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The War in Western Crete


The dual tribute to the 78th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies is a different approach to the brutal era of the Second World War. Both the twelfth volume in the successful Testimonies series, titled The War in our Houses, and the new temporary exhibition CHANIA 1941-1945 at the Historical Museum of Crete, use the narratives of “combatants” and “non-combatants” in conjunction with rare archive material to highlight unknown episodes of the Battle, the Occupation and the Resistance in the west of Crete, in the areas of Chania, Rethymno and the mountain “corridor” leading to the south coast.

Women’s testimonies on the Battle of Crete and the German occupation of the island are few; compared to other parts of Greece, there is a dearth of such attestations which is difficult to explain. So it is highly significant that the new volume in the Testimonies series contains narratives exclusively by women. The tales of life in the mountains are told by Evangelia Papadaki. These are mainly stories of persecution, of many people including her own family. Rena and Ioanna Koutsoudaki provide childhood glimpses of life in the town of Chania during the Occupation. Their memories cover urban family life in wartime, and they pass on to us the echo of those turbulent times in their then-childish awareness. Everything reached them half-hushed up, refracted – and that is how they describe the dramatic events of a brutal war, in a child’s voice and through a child’s eyes. The volume is edited by Claire Mitsotaki and Kostis Mamalakis with the valuable collaboration of Michael Sweet. The official book presentation will take place in June.

Taking these narratives as a starting-point, the temporary exhibition CHANIA 1941-1945 at the Historical Museum of Crete focusses on the town and the wider area of Chania. The bombing, the fighting around Maleme Airfield, the withdrawal of the Allied forces and the presence of the British Secret Services at the Vourvoures hideout, daily life in the occupied town, the tragedy of the Jewish community, to the surrender and departure of the occupying forces in May 1945, are presented through rare archive material and contemporary objects. The exhibition, which will run from 21 May  to 1 December 2019 (extension), was curated by Kostis Mamalakis, the SCHS Special Consultant for the period of the Second World War, from whose personal collection many of the exhibits are drawn, with the support of the scientific and administrative staff of the Historical Museum of Crete.


CHANIA 1941-1945
Duration of exhibition: 21 May – 1 December 2019 (extension of the exhibition)
Information: 2810-283219, int. 101 | info@historical-museum.gr