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Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe

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cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
14 November, 2009 13:51

From the news section of this site


Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe - 14 November, 2009

Film director Dimitris Anagnostopoulos is out shooting in Crete for a dramatized documentary that is being prepared about the abduction of the legendary military commander of Crete from the period of German occupation during WW II, General Kreipe.

The History Channel and National Geographic have already expressed their interest in this documentary, because this kidnapping has been characterized as one of the most daring commando operations during the Second World War.

Translated from: Haniotika Nea

All the best,

webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
14 November, 2009 14:23

They say it was one of the most daring commando raids...but the result was a lot of terrible retribution on the Cretans. Was it a good idea?
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
14 November, 2009 22:58

Has Patrick Leigh Fermor ever written or commented on the abduction?
I understand that he has written a book that will be published after his
death. Does anyone know if this is true? I would guess that Tim has
some knowledge of this.

Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
15 November, 2009 00:28

Patrick Leigh Fermor has written about this kidnapping in his book Words of Mercury:



Leigh Fermor's own account of the abduction of General Kreipe, the German commander of the Nazi occupation forces in Crete, is published for the first time in Artemis Cooper's wonderful new anthology of Leigh Fermor's work, Words of Mercury. The story is a famous one, and in the film version, entitled Ill Met by Moonlight, Paddy was played by the dashing Dirk Bogarde. But in Leigh Fermor's own account, the climax comes not as the general's staff car is stopped at night by a British SOE party dressed in stolen German uniforms, nor as the Cretan partisans help smuggle the general into the Cretan highlands and thence to a waiting British submarine; but instead as "a brilliant dawn was breaking over the crest of Mount Ida": "We were all three lying smoking in silence, when the General, half to himself, slowly said: ' Vides ut alta stet nive candidum Socrate'. It was the opening lines of one of the few Horace odes I knew by heart. I went on reciting where he had broken off ... The General's blue eyes swivelled away from the mountain-top to mine - and when I'd finished, after a long silence, he said: 'Ach so, Herr Major!' It was very strange. 'Ja, Herr General.' As though for a moment, the war had ceased to exist. We had both drunk at the same fountains long before; and things were different between us for the rest of our time together."

All the best,

webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
15 November, 2009 09:41

the result was a lot of terrible retribution on the Cretans. Was it a good idea?
"Retribution" was already in place as the standard policy of the occupying army, and with the purpose to discourage resistance. The counter-argument was: any system with that sort of policy of government must be resisted at all costs.

in Leigh Fermor's own account, the climax comes ...
That is a nice passage, Erno. I suppose films need the drama of action to define a climax, but the emotional peaks have more meaning and significance.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
15 November, 2009 10:33

"In Leigh Fermor's own account, the climax comes ..."

Yes, the emotional truth of the Horace exchange is certainly the real climax of the story.

As for the retribution, as you say, Mike, it was standard policy and was happening all the time, and in any case it has since become clear that the abduction was not the cause of the savage burning of the Amari villages.

Antony Beevor says, in "Crete: the Battle and the Resistance":

"The Kreipe operation has often been criticized on the grounds that it caused unnecessary suffering to the Cretan population, but Professor Gottfried Schramm's study of the German Command's files would indicate that this is a canard. There was no connection between the destruction of Kamares, Lokhria, Margarikari and Sakhtouria, as has been shown. And the most serious wave of reprisals, the destruction of the Amari valley villages, took place in late August. Since they were intended to teach the local population a lesson, the essence of German reprisals lay in their rapidity: a delay of nearly four months (the abduction took place in May) is therefore highly improbable, whatever the catalogue of crimes listed by the military authorities in their proclamations. The Amari operation was essentially a campaign of pre-emptive terror just before the German forces withdrew westwards from Heraklion, with their flank exposed to this centre of Cretan resistance."

He continues:

"The other argument that General Kreipe's removal was of little military significance is of course true. But the blow was aimed not at German strength but at German morale and their claim to mastery of the island. German officers may have made a show of jokes about Kreipe afterwards, but the audacity of the coup clearly rattled them....The boost for the Cretans was very important at a time when the Eastern Mediterranean had been entirely bypassed. "Everybody felt taller by two centimetres the next day" observed Manoussos Manoussakis, who had been in Canea. And even if morale fluctuated in between, as was inevitably in those times, his joke that "out of 450,000 Cretans, 449,000 claimed to have taken apart in the Kreipe operation", indicates the immense pride aroused."

