The Greek 'Oxi'—No!—Is an Act of Resistance against Fascism!

July 1, 2015

The Greek people are being asked by the Tsipras government to vote No, or Oxi (pronounced "okhi") in Greek, in the upcoming, July 5th referendum vote. That one word OXI has profound significance for the Greek people, and every Oct. 28th is celebrated as OXI Day. Why?

At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini to Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas. Il Duce demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian armies free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece unopposed.

Faced with this demand, Metaxas delivered an unequivocal one word response: "Oxi!"

Shortly thereafter, the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into the mountainous region of Northern Greece and the war began. Mussolini's advisors had assured him that the invasion of Greece would take no more than two weeks, but the Italians met fierce and unexpected resistance from the Greek army and volunteer fighters. Within six months, Mussolini would be humiliated, and Hitler was forced to delay the German invasion of Russia in order to subdue the Greeks.

Despite Greece's ultimate fall to Axis powers, Metaxas's "Oxi!" resulted in a fatal diversion and delay for the German army, extending their campaign against USSR for several months, into the brutal Russian winter and contributing greatly to their ultimate defeat.

Though never acknowledged officially, "OXI!" has been the symbol for Greek resistance ever since. OXI became the rallying cry of the resistance during the so-called Greek Civil War, the five years of fascist occupation under the British after WWII ended (1945-1949). Again, under the British/US directed dictatorship, known as the Colonels Coup (1969-1974), OXI appeared on the signs of anti-government demonstrations, and thousands and thousands of OXI's appeared painted on walls, fences and sides of rock cliffs.

When they go to the polls on July 5th to vote "OXI!" against the Euro/British dictatorship, the Greek people will know it is an act of resistance against fascism, just like Oct. 28th, 1940.