On the 28th of October Greeks and philhellenes around the world celebrate the “Anniversary of the No” (Επέτειος του Όχι), also known as “Ohi Day” (Ημέρα του Όχι). It marks Greece’s rejection of Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum to allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory during World War II.
The 28th of October is an annual national holiday in the Hellenic Republic, and it is celebrated with military and student parades. The student parades are a controversial topic in Greece, with some people stating that children should not be parading as soldiers and others adding that the parades are symbolic, showing the young generation’s respect for their ancestors’ sacrifices.
The Greek Anniversary of the No (Ohi Day). Metaxa’s Reply
According to the official report of events, the Prime Minister of Greece, General Ioannis Metaxas, received an ultimatum from the Italian embassy to Greece in the early hours of the 28th October 1940. They demanded to allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory; otherwise, war would ensue.
Metaxas replied with the phrase “Alors, c’est la guerre!” (Then it is war!). However, there is an unverified common belief that his reply was a laconic «Όχι!» (No!). This day does not only mark the start of the Greco-Italian war, but also Greece’s general stance against Italian Fascism and German Nazism.
It is important to note that General Metaxas was the totalitarian leader of the 4th of August Regime that was inspired by the rhetoric of Musolini but kept closed relations with Britain and the French Third Republic.