The Acropolis by Night

“You know we could be shot for this Manolis.”

“You’re worried about a Nazi bullet, Stefanos? How about we don’t fall first and break our necks.”

“I’d rather break my neck than hide like a coward from those bastards even one more day.”

The two teens faced the dangers of climbing to the uppermost point of the Acropolis by night in Nazi occupied Athens motivated by a common enemy. Manolis became a resistance fighter to help free his country. Stefanos and his family were hidden from the Nazis by Manolis’s Greek Orthodox parents. Never in the two-thousand years that Romaniote Jews had been living in Greece had the Church been so kind to them.

“We’ve reached it, Stefanos. Untie your end and I’ll get the other.”

“I’d love to see how fucking Tsolakoglou will explain the absence of the Reichskriegsflagge to the Nazis in the morning.”

I’ve taken some liberties with history but not too many I hope.

The Axis powers did occupy Greece starting in 1940 and did so until 1944. Few Greeks cooperated with the Italians and Germans and passively or actively resisted them.

According to Wikipedia:

Active Greek resistance started immediately as many Greeks fled to the hills, where a partisan movement was born. One of the most touching episodes of the early resistance is said to have taken place just after the Wehrmacht reached the Acropolis on 27 April. The Germans ordered the flag guard, Evzone Konstandinos Koukidis, to retire the Greek flag. The Greek soldier obeyed, but when he was done, he wrapped himself in the flag and threw himself off the plateau where he died.

The story about two Greek youths taking the Reichskriegsflagge (Nazi flag) from the highest point of the Acropolis by cover of night is true, however the boys were actually Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas, neither of them Jews.

I replaced one of the boys (please forgive me Mr. Glezos and Mr. Santas) with a fictional Jewish teen because many Jews were saved, including the Romaniote Jews who have lived in Greece since Biblical times, by Greek Orthodox Christian families. Again, according to Wikipedia:

The Archbishop of Athens Damaskinos ordered his priests to ask their congregations to help the Jews and sent a strong-worded letter of protest to the collaborationist authorities and the Germans. Many Orthodox Christians risked their lives hiding Jews in their apartments and homes, despite threat of imprisonment. Even the Greek police ignored instructions to turn over Jews to the Germans. When Jewish community leaders appealed to Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis, he tried to alleviate their fears by saying that the Jews of Thessaloniki had been guilty of subversive activities and that this was the reason they were deported.

In response, many Jews joined the EAM-ELAS resistance fighters and worked with their Christian neighbors to oppose the terrible evil of the Nazis. Oh, “fucking Tsolakoglou” refers to General Georgios Tsolakoglou who had signed the armistice treaty with the Wehrmacht and was appointed as chief of a new Nazi puppet regime in Athens.

I wanted to write a story befitting the American observance of Veteran’s Day but the location of Athens, Greece selected by the Pegman didn’t lend itself historically to such a tale. However, reading the history of the Nazi occupation of Greece, I was able to craft my wee tale in honor of all men and women of courage who have risked their lives in the battle against evil, both past and present.

My wife’s parents both served in World War II (her Mom in the Marines and her Dad in the Navy), my Dad was an Air Force vet and my son David served in the Marine Corps. Today I honor their service and the memories of my Dad and my wife’s parents, and all people who have served their countries with honor and distinction. Thank you all for your service.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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14 thoughts on “The Acropolis by Night

  1. Oh, just a grammatical point: you never use an apostrophe for a plural unless it’s for an acronym or abbreviation. It’s one of the most common grammatical errors out there, but it’s still incorrect. “Nazi’s” signals possession, not plurality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You did some good research on the story of the flag, and about the saving of so many Jews by patriotic Greeks.
    The Nazi occupation of Greece was appalling. They suffered probably more than any other European nation under Nazi rule. Over 11% of the population died as a direct result of occupation. Reprisals when the partisans killed a German were draconian. I believe at one point twenty civilians would be shot for each German killed. They were forced to loan a huge amount to Germany – money which has never been repaid.

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    • I agree it was horrible, but my takeaway is that the Greeks were totally b@d@ss, including the head of the Greek Orthodox Church. So many other countries and churches turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, but Greece wasn’t one of them. That took an incredible amount of courage. I keep thinking about the guy who, upon being ordered by the Nazis to retire the Greek flag, obeyed orders but then wrapped the flag around his body and jumped to his death. I know that Greece, like any other country in the world, probably isn’t perfect and I’m sure they’ve done some dark deeds along the way, but I would have no problem standing out of respect for their flag just because of this.

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  3. I was in Athens a couple of years ago. I’m in love with this city and history for ever and ever.
    I read about this story back then. Amazing, isn’t it? Forgot the details, though. Thanks for reminding me.
    Besides, I like your twist with a Jewish boy.
    Very interesting read.

    Like

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