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On Thursday, 12th October 1944, the Germans lowered their swastika flag from the Acropolis and finally left Athens.

The Nazi forces in Greece vacated the Greek capital and began their withdrawal north, to avoid being cut off by the advancing Soviets. The fast advance of the Soviet army towards the Balkans, threatening to cut off the German forces in Greece, forced the Germans to withdraw very soon from Greece.

Their withdraw began from the Peloponnese and the islands and on this day in 1944 Athens and Piraeus were liberated.

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Greek flags and bell-ringing overflowed the capital, while crowds of people flooded the streets and the squares celebrating, as the last German soldiers took the swastika down from the Acropolis and began to drive through the city towards the north. They passed through crowds of Athenians who were in a state of joy, waving their blue and white Greek flags, embracing, while bells were heard ringing all over the city.

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It was a happy time for those in Athens who had survived the occupation, but their joy was not destined to last as they were about to enter the most divisive period of modern Greek history.

Traditionally, Greeks celebrate the historic ‘OXI Day’ on October 28, when Greece entered the Second World War but over the last few years October 12, 1944, is also a day which is commemorated in Athens and all of Greece.

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