The Greaco-Italian war

During the early hours of the 28th of October 1940, the Italian embassador Emanuele Grazzi was handing over an ultimatum to the Greek leader Ioannis Metaxas. Italy demanded free access of any part of the country they deemed so, without resistance, within 3 hours. An impossible feat. A decision like this had to pass through the King of Greece and the council of advisors and ministers. Even if they had agreed to surrender, the orders to the rest of the state and military leaders would have taken at least 24 hours to come into effect. Metaxas, still on his nightgown, with his eyes starting to tear said sadly but firmly "Alors, c'est la guerre!" (Well, this is war!) 1,5 hour before the ultimatum expired, the Italian troops accompanied by Albanian infantry crossed the Greek-Albanian borders and attacked hoping to conquer Athens within 2 weeks. Metaxas although having been beeen a leader of Greece for only 3 years had been secretely preparing for this attack since day 1. Through a small but effective ring of spies, he even knew the day of the attack. He allowed the enemy to engage the first prepared defensive positions, a few miles in the interior, and then he conscripted anyone that Greece could spare and counter attacked. Although the Greek army had a weak navy, 40+ airplanes, few trucks and no tanks, it managed to gradually and slowly make the Italians retreat deep into the Albanian territory despite the cold and the snow. Such was the surprise of the free world for this small country that managed to resist the Axis, that at the Italian occupied parts of France, the French resistance would paint "Grecs, c'est la France!" (Greeks, this is France!) By the spring of 1941 the situation stabilized. The Greeks, despite the British navy covering their rear could not advance and reached a stalemate. The Germans with a force of 80.000 and the help of the Bulgarian army attacked the 6th of April and by May had managed to conquer the entire country. But, the operation "Margarita" of the Germans had cost them 3-4 precious months. Instead of March 1941, they attacked the USSR the 22nd of June. By October 1941 when the battle of Moscow started, heavy snowfall and bitter cold made the feat impossible. In the photo a Greek father gives a last kiss to his daughter before leaving to the front in October 1940.

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