A soldier’s memoir of his espionage training and subsequent adventures behind enemy lines in World War II Greece.
Greek-American Helias Doundoulakis spent May 1941 helping his father tend the family’s vineyard in Crete. One fateful spring afternoon, however, he looked up to see German paratroopers falling from the sky. The German Army, having seized control of mainland Greece, had turned its sights to Crete. After the Nazi takeover, Doundoulakis and his brother joined the resistance and were evacuated to Cairo by the British. There, the author enlisted in the United States Army and received training as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services. His education, described in fascinating detail, included the arts of parachute jumping, cracking safes and picking locks. Doundoulakis was also required to master skillful lying and the ability to easily assimilate to different environments. Armed with this set of skills, he was delivered by boat to Greece’s second largest city, Salonica. Doundoulakis is ordered to set up a wireless station to report Nazi troop movements and other relevant information to OSS headquarters, but the author soon discovered Salonica was crawling with German soldiers. He was forced daily to navigate a tricky course through a sea of informants and their radio interference equipment as well as the constant threat of capture, torture and execution. Although Doundoulakis’s prose may be unpolished, he is able to evoke the suspense and thrilling detail of his many narrow escapes and also convey his youthful sense of excitement and adventure. His intimate rendering of the adversity Greek civilians faced during the war is particularly moving. But the author’s account of life after the war is less enthralling; no matter how exceptional his post-war experience, it shrinks in comparison to tales of avoiding the Gestapo behind enemy lines and practicing the arts of intelligence.
Exciting, first-hand account of a World War II spy.