 leaders that led The March On Rome in October 1922 which ultimately led to Mussolini and his Fascist Party achieving political power in The Kingdom Of Italy.
De Vecchi went from power to power through his political career, being appointed as Senator by the King Of Italy Victor Emmanuel III and later Ambassador to The Vatican in Rome.
In 1936, he was made Governor of The Aegean Islands, and this is what we are interested in – his time in Rhodes.
De Vecchi In Rhodes
Cesare De Vecchi went on to be appointed as the Governor of Rhodes taking over
the position from Mario Lago from 1936 until 1941.
Where Mario Lago made great efforts to bring different cultures together on the island, Cesare Maria De Vecchi saw things differently. Upon his appointment, he bolstered his native Italian language and made it the official language of The Dodecanese with disregard for the others. He also implemented Anti Jewish Laws thus causing great discomfort to their community.
War soon followed between Greece and Italy on the 28th October 1940, and De Vecchi had all Greek men arrested (between the ages of 18 and 60) and he imprisoned them all in a concentration camp known as ‘Concentramento’ within the trenches of the old fortress of Rhodes.
The 4000+ Jewish residents on the island were halved as over 2000 of them fled the island seeking safety. The Italians and The German Forces were allies, and they shared control over the island of Rhodes., during this period. This made for very tough times with many people being deported off the island to an unknown future.
De Vecchi’s term as governor will not be remembered by many as fruitful. During his time in office he did manage to achieve the construction/reconstruction of some important buildings such as The Grand Masters Palace and other structures around the harbor area of Mandraki.
Unfortunately, the fascist governor and the rules he implemented caused a lot of pain to many people.
De Vecchi returned to Italy after his appointment as Governor in 1941 and The Italian Forces surrendered full control of Rhodes to The German Forces in September 1943.
After his return to Italy, De Vecchi was appointed to Mussolini’s main body of the Fascist Government known as The Grand Council Of Fascism.
It was here that the fascist politician Dino Grandi launched a scathing assault on Benito Mussolini for actions during conflict in the South of Italy. He made a huge appeal and Mussolini was removed from office. The same day he was also arrested.
De Vecchi backed this appeal by Grandi, but later a trial would be held known as The Verona Trial.
This trial was put in place to punish those that voted for the removal of Mussolini from office. De Vecchi was found guilty albeit in his absence and he was sentenced to the death penalty. He managed to escape this however and he fled to Argentina.
He returned to Italy in 1949 and he died in Rome 1959.
Although I do not want this website to be a political and/or religious platform, I will ask you your thoughts on this. For sure the fascist movement is something that would not be accepted so easily in today’s world, but back in those days it was an ideology and movement that was hard to prevent/avoid.
Was De Vecchi a cruel man or was he simply following orders?
We know that wartime was hard. Leaders such as Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Peron were incredibly powerful. Was it wise to cross them?
As for Rhodes, it must have been a shame to see a lot of Mario Lago’s work being undone. What was an island in harmony turned into a war zone must have been very difficult to witness. But this is politics isn’t it? No two ministers, governors or leaders are the same are they?
I would really love your thoughts and opinions.
Leave them below in the comments and I will get right back to you.
This is kind of parallel to what’s happening in The United States. A melting pot and the American dream ideal but at the same time groups that want to keep hold of an “identity”. They say history repeats itself, but we’re supposed to learn from it as well. We shouldn’t be repeating the cycles.
Thanks for your thoughts on this 🙂 Much appreciated!
Many people do not like change you are right. They like to have an identity for sure. Look at this Brexit that is going on.
Millions of people in the UK voting to exit the EU, and very little of them understood just how much they rely on the EU!
One friend of mine said the same, “I am British, The British Rule, We Stand Alone Bla Bla … then he got in his German made BMW! I would like to see his “identity” get him spare parts for that when something goes wrong!
In today’s day, people do not have the individuality they think they have!
Fascism is my way or the highway, and so as a 21st century American, who treasures our right to disagree and live peacefully together, it repulses me, and I find it horrific behavior. I fear, sometimes, in this country, that some are trying to silence those they don’t agree with. College campuses refuse certain speakers who don’t meet their personal agenda. It’s kind of scary.
Yeah Babsie, I see your point of view… but times have changed.
Free Speech and living in harmony was not always that common, and those of us lucky enough to be born into these times do not really know anything else.
During war times though, things were different (right or wrong), and there was little to be done that could stop it.
I am of course happy that the world found a level of peace (if you can call it that), but I also acknowledge that in the past things were not so easy, no matter what people think today.
