On the 28th of October, 1940 the Prime Minister of Greece, Ioannis Metaxas spoke the heart of every Greek with, “Alors,
October 28th is a national public holiday and commemorated every 28th of October in Greece, Cyprus and by Greeks worldwide. The solemn but colorful and festive holiday is a tribute to a crucial time 78 years ago when fascism and those seeking world domination threatened our world. When the stain of Hitler’s Third Reich, Italy’s Mussolini, and the Japanese conquest was a seemingly unstoppable blot on humanity, the vastly outnumbered Greeks held firm. Prime Minister of Greece, Ioannis Metaxas’ refusal to allow the Axis’ militaries free movement through Greek territories forced Hitler’s and Mussolini’s hands.
When the entire Greek population took to the streets on the morning of the 28th October 1940 and yelled “Oxi!,” the world was once again reminded of the bravery, solidarity, and heroism of this ancient people. Me, my wife Mihaela, our son Paul, and our friend Haiko were lucky enough to take part
The tragedy and the unbelievable valor of WWII
“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that Heroes fight like Greeks.”
I pray the reader does not make a trifling of this moment in history, or of the unbelievable valor of these people. For had it not been for the Greeks diverting massive manpower and resources to his southern flank, then the infamous Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union may well have been successful. Few of you reading this will know that the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940 (under the codename Operation Otto). The invasion by Hitler’s Third Reich was the largest invasion force in the history of warfare, and it only failed because of the sinuous efforts of Russians in Stalingrad and Cretans harassing Nazi air bases in Crete.
The celebration in Rethymno on Saturday culminated with a magnificent parade by police, fire, military, and civic organizations alongside school children marching with their classmates through the city streets. The parade began at the corner of the Rethymno Municipal Gardens in front of
Tessaron Martyron Square, and proceeded past the Four Martyrs Church and down the length of Kountouriotou Avenue in the Old City. As you can tell from the images, the streets were literally packed with patriotic Cretans and visitors.
On Oxi Day 2018 my family and I found yet another unique gift of the Cretans. On this day I was reminded of my own country half a century ago when I was a kid with gleaming eyes taking part in a 4th of July celebration. I think that these Cretans may be the last champions of that noble pride for traditions so few seem to have these days. They remind me that the difference between nationalist zeal and humble but courageous sacrifice is unmeasurable, and at the tame time existent on the razor’s edge of our humanity. Alas, I cannot describe them. You’ll just have to come here to see for yourself, what civilization was meant to be.