Too often we see the past as a mass of facts alone, without recalling the reasons. We acknowledge that this was done then. That historians have confirmed such and such statistics.
But while concrete facts are an essential part of history, they are never the whole of it. The story is always bigger than the What. It is also the How and, hardest of all to pin down, the Why.
Why did the Greeks say No to Mussolini? They said No because behind the No was so many a Yes.
They said No because they did not see why the Duce and his shrieking cohort, Hitler, should own the future.
And yes, it mattered.
They said No because someone had to draw a line as two bullies rampaged over Europe.
And yes, it mattered.
They said No because they were tired of being underestimated.
They said No even though they well knew the darkness that their defiance would bring them.
Not because they bore ill will to any man or woman in Italy or Germany, nor to their sons and daughters, nor to those of any other people, but because, despite the eons that had passed since the days of their ancestors, they were, after all, still the heirs of the founders of Western civilization.
No one could take that away from them. And yes, it mattered.
Because if they forgot what they stood for, and what they had inherited, and who they were, then tomorrow was lost, and life itself was lost – not merely the life of one man or woman, but life in the large, as the principle of all that was hopeful and generous and humane in the universe.
In this principle they believed. And yes, it mattered.
To this principle, above all else, they said thunderingly, resoundingly, irrefutably: Yes.
So let the mailed fist come, they said. Let it do its damndest, they said.
Because, after all, they were the Greeks.
The above extract is from the forthcoming book “The Sword of Zeus: The Hidden Story of how Greece shaped WWII” by N.J. Slabbert.
THE SWORD OF ZEUS Project is a new multimedia initiative which focuses new light on the extraordinary story of Greece’s heroic role in WWII and examines the Western world’s complicated relationship with Hellenism.
The Project currently includes three books and a film. In honor of Ohi Day 2010 the publishers are releasing a limited series of preview excerpts from the first book in the series. New extracts will be released here periodically until further notice. We hope this will encourage a season of remembrance marking this, the 70th anniversary of Greece’s defiance of the Mussolini-Hitler Axis on October 28, 1940.
Learn more: theswordofzeus.info
The Sword of Zeus