April 6, 2024

April 6 - Three Historic Events Greeks Remember on This Day

April 6, 1836: Martyrdom of the Holy Five New Martyrs of Samothrace

When the Holy Five New Martyrs were captives they were sold into slavery by the Turks, after being forced to convert to Islam. A few years later, the five returned to Samothrace and publicly renounced their conversion to Islam and embraced Orthodox Christianity once again. For this, an order was issued for their execution.

The martyrdom of the Holy Five New Martyrs began in Makri. First up was the eldest, Michael, whom they began, in public view in the square of Makri, to cut him to pieces in front of his other four fellow martyric athletes (in order to "persuade" them to renounce Christ and embrace Islam) and in front of all the residents "for a lesson". The sight was disgusting. Residents strongly protested the barbaric and hideous spectacle.

In order to prevent riots from breaking out, the Turks took the martyr's skinned body to the nearby Church of Saint Anastasia and decapitated him in front of the main entrance.

Next were the remaining four - George, Theodore, Emmanuel, George - who were martyred in different parts of the village. Two were hanged and the other two were pierced on to large hooks. One of these hooks can still be viewed today in the Church of Saint Anastasia.

The Church celebrates their feast on Thomas Sunday.

April 6, 1914: Remembrance Day of the Thracian Genocide ("Black Pascha" or "Black Easter")

On this day, April 6, 1914, Easter Sunday, the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Greeks from areas of Eastern Thrace, such as Strandza, Saranda Ekklesies, Tsataltza, Maditos, Vizyi, Gallipoli, Raidestos, etc., began with the Young Turks, under the guidance of the Germans.

It was an uprooting that was completed with the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 and the end of Hellenism in Ionia, Eastern Thrace and Pontus.

Two years later, in a 1916 article titled, "How Germany Destroyed Turkey's Hellenism" we read:

"The Hellenism of Asia Minor and Thrace is today an infinite graveyard. Churches were left in ruins, crosses were vandalized, cemeteries were destroyed, schools were closed, libraries were ransacked, estates were seized, houses were looted, Greek women and Greek children were sold in the market and old people died in the streets from starvation and in horrible hardship. And all these crimes took place at the moment Turkey was under German occupation militarily and politically."

This is a largely forgotten page of Thracian Hellenism, when during the First World War approximately 230,000 Eastern Thracians were forced to leave their ancestral homes and take refuge in Greece, mainly in villages in Central and Eastern Macedonia.

Since 2006, the World Thracian Congress has established April 6 as a day of remembrance and historical knowledge. Despite this, it still remains forgotten, even by the official Greek state.


April 6, 1941: The German Invasion of Greece

Hitler, worried by the inability of the Italians to defeat the Greek Army (launched in October 1940), and by the refusal of Greece to dissolve its alliance with Great Britain, on April 6, 1941, implemented "Operation Marita" and attacked both Greece and Yugoslavia with troops already in Bulgaria. Planning to attack the Soviet Union, he did not want to have the flanks of his army exposed to air strikes from bases in Greece and Yugoslavia.

To Germany's ultimatum to allow the entry of the German army, Prime Minister Alexandros Koryzis replied like Metaxas before him with the Italians: "NO!"

Yugoslavia buckled quickly, and given that Greece had not fortified its border with Yugoslavia, as it had with Albania and Bulgaria, the Germans found themselves on April 9 in Thessaloniki, while the Greek-Bulgarian border forts were still being defended. But as further defense was pointless, the forts capitulated.

The German Army reached the capital, Athens, on April 27th and Greece's southern shore on April 30th, capturing 7,000 British, Australian and New Zealand personnel and ending the battle with a decisive victory. The conquest of Greece was completed with the capture of Crete a month later. Following its fall, Greece was occupied by the military forces of Germany, Italy and Bulgaria.

Hitler later blamed the failure of his invasion of the Soviet Union on Mussolini's failed conquest of Greece.

Duration of resistance of European countries in days: Greece 219, Norway 61, France 43, Poland 30, Belgium 18, Holland 4, Yugoslavia 3, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg and Denmark without a fight.

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