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Athens 1944: Britain’s dirty secret (Guardian) Greece, Athens. Dece...

Athens 1944: Britain’s dirty secret (Guardian)
Greece, Athens. December 3, 1944. Police and British authorities shot at a peaceful demonstration.

avatar [Anatoly R.](/people/69114030fbaa0134536e0242ac110007) - original post

"I still see it clearly, I have not forgotten," recalls 86-year-old eyewitness Tito Patricios. "In Athens, the police fired at the crowd from the roof of Parliament in Syntagma Square.The young men and women were lying in pools of blood, the crowd rushed down the stairs in panic."

The British army, still at war with Germany, issued weapons to local residents who collaborated with the Nazis to shoot civilians supporting partisans, with whom Britain was an ally for three years. The crowd carried Greek, American, British and Soviet flags, and chanted: "Long live Churchill, Viva Roosevelt, Viva Stalin" in favor of the anti-Hitler alliance. Twenty-eight civilians, mostly young boys and girls, were killed and hundreds wounded.

The logic of Britain was cruel and insidious: Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed that the influence of the Communist Party within the resistance movement that he supported throughout the war - the National Liberation Front, EAM -, grew stronger than he expected. Moreover, he considered this influence sufficient to jeopardize the plan for the return to power of the King of Greece. Thus, Churchill treacherously supported Hitler's supporters against his former allies.

As a consequence of this betrayal, Greece plunged into the abyss of civil war. Every Greek citizen knows about this event, but perceives in different ways, depending on which side his ancestors were on.

"The December uprising of 1944 and the civil war of 1946-49 are reflected in the present," says the leading historian André Gerolymatos, "because there was never any reconciliation." In France or Italy, if you fought the Nazis, you were respected In society after the war, regardless of ideology.In Greece, you were persecuted by people who collaborated with the Nazis, with the approval of Britain.Many of what is happening in Greece now is the result of the past. "

Before the war, Greece was under the rule of a monarchical dictatorship. The dictator, General Ioannis Metaxas, received military education in Kaiser Germany, while the Greek King George II - the uncle of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh - was British hardened.

Both the dictator and the king were anti-communists, and Metaxas banned the Communist Party, KKE. After the outbreak of the war, Metaxas refused to accept Mussolini's ultimatum about surrender and declared his loyalty to the Anglo-Greek alliance. The Greeks bravely fought and defeated the Italians, but could not resist the Wehrmacht. By the end of April 1941 the country was occupied. The Greeks - at first spontaneously, and later as part of organized groups fought in resistance. The rightists and monarchists were more hesitant than their political opponents. The natural allies of England were therefore EAM - a union of the left wing and the Agrarian Party in which KKE dominated.

The occupation was terrible. The mopping up and torture of women was a common means for obtaining "confessions". Mass executions took place, intimidated by gallows guarded by security officials. In response, ELAS (People's Liberation Army of Greece) conducted daily counterattacks against the Germans. The partisan movement was born in Athens, but was based in the villages, so that the liberation of Greece began from the countryside. The British conducted joint operations with partisans.

By the fall of 1944, Greece was devastated by occupation and famine. Half a million people died - 7% of the population. ELAS released dozens of villages and created temporary management bodies. After the withdrawal of the German troops, ELAS retained 50,000 armed partisans outside the capital, and in May 1944 agreed to the deployment of British troops, under the command of Lieutenant-General Ronald Scobie.

October 18, the British created an interim government under the leadership of George Papandreou and were ready to restore the monarchy. People met them as allies and experienced nothing but respect and friendship for the British. We had no idea that we had already lost our country and our rights. EAM withdrew from the interim government because of the requirements of the demobilization of partisans. Negotiations cease on December 2.

Even before August 17, 1944, Churchill wrote "PERSONALLY AND MOST SECRET". A message for US President Franklin Roosevelt, where it was said, it is very likely that EAM and communist extremists will try to capture the city.

During November, the British began to build a new National Guard, which instructed the Greek police and the disarmament of the military militia. In fact, disarmament was applied only to ELAS, not to those who collaborated with the Nazis.

Any idea that the Communists were ready for revolution are incorrect in the context of the Agreement between Churchill and Stalin in Moscow on October 9, 1944. The south-east of Europe was divided into "spheres of influence", as a result of which Stalin "took" Romania and Bulgaria, and England, in order to maintain a balance in the Mediterranean, took Greece.

The British and the Greek government in exile decided from the outset that the ELAS staff would not be admitted to the new army. Churchill wanted to crack down on KKE in order to be able to restore the king. The Greek Communists decided not to try to take power in the country, the KKE insisted on a left-centrist government. If they wanted a revolution, they would not have left 50,000 armed men outside the capital after liberation.

On the morning of Sunday, December 3, several columns of Greek Republicans, anti-monarchists, socialists and communists marched to Syntagma Square. Police cordons blocked their way, but several thousand broke through. As they approached the square, a man in military uniform shouted: "Shoot the bastards!"

On December 5, Lieutenant-General Skobi imposed martial law and the next day ordered the air bombardment of the working quarter.

At the end of Dekemvriana (Decemvrian, civil war), thousands were killed; 12,000 representatives of the left were seized and sent to camps in the Middle East. The truce was signed on 12 February. A chapter in Greek history began, known as "white terror", where every suspect who helped Elas during Dekemvriana or even Nazi occupation was sent to the camps set up for their internment.

ELAS, or the Democratic Army of Greece, responded with "red terror". They confessed to some revenge kills. But not in the murders of civilians.

In December 1946, Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Tsaldaris, assessing the possibility of leaving the British, visited Washington to seek American assistance. In response, the US State Department developed a plan for military intervention, which in March 1947 formed the basis for President Truman's statement, which became known as the Truman Doctrine. That is, to intervene with force where communism is a threat. All that was held in Greece on the initiative of Great Britain was the first stage of the Cold War.

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#history #greece #uk

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