Thanks for your thoughts, much appreciated Babsie.
It’s great that you know (or perhaps are learning) so much of the history of where you live. I think that is a very positive thing. And, you brought information to the page that I did not know. Thanks for the sharing of knowledge.
It is true, isn’t it, that things can change radically when a new regime takes over. No two leaders have the same view. In a way, that is good, but it is unfortunate that we can experience ground gained under one system, only to lose it under another.
De Vecchi might have been just toeing the party line, but I just don’t get how leaders can foster cruelty and cause suffering to the people they are supposed to be leading. It seems to me that a person with principles that include fostering the common good is acting out of character by letting his subjects be subjected to cruelty. Therefore, I’d say that he did not necessarily believe in helping out his citizenry, but was more interested in helping out De Vecchi. I believe that, with people in a political role, this is often the case.
Thank you Fran, and yes I am always learning new things living here in Rhodes. The history is so deep that it would take a lifetime to absorb it all. I will keep trying though.
As you say, with the likes of De Vecchi and other leaders in high positions, not one of them sees alike. All of them have a different opinion and/or agenda, so things are built up and then destroyed again.
The transition of Mario Lago to De Vecchi is a great example of this happening.
I appreciate your input on this 🙂
Cesare Maria De Vecchi did the same with Jewish that Aurangajeb (Moughal muslim king) did to Hindus of India.
As a governor your job is to treat every body the same but in that era when he ruled discrimination on the basis of race, religion,class and language were not uncommon. I cannot have sympathy for this man.
Thank you for your points of view and opinion Sanjay!
Cesare Maria de Vecchi sounds like a ruthless career man, and in that spirit he followed orders, not caring who he hurt in the process.
When it looked like Mussolini was on his way out, de Vecchi voted against him. A gross miscalculation on his part of course, but it just goes to show that he was anybody’s man as long as they could keep him in a nice office and with a mini kingdom to rule.
How unfortunate for Rhodes to have had this man stay there for such a long time and at a such a crucial time too. People like him can be responsible for thousands of deaths and not feel any remorse at all. This will never cease to amaze me.
And, still, with all his wrongdoings he was given a pretty good life, even the opportunity to spend his last years in his home county.
Thanks Alenka, and yes, another good point of view here.
This seems to be the case though even today don’t you think? Policies being made, politicians lining their own pockets, and to hell with everybody else. Do you agree?
De Vecchi’s time in Greece is documented, but many do disagree with the ideology of that time and the policies he implemented. But are similar things being implemented today just maybe in a different way?
Back then it was a time of war, and although now we seem to be at peace (for the most part) politicians are still making decisions that effect communities. Do they care?
Let’s face it, a lot of decisions have been made by the so called ‘Powerful People’ in Greece, and the country has been left with a lifetime of debt and a crisis that will need to be payed off by future generations.
Meanwhile, all the people that created all of these problems are now sitting at home on a lovely pension with not a thought for what they left in ruin.
As a rule, I have no time for politicians or politics, it all disgusts me. I feel I have to mention De Vecchi though, as his actions made a significant impact on Rhodes which I feel are important.
Thanks Alenka, nice to talk to you.
I found this bit of history about Rhodes and Cesare Maria De Vecchi very interesting.
As a career politician, it sounds as if De Vecchi went along to get along throughout his life. Looks like he could adjust to whomever was in power at the time. This is unfortunate as so many other people do not have strong convictions and “go with the flow” regardless of political leadership.
Consequently, bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own.
Thanks Glen, this is another good point of view.
Some politicians and leaders are happy to go with the flow and implement policies they may not agree with simply to further their own careers. I never looked at De Vecchi like this, but it is something to consider yes.
Much appreciated. Thanks for reading.
Hi Chris my friend,
I really enjoy your posts about the Island of Rhodes. I do not get as much time as I would love to have a look at all of them, but when I do, I find them very insightful.
Whether De Vecchi followed orders or not, to me he still seems like a cruel person. I think it was really bad luck for Rhodes to have him around when the war between Greece and Italy started. I wonder how much he was influenced by the Germans (especially Hitler) when he built that concentration camp?
Thanks for a great read! Have a super day!
Thank you Rika, great to have you back here again. I hope you are doing well.
I also appreciate you leaving your thoughts on De Vecchi. Lots of people have different opinions on this, as some will say he was following orders, while others will say he took a lot of the decisions alone.
As for the concentration camp that was built on the island, there could well be a lot of influence from the way things were being done by the German Forces, this cannot be ruled out in my opinion.
