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Greek OXI (Ochi) Day on the 28th of October 1940


Celebrated throughout Greece on October 28th each year, Oxi day (pronounced as Ochi day, means "no" day) commemorates the answer of the Greek Ioannis Metaxas, to the Italian ultimatum which asked Greece to allow Italian forces to use the land of Greece for military operations or otherwise face war.

This ultimatum, which was presented to Metaxas by the Italian ambassador in Greece, Grachi, on the dawn (04:00) of October 28, 1940, after a party in the Italian embassy in Athens, was answered with a single word: oxi! (Ochi!)

The attack began at 05:30. Italy invaded Greece through Albania.
Shortly thereafter, Metaxas addressed the Greek people with these words:

"The time has come for Greece to fight for her independence. Greeks, now we must prove ourselves worthy of our forefathers and the freedom they bestowed upon us. Greeks, now fight for your Fatherland, for your wives, for your children and the sacred traditions. Now, over all things, fight!"

The days that followed, fierce battles along the mountain range of Pindus broke out, after. The Greek people responded with decisiveness and rushed to voluntarily enlist in the army. Thanks to the spirit of heroism that characterised the Greek peasants of the mountainous regions of Epirus (who were carrying military supplies on their backs to the front through mountain paths) and the self sacrifice of the Greek soldiers, the Italian attack was pushed back in a few days. What might have seemed to Mussolini as an easy operation soon turned out to be a nightmare, when Greece counter-attacked and forced the Italian army back deep into Albania (14 November 1940 - 6 January 1941).

The Italian attempts to break the Greek lines, until March 1941, were repulsed, with terrible losses from both sides. What made the Greek victory even more remarkable, is the technical and material superiority of the Italian military machine at the time. These events led Winston Churchill to say that "the world will no longer say that Greeks fight as heroes, but heroes fight as Greeks".

Hitler had to intervene to save his ally, and by April 1941, a well coordinated attack of the Nazi army had commenced. This move however cost the Nazis, since military forces had to be occupied in Greece instead of the eastern front (Russia) where war was going to break out soon. Such a delay was evidently costly for Hitler but proved to be another great Hellenic moment…….

Prepared by

Olga Dionysiou Bisbikis


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