Corfu Island - After the Unity (1864-1979)
The treaty in which the Ionian Islands were handed over to Greece anticipated the demolition of the fortifications on Corfu and Vidos to delay the neutralisation of Corfu and Paxos. The English did not want to leave behind any footholds after its departure from the Ionians which could one day be used to turn against England. For this reason demolition by English troops of the Corfiot fortresses took place before departure from the Island. All proposals and steps of the Greek Government for the salvage of the fortification met with the stubborn denial of England.
After the realisation of Unity Corfu was deprived of all foundations which expressed cultural tradition. When the PH law on 20th of December 1865 came into act the Ionian Academy was abolished. The first Greek University, High School and Centre for secular studies. In later years the School of Reservist Officers, the Police Academy, the 10th Infantry Brigade, and the Teachers College were taken away from Corfu.
In the first decades after Unity Corfu developed into a significant centre of commercial transport and transit and creates a sizeable amount of industries. Into Corfu's harbour is shipped a wide variety of imports which are transported throughout the rest of Greece, while the exports of oil and wines comprise a large percentage of the Corfiot income.
During WW1 Corfu was captured by the allies of Adant and was used until the end of the war as naval and military bases. In this the Serbian Army was reorganised after the occupation of Serbia by the Austrian Germans, and later were transferred to the Macedonian front line, where the Serbian Army, the Royal Family, the Government and the Parliament of Serbia were offered hospitality. In the Public Theatre of Corfu the Serbian national assembly took place in which Serbia was declared part of the Yugoslavian state. A memorial plaque was placed on the front of the Theatre as a reminder until the day it was demolished.
On the 31st of August 1923 due to the assassination of the Italian General Telini on the Greek Albanian borders the Italian Navy bombarded the unfortified fortresses of Corfu in which refugees from the Middle East were housed, there were many civilian casualties. At the same time the Italian Army occupied the Island and stayed until 27th of September 1923, when it was forced to withdraw under the pressure of European Forces.
Between the two world wars Corfu continued to develop its industry while its commerce did not feel the impact until much later on from within the boundaries of the Department of Customs and Excise which started to come into effect from the other nations. During WW2 Corfu was used as a prison of the Army in Epirus during the first period of the Greek Italian conflict. And later it was used as the supply base for the forces of the South frontline. On 28th April 1941 it was occupied by the Italians who stay until 25 September 1943. During that time Corfu's ties had been cut off administratively, economically and transport to the rest of Greece was severed.
After the treaty of Italy the Germans attempted to disembark on the island in smooth succession of the Italians. The Italians strike back. Under these circumstances the Germans on the night of 13th of September 1943 firebomb Corfu and set it alight to crush the resistance of the population which they thought were helping the Italians. During that night whole blocks of buildings, historical and architectural monuments, valuable intellectual foundations such as the Ionian Academy, the Public Library, the Theatre, the Ionian Parliament, the Cathedral and others were burnt to the ground. The destruction by the Germans and after hundreds of bombardments by the Italians, left structures that were completely destroyed, complete devastation reached 525 and those which suffered enormous damage reached 320. Especially significant was the destruction of the Old City which lay behind the walls, the ratio of the destruction in that area surpassed 28%. From the 25th of September 1943 until the 2nd of October 1944 Corfu was occupied by the Germans.
The liberation of Epirus and with the development of its harbour and the road network as well as the occupation of Albania by the Italians in 1939 and later the isolation of Corfu limited completely the commercial and economic abilities. So the Corfiot economy was forced to move towards new resources, alongside the development of agricultural production, the establishment of agricultural industries, the Corfiots also tried to develop trade in tourism. In 1979 Corfu had approximately 25,000 beds in hotels of all categories, as well as rooms to let in manors, houses and villas. The income reaches 100 million of Dollars in exchange and the sector of employment covers 60% of Corfiot income. At that time 400,000 tourists visit Corfu every year.
The development of tourism was the reason for the construction of the roads with asphalt and modernisation of the road networks in general, the construction of the new harbour and the airport which connects Corfu with major European Capitals and promotes the transportation by air of tourists.
After the time of Unity political life in Corfu was seized by agricultural matters. Its many long term struggles ensue until 1914 when the DND law came into act whereby the problems were completely confronted to its core, the burdens of agricultural ownership were abolished and the farmers became the true owners of the Corfiot land.