Major Jeffrey Kotora, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 16 Apr 1985
Since the end of the Second World War, the frequency with which nations have fallen victim to communist insurgencies has not abated. Why have some nations been able to resist while others succumbed to wars of national liberation? The object of this paper is to examine one such conflict with a view towards analyzing the events of the war and the causative factors that made it a successful counterinsurgency.
This study of the Greek Civil War begins with a discussion of the roots of the conflict in the German occupation of Greece in 1941. Included in this discussion is the growth of the resistance and the rise of the Greek communists. The major portion of the paper deals with three separate stages, or «Rounds» of the civil war. The First Round occurred in late 1943 and was an attempt by the communists to eliminate rival resistance groups. The Second Round was precipitated by the overt attempt of the communists to seize control of Greece shortly after liberation by the Allies in late 1944.
The Third Round started in 1946 and saw the heaviest fighting, as the communists made one final attempt to seize power in Greece by means of conventional warfare. The final section of the paper offers some conclusions regarding the factors that caused the legitimate Greek Government to defeat the communists.
Because of the nature and the length of the Greek Civil War, this study is broad in scope and deals only with the most significant events. Previously printed materials were used as sources for this paper.
The seemingly endless procession of communist insurgencies and wars of national liberation that have occurred since the end of the Second World War have given no pause to the western democracies. The encroachment of communism into all parts of the world has given rise to the study of counterinsurgency in order to find ways to combat its spread. Because so many states have fallen victim to insurgency and so few have been successful in resisting the communist’s seizure of power, it is worthwhile to examine those precious few. This paper is one such examination.
The Greek civil war was fought in stages, hereinafter called rounds, from 1943 to 1949. It can safely be called a civil war because the combatants were, for the most part, citizens of Greece. While the fighting commenced in 1943, the war had its roots in the German occupation of Greece in 1941 and the resistance movement that grew out of that occupation. The protagonists in this conflict were the Communist Party of Greece and the legitimate Greek government; the nations of the Balkans, the British, the Americans, the Soviets and the Germans also played important roles.
The primary focus of this paper will concern the events and their causative factors which made this counterinsurgency a successful one. As it was necessary to provide the background for the war, Chapter I details the period from the German occupation to the outbreak of the First Round in October 1943. At that time the resistance group formed by the communists launched an attack upon rival resistance organizations.
Chapter II covers the First Round and includes a discussion as to the reasoning of the communists for attacking other Greeks. The liberation of Greece in 1944 and the Second Round of the civil war are discussed in the following chapter. Here the political considerations of Greek affairs are covered in addition to the military operations as the communists attempted to seize Athens in December 1944.
Chapter IV contains an examination of the tenacious peace that followed. In addition, the first post-war elections in Greece are covered as is the decision by the communists to renew the battle for control of the state by violent means. The fifth chapter relates to the events of the Third Round precipitated by this decision. A final chapter contains the author’s conclusions regarding the significant factors that caused the Greek civil war to be a success story in counterinsurgency.
A previous paragraph mentioned the important role played by other countries in this conflict. While such importance is certainly the case, the scope of this paper did not allow an extensive discussion of all the external forces. As a result, only those countries that had significant impact on the civil war are included in the discussion; the conduct of the war will be viewed in terms of what transpired internal to Greece, except as noted above. Space limitation, too, is the reason for not examining the relationship of the Communist Party of Greece with the international communist movement; the same holds true for a discussion of the ideological and organizational matters that so troubled the Greek communists. These topics could well be covered by treatise devoted exclusively to them and would extend far beyond the scope of this effort.
CHAPTER ONE – PRELUDE TO CIVIL WAR
On April 6, 1941, units of the German Twelfth Army attacked Greece and Yugoslavia from positions in Bulgaria.
The panzer and infantry divisions which advanced into northern Greece and southern Yugoslavia were not the instruments of Hitler’s intent to establish hegemony in the Balkans, although the idea surely had appeal to the German Chancellor. Rather, the invasion served two other purposes.
The first purpose was to aid Italy, an Axis partner that had been at war with Greece since October 1940 and had encountered stiff Greek resistance in Albania. The second purpose was to secure Germany’s southern flank for the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union, clearly Hitler’s prime focus at this stage of the war.
The German columns moved south into Greece with alacrity. They punched through the meager Greek, British and Allied forces attempting a defense and captured Salonika on the 9th of April. The British and Allied forces’ presence in Greece reflected the importance the British
attached to that country and their influence there; these forces numbered some 74,000 and consisted of British, Australian, New Zealand and Free Polish divisions and brigades.1 These combined forces, however were not enough to check the advance of the Twelfth Army. The Greek divisions in northwest Greece and Albania, having been cut off by the rapid German advance, surrendered on the 22nd.
Faced with the prospect of destruction or surrender, the British and Allied forces commenced evacuation to Crete and the Middle East. King George II and the Greek Government, along with approximately 10,000 Greek troops, transferred the seat of government to Crete. On April 27, 1941 the Germans entered Athens and the occupation of Greece had begun.
The Greek Government was not allowed to remain on Greek soil however. The Germans consolidated their hold on Greece by capturing many of the islands in the Aegean and on May 20, assaulted Crete with airborne troops. The island was in German hands by June 1, 1941, the British forces and Greek Government having been evacuated to Egypt. A Greek government-in-exile was established in Cairo; the few Greek troops that had escaped to Egypt were put under the command of the British Commander-in-Chief, Middle East.
Having secured their southern flank and strengthened their Italian ally, the Germans decided to share occupation duties with the Italians and Bulgarians. German forces were to control Athens, Piraeus, Thrace, Western Macedonia, Crete and the major Aegean islands. The Italians occupied Epirus, Thessaly, Roumeli and the Peloponnesus. Bulgarian troops were stationed in central and western Macedonia.2 Thus the Greek people, as were so many other peoples throughout the world, came to be subjugated by a conqueror’s rule. A puppet government was established in Athens by the Germans; General Tsolakoglou, a previous corps commander, was installed as the Prime Minister.
A «wait and see» attitude characterized the initial reaction of the Greeks to the Axis occupation. Indeed, much of Greece was almost inaccessible to occupation troops so many Greeks never came into contact with enemy forces. The geographic nature of the country and its lack of communications lent itself to the resistance and guerrilla operations that were to come. In 1939 Greece had only 10,000 miles of motorable roads and only 2,000 miles of railroads; in the mountains many villages were linked only by paths and tracks which disappeared under the winter snow.3 In the cities there was talk of resistance and small groups were formed to gather intelligence, aid escaped prisoners of war and perform small acts of sabotage. On the whole, however, there was no massive uprising of resistance movements or large organizations at the outset of occupation. The months passed slowly and, seemingly for the conquerors, without much antagonism from the Greeks.
The first major form of resistance came from the communists. Many communist leaders escaped from Greek prisons in the confusion of the German invasion and immediately went underground to help reorganize their party.
A few were recaptured by the occupation authorities. These communists were members of the Communist Party of Greece or KKE (Kommounistikon Komma Ellados). Formed in November 1918 by a small number of students and intellectuals who took to heart the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, it was first known as the Socialist Labor Party of Greece. The early rank and file members of the KKE were workers from the industrial, tobacco and railroad industries but later included refugees from Anatolia and city dwellers. In 1920 the KKE joined the COMINTERN and began to follow the party line from Moscow. During the decade of the 1920’s the party infiltrated and gained influence in many of the trade unions in Greece.
At the outbreak of World War II, the KKE was an outlawed organization. Having never had a large appeal to the Greek electorate, the KKE had tried during the 1930’s to gain power through the constitutional process of the elections. Although the communists seldom achieved more than 10 per cent of the vote, the KKE was suppressed in 1936 upon the establishment of a right wing dictatorship by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas. The party was driven underground and many of its leaders jailed. As such, the KKE had experience operating under repressive regimes and was tough, disciplined, secretive and hardened by harsh experience. 
The first efforts of the KKE towards resistance centered around creating organizations affiliated with labor. The communists started where their strength was, hoping to gain members sympathetic to their cause. One such organization was the National Workers’ Liberation Front, EEAM (Ethnikon Ergatikon Apelevtherotikon Metopon), formed in July 1941. The prime success of EEAM was the stifling of a German attempt to export laborers to Germany by means of strikes, stoppages and general unrest.
Another, and more important, secret organization was the National Liberation Front or EAM (Ethnikon Apelevtherotikon Metopon). Founded on September 27, 1941, EAM was ostensibly a coalition of six political parties joined by the common purpose of resisting the Axis occupation. In reality EAM was a front organization for the KKE, for the communists controlled its leadership conmittee.  The KKE’s influence on EAM can be seen in the latter organization’s declared aims which were «the liberation of Greece from the Axis, the creation of a provisional government to carry out elections immediately following liberation and the frustration of any attempt by reactionaries to influence the decision of the people.» The portents of civil war can be clearly seen in this policy. Meantime, the idea of armed resistance to the occupation began to form in the minds of a few Greeks. Small bands of guerrillas began to surface in the mountainous areas of Greece during late 1941 and early 1942. Often these bands were centered around a leader who was a communist or had left-wing political beliefs. One such band was led by Aris Veloukhiotis, a known communist who took the field in early 1942 in the Mount Olympus area. Other bands appeared in Thessaly, the Peloponnesus, and Roumeli. They were not organized or in any sense created by a political party, but rather came into being spontaneously. Many affiliated themselves with EAM, but at this stage were not controlled or coordinated by that organization.
This uncontrolled resistance changed in the spring of 1942. On April 10, EAM announced that it would field a guerrilla army to be known as the National Popular Liberation Army, ELAS (Ethnikos Laikos Apelevtherotikos Stratos). The cadre for ELAS was to come from the small bands led by leftists of varying degrees and was to operate initially in Roumeli, Thessaly and Macedonia.  Recruiting began and efforts to equip the army commenced. Thus the KKE now had a front organization, EAM, and an army, ELAS, to do its bidding in its quest for power in Greece. Another army was also formed in early 1942. Colonel Napoleon Zervas, a former officer in the Greek army, took to the field in June 1942 in his native Epirus. A strict republican in his politics, Zervas raised a small army known as EDES (Ethnikos Dimokratikos Ellinikos Syndesmos), the National Republican Greek League. By September 1942, EDES was about 300 strong but was very well trained; it consisted mostly of former officers and men from the Greek army. Offensive action against the occupation forces was sporadic during mid 1942. The tempo of operations began to accelerate in the autumn; on September 9, 1942 ELAS, under Aris, clashed with Italian troops and EDES did the same in Epirus on October 23. With the impact of armed resistance to the occupation authorities growing, the British interest in Greece was rekindled. On September 30, 1942, Colonel E.C.W. Myers parachuted into Roumeli with a small group of commandos in order to disrupt the German supply routes through Greece to North Africa.10 Myers initially made contact with ELAS, seeking aid in destroying his target, the railroad viaduct at Gorgopotamus. Aris was noncommittal so the British officer sought out EDES; Zervas readily agreed to help in the operation. Aris then decided to cooperate after realizing that should the operation succeed, support would be forthcoming from the British. He could not allow EDES to be the only recipient of such support, for to do so would mean a predominant position for the republican guerrillas. As such, British, ELAS and EDES blew the Gorgopotamus viaduct on November 25, 1942, disrupting the railroad for six weeks.
The apparent success of guerrilla war and its concomitant notoriety caused the idea to spread. Late 1942 and early 1943 witnessed a profusion of bands being formed. In Thessaly, a Colonel Stefanos Saraphis organized the AAA (Liberation Struggle Command). In Salonika the PAO (Panhellenic Liberation Organization) was operating. The EKKA (National Socialist Liberation Group) under General Dimitrios Psaros, had guerrilla fighters in Roumeli. Many other lesser groups operated throughout Greece. Unlike the period immediately following the occupation, virtually all armed bands were created and backed by some political faction. Most were after British arms and aid; their goal was to further their own political aims.
This upsurge in guerrilla activity bode well for the two main resistance armies ELAS and EDES. The British mainly supported these two groups. By February 1943, Colonel Zervas had over 1,500 men in EDES; the strength of ELAS was less than 5,000. It was about this time that the true nature and intent of EAM/ELAS, as directed by the KKE, came to be known. In December 1942 the KKE met in a Pan Helladic Conference, wherein the communist leadership probably decided to attempt to monopolize the resistance so as to be in control of Greece when liberation occurred.11 Immediately thereafter, ELAS made an unsuccessful attack on EDES. AAA also suffered assaults at the hands of ELAS. On the surface, EAM/ELAS had as its purpose resistance to Axis occupation, «but it was obvious that the KKE had no intention of allowing EAM to concentrate on the liberation of Greece to the detriment of the ultimate aims of Greek Communism.» What were these aims? «According to Zakhariadis (secretary-general of the KKE), the ultimate aim of the KKE is to lead the masses on the broad path of open political conflict toward the basic goal: power.»
