5 Interesting Facts About Ohi Day You May Don’t Know
- by XpatAthens
- Wednesday, 26 October 2022
Ohi Day is commemorated each year on October 28th by Greeks throughout the world and is undeniably one of the proudest moments in Greek history. It was the day when Ioannis Metaxas, on behalf of the Greek people, bravely shouted “No” and resisted the Italian occupation.
Here are five lesser-known facts regarding Ohi Day you may haven’t heard of!
Metaxas didn’t actually say “No”
When Grazzi delivered Benito Mussolini's message asking that the Italian forces be allowed into Greek territory, the Greek general responded in French. He famously said, "Alors, c’est la guerre." (Well, this means war). A newspaper called the Greek Future was the reason why the word “Ohi” was associated with this day. In its issue of October 30, 1940, the newspaper coined the word “Ohi” on the front page title of the article reporting the events.
The fascist orientation of Ioannis Metaxas
Fascism had a certain appeal for Ioannis Metaxas long before he became a dictator in 1936, and his "4th of August" regime had similarities with the fascist regimes of Italy and Germany. He didn't dream of a fascist Greece though; what he wanted to achieve was “The Third Hellenic Civilisation”, an unspecified concept for which we still do not have enough information. However, he understood well enough that the country’s interests lay with Great Britain and tried not to join the war until he didn’t have a choice.
Famous Greek artists fought in the war
Poet Odysseas Elytis might be among the most famous Greek artists who fought in the Greco-Italian War, an experience that inspired some of his works, including Axion Esti. Other artists who served as soldiers include painters Yannis Tsarouchis, Spyros Vasileiou, and Aleksandros Aleksandrakis; writers Nikiforos Vrettakos, Aggelos Terzakis, and Yorgos Theotokas; and beloved comedy actors Lampros Konstantaras, Dyonisis Papagiannopoulos, and Ntinos Iliopoulos.
Greece was the first nation to win a battle against Axis powers
At first, it may seem weird that we “celebrate” the beginning of the war instead of the end of it, but it is not: only Greece could celebrate the beginning of the war since it was the only country that managed to defeat the enemy during this first phase of the war. In fact, it was the first victory of the allied forces that revitalized the morale of all allies since, until then, there had only been defeats.
Metaxas’ guard mistook Grazzi for the French ambassador
Although there is nothing fun about war, we could say that this one is quite a “fun fact” about Ohi Day. When Italy’s ambassador, Emanuele Grazzi, arrived at Metaxas’ residence in Kifisia, it was 3 a.m. As reported, one of the guards mistook the Italian flag on Grazzi’s car for a French one. Hence, Metaxas originally woke up thinking he should urgently meet the French ambassador.