Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No, It's Not Okay

Magnet # 77: The Acropolis in Athens

Material: Ceramic

Purchased By: Me

Today in Greece, they're celebrating Ochi Day. It's the anniversary of the day in 1940 when then Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Italian dictator Mussolini's request that he and the Axis Forces simply be allowed to occupy Greece. He did so by simply saying "Ochi" which means no in Greek. Before day's end, the Italians had attacked the Greek border and Greek citizens had taken to the streets, chanting "Ochi" in support of Metaxas. Greece may have entered World War II, but they were defiant and not going to simply surrender to the Axis powers. Even while the war raged on, Greek citizens continued to celebrate this day, and after the war had ended, it was made into a national holiday.

The Greek Army managed to fight off the Italians, forcing them past the Albanian border, and even taking parts of the country themselves, but this triumph caught the attention of Nazi Germany. They came to the aid of their allies, attacking with a Blitzkrieg campaign and Bulgaria invaded as well. By July of 1941, all of Greece had fallen and was divided between Italy, Germany, and Bulgaria in a triple occupation. During this time, the Germans massacred the Greek villages like Kommeno and even turned on the Italians, killing scores of their soldiers stationed at Kos and Cephallonia. Thousands of Greeks died during this time, and many were left homeless and starving. But they were not deterred. The resistance movement in Greece was one of the strongest offered by any occupied nation and it inspired the rest of Europe. Early on, the ancient Acropolis became the site of two of the most shocking and memorable acts of resistance to date in the war. One came when the Germans climbed up to where the flag was flying. There, they ordered the guard to take down the Greek flag and replace it with the Nazi swastika flag. Once he had taken down the Greek flag, he wrapped it around himself and leapt off the cliff to his death, a proud Greek to the end. The second occurred when two Athenian youths snuck up to the Acropolis and tore down the German flag now raised there under the cover of night. The pair are still alive and are now national heroes. German retaliation for these and other acts, however, were brutal, and for a time, they ceased. But by 1942, groups of resistance fighters had sprung up and would not go away. However, these groups later proved to be a detriment for the country once it was liberated in 1944 when German forces fled the coming of the Soviet Army. They then began to clash with one another, resulting in Civil War in 1946. All in all, it would take the Greeks decades to recover from the repercussions of the Axis Forces' occupation.

Throughout history, the Greeks have been invaded and occupied countless times, but they remain a proud and defiant nation. This is their opportunity to celebrate the fact that while some Europeans cowered before the Nazi forces during World War II, giving them little to no resistance whatsover, they showed the world that Greece is not a place that takes invaders lightly. Their military actions against Germany played an important part in draining their resources so the Allies could defeat them, although that is rarely acknowledged.  Yes, they may have paid dearly for their defiance, but once again, we are reminded that it is not okay to mess with Greece.


  1. Because they are Spartans!

    hehe. Love your history lessons with these magnets. Very informative!

  2. Ha - thanks! Yes, I have fun learning all these new facts as I write my posts.