Italian forces initially invaded in October 1940. The Hellenic Army performed well, driving the Italians back towards their protectorate, Albania. But this left them hopelessly exposed to a trademark German Blitzkrieg in April, 1941. By June, the conquest was complete, and Greece was parcelled up between the Axis powers: Germany took the first and second cities, Athens and Salonika, the main port Piraeus, Thrace, scattered Aegean islands and most of the strategically important island of Crete; Bulgaria and Italy took the remaining 80 per cent of the country. The occupation was brutal – the country was looted of resources, suffered mass starvation and vicious reprisals for partisan activities, although the single largest massacre was of Italian troops by the Germans on Cephalonia, after the Italians withdrew from the war in 1943. The holocaust claimed 80 per cent of the Jewish population of Greece, among Europe’s worst tolls.
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