(COLD WAR: 1945-49 – continued)
In September, 1944, after Germany's withdrawal from Greece, British troops landed there. Greeks sniped at British soldiers, and the British arrested what was said to be 15,000 people and shipped them to a camp in a desert area in Eritrea. The Greek resistance retaliated by kidnapping 15,000 monarchists from Athens and marched them out of the city. Roughly 4,000 of the monarchists died during the march, and this move by the resistance lost them support.
Greece emerged from German occupation and British intervention with a civil war. Britain and the U.S. supported Greece's monarchical government. The rebels included Communists. Greece's king since 1947 was Paul the First, who was a determined enemy of the Communists, and he had the support of moderates.
The war began winding down in 1948. The Communists in Greece were rent by the split between Stalin and Yugoslavia's Josip Tito. Support from Stalin for Greece's resistance was practically non-existent – in keeping with an agreement between Stalin and Churchill. The rebels lost support from Yugoslavia.
By September 1949, most of the rebels surrendered or escaped over the border into Albania, and the Albanian government, presumably with Soviet approval, prohibited the Greek rebels from launching military operations into Greece. The Civil War was over.
Writes Elena Panaritis:
It was the bloodiest and most devastating war in the history of Greece considering the number of lives lost. The death toll reached nearly 10% of the Greek population.
Copyright © 2000-2011 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.