There is a lot more coming Rika, so be sure to work your way through all of the information at your own pace.
Thank you for this article, this is a very concealed part in our history books.
We do known in the back of our minds about Mussolini, and De Vecchi, but it’s not really a very detailed piece we teach our children during the history lessons.
Of course, this is discussed in the history books of advanced students. Thank you for pointing out the fact about the impact WWII had on the whole world. And that we must remember that this never happens again.
Loes (The Netherlands)
Thank you Loes.
I will admit it has been a long time since I was in school, and I remember some of the history lessons from back then. In them we discussed history that effected the UK in years gone by, different Kings and Queens etc, but never anything about the actions of Mussolini or The Fascist Party.
What I have learned has all been taking in since I moved here and settled in Rhodes, and it is quite an eye opener.
Thanks for reading Loes, I appreciate your thoughts.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve heard the name De Vecchi before, but I never really knew anything about him. After reading that and the things he did especially when he governed the island of Rhodes, it is pretty interesting to say the least, but it is sad to see what happened to that island when he governed over it.
He may have well been following orders, but I think he certainly agreed with the Fascist ideology otherwise it would be hard to implement those policies.
Is there any record of him ever meeting Hitler or any of the German Nazi Forces? What do we know about his life when he was in Argentina for a time?
Thanks for your input and thoughts on this Brian.
As for the activities of Cesare Maria De Vecchi in Argentina, they are not that well documented, so I will be honest and say I am not sure. Of course I I do learn something i will post it here.
As for meeting Adolf Hitler, I will say I do not think so, although it is known that there were meetings between Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler during that time.
Sorry I cannot be more helpful on this one.
Hello my name is Sonny.
I was reading your article about a man I don’t really recognize but I suspect he was one of Mussolini’s henchmen. I’m not too sure that this person was following orders or just being plain evil.
In my opinion human beings can be conditioned to follow orders no matter what happens.
I am not a historian and I don’t know what actually started the First and Second World War, but it all comes down to one common factor which is a struggle for power and domination for a new world order.
Thank you for your article as this has been an educational and enjoyable read.
Thank you Sonny.
Yes, De Vecchi was involved with Mussolini’s Fascist Party you are quite right.
Although this website is not really about war and the actions that took place to cause it, you are right. It is a fight for world power and people step on one another to get what they want or desire.
Although De Vecchi had a long career, his time in Rhodes was of course a small segment of it. But he certainly made his mark. He did a lot of bad, but also it can be said that he did good. For example, The Grand Masters Palace that stands proud here was renovated by him. This attracts millions of tourists every year.
Thanks Sonny, it is nice to hear from you.
Sure I will. Thanks!
Thanks a lot for taking your valuable time to answer my question and really helpful. Wishing you great success!
Your welcome Paul. If you ever need to know anything else just let me know 🙂
Thanks a lot for your valuable time and providing a detailed reply. By GODS grace I hope to make it one day.
If you don’t mind, may I ask why they killed or caused trouble for the Jews? Is there any particular reason?
Well, I am sure there is a lot of dialogue, and of course a lot of opinions when it comes to the battles during World War Two.
During the campaign, Rhodes actually went through a period of joint occupation between Italy and Germany. It is of course no secret the feelings Adolf Hitler had towards the Jewish people.
Many say that the movement against the Jews was born from Hitler’s own personal hatred, others have said it was a hatred from the whole nation of Germany at the time. I guess we will never know.
Of course, with Germany having joint control of the island, the Jewish people suffered in Rhodes too.
It is important now to know, that every year, millions of Jewish people frequent the island to soak up the history, and there is a lovely Jewish community here too.
Thanks again Paul. Appreciate your interest.
Thanks for sharing this historical fact and life of Cesare Maria De Vecchi. I got new insights from your post.
After browsing your site, I fell in love with the island of Rhodes and in the future, I want to visit “the island of Rhodes”.
When innocent people have suffered we can’t justify our actions or act with any clarification or claim.
Thanks again for sharing this information.
Thank you for reading Paul and I am happy you enjoyed the information here on De Vecchi.
Thank you for also taking the time to have a good look around the site. It is great that I have been able to offer a good insight to this amazing island for you. I hope you manage to make it here one day!
Unfortunately, during De Vecchi’s time in office on Rhodes, lots of changes were made and a lot of people did suffer as a result. This is what happens in war time I suppose. Decisions are made and people are affected by them.
Past conflicts and occupations have left a deep history here, and it can still be seen today.
Thanks Paul, nice to meet you.