Months in the planning and execution, Nazi German general Heinrich Kreipe was kidnapped on the night of April 26, 1944 on the Nazi-occupied island of Crete. It was a daring and bold act of resistance, organized by a team of British Special Services (SOE) soldiers working side by side with Greek rebels.
The SOE team was led by Major Patrick Leigh Fermor and Captain William Stanley Moss, who concocted the plan and enlisted the support of numerous Cretans to help. They used confiscated German military police uniforms and stopped the general’s car at a check point, eventually kidnapping him and shuttling him through mountain villages and hide outs.
They eventually reached the south coast of the island where Kreipe was transferred to Allied command in Egypt.
The Nazis retaliated with brutality. In August 1944, the village of Anogia and other villages in the Amari valley were destroyed and locals were massacred. A Proclamation was issued with regard to the destruction of the villages, citing numerous attacks on German forces and support for the resistance when Kreipe had passed through the area.
“ORDER BY THE GERMAN GENERAL COMMANDER OF THE GARRISON OF CRETE – “Because the town of Anogia is the centre of the English Intelligence on Crete, because the people of Anogia committed the murder of the Sergeant Commander of the Yeni-Gave, as well as of the garrison under his orders, because the people of Anogia carried out the sabotage of Damasta, because in Anogia the guerrillas of the various groups of resistance take refuge and find protection and because it was through Anogia that the kidnappers with General Von Kreipe passed using Anogia as a transit camp, we order its COMPLETE DESTRUCTION and the execution of every male person of Anogia who would happen to be within the village and around it within a distance of one kilometre” CHANEA 13TH AUGUST 1944, THE GENERAL COMMANDER OF THE GARRISON OF CRETE, H. MULLER.
These stunning events were portrayed in numerous books including Moss’s own book Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe.
In 1957, the book was turned into the film by the same title starring Dirk Bogarde, David Oxley and Marius Goring.
Patrick Leigh Fermor wrote his own book, entitled Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete.
This May, a 150+ kilometer race will take place called the Heroes Ultra. The 150+ kilometer trek, through the mountains of Crete, will follow the kidnapping’s footsteps through mountain villages and caves.