Old wounds heal slowly on Greece’s largest island of Crete, where many of its residents were alive when Nazi paratroopers invaded the island with all of the firepower and might of the Third Reich in May of 1941. Crete’s towns and villages are filled with 80 and 90-year old residents who are vocal about the future of their country that they, themselves fought for seven decades earlier.
A pensioner from Hania, Manolis Bassias, was defiant as he waited in line to get his 120 euro allocation of his pension just one day before Greece’s historic referendum.
“We Cretans have waited in worse lines,” he said, continuing with a story of his fellow villagers being lined up in the village of Kontomari in June of 1941, where dozens of his fellow villagers were shot in a firing squad after Nazi Germans invaded Crete.
“We’ve waited in worse lines than these and we will continue to wait, to show these people that we have pride, we have dignity,” Bassias told The Pappas Post.
The island of Crete voted overwhelmingly in favor of the “No” vote that was also advocated by the Syriza government of Alexis Tsipras. Crete’s largest district, Heraklion, recorded a whopping 71% to 29% margin.
Th other districts were also overwhelmingly “No” including Hania with a 74%-26% margin, Rethymnon with a 65%-35% margin and Agios Nikolaos with a 63%-37% margin. (all percentages have been rounded; Click links to see exact results on Ministry of Interior website)
In the village of Anogeia, which was burned to the ground by the Nazis during World World II, villagers donned their traditional black dress and headscarves and voted overwhelmingly “no”, many bringing with them stories from the Nazi occupation on the early 1940s– stories that have been carried down to the younger generations who see German interference with their country as yet another example of an attempted occupation.
Back in Hania, Mr. Bassias was just as defiant the day after we caught him waiting in line at the bank. While waiting at the local elementary school which was designated as a local polling station in central Hania, he said that “The Germans tried beating us with tanks once, and now with banks. We must say No again, just like we did seventy years ago.”