Sergeant Dimitris Itsios is a legendary figure from the 1940s war, specifically World War II, which took place on Greek soil. His story stands out among the many tales of heroism displayed by Greek soldiers in the forts. These soldiers demonstrated their courage in numerous heroic battles, fighting valiantly until the very end on the battlefield. In 1941, Sergeant Itsios was one of those who bravely resisted the German invaders. His story is indeed special.
Dimitris Itsios, a native of Macedonia, which was under subjugation at the time, was born in 1906. When World War II broke out, he was serving as a reserve Sergeant on a slope of the Belles mountain range, just above the village of Ano Porroia in the Serres prefecture. This location was three kilometers away from a beautiful slope. His mission was to maintain resistance at the machine gun post named P8, which was one of nine machine guns forming the second line of defense. The ensuing “battle of the forts” on April 6, 1941, would become one of the most glorious battles of the entire war. This battle also marked the moment when Dimitris Itsios’ bravery would be etched into history forever.
The account of the battle tells us that P8 was the only machine gun that remained operational after the German invaders’ assault. The crews of the other eight machine guns were either killed or captured. The directive was to resist as long as possible to prevent the enemy from crossing the border, after which the forces would retreat. Eventually, Itsios found himself encircled by the Germans. He asked his comrades to retreat, intending to stay behind alone to continue the defense. However, the two soldiers refused to leave and chose to fight alongside him until the end.
The fictional end of the battle and Dimitris Itsios
As per the book “Roupel” by Christos Zalokostas, the battle continued until Sergeant Itsios exhausted his ammunition supply. The cost was over 30,000 bullets, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of 250 soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel from the German side. The depletion of their last bullets inevitably led the three men to surrender.
The Germans approach the fort and after paying their respects to the fighter Ichio, tie him to a tree and then shoot him in the head, thus ending his life. The remaining two soldiers are released alive. This presentation of events, however, fits more into an inflated aspect of reality, which served the needs of fiction for the purposes of the author - without, of course, diminishing in the least the heroism of the Greek soldiers.
The real view of events
Ioannis Kozartsis, a comrade-in-arms of Dimitris Itsios, shed light on the events of that heroic day. In a conversation with Elias Kotridis, as featured on ww2recks.com, he detailed the progression of the battle. The Germans, heading towards the city of Thessaloniki, descended the mountain slopes in their thousands. Simultaneously, the German Air Force bombarded the Greek fortifications. On the battlefield, a bloodless retreat of the Greeks was demanded. Dimitris Itsios, skeptical of the enemy’s assurances, took Kozartsis’ rifle and confronted the opponents, who shot him. His death was instantaneous.
The tomb and the rendering of honor
The remains of the legendary fighter were transferred to Ano Porroia by his wife Ichiu a year after the end of the war, while the state awarded him the honorary rank of sergeant. About thirty years later, the bust of the hero appears in the square of the settlement, while at the place of his murder, a commemorative stele was erected in his honor, with the camp of the area being named "Itsios camp".
Dimitris Itsios is one of the heroes whose self-sacrifice for his country was of such magnitude that turned him into a legend, even giving birth to stories of bravery that resemble demigods.