Months in the planning and execution, Nazi German general Heinrich Kreipe was kidnapped on the night of April 26, 1944 on the occupied island of Crete.
The kidnapping came as a daring and bold act of resistance organized by a team of British Special Services (SOE) soldiers and 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.
Wearing confiscated German military police uniforms, the team stopped General Kreipe’s car at a check point, eventually kidnapping him and shuttling him through mountain villages and hide outs.
Once they reached the south coast of the island they transferred the general 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 massacred. German officials justified the villages’ destruction by citing numerous rebel attacks on German forces and resistance sympathies in the region.
Order by German General Commander of Garrison of Crete
“Because the town of Anogia is the center 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 kilometer.” – H. Muller, General Commander of Garrison of Crete. Chania, August 13, 1944.
These 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 also wrote his own book entitled “Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete.”
Fermor and General Kreipe met again in 1972, years after the infamous kidnapping, and shared a chat about the war over a glass of wine overlooking the Acropolis.
In 1973 the now-defunct weekly British comic paper The Victor included a two-page spread about the Kreipe abduction.
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