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Hitler was responsible for income tax in Cyprus
Sifting through the archives in this neglected part of local history is a fascinating past time, especially when you can write a headline such as “Hitler was responsible for income tax in Cyprus.” – (well along with a fellow called Sir William Battershill). It is true.
As I wrote in my last column, by the summer of 1941, Cyprus represented an important line in the British defences which stretched from Tobruk in Libya to Baghdad.
But this line of protection cost an enormous amount money to maintain – and Cypriots were asked to cough up. Sir William Battershill the then Governor, presented to the Advisory Council (a group of technocrats and advisors) a draft Cyprus budget.
He anounced that for the first time in the history of the island that income-tax would be introduced to raise fifty-thousand pounds needed to pay for the war defences.
There appears to have been no opposition to the new tax – probably as most people’s minds were not on the financial costs of the conflict, but on the future of the island, with the now defunct Cyprus Post newspaper reporting: “The declared German aim is to drive the British out of the Mediterranean.
“This they could not hope to be within sight of while this island remains to menace their air and sea communications. It may be that in their hurried programme, the German High Command regard Cypriots as merely a nuisance, but such a nuisance cannot be ignored.”
It added: “A fierce reception awaits any invader of these shores, but we must not cheat ourselves into believing that the Germans will be deterred by the thought of such a reception, or unwilling to pay a high price for the capture of this island, which would lend them prestige and also be a strategically help in further operations against the Suez Canal and the Middle East generally”.
The threat did’nt last long though. A good indication that the danger had passed is gathered from an issue of the Times of London in May 1943, when a correspondent writes about the delivery times of newspapers being sent from Nicosia to London: “While I cannot speak for deliveries to Cyprus, our experience of deliveries of newspapers from Cyprus to this country has been quite as satisfactory as one can expect.”
Somehow income tax was never abolished, even after Herr Hitler left this mortal coil…