In a footnote he comments:

"When Tom Dunbabin and Patrick Leigh Fermor were made honorary citizens of Heraklion in 1948, Leigh Fermor's 'care and foresight' to avoid giving 'the conquerer any excuse to carry out reprisals' were specially mentioned in regard to the Kreipe operation'".

And George Psychoundakis wrote in "The Cretan Runner":

"Finally, when they had burned them all, they dropped leaflets saying they had burned Anoyeia, Kamares, Yerakari, Gourgouthoi, Kardaki, Smilés, Vrysses, Dryues, Ano-meros, Kriya-Vryssi and Sakhtouria because, they said, those villages had sheltered General Kreipe and his captors until they set sail from Sakhtouria. But the German leadlets were not telling the truth. They were not burning the villages after all these months because of the abduction of the General, and even if, as it seemed, they had learnt the outlines of his capture and flight from the island , their purpose was quite different, as we all grasped later. As they were making ready to evacuate the whole of Crete, except an area around Canea where all their forces were to be concentrated, they were determined to take preliminary steps, fearing that bands of patriots and the Cretan people in general might fall upon them as they withdrew, to avenge all the evil they had suffered. so they launched this cruel campaign to terrorize the entire island, and overthrow, as barbarously as ever, all that still remained standing."
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
16 November, 2009 00:43

Absolutely fascinating, Julie, and thank you.

Erno, I have not read "Words of Mercury" as yet,
but I do have the book.

I knew the story of the Horace recitation in Latin and it
makes for a great, dramatic story. I referenced this incident in one
of the articles I wrote about Fermor.

But how is it a climax? It is just
a dramatic way to end a narrative.
It is a rather elegant, high brow way to unite the captor
and the captive.

But a climax to what?

I am not aware of comments by PLF on his feelings about
the issue of retribution raised by Mike. Did Paddy ever
address this? Did he feel his actions were responsible
for the retribution?

Hey Tim, where are you? Tim is one of the few people I know
who actually met and conversed with Paddy. I believe he could
tell us whether or not Fermor has a book to be published
after he leaves this earth.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
16 November, 2009 11:09

the issue of retribution raised by Mike
My point was that "terror" was always part of Hitler's political strategy, as far back as the early 30's. He terrorized his own people and intimidated any opposition. If he was a simple criminal he'd be guilty of extortion (i.e., using threat of violence to get what he wants). Not to resist simply because of fear of reprisal would only be doing exactly what he wanted.

Did he feel his actions were responsible for the retribution?
I don't know for sure, but I doubt it. If Paddy felt responsibility, that would effectively be saying the German command didn't have any. The retribution was the responsibility of the German command. They, after all, made the policy, and had the freedom to choose a different path to follow.

the emotional and spiritual peak of the story
yes, the particular anecdote provides a reflective closure on a particular act. It provides an extra dimension of depth, an extra layer of story-telling. "Successful capture and escape" rounds off the mere action, putting closure on the plan. This anecdote puts it all in a larger psychological context.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
16 November, 2009 10:03

"But a climax to what?"

What I meant, Aurelia, and what I imagine Mike meant, is that the moving exchange, in a shared classical language, in which two men on opposite sides of a terrible war acknowledge their shared humanity, was the emotional and spiritual peak of the story.

Not a climax in the sense of an ending.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
17 November, 2009 03:02

Got it, Julie, thanks. This is a stimulating discussion.
Your contributions and observations, Mike, are tantalizing.
I have a keen interest in this topic.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
17 November, 2009 13:07

I am privileged to have met both Paddy, and the late George Psychoundakis, on a number of occasions. These men are my heroes so I acknowledge I may be a bit biased in what I have to say! I am not a confidant of Paddy, nor an expert on him but I have been in the right place at the right time on occasions and been fortunate to be party to some interesting discussions. As may become clear, whilst I have some opinions on some of the issues raised here earlier, there are reasons why I cannot at this time fully justify my holding of them.

