Athens Liberation 1944

On Tuesday 12th October Athens celebrated the 77th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi German occupation, a day for Athens to rejoice.  Back in 1944, it was a sunny autumn day when the bells in the churches of Athens began ringing and the Athenians rushed out on the streets, many waving Greek flags in celebration.  Everyone knew why.  The bells were ringing the sound of liberation, as the Nazi Germans who had occupied Athens for three and a half years were leaving at last.  The countdown to the withdrawal of the Germans and other Axis powers from Greece had taken place a few months earlier, on 6th June, when Allied armies had landed in Normandy and the Soviet army was advancing from the east.  It was obvious then that the days of the Nazi German occupation of Greece were numbered.  

The German troops began to leave Athens on the evening of 11th October, moving north.  At 08:00 in the morning on 12th October, the few remaining Germans in Athens gathered at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier.  There, the chief of the occupying forces, General Hellmuth Felmy, accompanied by the mayor of Athens, Angelos Georgatos, laid a wreath in a hasty ceremony.   A German soldier quietly took down the hated Nazi swastika flag on the Acropolis at 09:15.  This signalled the end of the German occupation that had lasted 1,265 days, 42 long months of literal salavery.  The Athenians began their wild celebrations on the streets, while the Greek National Anthem echoed across the city, the people were finally breathing the intoxicating air of freedom and liberty.


The rest of the suffering country would soon be free as well.  By 3rd November 1944, the last German, Italian and Bulgarian troops had left the Greek mainland.  Only the island of Crete had to suffer under the Germans, until they surrendered on 23rd May 1945.