Corelli’s Mandolin Redux.
Us against them, them against us, Shia against Sunni, Kurds against Turks, Baathists against Kurds, militia against police, security forces against insurgents, insurgents against terrorists. And our troops...
…caught in the middle of it all.
When I read this frightening piece, I was reminded of the climax of Louis de Bernières brilliant anti-war novel, (Captain) Corelli’s Mandolin, which portrays the tragic confusion and wholesale slaughter in the aftermath of the Italian-German occupation of Greece during World War 2.
During the occupation, the Greek resistance was, itself, divided into fiercely dogmatic ideological camps—Royalists, Communists, Socialists, Liberals, Monarchists, Anarchists, etc. They killed and tortured each other over sacks of potatoes and rice. In addition to these longstanding animosities between the Greeks themselves and the occupation by the Italians and Germans, there were external pressures from the Turks, the Bulgarians the Albanians and others. And of course, the British were in the middle of it too, protecting the interests of Empire.
After 1943, when the Allies invaded Sicily and the Mussolini government was overthrown, many Italian soldiers, including those in Greece, switched sides and took up arms against the Nazis. In response, Hitler ordered a wholesale massacre of the Italian Troops in Greece. The Nazis shot about 4000 Italian boys and burned the bodies. Four thousand survived and were being transported by ship to labor camps. But the ships were bombed by the British and most of the Italians drowned in the hulls. The rest were machine-gunned by the Germans as they tried to abandon ship.
The senseless and brutal carnage that followed in Greece for years was devastating. The Greek Communists, on orders from Tito, used the arms they had been supplied by the British to fight the Nazis to impose their will on most of the countryside. They perfected the “art of atrocity and oppression” which they had learned from watching the Nazis.
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then again as tragedy.”
Louis de Bernière Corelli’s Mandolin
Cross posted at The Whole American Hog