As well as responsible for orchestrating World War II when he and his Nazi Party invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Which led Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Some background on Hitler is that he served in World War I and even though he was an Austrian, he served for the German army. Ironically, his Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann who was a German Jew recommended that he receive an Iron Cross because he had been a messenger, sending messages from one position to the other. The job had been very risky and dangerous given that the other side was attacking, so him running from one side to the other has been considered courageous because he could’ve died at any moment. When he returned back home from the war, he remained in Germany and was appointed to infiltrate the Socialist Party but he became impressed with what was said, and he favored it, even more, when he realized they were anti-Semitic. Therefore, rather than doing his job, he joined the party and because he was a very impressive speaker he ended up becoming the leading member of that party. He changed the name from Socialist Party to the Nationalist Socialist Party. In 1923, Germany had fallen behind in paying war reparations and the German currency was worth nothing, inflation had ruined the economy and people were blaming the Weimar Republic. Therefore, because of the economic chaos that Germany was going through Hitler decided to attempt a coup d’etat but it was a failure, many of his members died and he was thrown into jail. He was put on trial for treason but since the judge was a right-wing conservative, he only gave Hitler eight months in jail. While in jail, Hitler wrote his manifesto called Mein Kampf. Then after the 1932 election, the Nazi party was the largest in the Reichstag and this had been caused by public fears of disorder that the Nazis themselves had created with constant battles with Socialists and Communists on German streets. Hitler said he could control this, given that he was responsible for this, so he is offered Chancellorship by politicians, conservatives and industrialists. They offered him this thinking they could control him and on January 1933, Hitler accepts this offer. Then on February 1933, the building where the Reichstag met was set on fire and according to Article 48, in time of chaos, the chancellor would assume temporary dictatorial powers. Therefore, Hitler assumed these powers and on March 1933 he took these temporary dictatorial powers and made them permanent. From there on began Nazi Germany.
The economic, social and political state of Greece in the decades prior to WWII weren’t the best, they were in a weak state. Greece had long been part of the Ottoman Empire until they gained their independence after having fought numerous wars from 1821 to 1832. The numerous wars occurred because the Ottoman Empire wanted to retain control, but the Greek revolutionaries wanted to part ways. The Egyptians soon joined the side of the Ottomans and the chaos became so great that Russia, France, and the United Kingdom joined the Greeks so that violence would come to a halt. After this Britain and France wanted a monarchy to take place in Greece but an uprising in 1843 because of this led to the king to forcefully accept a parliament and a constitution. This became firmly established by Charilaos Trikoupis who curbed the power of the monarchy to interfere in the assembly by issuing the rule of vote of confidence to any potential prime minister. Still, Greece was a very poor country who had not gone through industrialization and its economy was depended on fishing, herding, and farming. Also, its geography left its farming land limited. Though, there were still other factors that continued to leave Greece completely unstable. Given the crises Greece had gone through, many politicians stepped forward to try to lead the young nation. One politician by the name of Eleftherios Venizelos was a symbol of the goals Greece wanted. That being Greek unity as well as prosperity in its economics. Venizelos was actually very well-known and had a world-wide reputation. What he did was have Greece join the Balkan League and his goal was to seize Ottoman lands that had an enormous amount of Greek population. Therefore, when war broke out between the Ottomans and the Russians, Greece joined the Russian Empire and when Russia won, parts of Epirus and Thessaly were regions added to the Greek nation. Also, during the Balkan Wars that occurred from 1912 to 1913, even though fighting broke out among the allies that formed part of the Balkan League in the end all the countries, including Greece, walked away with something. Leaving the only loser to be the Ottoman Empire. This was all due to Venizelos skillful statesmanship and under him, Greece earned not only Crete and islands in the eastern Aegean but also vast territories in the north the wheat plains in Macedonia, and rich tobacco lands in Thrace. Still, Greece given that it was a new nation whose establishment had come too late, they were far behind most of the European Countries in economic, scientific, and technological development. They were dependent in later middle age techniques. Therefore, Greece was left financially poor as well as underdeveloped and the infrastructure projects only left them even more drained and worsened the economic condition. Modernizing the country was not at all easy and not possible because of their weak economy to even manage such infrastructure projects.
