The First Victory: Greece in the Second World War

by George C. Blytas


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From Chapter 24: Looking Back

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The military forces ultimately involved in the Second World War were vast and the Greek Nation represented less than one percent of the Allied manpower pool. How, then, can a thesis be made that the role of Greece in that titanic battle was anything but of miniscule import?
The victories of the Greek army against Mussolini’s forces in Albania were not only the first against an Axis power, they were also won at a most critical time: before Britain had forged what Churchill would later call The Grand Alliance, the alliance with the USSR with her large manpower pool, and the USA with its vast industrial infrastructure.  For that reason, Greece’s contribution to the Allied war effort was much greater than the size of her population might suggest. However, Greece’s contribution to the Allied cause was significant in magnitude as well.
The Battle for Greece had immediate repercussions on the policies of Yugoslavia and Turkey, and on the situation in the Near East. Further west, Spain’s interest in joining the Axis, which was strong in the summer of 1940, waned after the Greek victories in Albania. Finally, the Greek resistance impacted Hitler’s plans in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the USSR significantly. During the critical first year of Churchill’s tenure as Prime Minister of Britain and leader of the Free World, Greece provided the stable point that Archimedes, the inventor of the lever, spoke of twenty three hundred years earlier. Finally, during the three and a half years of occupation, the Greek Resistance forced the Axis to maintain considerable forces in Greece. The Battle for Greece did not last seven months but four years. 

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© 2008 by George Blytas