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Ioannis Metaxas
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World Leader
    (April 12, 1871-January 29, 1941)
    Born in Ithaca, Greece
    Chief of the Greek General Staff (1913)
    Prime Minister of Greece (1936-41)
    During WWI, he was forced into exile over his pro-German views.
    After serving as Prime Minister for four months, he declared a state of emergency, dissolved parliament, and suspended parts of the constitution (August 4, 1936).
    He modeled his rule on the Fascist regimes of Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain.
    He adopted the Mussolini regime's Roman salute (while claiming it to be an ancient Greek salute to the sun god Apollo).
    He banned political parties and strikes.
    He arrested 15,000 political opponents who were jailed or exiled.
    He held book burnings of 'anti-Greek' literature.
    Arthur Koestler called his regime 'stupid as well as vicious' after learning that it had banned Plato's 'Republic.'
    He tried to foster a personality cult, with propaganda dubbing him the 'First Peasant,' 'First Worker,' 'National Father' and 'Savior of the Nation.'
    He prepared the military plans and conducted the diplomacy for the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-13), in which Greece acquired its northern provinces of Epirus, Thrace and Macedonia.
    Unlike most fascist regimes, his government did not murder its political opponents.
    His government introduced a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, a 40-hour work week, and maternity leave.
    His rejection of Mussolini's demand to enter Greek territory and occupy unspecified 'strategic sites' is celebrated in Greece each October 28 as Ochi ('No') Day.
    He apparently did a much better job of preparing his army for war than Mussolini had, as the Greek army drove back the invading Italians, eventually occupying much of southern Albania.
    According to some military theories, Hitler's subsequent intervention in Greece to rescue Mussolini forced him to delay the invasion of the Soviet Union, thus preventing the Nazis from achieving victory before winter set in.

Credit: C. Fishel

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