The Greek government then tried to strengthen its economy by joining the Latin Monetary Union (LMU) in 1867. The goal of LMU was to base their paper currency on the value of a specific amount of silver and gold. However, the LMU ended up failing. Which just meant that Greece continued having a weak economic condition, not only because they had appointed the Silver and Gold standard currency but also because of their many other reasons like the continuous war that waged Greece. Politically speaking, the Greek nation was divided during 1914, the start of the Great War. There were those who supported neutrality and the Greek King Constantine I who ruled in Athens and those who wanted to support the Allies against the fight with the Central Powers and thus supported Venizelos who ruled from Salonika. Eventually, on June 29, 1917, Greece joined the Entente when Czar Nicholas II was overthrown, and Constantine I was forced to leave Greece. Given they had joined the winning side, the Treaty of Sevres left Greece with additional territories to add to its nation. However, the Greco-Turkish War left Greece in complete disaster. Given the massacre that happened during that war, the ultimate result was a great hatred between the Turks and Greeks. This massacre also led to economic and social pressures given that during and after the war many Greeks and Turks had to leave their homes forcibly because of a population swap between Greece and Turkey. This
1?? million refugees that were in Greece sparked anger in the population who resented these people because they saw them as Turks. The Anatolian Greeks lost most considering they lost everything, like their homes and farms and family members who had been killed and so much more. This just depressed the already low wages and suicide rate thus increased. During the stock market crash in 1929 that occurred in America, Greece was not at first affected but then in 1932, the Great Depression was eventually felt, completely halting whatever economic growth and modernization efforts the country had managed to achieve. Eventually, in 1940, Benito Mussolini, who was an Italian dictator, saw Greece as an easy target given how weak it was and invaded Greece. Greece fought bravely but Adolf Hitler sealed their fate when he decided to assist Mussolini’s side. In Greece, since anti-Semitism didn’t exist, there were 70,000-80,000 Jews that had integrated themselves into Greek society. During WWII, 80% of them perished.
Hitler’s military concerns in the fall of 1940 were planning an invasion of the Soviet Union, he wanted to eventually destroy the USSR. He also planned in assuring that the Lake Balaton in Hungary and the oil fields that were located in Romania, at Ploesti, were safe from any attack that would come from the Allies. As the war continued, to the German war machine, the oil fields became absolutely important and essential. He also wanted to assure that the right flank of the upcoming Russian campaign would be secure. Having the Balkan nations either neutral or on his side would allow for the achievement of these goals. The Soft Underbelly was the Mediterranean basin/region and the reason why Hitler was so worried about it was that if the Allies had a foothold in the Balkans, then what Hitler wanted to assure would be threatened. Leaving the Mediterranean basin/region a place for the Allies to open attack on that would diminish Hitler’s ability to wage war. As well as force him to use his military to protect that region of Europe otherwise it would lead to his defeat. However, if the Soft Underbelly was stabilized then there would be little that could be done by the Allies to diminish Hitler’s dominance in Europe.
Adolf Hitler had ordered the invasion of Greece on November 1940. This was due to Benito Mussolini so abruptly and out-of-nowhere taking over the country (Greece) on October 1940. By doing this, Mussolini had disrupted the Axis military situation even more. Which led to the British and Commonwealth forces to enter Greece. Thus, completely sabotaged Hitler’s plan to protect his oil supply and the right flank of the planned invasion of the USSR. Therefore, in the spring of 1941, Hitler was compelled to invade Greece and Yugoslavia to stabilize the Axis military situation. Yugoslavia was invaded as well because its regent was looked at as the missing key. To Hitler, Yugoslavia’s regent, named Prince Paul, was the key to limiting the influence of anything British in the Balkans. At first, Hitler approached Prince Paul nicely, telling him that he would give him territory, Salonika as a matter of a fact. However, Prince Paul refused this because he knew his army was pro-Allied and he would be overthrown if he were to sign the Tripartite Pact. This refusal just led Hitler to become more hostile and so he began to threaten him. Finally, Prince Paul signed the pact unwillingly after Hitler went back to promising him territorial lands and saying he wouldn’t violate Yugoslavia’s borders. Two days after the pact was signed, Prince Paul was overthrown by his military army and they annulled the treaty that had been signed between Yugoslavia and Nazi Germany. An angry Hitler led him to decide that Yugoslavia was to be invaded as well.
When Greece was first invaded by Benito Mussolini, the British Military tried all they could to help aid the Greeks. On February 22, 1941, it was decided by the British and Greek leaders that more military help would be sent to Greece. On April 2, 1941, there was about 58,000 British and Commonwealth forces that had arrived at Greece territory. Two days later, Hitler sent his army to Greece and Yugoslavia and on April 9, 1941, they seized Salonika. Then on April 17, 1941, even though the British army had stretched out a defensive line, the German army took over Kozani. Soon after, the Germans reached Athens and then Crete was also occupied and was the center of Allied resistance. Finally, on June 1, 1941, the battle between the British army/ the Greeks defending their country and the German army came to a finish with the Germans being victorious. Nonetheless, even though the Germans won, they still had many losses. For example, many of their men had been killed or injured. Many of their planes were also lost and many others were completely wrecked. Sadly, for Greece and Yugoslavia, they were now at the hands of the Germans.
