Dr. Alex Bebler
Having resolved to liquidate the democratic movement and exterminate its principal representatives, the Athens Government established courts-martial as early as July 1946. At the beginning of May, 1948, the possibilities of exterminating the democratic population were further increased by the reenactment of the law of December 12, 1912 which abolishes, among others, those articles of the constitution which lay it down that no one can be arrested without a warrant, and which guarantee the inviolability of the home, as well as the secrecy of correspondence. The same law allows the setting up of courts-martial and invests the military authorities with competence to punish offenses against the security of the state. (According to the newspaper Kathimerini of May 2, 1948). Quite recently, as we have learned from the Athens press, courts-martial have begun their "work" in the Peloponnesus. Death sentences have now become a daily occurrence.
The following examples, chosen at random, will show under what conditions these tribunals work, as well as the results of their activities:
Nikos Koukoutsis from Yomiti in Halkidic was condemned to death because he had the same name as a certain partisan. Orestis Makrodis was condemned to death on a charge of participating in the attempt against the life of the Minister Ladas on May 1, 1948, though Makrodis had already been in prison for a month and a half. Koula Elephteriadou, aged 23, was sentenced and shot on a charge laid against her by the gendarme Yovan Parteniu, who was an agent of the Gestapo during the occupation. You can find, gentlemen, in the Blue Book of the Provisional Greek Democratic Government many other instances!
In the memorandum addressed by Ailianos, Minister of the Press in the Athens Government, to the British Congress of Trade Unions, with the evident aim of minimizing the number of persons shot, one can however, discern that from 1946 'til August 31, 1948, 1,541 persons were shot by verdict of military tribunals. According to this Greek Minister, out of the total of 1,541 persons, 116 were executed in 1946; 688 in 1947; and the remaining 747 in the first eight months of 1948. So that by admission of the government itself, more patriots are being shot every year. Ailianos adds that besides the victims of the military courts, 231 persons were shot between 1945 and August 31, 1948, after sentence by ordinary tribunals. But it is known that these tribunals also have been condemning fighters and heroes of the War of National Liberation, who had fought against the Nazi invaders. They were charged with being ordinary criminals.
This is precisely one of the greatest crimes of the present Greek regime, to have tried as criminals and often to have condemned and executed soldiers of the Army of Liberation, arrested in 1945 and condemned for the sole reason that they had fought against the invaders, on the side of the Allies. The Souphulis-Tsaldaris Government was the first of the successive governments of Greece since 1945, publicly and en masse to butcher these fighters for liberty. It is not a coincidence that a considerable wave of executions took place a few weeks after our Second Session. After the notorious directive of the American General Van Fleet, "Capture and kill," the Minister of Justice of the Athens Government immediately ordered those heroes of the movement of national liberation, previously condemned to death, to be shot; there were 800 of them in Athens alone. To conceal this crime as much as possible, he issued instruc- tions that the massacre should not be perpetrated en masse, but by groups and in various localities, with the further provision that the martyred men should be shot at the same time with more recently captured partisans.
After the attempt against the life of the Minister of Justice Lados, the Athens Government decided to introduce and apply the system of hostages. Rendis, Minister of Public Security, declared on May 2, "The Communists will pay dearly for the assassination of Lados." The press published this state- ment of the Minister and the Minister immediately started signing death sentences. The first victims of the application of this system were the former fighters of the war of liberation who were in prison. In a few days 164 fighters of the war of liberation against the Nazis were shot as hostages.