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Fascist Italy takes pity on starving Athens, the Bulgarian army remains relentless

28 October 2015 / 18:10:50  GRReporter
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A discussion on the issue took place in Berlin but the answer was negative and the deputy was ordered to forget about any claims against Germany. It was impossible to obtain any supplies from the Soviet Union and for the German occupation zone that was the most populous to supply the Italian. In October the same year, Hitler assigned to Italy the responsibility for the livelihood of the Greek population. Mussolini replied, "Having taken even the shoe-laces of the Greeks Hitler is now expecting the Italians to feed them."

In September 1941, 10 thousand tons of grain arrived in Greece but the Italians said that no other aid would be sent. Starvation was tangible in the first week of October as stocks were very low. The Italians pressed the Bulgarian authorities who occupied the most fertile areas to send 100,000 tons of grain but they refused. The German pressure on them failed as well. Following the refusal of the Bulgarian army, the Italians sent 800 tons of grain and the Germans 10 thousand tons. However, the British army sank near the Greek coast the ship that was carrying them. The German deputy requested another shipment but it never arrived. Germany permanently solved the issue of food supply as late as the summer of 1942," George Zavakos writes in his publication in the magazine "History" entitled "Starvation in occupied Greece".
In their testimonies, the witnesses of the events told stories that were reminiscent of screenplays. "My father had begun to cooperate with a resistance organization and had hidden weapons inside the piano at home. One day, a German soldier knocked on our door while I was playing the piano. With gestures, he told my mother that he had heard me playing and wanted her to show him the piano. When he entered the room, I got up and he sat down and started playing. He played excellently, who knows what he was doing before being mobilized in the German army. Then he continued to come and play for several days and my mother stood frozen, fearing that he might open the piano lid and find the weapons hidden inside the piano. That did not happen and the soldier stopped coming. Perhaps he had been moved elsewhere," said one elderly woman from Kipseli.

Meanwhile the campaign against the Jewish population was underway too. "One day we woke up and all were gone. They were just gone. Days later, quite by chance, I saw one of our neighbours in another neighbourhood. She whispered, ‘Please do not tell that you saw me.’ They were afraid of the Germans," said the old woman.

Athens was free again on 12 October 1944 when the German army began to withdraw. The testimonies to the joy of residents are presented in a video by the 56th school in the Athens district of Ambelokipi.

"We were enthusiastic. The people carried the Greek national flag, rushing to Syntagma Square to celebrate the liberation," a resident of the neighbourhood told the interviewing students. Other residents described how they observed the withdrawal of the German army whereas others commented that the joy due to the end of the occupation lasted only for a short while because the December events in Athens were followed by the bloody civil war.

The interesting thing in this project is that it is the work of teachers and students, 83% of whom are from different nationalities. One of them is 14-year-old Boris Antchev from Bulgaria, who not only presented it but was also the cutting editor of the video.

"I like the story that we hear from the people interviewed, the preparations for the discussion and the subsequent work. Otherwise, I am not particularly a fan of history as a school subject," he told GRReporter.

Boris is interested in computers and his dream is to become a developer but he has an opinion about how we should perceive our common history, "In history there are good and bad moments, but we should keep the good ones and leave aside the bad."

Tags: HistoryItalo-Greek WarOXI Day Great FamineGerman occupationItalian occupation zoneBulgarian occupation zoneControl
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