The European Paratroopers Association, or EAP, a group of parachutists who put on courses and hold events for those who enjoy the sport, purportedly planned to hold a celebration for the Nazi troops who parachuted into Crete during the German invasion there in World War II.
The invasion of Crete was meant by Hitler to be just a pushover that would serve as a base for their further invasion of Mediterranean countries and ultimately the invasion of Russia.
But the fierce resistance of Cretans– some of them women, armed with brooms and shovels — meant that many of the German parachutists were massacred as they floated to the ground. The invasion was resisted so well by the civilians of Crete, and the Nazis were bogged down there so long that the planned invasion of Russia was put off until the wintertime.
A paratrooper’s association based in Sicily, with its own website, apparently planned to celebrate the German parachutists in an event that was to be held from May 17 to 23 of this year.
The notice of the event appeared on the website on the third of April. Whether or not this was a very sick April Fool’s joke on the part of the EAP is unclear at this time.
Just a few hours after the revelation that they planned this apparently neo-Nazi event, the invitation to participate disappeared from the group’s website. Their Facebook page has now also been hidden.
The group has not yet responded to an inquiry from Greek Reporter.
Greek media sources say that originally there had been three Greek names attached to the group as members — all of which disappeared from the website after the outcry that understandably arose after the announcement appeared on the site.
Political leaders assure public no event was planned
Crete’s Regional Governor Stavros Arnaoutakis and the mayor of Chania, Panagiotis Simandirakis, both assured the press that they had ever received no official request for any such event in the first place. They added that they would naturally never have granted permission for that type of event at any time.
The original statement from the EAP said that the paratroopers wished to “honor the bravery of the German paratroopers” in Chania.
The Battle of Crete will remain forever in military history as the scene of the largest German airborne operation of World War II. In Greek history, it also serves as another chapter showing the bravery and the ultimate triumph of the Hellenic spirit.
The Cretans – who only four decades earlier had fought for and won their independence after 250 years of Ottoman occupation – came out of their homes and challenged Hitler’s forces using whatever weaponry they had. It was the first time the Germans had encountered significant opposition from a local population.
The Cretan Resistance was one of the factors that led to the fatal delay of the the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, while also reducing the number of troops available for missions in the Middle East and in Africa.
Despite repeated attacks from the Nazis on local villages and communities, the Cretan Resistance remained active until the Germans surrendered four years later, in 1945.
WWII Battle of Crete ended in 4,000 Germans dead
Crete was targeted by the Germans because of the British airfields on the island, which were more than capable of striking the vital Ploesti oil fields in Romania. Hitler’s forces needed all the oil they could get for their impending assault on Russia.
Securing Crete would be tantamount to driving the British out of the eastern Mediterranean; it would also be the first step towards German control of Cyprus and the Suez Canal.
The battle, which started on May 20 and ended on June 1, 1941, was dubbed “The Graveyard of the Fallshirmjager” (the German parachutists known as ” Sky Hunters”). Nearly 4,000 German troops were killed and 1,500 wounded in the first three days of the assault.
Pan-Cretan uprising called for in response to announcement
A Greek group calling itself The National Council for the Claim of Debts of Germany to Greece took the announcement seriously, releasing an announcement entitled “The Germans are coming back,” and called for a pan-Cretan uprising to protest the event.
No one is sure at the present time if the alleged event may ever have been planned with the cooperation of anyone at all in Greece or whether it was just a sick joke that came out on April 3 — around April Fool’s Day.
The paratroopers organization, which is based in Salerno, Italy, was founded in August of 2001 “by a group of European paratroopers,” as it says on its website.
It gave itself its current name in 2004, and is a recognized non-profit association, supported by subscriptions and run by an Administrative Council, elected by the active members.
Since the notice for the supposed event was posted in the first days of April, it may have just been a juvenile attempt at an extremely sick April fools’ joke.
In any event, it certainly dredged up bitter old memories of the dark days of Word War II on the beautiful Greek island of Crete.
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