Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Greek ‘No’ in the face of German demands

A Greek painting on the walls of Corfu, the Greek restaurant in Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The Greek Community in Dublin celebrated “Ohi Day” in style this afternoon.

After the Cathedral Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral this morning, and coffee in the crypt, I joined the Hellenic Community in ‘Corfu’ in Parliament Street for a community meal.

Oxi Day on 28 October commemorates the day in 1940 when the Greek Prime Minister General Ioannis Metaxas said, “No” to an ultimatum by Mussolini, who demanded that Italian forces should occupy strategic locations in Greece or face war.

Mussolini’s ultimatum was an attempt to impress Hitler by securing what was thought would be an easy victory. But when the Italian Ambassador presented his demands at dawn after a party at the German embassy and Metaxas refused, it was clear that the Greece was being drawn into World War II.

There is no proof that Metaxas answered with such a simple and direct <<'Οχι>> or “No.” But within hours later, Italian troops based in Albania were attacking Greece’s borders.

The day is described with a combination of literary wit and pathos by Louis de Bernières in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. But Oxi Day is more than an anniversary or even a national holiday … it is a day to remember Hellenic values, passion and courage.

We remembered that passion, resistance and the courage to say “No” in ‘Corfu this afternoon. There was music, food and wine, and tributes to Dimitrios Tsouros, a veteran of that struggle.

Everyone had been back in Greece this year. And no-one was without a first-hand sad and emotional story of the struggles and demands Greece faces today.

1 comment:

Patrick Comerford said...

Serious allegations have been made about this posting, and about the wording and phrasing I have used. In a few short paragraphs I have summarised what is common knowledge in Greek history textbooks in both Greek and English, and referred to one novel where this incident is presented dramatically. The commentator provides no opportunities for an offline response and so I have removed the comments.

I do not normally moderate postings in response to my blog, but I have removed this comment to maintain my integrity.