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Greece, Crete, May 1944, General Kreipe abduction

Discussion in 'Italy, Sicily & Greece' started by manolis, May 11, 2016.

  1. manolis

    manolis New Member

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    Hello.

    For years I was listening to the stories of my grandfather Efthimios G. Harokopos, and of his daughter Eleftheria (my mother, 94 year old today) about how they managed to hide, to host, to feed and to support the kidnappers (Patrick Leigh Fermor, major of SOE, Stanley Moss, captain of SOE, and their Cretan guerillas) of the German General Kreipe, May 1944.

    When you have the time take a look at http://www.pattakon.com/gr/ ( http://www.pattakon.com/gr/ )

    I hope you will enjoy the reading.

    On May 21, 2016 Eleftheria will be (as she does the last twenty years) there, in the chapel of Saint Constantine in Plates (Patsos, Rethymno, Crete, Greece) for the annual religious ceremony, a few meters from the place wherein the kidnappers with the General Kreipe were hosted for two days 72 years ago.

    If anybody is to be in Crete that day, it would be nice to meet and talk with her.

    Thank you
    Manolis Pattakos
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Welcome to the forums.

    You probably know

    Ill met by Moonlight, the Abduction of General Kneipe" by W. Stanley Moss.

    As a matter of fact I bought it in a Supermarket in Crete back in 2007 and followed the same route , except the small mountain paths.

    I hope the ceremony will be a success, I'm sure it will be. Unfortunately I won't be able to be around a sI have no holidays in May. :poppy:
     
  3. manolis

    manolis New Member

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    Hello Kommodore.

    Let me explain that the ceremony in the chapel of Saint Constantine is a pure religious ceremony.

    I know the book of Stanley Moss “ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT”.

    Quote from that book of Stanley Moss (first published in 1950).

    Things have suddenly cleared up a lot.
    The night before last (May 7) we left our hideout at Yerakari and completed the easy march to Patsos in quick time, arriving at our destination before midnight – this, despite the fact that the mule which had been brought for the General was so lame that we had to leave it behind. The General was obliged to complete the journey on foot, but he marched very well and slowed us up scarcely at all. It seems that this mountain air is getting him into fine trim!.
    We are now hiding in a delightful spot which is about a quarter of a mile from Patsos. We sleep in a stone-walled hut which has been built against the base of a steep cliff, so with trees on three sides and the cliff behind us we could not have found a more sheltered position.
    . . .
    The dinner was excellent. We are being cared for by a charming family which, though very poor, gives us everything it has. The father (Efthimios G. Harokopos) is a fine, old-fashioned Cretan type, and he tell us that since the German occupation he has looked after more than sixty British and Colonial stragglers who were hiding from the enemy. His young daughter is a sweet-looking girl whose face has the appearance of a delicate waxen mask – a look of L’inconnue de la Seine – and altogether she is possessed of a natural grace and charm which is all too rare among the island’s women folk. She goes bare-armed, bare-legged, and wears a one piece canvas dress, and her hair is arranged in two long plaits. It is quite possible, I suppose, that she is only about twelve years old, and perhaps it would be best not to think of her as she will be in ten years’ time. Her brother, Iorgi by name, is a handsome young man with a quiet manner and Biblical face. He speaks a little English, and has told me that he would like to go with us to Cairo. We may take him along if there’s room on board.
    . . .
    We have been so well looked after at this hideout that this afternoon we decided to give the family a present of gold (for we knew that its wealth consisted of little more than some goats and a few olive-trees); so Paddy (Patrick Leigh Fermor) called the old father aside. He reminded him that we were in all probability going to take his only son, Iorgi, with us to Egypt, and therefore there would be no one left to help with the work at home. So, Paddy continued, would he accept the hopelessly inadequate gift of a few sovereigns in exchange of his son? But the old man – as well we might have guessed – merely shook his head, thanked us for our kind thought, and politely refused. We did not press him.
    The General, who had been watching this scene with interest, was most impressed by the old man’s refusal, and he said as much to Paddy and me. It is a fact that as each day goes by and he meets more Cretans he is becoming more and more aware of their affection and self-sacrifice towards us. I don’t believe that he ever realized before how much the German are hated on the island, and how popular by comparison – despite let-downs and reversals – are the British.
    Some food now, then on to Photeinou.

    End of quote.


    The "old-fashioned Cretan type" is my grandfather, "Iorgi" is my uncle George E. Harokopos (97 year old today) and the "young daughter" is my mother (22 years old then, 94 years old today).

    Thanks
    Manolis Pattakos
     
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  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I'd love to, and do bring British military groups to Crete. A couple of years ago we studied the abduction of General Kreipe http://www.staffrideservices.com/?p=234 I do have a group visiting Crete in early June, but they are not looking at this action.
     
  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    "The "old-fashioned Cretan type" is my grandfather, "Iorgi" is my uncle George E. Harokopos (97 year old today) and the "young daughter" is my mother (22 years old then, 94 years old today)."





    That is so great. It is even nicer to hear that some of the heroes from this story are still alive.
     
  6. YugoslavPartisan

    YugoslavPartisan Drug

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    Incredible story!
     
  7. manolis

    manolis New Member

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    Hello all.

    Are there any other active forums of WWII veterans?

    I suppose they would like to spend a couple of hours reading the stories in the link http://www.pattakon.com/gr/

    Thank you
    Manolis Pattakos
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There are some on the forums including this one. (if you look at the bottom of the forum page you'll see that they're names are highlighted in blue on this forum sadly only one has been active recently at least that we know of). I haven't heard of any forums specifically dedicated for their use though.
     
