The Last Great Speech of Aris Velouchiotis

Date: 1945; 
Translation/Transciption: vngelis; 
HTML: Mike; 
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2011). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source. 




Aris Velouchiotis
Aris Velouchiotis

On 19th October Lamia is liberated. The forces of ELAS, representatives of PEEA and EAM arrive in the city. On 29th October after the celebration of the NO (Greek repulsion of Italian invasion of 1940 into Albania) a meeting is held in the main square, Freedom, for EAM to celebrate the victory in WW2 with a presence from the whole district of Pamfthiotida.

Aris gives his most famous speech ever from the balcony of a hotel. Brothers — Greek men and women of Lamia and the region — I bring warmest greetings from the General Headquarters of ELAS. As you will have observed, I am about to make a speech. But this speech will not be like the speeches you have heard before from the old party chiefs; I will not promise, as they promised, to build bridges or make rivers flow. I cannot promise you the world, and I do not wish to ply you with rhetoric; I wish only that you hear what I have to say. I will begin with a fairytale. The immortal Greek race.

Once the part of this land called Greece in which we stand was glorious and happy. It produced a culture which for two-and-a-half- thousand years has been admired all over the world. Never has a word been written by the wise or the unwise that is not first attested in the works left by the creators of this ancient Greek civilization. Once, therefore, our country was glorious; but it was later enslaved and its former glory lost. After many years, our country found its feet again. After a hard struggle against slavery, it was liberated once more. With the era of slavery came hardness and darkness. For many years 'intellectuals', among them a certain, Fallmeyer claimed that the Greek race had been extinguished and that its place had been usurped by other peoples who held nothing in common with the ancient Greek race. But this claim was proved false. The proof was Hellenism, and with this proof our country rose again victorious and free. Neither foreign kings nor local landowners wanted a free and victorious Greece . Afraid of the French Revolution and its consequences, foreign kings created among themselves the Holy Alliance to suppress insurrection. The local landowners were in alliance with the Turks, and together they robbed the Greek people. Reaction screeches The Greek people would not be Greeks — the people of these lands of freedom and civilization — but a people of the jungle if they failed to produce leaders who would lead them to freedom. Knowing this, oppressors foreign and local fought against the Greeks to prevent them from rebelling and so gaining their freedom. During the years of slavery the struggle — on a scale great or small, under arms or without — was waged unceasingly.

From the Greek people emerged a sweeping revolutionary movement lent impetus by its songs, by the idea of the insurrection of the nation and by Rigas Feraios, precursor of the Friendly Society. Slain by the forces of reaction before he could bring his principles into action, the seed Rigas Feraios sowed grew rapidly; before long the Friendly Society became a fact. It had thousands of Greek followers.

And the forces of reaction screeched! They signed deceitful treaties such as that which emerged from the Congress of Vienna in 1815; Ioannis Kapodistrias was one of these signatories. Under this treaty, the forces of reaction would first support the national liberation struggle if it broke out in Greece , only to strangle it later.

Kapodistrias, who is presented in schools as a great and important man through the display of his portraits and speeches, was the first destroyer of Greece . However, he did what he did not as Kapodistrias but as a representative of Greek reaction. It was in this role that he screeched alongside international and local reaction; it was in this role that he signed deceitful treaties.

The people advance Nothing was able to contain the fire of freedom that burned in the hearts of our people. In 1821, after many trials and tribulations, they followed the flame of Papaflessas — who used all means, even lies in declaring an insurrection. So it was that the revolution began in the area of Morea in 1821. At the declaration of this insurrection the powerful of the earth, foreign and local alike, became frightened. The local traitors, seeing the impossibility of containing the people and frightened by their rage, were forced to end their collaboration with the occupiers and to take part in the popular national liberation movement with the aim of corrupting it. The movement against the revolution took on an international character. The powerful of the earth were frightened. They used all their trickery to try to crush the revolution. But they failed. For seven whole years our forebears fought, despite the fact that twice — in 1823 and 1825 — the forces of reaction in Greece organised a civil war in an attempt to break the struggle. Thus it was that our forebears forced all our enemies to suck where once they had spat; to recognise our struggle and our independence. Previously no one had believed that this miracle could be achieved by our own forces and our own people. Some waited for freedom to come from Russia ; others put their hope in the benevolence of the kings of Europe . But the revolution proved that it and it alone was capable of providing freedom for our country. The myth of Philhellenism, through which we are alleged to have achieved our freedom, was invented so it would appear that our country was freed not by dint of its own native strength but by that of foreigners. There were, of course, those friendly to the Greeks — Philhellenes — who fought and spilt blood for the freedom of our country. Honour and glory are due them for their aid to our nation. But they were isolated individuals acting on their own; the theory of organised Philhellenism is a myth.


