Patrick Leigh Fermor … This is Your (Ill Met by Moonlight) Greek Life

The abduction gang - PLF centre Moss to his left

This is a wonderful find brought to us by Blog reader Erik Bruns.

Many will remember the TV show This is Your Life. Greek television had their own version, and in 1972 it was Paddy’s turn to be embarrassed and surprised by meeting again people that he had come across in his life. His surprise and clear delight at meeting with the ‘Abduction Gang’ of Cretan Andartes is clear. The ‘senior’ partisans, Manoli and George (see picture left) are the first two guests, and they seem barely changed.

The highlight must be when the presenter introduces a slightly frail General Heinrich Kreipe. Paddy is delighted to see him again, and immediately starts to talk to the General in German saying how good it is to see him after all these years.

I am amused as one of the Cretans takes the General’s arm to help him sit down; maybe he did the same before on that road to the Villa Ariadne, but was perhaps a little less gentle on that occasion!

There follows what is one of television’s most wonderful scenes as Paddy acts as translator answering the presenter in Greek and then switching back to German to speak to the General.

Take fifteen minutes of your life to watch Paddy, and all these great men, as they share their experiences of an event which took place thirty years before, with great animation and clear joy.

I have a feeling that there was a pretty good party afterwards with plenty of Ouzo and Retsina!


22 thoughts on “Patrick Leigh Fermor … This is Your (Ill Met by Moonlight) Greek Life

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  6. Steve Pitts

    What an incredible find!! And what a tour-de-force of active diplomacy on the part of Fermor, in a setting that might have been “peinlich” in the extreme. I understand the man better now, and regret even more that he is gone.

  7. Daphne

    I remember vividly watching this programme in 1972 with my parents including my 82-year old father. Thank you, Mr. Bruns, for providing me the opportunity to re-live those times 39? years later. Truly a wonderful piece of history.

  8. proverbs6to10 Post author

    Look at 9 minutes 35. The presenter is desperate to get Paddy, Manoli, and George to sit down but they are having a partisan love-in and won’t be stopped! It’s wonderful.

  9. Eftihis Tzirtzilakis

    Many thanks and greetings from Crete for this wonderfull piece of history!!!
    It was fantastic!

  10. PaulD

    Let me describe the exchange between Paddy and the general for those who don’t understand German:

    the presenter asks Paddy to ask the General whether he has forgiven and forgotten the inconveniences of their previous encounter. Paddy does so, with some difficulty and embarrassment, and the General elegantly releases him by saying, “I’d not be here otherwise, would I?”

    And it’s not even fiction!

  11. PaulD

    What a wonderful piece of history.
    Paddy understandably struggles a bit with the German, but his pronunciation is better than mine, and I’ve lived in Germany for more than 20 years! I suppose that’s what gets you through checkpoints. If I tried they’d just say, “Shoot the Engishman” at the first hurdle.
    Well done, sir.

  12. Marina Petsalis-Diomidis

    Cheers indeed, I too had often wondered if the footage existed somewhere gathering dust. I am only sorry it is so heavily edited. The whole thing would be great!

  13. Erik Bruns

    About this broadcast; from ‘In tearing haste’ letters between PLF and Deborah Devonshire, page 121, May 1972:

    Darling Debo,

    (…) I had an extraordinary experience three weeks ago; meeting General Kreipe on a television programme, with all his Cretan captors, after 27 years. After the programme, all the Cretans – about 20 – the General & his wife (very nice), a niece of Field Marshal v. Rundstedt, and I had a huge banquet in a taverna. Lots of Cretan songs and dances, a few German folk songs sung by the General and me, after much wine had flowed. Some journalists got wind of it and broke in. One asked the General how i had treated him when he was my prisoner in the mountains and the Gen said – wait for it! – most energetically: ‘Ritterlich! Wie ein Ritter’ (‘Chivalrously! Like a knight!). I felt a halo forming and it took me days to get back to normal. I took them out to all sorts of meals and, and showered Frau Kreipe with roses when they left (she was extremely nice). She said: ‘You’re just like my husband told me you were all these years!’ (Three cheers again! Forgive me retailing these dewdrops – but nobody else can, you do see.) It was somehow a wonderful rounding off to this ancient story. I’ve just got a charming joint letter from them!


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