October 28: The Anniversary of “OXI” Day

Posted: October 25, 2013 by acerentacargreece in Uncategorized
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October 28: The Anniversary of “OXI” Day

In all of world history, there are only but a few examples of the “little man” defeating the larger, more powerful aggressor. One such instance is that of the unsurpassed acts of bravery of the Greek people of little Greece against Hitler’s seemingly unstoppable Axis Forces.

October 28 of 1940 marks the occasion when the Greeks rejected an ultimatum from the dictator Benito Mussolini to allow Italian troops on Greek soil or else. The Greeks responded with the now historic word “OXI”, which means “no” in Greek. A few hours later, the Axis forces descended on Greece expecting that it would quickly fall; however it was clear that the Greeks were not going to stand for defeat. News of Greece’s victory flooded the radio airwaves and covered the front pages of newspapers around the globe. A grateful world celebrated as against all odds such a small nation derailed the seemingly unstoppable Axis forces.  The historical significance of this day and what it meant to the outcome of World War II cannot be overstated. It was one of the most consequential victories for freedom and democracy in the modern world.

Life Magazine featuring a classic Greek Soldier -  December 16, 1940

Life Magazine featuring a classic Greek Soldier – December 16, 1940

Facts of Greece’s involvement that significantly changed the course of WWII:

• Greece was forced to confront four different armies: Albania, Bulgaria, Germany, and Italy.

• The Greek victory over the initial Italian offensive of October 1940 was the first Allied land victory of the Second World War, and helped raise morale in occupied Europe.

• Greece resisted the Axis powers for over 185 days from Oct 28, 1940 – April 31, 1941.

• The Greek Resistance, one of the most effective resistance movements in all Occupied Europe, was formed. These resistance groups launched guerrilla attacks against the occupying powers and allowed for the set up of a large espionage network.

• The Greek resistance influenced the course of the entire war by forcing Germany to postpone the invasion of the Soviet Union in order to assist Italy.
• Greece is the only non-big three (US, Great Britain & Russia) country credited with Nazi defeat. Greece’s disruption of Hitler’s war timetable forced him into the debilitating Russian winter where he met defeat. Leaders like Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, America’s Sumner Welles and even Adolph Hitler’s Chief of Staff, Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, credit Greece with bringing about Hitler’s defeat. Keitel said, “The Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia; if we did not have this long delay, the outcome of the war would have been different.” Greece was the only county in WWII able to inflict a fatal wound that eventually brought down the Nazi power.

• Greece’s defeat over the undefeatable Axis Forces inspired the World. President Franklin Roosevelt said, “When the entire world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the German monster raising against it the proud spirit of freedom,” following the Greeks handing the seemingly invincible Axis Forces their first defeat in WWII. Hitler had previously soundly defeated France and routed the army of Great Britain, two of the world’s great powers. Life Magazine and publications around the world featured Greece on their covers.

• Hitler’s troops lost more lives in one day in the battle of Crete, Greece than died in any single day in the 15 months prior of conquering 11 other countries. Adolf Hitler said, “The Greek soldier, above all, fought with the most courage,” and Winston Churchill said, “Hence, we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.”

• As the Cretan military personnel had gone to the mainland to fight the Axis Forces, the remaining Greek women, children and older men played a prominent role in first significant civilian counter-attack inflicted on the German Forces. With limited weapons such as farm implements and whatever weapons they could, they attacked Hitler’s elite paratroopers that invaded Crete. Over four thousand German soldiers lost their lives on Crete.

• According to the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, only the Archbishop of Athens and all off Greece, Damaskinos, among all top religious leaders in occupied countries publically challenged in writing the occupying Nazis’ Holocaust plans. The Archbishop showed great courage in his response to the threat of death by Nazi firing squad. He told the Nazis that Greek clerics are not shot, but hanged, and he requested that they respect this custom. Time Magazine featured him on its cover.

World-War-II

A band of Special Boat Squadron “SBS” ‘pirates’ at the Parthenon, the Athenian Acropolis, Greece.

THE-END-OF-THE-WAR-THE-LIBERATION

The end of WWII – Liberation on the Parthenon, Acropolis, Greece.