In the midst of the victory of the revolution, traitors still dominated our country. The forces of reaction, domestic and foreign, used all available means in their attempts to corrupt the popular character of the revolutionary movement and impose a new regime of slavery. In the end they achieved this. The initiator was Ioannis Kapodistrias, the man I spoke of earlier; but later, another Ioannis — Ioannis Metaxas — would attempt to finish the work that Kapodistrias had begun.

The people believed that once they had achieved the revolution years of brilliance would follow; the whole of humanity would be on their side and our country would again guide humanity down new paths of civilisation and progress. Instead, local and foreign forces of reaction imposed themselves, bringing with them Kapodistrias and the


Many years of deceit and corruption held us back from progress and civilisation and threw us instead into desperation, hunger, immiseration and distihia. Thus Greece , which was once the source of light and civilisation, sunk to the lowest level of economic and social and cultural development not merely in the Balkans but in the whole of Europe .


The essence of this backwardness is to be found in the fact that the forces of reaction directed their energies towards the torture and exploitation of those who organised popular movements, the cultivation of conflict within those movements and the propagation among the people of the idea that it was their lot to live in poverty. Taking their cue from Kolokotronis, who said that that our country is an 'impoverished beggar', the reactionaries managed to convince the Greek people that they could not stand on their own two feet; that they must be governed by foreigners. So the reactionaries called upon the Powers — the Russians, the English and the French. It was to this that our rulers had brought us. Later, we were to achieve democracy, but only because of the struggles of the people. The snake may shed its skin, but it remains a snake. The forces of reaction found democracy at fault for the misery of the people and turned once again to the monarchy. They brought back the king and commenced more brazenly to exploit the people. To silence the people's screams they imposed upon us Metaxas, who had been an agent of the German High Command ever since he studied at the German military academy. Thus it was that after 120 years we fell into slavery again, so badly had we been governed during those years. It was in this situation that we found ourselves when a war against the two colossi began to threaten.

But no one thought about how our country could escape the destruction that war would bring; instead, knowing that this country was headed for destruction, we entered the war.

We have documents proving that our rulers intended to make merely a token effort in the Albanian epic and then hand Greece over to the fascists. We have documents which prove that during November and December 1940 we Greeks could have driven the Italians into the sea; but our rulers instead kept the army restrained until they could use Germany 's victories in Europe to justify the argument that Greece was unable to fight both the colossi. They didn't trust in the magnificence of our army; neither in its courage, its fearlessness, its self-denial nor its heroism, even though, hungry and shoeless in the mountains of Albania, it had fought against fascism with great ferocity and the aid of the Greek people.

That is how they bound us once more to slavery.

Our people were no longer in a position to continue their resistance, however fervent their feelings. Even with their ardour, our people were unable to hold back the assault by the metallic giant of fascism after they had been sold out and betrayed by their leaders. Although the people were obliged to submit, they were not defeated, since the capitulation was signed before the army had even fought. Thus the defeat was suffered not by our people but by the regimes which had ruled them between 1821 and 1941. Our people are today are in the process of turning this defeat into victory — a victory that becomes ever more complete with the progress of time.

In such a way did the Germans arrive in our land and turn us into slaves. But our people would not abandon their country, and the blemish of defeat disappeared when we rebelled. And what did we get from those who wore the "clak and bakaliarika?" The only thing they could find to tell us was:

"Keep calm and silent. Maintain order. We have established a government; calm down."

In this, they reflected the will of the Germans. Such words were spoken by those who have no right to be called Greek; but they could not compromise the honour of our nation, of which our people are the guardians.

And yet two and a half months later the noise of the guns began. What words were spoken then? As in 1821 the forces of reaction conspired against us. In the beginning, they said nothing about the guerrilla war; they ignored it. They did as the ostrich does when it buries its head in the sand while the rest of its body remains visible. They thought that if they said nothing about the guerrilla war and ignored it the commotion of war would cease. But it did not cease, and every day the mountains were stained red with blood.