The KKE leadership was not united behind these goals, however. During the first half of 1943, the KKE oscillated between policies of confrontation and conciliation. The aforementioned attacks on rival bands gave the British Military Mission (BMM) cause for alarm, as it hindered the war effort. In response to this, the BMM got ELAS, EDES, IKKA and other minor groups to enter into the «National Bands Agreement». Signed by those groups’ representatives on July 5, 1943, the agreement called for establishing a joint headquarters that would answer to British Headquarters in the Middle East, assigned areas of Greece for the groups to operate in and provided that the resistance groups would refrain from attacking one another. The agreement was a minor victory for the communists because it assured continued British aid, which was sorely needed by ELAS and which the British were threatening to cut off. Moreover, the agreement allowed ELAS to have a majority representation at the joint headquarters, allowing them a large influence in operations.13 Because ELAS needed British arms and supplies and because it appeared to the KKE in July 1943 that liberation was not close at hand, the conciliatory «National Bands Agreement» appeared to be the prudent thing to do.
CHAPTER TWO – THE FIRST ROUND
The faction of the KKE leadership that favored conciliation and attempting to gain power through more legitimate means did not, however, control the direction of EAM/ELAS indefinitely. Between July and October 1943, the factors which caused the KKE to be more accommodating towards its rival bands changed significantly. The impact of these changed factors and the KKE’s altered perception of them are worth examination, for it provides insight into the question of what caused Greek to slay Greek.
It must be remembered that EAM/ELAS was under the strict control of the Central Committee of the KKE. Most members of EAM and soldiers of ELAS were unaware of this fact, as the KKE went to great pains to keep their influence secret. Also, the ultimate objective of the KKE was to achieve power over all of Greece; an interim goal, therefore, was to attain a preeminent position among resistance groups so as to be able to present a fait accompli to the Allies upon liberation.
The first factor that changed was the KKE’s estimation of when liberation would occur. Events in the war seemed to point to an imminent arrival of allies in Greece. The Germans had been run out of North Africa. Sicily had been captured and Italy had been invaded. On September 8, 1943 Italy had surrendered to the Allies and Soviet forces were making gains on the eastern front. Moreover, in late September British headquarters in Cairo had ordered resistance in Greece to prepare for operations against six airfields. German forces were on the move in Greece, mistakenly assumed by the KKE to be preparing for withdrawal. Thus, it appeared that the return of Allied forces was imminent.
A second factor was the estimate of the strength of ELAS. George Siantos had been Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE since January 1942, when Nikos Zakhiariadis was shipped off to a German concentration camp. Siantos had presided over the growth of ELAS from a small band to an army of about 15,000 fighters and 20,000 unarmed reserves. ELAS had been recently reorganized into conventional formations of divisions, brigades and battalions; it is possible that his military commander, General Saraphis, and Aris made too much of the capabilities of ELAS. By comparison, Zervas had 5,000 men in EDES while the strength of EKKA under Psaros was just over 1,000. Clearly ELAS’ advantage was great, but was not overwhelming. Yet a third factor was that ELAS no longer depended upon the British for arms and equipment. In October 1943 ELAS had taken the surrender of the Pinerolo Division, an Italian unit which gave up about 12,000 rifles in addition to mountain artillery, mortars and machine guns.4 This made ELAS almost self-sufficient in arms; the KKE could risk a potential termination of British aid. Given these circumstances and the KKE leadership’s perception of them, Siantos gave the go ahead for ELAS to conduct combat operations against other resistance groups. The First Round of the Greek Civil War was underway. On October 12, 1943, ELAS attacked virtually all groups that posed any threat to ELAS at all over the whole of Greece. The smaller groups, such as PAO, were quickly dispersed, while ELAS’ main rival, EDES, held its own and repulsed the fierce assaults. In Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia and the Peloponnesus units of ELAS sought to destroy, disperse or absorb the other armed bands; the internecine battles of the Greek resistance groups kept up for almost a week.
The fighting between Greeks tapered off because the Germans commenced aggressive operations against both ELAS and EDES at that time. The troop movements seen by the KKE as a preparation for evacuation were, in reality, a redeployment after the surrender of the Italians and preparations for an attack on the guerrillas. ELAS and EDES both suffered extensive casualties at the hand of the Germans, but the former to the greater extent. ELAS was forced to break off the engagement with EDES and had to maneuver in order to survive.5 German forces pressed ELAS troops hard in Macedonia and Epirus, keeping up offensive pressure until well into the winter. The Greek civilian populace suffered from the fighting as well. The Germans had for some time been executing people in reprisal for guerrilla attacks on their forces. This policy was accelerated during the fall and winter of 1943 when the Germans were actively pursuing the guerrillas. Fifty hostages were shot on December 4, and fifty others were hanged a day later. Twenty-five were executed on the 7th. In the area of Kalavryta in December, 696 people were executed. The adverse reaction towards the guerrillas by the common Greek as a result of these reprisals was significant, and would become more so as time went on.
When the German offensive abated somewhat, General Zervas sent his EDES fighters to counterattack ELAS in the hopes of regaining ground lost in the earlier fighting. In early January 1944, EDES had some success against their rivals, making headway into Roumeli. Meantime, the Allied Military Mission6 (AMM) was becoming increasingly perturbed at the Greek guerrillas. Clearly this civil war was counterproductive to the war effort and the AMM was trying unsuccessfully to arrange a truce. ELAS went on the attack again in late January; despite the hindrance posed by the harsh winter weather, ELAS made progress against EDES. The AMM finally imposed its will onto the guerrillas on February 4, 1944, when both sides agreed to a cease fire. This was followed on February 29 with the signing of a document known as the Plaka Agreement.
Signed at the Plaka bridge over the river Arakhtos in a contested area of Epirus, the agreement appeared to be a victory for EAM/ELAS. The most significant provision called for the respective guerrilla armies to cease fighting but remain in the areas they controlled as of the agreement. This confined EDES to a relatively small portion of Epirus, which not only severely restricted its ability to recruit and supply its troops, but also limited its room to maneuver. To exacerbate EDES’ position even more, about 1,000 men deserted to ELAS at the time of the agreement. The Plaka Agreement also committed EAM/ELAS to assist in the return of Allied forces to mainland Greece, but did not address when that was to occur. Why did the KKE allow EAM/ELAS to enter into the Plaka Agreement just as it appeared to be close to the goal of establishing preeminence? The answers to this question are manifold. Firstly, the KKE leadership came to realize that liberation was not imminent. Indeed, when the decision was made to attack rival groups, liberation was a full year away. In the judgement of the KKE, EAM/ELAS had been unleashed too soon. Secondly, the extirpation of EDES proved to be more difficult than was thought. Zervas’ troops, being mostly ex-army personnel, were better trained and led than their ELAS counterparts. Despite the recent reorganization into conventional organizations and great numerical superiority, ELAS was unable to defeat EDES in detail. Thirdly, EAM/ELAS was not as independent from the British as it thought. Faced with an unknown period of time until liberation, EAM/ELAS reconsidered the risk of operating without British aid and support. During the fighting, the British had cut off all aid and bitterly denounced EAM/ELAS. This denunciation stung the KKE. Fourthly, «the Communists needed time to consolidate their gains and wipe out the impressions generated in the public mind by their perfidy….»7 EAM/ELAS had not only sullied their reputation and lost potential support by their treachery, but also had caused the people to blame them for the German cruelty in reprisals. Finally, EAM/ELAS had achieved much of the KKE’s goal. Many of the minor armed bands had in fact been eliminated or absorbed. EDES’ strength had been reduced and, perhaps more importantly, had been ensconced in a small area of Epirus with little potential for rejuvenation. While total dominance had not been achieved, there were no other resistance groups in the mountains in February 1944 that had the prominence of EAM/ELAS. The main result of the First Round, then, was a strengthening of the KKE’s tactical position. Concomitantly, their political position had been weakened. That the communists judged this to be the case and that they needed time to work the political ground can be seen in the events of the next several months.
CHAPTER THREE – LIBERATION AND THE SECOND ROUND
Politics and The Approach of the Allies In order to be fully prepared for the assumption of power in Greece, the KKE had much political maneuvering to The problems that had to be addressed were many. The communists were becoming known as the controlling force behind EAM/ELAS. Certain rivals were still in the field, individuals who could adversely impact the KKE’s goals at a critical time. The King and his government-in-exile were still extant in Egypt and enjoyed the support of the Allies. In Greece itself, communist control had to be expanded and consolidated. The legitimate Greek government-in-exile also faced serious problems. Besides the obvious difficulty posed by the communists, the Greek people were starving. The combination of German occupation and the civil war had virtually stopped food production; relief efforts had to be managed. There seemed to be a genuine groundswell of support growing for republicanism. Although probably not known to the government at the time, the Allied invasion of Europe would not permit a force of any appreciable size to be introduced into Greece.
The KKE took a large step toward solving some of their problems in early 1944. At the 10th Plenum of the Central Committee of the KKE in January, it was confirmed that the KKE had decided «upon the formation of such a government which would present the Allies with a de facto authority in control of the major part of Greece.»2 Indeed, EAM/ELAS was already in control of much of the mainland and was functioning as the civil authority in the areas of local government, the courts and law enforcement. A national government to rival the Greek government-in-exile and to control Greece was required. There was already in the Balkans a precedent: the provisional government Tito in Yugoslavia.
On March 10, 1944 the Political Committee of National Liberation, PEEA (Politiki Epitropi Ethnikis Apelevtheroseos) was created. As announced by guerrilla radio on March 26, the aims of PEEA were «to intensify the struggle against the conquerors, carrying it on by every means at our disposal within Greece at the side of our Allies; and to strive for the expulsion of the German and Bulgarian invaders, for full national liberation, for the consolidation of the independence and integrity of our country…. and for the annihilation of domestic Fascism and armed traitor formations.» Compared to the declared aims of EAM upon its founding, two points are significant. One, this was «the creation of a provisional government». Two, instead of calling for «the frustration of any attempt by reactionaries», the KKE was now advocating the annihilation of «domestic Fascism». Ostensibly, the Plaka Agreement was not to be the end of civil war. Once again the KKE had founded a front organization in an attempt to mask its true nature and bid for power.
The mask of respectability would be provided by the more moderate politicians, professionals and educators who accepted portfolios in the PEEA. Although all were of a political persuasion of the left, only one, Siantos, was a member of the KKE. The man who became president of the Committee, Alexandros Svolos, was a respected professor at the University of Athens. The makeup of PEEA was shrewdly conceived, because as constituted, PEEA seemingly included only one avowed communist, George Siantos, and thus could be expected to make a broad nonsectarian appeal to the Greek masses.
All of the efforts of the KKE were not, however, directed exclusively towards the political arena. In April 1944 ELAS launched an attack on what remained of EKKA in Roumeli. General Psaros, leader of EKKA, was captured and killed.4 This effectively put EKKA out of the picture for the rest of the war. At this time, events in the Mid East shifted the focus to that part of the world. The creation of PEEA was viewed with much sympathy among many men in the Greek armed forces. These officers and men were mainly republicans, although a few EAM members and communists could be counted amongst them. In any event, on March 31, 1944 a group of officers visited the Prime Minister of the Greek government-in-exile, Tsouderos. Calling themselves the Committee of National Unity of the Greek Armed Forces, «they demanded the establishment of a new government based on the Political Committee of National Liberation (PEEA)».5 While Tsouderos was considering his options and communicating with the King,
who was visiting in England, the mutiny spread to various units of the Greek ground and naval forces in the Mid East. Committees of soldiers and sailors took over effective command. The Minister of the Merchant Marine of Tsouderos’ own cabinet, Venizelos, talked of reaching some sort of political agreement with «the mountains». The crisis in the government-in-exile and the armed forces threatened to accomplish the KKE’s goals without any overt action on the communist’s part. The King arrived in Cairo on the 10th and made Venizelos the Prime Minister on April 13, 1944. Venizelos’ first task was to regain control of the armed forces; he was unsuccessful and the British had to step in and use their forces to disarm the mutineers.
