[ilds] The Cretan Connection

Anna Lillios anna at ucf.edu
Mon Jun 30 10:33:00 PDT 2014

     By coincidence, I've just read The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 1941-1945 by G.C. Kiriakopoulos (Prager, 1995) and was interested to read about Patrick Leigh Fermor's role in the resistance.  Two chapters are devoted to PLF and William Stanley Moss's kidnapping of German General Heinrich Kreipe on April 26, 1944.
      PLF and Moss hatched the plot during a drunken party in Cairo.  They were discussing Italian General Angelo Carta's recent surrender to PLF after Mussolini fell.  Moss pointed out to Fermor how easy the operation had been: "...the Italian general didn't resist.  Now, did he?"
      "And so?"  Fermor mumbled a second time, a fixed smile on his face, while trying to place his empty glass on the table but missing.
      "Well, it was no great challenge!  Carta surrendered willingly,"  Moss teased.  "Tell me, Paddy," Moss continued, his speech beginning to slur.  "Wouldn't it rather unsettle the Hun if we go in and steal their general?  Take him out as a prisoner?  Now that would be a challenge, wouldn't it?"
     Fermor's eyes opened wide, his frozen smile turned into a mischievous snicker and excitement rang in his voice.
     "Yes, Billy, it would!  Let's do it."
     The kidnapping proves to be an easy task; Fermor, Moss, and several Greek guerillas capture the general when his driver stops his car at an intersection.  Getting the general out of Crete, however, proves to be a much greater challenge.  Fermor and Moss finally succeed in bypassing the Germans searching for them and embark on a boat bound for Cairo.
       In retaliation, according to Kiriakopoulos, the Nazis issued a threat that "all villages in the Iraklion area will be razed to the ground and the severest measures of reprisal will be brought to bear on the civilian population."  Kiriakopoulos goes on to say:  "Because of the kidnapping, reprisals now began against the local population even though Fermor's note denied their involvement.  The Germans burned and dynamited every house in Anoghia and in other villages in the Anoghia district.  They even divebombed these villages. The inhabitants, accustomed to such barbarous acts, fled to the mountains.  The few who remained were summarily executed with no regard for age or sex.  It was reported that, in several instances, the Gestapo threw tied villagers into the flames of their burning homes, while they stood around and laughed" (175).  The Germans also destroyed villages in southern Crete, including Sakhtouria, Margarikari, Timbaki, Melambes, Akoumia, and Spilia.
     Fermor and Moss were certainly brave in undertaking the abduction, and felt they were aiding the Cretan cause.  But, in 1944 with Patton's army marching full strength across Europe and liberating Italy, the writing was on the wall regarding Germany's demise.  Why stir the dying beast, who predictably throughout the Occupation in Crete had no hesitation in mass murdering the local residents.  Check out what happened in my grandfather's village http://www.pappaspost.com/brutal-nazi-massacre-cretan-village-pictures/   In my grandmother's village of Alikianou, 142 villagers including her brother were lined up on the bridge leading to the village and shot.
      On May 7, 1972, PLF and the Cretan guerillas associated with the kidnapping gathered together to celebrate "what had become one of the most legendary tales to come out of the Second World War--the kidnapping of a German general."  In attendance was General Kreipe.  During the banquet, Fermor apologized to the general by saying, "war is war."  The general "smiled benignly" and likewise responded, 'C'est la guerre.'"  Cretans, I'm sure, would not agree.

Dr. Anna Lillios,
Professor of English
Department of English
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 161346
Orlando, FL  32816-1346

Phone:    (407) 823-2212 (English Department)
FAX:       (407) 823-3300
Email:    Anna at ucf.edu

Editor, Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal
Editor, The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Journal of Florida Literature
Editor, The Zora Neale Hurston Electronic Archive
Executive Director, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society
Author, Crossing the Creek: The Literary Friendship of Zora Neale
     Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (University Press of
From: ILDS [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] on behalf of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 11:36 AM
To: Richard Pine; Durrell list
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: Re: [ilds] The Cretan Connection


