1897-1914 1918-1924

Greece 1914-1918

Administration . King Constantine I. 1913-1917, Alexander I. 1917-1920. PM Eleftherios Venizelos (1910-1915), D. Gounaris (1915), A.T. Zaimis (1915), St. Skouloudis (1915-1916), A.T. Zaimis (1916), N.S. Kalogeropoulos (1916), S.P. Lampros (1916-1917), A.T. Zaimis (1917). In 1915 E. Venizelos formed an alternative 'provisional government' seated first on Crete, later in Salonica. The provisional government controlled "New Greece", i.e. Crete, many of the Aegean Islands, Aegaean Macedonia; the regular government controlled "Old Greece". In 1917, pressured by the Allies, King Constantine went into exile; the Venizelos-administration took control of all of Greece.

Greece and the War . King Constantine I. sympathized with Germany; he, and the governments under him, pursued a policy of neutrality. The entry of Bulgaria into World War I in 1915 caused the collapse of the Serbian and Montenegrin defense; the retreating Serbian army (Serbia being landlocked) now desparately needed a supply line, and it had to pass through Salonica (Greece). The regular Greek government rejected Entente requests for the opening of such a supply line as it violated Greece's neutrality.
Greek opposition politician Eleftherios Venizelos unconstitutionally formed an alternative provisional government. As he had been responsible for the Greek acquisition of Salonica in 1912, he enjoyed wide suport in the city and her environs; the Entente recognized the provisional government and got her supply line. Venizelos now 'invited' the British and French to send an expeditionary force to Salonica, a port from which they could support the landlocked Serbs. Venizelos, whose supporters dominated the recently gained Aegaean Islands and Aegaean Macedonia, established a Provisional Government in Salonica. The British Navy occupied Corfu to provide the Serb forces retreating through northern Albania with a base. Venizelos' provisional government even raised an army which, alongside with the Serbs and the Anglo-French expeditionary force, fought the central powers on the Macedonian front. Eastern Macedonia, meanwhile, had been occupied by Bulgarian troops.
In Athens the royalist government continued to pursue a neutral course; in Dec. 1916 British and French forces landed at Piraeus in a failed attempt to force him to take a pro-Entente position; the troops were repelled and the royalist government grasped the opportunity to clamp down upon supporters of Venizelos who, in their eyes, were conspirating with a traitor. Between September 1915 and June 1917, Greece had two governments hostile to each other, and both were more concerned about their mutual rivalry than about the World War going on around them.
In June 1917 the Entente demanded King Constantine to leave the country. He was succeeded by his son Alexander. Now Venizelos was legitimately appointed prime minister. He dismissed Greece's parliament as 'fraudulently elected' and recalled the parliament of 1915, thus securing a majority and alienating the opposition. Greece now formally became one of the Entente powers. Although Greece did commit troops, the country suffered comparatively few casualties in the war.

Article : History of Greece : World War I, Greco-Turkish War and the League of Nations, History of Modern Greece : Wars and Crises 1912-1920, Constantine I. of Greece, Alexander of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos : World War I and Greece, Balkans Campaign (World War I), Macedonian Front, National Schism, Dimitrios Gounaris, Alexandros Zaimis, Spyridon Lambros, Nikolaos Kalogeropoulos, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS Kings of Greece, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Greece, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Journal d'un "poilu" a Salonique, June/July 1917, from cliotexte, documents referring to WW I, in French
French propaganda postcard featuring neutral Greece : Alas! With whom shall I dance ?, 1915, from WW I Propaganda Postcards, scroll down; Artist Emil Dupuis
King Constantine's Letter to Neutrals, 14 January 1917, from First World War.com
Allied Ultimatum Demanding Abdication of King Constantine I, 11 June 1917, from First World War.com
Abdication Proclamation of King Constantine I, 14 June 1917, from First World War.com
King Alexander's Inaugural Proclamation, June 1917, from First World War.com
Allied Proclamation on King Constantine's Abdication, June 1917, from First World War.com
Register of Russian Diplomatic Documents, Greece Mission 1874-1924, from Hoover Institution
REFERENCE E. Alexander Powell, The New Frontiers of Freedom from the Alps to the AEgean, (NY 1920), posted by Gutenberg Library Online
G.F. Abbott, Greece and the Allies 1914-1922, (London 1922), posted by Gutenberg Library Online
Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge : UP 1992, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.5 C643a
Article : Greece, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, 15th edition, vol.20 pp.178-205, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.20
Article : Greece, in : New International Year Book 1916 pp.298-302, 1918 pp.285-286 [G]
Entry : Greece, in : Statesman's Year Book 1918 pp.978-990 [G]

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First posted in 2000, last revised on September 14th 2008

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