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1941: A Columbia Broadcasting System
broadcast from Athens [Saturday] night said
that a former cruising yacht of Harold S.
Vanderbilt, American Sportsman, was sunk on
Thursday night in Piraeus Harbor by German
Stukas which killed and wounded many
civilians aboard. ... The yacht, sailing under
the name of the Haras, had just pulled away
from the docks with a load of civilians trying
to return to their island homes, the C.B.S.
correspondent said, when six Stukas dived
within fifty yards of the deck. One bomb burst
in the vessel's hold. ... Fire quickly swept the
craft, he said, and men, women, and children
were killed and wounded. ... An Associated
Press dispatch from Athens on Thursday night
said a ship taking on refugees was set aflame
and that casualties were heavy but gave no
details. ... The C.B.S. correspondent said the
Haras was taken over by the United States
Government in the World War and used in the
Eastern Mediterranean, later being converted
into an island cruiser and used by the
American colony in Athens for its annual
Easter cruise. He did not give the former
name of the Haras.
Berlin, United Press, The New York Times,
Saturday, April 26, 1941: The German High
Command said that three forces were moving
toward Athens. One had defeated the British
rear guard at East Thermopylae. It struck
southward over the Boeotian Mountains along
a railroad that runs parallel with the line of
Mount Parnassus to Thebes. ... A second
carried out a surprise manoeuvre, crossing
from the mainland of Greece to Euboea,
marching halfway down the island to Chalcis
and crossing back to the mainland only 35
miles north of Athens. ... The third column is
moving along the eastern coast. Apparently
this eastern wing was employed against
Thermopylae. The High Command said that
this column defeated a British rear guard at
Molos, southeast of Thermopylae. ... It
seemed likely that the three columns would
converge into a single unit as they advanced
down the narrowing peninsula to the outskirts
of Athens. ... The attack upon Greek ports
and shipping in the waters adjacent to Greece
is now said by German sources to have taken
a toll of more than 225,000 tons sunk and an
additional 70 to 75 vessels -- [many] small
coastal fishing boats -- badly damaged.
The New York Times, Saturday, April 26,
1941: The sinking of a British troop ship
south of Crete [Saturday] morning was
reported by the German radio.
Berlin, Wireless to The New York Times, By
C. Brooks Peters, Saturday, April 26, 1941:
If rumors that are dashing about in usually
well-informed quarters in Berlin tonight are
true, the fall of Athens is imminent -- if not a
question of hours and minutes. Reports that
the Italian radio had announced the fall of the
Greek capital could not be confirmed here
early this evening. ... Today's High Command
communique -- which usually reports events of
the preceding day -- declared that German
motorized units had already passed through
Thebes "in pursuit of the enemy." It was
declared here shortly after noon today that
advance units of the German forces already
were within 25 miles of the capital. ...
Considering that their progress from Thebes to
Athens is through flat country, it would appear
that vanguard units of the German forces must
already be in the suburbs of Athens.
Istanbul, Turkey, Wireless to The New York
Times, Saturday, April 26, 1941: [The
following dispatch was filed at about 10 P.M.,
Istanbul time.] Although the official
evacuation of the Turks from Istanbul is not to
begin until next Thursday, the voluntary
evacuation of those in a position to pay their
expenses and obtain permits for residence in
Anatolia is proceeding steadily. All trains for
Anatolia are crowded and sleepers cannot be
reserved on less than ten days' notice.
Berlin, Associated Press, The New York
Times, Saturday, April 26, 1941: German
armored forces are expected at any hour to
announce their completion of the conquest of
Greece just 21 days after they went into action
on the southeast front. ... The Germans are
probably in the vicinity of Marathon, only 18
to 20 miles from the outskirts of the capital.
The New York Times, Late Saturday, April 26,
1941: The most recent reports from the
fighting front said German panzer and
motorcycle units, apparently battling to bring a
quick end to the battle of Greece by encircling
the capital, were fighting a grim force of
Australians [Saturday] night at Mount
Cithaeron, 25 miles west of Athens.
Athens, Associated Press, The New York
Times, Sunday, April 27, 1941: [Late
Saturday, early Sunday, U.S. time] The first
detachment of German motorcyclists entered
the center of Athens at 9:30 A.M. today. ...
... The New York Times, Early Sunday: This
dispatch was filed from Athens by The
Associated Press correspondent in the Greek
capital five minutes after the entry of the
German cyclists. There was no indication
when -- or whether -- he would be able to send
Athens, United Press, The New York Times,
Sunday, April 27, 1941: Adolf Hitler's
conquering forces occupied ancient Athens at
10 o'clock this morning, just three weeks after
the launching of Germany's Balkan Blitzkrieg
and hoisted the Nazi swastika over the
crumbling columns of the Acropolis. ... Hours
before the German advance guard arrived,
down across the historic plain of Marathon,
where Greeks smashed the Persian invaders in
490 B.C., the last of the battle-worn British
imperial troops had disappeared from Athens.
