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The years of Nazi occupation were naturally Hell for much of the European Continent  and Greece was not an exception.  In fact Greece ended up as one of the early participants thanks to the military ambitions of Mussolini and his disastrous offensive into the Balkans.  Briefly, after Metaxas refused to surrender any territory with his now infamous "Oxi" response, Italian forces immediately mounted an ill conceived invasion of the Balkans through Albania, which had welcomed the Italian intervention with open arms. However the Greeks knew it was coming and had prepared themselves for the onslaught.  In short, the Italian campaign was catastrophic.  Mussolini's High Command had not properly prepared for the incursion and once again the logistical planning to cope with the very difficult terrain and attendant fierce resistance, had been (to put it mildly) ill conceived. The Greeks had never given Italy a legitimate reason to take military action against them.  So what was the motivation behind this campaign ?  The general consensus is that it was Mussolini's penchant for pure military bravado alone, that was responsible for this Balkan fiasco.  It was a rather pathetic attempt to demonstrate to Adolph Hitler, that he too (Mussolini) could play a major military role in the larger European arena as effectively as his Teutonic allies.  He couldn't ! The Greeks stopped the invasion cold in it's tracks and actually went on the offensive and forced the Italian invasion force back into Albania. It was this successful counterattack, that forced German troops to postpone their planned onslaught into the Soviet Union and come to the aid of their rather befuddled Latin allies. This action significantly upset the Nazi timetable for a Soviet  invasion and has often been cited as having been one of the primary reasons why Germany eventually failed in it's Soviet campaign. However the Nazi's were successful in their offensive in the Balkans, initiating the worse famine in the history of the modern Greek state during that Winter of 1940-1941 . They would occupy Greece for the next several years.

The Rebetis along with just about everyone else may have been down but they were far from out. The death of Metaxas followed by the Nazi occupation, considerably altered the acceptance equation for these perennially downtrodden. Their conditions certainly didn't improve any and in fact had become considerably worse.  Now however, the majorityl of the population had also been reduced to living something akin to a "Rebetic Lifestyle", so the Rebetis were in good and plentiful company.  Ironically and interestingly enough, the time of the occupation actually turned out to be a substantially prolific period for the genre in regards to it's overall evolution. The Rebetic composer who is most often associated with this phenomenon was named Vassilis Tsitsanis. Unlike his predecessors who usually lacked the benefit of a formal education, Tsitsanis had been trained as a Lawyer turned composer who went on to write some of the most poignant and well known Rebetic compositions during this period.  He had been in the army from 1938-1940 and afterward opened up an "Uzo Bar" (God Bless him) in Salonica, where he also gave performances of his music on a nightly basis.  Many of his compositions and especially his performances, might best be described as a free-form improvisational approach characterized by a sound, that utilized a well articulated "Eastern" styled instrumental technique with the Bouzouke  unheard of until his appearance on the scene.  One is immediately struck by this approach when listening to his many recordings.  Furthermore the lyrics to his compositions significantly "raised the bar"  vis a vi the literary quality for Rebetika.  Up to that point many of the Lyrics for Rebetic compositions might best be characterized as having expressed their "message", in a somewhat rudimentary (one of their most endearing if not enduring qualities) and occasionally even scatological fashion. Tsitsanis changed all this, thus paving the way for Rebetika to travel down a long road that would eventually culminate in it's mainstream acceptability. His compositions also went a long way in capturing the very real and repressive psychological context of the Nazi occupation at that time.  A composition called " Synnefiasmeni Kyriaki " ( Cloudy Sunday) was something of a thinly disguised ode to his desecrated nation. It was a song that was and today still is, among his most well known. It effectively captured the spirit of the time for many during that very difficult period. Particularly since they had lived through it and survived. Tsitsanis continued to compose through out the decade of the forties, which not only was a difficult time due to the Nazi Occupation, but even more so, because of a very tragic and costly Civil war, that followed directly on the aftermath of WWII.  When he  died in 1984, approximately 250,000 people lined the streets of the funeral procession (many with Bouzouke in hand ) to pay their last respects to this Rebetic Icon of another generation.

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