The story of the legendary Roupel fortress in northern Greece survives in our collective memory through the historically-correct reenactment of the battle which takes place every May on the site.
The people behind this important initiative have now released the very first illustrated, comic-type book for youngsters, on this momentous battle in the modern history of Greece.
Similar to what is now called a graphic novel — although it is completely nonfiction — the new publication takes young readers back to the 1941 battle, when a handful of Greek defenders forced Europe’s largest military machine to radically change its initial plans to destroy the Fort and take over Greece.
This cadre of extraordinarily courageous Greek soldiers, chosen by fate to defend what they called the “Macedonian Thermopylae” of Fort Roupel on April of 1941, as well as the rest of the Metaxas Line fortresses, were in reality just a handful of men.
But they did not hesitate to inform the Germans that “Fortresses do not surrender; they are taken.” This was the answer given by Lieutenant Colonel Georgios Douratsos, the commander of Fort Roupel, when the enemy asked him to surrender the fort.
His brave declaration was, almost literally, a new “Μolon Labe” (in Ancient Greek “Mολὼν Λαβέ” meaning “Come and take them,” the declaration of King Leonidas in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC).
It was later proved that the so-called “Battle of the Forts,” combined with the drawn-out Battle of Crete, ruined Hitler’s well-crafted plans for conquest. The strong resistance the Germans encountered in Greece, apart from being wholly unexpected, proved to be extremely time-consuming during a critical phase of the Second World War.
It is widely understood that the resistance the Germans faced in the two corners of the country, namely Macedonia and Crete, combined with the diversion of many additional troops to Greece, delayed the planned Nazi attack against Russia — and winter caught up with them there.
Now, for the first time, the story of the unconquerable fighting spirit of Roupel’s heroes has been illustrated and presented in the form of a graphic novel. As the creators of the project say, this is probably the best way to make the legacy of Fort Roupel more widely known to the younger generation – and most importantly, to touch and inspire them.
The new comic, titled “Roupel 1941,” is being published by the Agkistro Drasi organization, which promotes activities and initiatives aimed at preserving the historical memory of the abandoned fortifications of the Metaxa Line. The organization’s goals also include the rescue, restoration and promotion of these historical sites.
The detailed illustrations for the publication were created by Spyros Zacharopoulos, and the text was edited by Panagiotis Savvidis.