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ABOUT KRETA MEMORIAL

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:00

Dear comrades and friends, A lot of noise was made around the Kreta Memorial, our planned event in Crete (now canceled) for the 80th Anniversary of the Operation Mercury. It’s really sad though to see people that try to make divisions inside the airborne community and even worst to see people that blame us because we honor the fallen airborne brothers without any discrimination of race, nationality, religion and political view.

However, there are a few comments we should like to make, but first we need to say something about our organization for everyone who do not know who we are, what are our feelings, and what we do. We are the European Paratroopers Association, a recognized non-profit association based in Italy, with 20 years of history that regroups military parachutists worldwide. Our primary Mission is to provide static line round canopy military parachuting courses as well as airborne events in general. Our organization is supported by dues and managed by a Board of Directors elected from among the active members. We support free democratic basic rights and our membership consists mostly of active, reserve and retired soldiers of European Union, NATO and friendly countries' armed forces. We have founder members who served in the British Parachute Regiment, in the Italian Folgore Brigade, in the German Fallshirmjäger and in the Soviet VDV, countries that during the last world war were fighting each other.  We are united by a strong brotherhood that overcomes all past events! We believe in the true Airborne Brotherhood and in the European Unity, and for two decades we are promoting the military parachuting and the International friendship. We have members from every European Country, from Portugal to Russia and from Iceland to Cyprus as well as in many counties of the world that includes, but not limited to Brazil, Japan, Philippines, Argentina, United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zeeland, Lebanon, Singapore, China, India, Palestine and Israel and we are all united by the military valour, and the round canopy parachuting.

Now, about the “incriminated” event in Crete, as we all know the Operation Mercury is a milestone in the history of military parachuting and the history of the World War II. So, at the beginning of this year we were informed by the official representative of the Greek Special Forces Federation that a commemorative event was planned in Crete for the 80th anniversary of the operation mercury, and that we were invited to cooperate with them. Of course we were more than glad to accept. The plan was ambitious, a refresher day, a jump at the historical drop zone, a battle reenactment, commemorations and so on, but the time was running and no further information was coming from them. At the end of March, still nothing was confirmed by our partner from the Greek Special Forces Federation, so we informed them about our intention to go on and announce our event on the European Paratroopers website in order to give to our international members the time to plan their trip to Crete. Our offer would include a tour of the historical places and museums, visits to all the war cemeteries, commemoration of the German paratroopers and, if confirmed by our Greek partner, a commemorative jump.

Therefore, when we have seen what was happening we were shocked and disgusted, someone had intentionally planned a hate campaign on the local media and internet against us with ridiculous and false accusations. Our event post and poster were taken out of context by those serial haters to seem like something it wasn't. Hate, factionalism, intolerance and ignorance was amplified by web and social media who were spreading fake news and sensationalist reports that gave rise to the mistaken belief that a political event was happening in Crete. Anyway, this is now a matter for our lawyers.

Here we only wish to look at a few key points for the benefit of our members and friends. What was the real purpose of the event and what was written and depicted on the event post and poster? As written on our website “The purpose of the event is to commemorate and honour the bravery of German Fallschirmjäger, who 80 years ago jumped and conquered the island of Crete successfully accomplishing the first ever strategic airborne operation in history, the airborne assault codenamed Operation Mercury, as well as the bravery of Allied forces, who, alongside Greek soldiers and Cretans, fought against the Germans in the Battle of Crete. The event is also a good opportunity to promote the airborne brotherhood and the comradeship among soldiers of different nations”, “This event includes parachute jump on the historical dropzone (if possible), visits to the sites of the German landings, memorials and museums that tell us more about the War giving a fascinating insight into the events of May 1941.” On the poster, the “incriminating” images was a German paratrooper’s eagle and an iron cross, the “incriminating” text was “Operation Mercury 80th Anniversary. Kreta Memorial", "It has been exactly 80 years since the III Reich Elite Troops jumped and conquered the Island of Crete. We will never forget their valor. Let Us pay tribute to our fallen Airborne Brothers who successfully accomplished the first strategic airborne operation in history", "Join the European Paratroopers, Honor their immortal memory”.

There wasn't anything wrong shown in that poster at all, nothing unethical or even illegal, both iron cross and paratrooper’s eagle are legal and legitimate, as well as 80 years ago Germany was officially known as the German Reich, the paratroopers were elite troops, they were valorous and successfully conquered the island accomplishing the first ever strategic airborne operation in history. Pay tribute to fallen soldiers and do not forget their valour in battle is also more than legitimate. Then if someone was offended for this and want to blame us for our wish to honor the “immortal memory” of the fallen paratroopers, well, we are very sorry but that's just too bad for them, we have nothing to regret and we will continue to honor all paratroopers from all sides without any discrimination.

 

Airborne!

Giulio Festa

EPA President 

KRETA