75th Anniversary of Battle of Crete Marked in German Paper

In yesterday’s SĂŒddeutsche Zeitung there is a feature story by Kurt Kister about the Battle of Crete. This was fought 75 years ago this week. Since it was one of the German Army’s last clear victories (although a costly one in terms of German casualties), this may entitle it to special mention in the German press. A few weeks later, Hitler sent the troops into the Soviet Union, a bad move as it turned out.

Waugh’s novel, Sword of Honor  is mentioned toward the end of the article. He describes the British retreat after the German paratroop landings proved decisive. Here’s the Google translate version (slightly modified) of that part of the article:

Chora Sfakion is a popular destination today. A now well-developed road leads across the island to the small port; drive through a wild, romantic mountain landscape. When you come to the crest of the mountain range, it overlooks the deep blue Mediterranean, before going down to meandering serpentines to the taverns and actually quite unkretisch whitewashed houses.

It is hard to imagine how it might have looked like here 75 years ago. The road to Sphakia as it called by the British was lined with discarded equipment, vehicles were tumbled down the slopes, wounded dragged on, from the direction of the mountains thronging Germans could hear noise of battle. The grandiose English writer Evelyn Waugh, who took part in the withdrawal as an officer, has given in his book “Without fear and without reproach” an oppressive, ironic, all readable representation of the last days in Crete. On May 27, 1941, the British government decided to evacuate the island.

In the last May days the Navy managed under continuous attacks of the German Air Force to evacuate 15 000 soldiers and civilians off the island, among them were the Greek king and the prime minister, dealing with their entourage which had fled through the picturesque gorge of Samaria to the south coast.  On June 1, around Chora Sfakion ten thousand British and Greeks surrendered to the Germans. The Battle of Crete was struck. After the hostilities had ended, the eastern part of the island of Italian soldiers was occupied.

Sword of Honour is translated into German as Ohne Furcht und Tadel, literally “Without fear and reproach.” Waugh was present in Chora Sfakion, which is near Babali Inn where Guy Crouchback found the body of the British soldier in a churchyard. I have made a few edits to the translation but our readers are also invited to compare it to the original and offer other edits.

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