Diogenis Fanourakis – A Hero Of Halki

Diogenis Fanourakis

Some of us often wonder how we would behave when confronted with hostile situations. Would we stand and fight? Would we run away? Would we even go to the extent to sacrifice our own lives to help or save another? Well, I was really touched by the story of Diogenis Fanourakis (Διογένης Φανουράκης in Greek). Please read on and learn about this amazing man and the events that took place which make this soldier a true hero.

Diogenis Fanourakis – A Hero Of Halki

Born in 1914, Diogenis Fanourakis spent most of his childhood in his birthplace on the island of Halki (sometimes seen spelled as Chalki). This is a small islet just off the South West Coast of Rhodes. If you ever have the opportunity to see it, I recommend it. It is a very beautiful place.

From 1934, he went to serve in the Greek Military. He carried out his initial duties at the Evelpidon Hellenic Military Academy for Officers South East Of Athens. The word ‘Evelpidon’ is taken from the Greek word ‘Evelpides’ which means “bearers of high hopes’. From here he graduated in 1936 and held the rank of Lieutenant.

After graduation, he went on to fight in The Greek-Italian war in locations Pogradec (Central Albania) 1940 and Morava 1940-41.

After the Italian Forces had taken control of The Dodecanese Islands he also went on to fight in The Middle East.

He was also assigned to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which was a team dedicated to gathering information intelligence by spying on the enemy and their locations.

Dedication To His Birthplace And Its Residents

During his service, Fanourakis also put himself forward and volunteered for missions in the Asian Minor which was very close to the island of Rhodes and his home.

He was able to visit his home in Halki and he went on to set about helping those people that were in need during war time. He brought in medicines, food and supplies to assist despite the risk to himself.

It was only a matter of time until the German Forces became suspicious of his activities though. They went on to the shores where Fanourakis would come and go with the intention of catching him in the act.

Despite their attempts, Fanourakis was able to avoid capture and took refuge in an old derelict house.

The Actions Of A Hero

Home Of Diogenis Fanourakis - Halki
Halki Island – Home Of Diogenis Fanourakis Thanks To Enpatrais (Wikimedia Commons)

Naturally, the Germans were furious that they were unable to catch Fanourakis and capture him for his actions. In retaliation, they went to the village square and took a hold of 10 innocent civilians. All the rest of the residents were also gathered in the square.

Related Posts  Anastasia Of Rhodes

The 10 civilian men were threatened with execution in the attempt to lure Fanourakis. Should he have failed to show, death to them would have followed.

Of course, Fanourakis was obligated. He was after all trying to help the very people who were in this now awful situation. He surrendered, with very heroic actions.

He shot one bullet into the air, then followed by shooting one German soldier. He did this to stop the executions that were about to take place. He also received one bullet to the chest which injured him, but then he took one of his own hand grenades, fell purposely on top of it and took his own life.


Preventing the execution of many people in exchange for your own life is indeed a heroic act, and the German Officer present saw this too.

The Officer ordered the body of Fanourakis to be brought to the center of the town square. There, the officer saluted him and with full appreciation and recognition said ‘It is only with Soldiers such as this man, that a war can be won’. He then set free all the residents of the town and released the body of Diogenis Fanourakis for his funeral.

After the death of Diogenis Fanourakis, Greece also awarded him the rank of Major along with The Golden Medal Of Bravery and The Medal For Honorable Actions.

My Thoughts

To serve your people and offer your life to protect has to be one of the most heroic acts someone can undertake. At just 32 years of age, Diogenis Fanourakis gave his life in an act of bravery and courage which should never be forgotten. He was the first Greek officer to be killed in The Dodecanese.

I think a lot of us would like to think we have this kind of commitment and should we be challenged in this way we would do what is best. People such as this, along with others I am talking about during this section such as Maria Malandri, Pierre d’ Aubusson and others have all stood tall in hard times.

I am not sure I would be able to, even though I do not see myself as a coward. Would you?

This is certainly a man that has got my attention while looking into the history of the island. I have full respect for him.