This was accomplished by April 23. The mutinous units were broken up and smaller units were reorganized from troops that had remained loyal to the government. Suppression of the mutiny did not begin to solve the problems facing the Greek government. It still confronted an alternative state in being in Greece. Moreover, its military strength, never strong to begin with, had just been ravaged. Faced with these two factors and the British pressure for some kind of settlement, the Greek
government-in-exile determined to establish a new government of national unity. To be sure, this meant some accommodation with EAM, PEEA and, therefore, the KKE. Additionally, it meant that some members of these organizations would have to be accepted into the government. But in order to achieve unity and to be able to exert some measure of control over the alternative state upon liberation, the decision was made to pursue such a course.
The man primarily responsible for the above reasoning and upon whose shoulders fell the task of negotiating the new course was George Papandreou. Calling himself «a crusader for national unity», he was a liberal, experienced politician who bad recently arrived in Cairo from Greece. 6
He was sworn in as Prime Minister on April 26, 1944. Papandreou was viewed by some of the more moderate politicians as the only man capable of ensuring the survival of Greece as an independent democratic state. Clearly, the communists looked upon his appointment with some trepidation, for the new Prime Minister was «a man of tremendous political skill, determination, and foresight.»7
Panpandreou’s first battle in his crusade for national unity came early. He convened a conference in Lebanon in mid May 1944 to which all the resistance groups, political parties and major politicians were invited and did, in fact, attend. Chaired by the Prime Minister, the purpose of the conference was to gain some movement toward reconciliation among the differing factions and groups, thereby giving the
Greek government-in-exile some control over them. In attendance were senior representative from the government, armed forces, Britain, PEEA, EAM, ELAS, KKE, EDES, EKKA and the political parties of Athens. Papandreou was not the only new factor in the equation of Greek politics although he probably best represented it. There was also an inchoate resolve among the members of the government-in-exile to combat their real enemy. The events in Greece in late 1943 and early 1944 had made clear to all observers the true nature of the KKE. The former commander of the AMM, C.M. Woodhouse, has characterized this change well: At last the political world in exile became aware that they were not, as they had supposed, playing the old game of Monarchists versus Republicans, or Populists versus Liberals, but a new game, too frightening in reality to be called a game, of Communists versus the Rest; at last the Rest realized that if they failed to win the new game, they would never be able to return to the old one.8
For four days, commencing on May 17, the conference became a vehicle for a political and ideological verbal blood-letting. Papandreou set the tone in his opening speech by excoriating EAM/ELAS and calling for unity: The situation in our land resembles hell. The Germans are killing. The Security Battalions are killing. The guerrillas are killing. They kill and burn. What will remain of our unhappy
country? EAM’s responsibility arises from the fact that it did not restrict itself to the liberation struggle. It has included in its targets the control of the state by force following the liberation. For this reason it has sought to monopolize the national struggle…. It has also sought the intimidation of its opponents. It has identified itself with the state. EAM’s enemies have been considered enemies of the
country. But this can only occur under fascism, where the party is identified with the state. In democracies, the party does not subjugate the state; and the Army does not belong to a party but to the nation. By its terroristic actions EAM/ELAS created the psychological climate which permitted the Germans to succeed during the third year of slavery of our nation in what they had not managed before: the creation of the Security Battalions, whose sole purpose is civil war. In this fashion, we were led into the vicious circle by virtue of which our people are going through a major trial today…. From this vicious circle we must emerge as fast as possible. And this vicious circle we must emerge as fast as possible. And this can be achieved in only one way: the elimination of the class army and the institution
of a national one.9
The other members of the conference, in turn, criticized and denounced the activities of EAM/ELAS and therefore of PEEA and the KKE. The skill and determination of Papandreou can be seen by the results of the conference. On May 20, 1944 the entire delegation signed and issued a document that came to be known as the Lebanon Charter. Among its points were the reorganization of the Greek armed forces, the unification of guerrilla bands under the government, the end of the reign of terror, the provision of supplies and food to the people of Greece, and the provision for early elections on the constitutional question. Perhaps more importantly, the Lebanon conference resulted in agreement that a new Government of National Unity would be formed and that five of the ministerial portfolios would be offered to the EAM and PEEA.
The delegates dispersed from Lebanon hoping that true unity among Greeks was at last on its way to being achieved. The Government of National Unity was duly formed on May 24, 1944, again under the tutelage of Papandreou; five portfolios were reserved for PEEA, pending its formal submission of nominees.
But submission of names from the mountains was not forthcoming. The EAM, PEEA and KKE delegates to Lebanon were told by the KKE leadership that they had overstepped their bounds and had no authority to enter their organizations into any agreement such as the Lebanon Charter. To be sure, the KKE was aghast at the results of the conference, for Papandreou had achieved his goals. Over the next
several months there came a series of obfuscatory and unreasonable demands from EAM and PEEA as preconditions for participation in the Government. It soon became apparent that the KKE had no intention of validating the Lebanon Charter by nominating potential ministers.
As these events in Greek affairs were unfolding, Greece became a subject of negotiations between the governments of Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The British were anxious to protect their strategic and historical interests in Greece; as such, they were negotiating with the Soviet Union regarding the management of affairs in the Balkans for the duration of the war.10 Apparently in anticipation of reaching an understanding with the British, the Soviet Union undertook a unilateral action:
On the night of 25th-26th July, a Russian aeroplane took off from an Anglo-American base in Italy on a flight authorized for training purposes. During the night it landed in Yugoslavia near Tito’s GHQ and embarked ten members of the Soviet Military Mission. Flying to Greece, it dropped two of them over Macedonia and landed the rest on the mountain aerodrome in Thessaly which had been constructed a year before for the evacuation of the guerrilla delegation to Egypt.
The operation, conducted with skill and security as well as bad faith, became known to none of the other Allies until the eight members of the Soviet Mission to ELAS, under Colonel Popov, reached ELAS GHQ on the morning of the 26th.11
It is not known precisely what Colonel Popov communicated to the KKE. What is known is that several days later the communists dropped their demands and agreed to join the Government of National Unity. The change in PEEA was dramatic and instantaneous; accordingly, the ministers from EAM and PEEA were sworn on September 2, 1944. While Greek politics in the Mid East held much attention, it should not be forgotten that the Germans and Bulgarians still occupied Greece. The reprisals against Greek civilians had not slowed; 200 tradesmen were executed in Athens on May 1, 1944 and 270 more were killed in Distomo on June 10.12 In addition, German military operations were not moribund during this period. In July the Germans launched a major assault on ELAS units in Macedonia, causing some 2,000 casualties among the guerrillas. This proved to be the German’s last gasp against the resistance.
As the summer of 1944 waned, it became evident that the Germans would have to leave soon. With the Red Army advancing steadily from the east, the German forces were at risk of being cut off on the Greek peninsula as the Soviets moved into the Balkans. For the Greeks the long awaited liberation was at hand.
In September the Greek Government of National Unity was moved to Caeserta, Italy, which was the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean. In Caeserta, Papandreou wanted to cement and reinforce some of the Provisions of the Lebanon Charter so he summoned Generals Zervas of EDES and Saraphis of ELAS. In order to control and coordinate the resistance armies at the time of liberation, what became known as the Caeserta Agreement was signed on September 26, 1944. The Agreement’s foremost provision put EDES and EJAS forces under the Government of National Unity which in turn placed them under the command of Lieutenant General R. M. Scobie. General Scobie, a
British flag officer, had been recently nominated to command Allied forces for the liberation of Greece. As this occurred in Italy, German forces began withdrawing from Greece.
The Second Round
As the Germans withdrew swiftly to the north, they were harrassed by the resistance. EDES conducted operations in the spirit of the Caeserta Agreement and had some success against the retreating Germans. ELAS, on the other hand seemed to hold back. What little they did against the receding Axis seemed more for the purpose of capturing weapons, ammunition and supplies than inflicting damage on
the enemy. Indeed, the relative ease with which ELAS came into possession of large stocks of war material gave rise to the belief that the Germans did this deliberately. ELAS, the Germans presumed, would use the equipment to make future trouble for the Allies. They were right. The actual liberation of Greece by the Allies was not a military operation in the classic sense. No major battles were fought over strategic terrain; triumphant combat divisions of the Allies were not given laurels as they paraded through liberated cities. The fact was that there were no combat divisions and in some cases the British
troops merely waited for the Germans to evacuate the area. No doubt this was prudent, for the forces were almost pitifully small. The British sent into Greece only two brigades of light infantry along with a few hundred commandos. Greek forces available for the liberation were the Mountain Brigade and the Sacred Squadron; both had seen combat in Italy. Of the resistance groups, indeed of any army, ELAS was clearly superior in numerical strength. In October 1944, ELAS had some 50,000 troops under arms and another 20,000 in unarmed reserve. EDES had approximately 10,000 men overall.
Liberation proceeded apace. British troops landed in the Peloponnesus on October 3, 1944. The Germans evacuated Athens on October 12; British troops entered the city the next day and proceeded to move toward Piraeus. As the line of German occupation receded north, more British forces were introduced into Greece. By the end of October, the newly designated III Corps had 26,500 men. Most of these forces, however, were engineer and logistics troops to aid in relief work. November found the Germans north of Salonika and Florina and by November 10, Greece was completely free of Axis forced. Papandreou and his Government of National Unity had arrived in Athens to a tumultuous welcome on October 18, 1944.
The lack of any overt action on the part of the KKE during this period was conspicuous. From about October 12-18, Greece had been theirs for the taking, yet PEEA and EAM/ELAS had apparently been reined in. ELAS was in control of two-thirds of Greece, British forces were small in number and the Government was in Italy. Why, after years of preparing for this moment, did the KKE choose to abstain
from seizing power? Although there is no evidence that explains this decision, the probable reasons why there were no attacks from ELAS are several. Firstly, the KKE probably overestimated the side of the liberation force. The communists had no way of knowing just how small the British force would be and, given the attitude of the officers of the AMM, were not made privy to this information. Secondly,
the KKE may have underestimated its own strength; ELAS had never been able to decisively defeat EDES. Thirdly, the same guidance from Colonel Popov that caused the abrupt changes in the KKE was probably still in effect. And fourthly, the leadership of the KKE was most likely divided between the advocates of seizing power by force and the proponents of more legitimate methods. It must be borne in mind that EAM ministers were still a part of the Government of National Unity. Greece was thus spared from having a communist government forced upon it in October 1944. Upon its arrival in Athens, the Government was faced with a litany of problems of the first magnitude. Economically Greece was in ruins. The farms had been stripped, the currency had been debauched by inflation, the factories dismantled and the communications system destroyed. The national armed forces were outside the country. The public clamored for retribution regarding traitors and collaborators. In the countryside an inimical armed force of guerrillas was in control. Police forces were either non-existent or rife with collaborators. British forces that supported the Government were few in number, consisted mainly of support troops, and were confined to the cities and ports. Such problems would have been insurmountable for a popular, stable government in place for many years, much less the Government of National Unity as it arrived in Athens.
Pressed by General Scobie, Papandreou undertook to reconstitute the national armed forces. Concomitant with the reconstitution was the disarmament of all resistance forces and the disbanding of their organizations.
Papandreou also promised to purge the police force and form a National Guard in its stead. Disorder and violence was spreading thoughout Greece, as fighters from leftist and rightist groups exacted vengeance from each other for perceived crimes committed during the occupation. One of the most notorious groups was X. An extreme right wing group led by Colonel Grivas, X operated in and around Athens and terrorized EAM/ELAS.
At this point, EAM started to propagandize and agitate as a political party in opposition to the Papandreou Government. It held a large demonstration in Athens on November 4 to protest the killing of ELAS troops. On November 9, 1944 the Mountain Brigade arrived in Greece from Italy and was posted in Athens. EAM viewed this as ominous.
In late November plans for the disarmament of the resistance and the reconstitution of the national police and armed forces were under way. Papandreou announced that the National Guard, having been hurriedly conscripted and trained, would take over from EAM/ELAS in the countryside on December 1. The EAM ministers in the Papandreou Government voiced no objection to this.
As the time approached for ELAS to be disarmed and disbanded, The KKE under went another of its abrupt changes.
On the night of November 27, 1944 George Siantos conducted a long meeting with another KKE leader, Ioannidis. When Siantos emerged he was a «different man from whom all reasonableness had disappeared. He was one with Ioannidis in his determination to carry through an armed revolt.»13
Immediately, the EAM ministers that had been acquiescent in the disarmament plan now became obstructionist in its execution. One minister, Zevgos, presented Papandreou with the demands that the Mountain Brigade and Sacred Squadron be disbanded as well. Papandreou’s refusal was swift.