I was lucky enough to have lunch with Paddy a few years back, along with some friends who had earlier revisited many of the locations that 'featured' in the abduction episode in one of our 'In the footsteps of heroes' expeditions. Artemis Cooper, Paddy's biographer, who is the wife of Antony Beevor, was also there.

I have to say at the outset that Paddy is one of the most honourable men I have ever come across. Some things that were said about those times were said in confidence at our lunch but convinced me that Paddy was a true gentleman who would never set out to do something that might harm a patriotic Cretan let alone one or more villages. I think his operation actions gave the Nazis a further excuse, to add to the list of excuses, for their horrendous conduct. I firmly believe they would still have committed most, if not all, whether or not Kreipe had been abducted. Some of the actions, namely the ransacking and firing of the villages south of Mt Kedros happened too quickly to be attributed to the abduction and were, I believe, in 'retaliation' for recent andarte activity.

Should he have known that his activities would be likely to result in the destruction of villages and the slaughter of residents? I think you have to look at some of the thinking behind the abduction. Things were not going well for the occupying forces and their potential for atrocities was known. There are many examples of atrocities that took place before the abduction. It has been written that one of the reasons for the abduction was to let the occupying forces know that, if their commanding officer could be spirited away, then anyone could - so they had better bear that in mind that they could be accountable for their actions. They wanted the occupying forces to leave quietly as it were and hope they would be dissuaded from committing atrocities upon the civilian population. When the plan was conceived it was of course Muller, a trully evil man, who was the target. Certainly I do not think that Paddy took the view that Kreipe should be abducted regardless of the consequences, that any subsequent atrocities would be a price worth paying.
Ironically I have met Cretans who would take the view that such a price was necessary, as one mayor of a well known resistance village told me, "you cannot have a wedding without meat".

The extract in Words of Mercury (edited by Artemis Cooper) was thought to have been written for the Imperial War Museum but when I checked why Paddy wrote it and for whom, the reason is lost in the mists of time. It did contain an interesting reference to the General's driver and was the first time I ever saw a name for him - though it turns out to have been the wrong name.

It would be unreasonable to expect that Paddy has written nothing further of his own account but as far as I am aware there are no plans to publish any such material at this time. Times do change though.

I think the book that Aurelia refers to is not about Paddy's Crete exploits but the last of his trilogy about his walk across Europe in the 1930's. Until fairly recently Paddy wrote everything in longhand. He now has a number of typewriters that he is trying to master.

You must excuse me for not telling all. Much as I might like to, I think I've succeeded in making many of my useful contacts because I am known to respect confidences. There are an enormous number of people interested in the times in question and the participants in events receive countless enquiries from people with a genuine interest. But we must remember that they are getting on now. Paddy is over 90. I no longer contact him directly and I do not give out his whereabouts. He is the only remaining survivor of the group with a direct involvement in the operation.

To return to the original post, about the film/documetary, I am interested by this but at the same time reserve judgement. I have seen other films and accounts and in my view they have not always been faithful to events. There are many problems knowing all the details, too many to mention in this post but let me mention a few. I got into this business nearly twenty years ago because I wanted to see if a beach I had found on my first visit to Crete was the beach that Billy Moss et al landed on. After all this time I am still not sure. I found an official record buried deep in the National Archives, a report from the captain of the boat that took the party to Crete, together with a map reference he gave for the beach at which he dropped them off. (Incidentally, Moss et al hitched a lift it seems, on a boat that had been lined up to deliver another group for a different mission) It is not only locals who get it wrong, I did assist one film company but they managed to cock the detail up not least saying Paddy snatched Kreipe as he travelled from Heraklion to Villa Ariadne. I wish they hadn't mentioned me in the credits.

In 2008 my expedition colleagues made a further visit to Crete to retrace the route and they were lucky enough to have the assistance of a local serving Cretan soldier who was both knowledgeable about the story and able to dig deeper into communities recollections. (Unfortunately I couldn't go as I suffered a few mini strokes a few weeks before departure- they explain some of my problems remembering all the details I could once recall easily ) Suffice to say that the official record I found identifies a beach east of Tsoutsouros, yet the well-informed expedition found a beach to the west that is a better fit for the book, for Paddy's own map (which he had loaned us) and local recollections.

