At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini to Prime Minister Ioannis (John) Metaxas demanding Metaxas to allow the Italian army free passage to occupy strategic sites throughout Greece.
Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day, “Alors, c’est la guerre” — “Then, it is war,” quickly became the iconic “Oxi,” or Greek for no, by the citizens of Athens.
At 5:30 a.m., before the ultimatum had even expired, the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into the mountainous Pindos region of Northern Greece. There they met fierce and unexpected resistance (see our header picture when the Hellenes successfully routed the Italians).
Within six months, Ioannis Metaxas would be dead; his successor, Alexandros Koryzis, would commit suicide; and the Germans would raise the swastika over the Acropolis.
King George II of the Hellenes is the first cousin of Prince Phillip of Edinburgh and rose to great popularity for his vehemence against Hitler and Germany. After the Nazi invasion in April 1941 they forced him into exile in Egypt. The Allies restored him after the war, though he died shortly afterward. His brother Pablo (King Paul I married who married a Colberg-Saxe princess in 1938) assumed the monarchy until the 1967 coup when he and his family were dethroned.
Despite Greece’s ultimate fall to Axis powers, Metaxas’ response resulted in a fatal diversion and delay for the Axis powers and the German army. British military historian Sir John Keegan in his masterpiece The Face of The Battle describes the Battle of Greece as “decisive in determining the future course of the Second World War.”
για την αδελφή του παππού μου, τη θεία Κωνσταντίνα που πέθανε αγωνιζόμενη με τους ναζί, zoe sas