Events toward civil war and the Second Round now moved just as swiftly. On December 1, Siantos reconvened the Central Committee of EAM and ordered ELAS forces to deploy towards Athens. The KKE, which heretofore had been operating openly, disappeared and went underground. On December 2, the six EAM members of the Government resigned and EAM publicly announced that the headquarters of Elas was being reestablished. EAM requested governmental permission to conduct a demonstration on December 3; it was denied.
Clearly an armed conflict was now approaching. But when would ELAS strike? The proscribed demonstration of December 3, 1944 gave the KKE the excuse it needed to send ELAS into action. That Sunday morning, as the demonstrators of EAM congregated in Constitution Square in Athens, shots were exchanged between police and marchers. No one knows who fired first; several demonstrators and police were killed. The next day armed troops of ELAS appeared in the suburbs of Athens and began Skirmishing with police and security personnel. By December 5, ELAS was in Athens in strength, attacking police stations and government buildings; British troops were attacked and were forced to return fire. In Piraeus, an ELAS division maneuvered into the city and attacked the British-Greek naval headquarters, Navy House, capturing it on the evening of December 5, The main road from Piraeus to
Athens was cut by ELAS.
The attacks were pressed vigorously; infiltration and sniping tactics accompanied assaults by company-sized units. ELAS appeared to have many mortars and enough ammunition for them to use them at will. Artillery was also employed, but more sparingly. The British and Greek forces had difficulty in identifying the guerrillas for many of them were in civilian clothing. Oddly, the fighting did not spread to Salonika. An ELAS division, under General Bakindzis and Markos Vaphiadis, had deployed in and around the city, but did not attack the British Brigade there.
In the northern countryside, General Saraphis’ forces attacked the few small remaining armed bands and some villages that had collaborated with the Germans. One of the small bands that succumbed under ELAS’ guns was that of Andon Tsaous. With a strength of about 650 men, the band was broken up with relative ease. Over the next several days the situation in Athens deteriorated steadily. The British and Greek forces were methodically pushed into smaller and smaller enclaves. Despite rocket and strafing attacks by RAF aircraft, ELAS continued to gain more ground.
The criticality of the situation in Greece caused the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean to fly into Athens on December 11, 1944. Field Marshal Alexander arrived at a small RAF field on the outskirts of Athens; his car came under fire during the trip to Scobie’s headquarters. After reviewing the desperate tactical situation and finding that British forces were down to six days of rations and only three days of ammunition, Alexander decided to reinforce Scobie with the 4th Division, currently in Italy. Once the division was airlifted into Athens, it would clear the Athens-Piraeus road, open up the port, and then commence clearing operations.
The British also decided to take action regarding the political situation. After consulting with his advisor, Mr. Harold MacMillan, and the British Ambassador, Mr. Leeper, Alexander decided to press for a resignation of the Papandreou government and the establishment of Regency under Archbishop Damaskinos. They believed that Damaskinos was above reproach and would be acceptable as the head of the new government to the warring factions of Greece. The military and political aspects of the conflict having been addressed, Field Marshal Alexander departed Greece on December 12.14
Later on that same day a representative of EAM called upon General Scobie and inquired as to his terms for a cease fire. Given the superior tactical position of ELAS, this rather strange act by EAM may have been intended to keep the British from introducing the reinforcements which (unknown to EAM) had already been decided upon.15 Scobie’s terms were the withdrawal of ELAS from Athens and an overall cease fire; EAM would consider this and reply.
The fighting continued, however. ELAS continued to press successful attacks, further shrinking the size of the British and Greek enclaves. Also on December 12, and after a fierce assault, ELAS units seized the Athens City Hall. On the 13th, the fighting was widespread throughout Athens as ELAS attempted to gain as much ground as possible before the British reinforcements arrived. ELAS troops attacked Greek and British roadblocks and buildings, sometimes using vehicles filled with explosives against British armor.16 The rebels were not able to sustain this level operations, however, and activities fell off into a lull for the next several days.
Prime Minister Papandreou, sensing that his government was about to fall, attempted to find an acceptable political figure to replace him. He recalled General Nikolaos Plastiras from exile in France to serve as Prime Minister under Damaskinos as Regent; Plastiras arrived in Athens on 13 December. But General Plastiras had been involved in a coup in 1922; therefore, King George, who was still out of
the country, would not approve Plastiras for the office.
EAM replied to General Scobie’s terms for a cease-fire on the 16th. The counterproposal from the Central Committee of EAM offered «to withdraw ELAS forces from Athens if the Greek Mountain Brigade and the Sacred Squadron should likewise be withdrawn, the Gendarmerie disbanded and only British forces employed in carrying out the mission as defined in the Caeserta Agreement of 26th September, 1944.»17
Clearly these terms were not intended to be acceptable and Scobie replied as such.
Elements of the 4th Division had started to arrive by this time, as was the much needed logistical support for the troops already in Greece. These fresh units were hurriedly sent into the British perimeters in order to prevent the immediate tactical situation from deteriorating yet further.
ELAS, having been reinforced from Macedonia in captured British trucks during the lull, took up the offensive again on December 18. ELAS units attacked and overran the RAF headquarters at Kiphissia airfield; later an armored relief column was able to rescue some 100 British soldiers that had been taken prisoner. At the same time, the Averoff Prison came under attack. In the very center of Athens, Averoff
was successfully defended by the British and Greek forces through the use of close air support. However, many of the 700 prisoners at the prison were captured by ELAS.
But the tide was starting to turn in favor of the British. By December 20, the 4th Division was in country and offensive operations had commenced. Gradually pushing out from their enclaves, the British units pressed ELAS back street by street. Advancing with air and sometimes naval gunfire support, the British slowly cleared the port facilities in Piraeus as well as the Athens-Piraeus highway.
It was at this time that signs began to appear of the degradation of the morale of ELAS troops. Units began to give way more quickly as the guerrillas were pounded by superior supporting arms.
Amidst the image of combat in Athens, the activities of ELAS in the rest of Greece suggest a confused or at best an ambivalent strategy. The strange situation in Salonika, where ELAS and British troops co-existed under an undeclared truce, continued. General Bakirdzis and Markos Vaphiadis appeared to be waiting for the fighting in the south to develop a winner before attacking the British.18 General Zervas and his EDES fighters in Epirus were not so lucky however. On December 20, 1944, EDES was hit hard by a pincer movement at the hands of General Saraphis. After dealing with Andon Tsaous earlier in the year, Saraphis’ troops had crossed the Pindus range and maneuvered to deal EDES a final blow. EDES was pushed out of its mountain redoubt and into the port of Preveza. With his supplies dwindling, casualties mounting and desertion appearing, Zervas had no alternative but to give up the fight. EDES,
once the best guerrilla band in the resistance, was reduced to a group of 2,000 survivors; the Royal Navy evacuated the remnants to Corfu and EDES ceased to exist as a fighting force.
By December 24, 1944, the Athens-Piraeus road and the port facilities had been re-opened. Supplies and personnel could now be introduced into Greece in quantity. On the ground, British forces continued to expand their areas of control. It was also on this day that Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to visit Greece «to go and see for myself.»19 Accompanied by his Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, Churchill arrived on Christmas Day. A conference of the political leaders of Greece was arranged for the next day, with the conference chaired by Damaskinos and not Papandreou. In attendance were representatives from the British, American and Soviet governments; the Greek government; EAM was represented by Siantos, Partsalidis and Mandakas. Lasting from 26 to 27 December, the conference
was left to the Greeks to discuss matters once Mr. Churchill and Field Marshal Alexander had made their pleas for unity.
The discussion among the Greeks was bitter and animated. 20 Finally, on the evening of the 27th, Archbishop Damaskinos reported to Churchill that the Greek leaders had agreed to the formation of government under a Regency in the hopes «that this would create the necessary political confidence both for the conduct of immediate negotiations for the disarming and disbanding of guerrillas and for the eventual holding of elections.»21 Churchill was prevailed upon to ask King George to make Damaskinos Regent.
The outcome of the conference was entirely political; there was no agreement as to a cease fire or terms for peace. As Churchill left for London to meet with the Greek King, the fighting continued. ELAS morale began to show further signs of weakening; on the 28th deserters were shot in front of their units and on the 29th a divisional headquarters of ELAS was overrun.22
On December 31, 1944 two significant events of the Second Round occurred. Firstly, EAM representatives were back in touch with General Scobie seeking his terms. More serious this time, the Central Committee of EAM realized that a military victory could not be achieved. Scobie’s terms were the same as before. Additionally, the ELAS commander in Athens, General Mandakas, was replaced by Aris in an attempt to shore up the tactical situation. With defeat becoming more likely, EAM wanted to control as much ground as possible for negotiation purposes.
Secondly, the King issued a royal proclamation in response to Churchill’s successful persuasion. Regarding the Regency and a plebiscite on the future of his monarchy, King George proclaimed:
We, George II, King of the Hellenes, having deeply considered the terrible situation into which our well-loved people have fallen through circumstances alike unprecedented and uncontrollable, and being ourselves resolved not to return to Greece unless summoned by a free and fair expression of the national will, and having full confidence in your loyalty and devotion, do now by this declaration appoint you, Archbishop Damaskinos, to be our Regent during this period of emergency; and we accordingly authorize and require you to take all steps necessary to restore order and tranquillity throughout our kingdom. We further declare our desire that there should be ascertained, by processes of democratic government, the freely expressed wishes of the Greek people as soon as these storms have passed, and thus abridge the miseries of our beloved country, by which our heart is rent.23
Thus, events now moved rapidly on both the political and military fronts.
The first few days of 1945 saw the fighting continue. British attacks on ELAS positions frequently met with success. Much of Athens and all of Piraeus was now under British control as EAM parleyed with General Scobie by message. Archbishop Damaskinos having been nominated Regent, Papandreou’s cabinet resigned on January 2 and General Plastiras as Prime Minister appointed a new government. On the rebel side there was a change of personnel as well. EAM decided that Aris was not up to his task in Athens; General Saraphis was rushed south and placed in command of ELAS troops.
By January 7, the city of Athens was quiet and British troops had advanced beyond the suburbs to a distance of some 60 miles to the northwest. On this day the British learned that ELAS, during its retreat from the city, had taken and was holding civilian hostages. As this was contrary to the rules of war and ELAS forbade intervention by the Red Cross, General Scobie withdrew his conditions for a cease-fire. The
point was now moot; ELAS had been driven from Athens.
EAM now began negotiating in earnest. Scobie met with three EAM representatives on January 8; they tried to inject political terms24 for a peace but were put off by Scobie. The terms of a cease-fire were to be purely military. Talks dragged on until, on 11 January, EAM finally agreed upon the terms and a truce was signed, to go into effect on the 15th.
The provisions of the cease-fire called for ELAS to withdraw from Athens, Salonika and Patros; British troops would cease-fire and hold positions currently occupied; EAM sympathizers would give up their arms; ELAS troops in the Peloponnesus would return home; and prisoners would be released.25 At one minute past midnight, January 15, 1945, the Second Round of the Greek Civil War ended.
Much, however, remained to be done.
For the second time in almost as many years the KKE had failed to seize power in Greece. Yet again the communists seemed to be willing to work with the British or the legitimate Greek government only to face about and plunge Greece into a state of conflict. The story of the Second Round having been told, it is appropriate at this stage to review the reasons for and the significant factors concerning it.
The first question that needs to be addressed is why did the KKE choose the moment it did to send ELAS battalions into action? Clearly the KKE felt that early December 1944 was a propitious time to strike. One of their major considerations was the surprisingly small combat force employed by the British to liberate Greece. This force was, to a large extent, composed of logistics, engineer and
service troops with the primary purpose to aid in the rebuilding of the country. Given that the Germans evacuated of their own volition and that British combat forces were sorely needed in other theatres of war, it is easy to understand why this was so. The KKE had no way of knowing this in advance; since they controlled most of Greece in any case, the temptation to seize the rest by force was very great against such a small potential adversary.
It must be remembered, too, that the KKE was faced with the disbanding of its army. EAM members were Ministers in Papandreou’s Government of National Unity and were seemingly ready to acquiesce in the disarmament of ELAS in November With ELAS gone, the EKE would have had no instrument with which to maintain control, much less take over, the national government. Moreover, the EKE feared a «white terror» in the form of reprisals from anti-communist groups.
ELAS needed to remain a viable force to protect the KKE from groups such as X. This was indeed a well founded fear.
