Waterstone’s Piccadilly will host an evening with the editors of Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete on Thursday, 12 March 2015, at 7:00 pm. This event is free but please reserve your place by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the greatest feats in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s remarkable life was the kidnapping of General Kreipe, the German commander in Crete, on 26 April 1944. He and Captain Billy Moss hatched a daring plan to abduct the general, while ensuring that no reprisals were taken against the Cretan population. We are thrilled to welcome historians Chris and Peter White here for an illustrated presentation on Fermor and this extraordinary event of the Second World War. This evening will be hosted by author and film-maker Harry Bucknall, author of Like a Tramp, Like A Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome. Further details: 0207 851 2400
In the comments above you say quote “He and Captain Billy Moss hatched a daring plan to abduct the general, while ensuring that no reprisals were taken against the Cretan population” unquote. Yes Paddy and Bill did hatch a daring plan, but we must remember that there were reprisals against the Cretan Population, not because of the capture of General Kreipe so to speak but because they were going to evacuate Crete and fearing they that they might be set upon by bands of patriots and the Cretan People who would attack them as they withdrew from the island to avenge all the atrocities they had suffered during the German Occupation of Crete. A good account of what happened during this sad period is given by George Psychoundakis whose book The Cretan Runner, which incidentally was translated into English by Paddy. George said on page 285 quote ” There we found our friend Mr Manoussaka, and, after a meal with him, we continued our way, climbing up the side of Mount Ida to a cave above Nithavri, where Mr Tom now had his lair, in a cave where General Kreipe had recently been a guest for the night. I stayed there two or three days before leaving, watching the Kedros villages burning ceaselessly on the other side of the deep valley. Every now and then we could hear the sound of explosions. The Germans went there in the small hours of the twenty- second of August and the burning went on for an entire week. The villages we could see from there and which were given over to flames were: Yerakari, Kardaki, Gourgouthoi, Vrysses, Smilἐs, Dries and Ano Meros. First they emptied every single house, transporting all the loot to Retimo, then they set fire to them, and finally, to complete the ruin, they piled dynamite into every remaining corner, and blew them sky high. The village schools met the same fate, also the churches and the wells, and at Ano Meros they even blew up the cemetery. They shot all the men they could find. finally when they had burnt them all, they dropped leaflets by plane saying they had burnt Anoyeia, Karmares, Yerakari, Gourgouthoi, Kardaki, Smilἐs, Vrysses, Dryes, Ano Meros, Krya-Vryssi and Sakhtouria, because they said, those villages had sheltered General Kreipe and his captors until they set sail from Sakhtouria1. But the German leaflets were not telling the truth. They were not burning the villages after all these months because of the abduction of the General, and even if as it seemed they had learnt the outlines of his capture and flight from the island, their purpose was quite different, etc ” unquote.
1 Paddy said that Sakhtouria was incorrect the party including Kreipe left from Rhodakino, about 20 miles west of Sakhtouria).
John – thanks for that. Just to point out that the words in the blog post are not mine but from the Waterstones website. It is a controversy that will never have a definitive answer. I have no personal view. I suspect it was a combination of trying to ensure that the German retreat was not harassed too much by making some “examples” and maybe they chose for their “examples” villages suspected of being involved in the kidnap. We will never know.