The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 1941-1945

The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 1941-1945

The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 1941-1945

The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 1941-1945


This is the true story of an American youth, John Alexander, who, upon his high school graduation in 1940, joined his parents and his sister on a vacation to the Island of Crete to visit his father's parents. The vacation on this beautiful Mediterranean island was overshadowed by the war that spread southward from the European continent to engulf Greece and subsequently Crete in the first airborne invasion of an island fortress in modern military history. After a ten-day, hard-fought battle against the German invader, Crete lay conquered. However, Cretan resistance was so fierce that with the battle concluded, the Nazi conqueror was intent on punishing the entire Cretan population. From the first day of the occupation, the people of Crete suffered savage punitive reprisals for their heroic resistance to the barbaric Nazi invaders. Death squads went from village to village, executing hostages at random and burning entire communities. Two thousand civilians died at the execution wall in the first month of occupation alone. John's father maintained his neutrality as an American citizen during the invasion and the occupation that followed. However, one night, John's father hid three escaped British stragglers in his home until they could be safely escorted to the southern coast for evacuation. The Gestapo found out, entered the Alexander home, killed John's father, and threw the youth into prison to die. John escaped and fled to the mountains, but swore vengeance on the murderer of his father. The people of Crete continued their resistance through the Cretan Resistance Movement and with the aid of British and American military personnel of the SOE and the OSS. They banded together to form aresistance movement against the Nazis that set an example for all the conquered people of Europe to follow. This is a story of the stark reality of human endeavor and sacrifice, marked by acts of heroism of which little has


After completing my earlier book Ten Days to Destiny--The Battle for Crete, 1941 (1985), in which I related the adventure, the audacity, and the horror of the first airborne invasion of an island- fortress in military history, and described the heroic involvement of the thousands of British Commonwealth soldiers and Cretan civilians who stood defiant in resisting the German invader, I thought that the story would end at that point. It was not to be.

My research into the whole subject of the battle and its aftermath revealed that the battle was only the beginning of the tale; that the story of the German occupation that followed the battle was an equally dramatic history of courageous human endeavor against the forces of oppression. It was a history that had to be related so that it could take its place in the scribed annals of the Second World War.

In writing The Nazi Occupation of Crete, I did not intend to present a total compilation of the many dramatic episodes that took place on the island during the years of that tragic occupation which began in 1941 and ended in 1945. Rather, I wanted to acquaint the reader with what happened on that island during that period of time, events that ultimately gave rise to the first organized resistance movement in Europe against Nazism by the oppressed people of that continent.

To complete my research, I sought to find the survivors or relatives of the survivors of that period in history, so that I might enter their stories into the record. Many narrated the events of their personal participation and documented them with diaries and letters . . .

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