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Letters from the Front

Greek1

( Editor’s note: Welcome to a brand new series that will debut every several months as Battlefield V’s live service continues to push out content and will depend on how well the Live Service does. If the Live Service fails, this series will be canceled since the expansions for Battlefield V will also be canceled. DICE  intends to release the expansions in chronological order and attempt to follow World War II in order. This series will delve into every aspect of the Second World War that EA DICE chooses to highlight in their expansions. I hope you enjoy this little mini-series and stay tuned for my BFV: Trial by Fire tomorrow.)

In the late 1920s, Benito Mussolini wanted an empire that stretched from the Strait of Gibralter to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

In 1935, Italy began another war in Ethiopia which came to be known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in order to expand the empire and a year later, the Spanish Civil War began in Spain and Italy played a huge role that led to the victory of Franciso Franco and his forces.

2 years later, in 1938, the Italian Army had plans to conquer Albania which began in April 1939 and within three days, the Italians had managed to capture most of the country. In 1939, Mussolini addressed the Grand Council and declared that Greece was a vital enemy to the empire and its expansion and multiple operations were drawn up to invade the island of Corfu.

As Italy annexed Albania, relations between Greece and Italy deteriorated rapidly and Greece began to build defenses. Tensions grew as a result of a campaign in the Italian press, combined with Italian actions that were provocative in nature. By August 1939, Italian soldiers had moved into the Greek border and prepared for war and the Greek government began mobilization of the army.

After the Fall of France and the British retreat from Dunkirk that ended all operations on the Western Front, Greek-Italian relations further deteriorated but Italian actions stopped until October 1940 since Germany didn’t want further complications in the Baltic and needed to focus on the invasion of Britain, along with the start of the Italian invasion of Egypt which led to the postponement of Italian aggression in the region.

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By October 1940, German troops entered the Ploiești oilfields in Romania in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Since Mussolini had no awareness of German activity in Romania, he advanced the plans for the invasion of Greece.

By April 1941, things had changed drastically and Italy pulled out of Greece after suffering multiple defeats, only to be succeeded by the Germans. The Germans now invaded Greece in Operation Marita as the bulk of the Greek Army was now on the border of Albania.

As the Germans pushed through Greece, the Greek Army found itself outnumbered and overwhelmed as well as Commonwealth troops had been stationed in the region with the ultimate goal of being evacuated. For several days, Allied troops delayed the German invasion, allowing ships to be evacuated. The Germans reached Athens and later the Greek coastline by late April and ending the invasion with a complete victory. The conquest of Greece led to the invasion of Crete.

The invasion of Crete was the first and only time that the German Fallschirmjäger units were used en masse and it was the first Airborne invasion in military history and the first time that Allied intelligence made great usage of decrypted German messages from the Enigma machine.

By the aftermath of the invasion, those in the British and Commonwealth forces retreated to Egypt while others that remained were captured or joined the Cretan Resistance where they would work closely with their comrades when Crete became a point of departure for German operations in North Africa in 1941 and 1942.

Although Germany thought Crete was a success and considered it a victory for the Airborne, German high command focused it on the immense loss of life that was incurred by the Airborne drops. Hitler believed that the Airborne was to be a weapon of surprise and the advantage to surprise the enemy was now lost, he concluded that Germany would no longer conduct Airborne operations and restricted the Fallschirmjäger to infantry combat and become Stormtroopers, a role that would suit them as the war went on. The airborne operation conducted on Crete impressed the Allies who rushed to create Airborne divisions and they would learn from the German mistakes on Crete. Crete was also the first time that the Allies made usage of intelligence reports decrypted from the German Enigma from Bletchley Park.

After the Fall of Greece, Greece came under a triple occupation and was divided under the Axis powers: Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria. Greece was one of the countries that suffered the hardest during World War II.

Greece’s economy was devastated by the war with Italy and to that was added the exploitation of the economy by Germany. Raw materials and food were requisitioned but many of it fell into the black market with enormous inflated prices. The economy fell into despair when armed resistance rose up against the occupation led to operations by the Axis which left much of the country in absolute ruins: villages were burned, destruction of fields, and mass executions for resistance raids had a great impact on the country’s economy.

Much like in other countries under German occupation, Greece was subjected to the Holocaust. Prior to 1939, two main groups of Jews existed in Greece: the Romaniotes who had existed in Greece for centuries in Thrice and the Sephardi Jewish communities who fled Spain during the Inquisition and resided in Thessaloniki which fell under the German occupation zone while Thrice came under the Bulgarian occupation zone. In Thessaloniki, things were normal at first with a few anti-semantic groups posting warnings to the Jewish population but things started to turn for the worst, by 1943, Jews living in the German zone and the Bulgarian zone were forced to wear the Star of David and deportations began to Auschwitz and Treblinka in Eastern Europe.

In September 1943, after the Armistice of Cassibile which brought Italy out of World War II and onto the Allied side, the Germans turned their attention to the Jews of Athens and the rest of Greece, their propaganda wasn’t as strong as the Romanites were ingrained into the Orthodox Greek society and could not be singled out from Christians who resisted the German occupation. As deportations began across Greece, the Resistance helped hundreds of Jews to escape and survive, many of them would join the Resistance.

By 1944, things were changing as the Allies landed in France and were making their way towards the western German border while the Soviets were approaching from the East in a fast and rapid war. The Germans evacuated Greece in October and the first British troops to return to Greece after Crete arrived in Athens and four days later, the Greek government returned. Greece’s recovery from World War II lagged behind the rest of Europe, the country had to be rebuilt from the ground up as many of the things in the country were deplorable: sanitation conditions were deplorable and a resurgence of malaria and tuberculosis rampaged across the country, there was a lack of medical supplies and medical equipment, a lack of food, and many of the Greek population were refugees and lacked the simplest of necessities.

After World War II came to end, Greece fell into Civil War between the Greek Government and the Democratic Party of Greece, the military branch of the Communist Party of Greece which lasted until 1949. The first signs of friction occurred in World War II between the numerous Resistance groups and the two dominant ones being the EAM and ELAS, two politically different groups wanting to liberate the country for totally different reasons. The Civil War emerged in 1946 and ended with the victory of Government troops helped by the backing of the American and British governments and despite even that, there would be political polarisation that would last into the modern day. The Greek Civil War is considered to be the first proxy war of the Cold War and the first time that a foreign country has involved itself in a country’s internal politics. In the end, Greece was funded by the Marshal Plan and the Truman Doctrine which helped Greece rebuild itself after World War II and the Civil War which left it in more of a distress state than after World War II.

In recent years, the occupation of Greece has had a significant presence in English-language related media like books and movies. One of these movies is the Guns of Navarone, a 1961 film starring Gregory Peck and the Italian film Mediterraneo, a film that won the Academy Award for the best foreign film in 1991.

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( This concludes the third issue of “History Behind BFV.” , DICE has updated their roadmap for Battlefield V so the fourth and fifth issues of “History Behind BFV.” will premiere in the next following months with the arrival of Operation Marita and the as of yet unnamed urban combat map that is slated to release within Chapter 4. Chapter 4 will be unveiled at E3 2019 so please stay tuned for my hands-on impressions of what will arrive in Chapter 4. If you enjoyed this post and want to see more posts like this relating to historical eras in videogames, please let me know down in the comments below or on Twitter.)

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