Another interesting reason is cited by one author. According to Dimitrios Kousoulas, after the KKE was instructed by Moscow’s representative, Colonel Popov, to use more legitimate means, the communists turned to Tito for advice. The KKE asked Tito if they should attempt to seize Athens by force and if he would support their cause.
Ostensibly the KKE was willing to proceed with support from within the Balkans, but without same from the Soviet Union. Tito’s affirmative reply arrived at KKE headquarters on November 27, 1944, the night that Siantos met with Ioannidis and underwent such an abrupt change. Such doings are entirely plausible; however, they must remain speculative, for as Kousoulas states, «there is no documentary proof available …. such documents, if they exist, seldom reach the light.»26
The military defeat dealt the communists was a substantive one. ELAS suffered extensive casualties and equipment losses. More than that, ELAS proved again that it is extremely difficult for an irregular army to defeat a conventional force, especially when it is led by poorly trained officers, has weak organizational staff officers and fights set piece battles in conventional formations. Trained for hit-and-run and light infantry tactics, the individual ELAS soldier was very capable. When led into urban terrain to face excellent troops with supporting arms he did not fare so well.
The KKE was not only beat in the military arena, but suffered on the political front as well. Perhaps the most significant result of the Second Round was the drubbing that the communists inflicted upon themselves in the area of popular support. Never a party that enjoyed mass popular support, the KKE incurred the wrath of many Greeks who blamed it for the German reprisals during the Occupation.
With that erosion of support must be added the fact that the communists had now precipitated two bouts of civil war, the latter of which had come not only when the country was reeling economically, but also fought against the liberation army. But it was the taking of hostages during the Second Round that truly turned many Greeks into virulent anti- communists. It has been estimated that upwards of 20,000
hostages were taken as ELAS retreated from the suburbs of Athens. Columns of hostages were marched into the snows or the mountains, ill-clad, where many died of exposure and stragglers were shot. In the suburbs of Athens people’s courts tried, convicted and executed people who had somehow transgressed against the KKE. A British investigative commission later found 8,752 corpses in Attica and the Peloponnesus. «When these lightly buried bodies were dug up after the communist retreat, or discovered where they had been thrown into wells, a wave of public indignation against EAM/ELAS broke out in Greece which began to turn the tide of sentiment about the much publicized Greek Resistance.»27
The Second Round had other political ramifications for the KKE as well. Since 1941 the KKE had been fairly successful at cloaking itself with EAM. While many people saw through this facade, the transparency was not apparent to many ordinary Greeks. Because of this the communists continued to use EAM as a front organization. On January 10, 1945, however, the KKE lost its cloak when the coalition that made up EAM split apart. Alleging that ELAS had killed 114 trade unionists, the socialist and labor faction of EAM broke away from EAM. The true communist nature of EAM was unmasked.
The cease-fire agreement that went into effect on January 15 addressed only the military aspects of a temporary truce. The political causes and factors and the permanent military considerations still required attention. As January passed into February, the Greek government and the British attempted to do just that at a place called Varkiza.
CHAPTER FOUR- AN UNEASY PEACE
Varkiza and the Return of Zachariadis
The communists, Greek government and British met on February 2, 1945 to negotiate the terms of a permanent settlement. The meetings took place in a small town, Varkiza, just north of Athens. It may seem odd that terms were negotiated rather than dictated to the defeated force, but there were several reasons for this. Firstly, ELAS was still in control of much of Greece. Secondly, with World War II still raging and the Yalta Conference approaching, the British were anxious to resolve their «Greek problem». Thirdly, the Greek government was not in a strong position, given that it had an inchoate defense establishment and a barely constitutional government under the Regent. These factors meant that the KKE stood a good chance to come out of Varkiza very well indeed.
On February 12, the Varkiza Agreement was finally signed by all interested parties. Its terms appeared to have eviscerated the communists and most observers felt that it would result in true peace finally coming to Greece. The agreement’s major provisions were:
1) Complete demobilization of ELAS
2) Surrender of the following arms
41,500 rifles 108 light mortars
650 SMGs 55 heavy mortars
1,050 LMGs 32 artillery pieces
315 HMGs 15 radio sets
3) Amnesty for political crimes by ELAS
4) Release of all prisoners and hostages
5) A plebiscite on the monarchy and a general election
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Varkiza agreement lay not in what it did do, but rather in what it did not do.
For the KKE was not outlawed and its main party organ, Rizopastis, was not suppressed. Thus, the KKE was allowed to remain above ground and operate in the open as a valid political party. This failure on the part of the Greek and British negotiators was to make serious trouble for them in future years.
In accordance with Varkiza, the fighters of ELAS duly surrendered their arms and went home. The KKE, in fact, had ELAS turn in more equipment than stipulated by the agreement. Over 100 artillery pieces were surrendered. The communists, however, did not fully live up to the spirit and intent of Varkiza. Most of the 41,500 rifles that were surrendered were obsolete Italian arms in very poor condition. Many of the automatic weapons were in the same unserviceable condition. The artillery pieces probably lacked ammunition and would have been very difficult to conceal in any event.
The more modern weapons were transported into the mountains and buried in caches. These caches included up-to-date British Lee-Enfields and German Mausers, as well as large stocks of ammunition for them. Almost immediately the National Guard began to uncover these caches; Greek peasants came forward and identified them to the government.1 Whereas before the average Greek feared and sometimes supported ELAS, they now hated and were unafraid of the communists. By the end of 1945, over 25,700 weapons, including 166 heavy mortars, were found buried in the mountains.2
Another sign of the bad faith on the part of the communists was the fleeing of 4-5,000 hard core members of ELAS to Yugoslavia and Albania. Although amnesty was declared, many former ELAS members were not succored by this. In the spring of 1945, the feared «white terror» did indeed develop; the government arrested many former ELAS people for civil crimes committed during the Second Round.
Additionally, the right-wing organization led by Colonel Grivas, X, had grown in strength and was attacking them with zeal. The evidence of bad faith was not one-sided.
In April 1945, the Greek communists were stunned by the news that their former Secretary-General, Nikos Zachariadis, had survived his imprisonment in Dachau. This news threw the KKE into a turmoil, for the current leader, Siantos, was a communist of a nationalist bent, while Zachariadis was an international communist, a Moscow man through and through.
Amidst jockeying for position by lesser communist leaders, the KKE waited for his return to Greece.
That the British must have truly seen Varkiza as the end to troubles in Greece can be seen in the fact that they flew Zachariadis back home in an RAF plane. Arriving in Greece on May 27, 1945, Zachariadis’ return was, as can be expected, hailed by the communist press and questioned by the others. He lost no time in reasserting his leadership in the KKE, calling for the «establishment for a People’s Democracy in Greece».3 Zachariadis made it clear, however, that this would be done only through the electoral process.
It is apparent that KKE had moved back to a position of achieving power through legitimate means. Given that the time was not propitious for another violent attempt to seize power, the KKE in mid 1945 planned its political program.
Meeting June 25-27, the 12th Plenum of the Central Committee of the KKE outlined the party’s intermediate objectives and the means to achieve them. The KKE’s political campaign would seek to «one, discredit the Greek government by accusing it of being an accessory to a campaign of ‘monarchist terror’; two, attract additional followers to the communist cause by putting forth a program for a popular democracy; and three, pave the way for a possible abstention from the elections scheduled under the Varkiza Agreement, if it should appear that the KKE might be overwhelmed at the polls.»4 Some of the weapons that the 12th Plenum decided to employ were «mass self-defense» to counter rightist terrorism, general strikes, slow downs, mass meetings, demonstrations, proclamations and public funerals. In short, the KKE intended to use non-violent means to agitate and subvert the Greek government.
Also in June 1945, Zachariadis denounced the former ELAS general, Aris. Aris had felt betrayed by the Varkiza Agreement and did not agree with the agreement’s provisions.
Accordingly, he refused to abide by it and took to the hills with about 100 followers. On June 16, his small band was trapped by the National Guard, and when he refused to surrender his arms, Aris was killed. He was decapitated and his head put on public display in Trikkala. There is no indication that Zachariadis was involved in Aris’ death. As the strikes, demonstrations and communist propaganda
increased in the latter half of 1945, the Greek government could not come to a decision on when to hold the elections as prescribed by Varkiza. The economic and political problems of post war Greece caused government after government to resign. Finally, on September 19, 1945, the United States and Great Britain decided the issue for the Greeks.
They announced on that date that the order for holding the plebescite and then the general elections as specified in the Varkiza Agreement would be reversed. The general elections, coming first, would be observed by a U.S., British and French team. The reasoning for reversing the order of the elections and the plebescite was that «if the elections came first and if (as the British government hoped) the parties of the center were successful, then the fate of the monarchy could be decided in a calmer atmosphere; but if the plebescite came first, it would simply be regarded as a contest between the monarchy and communism.»5
In any case, the current Prime Minister, Voulgaris, announced on October 5 that the general elections would be held on January 20, 1946. The uproar that followed caused him to resign and, after a short caretaker government held office, Sophoulis was appointed Prime Minister.
The disarray and confusion of Athens did nothing to ameliorate what was occurring in the rest of Greece. Small clashes between armed civilians became common-place, as the Greek tradition of brigandage and vendetta came to the fore. Even though the armed forces had been expanded and reorganized, the banditry and quasi-political attacks continued. In this milieu it is surprising that the government made any headway on the armed forces at all. But by the end of 1945, the total strength of the armed forces was about 75,000, with the Mountain Brigade having been expanded into a division and two more divisions created around the Sacred Squadron.
The Democratic Process in Greece The electoral process in Greece was, on the surface, a successful one. But underlying the ostensible merits of democracy at work, the machinations and decisions of the KKE were taking Greece once again down the road to full scale civil war. That the country was heading towards internecine conflict can be seen by examining the events of 1946 as they evolved around the coming elections and plebescite. On January 20, 1946, the day that the general elections were to be held, the Greek government announced a new date, March 31. The KKE was faced with a dilemma. Should the communists participate in the elections in order to try to enter the government, thereby risking an embarrassing defeat? Or should they denounce the elections, abstain from participating, and ensure they would lack a voice in the government? In February the KKE chose the latter and made another, more far reaching decision. There was confusion in the KKE before that, however. In January leftists had been instructed to register to vote and prepare for the coming elections. This directive was later reversed on February 22 when Rizospastis contained instructions for abstention «unless the Greek government restored public order, eliminated Nazi collaborators and former member of the Security Battalions from the police, granted a general political amnesty, cleared the electoral lists of unqualified persons and assisted in the formation of a representative democratic government … «6 The reason for this turnabout was that on February 12, the anniversary of Varkiza, the Central Committee of the KKE had met and decided to abstain from the elections and proceed with another attempt to violently seize power. The «decision to opt for a Third Round was made because, «after weighing the domestic factors, and the Balkan and international situation, the Plenum decided to go ahead with the organization of the new armed struggle against the Monarcho-Facist orgy.»7 Zachariadis felt he was standing on the banks of his Rubicon and he successfully forced the issue with the Central Committee.
The first elections in Greece since the mid 193Os were held on March 31, 1946. Although the KKE had hoped to claim large numbers of people who did not vote as their supporters, the British, U.S., and French observers estimated that only 9.4 percent of those not voting were political abstentions. Overall, the voter turn out was approximately 60 percent; the pro-royalist Populist Party won a majority
of the seats in the new Parliament. Constantine Tsaldaris became the new Prime Minister and formed his government.
On September 1, 1946, the plebescite on the monarchy was held. Of 1,861,146 votes cast, 1,166,5128 voters favored the return of King George to his throne and the restoration of a monarchy to Greece. By this time, however, the Third Round was well under way.
CHAPTER FIVE – THE THIRD ROUND
Guerrilla War Returns to Greece
On the eve of the general elections, March 30, 1946, an armed band descended the slopes of Mount Olympus and attacked the town of Litokhoro. About 60 strong, the band employed hand grenades and light mortars as well as small arms in their assault. The objective of the left-wing guerrillas was the police station; it, as well as many other buildings, was totally destroyed by fire. When the band withdrew, eight people lay dead, including six National Guardsmen and police and a civilian man and woman. The size of the band and the fact that two leftist leaders were identified as being in the attacking force suggest that the operation was coordinated between two bands of 30 men each.
While the event was not recognized as such in 1946, the attack on Litokhoro was clearly the first overt action of the Third Round.
