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The Nazi Occupation of Crete: 1941-1945

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The Nazi Occupation of Crete: 1941-1945

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This is the true story of an American youth, John Alexander, who, upon his high school graduation in 1940, joined his parents and his sister on a vacation to the Island of Crete to visit his father’s parents. The vacation on this beautiful Mediterranean island was overshadowed by the war that spread southward from the European continent to engulf Greece and subsequently Crete in the first airborne invasion of an island fortress in modern military history. After a ten-day, hard-fought battle against the German invader, Crete lay conquered. However, Cretan resistance was so fierce that with the battle concluded, the Nazi conqueror was intent on punishing the entire Cretan population. From the first day of the occupation, the people of Crete suffered savage punitive reprisals for their heroic resistance to the barbaric Nazi invaders. Death squads went from village to village, executing hostages at random and burning entire communities. Two thousand civilians died at the execution wall in the first month of occupation alone. John’s father maintained his neutrality as an American citizen during the invasion and the occupation that followed. However, one night, John’s father hid three escaped British stragglers in his home until they could be safely escorted to the southern coast for evacuation. The Gestapo found out, entered the Alexander home, killed John’s father, and threw the youth into prison to die. John escaped and fled to the mountains, but swore vengeance on the murderer of his father. The people of Crete continued their resistance through the Cretan Resistance Movement and with the aid of British and American military personnel of the SOE and the OSS. They banded together to form aresistance movement against the Nazis that set an example for all the conquered people of Europe to follow. This is a story of the stark reality of human endeavor and sacrifice, marked by acts of heroism of which little has been said and much less written.

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