During the Spanish Civil War, although Greek dictator Metaxas sympathised with his Spanish counterpart Franco, he maintained diplomatic relations with the Republican Government.
About 300 Greeks volunteered to fight for the anti-Franco forces during the Spanish Civil War.
In Cyprus, although the English banned fundraising for Spain, the Cypriots managed to collect a good deal of money; the first instalment of more than 4,000 pounds was sent in 1937.
More than 60 Cypriots from England and the United States went to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
The volunteer fighter Stefanos Tsermegas wrote:
“On New Year’s Eve 1937, we disembark at the port of Havre, France, from where we would proceed to Spain. It was 10am. We went to customs to have our luggage checked. The scene that followed is unforgettable. When the French customs officials opened our suitcases, and saw that they were filled with military supplies, uniforms, bandoliers, flasks, and other military items, they all erupted into a frenzy of excitement. They lifted up their fists and hailed us with the usual at the time Spanish antifascist salute ‘NO PASARAN’.”
There were 53 confirmed Greek deaths among Republican forces in Spain.
In Alki Zei’s Wildcat under Glass, (Το καπλάνι της βιτρίνας), the main character’s cousin, Niko, escapes Metaxas’ Greece to fight for the Republicans in Spain.
Dean Kalimniou is a lawyer, author and heavily involved in the Greek-Australian community.