Metaxas' Regime

Greece during World War II, 1940-1944

Greece's Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas in October 1940 proudly rejected Italy's ultimatum, and Italian troops invaded Greece from Albania. Surprisingly, the Greeks not only stopped the Italian advance, but even pushed them back and occupied southern Albania (called Northern Epirus by the Greeks, as it has a large Greek minority).
For Mussolini this defeat was humiliating; for Hitler it was a nuisance. The planned invasion of the Soviet Union was postponed for 6 weeks (which proved crucial because the invading forces were stopped, through the impact of winter, just outside of Moscow) in order to prevent the British to establish a foothold on the Balkans peninsula. On April 6th 1941 Germany and it's allies (Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy) began with the occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece. continental Greece fell quickly; only on Crete Greek and British troops held out until June when German paratroopers landed and the island was occupied.
The Germans left the occupation of Greece - except the strategically most important regions of Salonica, Athens, western Crete and the border to Turkey - to the Italians (the bulk of the country) respectively to the Bulgarians (Thrace).

Prime minister Metaxas had died early in 1941; his successor Alexandros Koryzis committed suicide when the country was occupied. King George II. and Prime Minister Emmanouil Tsouderos were evacuated, establishing a Greek Government-in-Exile, first located in London, from 1943 onward in Cairo. Meanwhile, General Tsolakoglou on April 23rd had signed the surrender and went on to form an administration collaborating with the Germans.
In Greece, soon partisan organizations were founded : the communist National Liberation Front (EAM) and the National Republican Greek League (EDES).
Greece's Jewish community, most of which had been concentrated in Saloniki (about 50,000), was deported to Auschwitz in 1943; most of Salonica's Jews perished in the gas chambers.
For the remainder of the war there was little fighting in Greece, apart from partisan activity. When Italy signed the armistice agreement in September 1943, German troops replaced the Italians in their zones of occupation. In September/October 1944, when the Red Army threatened to cut off German troops in Greece, the German occupation force pulled out; only a small force, trapped on Crete, held the island's west until the end of the war.

At Yalta spheres of influence were established by the big three. Greece was allocated to the British sphere of influence. Meanwhile, in still occupied Greece (Oct. 1943), the partisan organizations ELAS (the military branch of EAM) and EDES had turned on each other. When the Germans pulled out, the communist ELAS was in control of much of the country; EDES was in control of Epirus.

Students' Paper : Han, Changhee, The Greek Civil War (2007)

German Antiguerilla operations in the Balkans, 1941-1944, from Center for Military History, scholarly
Milan Ristovic, Third Reich's "New Order" Planning and Practice in the Balkans, 1941-44: Serbian and Greek Case, from Association for Social History
Greece in World War II, from World War II Multimedia Database
DOCUMENTS List of Greek Prime Ministers etc., from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Greece, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Images from the Simon Wiesenthal Center : Macedonia (8 images of deported Jews from M.), Greece, conquest of (5), Occupied Greece (29), Greek Guerilla Fighters (3), Athens (2)
Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Gen. List commands the Balkans Blitzkrieg, April 1941; Greece : British Belheim, destroyed while on ground, April 1941; The Greek "Kilkis", sunk by StuKas in the harbour of Saloniki, April 9th 1941; A Greek Partisan is shot, Mai 1941; Parashooters near Candia on Crete, May 20th 1941; Lt. Gen. Student commands the Invasion of Crete, May 20th 1941; British Gen.Maj. Freyberg in command of the defense of Crete, May 20th 1941; On Crete : Assault, May 1941; Ack-ack position on Crete, May 1941; High Casualties on Crete, May 1941; Parachooters on Crete, May 1941
Translation of an open letter to Hitler from M. Georges Vlachos, published in the Kathimerini of Saturday, March 8th, 1941. from Hellenic Resources Network
Statement Praising the Resistance of the Greek People. April 25, 1941, from Words of Peace, Words of War
Adolf Hitler's Order of the Day Calling for Invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece, Berlin, April 6, 1941, from Words of Peace, Words of War
Message to the Greeks Broadcast by Greek Premier, Emmanuel Tsouderos, Alexandria, Egypt, June 5, 1941, from Words of Peace, Words of War
REFERENCE 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
Winston Churchill, The Second World War : Vol.6, Triumph and Tragedy, Boston : Houghton Mifflin 1953, KMLA Lib.Sign. 940.53 C563t chapter Rome. The Greek Problem. pp.92-104; The British Intervention in Greece pp.247-267, Christmas in Athens pp.267-287
United States Holocaust Museum, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust, NY : MacMillan 1996 [G], pp.168-179 on Greece
Article : Greece, in : Statesman's Year Book 1943 pp.977-987 [G]
Article : Greece, in : Americana Annual 1943 pp.331-332, 1944 pp.311-312 [G]
Article : Greece, in : New International Encyclopedia 1941 pp.251-254, 1942 pp.294-296, 1943 pp.252-256, 1944 pp.266-270 [G]
Article : Greece, in : Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1941 pp.232-234, 1942 pp.204-207, 1943 pp.206-208, 1944 pp.138-141 [G]
Time/Life : Time Capsule for 1941. A History of the Year Condensed from the Pages of Time, NY : Time 1967, pp.14-15, 84, 86-87, 89-90, 123, 142, 149-150; 1942 (1967) pp.134-135, 1944 (1967) pp.143, 166-168 [G]
Article : Greece, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1944 pp.325-326 [G]

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First posted in 2000, last revised on June 2nd 2008

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