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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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By noemon
#14856882
Obligatory History Reminder as national celebrations break out in Greece.







Adolf Hitler wrote:"For the sake of historical truth I must verify that only the Greeks, of all the adversaries who confronted us, fought with bold courage and highest disregard of death.. " (From speech he delivered to Reichstag on 4 May 1941)


Winston Churchill wrote:"The word heroism I am afraid does not render the least of those acts of self-sacrifice of the Greeks, which were the defining factor in the victorious outcome of the common struggle of the nations, during WWII, for the human freedom and dignity. If it were not for the bravery of the Greeks and their courage, the outcome of WWII would be undetermined." (Paraphrased from one of his speeches to the British Parliament on 24 April 1941)
"Until now we used to say that the Greeks fight like heroes. Now we shall say: The heroes fight like Greeks." (From a speech he delivered from the BBC in the first days of the Greco-Italian war)


Joseph Vissarionovich Tzougasvili Stalin wrote:
"I am sorry because I am getting old and I shall not live long to thank the Greek People, whose resistance decided WWII." (From a speech of his broadcast by the Moscow radio station on 31 January 1943 after the victory of Stalingrad and the capitulation of marshal Paulus)


Charles de Gaul wrote:"I am unable to give the proper breadth of gratitude I feel for the heroic resistance of the People and the leaders of Greece." (From a speech of his to the French Parliament after the end of WWII)


Maurice Schumann Minister of the exterior of France 1969-1973, member of the French Academy 1974 wrote:
"Greece is the symbol of the tortured, bloodied but live Europe.. Never a defeat was so honorable for those who suffered it." (From a message of his he addressed from the BBC of London to the enslaved peoples of Europe on 28 April 1941, the day Hitler occupied Athens after Greece fought a 6-month war)


Moscow, Radio Station to Greece wrote:"You fought unarmed and won, small against big. We owe you gratitude, because you gave us time to defend ourselves. As Russians and as people we thank you." (When Hitler attacked the U.S.S.R.)


Georgy Constantinovich Zhoucov 1896-1974 Marshal of the Soviet Army wrote:"If the Russian people managed to raise resistance at the doors of Moscow, to halt and reverse the German torrent, they owe it to the Greek People, who delayed the German divisions during the time they could bring us to our knees." (Quote from his memoirs on WWII)



Benito Mussolini wrote:"The war with Greece proved that nothing is firm in the military and that surprises always await us." (From speech he delivered on 10/5/1941)


Sir Robert Antony Eden, Minister of War and the Exterior of Britain 1940-1945, Prime Minister of Britain 1955-1957 wrote:"Regardless of what the future historians shall say, what we can say now, is that Greece gave Mussolini an unforgettable lesson, that she was the motive for the revolution in Yugoslavia, that she held the Germans in the mainland and in Crete for six weeks, that she upset the chronological order of all German High Command's plans and thus brought a general reversal of the entire course of the war and we won." (Paraphrased from a speech of his to the British parliament on 24/09/1942)


Sir Harold Leofric George Alexander, British Marshal during WWII wrote:"It would not be an exaggeration to say that Greece upset the plans of Germany in their entirety forcing her to postpone the attack on Russia for six weeks. We wonder what would have been Soviet Union's position without Greece." (Paraphrased from a speech of his to the British parliament on 28 October 1941)


George VI, King of Great Britain 1936-1952 wrote:"The magnificent struggle of Greece, was the first big turn of WWII" (Paraphrased from a speech of his to the parliament in May 1945)


Franklin Roosevelt, President of the United States of America wrote:"On the 28th of October 1940 Greece was given a deadline of three hours to decide on war or peace but even if a three day or three week or three year were given, the response would have been the same. The Greeks taught dignity throughout the centuries. 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."

(Paraphrased from speech he delivered on 10/6/1943)

"The heroic struggle of the Greek people... against Germany 's attack, after she so thunderously defeated the Italians in their attempt to invade the Greek soil, filled the hearts of the American people with enthusiasm and moved their compassion." (Paraphrased from a speech of his on 25/04/1941)


On 10 April 1941, after the capitulation to Germany, the northern forts of Greece surrender. The Germans express their admirations to Greek soldiers, declare that they were honoured and proud to have as their adversary such an army and request that the Greek commandant inspect the German army in a demonstration of honour and recognition! The German flag is raised only after the complete withdrawal of the Greek army. A German officer of the air force declared to the commander of the Greek Eastern Macedonia division group, lieutenant general Dedes that the Greek army was the first army on which the stuka fighter planes did not cause panic. "Your soldiers" he said, "instead of fleeing frantically, as they did in France and Poland, were shooting at us from their positions."
By foxdemon
#14856913
I think it is fair to say Greek resistance changed the outcome of the war. Had the Germans not be delayed in their invasion of Russia, the Russians might not have had the chance to inflict the decisive defeat on them at Stalingrad. That defeat lead to Kursk, the battle that decided WWII.

