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On April 6, 1941, at the height of World War II, the Axis forces invaded Greece and the country was divided into three zones controlled by Italy, Bulgaria and Germany. During four years of occupation (1941-1944), the Nazi faction committed the most atrocities by seizing crops and dismantling the country’s industrial sector.
In 1942, the Nazis also forced the Bank of Greece to grant them an exorbitant loan to cover the costs of the occupation. As a result, the country was left in ruins with hyperinflation.
The destruction of the economy, the seizure of crops and a naval blockade caused one of the greatest famines in European history. An estimated 300,000 people died from hunger and thousands more were killed in violent attacks by the occupation forces. Entire villages were wiped out.
While these atrocities took place, a fierce resistance began to form around June 1942. The communist guerrillas launched successful attacks and acts of sabotage against the Nazis and their allies, set up extensive espionage networks and liberated numerous territories.
The Greek resistance went down in history as one of the most effective and courageous in all of Europe during World War II, and their heroism is celebrated to this day. At least 70,000 insurgents died in battle against the occupying forces, who finally withdrew in October 1944.
However, the West would show very little “gratitude” for the sacrifices of the Greek fighters. With US and British support, Greece’s monarchist and conservative government emerged victorious from the Greek Civil War (1943-1949).