Today is ‘Ochi’ day in Greece. Parades to mark the day that Greek PM Metaxas said a firm “No” to Mussolini have been celebrated in Greece ever since the end of WWII.
I was lucky enough to see the Ochi Day Parade in Thessaloniki in 2008 and here is the relevant passage from my book ‘On The Beaten Track’:
‘Next day was a special day. Known as ‘Ochi’ Day, the 28th October commemorates the time that the Greek PM Metaxas said an emphatic “NO” in response to an ultimatum made by Italian dictator Mussolini on 28th October 1940. The ultimatum had been to allow Italian troops and their allies to occupy strategically important parts of Greece.
The Greek refusal led to an Italian invasion and Greece being pulled into WWII. Despite the hardships that this brought about, the refusal was universally popular with the Greek population at that time and has been celebrated every year since with military and student parades, Thessaloniki holding the biggest one in the country.
Slightly worse for wear, we joined the local crowds on the streets to see marching bands along with a show of Greece’s military arsenal of tanks, missiles, jets and assorted armoured vehicles. It was an impressive sight, no doubt sending a message to Greece’s near neighbours/old foes.’
The extremely brave role that Greece played in WWII is usually understated by historians and in some instances ignored all together – this is a crime as the sacrifices this noble country made in standing up to the fascist enemy saved many allied lives.
Happy Ochi Day to all my special friends and family in Athens and those in the UK too.