Tag Archives: Benito Mussolini

Happy Oxhi Day!

OK, I’ll set you straight.

For those who don’t know what “Oxhi” means, it’s the Greek word for “no.” I have provided a rough translation from the Greek.

Oxhi Day is celebrated in Greece, the land of my ancestry, from where my grandparents emigrated near the turn of the 20th century. It’s a day that commemorates an episode in Greek history in which the country stood up to a superior military power and proceeded to kick the stuffing out of it.

On Oct. 28, 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini — who was Adolf Hitler’s hapless ally in the effort to conquer the world — issued an ultimatum to the Greek prime minister, a fellow named John Metaxas. It went something like this: Allow the Italian armed forces to use Greek ports to wage war in Africa across the Mediterranean, or else we’re going to take them over by force.

Metaxas issued a stern answer: “Oxhi!” he said. Mussolini then launched an invasion of Greece from neighboring Albania, which the Italians had already conquered.

The Greek army let the Italian forces enter the country. Then they cut them off at the border and proceeded to slaughter them in the Pindus Mountains. The Greeks, led by the elite Evzone mountain fighters, then drove the Italians out of Greece and back into Albania, where the fighting stalled. Eventually, in April 1941, Hitler decided to rescue the Italians by invading Greece; he conquered the country after fierce fighting.

To Greeks, this is a big deal, as it should be. Mussolini had delusions of grandeur while he sidled up as Hitler’s key European ally. Except that the Italians couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag. The Greek army was supposedly ill-equipped to handle the machinery that the Italians brought to the fight. They did, however, possess plenty of willpower in the effort to prevent Mussolini from conquering Greece.

And so it went. The Greeks had to endure three years of Nazi tyranny before driving them out of the country near the end of the fighting. The Greek resistance was among the fiercest in all of Europe.

Yes, I am a proud American of Greek descent. Happy Oxhi Day … everyone!


‘No’ means no, in Greece

In Greece, they celebrate something called “Oxhi Day.”

“Oxhi” — and this is the rough spelling of the word, given that the Greek alphabet looks nothing like ours — is the Greek word for “no.”

It’s meant to mark then-Greek Prime Minister John Metaxas’s refusal to let Italian troops use Greek ports during the early years of World War II. Metaxas told Italian dictator Benito Mussolini “oxhi!” to his ultimatum; Mussolini then invaded Greece on Oct. 28, 1940 — and promptly had his troops slaughtered by the Greek army as they sought to advanceĀ south from Albania.

The Italian invasion stalled in the face of the ferocious Greek resistance. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi troops came in to rescue Mussolini from further humiliation — and conquered Greece.

Oxhi Day has been a big deal for Greece.


Now the word takes on a fresh meaning. The Greeks have said “oxhi” to demands for more austerity, which was a condition of more bailout money from the European Union.

The result might be that Greece leaves the EU, becoming — in the words of some observers — a “fringe nation” in Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vows to renegotiate a better deal for Greece. His left-wing government has grown weary of the austerity demands that others have placed on his country.

But to be candid, the Greeks seem to need some more austerity to help them curb their spendthrift habits. They have spent themselves into a tremendous debt crisis that they cannot solve — seemingly — by themselves.

I wish my the people who live in the country of my ancestors had voted the other way. The future of a once-vibrant nation now appears at best to be murky.

Just saying “oxhi!” might not be enough to save this proud country from ruin.