Australian and New Zealand troops also served in the Greek campaign, though we remember it as one of the many defeats we suffered in the early years of the war. Later we got even with the Germans by beating them at Tobruk and Al Alamein.

https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/greek_campaign

Greek campaign, 1941

Australian Army Ford 4x4 artillery tractor towing a No 27 Mk I limber and an 18 pounder Mk IV field gun in the Verroia Pass, Greece, April 1941. C1119081



The Greek campaign, in which Australian, British and New Zealand troops, under the command of the British general, Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, supported Greek forces against the Axis powers, was an ill-planned, disastrous and short campaign. It resulted from Britain's earlier guarantee to support Greece if it were attacked without provocation.

The Greeks, assisted by British forces, had defeated an Italian invasion in October 1940. On 6 April 1941, German forces attacked Greece and Yugoslavia simultaneously. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was unable to secure support from Turkey for an Allied Balkan front; furthermore, the Australian and New Zealand governments, who provided most of the troops, were not privy to the planning of the operation. Prime Minister Robert Menzies was uneasy about the operation and sought unsuccessfully to have it reassessed.

From the outset, the Allied forces were vastly outnumbered. Some 58,000 men, including two thirds of the Australian 6th Division, were transported from Africa and, together with the Greek Army, faced two German armies: the 12th, consisting of 13 divisions, and the 2nd, with 15 divisions, and including four armoured divisions in each. The campaign was hindered by poor communications between the Greek and British commanders, the primitive road and rail system in Greece, the difficult terrain, and the speed and success of the German advance. On the first day, the Germans made a devastating air attack on Piraeus; the Allies lost the initiative and never regained it. Yugoslavia capitulated quickly, cutting the Greek supply route to its forces on the Italian front. Within a week, General Wilson's forces were in retreat.

Lieutenant General John Coates has summed up the campaign thus:

Yet, as in almost every Allied campaign in the early part of the war, the worst mistakes of the politicians and strategists were moderated by the bravery, fighting qualities and sheer dogged determination of the troops. Greece was no exception.

Australian and New Zealand troops (redesignated the ANZAC Corps) undertook some very successful local fighting but withdrawal was soon inevitable. The occupation of historic Thermopylae Pass by Vasey's 19th Brigade was merely a respite in the retreat down to Athens. The evacuation began on 24 April and over 50,000 troops were removed over five successive nights. A number of small, isolated groups and individual Allied soldiers who had been cut off from the retreat were left behind in Greece. Many of these escaped largely owing to the bravery of the Greek people who assisted them.

Over 26,000 weary Allied troops landed on Crete in the last week of April 1941. They remained on the island for less than a month. In a brief, savage campaign, the Australians inflicted heavy losses on the German paratroopers. One German battalion lost more than two-thirds of its men. Another rearguard action by the 2/7th Battalion, AIF, and the New Zealand Maori battalion left 280 German dead and allowed the retreating forces to reach the evacuation point in Suda Bay. HMAS Perth was hit while carrying members of the AIF back to Egypt. The British admiral in charge of evacuation called it "a disastrous period in our naval history".

Although 15,000 men were evacuated by ships of the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, some 12,000 Allied troops, including 3,000 Australians, were left on Crete and most became prisoners of war of the Germans. As in Greece, some made daring escapes. Many were sheltered by the people of Crete. The war cemetery at Suda contains the graves of 139 men of the AIF and the RAAF.

The Greek campaign remains controversial. It did not succeed in its primary object to assist the effective defence of Greece, and the Australians and New Zealanders sustained heavy losses. Afterwards, both the 6th Australian and the 2nd New Zealand Divisions had to be rebuilt.

Source:
Gavin Long, Greece, Crete and Syria, Australia in the war of 1939-1945, Series 1 (Army), Vol. 2, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1953
By Decky
#14857123
The greatest Greek struggle bar their seizing of Pofo for the good of all! Doubleplussgood!
By foxdemon
#14857135
ness31 wrote:Did they drink Windex for Dutch courage? :D



I am not sure what that means.


It should be noted that the Greek soldiers were, for the most part, volunteers. As such they didn’t have extensive training or preparation. Furthermore, they had very little in the way of heavy equipment. What they did have, they captured from the Italians.

Imagine that one day war suddenly came to your country and you had to go to the battlefield and fight with little or no training. You are given a bolt action rifle and some ammunition. Then you have to go out and kill the enemy to get some decent weapons.

Finally, by the time the Germans rolled up, the Greeks had been fighting the Italians for some time and were approaching the point of exhaustion. The Germans were at the peak of efficiency, having been training for nearly a decade prior to the war and at that time with a year or two of real combat experience. In addition their were well equipped and using the latest combat doctrine with mechanised combined arms and extensive air support.


The ANZAC allies that the British sent to help the Greeks weren’t much better equipped. At that time there were shortages of just about everything. Like the Greeks, most were enthusiastic volunteers rather than hardened soldiers. They had gained some combat experience fighting the Italians in Africa. But they were still organised around a WWI doctrine and were basically light infantry without much anti-tank capability. Without that and air support, there wasn’t much chance, really.

But, as pointed out, the fight was worth it because it disrupted the German schedule and set in motion the train of events that led to their ultimate defeat. It was the Greeks defeating the Italians so convincing that did the trick as that is what drew the Germans in.
By ness31
#14857144
My Big Fat Greek Wedding! The patriarch of a big Greek family used Windex for everything! Gus Portokalos!

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