In May of 1941, one of the most epic battles of World War II was raging on the Greek island of Crete.
The Battle of Crete began on May 20 after Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler deployed 22,000 paratroopers to descend upon the island.
But he didn’t expect the fierce Cretan resistance.
At that time of the war, the island was one of Greece’s last remaining free territories, and her people had prepared to fight to the death to prevent a Nazi takeover.
Elderly villagers armed themselves with pitchforks, kitchen utensils and muskets that hadn’t been used since Crete’s revolution against the Turks a few decades earlier.
Thousands of Germans lost their lives in the early days of the battle — many even before they hit the ground as locals shot them out of the sky or killed them as they dangled from olive trees in their parachutes.
All around the island, everyday civilians took part in Nazi resistance groups. One such civilian was Dimitris Drosakis, an employee of the Agricultural Bank of Crete, who defended his village from attack.
But German forces showed no mercy to Cretan resistance fighters. As a form of punishment they often razed entire villages and executed hundreds.
Drosakis was among them.
The following photos show his final moments — from his arrest to his execution — and depict the harsh reality that thousands of Cretans faced under Nazi occupation during WWII.
(1) Nazi German soldiers arrest Drosakis in his village.
(2) Final words to Drosakis before his assassination on a beach near Rethymno.
(3) Soldiers line up to kill Drosakis and fire fatal shots.
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