On this day: Photo of Evzone was featured in LIFE Magazine

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By Billy Patramanis

On December 16th, 1940, at the height of the Greco-Italian War, Life Magazine placed an Evzone on the front cover, with a backdrop of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

At the time, Life Magazine was one of the most influential American photography publications since its inception in 1936, right up until its final publication in 2000.

By 1940 however, Life was well and truly an established American magazine due to its innovative ways to tell a story through photos, instead of text.

At the time of the photo, Mussolini demanded that Greece give in to Fascist Italy. 

However, as what is known today as ‘Oxi Day’, Greece refused to give in to the Axis Power, and so on October 28th, 1940, Italy and Greece began their war. 

Greco-Italian War. Source: metaxas-project.com

By December 1940, the Greek soldiers defended their nation bravely, forcing the Italians in a retreat back to Albania. 

The Greeks were an inspiration to all countries fighting the Axis Power, their brave fight in resisting the Axis gave fighting nations the confidence to fight back, Greece truly started the push against the Axis powers. 

Greco-Italian War. Source: metaxas-project.com

At this time, Life Magazine saw the perfect opportunity to display the Greeks on their famous publication. 

This is because America hadn’t entered the war yet, believing it to be a pointless European conflict with no end in sight.

However, the Greek resistance was the first piece of heroism that the Americans heard about. Americans saw the bravery of the Greeks and recognised that the fight against both fascism and Nazism could be won.

They believed that placing a Greek soldier on the cover, they could pay homage to the brave Greek soldiers that turned the tide for the war at the time, by displaying Greece’s most famous and powerful soldier, the Evzone.

The photo has since become an iconic symbol for Greece and its people. 

The Evzone on the cover both symbolises the right for freedom the Greeks fought so bravely for, but also pays respect to the brave Greek soldiers that helped win the battle, and turn the tide for WWII.

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