Cretan resistance

Cretan resistance
Warning placard erected after the destruction of Kandanos, 1941.
Murder of Greek civilians in Kondomari, Crete, by German paratroopers in 1941.

The Cretan resistance (Greek: Κρητική Αντίσταση) was a resistance movement against Nazi Germany by the residents of the Greek island of Crete during World War II. Part of the larger Greek Resistance, it lasted from May 20, 1941, when the German Wehrmacht invaded the island in the Battle of Crete, until the fall of 1945 when they surrendered to the British. Prior to the German invasion, British agent John Pendlebury was instrumental in mobilizing and preparing the local clan chiefs.[1] Chase Brandon, who worked for over 25 years in the CIA's Elite Clandestine Service as an undercover covert operations officer, said of the Cretan Resistance movement "they left in the annals of military history as the most consequential and successful military insurgency ever".[2]

For the first time during World War II, attacking German forces faced in Crete a valiant resistance from the local population. Cretan civilians picked off paratroopers or attacked them with knives, axes, scythes or even bare hands. As a result, great casualties were inflicted upon the invaders that made Crete the swansong of German paratroopers. Very soon after the capitulation of Crete, several local guerrilla groups and intelligence networks started to be organized. Aside from the local branch of the mainland's communist-controlled National Liberation Front, the other local organizations banded together in the National Organization of Crete (EOK).

Resistance in Crete involved figures such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, George Psychoundakis, George Petrakogiorgis, Manolis Bandouvas, Antonis Grigorakis, Kostis Petrakis, John Lewis, Tom Dunbabin, Dudley Perkins, Sandy Rendel, John Houseman, Xan Fielding, Dennis Ciclitira, Ralph Stockbridge and Bill Stanley Moss. Some of the movement's most famous moments included the abduction of General Heinrich Kreipe led by Leigh Fermor and Moss, the battle of Trahili, the sabotage of Damasta led by Moss and the airfield sabotages of Heraklion and Kastelli.[3]

The Cretan population paid a high price for its involvement and support of the resistance. In reprisal, the German occupation forces proceeded to numerous brutal attacks against local civilians. Standing out among the list of atrocities, are the holocausts of Viannos and Kedros in Amari, the destruction of Anogia and Kandanos and the massacre of Kondomari.[4] In several documented reprisal executions carried out during the occupation, 3.471 Cretans lost their lives.[5] [6]

In 2005, a documentary was released titled The 11th Day: Crete 1941, which relates events of the Cretan resistance through various eyewitnesses.

External links


  1. ^ Richter, Heinz A., Operation Merkur. Die Eroberung der Insel Kreta im Mai 1941, Rutzen, 2011, ISBN 978-3-0447-06423-1
  2. ^
  3. ^ Kyriakopoulos, Victoria; Hellander, Paul (2005). Crete. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1741040396. 
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony. Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, John Murray Ltd, 1991. Penguin Books, 1992. ISBN 0-14-016787-0.
  5. ^ Καζαντζάκης, Ν., Καλιτσουνάκης, Ι. και Κακριδής, Ι.Θ. (1983). Έκθεσις της Κεντρικής Επιτροπής Διαπιστώσεως Ωμοτήτων εν Κρήτη. Σύνταξις 29/6 - 6/8/1945. Έκδοση Δήμου Ηρακλείου.
  6. ^ Αναστασάκης, Ι.Δ. Κρητικό Μαρτυρολόγιο, Ημερολόγιο θανάτου-εκτελέσεις κατά την Γερμανική κατοχή 1941-1945.

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