World War II

Liberation and Civil War, 1944-1949

Late in 1944 there were two major political forces in Greece : a coalition government of national unity lead by Georgios Papandreou, a moderate democrat, exile politician, supported by the British, and ELAS, the communist resistance organization in control of much of the country. For the time being, ELAS accepted the coalition government formed in October 1944 at a conference in Lebanon. Yet they were rather sceptical of it and held on to their arms; events escalated when police lost control and shot at demonstrators in Dec. 1944. Papandreou resigned, followed by a succession of prime ministers rarely in office longer than 3 months; the conservatives, supported by the British, would hold on to power.
The communists had not participated in the election of 1946; political tension continued. A plebiscite in September 1946 confirmed Greece to be a monarchy and called on King George to return from exile. Meanwhile, the political situation in Greece rapidly deteriorated; the communists formed the so-called Democratic Army and withdrew to mountain strongholds. They were supported by the USSR and her satellites. In March 1947 US President Harry S. Truman called for a massive financial grant to Greece and Turkey, to prevent the fall of both to communism (Truman Doctrine); Greece slid into Civil War. On Dec. 24th 1947 the communists formed an alternative Provisional National Government, in control of some parts of Northern Greece.
The communists received support from Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania, but could not do more than fight a guerilla campaign, temporarily occupy and hold certain villages or cities, and forcbly evacuate Greek children across the border into Bulgaria or Yugoslav Macedonia. Albania and Yugoslavia operated camps where Greek nationals were detained and indoctrinated. U.N.S.C.O.B. - United Nations Special Commission on the Balkans - was assigned with examining allegiations of atrocities and abuses. In the Civil War, the British- and US-supported government forces prevailed; on August 28th 1949, the communist government left Greek soil. The number of casualties, military and civilian, is estimated at 50,000. Historian Amikam Nachmani contends that, had the conflict not been internationalized, the civil war might have been shorter and its casualties fewer; the war ended when Stalin realized that the communists could not win, notably because the west had succeeded in breaking up the communist joint front by persuading Tito (Yugoslavia) to break with Stalin.

In 1946 Bulgaria demanded Greece to cede Western Thrace. During the conflict, the democratic Greek government postulated her claim for Northern Epirus (i.e. southern Albania, a region with a strong ethnic Greek minority).
The Dodecanese Islands, German-occupied until May 7th 1945, were administrated by the British until Sept. 15th 1947, when they were handed over to Greek administration. On March 22nd 1948 they were formally annexed to Greece. In 1947 Greece ratified the peace treaties with Italy and Bulgaria.

During the Civil War, Greece faced hyperinflation. Greece received large sums in U.S. aid, but had large expenses for the military; the damage done by guerilla raids and the insecurity spread by the guerillas had an adverse effect on the Greek economy; tourists stayed away.

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

Review : Long Journey Home. Greek Refugee Children in Yugoslavia 1948-1960 by Milan Ristovic; full text downloadable in either English or Serbian
Article Greek Civil War, from Wikipedia
Greek Civil War, from ACED
The Greek Civil War 1943-1949, by Jeoffrey C. Kotora, posted by Global Security
The Greek Civil War, from Europe & Cold War Database (ACIG)
Greek Civil War, from Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth
Book Advertisement : Amikam Nachmani, International Intervention in the Greek Civil War, Praeger 1990
CASCON Case GRI : Greek Civil War 1944-1949, by L.P. Bloomfield, L. Moulton
DOCUMENTS List of Greek Prime Ministers etc., from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Greece, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
The Truman Doctrine : Documents, from Truman Library
Makedonska Iskra - newspaper of the Macedonian community in Australia, 1946-1957, posted by Pollitecon
UN General Assembly 3rd Session 1948-1949, Resolution No.193
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
Nicholas Gage, Eleni, New York : Ballantine Books, 1983, 470 pp., autobiographic childhood memoires
The American War in Greece, pp.129-152 in : John Gunther, Behind the Curtain, NY : Harper & Bros. (1948) 1949 [G]
Article Greece, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1945 pp.326-329, 1946 pp.355-356, 1947 pp.370-371, 1948 pp.354-356, 1949 pp.313-315 [G]
Article : Greece, in : Americana Annual 1945 pp.330-332, 1946 pp.334-335, 1947 pp.305-307 [G]
Article : Greece, in : New International Year Book 1946 pp.251-255 [G]
Article : Greece, in : Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1946 pp.283-285 [G]
Time Capsule 1945. A History of the Year Condensed from the Pages of Time, NY : Time 1967, pp.183-186 [G]
Richard Clogg, Greece, pp.184-201 in : Martin McCauley (ed.), Communist Power in Europe 1944-1949, London : MacMillan 1977 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 25th 2009

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