As the guerrilla war escalated and their silence proved incapable of stopping it, the reactionaries changed tack; they set themselves to fight us. They labelled us crooks, animal thieves, gangsters and so on. They even found people to condemn us because we killed the traitor and blackmailer Marathea. These people were totally stupid; they couldn't even recognise that which was in their own interests. They assumed that, if they attacked and disassociated themselves from us, our struggle would cease and we would never be capable of tightening the noose round their necks.

So be it; they were stupid then and they spoke their stupidities aloud. Let them now eat their words.


How did this happen? The villagers saw for the first time that they could safely leave their possessions outside in the open without their being tampered with. Animal thieving had been eradicated in the countryside and security of life and property was as it had never been before. Was this a miracle? No. But for the first time the people of the villages were in a position of power from which they could fight back against betrayal, animal theft and other crimes and replace them with security.

When we mounted our assault on these crimes and on betrayal, the reactionaries, like women of the aristocracy who refuse to see the human misery and impoverishment around them and instead concern themselves with the illness of a stray cat, raised their voices and condemned us on the grounds that we kill. Under Metaxas, women were raped; thousands of people were martyred; many were killed and thrown from balconies by the security services. So many crimes were committed, even against the old. Yet none among the reactionaries spoke up. And now they screech, 'Aris kills!'

Yes, we have killed before and are ready to kill again if need be. Who did we kill? We have bigger hearts than they. The proof of this is that we were the ones who were beaten up and hunted down over the years. We slaughtered those who betrayed the Greeks to the occupiers — those who stole from the people and committed crimes. Those who believe that they suffered pain when we justifiably attacked them are ridiculously stupid, so as to side with them or they are wholeheartedly partners in crime. Neither did this trick work either .


And then the forces of reaction developed a perfect formulation: 'We have no objection to the guerrillas' carrying out a national struggle, but the question is to be resolved by the big powers. What, then, is the purpose of struggling and dying? The matter will be resolved by outsiders!

The reactionaries found success with this formulation. Was it correct?

Of course not! And this is why:

In 1941-42 EAM was not yet very strong. That is why the struggle had not yet taken on a mass character; neither was EAM conducting guerrilla activity. In 1941-42 approximately 300,000 people died from hunger and disease in Athens , Piraeus and the surrounding villages alone, and even more would have died had EAM not mobilized the people through demonstrations, meetings and strikes. Through these, the people were given the courage to stop the looting of our production by a section of the occupiers, to leave the feeding of the people to the International Red Cross and to observe the situation of Greece internationally.

If the guerrilla war had not prevented the Germans from stealing our production by ending the concentration on production of goods that the occupiers favoured the number of victims of hunger and disease would have been much higher.


When have we ever heard in the history of humanity that liberation can be achieved using backhanded methods? Never. Freedom isn't achieved with prayers but with struggle and suffering!

But even had we wanted, we didn't have the right to blacken the history of our country. That would be disrespect to the memory of our heroic ancestors.

Neither did we have the right to implant the stamp on the forehead of the forthcoming generations, our children and our grandchildren, that they originate from a land of eunuchs who agreed to die on the streets from the most vile of deaths — from hunger — instead of dying with gun in hand fighting for freedom.

What should we prefer? The first or the second? We answer a thousand times with no shadow of doubt: TO FIGHT!

Better for everything to burn down instead of us capitulating to the occupiers.

This our people realised, turning their backs on the quislings and thus gave the heroes of ELAS their victories.


This forced EKKA to change tune and take their own guerrilla forces into the mountains.

But why did they do this?

EAM had declared that it doesn't have a monopoly on guerrilla struggle. That's why it called on EKKA to create common guerrilla groups. If they had the desire to fight against the occupiers they would have done it spontaneously. But then they used to argue that the geography of Greece and the lack of space due to the occupation did not allow the existence of guerrilla groups.

But when they saw us liberate the country they then decided to create a guerrilla army.

What would anyone accept from them as being the guiding principle? What slogan would come out of their mouths? Naturally 'Down with the Occupiers'. But they clarified their position from the beginning.

Their first scream was: "Down with EAM"!

But we still called on them to unite. They refused, as they didn't want to get their hands dirty and to struggle to fight the occupier. They weren't implementing the will of the Greek people, but of reaction frightened by peoples' democracy and they set out to fight it.

In the end they declared war on us, with arms, collaborating with the occupiers.

We would not be consistent in our struggle and betrayers of the people if we hated blood. That is why, as followers of the will of the people, we crushed these collaborators of the occupiers, those who fought against our national struggle.


