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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Rhodes WW2 History Holiday

On my first Rhodes trip I found this presumably Italian bunker while jogging.

Three years in a row we have been spending a week or two on Rhodes. The sun, people, beaches, landscape and food of Rhodes are well known. The island also has an amazing amount of remains of ancient Greece and various European knights. However, one thing is absent in the museums and guide books - the World War Two history of Rhodes.

Being an author with a special interest in 20th century wars I naturally could not miss noticing an old bunker while jogging on Rhodes, see the above photo. Then I had the luck to one day stroll into a cafe/hotel in the Old Town, Avalon. There I noticed a young man working on a very old field radio. I asked if it might be from the war, and it was. Thanks to that chance meeting in Avalon with the archeology student Panos Mprokos I have since been able to see many amazing traces from both the Italian and German occupation periods of Rhodes and it is time I show them here to let other Rhodes visitors know that the island has more World War Two history than you have imagined.

The Old Town then and now, the vehicle is a German assault gun, a StuG III.

About an hours drive from Old Town, an abandoned Italian/German barracks.

With Nietzsche´s words "Gelobt sei, was hart macht", i.e. Praised be what hardens.

These German occupants seem to have been from Danzig, today´s Gdansk.

Then we briefly stopped at Hotel Elaphos, a military hospital during the occupation.

The Italian town of Campochiaro became a German HQ and then Greek Eleousa.

Walking around in the former Italian town/military HQ of Campochiaro (now Eleousa) is a special experience, because for some reason the buildings used by the Italian and German occupiers have been abandoned for many decades, making the occupation seem not that distant.

Back in Rhodes City, an Allied WWII memorial for a Greek officer at El Alamein.

Another chance meeting in Rhodes City, a working BMW R 12 motorcycle.

How to see these places? There are plenty of tours to Rhodes Old Town but I believe there are no organized tours to the Italian/German remains outside it. So, you either do your own research and rent a car, or you find Panos Mprokos via the Avalon cafe/hotel, which is beside the upper part of the Avenue of the Knights in Old Town. Avalon is a really great place both to stay and for a snack or meal. The atmosphere is full of history. Try searching with the words avalon hotel rhodes. Below is a photo of Avalon´s main entrance. Just some words of advice if you choose to travel around the island by car/motorcycle: traffic is not like at home, be very careful and rent a safe car model.

Avalon, my favourite cafe/restaurant/hotel on Rhodes.

P.S. I have written about Rhodes during WWII in two issues of the Swedish journal Militär Historia, in issues 8 and 11 during 2017. Sadly, my articles are neither online nor are they in English, but I can recommend one book in English that has information about British raids against the Axis forces on Rhodes, SBS in World War II by Gavin Mortimer, it is also simply a must for all SBS history buffs.

4 comments:

  1. Great photos! Do you mind if I share with the Int'l Lawrence Durrell Society? Durrell lived on the island for several years after the war.

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    1. Dear Mr Bowles, feel free to share the link to this post. Regarding the actual photos they are mine (all photos here are mine unless otherwise noted) and subject to copyright, meaning that I will sell most of them. Cheers, Lars

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