What are your thoughts on this man? I would love to hear what you think. Please leave me a comment below, Your opinions and thoughts are always important to me.


Click From Below To Learn More About Some Important Historical Figures In Rhodes

Posted by

Chris Towers

Hi there, I am Chris and I live on The Island Of Rhodes In Greece. I am more than happy to assist you in anyway possible if you are looking for information or help on this amazing Greek Island.

Feel free to leave me a message if you have any questions or need advice!

Hey, maybe you have visited this beautiful place yourself and you have something you want to share?

I look forward to hearing from all of you.

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(20) Comments

  1. Ryan

    I personally love Greek stories and old tales, specifically military or ancient ones. That’s what really intrigued my to read this story about someone who really showed some valor. 

    I definitely agree that serving to protect is bar far one of the most noble things that could be done. Not only was Diogenis brave enough to put his life on the line, but he had the courage to make the commitment as one of the first. 

    I hope to see more interesting content like this!

    1. Chris Towers

      Thanks for reading Ryan. I have to agree with you too, actions by people with this kind of honor and commitment can only be respected.

      Diogenis Fanourakis was a remarkable man, and his story should be remembered, as should the stories of all fallen heroes.

      If you check out the Important Historical Figures section, you will find a lot more about people who have made a difference on the island of Rhodes.

      Thanks my friend.


  2. Kit

    A war hero who was killed by the Germans on the island of Chalki during the Second World War. Not many were as brave as him that brought the glory for the island today. 

    I love visiting Halki which is a tiny island in the Dodecanese, located very close to Rhodes. I think history would be different if not for his actions. 

    1. Chris Towers

      Hello Kit and thanks for reading. Although he is certainly hailed a hero in Rhodes, he was not directly killed by the German forces. He took his own life to protect others. This is what made him a very special man.

      From your comment, it sounds like you have visited the island? Please let me know what you thought of Halki (Chalki), I would love to hear about your experiences. 



  3. Don Herman

    How fascinating!  I was just watching the program “Who Do You Think You Are?” and it traced the ancestry of one of the celebrities to a small Greek island like this, and during the same time frame too.

    They talked about the Greek resistance and how brave people were to stand up against an overwhelming force, knowing it meant certain death. But they also showed how beautiful the place was and why people would sacrifice so much to try to protect and save it.  

    Greece is definitely on my list of places to go, with all the history and ruins and natural beauty of the sea – I can’t wait!  

    Thank you for the well-written article.

    1. Chris Towers

      Thank you Don, I appreciate your comment.

      Some of the Greek Islands really are beautiful and people have fought hard to save what is theirs. Unfortunately, places like Rhodes have seen their fair share of war and hard times. 

      People such as Diogenis Fanourakis, Maria Malandri, Anastasia and of course not forgetting The Knights and Grand Masters have really made a difference and left a historical mark. They will never be forgotten.

      It is important to enjoy the Greek Islands when you visit, but it is also important to take note of the people who have risked their lives (and lost them) from days past.

      Thank you for your interest Don, I really appreciate it.


  4. Joe Joson

    It is always inspiring to hear or read about people who give their own lives in exchange for others’. It is the ultimate sacrifice. And I would venture out to say that the motivation for such incredible deed is love.

    The world is full of people who have given their lives for others. This article is well written and very inspiring.


    1. Chris Towers

      I agree Joe, to give your own life for others like Fanourakis did here is the ultimate sacrifice indeed. There are not many that could do it. It takes a very special person.

      Thanks for reading and I am happy you enjoyed your visit.

      Thanks Joe


  5. Parmi

    This is an interesting article Chris. He is definitely a very courageous man for what he did, and he deserves to be respected and honored. 

    I think it would be hard to tell whether I would be able to do what he did. Right now, you or I, may think we are not capable, but I also feel that when we are put in those intense situations, our body reacts without us thinking. 

    It is a tough question to answer. Either way, Diogenis was a great man for what he did and I also hope his legacy remains on the island!

    1. Chris Towers

      Thanks for your thoughts on this Parmi.

      I think you are right too. I think a gut reaction when faced with out of the ordinary circumstances can take over without us thinking.

