Greek Invasions

We read and saw much of Greek history, the invasions of Egyptians, Romans, Turks, Venetians and others and their effects on the culture. Greece is truly a cradle, birthplace and melting pot of early Western culture. Venetian buildings still abound on Crete and (we are told) other Greek islands. Roman columns can be found in the midst of Greek olive orchards. The Egyptian influence is profound in the art adorning the palace of King Minos at Knossos. Turkish mosques can be found on Crete with symbols removed and uses changed.

The German invasion of Crete during World War II left its own peculiar mark on the landscape, villages and hearts of the Cretan people. Cretans were fierce in their resistance, and the people of this island held off the modern invading army with pitchforks and determination. But in the end, whole villages were wiped out. It didn't take us long to enter a village, recognize new (50-year-old) construction, and start looking for the memorial to the men, women and children who had been brutally murdered and their homes destroyed by the invaders – usually on the same day, or days, in 1943.

George, another one of the many invaders of the ancient land of Greece contemplates his next strategy, and probably works on erasing his raki hangover.

So it was odd to witness one of the latest invasions--German tourists. German has become the most spoken language on the Greek islands from Easter to October. English is second, and Greek third. Crete has become so dependent on tourism, that many of its villages literally shut down (except for a grocery and a taverna) during the non-tourist winter months. And some of these invaders follow ancient tradition, finding mates and staying. These invaders are leaving their marks, as both the Greek culture and the invaders shift and reshape like a beach with the tides.

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