The Morale of the Greek and the Italian Soldier in the 1940-41 War

Zacharias N. Tsirpanlis

Abstract


To what did the Greek soldier own his victory on the mountains of Epirus
in 1940-41? The writer shows that the Greek army’s success was not due to
the Italians’ cowardice or lack of training. The invaders’ morale was high ;
they fought heroically and with self-sacrifice, at least during the first, most
decisive, days of the war. But the lower-ranking Greek officers, NCOs
and troops put up a resistance which surpassed all rational bounds, freely
mating reckless and bloody sacrifices beyond measure.
The General Staff and the political leaders in Athens were no less astonished
than the Italians. From their first defeats until the end of the Greek-
Italian conflict, the latter consistently overestimated their adversary’s abilities
and were overwhelmed by a profound sense of awe, fatalism, weakness, and
collective resignation.
The writer points out that both sides suffered virtually the same loss of
human life; which shows that the Greeks defeated a foe who also knew how
to fight, to lay down his life for his ideals, to retreat, certainly, but also to
defy death.
The appendix contains official Italian documents published for the first
time.

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