Nazi German forces took control of the Greek island of Crete on June 1, 1941 after facing fierce resistance from the local population.
Even the most elderly villagers had armed themselves with pitchforks, kitchen utensils and virtually any other tool they could find to fend off the Nazi invaders.
Thousands of Germans lost their lives in the early days of the battle — many even before they hit the ground as locals shot them out of the sky or killed them as they dangled from olive trees in their parachutes.
The Cretan resistance caused the Nazis to suffer more casualties than in any previous campaign up to that point in the war. And it took them 13 days to capture Crete.
Just two days before the Allies surrendered, Adolf Hitler sent a cable to his general on the ground asking “France fell in eight days, why is Crete still free?”
The iconic image above shows German soldiers laying their troops to rest in what would be their final resting place — the fertile and hospitable grounds of Crete.
Five thousand Nazis died during the battle. Their remains can be found today at the German War Cemetery outside the port city of Hania.
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