Yes.  Mountolive's father is an expert in Pali texts.  He lives in a monastery outside Madras (now Chennai in southeastern India).  All this in the Dewford Mallows episode in Mountolive.  Why Pali?  Pali is a Sanskrit dialect, which some scholars believe was the original language of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha.  It is also the dialect of the Thervada school of Buddhism, the oldest, which emphasizes liberation through meditation and monastic discipline.  Also, as you rightly point out, "we all had a distant father, didn't we?"  Well, I certainly did, and there's a whole lot of literature on the subject.  More importantly is the relevance to LGD.  Recall that Siddhartha might be the original absent father, for the legend is that around the age of 28 he leaves his wife and son and begins the search of enlightenment.  Which he finds.  Isn't this Durrell's own path (forget his dubious success) or at least the one he mythologizes?  Too much analysis?  I don't think so.  Durrell doesn't drop casual allusion.


On Jun 30, 2014, at 2:08 AM, Richard Pine <rpinecorfu at yahoo.com<mailto:rpinecorfu at yahoo.com>> wrote:

Durrell also claimed to have a relative in India who, like Mountolive's father, was an expert in Indian (Pali?) texts (sorry for vagueness, am in transit) which I had always thought, until you raised the PLFpossibility, was LD's link to the idea of the 'distant' father. We all had a distant father, didn't we?

On Saturday, June 28, 2014 9:32 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net<mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:

Correct.  Apparently Durrell took other people's stories and used them for his own purposes.  Nothing wrong with that, as long as one is writing fiction.  Non-fiction is another matter.  Leigh Fermor's story of his father surely resonated with Durrell's own experiences with his father, who died in India and "abandoned" him.  Moutolive's father does abandon his wife and son and goes off to India to live and work in a monastery.  This coincides nicely with Durrell oft-stated desire to find some religious haven in his mythical Tibet.  Durrell never returned to India.  Why?  I suspect because he wanted to keep the myth of India and Tibet just that — a myth.


On Jun 28, 2014, at 10:25 AM, William Apt <billyapt at gmail.com<mailto:billyapt at gmail.com>> wrote:

I noticed few years ago the striking similarity between LD's description of Montolive's absentee father in India and Patrick Leigh Fermor's own experience: his father, too, remained in India apart from the mother. Both fathers were mysterious, exotic characters, wondered over by the abandoned sons. Unlike LD's experience, however, Montolive's father and PLF's father had no longing to return to England and, as I recall, never did return, permanently. So, while this is speculation on my part, it may be yet another example of LG borrowing from the life story of another.

Attorney at Law
812 San Antonio St, Ste 401
Austin TX 78701
512/708-8011 FAX

On Jun 27, 2014, at 8:38 PM, "Denise Tart & David Green" <dtart at bigpond.net.au<mailto:dtart at bigpond.net.au>> wrote:

Reading Artemis Coopers story of PLF's time on Crete during the war, one can see where LGD got much his stuff for Dark Labyrinth: the British officer traumatized by having to kill a captive German soldier, the mountainous uplands, the caves that beasts fell into and left their bones. He must have read Paddy's accounts and of course saw him at times during time in Egypt. Dark Labyrinth came out before any of Paddy's books (1947) so I guess, for an emerging author and press officer with contacts, including Paddy, the stories of the day were up for grabs, but the way Larry works other people's stuff into his own material is uncanny. When I read of PLFs adventures on Crete, including the famous capture of the German General, I felt as if I had read it before...I had in way.
Dark Labyrinth is an underrated work. Durrell's chapter on Crete in the Greek Islands is also well worth a read. No English writer writes about Greece as he does, but I am very keen to read some Leigh Fermor now.

16 William Street
Marrickville NSW 2204
+61 2 9564 6165
0412 707 625
ILDS mailing list
ILDS at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ILDS at lists.uvic.ca>
ILDS mailing list
ILDS at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ILDS at lists.uvic.ca>

ILDS mailing list
ILDS at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ILDS at lists.uvic.ca>

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.uvic.ca/pipermail/ilds/attachments/20140630/f005b40a/attachment.html>

More information about the ILDS mailing list