      I do not like to consider myself someone who would shy away from a situation. In previous years I served as a Firefighter often putting myself into positions to help others. But would I intentionally put my life at risk knowing I was going to die? I am not so sure.

      I suppose this is what makes Diogenis Fanourakis a very special person. I agree, he should never be forgotten.

      Thanks Parmi, it is nice to hear from you.


  6. Susan


    I am very honored to read this article you have written about a true hero. 

    What would I do in such a situation? I would like to say I would do the right thing and be brave enough to do what this hero did and give my life to save the innocent people of my land. 

    Until one is in fact put in this situation who is to say which of us is brave enough to become the hero that he was? 

    I am praying for myself that I would have the same courage as he did.

    Susan 🙂

    1. Chris Towers

      Yes Susan, I suppose until we are really tested and confronted with a situation like this, we will never know our true reactions.

      What Fanourakis did was very special. It is important that people like this are not lost in history.

      It is also an honor to share his story.

      Thank you for reading and for your thoughts Susan.


  7. Timm Mullowney

    What an incredible piece of history that not many know of!

    I am impressed with how someone put his life before others when he could have easily fled and lived another day!

    When it comes to protecting the ones we love, we will never know what we are fully capable of until the time comes.

    I can only hope I am as brave a Fanourakis!

    Thank you for this great piece of history that should never be forgotten!

    1. Chris Towers

      Thank you Timm.

      A agree that Fanourakis was indeed a special person. He always did what was right for the people he cared about, and when it really came to it, he was ready to sacrifice his life for them too.

      There are not many people like that in the world.

      He should never be forgotten, and although the world in general maybe not be aware of him or his actions, in Rhodes/Greece he is remembered.

      It is a privilege to share his story.



  8. Stella

    Hello Chris;

    Thanks for sharing this interesting background of Diogenis Fanourakis.

    Like you, I don’t feel I’m a coward, but we never really know how we would react until we are faced with a situation.

    He was very brave to help the people and give himself up to save them. There are so many inspiring stories from that time period.

    I have never been to Greece, but I used to read a lot of books by Gerald Durrell, who lived on the island of Corfu with his family when he was a child.

    You have rekindled my desire to visit that country and experience its beauty.

    Stella 🙂

    1. Chris Towers

      Thank you very much for your thoughts Stella 🙂

      Yeah, I am not a coward either for sure, but it takes a special kind of person to do what he did!!

      Lots more to come on the historical important people, so be sure to call back.

      Thanks, and nice to hear from you.


  9. Michael Howell

    It’s a shame that Fanourakis committed suicide. As a Christian, I could never do this — though I might still refuse to be taken alive (i.e., praying for a heroic escape). In this man’s case, however, I would probably feel obligated to be taken.

    Truly, the Island of Rhodes is a history of war heroes and war criminals. I understand that the Balkan islands have a troubled history, in general. And the Island of Rhodes was historically a key fortress for an empire.

    1. Chris Towers

      Hi Michael.

      Yes, It is definitely one thing to die while trying to make an escape or to achieve a goal, and another to purposely sacrifice your life. I am not sure I have got this inside of me either.

      I do not think I am a coward by any means, but to end your life so suddenly like Diogenis Fanourakis did, that takes courage.

      You are right, Rhodes has a massive history of heroes and villains, and I am enjoying going through the list of many of them and learning more.

      Thanks my friend.


  10. M. Tidbury

    It certainly gives you faith that not all of mankind is evil when you read a story like this one. 

    Diogenis Fanourakis certainly was a brave and devoted soldier. It is excellent that he was honored in death with the rank of Major. Men like him are great heroes. He thought of other peoples’ lives before his own. He did not want others getting hurt on his account.

    1. Chris Towers

      Exactly yes. He made every effort to help his people with supplies and to ensure they had what they needed to the best of his ability.

      Of course it was his actions that also put the residents in danger, but he was loyal to the end.

      A very brave man, and one who should always be remembered.

      Certainly in Greece, he is not forgotten!

      Thanks for your thoughts.


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