Ohi Day

Ohi Day is celebrated throughout the world on October 28 each year by Greeks, to commemorate the rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940. The village of Avliotes holds a parade by all the elementary school children of the village as do nearly every town and city in Greece to honor this eventful and historical day.

Avliotes 28th October Parade - Oxi Day

Avliotes 28th October Parade – Oxi Day

This ultimatum, which was presented to Metaxas, the Greek Prime Minister at the time, by the Italian ambassador in Greece, demanded that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified “strategic locations” or otherwise face war. It was allegedly answered with a single laconic word: όχι – ‘ohi’ (No!). This ultimatum was sent on 4 am on the 28th of October and the Italians forces attacked on 5:30 am of that day. The whole country mobilized and most of the able ready men fought in the mountains of Epirus in northwestern part of Greece. Within weeks, the Italians were driven out of Greece and Greek forces pushed on to occupy much of southern Albania. Greece was out numbered by the Italians 2 to 1 and had to fight a far superior Italian army. What a lot of people don’t know is that this was the very first land victory by the Allies in the Second World War, and helped raise morale in occupied Europe.

"Greek Offensive 1940 41 in Northern Epirus" by Alexikoua - Own work, Date taken from:*Topography taken from DEMIS Mapserver, which are public domain, other wise self-made.*An abridged history of the Greek-Italian and Greek-German war, 1940-1941: (Land Operations) Hellenic Army General Staff, Army History Directorate, 1997.*L'Attacco Italiano alla Grecia (Avvenimenti dell'anno 1940). Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

“Greek Offensive 1940 41 in Northern Epirus” by Alexikoua – Own work, Date taken from:*Topography taken from DEMIS Mapserver, which are public domain, other wise self-made.*An abridged history of the Greek-Italian and Greek-German war, 1940-1941: (Land Operations) Hellenic Army General Staff, Army History Directorate, 1997.*L’Attacco Italiano alla Grecia (Avvenimenti dell’anno 1940). Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

As this was a bit of an embarrassment for the Axis, Germany had to come and deal with its weaken southern flank. The German military machine had no problem defeating the Greeks but at a price which some historians say won the war for the Allies as it meant that Germany had to delay its invasion of Russia and thus suffered defeat due to the harsh Russian winter.  Inspired by the Greek resistance during the Italian and German invasions, Churchill said, “Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks”.

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4 thoughts on “Ohi Day

  1. Look forward to reading any other snippets of Greek history that you can publish.
    Very interesting read.
    Thant you Speros

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