On the 28th of October, Greece and Greek communities around the world celebrate one of the nation’s most important holidays – the “Ochi Day” (“No day”). Today marks 80 years since Greeks said “no” to fascism and refused to accept compromises, fighting for their values and showing ultimate bravery.
Back in 1940, Benito Mussolini saw Greece as an easy victory that would strengthen Italy’s position in the political arena and prove their power to Nazi Germany. With this plan in mind, on the 28th of October Italian ambassador presented the Prime Minister of Greece Ioannis Metaxas with a letter. In this letter, the Italian government was offering Greece an ultimatum: if Greece allows Italian forces to occupy the most strategic locations around Greece, the country will not face war.
After reading the letter, Metaxas turned to the ambassador and said the famous phrase in French “Alors, c’est la guerre” (“Well, this means war”). 2 hours later, Italian forces invaded Greece crossing the borders, while Greeks went out on the streets chanting the simplified answer: “Ochi”.
Not being prepared for such strong resistance coming from Greece and its allies, Mussolini failed and was forced to request Hitler’s help. Despite the fact that 6 months later Greece had to surrender, it was enough time to delay Germany’s invasion to Russia and expose fascist army to its harsh winter conditions, which greatly contributed to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.
To this day, Greece celebrates this moment with parades and celebration, not only as a victory over Nazis but as a great example of the nation’s values, bravery and the rich legacy of our country.