Tom H. Hastings, of Portland State University, wrote in his article "Nobel Speech? C-" (ZNet, Dec. 13, ’09): "If…one of my…students had handed in the very speech given by President Obama in Norway, I would have given that student a C-…Because he said, ‘A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies’…In fact, where nonviolence was attempted against the Nazis it succeeded. Ask the Norwegian teachers… Ask the non-Jewish [German] wives…on the Rosenstrasse… Ask the Jewish descendents of the 7,000+ Danish Jews… or ask the great-granddaughters of the Jews saved in Le Chambon…"
To a non-American, that there are people like Tom H. Hastings in the American society is a sign of great hope. Here, I am asking his permission to add some historical facts from the Greek experience in support of the argument expressed in the above excerpt from his article.
But first let us do the following mental exercise: Suppose that there are one million people protesting against an imminent oppressive act by the Nazis. The possible outcome in such a situation could be the following:
1. The one million will prevail.
2. The Nazis (or other occupiers) will kill a dozen or a few dozens of protesters and the rest will disperse in fear.
3. After the Nazis kill a few dozens, the protesters do not disperse but are so enraged that they lynch innumerable Nazis, and again the protesters prevail.
4. The Nazis (or other occupiers) considering that they have a geographical advantage and seeing that the one million is about to prevail they use nuclear weapons (supposing they possess such weapons). [According to Daniel Ellsberg, the US has threatened to do just that more than two dozen times since 1945; in Iran against the Soviets in 1945, in Korea against the Chinese in the 1950s, against the Vietnamese in the 1960s, and so on.]
Now after having compiled the above mental list of outcomes let us examine some actual cases from the Greek experience.
The Nazis occupied Athens in April 1941. "The musicologist Minos Dounias was simply shocked: ‘Where is the traditional German sense of honor? I lived in Germany thirteen years and no one cheated me. Now suddenly with the New Order [of Hitler] they have all become thieves…from the poor houses…they seized sheets and blankets..and even the metal knobs from the doors’". [Mark Mazower, "Inside Hitler's Greece", Yale University Press, 1993, p.23]. That was at the level of the lowly soldiers.
The view from the "top" was this: "In all the occupied territories I see the people living there stuffed full of food, while our own people are going hungry. For God’s sake, you have not been sent there to work for the well-being of the people entrusted to you, but to get hold of as much as you can so that the German people can live… I could not care less when you say that people under your administration are dying of hunger. Let them perish so long as no German starves." Signed by Hermann Goering and sent to Reich Commissioners and Military Commanders of the occupied territories.
It is unbelievable that a human could ever be an admirer and be friendly to a revolting creep like Goering, as was the US soldier from Texas who was a guard at the prison cell of Goering at Nuremberg. Also, we should not forget the "New Order" that the Bush family initiated and the looting by US soldiers in Iraq after the W. Bush Mission was accomplished.
Anyway, the "Famine in Athens" during the winter of 1941-1942 is one of the most tragic events during the Second World War. The number of dead by hunger is not really known. It could be in the tens of thousands or in the hundreds of thousands. There is one aspect of this event that offers an idea of the tragedy that ordinary people were subject to. Some families "dumped the bodies of the deceased relatives [due to starvation] in the public cemeteries at night so that they could hold on to their ration cards." [Mazower, p. 38] The daily ration of bread was less than 1/4 of a pound per person.
[Parenthesis: My family had assigned to me, an 11-year-old, to get the bread rations from the baker. The temptation to eat a few grams of bread, in the sly, before the bread was divided in 4 for the entire family, was unbearable. I never succumbed. I survived the famine, but to this day doctors examining my chest X-ray discover kind of a trace left in my lungs by the 1941 malnutrition in Athens. End of parenthesis.]
Besides the Nazis, the Almighty Lord of the Greek Christians, answering their prayers, "sent" more than 15 inches of snow in Athens in the 1941-1942 winter. The extreme cold, probably the worst ever in Athens, increased the number of dead among the starving people.
There was only one positive event during that winter. A Turkish ship, named "Kurtulus", brought some grain to Athens which saved the lives of many people, mine included. The insanity (or is it immorality?) of the present world situation is made apparent by the fact that if I express, today, my gratitude to the Turkish people for "Kurtulus", the neo-Nazi members of the Greek Parliament will accuse me of being "unpatriotic".
After the 1941-1942 winter, things eased concerning food supply. However, the dangers for losing one’s life increased. Here then are some examples that support the thesis of Hastings:
Hitler "used" the able-bodied men and women of the occupied countries of Europe as slave labor in Germany. After proclaiming a mobilization the (mostly) young people were rounded up in their country and sent to Germany.
