Books on Greece
Update No: 125 - (25/10/07)
The Second World War lives on
Greece played a very important role in the Second World War. Mussolini invaded
it in October 1940 and immediately got bogged down. Italian military performance
throughout the conflict was lamentable.100,000 British troops under General
Wavell, for instance, were able to sweep one million Italian troops out of their
colonies in North Africa only a few months beforehand. Rommel and the Afrika
Corps had to be sent out to save the day.
Germany found Italy more a liability than an asset throughout, having to pull
the chestnuts out of the fire for Musso again and again, in a series of costly
distractions. It is a huge irony that the other powers were vying for an Italian
alliance right up to the outbreak of war.
None of Mussoloni's military escapades was more damaging than the invasion of
Greece. German troops had to be dispatched immediately. It meant at least a
month's delay in the German invasion of the USSR, which might have made all the
difference between victory and defeat. Moscow would have probably fallen with
another month before winter set in, with the enormous impact on Russian morale
and organisation that would have made.
Hitler himself thought so and reproached Mussolini in his last letter to him to
that effect. Mussolini kept the letter in his pocket to the end. As AJP Taylor
said, the incident is revealing of national character, the German penchant for a
hard luck story and shifting the blame onto someone else for failure, the
Italian that for conspiracy. For Mussolini was planning, if brought to court
afterwards, to come out as the first resister!
Greece last country to approve opening up of last vital Holocaust file
The Greeks had a terrible time in the war and there is a lot that they would
prefer to forget about it. An estimated 60,000 Greek Jews, most of the country's
prewar Jewish population, were killed during the conflict. This was not without
some collaboration with the Nazis, albeit a fierce resistance movement existed
The last remaining hurdle to opening up access to a key Holocaust archive in
Germany has been cleared with Greek approval and should be available by year's
end, officials said on October 23.
Greece was the last of the 11 countries on an international commission governing
the archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany - one of the largest collections of Nazi-era
material in the world - to approve opening up public access to the storehouse.
The Greek parliament unanimously approved amending the treaty on October 22, a
senior U.S. official said on October 23. The massive archive overseen by the
International Tracing Service now can be transferred digitally to national
repositories on the Holocaust, and then gradually made available to the public
via the Internet.
Ambassador J. Christian Kennedy, the U.S. special envoy for Holocaust issues who
has spearheaded efforts to open the archive, congratulated Greece. "We have
now come to the end of the political and diplomatic part of the process,"
he said by telephone from the northern city of Thessaloniki, where he was
meeting with Greek officials and representatives of the Jewish community.
He said in the 1990s, the ITS took on the mission of providing proof for people
seeking compensation for forced slave labour during the Holocaust. He said the
next step is opening up the archive to the public.
The harrowing trove of information - detailing life, and death, in World War II
concentration camps through Gestapo reports, victim testimonials and other
firsthand period sources - has been largely out of public view since the
information was gathered in storehouses in Bad Arolsen after the war. The
archives consist of up to 100 million digital pages of information divided into
separate collections covering detention records, forced and slave labor, and
displaced persons, as well as an index containing around 17 million names.
The archives "have never been secret" but access had been restricted
to survivors and their families. Now, archivists will begin processing public
requests for information. "These are very complex files, and for the moment
people will still have to rely on archivists," he said. "But it is a
step toward searchable, digital databases that will be very important."
France completed its parliamentary approval just before Greece, and the U.S.,
Israel, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Italy
approved the change earlier.
Time is fast running out for Nazi concentration camp survivors, but experts hope
the information will help historians, and victims' descendants, piece together
missing details of what happened during the Holocaust.
Greece lagging behind in reforesting burnt areas: minister
Two months after one of Greece's worst fire disasters which consumed more than
150,000 hectares of forest, the agriculture ministry admitted on October 23 that
reforestation efforts had still not taken off.
"We need to start taking decisions," junior Agriculture Minister
Costas Kiltidis told the private Flash Radio amid reports that illegal
developers had started encroaching on burnt land, a decades-old practice that
has seen forests swiftly replaced by summer villas.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had repeatedly declared in past weeks that the
state would "automatically" begin reforestation procedures on green
areas lost in this summer's wildfires.
At least 67 people died in the August inferno that mainly raged in the
Peloponnese peninsula south of Athens and on Evia island east of Athens, and
also destroyed scores of homes and farms with livestock.
A new arrival to the cabinet after the September elections, Kiltidis said the
agriculture ministry would employ satellite imagery to detect any illegal
construction on charred forest land.
He also promised to enforce a hunting ban around fire-stricken areas after press
reports that around 50 protected red deer were killed by poachers in Mount
Parnitha National Park, which lost around a third of its trees in another fire