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Greek Civil War

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Ian Oglesbee

on 5 December 2013

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Transcript of Greek Civil War

The Greek Civil War Begins
Greek Communist Party
Nikolaos Zachariadis
Greek Democratic Army
Markos Vafiadis
National Liberation Front (EAM)
, a branch of the
Greek Communist Party (KKE)
, and its military
branch, the
National People's Liberation army (ELAS)
WWII Greece
German Security Batallions
Scobie Ultimatum
: All Guerilla forces ordered to disarm, except those allied to the Government
Many ALAS factions refuse
Syntagma Square Massacre
EAM protest of resignations
British government orders suppression of the rally
28 killed
Nikos Zachariadis, KKE leader,
boycotts 1946 elections
-- a referendum puts King George II of Greece back into power
The puppet government's National Guard:
Mostly ex-Security Battalion members
Persecuted, murdered EAM
EAM members punished
even for acts of resistance
Horrendous war crimes of collaborators, however, went unpunished
Over 1,200 communists killed, almost 85,000 arrested
Entire villages destroyed by right-wing groups
Discrepancies between goals of ELAS and EDES become apparent
Violence between ELAS and EDES/Western forces intensifies
Britain allies with EDES - only acceptable alternative to EAM

Greek National Army under General Alexander Papagos
1947: The Truman Doctrine
US President Harriet Truman offers assistance to countries struggling against communism
Britain abandons effort: US takes over
US begins funding and supplying Greek National Army
Situation deteriorates for Communists
1948 - Desperation:
Communists send 25,000+ northern Greek children to Soviet-bloc nations for "re-education"
Greatly damages KKE popularity
Gen. Papagos pushes Communists to Albania: War ends (1949)
Warring Groups - WWII
Supported by Yugoslavia,
Albania, Bulgaria
ELAS Leader:
Ares Velouchiotis
Supported by the people - Old ruling class was sympathetic to Nazis
Held public demonstrations
Established sections, public committees, services
Launched strikes, mobilizations
Established autonomous communities, schools in liberated villages
Considered "the" opposition group
.5-2 million members
Destroyed German supply convoys, routes
National Republican Greek League (EDES)
Napoleon Zervas, EDES
Originally communist
Began receiving British funding, 1942
Slowly became right-wing
Identified with the Monarchy, Greek government-in-exile
ELAS/EDES Cooperate to destroy Gorgopotamos Railway
Vital German supply railway
Greatest sabotage act of Eastern Europe in WWII
First and last ELAS/EDES cooperative
1944: Greece is liberated
German-British negotiation: Germans actually held off Russians for British entry, provided that British allow retreat
1944: Caserta Agreement
Greek Government under Georgios Papandreou installed by British
1944: A Pivotal Year
October 9: Percentages Agreement
Stalin cedes control of Greece to Britain
Independent of the people's will
EAM loses support
Who were they
Peasant smallholders
Rural laborers
Most were simply proponents of "Radical Democracy", tired of the oppression of the prior ruling class and Nazi collaborators
Few were firm communists
Now who gets the power?
The Persecution of EAM and Leftists
1946: Escalation
ALAS driven to countryside villages
KKE calls for war
Continued attacks on leftists
Political assassinations of leftist leaders
Layoffs of those with democratic leanings

KKE establishes the
Democratic Army of
Greece (DSE)
with former gueilla fighters
Support of Yugoslavia (Tito), Albania, Bulgaria

DAG & the War on the Government
DSE bases
in communist Balkan nations
Form alliance with Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria
Military bases established in these nations

