Modern Greek History

What is Oxi Day in Greek History?

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Flag of Greece is waving at Pothia cityscape the capital of Kalymnos island backgroundOxi Day, also referred to as the, “Day of No” is an important part of modern Greek history that is also celebrated as a holiday each year. This day, which falls on October 28 of each year, honors the anniversary of when Ioannis Metaxas rejected an ultimatum that was made by Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, which would allow the Axis Powers to enter Greece. Although Metaxas’ rejection of the ultimatum prompted the country into war, his bravery is much celebrated in the Greek culture. Here’s more information about Oxi Day and the events of history that surround it:

Mussolini Makes an Ultimatum

Greece has a very strategic location, which means that who ever occupies it could countrol much of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding areas. The Axis wanted to set up a presence on Greece to help further its overall war strategy during World War II. Benito Mussolini wanted to give Greece a chance to succumb to occupation peacefully and without fighting, so he issued an ultimatum. He basically said that if Greece doesn’t let the Axis occupy certain strategic parts of Greece otherwise the refusal would be looked at as an act of war.

Metaxas Answers the Ultimate with a “No”

Instead of let the Axis enter Greece without a fight, Metaxas stood his ground and refused to let the Axis Powers enter Greece without a fight. Although Metaxas’ response was translated as, “No” or “Oxi” in Greek, he actually responded to the ultimatum in French by saying, “Alors, c’est la guerre,” which means, “Then it is war.” This launched Greece into war with Italy and ultimately into World War II as a whole.

Greece Enters the Greco-Italian War

After Metaxas refused to let the Axis occupy some of the most strategic areas in Greece, this move started the Greco-Italian War, which took place during World War II. The war officially began on October 28, 1940, which is the day that Metaxas’ rejected Mussolini’s ultimatum, and lasted until April 23, 1041. The Italians were driven from Greek soil, which did much to bolster not only the morale of the people of Greece, but of the whole world. They saw the Greek victory as representative of the possibility that the Axis could be defeated. People all over the world marveled at the bravery of the Greeks and it seemed to give the Allies a new sense of confidence that it was possible to defeat the Axis.

Oxi Day Celebrations Today

Today, Oxi Day always falls on October 28 and celebrations, such as parades, occur throughout Greece. Although this action resulted in entering Greece into World War II, people all over the world admired Greece’s bravery for standing up to the Axis. Also, Greece eventually did succumb to Axis occupation, but Greece’s bravery during key battles, such during the Battle of Crete, inspired the rest of the world. This is the first time a country had stood up to the Axis Powers with any amount of success. It gave the rest of the world hope that the Axis could, in fact, be defeated.

Sources:

Wikipedia – Oxi Day

Wikipedia – Greco-Italian War

Wikipedia – Battle of Crete

Wikipedia – Axis Powers

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com

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