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Inside Hitler’s Greece Essay

1693 words - 7 pages

According to the book Inside Hitler’s Greece, written by Mark Mazower, the outcome of the Axis occupation in Greece was immensely irreparable. By the end of the occupation, late 1944s, “one million Greeks had seen their homes looted and burned down, their crops damaged and their churches despoiled,” “more than 20,000 civilians had been killed or wounded, shot, hanged or beaten,” and “over a thousand villages had been razed” by the Wehrmacht troops (155). Ironically, as stated by Mazower, “it was Hitler’s own actions which led to the German intervention in Greece” even though he “did not really want to invade” (15). Yet, for someone who did not initially want to get involved with Greece, the Germans sure did a number on them. As they “had broken apart the existing structure of Greek society” (82) through numerous tactics, the most devastating through famine, governmental authority and violence.
One of the main ways the Nazi occupation had broken the essence of Greece society apart was through the ghastly tactics of famine. This all begun when the troops were first sighted coming into the city of Athens. In the hopes of keeping the Greek government alive for when the Germans eventually left, they all abruptly fled to neighboring island, Crete. This left Greece with no standing government to lead and guide the Greek people through such chaos. Mazower explains that when the troops first arrived they “appeared undernourished, tired and even ‘half-starved’” (23). While there was “little violence, the soldiers took food and requisitioned what they liked,” most likely due to the fact that they brought “no food for the troops with them,” thus leaving the troops to fend for themselves, raiding and looting local villages, houses and people (23). To further the animosity of the Germans, Mazower uses a man’s astonishment - by the name of Minos Dounias – who questioned “where is the traditional German sense of honor? I lived in Germany thirteen years and no one ever cheated me” (23), Mazower then goes on voicing Minos that “they have all become thieves. They empty houses of whatever meets their eye” (24) and they are looting the Greek people “for all they are worth, both openly and by forcing the Greeks to sell for worthless paper marks, issued locally” (24). This was a devastating time for the Greeks, seeing as shortly after arrival, “the Germans were taking goods out of the country and putting nothing in” (32). This demonstration of ruthless hostility was certainly going to swell up quickly and affect Greek people - severely - in the near future. Sure enough, not much later, “hunger was slowly ripping the social fabric” of Greece apart (51), as “food became an obsession, dominating conversations and invading people’s dreams” (44). Even “death itself – its associations, rituals and significance – was dramatically affected” (41) as “families dumped the bodies in the public cemeteries at night so that they could hold on to their ration cards” (38). According...

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