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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 57

Tales from Crete | 57

On Monday, everywhere in Greece and in Greek communities around the world, the annual "Oxi" day, or "No" day as it is called in Danish, was celebrated. It is a national holiday that is marked every year on 28 October 2019 and exactly starts at 3 at night. It was precisely at that time that the Italian ambassador, Emanuele Grazzi, in 1940, on behalf of Mussolini or "Il Duce" as he was also called, delivered the landmark letter to the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, with a demand that Metaxas should give the Italians armies free passage to enter and occupy strategic places in Greece without meeting resistance.

Faced with this demand, Metaxas delivered an unequivocal, one-word answer: "Oxi" (No).

Soon after, the Italian army poured over the Greco-Albanian border into the mountainous region of northern Greece, and the war began. Mussolini's advisers had assured him that the invasion of Greece would not take long and Mussolini had become increasingly jealous of Hitler's conquests and wanted to prove that he could lead Italy to similar military successes. But the Greek army responded again with a counterattack, forcing the Italians to retreat, so that by mid-December the Greeks had occupied almost a quarter of Albania and were holding 530,000 Italian troops tied down.

The Greek victory over the initial Italian offensive in October 1940 was the first Allied victory on land in World War II and helped boost morale in occupied Europe. Some historians argue that it may have influenced the entire course of the war by forcing Germany to postpone the invasion of the Soviet Union in order to aid Italy against Greece. This led to a delayed attack and exposed the German forces to the conditions of the harsh Russian winter, leading to their defeat at the Battle of Moscow. Commenting on the Greco-Italian War at the time, Winston Churchill famously said, "Greeks do not fight like heroes, but heroes fight like Greeks." and these are not empty words, for I myself have often heard that the strength the Greeks possess does not lie in the physique but in the psyche. There were many who could learn something from that.

Happy month to you all

Kalo Mina

Tales from Crete | Elena's - The taste of Greece

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