On February 20, 1943 the Greeks heard a radio announcement that terrified them: "Adolph Hitler, appreciating the bravery shown by the Greek people in the battlefield [during the invasion by the Nazis] wishes to have this people as a supporter in the historic course that he has traced for the creation of a new world…" To the Greeks that meant: mobilization for slave labor in Germany.
On February 23 the decree for the mobilization was printed in the paper of the Greek Government Printing Office.
"Article 1: Every inhabitant of Greece between the ages of 16 and 45 is obliged, if dictated by circumstances, to submit himself to the work required of him for the German or the Italian services…
Article 2: The call for submission to work is made directly by the German services…
Article 4: Whoever does not comply with the obligations arising from the Articles 1 and 2 will be punished a) with a fine of unlimited amount, or b) with imprisonment or incarceration [for 5 to 10 years], or c) with [confinement] to a concentration camp for hard labor.
General Hans Speidel
[Note: After the war, General Speidel became Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's military adviser. He represented the Federal Republic of Germany in NATO... From April 1957 to September 1963 he was Commander of all NATO forces in central Europe! Of course, with the approval of the US! Being a friend of Rommel, he supposedly was involved in the plot against Hitler. He denied all knowledge of the conspiracy and thus avoided the fate of the other members of the attempt.]
The National Liberation Front (NLF or EAM in Greek), the huge civilian organization of anti-Nazi Resistance, having secretly learned about the imminent printing of the decree, during the night organizes the people of Athens for a reaction against the mobilization. So, on February 24 on 9 in the morning a huge river of Greeks of all ages in the thousands moves towards the center of Athens. The Nazis, expecting such a reaction, have positioned machine guns on the roofs and snipers with automatic rifles at the windows of public buildings.
The crowd at Constitution Square kneels in front of the monument of the Unknown Soldier and then attacks the building of the Old Palace (the present Parliament) above it. The Nazi and Italian fascist guards, after firing warning shots, flee. The Nazis move reinforcements against the crowds with armored cars and motorcycles. The crowd disperses but regroups at Omonia Square, the second important center of Athens.
The ultimate goal of the demonstrators is the Greek Ministry of Labor, at Bouboulinas street, where there are the lists with the names of more than one hundred thousand Greeks destined for slave labor in Germany.
The Nazis had already fortified the ministry with two companies of Italian fascists, a group of light tanks, other units with automatic rifles, and the machine guns and the snipers on the roofs and the windows.
The crowd is armed with stones, bricks, and…sour oranges (that grow on the trees at adjacent sidewalks). The Nazis fire warning shots. The crowd does not disperse. The Nazis order their soldier to shoot to kill. The machine guns and the automatic rifles aim straight at the crowd. There are dead and wounded. The frenzied crowd attacks with stones, etc and gains access into the building of the Ministry. The Greeks start destroying all the equipment, files, etc in the offices. They discover the files with the lists for slave laborers. They put them on fire. Outside in the street the crowd is engaged in hand to hand battle with the Nazis and the Italian Fascists. The machine guns on the roofs stop shooting for fear of shooting their own, as the crowd and the soldiers are intermingled. The fire inside the building spreads and the Italian soldiers in the upper floors and the machine gun snipers trapped on the roof beg the Greeks to save them.
Nazi reinforcements arrive. The crowd disperses. There is an unknown number of dead demonstrators. There are 59 seriously wounded and hundreds of lightly wounded. The demonstrators know that they have prevailed, yet they have not to stop here. Twelve days later, on March 5, the crowd repeats the demonstration against the Ministry of Labor. This time they burn it to the ground. Again, the number of dead demonstrators is unknown. The wounded are 200 many of them seriously who will die later. Also, there are more than 20 Nazi and Fascist dead, with crushed skulls or strangled, and many dozens of seriously wounded.
[Note: The building of the Ministry of Labor on Bouboulinas street, where all the above took place in 1943 was a couple of dozen yards away from the hotel on Bouboulinas street that Lydia Sargent, Mike Albert, Chris Spannos, and Andrej Grubacic stayed this Spring of 2009, during their trip to Athens.]
Hitler, through his quisling Greek Prime Minister, officially admits that there is not going to be a mobilization for Greek slave labor. This was the only European country that resisted the Nazi mobilization.
The events of February 24 and March 5, 1943, had a historically very important consequence. The Nazis found themselves on the defensive! The Nazi soldiers were forced not to move freely in Athens. They were secluded in their barracks or in their quarters. They were not allowed to visit Greek restaurants, cafes, etc. Their clubs, movie theaters, etc were closed. They forbade the Greeks to approach at a distance less than 220 yards from the Nazi barracks. They even established a night curfew for the Nazi soldiers and they were allowed to move only in patrol formation.
