Dr. Alex Bebler

Peace and Greece


What of the Greek People?

We assert, as we asserted last year at the Second Session of the General Assembly, that the immense majority of the Greek people is definitely opposed to such a policy, and that the present regime in Athens cannot retain power without resort to terror. The events of the last year have furnished new irrefutable proofs of this thesis.

Let me quote, in illustration, what the Briton, Colonel Alexander Sheppard, said with regard to the reign of terror in Greece, during a press conference at Göteborg on October 14, 1948. Colonel Sheppard, who fought in 1941 against the Germans in Greece and returned to that country with an Australian Mission in 1945, was later chief of an UNRRA mission, and in 1946 became chief of the Economic Mission for Northern Greece. He resigned in 1947 because of his disapproval of intervention in the internal affairs of Greece. These are the words of Colonel Sheppard:

"To maintain themselves in power, the traitors who had first sold their country to the Germans and who are now selling it to the Americans, organized a reign of terror against the Greek democratic population. This terror is just as ruthless as the German terror during the occupation. The Athens Government admits that it has deported to the Aegean islands 67,000 persons. The Athens Government has not allowed representatives of the International Red Cross, in spite of their repeated demands, to visit these islands. The pretext put forward was that these camps could not be considered as prisoners' camps, as there was officially no war in Greece. These are strange morals, indeed!" concluded the British Colonel.

Here are a few more typical examples of the situation in Greece.

Workers who seek employment in public works either under the Government or under the Americans, must produce a certificate of good political behavior, without this they will not be hired. Civil servants have to sign a form asserting that during the war they took no part in the Liberation Movement, i.e. in the resistance against the invader. In this form issued by the Minister of justice we find, among others, these questions (according to Souphulis' newspaper Vima of May 5, 1948):

1. Have you been a member of EAM or EPON and have you been enlisted in ELAS? (These were organizations of the national liberation movement during the occupation).

2. Did you take part in the December events, and what part did you play?

The Souphulis-Tsaldaris Government abolished the last trace of freedom of the press. It prohibited by law, publication of Communist newspapers and, in general, all democratic newspapers, and has imprisoned or deported their editors. Thus the "democratic" facade of partial freedom of the press in Athens and Salonika, which served M. Spaak and Mr. McNeil as a useful argument last year, has quite disappeared. Since our Second Session, 62 newspapers, including twelve dailies, have been banned. On October 16, 1948, the Special Military Tribunal of Athens condemned to death M. Glezos, editor of the Communist daily newspaper Rizospastis, for the sole reason that his newspaper published, in the days when it was legally appearing, an article by M. Zahariades, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece.

Glezos is the national hero, the young student who in May 1941 tore down the German flag from the Acropolis and raised in its place the Greek flag, an act by which he won the admiration of the whole Greek people and of all anti- Nazis throughout the world. During his trial, as we read in the rightist newspaper Elephteria of October 17, 1948, the inhabitants of his native village of Apirantos demanded the immediate release of Glezos, the honored and glorious hero of his village and of the whole Greek people.

All trade union freedoms have been abolished in Greece and freely elected trade union officials have been thrown into prison or deported to the islands. The Secretary General of the Free Trade Unions of Greece, D. Paparigas, as well as members of the freely elected trade union committees have been im- prisoned, deported to the islands or brought before courts-martial. The illegal underground democratic press of Athens informs us that during the period of one month alone, seven members of the Central Committee of Trade Unions, nineteen presidents of workers' organizations and 70 committee members have been imprisoned. The Government has organized a new trade union committee, picked by the police and composed of Fascist and quisling elements. In an attempt to legitimatize, as far as it could, these sham elections, the Athens summoned on March 28, 1948, a sham Congress of this police-sponsored "General Confederation of Labor."

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