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Eighteen-year old Greek partisan fighter Leon Sakkis died under Nazi fire on this date in 1944 while assisting a wounded comrade at the Battle of Karalar in Larissa. “In Thessaly, more than any other region” of Greece, according to the digital gallery of the Jewish Museum of Greece, “the fate of the Jews was intertwined with their heroic resistance. It was an experience that mitigated the extent of the Holocaust in the region... Dozens of Jews from Volos fought... in intense military action against the Germans in eastern Thessaly... (and) Anna Koen and Elli Sakki were dedicated nurses to the regiment. Among the heroes were Savvas Iakovou (52nd Regiment) who was killed on 17 April 1944 at Rentina in Agrafa and 18-year-old Leon Sakkis.”
“After the six-month war on the Albanian front, in April 1941 Greece succumbed to the forces of the Wehrmacht and for the next three-and-a-half years experienced the darkest period of its modern history. Despite the unbearable terror, executions and the famine during the first winter of 1941-42... Greeks by the thousands were won over to the idea of resistance. In 1943, Athens was gripped by strikes and demonstrations which were steeped in the blood of its residents, while from 1941 insurgent groups appeared in the countryside and in 1943-1944 they became real partisan armies that engaged in regular battles with the occupiers.The victims of struggle against the occupiers were many: more than 30,000 died in combat, were murdered or executed; more than 800 villages were burned in retaliation and the country’s infrastructure destroyed.... Greek Jews were not absent from this struggle, which embraced the whole country and its people. In the general patriotic upsurge during the occupation, the survival instinct blended with the desire for revenge. The deportations of thousands of co-religionists, relatives and friends — and the terrorism, humiliation and executions which preceded them — sparked the emergence of a dynamic resistance on the part of the Jews.” —The Jewish Museum of Greece