What Hitler felt for Greece goes as follows: he actually admired the country because of a leader that Greece had. The name of that particular leader was Ioannis Metaxas. He acted as a dictator in Greece because of the state of emergency the country was in. He abolished all parties and he also controlled whatever would be reported, from newspapers to radio stations. Anything that was seen as negative towards his leadership would be prohibited. Yet, he maintained the country in neutrality and he had good relations with France and England. While also keeping things friendly with Nazi Germany. Once Hitler took over Greece, he actually said, in a speech, that the Greeks had put up a good fight and had fought with great courage. Regardless of the admiration Hitler had for Greece he was still the one responsible for the deaths of approximately 563,500 Greeks during World War II. Given that Yugoslavia was invaded by Hitler’s army at the same time as Greece, Hitler was able to exploit the resources of both of these two Balkan nations greatly.
German occupations in Greece was very brutal from the beginning, with the German Field Police (GFP) making sure to make the Greeks life a living hell. The GFP was highly corrupted, they committed many war crimes and worked closely with the Nazi’s. In the Balkan regions, the GFP took into task segregating those whom they thought to be racially inferior so that they would then exterminate them. In Yugoslavia, the treatment was very harsh from the start and Greece did not fall far behind. Some reports that came from those that experienced firsthand the GFP jails, said that Greeks and British soldiers that had been captured were very ill-treated. The GFP- 611 unit that was most active in Crete, during April 1944, started the roundup of the Greek Jews on the islands of Corfu and Crete. In Ioannina, the roundup of 1,725 residents began on March 27,1944, by the SS. What’s worse is that after the GFP would round up all these people, they would then go into their homes and take anything of value, essentially robbing these people of their things. There was a total of 48,974 Greek Jews deported to Nazi extermination camps. Even though the GPF- 621 unit did not exterminate the Greek Jews using their own hands, they were the ones responsible for taking the Greek Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they would eventually be exterminated by an immediate gas. The same unit (GFP- 621) was also responsible for interrogating Allied commandos and then eliminating them. All in all, the Germans committed many crimes, from torturing those in prison to the arrests of many people. As well as massacring many innocent people. They committed many war crimes, such that at the end of WWII, the Nuremberg trials took place. These trials were to convict Nazi’s of crimes against humanity, many were hanged.
The Germans regardless of what they were doing to these innocent people in Greece, they were even more awful by economically plundering not only Greece but also Yugoslavia. Minerals were brought back to the Reich. As well as luxury items and foodstuffs. Chromite ore was a substitute for producing aluminum and it was highly demanded by the industry that produced German aircrafts. During the beginning of the war (WWII), the Germans had a large amount of sum of Chromite ore, approximately 250,000 tons of it. Greece every year was producing about 42,000 tons of this material. During May 1-10 in 1941, in Athens, there was even a satisfactory report that the entire output of Greek mines of pyrites, iron ore, chrome, nickel, magnesite, manganese, bauxite, and gold was obtained for Germany. Other resources were also stolen, leaving Greece in an even worse state. Opposite of this, German was being highly benefited for exploiting this country. The Germans also ended up bleeding the nation dry by forcing the Greek central bank to loan Germany 476 million Reichsmarks which was never reimbursed. On top of that, the Germans not only plundered the nation of Greece economically but also because the plunder being so massive, it led to a great famine in Greece during the winter of 1941 to 1942. Even though the Catholic Church wanted to help the people by sending them food, a great amount of young and old people died.
What I learned about the German occupation in Greece is that they were very cruel from the beginning and that served to weaken an already weakened Greece. They took advantage of this nation, just like they took advantage of other countries that were in the Balkan region. Sadly, Greece never really had the chance to defend itself given that before it was even invaded, it was already in a bad state. Even though, as Hitler had said, they fought hard and with courage, it wasn’t enough to stop what eventually tragically occurred to them. I feel that the German Army behaved criminally in Greece because they wanted to let the Greeks, as well as everyone else in the world, know that they were not playing around. I believe that the Germans, Hitler in particular, wanted to show how much control he had and how much damage he could do as a dictator. This he did to scare the Allied powers and eventually take over them as well but also to eliminate all of the people he had a racial bias towards. I do not at all justify what Hitler did, and I know no one in their right mind would because what he did was the most horrible thing done in humanity. He destroyed and ended the lives of so many people without even blinking. For that reason, I do believe that the Germany and Austria should pay war reparations for all they caused. It is because of their fault that many lives were lost and the least they could do is pay for the damage that they instigated. However, I do understand where America was coming from when they decided to rebuild their Allied Nations as well as the Axis nations because they could show that America would take care of them. America would now be involved and not leave them to their fate as they had done in the first World War. Perhaps they did this so that these nations could appreciate what was done for them and so another Hitler wouldn’t come about.
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