To be sure, the local base used by the guerrillas was in the vicinity of the town. But by early 1946 the KKE had established a major training and supply base at Bulkes in Yugoslavia. With the full support of the Yugoslavs, the communists were training and equipping guerrillas in that sanctuary and then infiltrating across the border into Greece to recruit and operate. Now many of the several thousand members of ELAS who had fled Greece in early 1945 were returning home at the behest of the KKE to once again fight their countrymen for control of the state.
The level of violence in Greece in mid 1946 was very high; banditry, brigandage and politically oriented attacks were common. Bands – rightist, leftist, and bandit – were all conducting operations against the towns and villages as well as each other. Burning and killing were widespread in much of rural Greece and the KKE sponsored much of the violence. Typical of the activity was that of June 1946. In a fight near Elasson, seven police were captured by guerrillas. Attacks on isolated National Guard outposts were frequent. Border guards were sniped at and raids were conducted on frontier posts. Small bands were reported moving into Greece from Yugoslavia and Albania. The Greek General Staff estimated that in June there were 2,600 communist guerrillas operating in Greece.1 With the violence in the countryside growing on a daily basis, the Greek government took some meager steps to combat
One such step was the passage on June 18 of a Security Bill by the Parliament. This law appeared draconian, for it established new courts with authority to pass capital sentences for several new crimes, one of which was membership in armed bands; it allowed the government the power to prohibit public meetings and strikes; and it gave the police the authority to arrest and detain without a warrant.
Strangely, however, many of these measures, were not used until one or two years later; the government apparently did not desire to alienate the people with drastic measures but at the same time wanted the authority in case the need arose.
By the fall of 1946 larger groups of communist guerrillas were operating in Greece, mainly in the mountainous areas of Macedonia and Epirus with borders on the communist satellite countries. In August the town of Naoussa was besieged for three days; in the weeks that followed Deskati, Pendalophos, and Ritina were all subject to hit and run attacks.
The tactics used by the communist guerrillas during this period were, firstly, to select an appropriate target. A town or village that was isolated and lightly defended was ideal. Secondly, the guerrilla forces had to be concentrated; often two or three bands would be consolidated for the operation. Thirdly, a surprise attack was conducted at night with the primary objective being the destruction of the police station. Fourthly, the guerrillas would voluntarily or forcibly recruit young villagers while they held
the town. Fifthly, any available foodstuffs and livestock would be stolen. And lastly, the guerrillas would retreat from the town and disperse to their mountain hideouts.
Other methods used by the guerrillas consisted of sabotage, ambushes and the disruption of communications. By these means the communist guerrillas had all but isolated large parts of northern Greece.
The Greek Army was unable to counter these guerrilla tactics. With a strength of about 75,000, plus around 25,000 in the National Guard, the Army was not a match for the guerrillas. Even though it was well equipped with British tanks, armored cars, artillery, heavy machine guns and motor transport, the Greek Army was ill suited for counter guerrilla operations. Its equipment kept it from matching the guerrilla’s mobility. Its leadership was suspect, being more prone to indulge in political careerism than to seek out and destroy the enemy. The morale of the Army was low; the guerrillas could seemingly strike at will and be gone before the Army could move from its barracks to the scene of an attack.
Two factors further stifled initiative. Many commanders perceived that the politicians from a given district were loathe to let the Army units deploy out of those districts. The politicians wanted the protection afforded by a large unit in static defense for their constituents. The second factor that tended to stifle initiative was the command structure of the Army at the top level. Larger operations were controlled by the Supreme National Defense Council in Athens. Comprised of the Prime Minister, the Minister for War, Navy and Air and the chiefs of the services, the Council was governed by the «rule by committee» syndrome; the political atmosphere was not conducive to initiating effective combat operations.
Meantime, larger guerrilla formation were appearing in the mountains. On October 1, 1946 a force of 400 guerrillas again attacked Naoussa in the Vermion mountain area. Most of the town of 12,000 was burned. Similarly, 700 communists assaulted the town of Skra on November 13. Lying just five kilometers inside Greece from Yugoslavia, this large force had clearly staged inside the sanctuary of Yugoslavia for the raid. Such flagrant support for communist forces caused the Greek government in December 1946 to protest to the United Nations. Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria were cited as giving aid and comfort to the insurgents.
The appearance of guerrillas in battalion sized force indicated that there was a guiding hand behind the insurgents. Although the KKE had no front organization to hide behind this time, Zakhariadis tried to portray the insurrection as being spontaneous:
In answer to a question regarding relations between the KKE and the guerrillas put to him by a correspondent of a Chicago paper, Zakhariadis stated that no contact of any type existed and that the guerrilla struggle was only a defensive measure, an «inalienable democratic right of the people» which the Party could in no way condemn. The «civil war», as he entitled it, was a reaction to «monarcho-Fascist ferocity» which had led to the extension of the «new resistance movement» to
all parts of Greece.
In the same interview when asked whether the KKE wished for or worked actively toward the overthrow by force of the Greek Government, Zakhariadis dodged the issue, replying that the Party was guided solely by the principle of popular sovereignity. Only the people could select or overthrow a government and ‘the KKE has always declared and declares even now that it will recognize the free expression of the popular wish’.2
Actually, Zakhariadis had recently appointed a commander to coordinate the spontaneous «defensive measures». The new commander was General Markos Vaphiadis, formerly in Salonika in an uneasy truce with the British. On October 28, 1946, Markos signed the order of the day establishing the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE). The KKE now had another army. By the end of 1946 its strength would be approaching 10,000 guerrillas.
DSE units were operating in all sections of Greece, and an underground supply and intelligence network had been organized.
Over the winter of 1946-1947, Markos concentrated on consolidating his intelligence and supply organization as well as recruiting and training his people. Most of the guerrillas in DSE were sent to Bulkes where they were trained in marksmanship, mortars and demolitions; many of the instructors were from the Yugoslav and Albanian armed forces. Additionally, Markos started to develop an area in side Greece where the DSE could have its GHQ, some supply dumps and training facilities. The area he chose was in the northwest corner of Greece where the Albanian, Yugoslav and Greek frontiers converge just south of the Prespa. This sector was in the Grammos and Vitsi mountain ranges and was easily defensible and inaccessible.
While working on logistics matters during the winter months, Markos did not neglect operations. DSE units were active, albeit in smaller numbers, throughout the winter.
The taking of hostages, executions and raids gave credence to many Greeks’ belief that the Greek government was not in control. Indeed, it was not. In January 1947 Markos could claim that the DSE controlled over 100 villages and towns in Greece3; the morale of the Greek government and its Army ebbed to a new low.
King George, who had arrived back in Greece on September 27, 1946, now sought a government with a broader appeal. Tsaldaris resigned in January 1947 and was replaced by a coalition government under Maximas. Perhaps more important, the leadership of the Army also changed. General Spiliotopoulos, the Chief of the General Staff, was relieved by General Vendiris on February 20. A former corps commander, General Tsakalotos was made his assistant. Other senior officers who had exhibited defeatist attitudes were replaced by more bold and energetic officers. This whole sale infusion of fresh blood had a slow but telling effect on the Army; gradually its morale began to improve. Within this turmoil, a Commission of Enquiry from the United Nations arrived in the Balkans to investigate the Greeks charges against the neighbors to the north. With the Greek Army at the strength of 90,000, the new leadership determined that more aid was required in terms of funding to raise troop levels and better equip them. In February the government requested this additional aid from the British. The reply sent shock waves up and down the Greek peninsula. Britain, which had been active in Greek affairs for so long, could no longer afford to supply Greece with the aid it needed. Citing the very severe economic
troubles in post-war England, the British government had decided to leave of the Balkans. On February 24, the British Ambassador informed the Truman Administration that Britain would end its responsibility in Greece at the end of March. On March 3, the Greek government formally requested aid from the United States; the response was the historic enunciation of the Truman Doctrine on March 12. Greece and Turkey would share 400 million dollars of U.S. Aid.
Operations – 1947
While the promise of U.S. aid raised Greek morale, it would be some time before its effects would be felt. The first supplies would not arrive in Piraeus until August 1. The reaction of the KKE was predictable. The invective against the British «imperialists» that regularly appeared in Rizospastis was simply switched to the American «imperialists». The DSE hardened its resolve to defeat the Greek Army in the mountains.
With its new leadership, bolstered morale, and the promise of U.S. assistance, the Greek Army took to the offense in early 1947. Starting in April, Operation TERMINUS was to clear Roumeli from south to north, and then proceed to other parts of Greece. TERMINUS was actually made up of several subsidiary operations as outlined below:
- Operation EAGLE – to clear the southern portion of the Pindus range; it was estimated to take 17 battalions from 5-30 April.
- Operation HAWK – to clear the area of northern Thessaly between the Pindus and Olympus ranges; twenty battalions were allocated from 1-31 May.
- Operation CROW – to clear the Pindus range from Metsovon to the Albanian border; this area included Grammos and was planned from 26 June – 22 July.
The tactics that were employed emphasized surrounding an area known to have guerrillas operating in it and then sweeping through the area, capturing or killing the insurgents. That area would then be declared «clear» and the Army forces would move to the next.
Operation TERMINUS commenced on April 9, 1947. The guerrillas were initially hit hard, for they were caught unawares by the rather surprising prospect that the Greek Army was on the offensive in the mountains. EAGLE netted some 700 guerrillas either killed or captured. Having been alerted to the new operations by the Greek Army, the guerrillas of DSE were no longer complacent. Operation HAWK
unfolded with insignificant results. The DSE counter attacked during May with an assault on the town of Florina in the Vitsi area; the attack was repulsed.
Operation CROW never really got started. One of the fifteen battalions participating in the operation ran into three DSE battalions just north of Metsovon. After several days of fighting, the guerrillas withdrew with about 300 casualties. As the Greek Army forces began to move north again, a DSE column descended from Yugoslavia and on July 13, assaulted the town of Konitsa, just south of the Grammos. Repulsed from Konitsa, the DSE unit maneuvered towards Grevena which they attacked on July 25. Operation CROW, having had to deal with these diversions, was terminated shortly thereafter.
Faced with the inconclusive results of Operation TERMINUS, the General Staff ordered two new hastily conceived operations. Operations JAVELIN in Macedonia and WHIRLWIND and Roumeli were conducted by Greek Army units in September and October. Both operations failed to yield any substantial results.
The overall failure of the operations in 1947 were due to several reasons. First, the superior tactical grasp of DSE leadership allowed them to better integrate fire and maneuver. Second, the Greek Army did not employ sufficient troops to effectively cordon an area; any DSE units contained in the cordon usually were able to escape. Third, once an area was «cleared» and the Army forces moved on, the
guerrillas returned. And Fourth, the Greek Army often set timetables for specific events in their operations. Even if the mission was not yet accomplished, the units were moved on to their next task. As a result, General Vendiris resigned and was relieved by General Giantzis. To prove that it had not been damaged by the efforts of the Greek Army, the DSE launched a large scale assault on
Metsovon on October 18, 1947. Critically important for the road across the Pindus range that it straddled, Metsovon became the largest battle yet seen in the civil war. The struggle for the town lasted over a week, with the DSE now employing artillery supplied by the Yugoslavs. Ultimately, the DSE withdrew as they failed to capture the high ground surrounding the town. Metsovon was significant in that it was the second instance where the DSE operated not as guerrillas, but as regular troops fighting positional warfare. Earlier during the latter stages of TERMINUS, DSE had steadfastly defended positions, made counterattacks and conducted coordinated assaults. Clearly, the Third Round was in a transitional phase toward conventional warfare.
Towards the end of 1947, Zakhariadis felt that the KKE was reaching another milestone. Confronting a potential avalanche of supplies and equipment from the U.S., he perceived that if operations maintained the status quo the Greek Army would eventually overwhelm the DSE. Concomitant with this perception, Zakhariadis saw the low state of morale of the Greek Army as well as its lack of effectiveness. The Secretary General of the KKE concluded that the time of decision had arrived; he decided to organize the DSE into a conventional fighting force, move to conventional warfare, and seize a capital for and then establish a provisional communist government.
The Central Committee of the KKE, meeting in mid September 1947, confirmed these decisions of Zakhariadis. The only major opposition to him was General Markos, who believed that the time was not yet at hand for an abandonment of guerrilla warfare.4 Siantos had also been in opposition to a move away from guerrilla operation, but he had died of a heart attack earlier in the year. Additionally, Markos was concerned about the DSE’s reserves.5 More and more recruits were coming into the DSE forcibly rather than voluntarily; Markos was aware of the ramifications of this trend on the fighting capability of his army.