Then they used another trick: they condemned us as not supporting the Allied struggle and that we were the tools of the Russians. They threatened us that when the Allies came here they would sort us out: they who collaborated with the Germans had the gall to threaten us that the Allies would attack us!

They who in 1941 betrayed the Allied struggle! They who allowed the Three Hundred to be left alone in Thermopylae by leaving the Allied English to fight alone whilst they had surrendered the country with the quisling role of Tsolagoglou condemned for not aiding the allied struggle and they placed in the minds of the Allies that they would attack us on coming here.


But very soon the first slap arrived for them! The first group of English parachutists came not to them but to Aris in the Giona area. Alongside them we blew up the Gorgopotamos bridge. The leader of the Allied armies in the Middle East, General Wilson declared that 80% of the success of the Allies in Africa was due to the blowing up of the Gorgopotamos bridge as this stopped the sending of German war supplies and support. And one more thing: in the Peloponnese we proposed to the tsoliades (rightists) that they lay down their arms and we would let them go free. But the English refused this and arrested all the tsoliades, locked them up in concentration camps and advised they should be tried in military courts (as quislings — translators note). In the end we have the English with us. They are going down the streets of Lamia and they are going to attack the Germans with us. We will fight alongside them and not against them until the total defeat of fascism.

But we are being attacked now by a new argument. We are being condemned as being all communists and they are stating that EAM and ELAS are Communist Front organisations. But can this category constitute shame or glory?


The Communist Party isn't now fighting for communism. In its programme the KKE has Communism as its final aim. But not for now. Communism will be imposed by the people, not the KKE. I am sure that many of those educated fellows who don't want it today, will in future vote so as to ensure that communism dominates.

But today the KKE does not aim at that but at a democratic solution to the Greek problem.

But let us say that the KKE were to implement Communism. They say that Communism destroys the churches and skins alive the priests. Are Communists so stupid that they will destroy the churches, which do not disturb us in any way.


We will skin alive the priests? But why? We see that thousands of priests are now found in the vanguard of the movement and the contribution of the clergy which stood on our side, was invaluable. Is the opposite occurring? Why have those who claim to be defenders of the church killed, along with the Germans, so many priests and skinned some alive?

Communism will destroy religion. But religion is an issue of consciousness. How will it be destroyed? The destruction of religious consciousness is impossible even if the communists wanted to destroy it. Religious consciousness does not get destroyed by simple orders. If something like that occurred it would resemble the police officer in Anafi who disallowed the class struggle!

What will happen in the distant future: how will humans think is another problem. No politician can declare a law as to what should occur after 200 or 500 years. We won't produce such a law. We are interested in how the people will develop today and not what philosophical desires it has after 500 years.

Consequently do you understand that those who circulate such slander are aiming to achieve different ends, attempting with the method of slander to deceive the people and to maintain their dominance over them. If we analyse more deeply the issue we will see that they are non-religious as they have no religious consciousness. They only love God Mammon, the God of Money...


They also condemn the Communists, saying that they will dissolve families. As if we came down from the heavens and we weren't born in families but sprung up like mushrooms. The family was created by certain economic conditions. At a certain level of development of society the necessity of the family arose as because the demands of life were better served.

Everyone was required to work, the father and children on the farms the women stayed at home as that is the only way society could manage their biological needs.

The forms of economic activities which dominated then made the bonds of its members even stronger. Today what is happening? Today's economic conditions do not lead to the closest working of the family but its exact opposite.

Here is one example. A man marries but the day after he leaves for the USA to be able to confront the needs of life and his family. Who dissolves the family in this case? The Communists or the economic conditions which Capitalism created?

Here we see clearly that they who condemn us as wanting to dissolve the family are none other than those who dissolve it in reality whilst we aim to solidify it. We will give to the people the economic measures so the family isn't dissolved to the four corners of the Earth.

They condemn us that we want to abolish borders and dissolve the State. But the State we build today no longer exists as they dissolved it. Who therefore is a patriot? They or us? Capital doesn't have a country and it runs to find profit in whatever country it is able to. That is why it isn't concerned for the existence of borders and the state. But all we own are our hats and the small kerb in front of us, unlike capital that runs wherever it finds profit.