The sheer numbers of the people, their deep anger, and their bare hands prevailed against the violence of the Nazi machine guns.
The Battle of the Harvest
The Plain of Thessaly, with an area of 5,368 sq mi, is the most level district of Greece and is situated south of Macedonia, the northernmost part of the country. This fertile plain has always been considered the breadbasket of Greece.
In June 1944, the start of the harvesting season at the Plain of Thessaly, "[t[he Germans, helped by the Greek traitor organizations, the Security Battalions, … wanted to take the harvest for themselves… They intended to leave the population with only one month’s supply of produce and take the rest…" [Stefanos Sarafis, "ELAS: Greek Resistance Army", Merlin Press, London,1980, p. 337].
The Greek Resistance army, under General Sarafis decided to protect and save the harvest of the peasants. "There were many skirmishes and minor battles… The peasants took courage and themselves joined in the fighting where necessary…" [Ibid, p. 338]. The Resistance fighters, "after taking the necessary security precautions, helped the villagers with the reaping and threshing. This created an excellent spirit of solidarity and competition with the result that this battle [of the harvest] was successful all along the line." [Ibid, p. 339].
This "battle of the harvest" was won with minimal to zero violence. The Nazis were unable to fight an entire population of hundreds of thousands in so vast an area. The threat of numbers and the determination of ordinary people defeated Hitler. As expected, this very instructive part of the world history does not exist for most of the peoples of the world. After all, the Greek Resistance, as the one in the rest of Europe, was initiated by the Left.
The 1973 Student Uprising at the Polytechnic
On November 15, 1973, a Wednesday, the Greek students occupied the National Technical University of Athens (the "Polytechnic"). Their only "weapons" against the US-supported military dictatorship: slogans, leaflets, and a weak radio station. They stayed in the Polytechnic all night. Next morning, on Thursday, the students write on the wall of the administration building in big letters the word "LAOKRATIA". "Laos" (People. Laic, laity in English) and "Kratos" (Power, as in the word "demo-[k]racy"), therefore the word means "democracy"! After a few hours the word is erased from the wall. The students do not want to provoke things by using a word that originated with the men and the women who won the "Battle of the Harvest" against the Nazis 29 years before 1973.
On Friday, November 17, 1973, the military dictatorship crushes the student uprising by ordering a huge tank to crush the gate of the Polytechnic campus. Officially, the dead were 24. The driver of Lambrou, the master torturer of the security police gave the number of 45, before the announcement of the official number. No one knows the exact number.
The non-violent 1973 student uprising forced the CIA to end the military dictatorship and move to a "parliamentary phase" for Greece.
One could claim that Obama referred to Hitler and the CIA is not Hitler. This is not the place to examine this statement in depth. However, to most people of my age the "figures" of the Nazi soldiers of 1941 to 1944, of whom we had a daily experience, and the "figures" of the US soldiers in Iraq and in Afghanistan are almost identical.
Finally, there is one aspect of the non-violent resistance against the violence of the world elites, which is of great importance. This is the role of the "collaborators". The collaborators, for example, could be Greeks who collaborated with the Nazis "wittingly" or Greeks who collaborated with the Nazis "unwittingly" by not helping the Resistance because of its leftist roots. Or Iraqis, or Afghans could be "witting" collaborators of the Americans. Or they could be "unwitting" collaborators by not helping the Resistance against the Americans for religious reasons. Also, there are "collaborators" in the country itself of the violent elites. For example, the Republicans and the Democrats who supported and support the invasion of Iraq and of Afghanistan are "indirect" collaborators of the US violent elites, as were the Germans who collaborated with Hitler and gained a prominently revolting place in human history as the "Good Germans". The number of "unwitting" and "indirect" collaborators could be significant. They are the people who call themselves "conservative", or "patriots", etc. It is these collaborators that help the violent elites neutralize the non-violent Resistance in many cases.
So, if Obama does not know that Hitler was defeated in many cases by non-violent Resistance he gets rather an "F". However, he will get an "N", if he continues to kill people. "N" being the first letter for Nuremberg.
P.S. Having been born in 1930 it is more than probable that I shall not be around to witness the next Nuremberg Tribunal. However I know who will be the defendants: The Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, ConDolcezza, Albright, Negroponte, Wolfowitz,…, and Obama [of the drones]. Wishful thinking? No! In this morning’s paper (Dec. 15, ’09) I read: "A court in London issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni…", for war crimes. There is going to be a Nuremberg!