What is Oxi Day in Greek History?
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Oxi 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 on October 28th. It marks the day when General Metaxas rejected an ultimatum given by the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, during World War II. Here’s more information about what Oxi Day really is and what it means for Greek history:
Mussolini Makes an Ultimatum
Greece has a very strategic location, which means that who ever occupies it could control much of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding areas. This is especially true of southern islands such as Crete. The strategic position of that island creates an excellent base of operations during war time.
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. Although we do know that Metaxas’ action propelled Greece into war, the Greek people were largely in support of it and considered it an act of bravery.
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. However, eventually the Axis Powers returned to Greece and the country was occupied by the Germans for a time.
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.
It’s true that the actions of Metaxas concerning Mussolini propelled Greece into a war that eventually led to the Axis Powers occupying Greece. However, it is also true that Metaxas represented a spirit of bravery that is still celebrated by the Greek people today. This was the first tangible moment that the Allies realized that there was a hope to defeat the Axis Powers. Rather than give into the dictator, he stood up for Greece and ultimately did what was right.
Categorized in: Modern Greek History
This post was written by GreekBoston.com