The women of the battle of Crete, Greece.

The women of the battle of Crete, Greece.

Partisans in combat with German troops

Partisans in combat with German troops

German Troops raising the Nazi flag at the Parthenon, the Athenian Acropolis, Greece.

German Troops raising the Nazi flag at the Parthenon, the Athenian Acropolis, Greece.

Three grenadiers stand in front of the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion

One of the most publicized photos of German troops in Athens, Greece. Three grenadiers stand in front of the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion (421–407 BC) on the sacred rock of the Acropolis. The time is May 1941 and the Germans’ are in their winter uniform.

German Luftwaffe Dornier Do 17 light bomber aircraft referred to as flying pencil are flying over the Acropolis.  1942.

German Luftwaffe Dornier Do 17 light bomber aircraft referred to as flying pencil are flying over the Acropolis. 1942.

Group of Greek Partisans

Group of Greek Partisans

Dictators Adolf Hitler (Germany) and Benito Mussolini (Italy) prior to the invasion of Greece.

Dictators Adolf Hitler (Germany) and Benito Mussolini (Italy) prior to the invasion of Greece.

A company of men has set up its office between the columns (Doric) of an ancient Greek temple of Neptune

Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, German aircraft wrecked on Maleme on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, German aircraft wrecked on Maleme on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, ferrying in supplies to the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, ferrying in supplies to the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941

Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941

In May 1941 Australian, New Zealand and British troops were involved in ten days of desperate fighting against German forces on the strategically important island of Crete.

In May 1941 Australian, New Zealand and British troops were involved in ten days of desperate fighting against German forces on the strategically important island of Crete.

Soldier training an old man at gun, needing all the man power available

Metsovon where a German soldier demonstrates an antitank rifle to a Greek paesan.

Soldiers fighting for the future of the youth

Soldiers fighting for the future of the youth

Raid on Piraeus Harbor taken during the raid April 6-7 1941.

Raid on Piraeus Harbor taken during the raid April 6-7 1941.

Raid on Piraeus Harbor taken during the raid April 6-7 1941.

Raid on Piraeus Harbor taken during the raid April 6-7 1941.

German flak crew site in front of the Acropolis during the German occupation April 1941.

German flak crew site in front of the Acropolis during the German occupation April 1941.

British ships under attack at Suda Bay Crete 1941

British ships under attack at Suda Bay Crete 1941

A map of Crete showing Axis parachute drop zones and sunken British ships 1941

A map of Crete showing Axis parachute drop zones and sunken British ships 1941

A sign of victory for Nazi Germany, raising of the flag by the Wehrmacht in Greece 1941

A sign of victory for Nazi Germany, raising of the flag by the Wehrmacht in Greece 1941

Time Magazine December 1940 - General Alexander Papagos commander in chief of the Greek army in World War II.

Time Magazine December 1940 – General Alexander Papagos commander in chief of the Greek army in World War II.

Archbishop of Athens and all off Greece, Damaskinos

Archbishop of Athens and all off Greece, Damaskinos

General James A. Van Fleet

After the end of the Second World War, A Communist insurgency began in 1946 In Greece. Operating out of the mountains, a large guerrilla force attempted to Overthrow the Greek government and Replace it with a Communist regime. In 1948, the United States – under the Truman Doctrine, sent equipment and Advisors to Greece, and a defeated Guerilla Army was driven into Albania, Conceding defeat in 1949. General James A. Van Fleet was honored for his Role in helping Greece remain a free nation. Greece joined NATO in 1952.

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Comments
  1. dodonispepe says:

    Nice work.
    Two comments
    – the photo with the caption …A company of men has set up its office between the columns (Doric) of an ancient Greek temple of Neptune… is actually in Sicilia 1943.
    -and the photo with the caption…Soldier training an old man at gun, needing all the man power available..has taken during the German invasion in Greece Apr. 1941. The place is Metsovon where a german soldier demostrate a antitank rifle to a greek paesan.

    Thank you
    Dimitris

  2. […] You can read some good additional detail at this site run by an American organization to remember the event. And there is more at the aceofgreece website. […]

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