A Greek Evzone was featured on the cover of the American magazine Life, honoring the heroic battles of Greek soldiers against the invading Italians in 1940.
The issue was published in mid-December 1940 approximately fifty days after Mussolini’s forces attacked Greece.
At that time, Life magazine was the leading American publication in photojournalism.
When photographs were relatively rare in newspapers and magazines, the team at Life managed to create this major new innovation of making photographs—rather than the text behind them—the focus of a story.
Not even two months after the unjustified aggression of fascist Italy against Greece, the entire free world was talking about the heroism this small nation was showing against a powerful member of the Axis Powers.
Greek Evzone in Life was a powerful image
The Italians had not only not managed to conquer Greece by the time of the photo’s publication, but Greek soldiers were actually pushing the Italians back to Albania, liberating the lands of Northern Epirus, where the majority of inhabitants were ethnic Greeks.
American society, still not actively engaged in what was then widely viewed as just another endless European war, was beginning to hear about Greece’s heroic resistance against the darkness of Fascism and Nazism.
For many at the time, Greece was no less than a modern incarnation of David, who was courageously fighting against Goliath.
Featuring a Greek soldier wearing the traditional costume of the Evzones in front of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens playing the trumpet as a call to arms, the photograph was meant to become an iconic symbol for the Greek nation.
It was an ode to the soul of a country that never compromised—despite attempted fear and repression from the part of the enemy—fighting against all odds to retain its most valuable possession: freedom.
Life is no longer in circulation, having published its final issue in 2000, but its multitudes of iconic cover photos have lived on in various permutations ever since then.
In the decades after the folding of the magazine, it has been published sporadically as a newspaper supplement, and its website is now a photo channel on the famous TIME magazine’s website.
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