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Zine from German-Occupied Greece

Ftikas Zine
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of George Ftikas

On October 28, 1940, the Italian army invaded Greece through Albania. The invasion was a failure for the Italians, and Benito Mussolini's forces did not conquer the country. The German army rushed to support the effort. Within a month, German forces had defeated Greece and divided the country into zones of occupation with the Italians. Thessaloniki was occupied by German forces.1

A Greek teenager named George Ftikas illustrated this zine2 by hand between 1943 and 1944 in the city of Thessaloniki during the German occupation. Many of the pages feature cartoons that depict daily life, politics, or the war's impact on his neighborhood. Written in the style of a newspaper, the zine mixes written text with cartoons, cut-out images, and drawings of events. The zine pages pictured here are from a special edition on October 29, 1943, three years after Italian forces invaded Greece.

The first page of the zine mimics the front page of a newspaper, complete with date, headline, and cover image—a caricature of Mussolini with the caption "Sucker Mussolini!" In an accompanying cartoon titled "The Story of Little Benito," Ftikas created a story to explain Mussolini's failures and Greece's subsequent occupation.

Not all of Ftikas' works centered on politics. Many of his zines depicted daily social and cultural life during the war in Thessaloniki. On Christmas Eve 1943, he created a special Christmas volume. Still, the issue included a recognition of the war's deep impact on Greek society—Ftikas drew a Christmas tree decorated with tanks for ornaments. 

These panels highlight a teenager's perspective on the war, occupation, and deportation—an attempt to make sense of his daily life and the situation in Thessaloniki. Many other zine issues were produced during the deportations of Thessaloniki's Jewish population, which began in October 1943. Ninety-four percent of Thessaloniki's Jewish population died in the Holocaust. Ftikas does not represent the deportations of Jews from his neighborhood in the zine.3

Although we do not know who read the zine or how widely Ftikas circulated it, the work represents a medium of communication for his neighborhood. The zine may have filled the need for freely circulating information, generating a dialog within the community, and speaking critically about the war and the occupation.

For more on the German occupation of Greece, see Mark Mazower, Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941–1944 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).

The term zine usually refers to a homemade publication created by an individual or small group, often devoted to specialized or unconventional subject matter. Zines frequently feature hand-drawn illustrations and images pulled from other media. For more on Ftikas, see his USHMM oral history.

For more on the fate of Greek Jews, see Giorgios Antoniou and A. Dirk Moses, eds., The Holocaust in Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

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The issue is dedicated to the 28th of October, 1940, the day Mussolini declared war against Greece. The caption below the cartoon reads, "Sucker Mussolini!" The panels read as follows:

1. When he was young, he constantly lingered around killing time.

2. They said that he'd become a big head [important man] ... and he did.

3. When he grew, he strutted like a rooster ... and wanted to occupy Greece.

4. But he started work with tassels [got in over his head, or bit off more than he could chew].

5. And he ate his face [fell flat on his face].

6. In the end, he went up in flames [literally, "the Devil took his mother and father"]. 

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of George Ftikas
Accession Number 76334
Accession Number 76335
Date Created
October 29, 1943
Photographer / Creator
George Ftikas
Thessalonika, Greece
Still Image Type Artwork
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