At the end of 1947, the strength of the DSE was estimated by the Greek General Staff to be 20,350.6 Heretofore, these DSE forces had been loosely organized into companies and battalions under the command of an area headquarters. In response to the decision by Zakhariadis, in late 1947 and early 1948 these area headquarters were abolished and replaced by divisional headquarters that were organized at that time.
As a corollary to the decision to move to conventional warfare, Zakhariadis also felt that the time was opportune to establish another alternative government. The formation of the KKE’s «state within a state» was announced on December 24, 1947 over the KKE’s radio station in Albania. Called the Free Democratic Greek Government, the broadcast named the new ministers (all members of the KKE’s Central Committee) and announced a ten point program for the conduct of affairs in Greece. This action finally caused the Greek government to fully suppress the KKE. The Parliament passed a bill outlawing the KKE and its newspapers; it finally became illegal to be a member of the KKE. It is interesting to note that not one single foreign government recognized the KKE’s new government, not even the Soviet Union.
On December 25, the DSE moved south out of the Grammos strongpoint and attempted to seize the town of Konitsa. Attacking with about 2,000 troops, the DSE battalions were supported by mortars, pack howitzers and at least one battery of 105 mm artillery. It became apparent that the DSE was trying to capture a capital for their new government; initial assaults were repulsed by Konitsa’s 900 defenders and the Greek Army commenced supporting and reinforcing operations. The battle seesawed for several days, with the DSE unable to take the town but tenaciously holding the high ground around it. The Greek Army was now being advised by American officers, and brought superior artillery and air support to bear. The heavy fire began to take its toll on the guerrillas and on January 1, 1948, General Markos began to withdraw his troops. It was not until the 7th, however, that the DSE was finally cleared from the hills around Konitsa. Once again the DSE had failed to seize a town; it was an expensive attempt, for the guerrillas suffered approximately 1,200 casualties.
Operations – 1948
The first quarter of 1948 witnessed periodic clashes between the Greek Army and the DSE. After its failure to seize a capital, the DSE seemed to be more cautious. The communist guerrillas attacked lines of communications in an attempt to isolate Army units in the towns. Additionally, the DSE deliberately destroyed many towns and villages so as to exacerbate the refugee problem faced by the Greek
government. At one point, the DSE used flame throwers in these operations.
By this time, U.S. aid and advisors were making their presence felt. There were now 250 U.S. officers in Greece, under the Joint U.S. Military Advisory and Planning Group, JUSMAPG.7 In February 1948, General James Van Fleet assumed command of JUSMAPG. By the end of March, the U.S. had delivered to the Greek Army 75,000 weapons, 7,000 tons of ammunition, 2,800 vehicles and some aircraft. With these tools in place, JUSMAPG urged the Greek General Staff to commence operations to bring the war to a close in 1948.
The immediate result of this urging was Operation DAWN.
Designed to clear the mountains in Roumeli of insurgents, DAWN used three Army division supported by battalions from the National Guard. The operation started April 15, 1948 and was supported by naval gunfire and air support; the heaviest fighting took place around the town of Artotina.
The DSE was hard-pressed and by May 15 had exfiltrated most of its troops from the pocket. By itself, Operation DAWN wad a success for the Greek Army. They had killed 641 guerrillas and captured another 1,368. But with the end of DAWN, the General Staff seemed content to rest on its laurels and did not exploit it success by mounting operations against the DSE elsewhere in Greece.
The respite that the Greek Army allowed the DSE to enjoy continued until June 19. On that day, the Greek Army launched a six division attack into the strength of the DSE, the Grammos mountains. Operation SUMMIT was to be the crushing blow that would end the civil war. That it did not, gives some measure of the abilities of Markos and the inadequacies of the Army’s leadership.
The plan for SUMMIT had three pincers of two divisions, each advancing into difficult terrain, to cut off Grammos from the Albanian sanctuary. After some initial success against DSE positions, the Army ran into stiff resistance from DSE units that were dug in. Despite massive support from artillery and air, which included napalm, the DSE held firm. Because of this, the Greek Army divisions could not get completely around the Grammos pocket to seal off the escape routes. A stalemate developed which allowed Markos to bring in reinforcements, bringing his strength in the Grammos area to 12,000.
Operation SUMMIT ground to a halt and made little progress for about six weeks. The effectiveness of Markos’ troops had surprised the Greek Army; several commanders lost their nerve and had to be replaced including one corps commander. The Army resumed the offensive on August 5 and by the 17th, after dislodging the DSE from their positions on the ridges, very nearly had Markos surrounded in the pocket. But Markos managed to keep open one small escape route in the northern Grammos range near Slimnitza; on the 18th and 19th even this route was blocked by the Army.
General Markos was now in danger of losing the entire war and he knew it. Inside the Grammos pocket were the best DSE troops, a large amount of its equipment and all of its artillery. Should the Greek Army succeed in destroying the DSE in Grammos, the rebellion would be over. Accordingly, Markos began his breakout on the night of August 20, 1948.
Starting with a fierce assault to open up the Slimnitza gap, he moved his entire force out of the pocket and into Albania. Markos extricated 6,000 troops, 3,000 wounded, all forty-five pieces of his artillery and most of his equipment. A masterful escape from encirclement, the breakout saved the DSE from defeat in detail.
In early September, the DSE forces reentered Greece and reinforced the Vitsi area. On September 20 and again on October 10, the communists tried to seize Kastoria. These attempts to gain a town to serve as a capital city were repulsed by the now weary Greek Army forces. The tired troops were spent and were incapable of mounting any offensive operations for the rest of 1948.
Operations – 1949
Before describing the military operations that finally brought defeat to the communist insurgents, it is necessary to discuss two significant changes in the personalities that were engaged in the civil war. The first change was in the command structure of the DSE. General Markos was relieved of command in January 1949 by Zakhariadis himself. This strange move was precipitated by two factors. Firstly, Zakhariadis was impatient with the DSE’s lack of success in gaining a capital city for the Free Democratic Government.
Secondly, Markos had never really supported the move to conventional forces, had continued to agitate the KKE for a return to guerrilla warfare and had been slow to convert the entire DSE to brigades and divisions. For these reasons, the KKE lost the services of a capable guerrilla fighter and replaced him with a man of no military experience to command a regular army.
The second major change in personalities was the appointment of General Papagos as Commander-in-Chief of the Greek armed forces. As a condition to taking the appointment, Papagos demanded complete and independent control over the Greek forces. The political interference into military matters was reduced. General Papagos, a national hero who had commanded during the successful Albanian campaign of 1940, was now able to assert his initiative and forceful style in the final struggle against the DSE.
With the top level of the Greek Army rejuvenated, operations assumed a different character. Gone were the time limits postulated for operations; the strength of the Army was now at 150,000 and sufficient troops were allocated for the search and clearing operations. Now, too, the Army worked in concert with the police, who detained suspected communist sympathizers and supporters. In this manner, the DSE was denied some of its logistics and intelligence functions. An example of the new tactics can be seen in Operation PIGEON in early 1949. It objective was to clear the Peloponnesus of DSE troops and the supporting infrastructure. By February 1, 1949, the area was clear of guerrillas and support; thousands had been arrested. The Peloponnesus was free from insurgents for the first time, and more importantly, would remain so.
Meantime, Zakhariadis was making attempts to gain his long sought capital. On February 12, he sent his best division against the town of Florina. Numbering about 4,000, this division was able to enter part of the town, but was stopped by Army troops using air support. After four days, the DSE was chased from the area suffering heavy casualties.
In April, the Greek Army began Operation HUNTER to clean the DSE out of Roumeli and the Pindus range. The Government displaced many inhabitants of Roumeli in order to deny the support required by the DSE. The 2nd Division of DSE, about 4,500 strong, was pursued northwards until on June 21 the divisional commander and his staff were killed.
HUNTER had successfully cleared central Greece of insurgents. But the DSE was still able to strike in other parts of Greece. Zakhariadis was becoming desperate and urged hid units to attack. His problem in manpower was now being seen in the DSE’s inability to concentrate enough forces to take a town. Nevertheless, unsuccessful DSE assaults were conducted in Thrace and Eastern Macedonia in May and June.
These were to prove the last offensive actions of the communists during the civil war. Encouraged by the successes in clearing the Peloponnesus and Roumeli, General Papagos was preparing the final offensive when the KKE was dealt a crushing blow. On July 10, 1949, in a speech at Pola, Yugoslavia, Tito announced that he was closing the border with Greece. This action meant that the DSE lost not only a sanctuary, but also an ally and heavy supplier of arms and equipment. Tito cited the numerous border violations and the killing of Yugoslavs as the reason for his action. But another real reason existed for this: the KKE was supporting Stalin in the conflict that was brewing between the two communist leaders. It will be remembered that Zakhariadis was Moscow trained and an international communist. By siding with his perceived mentor, Zakhariadis had incurred the emnity of Tito. Ironically, the KKE was getting the majority of its external support from Tito; little was coming from the Soviet Union.
Having been handed this physical as well as psychological blow, the DSE was now primed for a knockout. This came in the form of Operation TORCH, Papagos’ skillful plan to destroy the DSE in its stronghold – the Grammos/Vitsi complex. TORCH consisted of three phases. TORCH A would be a diversionary attack against Grammos to fix the DSE units that had reoccupied Grammos in April in position. TORCH B would be a full scale assault on the Vitsi area. TORCH C called for the main effort to shift back to Grammos for a final assault against the DSE. Because most of the rest of Greece was now clear, Papagos was able to muster six divisions and two separate brigades for the attack. These units were organized into I and II Corps, with two divisions each, and III Corps with two divisions and the separate brigades.
On August 2, 1949, Operation TORCH commenced. The feint on Grammos lasted about a week and produced a few results other than its purpose to fix the enemy. On August 10, I Corps commenced the attack on Vitsi with considerable air and artillery support. In spite of the overwhelming superiority of fire, the DSE held its positions grudgingly; on the 14th the DSE counterattacked with modest success. But the heavy toll exacted by the supporting arms was decisive.
By August 16, the 7,000 defenders of Vitsi were pushed out of Greece into Albania. Several thousand of these made their way to Grammos. August 19-22 was spent by III Corps assaulting a DSE brigade discovered in the Beles range. TORCH C began on August 25. Four Greek Army division, supported by 51 newly arrived Helldiver aircraft, moved against the Grammos complex. Progress was slow but steady.
On the 27th, the Army seized Mount Grammos itself and DSE morale and resistance collapsed.8 Although the DSE continued to fight from several small pockets, by August 30 the Greek Army was firmly in control of Grammos/Vitsi.
Almost 8,000 communist insurgents escaped into Albania. Zakhariadis attempted to rally them and keep their formations together, but to no avail. The Albanian government, viewing the DSE as the defeated army it was, began in September to disarm and detain any armed Greeks it found. On October 16, 1949, the KKE announced that the DSE had agreed to «cease-fire» in order to prevent the complete annihilation of Greece.9 The Greek Civil War had ended.
CHAPTER SIX- CONCLUSIONS
That the defeat of the Greek communists in 1949 was an important first step in post-war counterinsurgency would not be argued by most historians. Rather, the reasons behind the defeat would be the subject of a most vocal discussion.
What major factors made this conflict a success story in counterinsurgency? As in so many other historical matters, the causative factors are not, of and by themselves, solely responsible for an explanation as to why the legitimate Greek government suppressed the KKE’s insurrection. The factors are cumulative; taken as a whole, they shed some light on the success story.
The first factor was the inability of the KKE to garner mass popular support. It was never, even prior to World War II, an organization that reflected the political interests of the average Greek citizen. Indeed, the KKE started to incur the distrust of Greeks by attacking rival resistance groups in the First Round. Many people wondered at the resistance guerrillas fighting each other when the German occupation forces, with their policy of reprisal executions, were the primary enemy. After the Second Round and the discovery of the hostages executed by ELAS, the KKE shocked the whole nation with the brutality.
The KKE continued to exacerbate its problem of popular support in the Third Round. The need to maintain the strength of the DSE by the abduction of hostages, by forced recruitment and by terrorism, further caused many Greeks to fear the day that communists seized power. Such measures and their resulting anti-communists backlash extensively hurt the KKE in the cities. For it was in the cities, with their larger concentration of organized workers, where the KKE expected to reach a more sympathetic audience.
Furthermore, all of these actions by the KKE in it bid to seize power came at a time of severe travail in Greece.
The destruction inherent in a civil war was caused by the KKE when the country was economically ravaged and should have been concentrating on rebuilding.
