submitted by Spyro Calocerinos on 15.11.2004
I remember when Mussolini demanded from the Greek Government to allow free passage to his troops through Greece and received the unexpected answer "OXI" NO!! which is still celebrated on the 28th of October
I remember, the pride of the Greeks when the Italians were defeated in Northern Greece and Albania.
I remember,the promises made to Greece by our Friendly and strong nations,for being brave to fight on their side and the world said that Heroes die like Greeks
Greece,defeated the Italian forces, but could not defeat the Might of the German forces.
I remember,the first German troops entering Hora,Kythera, in motorcycles,cars and trucks.
For us children, this was a new experience and couldn't understand the meaning of invasion.
When the first motorcycle was entering Hora,a Greek "Germanofilos"-friend of the Nazis and their ideals-met them hoisting the German flag.The Germans saluted their flag and fired shots in the air. When their Commanding Officer approached the man with the flag,ordered his driver to stop,saluted the flag and then approached the Greek person hoisting the flag (whom I will not name) and after establishing that he was Greek,slapped him in the face and continued his drive into Hora.
I remember,when the Germans entered Hora's plateia, the first building they visited was the temporary Telegraphic Centre. That was where the National Bank Of Greece stands today.The man in charge of the telegraphic equipment,(Mr. Kourempanas) had smashed the Communications equipment with a sledge hammer, so the communications equipment would not fall into enemy hands.
I remember the German Communications Officer when he saw the equipment smashed,he pointed his gun at Mr.Kourempanas and his Commanding Officer not only pushed the German away,but with the assistance of an interpreter,congratulated Mr.Kourempanas for being a true Greek,adding that the Greeks,have nothing to be ashamed of.The German Might,could not be stopped by much greater forces than Greece.
He also indicated that the strategic position of Kythera was very important to the Germans.
I remember, so many incidents during the occupation.So many different feelings. Fear,for not knowing what will happen next.Fear when the Germans pointed a gun at me as they were looking for two Germans taken prisoner by a Greek political pary in Livadi and I just happened to be in the area they were searching. That fear then became hatred,anger and helpnessness. Fear the same night, when the Germans surrounded around 100 Kytherians in Hora's plateia,(including my parents)forcing them against the wall with a machine gun pointed at them,then warning them that for every German harmed, 50 Greeks would die.Then released them unharmed.... and the feeling ofreleif.
I remember,the battle for Crete and watching the bombing of friendly ships including the sinking of the British Cruiser HMS Gloucester. The huge smoke screens put up by the ships, the German airplanes bombing them and other airplanes screaming down on a ball of fire to end either in the sea or smashed on the ground.
I also remember the British survivors brought in Kapsali by the Germans.
I remember,the day that the Germans left Kythera.The elation that followed, with the arrival of British Commandos and subsequent arrival of British and Greek ships in Kapsali. Most of all, I remember the feeling of FREEDOM.
It is impossible to put in words or place a value on someone's freedom, unless you had it and lost it.
After a few years, one looks back at all those events,perhaps from a not so emotional perspective.
To my knowledge (and I stand correcting on this) no Kytherians were deliberately killed by the Germans. Terrified,interogated beaten up, Yes. But not deliberately killed. The only Kytherians killed deliberately were killed by our own Greek political parties. Houses were burned,people were taken away to the mainland not knowing what to expect. Some never returned.
I remember, the promises made by our big,strong, friendly nations,when Greece entered the war on their side and subsequently one million Greeks lost their lives.
It was such a long time ago!!!
Those promises....well...they remain promises.
But the scars left inside each one of us that experienced all the above, will never heal.
P.S. The promises made by our friendly powers, were the return to Greek sovereignty of the following: Dodecanissa -these were returned to Greece after the war- Imvros and Tenedos islands from Turkish rule, Cyprus and the Greek part of Macedonia from Yugoslavian rule.
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
‘Andrew’ Anargyros Vretos Fatseas
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