The Greek Civil War 1943-1949
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
Author: Kotora, Jeffrey C., Major, USMC
Title: The Greek Civil War, 1943-1949
Date: April 26, 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 dis-
cussion 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
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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. PRELUDE TO CIVIL WAR 1
II. THE FIRST ROUND 11
III. LIBERATION AND THE SECOND ROUND 18
Politics and the approach of
the allies 18
The Second Round 28
IV. AN UNEASY PEACE 47
Varkiza and the Return of
The Democratic Process in Greece 53
V. THE THIRD ROUND 55
Guerrilla War Returns to Greece 55
Operations - 1947 62
Conventional War 66
Operations - 1948 68
Operations - 1949 71
VI. CONCLUSIONS 77
A. Chronology of Events 90
B. List of Acronyms/Organizations 92
The seemingly endless procession of communist insurgen-
cies 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 govern-
ment; the nations of the Balkans, the British, the
Americans, the Soviets and the Germans also played important
The primary focus of this paper will concern the events
and their causative factors which made this counterinsur-
gency 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
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
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.
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 instru-
ments 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 encoun-
tered 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
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 communica-
tions 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 intellec-
tuals 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
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.5
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 occupa-
tion. In reality EAM was a front organization for the KKE,
for the communists controlled its leadership conmittee.6
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 govern-
ment to carry out elections immediately following liberation
and the frustration of any attempt by reactionaries to
influence the decision of the people."7 The portents of
civil war can be clearly seen in this policy.
Meantime, the idea of armed resistance to the occupa-
tion 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.8 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.9 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 noncommital 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 con-
comitant 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 inmediately 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
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 con-
tinued British aid, which was sorely need 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.
THE FIRST ROUND
The faction of the KKE leadership that favored concili-
ation 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, there-
fore, 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 resis-
tance in Greece to prepare for operations against six
airfields.1 German forces were on the move in Greece,
mistakenly assumed by the KKE to be preparing for with-
drawal. Thus, it appeared that the return of Allied forces
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 conven-
tional formations of divisions, brigades and battalions; it
is possible that his military commander, General Saraphis2,
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.3
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 rede-
ployment after the surrender of the Italians and prepara-
tions 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 signifi-
cant, 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
The main result of the First Round, then, was a
strengthening of the KKE's tactical position. Concomi-
tantly, 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.
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
do. 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
The legitimate Greek government-in-exile also faced
serious problems. Besides the obvious difficulty posed by
the communists, the Greek people were starving. The combina-
tion 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
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 func-
tioning 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
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
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 estab-
lishment 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 accommoda-
tion 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 politi-
cians 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 trepida-
tion, 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
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 follow-
ing 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 Govern-
ment 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 port-
folios were reserved for PEEA, pending its formal submission
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 organiza-
tions 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 pur-
poses. 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 communi-
cated 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 atten-
tion, 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 liber-
ation, 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
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,
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. Econom-
ically 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 collabor-
ators. 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
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 operat-
ing 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
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 a 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
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
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
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 govern-
ment; 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 plesbescite 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 uncon-
trollable, 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 govern-
ment, 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
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 govern-
ment. 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
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
1944. 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 military defeat dealt the communists was a sub-
stantive 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
The cease-fire agreement that went into effect on
January 15 addressed only the military aspects of a tem-
porary 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
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
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 agree-
ment. 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 condi-
tion. 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 govern-
ment.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
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 govern-
ment 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 atmos-
phere; 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 reor-
ganized, 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
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 instruc-
tions 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 situa-
tion, 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
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 sup-
porters, 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.
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
it. 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 member-
ship 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
By the fall of 1946 larger groups of communist
guerrillas were operating in Greece, mainly in the moun-
tainous 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 concen-
trated; 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 volun-
tarily 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 insur-
gents. Although the KKE had no front organization to hide
behind this time, Zakhariadis tried to portray the insur-
rection 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
Actually, Zakhariadis had recently appointed a comman-
der 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
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
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 insur-
gents. 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 termi-
nated shortly thereafter.
Faced with the inconclusive results of Operation
TERMINUS, the General Staff ordered two new hastily con-
ceived 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
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 con-
tained 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 effective-
ness. 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 abandon-
ment 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. Addition-
ally, 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 Hereto-
fore, 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 govern-
ment; 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
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 opera-
tions 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 equip-
ment. 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 appoint-
ment, 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 infra-
structure. 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
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 insur-
gents. 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
Having been handed this physical as well as psycho-
logical 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
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 con-
tinued 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 forma-
tions 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 annihila-
tion of Greece.9 The Greek Civil War had ended.
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 govern-
ment. 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
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
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 nation-
alism 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
1949. 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
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 Britis 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.
9 Ibid., 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,
1961. 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,
1953. 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,
1972. 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
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
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 comprehen-
sive, detailed, objective nature, this book was an
important reference. Vital to any research on this
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.
vis-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 perspec-
tive is that of an observer of the Greek government
which, the author, states, stumbled towards civil war
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
NATSINAS, ALEXANDER. Study of Guerrilla Warfare.
NS: Greek General Staff Intelligence Directorate,
1950. 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
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
SWEET-ESCOTT, BICKAM. Greece, A Political and Economic
Survey, 1939 - 1953. London: Oxford University Press,
1954. 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.
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