The NO of the Greeks

The dawn of October 28, 1940 finds Athens waking up with the sirens of the air defense and all the Greeks cheering the resounding “NO” of I. Metaxas in fascist Italy.

The decision to attack Greece was taken on October 15, 1940 by the Italian War Council, in the presence of Mussolini and despite the objections of many of those present to the sloppiness with which the operation was handled. “Duchess” wanted a victory to catch the eye of Hitler, who had expressed reservations about an attack against Greece. He believed that our country was the easy target. “Our only obstacle is the muddy roads,” his staff had assured him. The day of the attack was set for October 26, but Mussolini postponed it to October 28, to coincide with the 18th anniversary of the March to Rome, which brought the fascists to power.

Information about an impending Italian attack was arriving in Athens. At the Council of Ministers on October 25, Metaxas briefed his ministers on the situation and assured them that the country’s military preparations had progressed well. The truth was that our country was almost fortified on the Albanian side and with insufficient military forces, as the burden had been placed on the border with Bulgaria.

Life in the capital, meanwhile, was moving at its own pace. The secular and cultural event of the day was the premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” by the newly formed Opera House. The show would be honored by the composer’s son, a fact that had mobilized secular Athens. Italian Ambassador Emmanuele Grazi had invited Metaxas to a dinner after the show. The dictator refused (“it is unpleasant for each of us to accept the kiss of Judas” he noted in his diary “) and ordered only two ministers to watch the show.

Departure for the front on the evening of October 27th

The Italian News Agency “Stefani” launches an attack against Greece, to which the Athenian News Agency responds. The Greek leadership believes that the Italian attack is a matter of hours. The head of the General Staff, Alexandros Papagos, communicates with the Greek-Albanian border, while Metaxas is also informed.

The bad mantas will not be late. At 3 a.m. on Monday, October 28, the Italian ambassador to Athens, Grazi, will finally meet with Metaxas, but to deliver an ultimatum to him at his home in Kifissia, in which Mussolini demanded that Greece not obstruct the army. to occupy certain strategic positions in our country. The Athens government had three hours to respond. However, this was self-evident to the dictator: “Donc, Monsieur c’est la guerre” (“Well, my Lord we have war!”). With these phrases in French, the NO was said by Metaxas, which echoed the moods of the Greek people. Shortly afterwards, Metaxas informed the British ambassador Paleret and asked for the help of the United Kingdom.

The Italians did not wait for the ultimatum to expire. General Visconti Praska gave the order to attack the Greek positions from 5 in the morning. At this time the first Greek loss occurred. The 27-year-old infantryman Vassilios Tsiavaliaris from Trikala, who was serving in a post on the Greek-Albanian border, was killed by a fragment of Italian mortar. The Italian attack manifested itself with the invasion of strong military forces in the areas of Pindos and Epirus (from Grammos to the Ionian) and with local clashes in the region of NW Macedonia. The Italian general Visconti Praska had 135,000 men at his disposal and his Greek counterpart Alexandros Papagos only 35,000.

At 9:30 in the morning, the first aerial bombardments take place in Piraeus and Tatoi without consequences, while in Patras there will be dead. The Corinth Canal and the naval base of Preveza were also bombed. On the afternoon of October 28, Mussolini proudly announced to Hitler, with whom he met in Florence, the attack on Greece.

Greek-Albanian border

The NO is accepted with unprecedented enthusiasm by all the Greek people, who wake up at 6 in the morning from the sirens and pour into the streets, holding the blue and white. The conscripts were preparing for the front “with a smile on their face” and the radio was constantly broadcasting the famous first announcement of the General Staff: The mortal forces are defending their homeland. “

Greece’s decision to resist provokes the same day of admiration, especially in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries. Dozens of messages of support are gradually arriving, the first being that of King George VI of England, who emphasizes: “Your case is also our case”. In the same vein as Churchill’s telegram: “We will give you all possible help in the fight against the common enemy and we will share the common victory.”

The US, which was out of the war, simply expressed its regret through President Roosevelt, while the Soviet Union remained “silent” after being bound by the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. In contrast, the Turkish press did not boast of a resounding praise for the “NO”. “Ikdam” wrote on October 29 “Long live Greece! We are proud that we have such an nation as an ally “, while” Vakit “mentioned Greece as” an unforgettable example of bravery for the whole world “.


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