  9. manolis

    manolis New Member

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    Thank you lwd

    Manolis Pattakos
     
  10. Rantalith

    Rantalith Member

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    When I was stationed on Crete in the early 1980's I went to the gorge and other places and got a first hand look at just what the Germans and British were up against. Crete is not a very forgiving place. For the British to hide and survive while avoiding the Germans was amazing. But without the help of the local population,they would never had made it.
     
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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  12. manolis

    manolis New Member

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  13. manolis

    manolis New Member

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  14. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Very pleased to have found this thread. I have started reading Rick Stroud's 'Kidnap in Crete- The True Story of the Abduction of a Nazi General' . I know nothing about the German invasion of Crete in 1941 and subsequent occupation. Most impressed by the account of how the people of Crete resisted. This author maintains that the Germans were totally unprepared for such a ferocious opposition, though not sure what he basis such a view on.
     
  15. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Hi Michael - well, for one thing, the island was supposedly "disarmed" by the pro-Athens gendarermie on the island in 1938 at the end of another period of political turmoil and violence on Crete.

    2. They wouldn't necessarily known of the British attempts to establish prepositioned "stay behind" groups on the island; although the guerrilla school was officially disbanded at the request of the Greek government just before the invasion, several dozen Cretans had already passed through the school and returned to their communities.

    3. Did the Germans know of the British attempts to set up and train the several Cretan-manned "regiments"? Again, this was very unpopular with the Greek government-in-exile, but the British went ahead with it, albeit slowly. And partly assuaged the Greeks' protests by forming the gendarmerie into one of them. It was one of these "regiments"....IIRC around 500 strong, with a British officer and couple of NCOs each, SOME weapons - but usually the Cretans brought out their own hidden stocks LOL...that gave the Germans a bloody nose around Kastelli Kissamou for a couple of days.
     
  16. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Thank you for the background information on Crete phylo-roadking -appreciated. I know next to nothing about Crete but this campaign will join the list of World War 2 subjects that need to read upon.
    I often find island cultures quite intriguing in any case,
     
  17. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    As far as modern island cultures go, Crete is the biggie. it was the home and birthplace after all of Eleftherios Venizelos...and thus the birthplace of modern Greece democracy and republicanism! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleftherios_Venizelos So was always viewed from Athens as a hotbed of pesky free political thought and democracy/republicanism, especially during the Metaxas years preceeding the war. Sometimes Cretans were more restless than others, there was ALSO the long history of armed opposition to the Ottomans...again, sometimes restful sometimes flaring into violence...and the long Cretan tradition of the ownership of arms and going about the day-to-day in the mountains proverbially armed to the teeth. Made Papa Doc Duvalier's Haiti look like a tropical paradise that way LOL

    So no matter HOW well the central government supressed or disarmed the Cretans - the Cretans were never short of weapons; and if you have a gun, it's easier to get another, better gun...

    AND were never short of the willingness to use them if gainsaid on basically anything. I won't say they were/are a belligerent people, but a proud people who would stand on their honour...by the equivalent of whatever means was used against them ;) I've always found them very welcoming people, wonderful and quick friends.

    Another thought came to mind today. There's a passage in "Crete-The Lost Battle" regarding the FJ's thoughts on the very eve of battle, and the orders they received. One of these was to treat any resisters and partisans with no mercy; they had ALREADY encountered quite a lot of armed civilian opposition in Norway at least. This "no mercy" direction was one of Student's ten orders issued to them in preparation for the invasion...

    But if they were expecting the level of resistance they experienced in Norway - Crete was a whole different ball game. So it's fair to say they expected SOME resistance - but nothing on the scale of what happened.

    It's also clear, and has been discussed some times on various forums, that this direction breaches the laws and customs of war at least, and the Hague Rules in some details. The Germans had a long...bad..experience of partisans - in the Tyrol in the previous century, and also in 1871 in France with the French Levee-en-Masse raised against them. But as with most nations, the Hague Rules got written into military regulations where appropriate - which mandated that yes armed and resisting civilians could be summarily executed BUT NOT WITHOUT TRIAL, a court martial at the very least.

    At the most - there are protections for formally armed and organised partisans in the Hague Rules - they had to be organised under regular officers and regular military discipline, show symbols of their organisation and rank etc.....like the Home Guard in the UK? ;) - but IF these Rules were indeed followed by the resisters then they should be afforded EXACTLY the same protections under the Hague and Geneva Conventions as regular army officers and ORs.

    Student's order was therefore a direct instruction to break the Hague Rules I.E. commit a war crime!

    And of course - hence the British and Commonwealth forces putting the effort into organising the "Cretan regiments" once they formally took over the defence of the island from the Greek government in November 1940. What they were really doing in their issuing of bits and bobs of uniform, old rifles where they had them, and assigning British officers and NCOs was making sure those Cretans who wanted to fight DID have Hague protections ;)
     
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  18. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Thank you again phylo_roadking. Appreciate all the background. I am still reading ' Kidnap in Crete- The True Story of the Abduction of a Nazi General' and getting a great deal from it. Certainly inspiring me to try to learn more about Crete in World War 2.

    I think that islands on major seafaring routes can develop their own resilience ( in the face of foreign invasions) and this can turn into resistance to central authority imposed from elsewhere. Particularly thinking of Corsica in this respect, an island that I have visited.

    Regards
     
  19. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Have reached the end of Rick Stroud's 'Kidnap in Crete- The True Story of The Abduction of a Nazi General'. Got a lot from reading this book. I don't really know anything about Crete under German occupation so read the book as an outsider as it were. No idea what people who have studied the subject think of this book, but found it a jolly exciting read.
    I am still not sure though, what was originally hoped to achieve by the kidnap of General Kreipe. It was an incredible achievement for British agents' co-ordination with Cretan resistance fighters, and see that as a consequence the Cretan resistance was boosted, even in the face of brutal reprisals.
     

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