Mario goes to rob the bank!
"Robbery on ..."
"Robbery on ..."
In 2007, in one of the restaurants in Crete, we were served by an Armenian waiter who offered me a meat dish called “kleftiko”. To my question "what is this?" he replied that it was lamb according to a partisan recipe and told the following history.
During the Second World War, the partisans of Crete kidnapped the German general, the commander of all the troops of the island, and hid him for a long time in the mountains from the Nazis, very often changing the place of shelter. And the Germans, of course, were looking hard for him. And, in the end, the general was sent to Egypt, controlled by England. That is, a German general is a ram, and for a very long time, like a carcass, they dragged him through the mountains (a kind of cooking meat). And as a result, the meat becomes soft, juicy and tender, and bringing it to a condition is already a matter of technology.
I tried it. And really delicious. This means that the story was 50% true. Already in the room I got acquainted with the recipe for this dish. But nowhere was this romantic story mentioned.
Kleftiko and kleptomania are cognate words, and the correct name of the dish is “stolen meat”. Those interested can get acquainted with the history of the origin of this name on the Internet.
But the Internet also responded to the query "guerrilla-style meat, Crete", issuing "kleftiko". I was even more surprised by the response to the request "Crete, a kidnapped German general."
Butcher of Crete
There are two versions of this story: official (smoothed) and adventurous. Naturally, the second is more interesting, although the difference is only in the setting.
Many people know how the Germans took over the island of Crete in May 1941. The operation was called Mercury. In fact, this is the first large-scale airborne operation. British and Greek troops were evacuated to Egypt. British troops did not leave the island without their attention. And spetsnaz groups were often sent to the island. The population of the island favored the British, which greatly helped them in performing various tasks. One of the commandos was Patrick Michael Lee Fermor, Major. The story of his life is worthy of a separate story. British writer, scientist and soldier - this is how Wikipedia characterizes him.
Once in a Cairo restaurant Patrick and his friend Ivan William Stanley Moos were drinking. And under the influence of alcohol vapors, they discussed how to annoy the Germans more strongly. And they came up with the idea that it was necessary to steal from the island the commander of the 22nd airborne division located there, Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller.
Even then, Müller received the nickname "the butcher of Crete" for the mass destruction of the population that supported the partisan movement of the island. Previously, he was noted for the destruction of the Yevpatoria landing and mass executions. In general, the brute is still the same, decided two British officers. It should be noted that Major Fermor was on the island of Crete for two years as part of a special forces group, he knew Greek.
Alcohol vapors evaporated by morning, but the idea of the operation did not. The plan of the operation was simple. A group of 4 special forces parachute onto the island and, with the help of local partisans, kidnaps General Müller. And then the sea takes him out to Egypt. A gamble, you might think. And you will be right! And I thought so too.
But the British command agreed to this adventurous plan. And already on February 4, 1944, an airplane with a special group flew to Crete. The group included two Greeks: Georgios Tirakis and Emmanuel Paterakis. The landing was coordinated with the local partisans. And the group was awaited on the Kataro plateau in a place called 10000 windmills.
The commander jumped first and landed safely. Those who remained on the plane watched the gusts of wind “played” with Fermor's parachute, and immediately understood why the residents called this place exactly 10000 windmills. Quickly realizing that the weather was not favorable for the landing, they returned to base. And so they flew to Crete seven times. But the weather always "let down".
A couple of months later, the command remembered the operation. And when I saw the reports, I was horrified. Then, instead of the plane, the group was allocated a boat. And on April 4, 1944, the three brave men reached the Cretan coast, where the group was reunited.
The joy of the meeting was overshadowed by the information that General Müller was replaced by General Heinrich Kreipe, who became the new commandant of the fortress of Crete. What's the difference, the brave men decided - it's still a general. Do not come back empty-handed because of such a trifle. And they moved inland.
The headquarters were chosen in the mountains near the village of Kastamonitsy. As the group moved in each village where they stopped, the locals arranged for them festive lunches, breakfasts, dinners and, of course, with wine. Special forces and local police came to greet, they also offered their services. The group finally settled in a cave near Kastamonitsa. Locals often visited them, bringing food and stuff. Having settled down, they began to develop a kidnapping plan.
Without the help of local partisans, the British would have failed. Their representative Mika Akaumianos took over almost entirely the support of the group. He brought passports and other documents. And together with the major he went to the place where General Kreipe lived.
The general chose the ancient city of Knossos, which is not far from Heraklion, as his place of residence. And he lived in the villa "Ariadne". To conduct a reconnaissance, Mika and Fermor, disguised as peasants, boarded a regular bus and drove to Heraklion. And then we went on foot towards the town of Knossos.
All main characters
Mika's family owned the building, which was then located on the territory of the villa "Ariadne". They lived in this building for two weeks, becoming friends with the guards and observing the general's daily routine. After two weeks, Fermor decided that "nothing will come of it." And then they studied the Heraklion-Knossos road in detail. And they found a section on the serpentine where the drivers make a turn of almost 180 degrees, that is, they actually stop. This place was considered ideal.
