& the Metaxas Line
By J.E. Kaufmann & H.W. Kaufmann
AS THE MORNING MIST began to lift on the morning of 6 April 1941, German troops surged across the Greco-Bulgarian border at 5:20 a.m. and crashed into the Metaxas Line. Since most of the Greek army was engaged in Albania, only a small force manning the fortifications faced the attackers. Even though this action is sometimes called another Blitzkrieg campaign, it did not go smoothly in its assault on the Metaxas Line and resulted in unnecessary casualties. By 9 April, the defending Greek 2nd Army surrendered, while the 1st Army continued to fight. Although the Germans emerged victorious, the Metaxas Line had not failed in its mission.
The Metaxas Line
In the 1930s, the Greeks considered Bulgaria, which was thought to want access to the Aegean, to be the greatest threat to its security. The Greeks tried to ward off that menace by allying with the Yugoslavs and the Turks. By 1935, that agreement was no longer considered sufficient, so the Hellenic High Command opted to build a line of fortifications along the border with Bulgaria to block an invasion until the army could mobilize. During the initial construction, the unnamed line was sometimes referred to as the Nestos Line. In the end, it was given the name of Prime Minister Ioannes Metaxas, who had taken office with the help of Gen. Alexandros Papagos in 1936 and had become a virtual dictator.
Drive on Suez
Rommel Drives Deep, 1942
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· Drive on Suez – Rommel Drives Deep, 1942: In the last week of June 1942, Erwin Rommel launched his final drive into Egypt. His objective was the Suez Canal and beyond that, the oilfields of the Middle East. With the capture of these objectives, the Desert Fox anticipated a victory for the Axis powers in Europe. The dilemma was in getting to Suez.
· Hubert Zemke – American Fighter Commander: Perhaps for the same reasons he entered the boxing ring, 16-yearold Hubert Zemke enlisted in the Civilian Military Training Corp as a fighter pilot cadet. The folks back in Germany would find much cause to rue this move by their prodigal son.
· Operation Marita & the Metaxas Line: In the 1930s, the Greeks considered Bulgaria to be the greatest threat to their security. By 1935, the Hellenic High Command built a line of fortifications along the border with Bulgaria to block an invasion until the army could mobilize.
· Berlin – A City of Blood: The Germans already knew the Allies would not be coming to Berlin. Stalin, of course, also knew this but was not reassured. He pushed his generals relentlessly, setting 1 May as the deadline to secure the city. It was a Herculean task.