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By John Carr

On 28 October 1940, the Greek ideal, Ioannis Metaxis, refused to simply accept a intentionally provocative ultimatum from Mussolini and Italian forces all started the invasion of Greece through Albania. This aggression used to be caused by way of Mussolini's hope for a fast victory to rival Hitler's speedy conquest of France and the Low nations. On paper, Greek forces have been poorly built and in poor health ready for the clash yet Mussolini had underestimated the ability and backbone of the defenders. inside of weeks the Italian invasion strength was once pushed again over the border and Greek forces really complex deep into Albania.

A renewed Italian offensive in March 1941 used to be additionally given brief shrift, prompting Hitler to intrude to avoid wasting his best friend. German forces invaded Greece through Bulgaria on 6 April. The Greeks, now assisted by means of British forces, resisted via land, sea and air yet have been crushed via some of the best German forces and their blitzkrieg strategies. regardless of a dogged rearguard motion by way of Anzac forces on the well-known cross of Thermopylae, Athens fell at the twenty seventh April and the British evacuated 50,000 troops to Crete. This island, whose airfields and naval bases Churchill thought of important to the protection of Egypt and the Suez Canal, used to be invaded by means of German airborne troops the next month and at last captured after a sour thirteen-day conflict. the remainder British troops have been evacuated and the autumn of Greece accomplished.

John Carr's masterful account of those determined campaigns, whereas no longer disparaging the British and Commonwealth assistance, attracts seriously on Greek resources to stress the oft-neglected event of the Greeks themselves and their contribution to the struggle opposed to fascism.

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But the desire to serve and reform his country, however unrewarding, kept him like a moth to a flame. He formed the Libertarian Party whose policy was to heal the chronic and bitter royalist-liberal rift and build up Greece’s trade and industry. He gained enough votes in 1926 to become minister of communications, signing off on extensive road-building and irrigation projects in impoverished country districts. Two years later, out of office, he took up his pen as a newspaper columnist. He refused all calls to re-enter politics.

The French, in fact, nursed grand plans to enrol Greece in a French-led Armée de l’Orient, but nothing ever came of them. Metaxas’ economic burden at home was quite as daunting as the diplomatic one. The Greek economy in 1936 was in a parlous state, running a budget deficit of 844 million drachmas and dependent on a constant stream of foreign loans. In a country of about five million people, 135,000 were unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greek refugees from Turkey, uprooted after the war of 1920–22, were still living in hovels.

He mused in his diary in June. ’ The Elli incident of 15 August was the catalyst for the Greek realization that war was imminent and Metaxas was the man to lead the country when it came. Many on the left as well as right shared that view. A young Athens University professor of sociology named Panayotis Kanellopoulos, jailed for his liberal activism, was moved enough to write to Metaxas personally, assuring him that if war should break out, the dictator may rest assured that Greece would in the end defeat the Axis.

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