At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, during the World War Two, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Prime Minister Benito Mussolini to Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas. Mussolini demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in (neutral) Greece unopposed. Faced with this demand, Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day, “Alors, c’est la guerre.” This brief phrase, “Then, it is war,” was quickly transmuted into the laconic “Oxi,” the Greek for no, by the citizens of Athens. (Source).
(I remember Aunt Sofia, who was born on the island of Andros, pronounced it ‘oy-chee’, with the ‘ch’ sounded gutturally from the back of the mouth.)
Italy’s invasion of Greece, launched from Italian-controlled Albania, was a fiasco: six divisions of the Italian Army…encountered unexpectedly tenacious resistance by the Hellenic Army and had to contend with the mountainous and muddy terrain on the Albanian–Greek border. By mid-November, the Greeks had stopped the Italian invasion just inside Greek territory. As the British bombers and fighter aircraft struck Italy’s forces and bases, the Greeks… counter-attacked with the bulk of their army to push the Italians back into Albania …in January 1941. The defeat of the Italian invasion and the Greek counter-offensive of 1940 have been called the “first Axis setback of the entire war” by Mark Mazower, the Greeks “surprising everyone with the tenacity of their resistance”. (Source)
Greek communities around the world will celebrate Oxi! Day on October 28, eighty-one years after Greece became an Ally against Nazi Germany during World War Two. She suffered terribly but emerged from the war as the only Eastern European country able to resist becoming a Soviet Satellite.
Interesting. There’s a typo. Metaxas was born in 1871, not 1971.
Thanks for reading and noticing.
“It’s always something”–Roseanne Roseanandana.
Brings back memories of my first trip to Greece in 1969 as a nine year old. The train journey from Athens to Tripolis in the Peloponnese took six hours and included a switchback in the mountains. During the switchback one couldn’t communicate since anything one said was drowned out by the cicadas.The signs of WW2 and the civil war were everywhere: destroyed railway bridges, concrete bunkers and pillboxes with either KKE or InterAmerican or both painted on them and, as the train pulled into Tripoli, a massive white OXI on one of the mountain sides. I learned later from someone in Tripoli that the OXI was the biggest in Greece and was made up of whitewashed stones. The letters were so white the stones must have been whitewashed every year. I can’t remember when I first noticed the OXI was no longer there – perhaps the mid 1980s? Today the mountain side is still OXI-free but its outline is scarred by wind turbines.
Thanks for the memory…
ounter faxtually, what did the Greeks save themselves – and Europe – from? And what would the USSR have done with ports on the Med.
A quick answer is: Ports on the med can accommodate warships, yes?
In Valencianan (and I suspect Catalan), x is occasionally pronounced “ch”. I have a friend there, Ximo (“Chimo”).
The brutal editor weighs in: In your opening sentence you didn’t capitalize Second World War, which immediately caught my eye. In your closing you DO capitalize World War Two. Is the latter a formal name, while the former isn’t? 🤔
An interesting read, thanks.
I was directly quoting the sources. I’ll edit to make them in consonance, and thanks for noticing, Gary.
It is an historic day and this year the Greeks will say OXI to Covid as well.!
“So let it be written, so let it be done…”