... The people, who had bade farewell to the
departing British, waited sullenly behind locked
doors and shuttered windows during the night,
knowing that the next few hours would bring
the sounds of German troops. ... The streets
where Demosthenes exalted freedom and the
soul of man and where Socrates once preached
were deserted and quiet during the night under
a strictly enforced curfew as a soft wind
carried through the narrow, serpentine streets,
rich with the glory and culture of countless
centuries. ... Those who remained of the
city's 700,000 persons greeted the advance
guard of the Nazi armored forces with proud
calm as they rode in a mechanized victory
parade past the temples of Athenian glory that
have stood since centuries before Christ. The
populous had been told to meet the Nazi
conquerors as a people before whose eyes the
invaders pass and fade away. ... Herr Hitler's
conquest of Athens, knocking Greece out of
the war on the European Continent after a
valiant six-month struggle that began last Oct.
28 when armies of Italy attempted to invade the
nation, was carried out methodically under
brilliant Sunday sun without a show of
resistance in the city itself.
The New York Times, Sunday, April 27, 1941:
The last dispatch from the correspondent of
The Associated Press in Athens, telling of the
German occupation of the city, was filed only
five minutes after the Nazi vanguard appeared.
It was assumed that German censorship had
immediately clamped down on outgoing news
dispatches. ... A Reuters (British news
agency) dispatch, however, said a large body
of Nazi troops followed the advance guard into
the city at 11:17 A.M. ... A mysterious
broadcast from Athens by a woman identifying
herself as an American war correspondent said
British troops were evacuating Greece "in
hundreds and thousands of little gasoline ships
and sailboats, which for many years have been
the livelihood of Greece." ... The Germans
entering Athens found King George and his
government fled to the Island of Crete, with
only minor officials left behind to surrender the
city and the Athens police maintaining order.
The citizens had been sternly enjoined not to
demonstrate. Athens, a city older than written
history, has been captured repeatedly down
through the centuries, but on a surprising
number of occasions has escaped destructive
handling by its conquerors. Even in the present
war, with its wide use of the bombing plane,
there was no aerial bombing of the city proper.
Budapest, Hungary, United Press, The New
York Times, Sunday, April 27, 1941: The
Athens radio tonight began broadcasting in
German, repeating Nazi military anthems and
a German High Command communique
announcing that the swastika had been raised
over the Acropolis. Bulletins of the official
German news agency were announced, in
contrast with [earlier Sunday's] announcements
of Reuters news agency bulletins.
The New York Times, Sunday, April 27, 1941:
With the occupation of Athens the 14th nation
to come under the domination of Germany in a
little more than three years fell to Adolf Hitler.
He has now become master of 767,305 square
miles [876x876] of "Lebensraum" [living space
(a Hitler soundbite for a German land-locked
empire)] or more than three times the 182,471
square miles [427x427] that compose the
German Reich. The lands under German
domination contain a population of
152,028,036, or nearly twice the 79,375,281
population of Germany. The following is a
timetable of the German conquests:
Austria, 34,064 sq. [185x185] miles; pop.
8,009,014; Absorbed in March 1938.
Sudetenland of Czecho-Slovakia, Occupied in
Czecho-Slovakia, 44,500 sq. [211x211] miles;
pop. 13,000,000; Occupied in March 1939.
Poland, 74,254 sq. [272x272] miles; pop.
22,400,000; Conquered in September 1939.
Eastern Poland, about 78,000 sq. [279x279]
miles with a pop. of 12,775,000, was occupied
by Soviet Russia.
Denmark, 16,575 sq. [129x129] miles; pop.
3,800,000; Occupied in April 1940.
Norway, 124,556 sq [353x353] miles; pop.
3,000,000; Invaded in April, 1940; Conquered
in June 1940.
Luxembourg, 999 sq. [32x32] miles;
pop. 300,000; Occupied in May 1940.
The Netherlands, 12,000 sq. [110x110] miles;
pop. 8,728569; Occupied in May 1940.
Belgium, 11,775 sq. [108x108] miles; pop.
8,386,553; Conquered in May 1940.
France, 127,000 sq. [357x357] miles; pop.
27,900,000; Invaded in May 1940; Conquered
in June 1940. (The figures are for the area
occupied by German forces.)
Hungary, 59,830 sq. [245x245] miles; pop.
13,507,000; Occupied in November 1940.
Rumania, 72,425 sq. [269x269] miles; pop.
14,100,000; Occupied in November 1940.
Bulgaria, 42,808 sq. [207x207] miles; pop.
6,500,000; Occupied in March 1941.
Yugoslavia, 95,558 sq. [309x309] miles; pop.
16,200,000; Conquered in April 1941.
Greece, 50,257 sq. [224x224] miles; pop.
7,196,900; Conquered in April 1941.
[Stay tuned for late breaking war bulletins.