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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-09

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karditsa celebrates liberation from nazi occupation

  • [01] Karditsa celebrates liberation from nazi occupation

    Karditsa, western Thessaly in mainland Greece, was the first city in Europe to be liberated from nazi occupation (on March 12, 1943), in the campaign fought by the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) during the period of the Greek Resistance until February 1945.

    The cities of Karditsa and Trikala jointly celebrated on Tuesday the anniversary of the heroic March 9, 1941 defense of the strategic Height (or Hill) 731 against an Italian offense by the 5th Army Regiment during WWII.

    The 'Battle of the Titans' at Height 731 was a unique example of heroism, self-denial and effectiveness, that repelled Mussolini's "Spring Attack" in March 1941, the Axis Forces' first defeat in Europe which lifted the morale of all of Europe.

    On the day of the attack, Sunday, March 9, 1941, the 5th Army Regiment comprised exclusively of soldiers from the prefectures of Karditsa and Trikala were in the vanguard of the front. The Italian army's intention was, with its attack at Height 731, to split the Greek defense line and create an inroad to the Kleisoura valley, aiming at the collapse of the central Greek front so as to allow the Italian motorised infantry division to advance towards Ioannina by outflanking two other Greek fronts, the Northern and Southern flanks.

    The Italian forces deployed 50,000 men with 400 canons and 2,000 airplanes in the vanguard, followed by tanks and motorized infantry units, which were ready to advance after the split of the Height 731 front and the opening of the way.

    But the inroad was never opened up, because Height 731 did not fall.

    Trikala and Karditsa staged a series of events on Tuesday celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Height 731, while a Presidential Decree has been issued designating March 9 as a local public holiday in the two prefectures.

    The city of Karditsa is also celebrating its liberation from the occupation forces on the night of March 12 to March 13, 1943, making it the first liberated city in Europe.

    From 1941 to mid-1942, the Italian forces controlled not only the Thessaly valley but also the Karditsa mountain range. In the fall of 1942, however, Greek resistance forces, with Karditsa resistance fighters in the lead, were intensifying their efforts, blowing up the Karambali railway bridge and the Stefanousiaos bridge between Karditsa and Trikala, thus disrupting rail communication, while the Karditsa-Trikala road was in such bad condition that it would take hours for reinforcements to arrive from Trikala.

    The Italian forces, fearing more attacks and even an attack on their camps, were forced to abandon Karditsa after a flurry of deliberations.

    Specifically, on the night of March 10, 1943, they imposed a prohibition of circulation in the city. On the night of March 12, they retreated towards Trikala.

    On the morning of March 13, 1943, the residents of Karditsa awoke in a free city. That same day, Resistance units, and namely the ELAS 1-38 Regiment, entered the city and declared it the capital of Free Greece.

    Karditsa became the first liberated city in all of Europe, and the Resistance center for all of Greece for the next eight months.

    Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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