On both sides of the road there were quite deep ditches, there were hills all around, covered with olive trees. It was easy to hide. Initially, they wanted to use local partisans for cover. But when they arrived, they decided to abandon this idea. The partisans behaved noisily, were armed with old rifles, attracted the attention of local residents and pro-communist partisans, who issued an ultimatum to the British:
"If you kidnap the general, then all of us will have to pay, and in general - get out of here."
Verbally, Fermor agreed. And he sent a group of reinforcements home. Mickey and Fermor once again went on a regular bus to inspect the route along which they would take the general out.
Operation Stolen Meat
The road passed through the suburbs of Heraklion, where stationary checkpoints were set up. And then she went to the central part of the island towards Anoia, where at the turn Fermor was supposed to release the general and the Greeks accompanying him and Captain Moos. And he himself, having driven a couple of kilometers towards the sea, had to leave the Opel Kapiten car. In total, there were 25 checkpoints and 20 anti-tank obstacles on this 5 km long road section. Everything is like in the movies!
Fermor and Moos in the form of corporals of the field gendarmerie
The good angel Miki got out somewhere a German uniform (2 sets), red lanterns and a traffic controller's baton.
April 26, 1944 is the day "H". The group took its place in the evening and waited for the general. When the car appeared, Moos and Fermor stepped out into the road in the uniform of a corporal. Having stopped the car, Fermor asked for a waybill, the general, naturally, began to be indignant. Then Formor demanded to say the password. The nervous general jumped out of the car, where he was immediately announced that he was a prisoner of His Majesty the King of Great Britain. The driver was taken out of the car. And he, accompanied by Mika and the cover group, walked towards the mountains. As it turned out later, the driver was soon stabbed to death and buried, covered with stones.
In the meantime, the car, as written, drove the entire planned route. And in the abandoned opel, the Germans found the next day: butts of English cigarettes, a soldier's beret, an Agatha Christie novel and a note
"General Kreipe is on his way to Cairo."
Opel Kapiten. A pennant is visible on the car.
On April 27, the British military radio station Calais broadcast a message that General Kreipe had been brought to the African coast and was in full cooperation with the British command.
Initially, on April 27, the Germans began to conduct search activities, but they quickly turned them down. Those who have been to Crete know that the northern coast of the island is flatter, and the southern one is more steep. The group had a plan to dive on a boat in the area of the southern coast, and there they headed. It should be noted that the British had almost constant radio communication with the center through the partisans. Messengers came virtually every day. But the Germans are not bastard either. Through their channels, they learned that the general was still on the island. The area where the group was located was established. And the persecution began.
The guerrilla liaison constantly warned the British about the appearance of the Germans in their immediate vicinity. And ordinary Greeks, naturally, knowing about the abducted general, when the Germans appeared in their area, they kindled fires on the tops of mountains and hills. May is May, and there is still snow in the mountains, and it is very cold, especially at night. General Kreipe suffered greatly from the cold, although he was given a Greek overcoat. And in addition, he broke his right arm, falling off a mule. Subsequently, he said that the attitude towards him was respectful. He got food first and in the caves he was given the best place.
The entire population of the island followed this deadly game of cat and mouse. And the game ended with the victory of the mouse. On the night of May 14-15, 1944, the group successfully boarded a skiff, which brought them to a military boat. There was a violent storm. And a day later, the group landed on the northern coast of Africa, in the area of Marsa Matruh.
This is how this adventurous story ended. “The British are incredibly lucky,” you might think. And this is true. "Lucky for the one who is lucky." And this is reality. The incomparable support of the British, often at the cost of their own lives, by ordinary Cypriots? How to evaluate it? And, of course, the spy network prepared and left on the island by the British. The group was lucky, thanks to the coordination of the actions of the entire structure of British intelligence. And most importantly - the British fought for a just cause!
We can end there. But there is also a logical continuation.
General Kreipe was taken prisoner and until 1947 was in a camp near Quebec. Released.
General Müller on trial. Greece.
Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller, General. On April 27, 1945, in East Prussia, General of the Infantry Müller was captured and was handed over at her request to Greece. For the massacres of civilians in the Diocese of Viannos on the island, General Müller was shot by the Greeks on May 20, 1947.
The icon of St. Nicholas, stolen by Müller from a monastery in Sparta, was returned to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during his visit to Moscow on April 8, 2015.
Sir Patrick ("Paddy") Michael Lee Fermor. A separate article on Wikipedia is devoted to him, I will not repeat myself. He died in the summer of 2011, having outlived all his counterparts. A BBC journalist once wrote about him:
"Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene crossed in it."
Fermor and Kreipe after the telecast. Athens 1967
Major Fermor on the left.
In 1967, Greek television conducted a program with participants in this story. Michael Fermor and former General Kreipe were invited to the show. Remembered the past.
And today in some restaurants of the island (only in the Russian-language version of the menu) you can see "guerrilla-style meat". Order - you will not regret it.