A second factor revolves around the question of whether the defeat of the communists was the result of mistakes by the KKE or sound policies and actions taken by the government. While the KKE had no monopoly on committing tactical and strategic error, their mistakes were of such a magnitude that they contributed substantially to the defeat. The KKE’s first major error was one of omission. In October 1944, with ELAS in control of most of Greece, the KKE did nothing with the vacuum that existed for the several days between the departure of the Germans and the arrival of British troops and the Papandreou government. Clearly this was the communist’s best opportunity to attain their ultimate goal and they flubbed it.
The cruelty towards hostages and atrocity of execution which the communists felt necessary to further their cause was a second mistake. The brutality of the communists severely hurt any possibility that the KKE would be a popular organization in Greece.
Yet another error was the decision by Zakhariadis to shift to conventional warfare in September 1947. Hoping for a quick military victory, Zakhariadis overestimated the capability of the DSE and concomitantly underestimated the strength of the Greek Army. This decision allowed the Greek Army to fix the DSE in position and pound it with supporting arms. The results were disastrous. He further compounded this mistake by the sacking of General Markos, an extremely capable guerrilla commander; this left the DSE bereft of military leadership.
The third factor that added to the success story was the massive aid given to Greece by the United States. The military aid, in terms of equipment, funds and advisors, allowed the government to raise an army that was capable of handling an insurgency. Although a bit unsteady at first, by late 1948, the Greek Army became an excellent force which could use sound tactics to defeat an insurgency. Equally
important was the economic aid provided under the same Truman Doctrine. This aid bolstered the psychological state of the Greek people and gave credence to the belief that the Greek government was working to better the lot of its citizens.
The closing of the Greek/Yugoslav border and the cessation of aid by Tito in July 1949 was a fourth factor.
Often cited by some historians as a major reason for the DSE’s defeat, time has lessened its impact somewhat. Given the timing of the event, however, it must still be accorded some weight as a causative factor. The loss of important material and moral support, coupled with the deprivation of a strategic sanctuary was a severe blow to the DSE just prior to Operation TORCH.
The fifth and final factor was the divisiveness of the EKE’s leadership. Aris, Siantos, Zakhariadis and Markos were seldom in agreement as to the proper course to follow in pursuit of their goals. To these must be added the lesser members of the Central Committee. Even after a matter had been settled by a decision from the Committee, the communist leadership continued to be at odds with each other and agitated for their respective policies. Thus the KKE oscillated from accommodation to violence, from nationalism to Pan-Slavism, and from guerrilla to positional warfare. For an organization that had as its goal nothing less than the seizure of power in the Greek state, it is amazing that it came as close as it did. For the KKE did very nearly realize it goal. In October and December 1944, and again in 1947, the KKE was but a step away from the top rung of the ladder. That the last step was kept from the communists is a fortuitous event for the several generations that have reached majority since To be sure, the outcome of the Greek civil war – this success story in counterinsurgency – is no less important to them than it should be to those who seek to emulate its result.
Notes to Chapter I – PRELUDE TO CIVIL WAR
1 Edgar O’Ballance, The Greek Civil War 1944-1949 (New York: Federick A. Praeger, 1966), pp. 40-41.
2 W. A. Heurtley, et. al., A Short History of Greece (London: Cambridge University Press, 1965), p. 144.
3 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 22.
4 Ibid., pp. 29-30.
5 C. M. Woodhouse, The Struggle for Greece (New York: Beckman/Esanau, 1979), p. 20.
6 D. George Kousoulas, Revolution and Defeat (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 150.
7 W. C. Chamberlain and J. D. Iams, Rebellion: The Rise and Fall of the Greek Communist Party
8 Woodhouse, op. cit, p. 24.
9 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 51.
10 Woodhouse, op. cit., p. 26.
11 Ibid., p. 31.
12 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., pp. 117a-118.
13 Kousoulas, op. cit., pp. 166-168.
Notes to Chapter II – THE FIRST ROUND
1 Ibid., p. 174.
2 This is the same Saraphis that led the AAA. He was outmaneuvered by ELAS units and captured in March 1943; he was offered command of ELAS and accepted.
3 Woodhouse, op. cit., p. 57.
5 O’Ballance, op. cit., pp. 68-69.
6 The British Military Mission (BMM) had been changed to the Allied Military Mission (AMM) upon the introduction of U.S. Army officers into Greece.
7 Kousoulas, op. cit., p. 176.
Notes to Chapter III – LIBERATION AND THE SECOND ROUND
1 Kousoulas, op. cit. , p. 178.
2 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 132.
3 Vladimir Dedijer, Tito (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1953), pp. 2O4-210.
4 The circumstances surrounding Psaros’ death are murky, at best. Woodhouse (p. 77) states that it was «probably unpremeditated». Kousoulas (p. 186) and Chamberlain and Iams (p. 124) suggest that such was not the case, citing a telegram from Siantos to a local ELAS commander regarding Psaros. It is probable that Psaros’ murder came at the behest of Siantos, using the convenience of an ELAS officer who had an old feud with Psaros.
5 Kousoulas, op. cit., p. 184.
6 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 136.
7 Kousoulas, op. cit., p. 188.
8 C. M. Woodhouse, The Apple of Discord (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1948), p. 181.
9 Andreas Papandreou, Democracy at Gunpoint: The Greek Front (New York: Doubleday, 1970), pp. 51-52.
10 Winston Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, Vol. 6 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1953). pp. 72-81 contain the discussion of events and documents that pertain to Greece vis-a-vis the Allies. It is interesting to note that Roosevelt warned Churchill of the dangers of establishing spheres of influence.
11 Woodhouse, Apple of Discord, pp. 197-198.
12 Woodhouse, op. cit., p. 89.
13 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 146.
14 Ibid., p. 149.
15 Field Marshal Alexander, Report by the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, to the Combined Chiefs of Staff: Greece 1944-1945 (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1949), p. 10
16 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 99.
17 Ibid., p. 100.
18 Alexander, op. cit., p. 12.
19 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 100.
20 Churchill, op. cit., p. 311.
21 Ibid., p. 318.
22 Alexander, op. cit., p. 14.
23 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 104.
24 Churchill, op. cit., p. 322.
25 Alexander, op. cit., p. 15.
26 Kousoulas, op. cit., p. 200.
27 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 151.
Notes to Chapter IV – AN UNEASY PEACE
1 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 114.
2 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., 157.
3 Kousoulas, op. cit., p. 219.
4 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 174.
5 Woodhouse, op. cit., p. 153.
6 Kousoulas, op. cit., p. 233.
7 Ibid., p. 231.
8 Heurtley, et. al., op. cit., p. 154.
Notes to Chapter V – THE THIRD ROUND
1 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 227.
2 Ibid., p. 230-231.
3 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 131.
4 Woodhouse, op. cit., p. 211.
5 In the DSE, reserves meant the pool of available manpower from which to recruit soldiers.
6 Chamberlain and Iams, op. cit., p. 333.
7 O’Ballance, op. cit., p. 165.
8 Ibid., p. 198. , p. 201.
- ALEXANDER, FIELD MARSHALL. Report by the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean to the Combined Chiefs of Staff; Greece 1944-1945. London: His Majesty’s stationery Office, 1949. A brief report by the commander of troops in Greece during the Second Round. Provides details of British tactical and some political moves during the December 1944 events.
- BARKER, DUDLEY. Grivas: Portrait of a Terrorist. New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1959. The career of General George Grivas; useful only for its information regarding «X», the Athens right-wing organization.
- CHAMBERLAIN, W. C. and IAMS, J. O. Rebellion: The Rise and Fall of the Greek Communist party. NS: Foreign Service Institute, 1963. An extremely well documented history of the KKE. This work was valuable in the preparation of this paper mostly for the history of the deliberations by the Central Committee of the KKE.
- CHURCHILL, WINSTON S. Triumph and Tragedy, Vol. 6 Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1953. The history of World War II by the Prime Minister of wartime England.
- CONDIT, D. M. Case Study in Guerrilla War: Greece During World War II. Washington, D. C.: Dept. of the Army, Examines general tactical principles for waging guerrilla and counter-guerrilla warfare. Contains little insight into the political aspects of the civil war, but useful for information regarding the early resistance. Heavily dependent on Woodhouse.
- DEDIJER, VLADIMIR. Tito. New York: Simon and Schuster, A biography of the Yugoslav leader; given the scope of this paper, only of tangential value.
- EUDES, DOMINIQUE. The Kapetanios, Partisans and Civil War in Greece 1943-1949. New York: Monthly Review Press, This book gives credence to the statement «one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.» Written by a French leftist, it is totally biased and portrays ELAS and DSE as victims of a right wing police state.
GARDNER, HUGH H. Guerrilla and Counterguerrilla Warfare in Greece 1941-1945. Washington, D.C.: Office of Chief of Military History, Dept. of the Army, 1962. A fairly detailed history of the Greek resistance groups, their operations and relations with British advisors. Also contains interesting account of German operations against the partisans.
- HEURTLEY, W. A., et. al., A Short History of Greece. London: Cambridge University Press, 1965. A short, very general account of the civil war in the overall context of Greek history. Useful for an overview of high level political events and governmental changes.
- IATRIDES, JOHN O. Revolt in Athens. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1972. An excellent, detailed study of the Second Round which attributes its outbreak to mutual mistrust and actions precipitating those events they were designed to prevent. The author’s premise is that neither the KKE nor the British and Greeks were overtly preparing for the civil war.
- KOUSOULAS, DIMITRIOS G. Modern Greece, Profile of a Nation. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974. A most general history of Greece, useful only to find out that a civil war occurred. The Price of Freedom, Greece in World Affairs 1939-1953. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1953. Written at the height of the cold war, this work places much emphasis on Stalin’s meddling in the Balkans in terms of influence, guidance, instructions to the KKE.
- Revolution and Defeat. London: Oxford University Press, 1965. Due to its comprehensive, detailed, objective nature, this book was an important reference. Vital to any research on this topic.
- MACMILLAN, HAROLD. The Blast of War 1939-1945. New York: Harper and Row, 1967. Valuable for its insight into the positions of the British government as it dealt with the Greek problem. More detailed than Churchill’s account, this work examines British relations with Papandreou, Archbishop Damaskinos and the U.S. is-a-vis Greek affairs.
- McNEILL, WILLIAM HARDY. The Greek Dilemma: War and Aftermath Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1947. The author was an eyewitness to the Second Round, but his point of view in this book is somewhat dated. He gives few details of the KKE’s quest for power; his perspective is that of an observer of the Greek government which, the author, states, stumbled towards civil war in 1944.
- MURRAY, J.C. «The Anti-Bandit War.» Marine Corps Gazette, January – May, 1954. As its title suggests, the author does not see the force behind ELAS and DSE as a dedicated party of communists whose only goal was the seizure of power. The series of articles does, however, provide valuable information regarding the organization and equipment of the communist forces and Greek Army.
- NATSINAS, ALEXANDER. Study of Guerrilla Warfare. NS: Greek General Staff Intelligence Directorate, translated from the Greek, this study is a difficult to read, poorly organized work regarding the tactics of the communist guerrillas and a list of damages in the civil war.
- O’BALLANCE, EDGAR. The Greek Civil War 1944-1949. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966. Probably the most valuable reference encountered in the research for this paper. An even-keeled, detailed, objective book,it contains virtually all aspects of the civil war.
- PAPANDREOU, ANDREAS. Democracy at Gunpoint: the Greek Front. New York: Doubleday, 1970. Written by the son of the Greek Prime Minister during the Second Round, this book was only marginally useful, as the majority of it deals with the younger Papandreou’s trouble with colonels.
- SWEET-ESCOTT, BICKAM. Greece, A Political and Economic Survey, 1939 – 1953. London: Oxford University Press, From another eyewitness, this book provides a very good recounting of the political events of the period; more valuable for painting a picture of the dire economic straits Greece was in.
- WOODHOUSE, C. M. The Struggle for Greece. New York: Beekman/Esanau, 1979. Along with O’Ballance’s book, this work would provide virtually all the insight and details of the Greek civil war to a student of same. This is scholarly and readable.
- Apple of Discord. London: Hutchinson and Co., 1948. Woodhouse was a British Colonel in 1943 and the commander of the British Military Mission in Greece. Unfortunately, this book reflects every suggestion of the above statement, and while providing equisite details of an eyewitness, is not wholly objective. It was written too soon after the fact.
SUBJECT AREA History
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR AND SYMPOSIUM
THE GREEK CIVIL WAR 1943 – 1949, Major Jeffrey C. Kotora, USMC
26 April 1985
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22314