There are though problems with local recollections and these may also go some way towards showing what the Cretans think of the abduction and what may, or may not have been the consequences. Frequently we found local people who wanted to own part of the abduction story on behalf of their village or relatives. A number of accounts were not accurate (we checked the first example with Paddy). I do not blame or criticise the Cretans for this, to my mind it demonstrates their desire to be part of their proud traditions. With one exception, that of a Cretan who had spent much of his life in the US before returning to his families village, a village in which he seemed unpopular, we never came across anyone who blamed Paddy et al for the atrocities. I know there are many who do, but I think they are in a minority.

In relation to Horace's Ode, one of our group, on the first expedition, climbed a tree on the south side of Mt Kedros and read the passage concerned. It was still a moving moment 60 odd years on.

Some of you may not know that Paddy quoted that Ode to Kreipe on a subsequent occasion. Years later a Greek TV company had Paddy as the guest of honour on a show that was their equivalent of the British 'This is Your Life'. Kreipe was the surprise guest. Can you imagine "You haven't seen him for X years since you abducted him in Crete..... here he is General Kreipe!
PS Forgive me Julie, after rambling on and posting, I now realise that I have, in effect, repeated a number of the points that you made with your extracts.
PPS. Aurelia will appreciate copyright and publisher issues that constrain what may, or may not, be written.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17/11/2009 13:25 by tim.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
17 November, 2009 13:19

Welcome to the forum, Tim. And thank you very much for your very interesting contribution.

All the best,

webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
17 November, 2009 13:27

Many thanks Erno. Its been a long time and I've been meaning to get around to it for almost all that time!
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
17 November, 2009 14:11

I have found some interesting photographs to illustrate your comments!

The team that implemented the abduction of General Karl Kreipe. (left to right, seated): Stratis Saviolis, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Stanley Moss. (Standing): Gregoris Chnarakis, Manolis Paterakis, Leonidas Papaleonidas, George Tyrakis and Nikos Komis.

Major Patrick Leigh Fermor and Captain Stanley Mass dress in German Gebirgsjager uniforms to delude the enemy.

British Major Patrick Leigh Fermor.

General Kreipe in Heraklion prior to his abduction.

General Kreipe somewhere on Mt. Psiloritis. Captain Moss (left) and Major Leigh Fermor.

Twenty-eight years following the abduction of General Karl Kreipe, Kreipe and his wife visited Greece in 1972 and the stage of operations in Crete. In this picture we see Kreipe flanked by surviving guerrillas while talking to Leigh Fermor.

Photos from the DVD "The 11th Day"

All the best,

webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
18 November, 2009 00:45

Hi Tim, and welcome to this great forum, which as you can see is a rather different kettle of fish from another we know. Nice to see you here! And thanks for this extremely interesting post, which does far more to throw light on the issue than my extraction of passages from Psychoundakis and Beevor.

All the best,

Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
18 November, 2009 04:38


Your erudition and willingness to share are admirable.
Thank you for this intriguing information.

I do believe it is you who should write a book at the appropriate time.
Your insights are unique and truly, you were in the right place at the
right times. How very special.

Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
18 November, 2009 11:04

Thanks to all for the welcome. I ought to explain that my reference to Aurelia and copyright was what to hint at what constrained me in what I can, or cannot, say. I was not thinking of anyone else and what they may have written. As one who has published Aurelia would understand their world better than most.
I am happy to share whatever information I have and can - though I am rather disorganised; it is through such sharing that I have picked up what I know.
Re: cam Documentary on kidnapping General Kreipe
01 September, 2011 01:37

I am not sure, whether it has been mentioned somewhere else in this forum - anyhow the National Geographic film seems to be ready: Trailer and pictures
By recommendation of Tim I was in contact with the director Caron, before they started, and sent him some information about places and contact persons. And so it happend, that a friend of mine, Jorgos Kalopsikakis from Archanes, did not only become the interpreter for the crew but got a role as antartis also. I'm looking forward now to see the whole film.

The websites about Archanes: www.pinakas.de and www.pinakas.info
The wiki about the German occupation of Crete 1942 - 1945: www.kreta-wiki.de

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