The story of “Ochi” Day. A national day of pride (Video)
“No” (Ochi) day commemorates the events of October 28,1940, when Emanele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador, delivered an ultimatum to Greek Dictator Ioannis Metaxas at 3 a.m. in the morning. The message from Benito Mussolini demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece. Faced wih this demand, Metaxas responded in French, the diplomatic language of the day. He said, “Alors, c’est la guerre. (Then it is War).” This was transmuted by the Greek press at the time as a laconic “Ochi!” (No!”
The Italian ultimatum expired at 5.30 a.m. and the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into the mountainous Pindos region of Greece. There was unexpectedly fierce resistance. Metaxas died in six months and his successor, Alexandros Koryzis, committed suicide, nonetheless Mussolini was humiliated.
Despite Greece’s ultimate fall to the Nazis, Metaxas’ response was a fatal diversion and delay for the Axis powers as the German army were forced to intervene where the Italians failed. The Battle of Greece was considered as decisive in determining the future course of the Second World War.
“We will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks,” said Winston Churchill.
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