Who can be interested more in their country? They who remove the capital from this country or us who are stuck on our doorsteps here? When suddenly in 1929-31 the state asked due to the economic crisis which affected our country the foreign bond holders to lower the interest rates which we pay for the bonds, the English agreed to reduce it by 35% but the Greek bondholders refused. There is their patriotism! They reach to the point when their economic interests aren't affected. They themselves condemn us that we seek to abolish borders and the dissolution of the state, they sell everything out at every available opportunity.


They condemn us that we are the ones who oversee honour. They are all the moral persons who when they walk get their heads woven into the barbed wire, they speak of honour!

They who sold their women and sisters to the occupier, so as to do business with them and turned us into double slaves, they now go to convince us that they are the vanguard of honour and morality. With such means they are trying to deceive the people so as to continue the exploitation and torture. Many times they convince us and achieve what they say really is.

Take one example of what is going on the villages. The village smokes tobacco which he himself produces. But they convinced him that this is illegal. The villager himself then tells you that he is smoking illegal tobacco. As if he didn't grow it himself on his land but brought it from America. The villager himself ended up believing that his smoke was 'illegal'.

Reaction doesn't stop at anything so as to deceive the people, using all the means, all the sycophancy and lies. But these sycophancies in the country where they saw us and felt us became dust. The same will happen in the cities.

In a few days you will see reality yourselves alone. As our aim is only one: How our people will live better!

When the occupier was here they wanted order. We wanted disorder to make the life of the occupier unbearable. Now they disorder. We want order. They are the organisers of the civil war and they exploit our people. They are the wolves that try to eat the sheep you me us in other words the people.


EAM and ELAS promised to the people the struggle against the occupier and the liberation of the country. We maintain these promises. We didn't create a government press. It was created on its own by the people. From October 1942 the people on its own went for elections and their own self-government.

This institution of self-government which for the first time appeared in Euritania constituted its beginnings from creation in the village till the PEEA (govt of the mountains) later...


We are for the unity and due to our attempts 95% of the creation of our national government under which we are fighting today. Until Larissa our country is now free. We will liberate the rest of the country soon.

Thus our second promise will be realised fully.


We also promised the people something else: that we wont leave our hands if we don't achieve our double freedom. That is what we will fight to achieve this promise of ours as well dedicating our lives and sacrificing it for a popular rule solution to the problems of the Greek problem.

ELAS in the first years of the CC of EAM and PEEA later constituted the strong weapon of maintaining the people in life. The vehicle of our faster liberation. Now in the hands of our national liberation which is composed by all the parties and organisations that support popular rule dominated solutions it will constitute a guarantee that we will continue the war until the full and complete victory of fascism and that they will guarantee the up till now gains of our people and more will be won.

You shouted a lot about the death penalty regarding the traitors and the collaborationists and exploiters of the people in the years of the occupation. When we didn't have the capacity of judging them we killed them. Later on we judged them in military tribunals. Now all those we have arrested we will hand over to justice. There exists now the legal government and this will decide for all. Don't shout therefore. They will be judged and condemned. It won't have a big importance. It will have great importance if you judge and condemn to death, the dominant people, the regime which creates such scumbags. Tomorrow we will go for elections. The first attack in the plebiscite must be the irrevocable condemnation of friendly royalism and the establishment of democracy.


1. As first of all he isn't Greek.

2. They brought him here with the fake plebiscite of 1935.

3. As he is a person who disavowed his word. He squashed the constitution of 1911 and imposed the fifth-columnist Giannis Metaxas as dictator.

4. As he left all the incapable and fifth-columnist generals and ministers to betray us in the war in Albania and to subjugate the country.

5. Finally during our national disaster instead of staying here in 1941 to sacrifice himself as another Kodros of Athens he abandoned us.

If he was good he should have stayed here and instead of Aris Velouhiotis and I dont know who else going to the mountains he should have organised the struggle and to be by deed a King and our leader. With his stance he abandoned essentially and typically his right to be on the throne in Greece.

That for sure for him personally and independently from our desires and that we don't need any throne, but democracy for Greece to go forward.


The second attack should be given to the elections which will clear the establishment of our country. As for us our only desire is that we become servants of the people. That is why we will respect your wishes whatever that may be.

But we have these demands: For the people to vote without influence and for them to respect the will of the people.

If these demands aren't carried out, then we promise you that we will go the mountains again. But I am sure these things won't happen. As our people have now got back their self-control. He was tried and woke up. He will follow the path which we show and which only interest him.

With this desire I ask you to shout:



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