One thing we know for certain is that there are Kazzies all over the world. We know this from historical data and from the interest we receive via our website.
We can track visitors from a wide range of countries although we are uncertain as to their status; from where they originated, or in many cases, why they are interested in visiting our website.
We thought, therefore, we would introduce some historical information in relation to the migration of Kazzies to Australia as this may encourage others to do the same.
If you read the history of Kastellorizo you will understand why we feel so passionate about our heritage; the natural hardships endured, the fires, successive occupations and wars, which ultimately led to the evacuation of the island.
In it’s ‘heyday’ the population reached 10,000 and in 1943 the evacuations meant that there were only 50 people left on the island. Many of these evacuees travelled to ‘far-off’ destinations and their families could tell a few fascinating stories for sure!
We would like to share our story of Kazzie migration to Australia. This information has been taken from the book titled – “The Kastellorizian Association of Victoria – 80 XPONIA (1925 – 2005)
Note: This book also contains pictures and can be purchased by visiting the Merchandise section of this website.
Kastellorizians born in Australia were brought up on selective stories about Kastellorizo and were constantly exposed to the large framed sepia panorama of the island, circa 1917, which hung in clubs in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, and in many homes Often family homes would be pointed out with pride on the print, usually followed by the lament that everything was in ruins. The old Kastellorizo gradually gained mythical status.
Read how Kazzies have tried to remain connected to their homeland in The Call of the Homeland.
Recent articles of interest:
If you would like to know everything about our island then please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kastellorizo. The information comes from Wikipedia, which is a free encyclopedia. There are a number of pictures plus information on the following:
- the origin of the name, it’s geography and decription
- the history & archipelago between Kastellorizo and Turkey
- demographics & economy
- traditions, old customs and superstitions
- geology & caves
- postage stamps, reference notes and external links
The following information has been prepared by Connie Gregory
Kastellorizo is the smallest inhabited Greek Island in the Dodecanese group, less than 5 km off the south coast of Turkey, about 100 km east of Rhodes. There are however many smaller islets in the area. Kastellorizo has been called different names in its history including, Castelrosso (the French called it Chateau-Roux), Castello Rosso or Castel Rosso, and Castel Ruggio. Its name was given by the medieval Knights of Rhodes and was inspired by its towering red cliffs rising from the sea which appear to be a medieval castle from a distance. Its ancient name is Meyisti or Megiste.
An island of perennial tradition reaching as far back as the Stone Age, with some archaeological findings suggesting the existence of a pelasgian settlement. Then came the Minoans, followed by the Mycenaeans, the presence of which is confirmed through a golden wreath of unsurpassed beauty and skill, on show at the Archaeological Museum of Athens. It is also possible that the island established colonies on the opposite coast of Asia Minor.
Kastellorizo joined the First Athenian Alliance, fighting next to the Athenian forces against the Persians. In the year 79BC it came under Roman Rule. Its ancient name, Megisti, (also known as Megiste or Meyisti) is said to derive from the name of its founder, the legendary Megisteus, (although some writers have suggested that the name Megisti, means the “biggest” which is ironic, because Kastellorizo is the smallest islands in the Dodecanese group. However, there are small islets round Kastellorizo, including Ro, so it is ofcourse possible that it was called the biggest).
Its long maritime tradition and intense trading earned Kastellorizo some moments of great glory. Its fate has always been interwoven with that of the rest of the islands of the Dodecanese complex. In 1820 Kastellorizo was described as a rich trading island and several Kastellorizians gave ships to the War effort. In the late 19th century its people became actively involved in sponge diving and commerce, a successful operation that brought wealth to the island.
(Some of the above material contains edited extracts from www.greece-2004.com/kastellorizo – this site is worth a visit).
See article Island on the Run for an account of the exodus of 1805.
Extract from “Mortal Divide” by George Alexander, published by Brandl and Schlesinger, Australia, 1997:
The island has been under various rules for much of its life. It was under Turkish rule from 1552. The Dodecanese group was taken from Turkey by Italy in 1912 and did not fully return to Greek rule until 1947-1948. It is interesting to note that while it was under Turkish rule Kastellorizo flourished. It has a beautiful harbour and many of the inhabitants were ship-owning merchants who traded throughout the Aegean and through to Odessa. The costumes of the islanders were elaborate, often with heavy gold braiding, and the women wore many gold ornaments, including sovereigns and half-sovereigns fashioned into jewellery.
The coming of World War II wreaked havoc on the island. Many inhabitants had left the island after World War I when the Island came under Italian rule, going to mainland Greece, Egypt and even Palestine. Mostly they went to Australia. This exodus continued as World War II loomed until there were very few people left on the island.. In Australia there are a large number of “Kassies” who maintain the Kastellorizian traditions in their food, customs, songs and folklore. Although few people now live on Kastellorizo, there is a constant stream of tourists, particularly from people of Kastellorizian descent.
There is a Kastellorizian folk song about this exodus:
Australia is an island
And whoever sets sail to her
Easy it is to cross
Difficult to return.
The Kastellorizians mainly left the island with Italian passports and unless they registered with the Greek Government after the War, they were not officially acknowledged as Greeks. This has caused a lot of heartache and frustration for children and grandchildren living in Australia (and other countries) who want to prove their Greek heritage to enable them to obtain Greek/European passports under the dual citizenship ruling. Many 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation “Kassies” are now visiting the island which was a mythical place to them as they grew up in other countries.
See The Last Ship Out for more information.
In 1920, the French occupation forces issued stamps of the French Offices in Turkey, overprinted O.N.F./Castellorizo, then with B.N.F./Castellorizo and then OF/Castellorizo, oriented vertically. All of these overprints are uncommon, with prices ranging from US$10 up to over US$500 for some types.
Starting in 1922, the Italians overprinted their own stamps with Castelrosso. The Italians also issued a series of five stamps depicting a map of the Island and an Italian flag, then went back to more overprints on Italian stamps, with a regular issue in 1924, the Ferrucci issue in 1930, and the Garibaldi issue of 1932. They are not particularly valuable.