I Dare Say – The moon is down (2-3-45)

The Pittsburgh Press (February 3, 1945)


The moon is down

By Florence Fisher Parry

The trouble is, we’re finite; we’re only human beings. We can’t grasp this war because it’s too big. It has the greatest minds stopped, stunned, aghast. If only we would think of what is happening in human terms and not try to grasp it in its overwhelming entirety it might clarify; and, thus simplified, become a problem which we could then better solve.

Confess! Do you really understand, for example, what has been happening in Greece? Why its people could have a civil war right after their liberation? Why British troops had to be called to quell an insurrection? I did not understand it, yet I read what there was to read about it in the news.

But yesterday, in five minutes it all was clarified by a Greek. Let me tell it to you his way.

He lived in the little town and because it was a small town, everyone knew each other from way back. It was a tight little family community. When Mussolini and Hitler betrayed them and reduced their dear country to slavery, their bond tightened. They were as one against the world.

Their leader-over-all at that time had instructions where to form guerrilla groups who would retire into the hills and descend upon the Nazi-held towns and create havoc wherever they could. So, following the plans, Greek guerrillas would stealthily enter a town, kill a few Nazi officers, demolish ammunitions and flee. Immediately following, the Nazis would send in troops and round up the men and women and children of the offending town and kill them in cold blood.

Now after this had been going on for some time, the leader realized that by this slow process of defamation of Greece’s small populations, the Nazis would exterminate the people. And he said to the Allied leaders: “I do not believe that this policy will work. We are harassing the enemy at too great a cost in human lives.”

But they would not listen to him and he was replaced by another, who continued the policy of guerrilla warfare. Now one night, four guerrillas hidden in the hills around this little town crept into the village and destroyed a small bridge important to the Nazis. For this offensive the Nazis rounded up the men and women and little children at the village, packed them into the public square and slaughtered them with machine guns.

Blind rage

The surviving members of these martyred families, crazed by such useless slaughter, and themselves knowing the four guerrillas who had by their overt act, brought about this terrible tragedy, were infuriated that their rash friends in the hills should have caused such unnecessary horror, and there sprang up between the guerrillas and the martyred citizens a passionate feud. The guerrillas burned with righteous vindication of their acts. The civilians shared the opinion that Greece was committing suicide by such rash actions.

For you see, all over Greece the experience of these townspeople was being duplicated in hundreds of other villages, and an internal explosion was inevitable. But this was not taken into account in time by the Allies, who did not have enough troops in Greece after its reoccupation.

It was then that Great Britain sent its meager British troops to try to restore order; but by that time it was too late. The harm had been done; the civil war was on.

One touch of nature!

“It is only human nature,” said my Greek friend, “to strike out at the closest one at hand, when your family is struck down! Supposing I had been home when these four guerrillas blew up the little bridge in my town! Supposing those four guerrillas were neighbors, yet because of their rash act, my wife and my little children had been killed, and me not even there! How would I feel toward these four townspeople? I would be crazed, fevered, not myself! I would strike out at them in my frenzy of grief. And there would spring between us an enmity born of my sorrow, born of their fierce, unconquerable rebellion. It was a human thing to happen to the people of Greece. There was no one there to reason with them, to help them, or to awe them by a show of strength in arms.”