DSE Actions
"Liberate" villages in northern Greece
Violently force villages to cooperate
Conducted forced recruitment, terrorism, assassinations
The Beginning of the End
1948: The Murder of George Polk
CBS reporter
Communists were the scapegoat
Uncovered a scandal in Greek Government
Becomes international affair - Several Communist leaders are executed
Ongoing Debate: Was this planned by the West?
Armed forces of Nazi collaborators in Greece
Nazis starved the nation, tortured its people and forced them into labor
Decimated villages sympathetic to resistance
Force Council under the chairmanship of King George II, with British General Parras, Ionnis Metaxas, British General d'Almpiak, and Papagos
The Mistakes of Zakhariades
Assumes command of DSE - 1949
Switches to conventional warfare
Sides with USSR against Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia cuts off transport of GDA supplies
Josep Tito
, bothered by Greek's
siding with Russia, stops
supporting Greece
End of the War
Operation Torch:
Greek National Army and allies defeat a weakened DSE
DSE retreats north
War ends
National Army troops following victory in Grammos, Greece
An EAM demonstration protesting the condition of WWII Greece
EAM rally at the liberation of Athens
Map of communist occupied areas at beginning of the civil war
Newspaper featuring arrested resistance members, 1945
A pro-resistance poster
A pro-EAM poster
An ELAS fighter, 1944
Foreign Forces
Great Britain
Nazi Germany
Zervas in formation
with British Commander Woodhouse
This, arguably, could be the true cause of the Civil War. Without intervention, ELAS, the greatest resistance organization, would likely have taken power.
British support of local royalists and Soviet abandonment of ELAS was critical to the outcome
View from 3:33 to 4:37 (man talking in woods, 1/3 way through video)
This Greek Civil War Veteran describes
the frustration of foreign influence, and
how it lead to civil war.
September 1941:
National Liberation
Front (EAM) and
National Republican
Greek League are
December 1941:
National People's
Liberation Army
(ELAS) is formed
Summer 1942:
first ELAS band
begins operations
September 1943:
Fighting breaks out
between ELAS and
September 1943:
Italy surrenders, Italian
zone transferred to
August 1944:
Germans begin
retreating north
October 1944:
British forces enter
Greece, liberate
May 1941:
The Government of
King George II of
Greece is in exile;
they will return later
to rule as a British
Early 1944:
ELAS has 25,000
armed men and
80,000 supporting
EDES has a mere 10,000 men
Security Battalions number 20,000
April 1943:
The Prime Minister
of the collaborationist
government authorizes
the formation of the
Security Battallions
ELAS seizes Italian
weapons; Western
allies begin supplying
non-communist groups
September 1944:
Caserta Agreement
is signed; guerilla
groups must disarm
by December
Papandreou and
the British Puppet
Government arrive
December 1944:
6 EAM members
resign from
government of
"National Unity"
Syntagma Square
Demonstration and
Massacre (Athens):
28 die -- 6 weeks of
fighting ensue
October 1944:
Churchill and
Stalin negotiate
the Percentages
6 weeks of fighting
EAM v. Government
British Paratroopers arrive -
EAM loses battle
Ceasefire is signed in January

British paratroopers in
Athens, Dec. 1945
Ares Velouchiotis
, leader of ALAS, is ousted by the KKE for his radical actions -- the KKE is trying to maintain legitimacy

1945: Surrounded by government-supported paramilitary, he commits suicide. His head is hung publicly in the town of Trikala
June 1945:
Ares Velouchiotis,
ELAS leader, dies
October 1946:
KKE establishes the
Democratic Army of
Greece (DSE)
March 1946: KKE
boycotts elections;
King George II gains
September 1946: King
George II arrives in
Election Day 1946:
Armed ELAS
group attacks police station in
Litochoro, Greece. The DSE takes
March 1946:
On election day,
An armed ELAS group
attacks a police station
in Litochoro -- The Civil
War "officially begins"
March 1947:
The Truman Doctrine
is instated -- situation
deteriorates for
May 1948: CBS
Reporter George
Polk is Assassinated
September 1947:
DSE begins
warfare - a poor
~Mid 1948:
In desperation,
The KKE begins
deporting children
to Eastern Bloc nations
July 1949: Tito
closes Yugoslav
borders to DSE
August 1949:
General Papagos launches
operation TORCH against
DSE in northern Greece

DSE is pushed to northern

August 1949:
The Greek
Civil War Ends

Triple-occupation by Italy, Germany, and Bulgaria

Resistance groups begin to form
Ian M. Oglesbee

...Here was a people just emerging from an occupation with one of Europe’s best and strongest resistance movements as victors, suddenly told to give up their arms and do…such and such. It’s natural they didn’t want others telling them what to do. Especially foreigners, even if it meant the start of civil war."

A starving Greek
child during the Nazi occupation
6 EAM officials in the Government of "National Unity"resign
Former collaborators and EDES members given power
Orders disarmament of geurilla groups not affiliated with Government
Notes, to Ponder
Did the intervention of Britain and the removal of Communism benefit the Greeks?

Well, what may have happened if the British didn’t interfere?
Perhaps an alliance with Yugoslavia, one of the most successful communist nations
Punishment of collaborators for war crimes
The will of the
general populace
would be carried out
The organized KKE, who already had established village governments, would lead Greece

Interestingly, it appears that almost NO major events that STRONGLY influenced the outcome (ie, the loss of the Communists), was entirely Domestic.

The 2 most influential events were:
The Percentages Agreement
The Truman Doctrine
Neither of these events pertained to the will of the Greeks

In the end, the Greek civil war was no different than any other Cold War story; 2 puppet factions fighting, influenced by much greater powers.

It was a tragic end to the most glorious Eastern European resistance group: The EAM, who just happened to be Communist. Oh well. Sorry, Greeks.
The Greek Civil War:
A Cold War Case-in-Point
Full transcript