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Labor Action, 29 April 1946


An Unparalleled Record
of Socialist Resistance

Greek Trotskyism
During the Wartime Terror


From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 17, 29 April 1946, p. 4-M.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Among those who fought heroically against the brutality of the imperialist war and the system that engendered it, the International Revolutionary Party of Greece (section of the 4th International) deserves ah honored place. The Greek section fought valiantly and paid a heavy toll. They were persecuted on all sides. More than 200 revolutionary workers were slaughtered by the gangsters of the Stalinist bureaucracy. From 1937 to 1944 scores of others were murdered by the Greek reactionaries or the German Nazis.

From 1937, during the Metaxas dictatorship, until the retirement of the Germans, the Greek comrades were cut off from contact with other sections of the 4th International. But a recently received report from the Central Committee of the International Revolutionary Party reveals what great sacrifices they underwent and how they carried the banner forward during the years of terror. Parts of that report follow:

“In May 1937 our activity was stopped ... all our cadres had been captured. The members that remained outside of jail were not able to do any more than carry on oral propaganda and keep in contact with those imprisoned. Only at the end of 1938 did it become possible to circulate a proclamation against the coming war ...

Greek Comrades Continue to Function in the Prisons

“In Greece the working class movement for 20 years has almost constantly found itself illegal, and all our comrades have enough experience with illegal activity. All those who were captured, without exception, made a heroic stand despite the police brutality. But our people, in such a situation of dispersal and terror, had to circulate around collecting money for our printing expenses, or for getting themselves a piece of bread. Thus by May 1937 the police had captured all the activists of our Party.

“From then on the activity of our party was transferred to the armories (military guard houses) and the prisons. The control of arms, the development of problems, talks with comrades of other organizations – all the theoretical, political and organizational problems were discussed with passion in face of the coming war.

“In the armory at Akronauplio (an old medieval fortress of Nauplio, where 600 men were herded, who in the opinion of the police were dangerous communists) a leaflet was issued with which contact was made with the other armories and with those on the outside. Under the most brutal terror, the Trotskyist movement continued its heroic tradition. During the various international holidays our party organized meetings. When the murder of Trotsky became known, an impressive funeral meeting was held, at which Comrades Pouliopoulos and Stina spoke about the work and life of Trotsky. The Stalinists watched astounded but did not dare interfere.

“Life in the guardhouse and the prisons was full of privations and torture. The daily allowance was 10 drachmas (then 1/100 of an English pound.) With this we had to eat, wash and take care of all our needs. Books and newspapers of any kind were strictly forbidden. In many guardhouses, beatings were given on the slightest pretext and were a daily occurrence. At Akronauplio, on September 9, 1937, the garrison fired hundreds of rounds against the inmates and killed our comrade, Staurides. Life was literally martyrdom and for our combatants worse than martyrdom because of the Stalinists’ savage behavior against us.

“On the islands, from the beginning, our comrades were excluded from the relief funds, that is, from the money the workers sent for the victims of the dictatorship. Not satisfied with this attempt to starve us, the Stalinists told the farmers and the rural police that we were anarchists, agitators, atheists, without-a-countryites, against the family, etc.

“Thus they made our comrades’ lives more difficult. In the prisons of Aiginas, in agreement with the administrators of the jails, the Stalinists were able to isolate our comrades and the Archeo-Marxists to a narrow and small cell with only one small window near the toilets. In this tiny room 19 comrades of ours and the Archeo-Marxists were to carry out their long sentences ...

Reaction of Stalinist Prisoners to Hitler Pact

“The signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact was announced officially by the head of the guardhouse. At the beginning, the Stalinists protested and screamed that it was a lie and a provocation. Later when they found out it was neither a lie nor a provocation, they greeted the pact with enthusiasm. We were left with our mouths open at this moral and spiritual degeneration, even though we had been prepared for anything on the part of the Stalinists. They celebrated and hailed the machine that had been put up by Stalin against the ‘democratic’ allies, and they mocked and laughed at them. These fanatical ‘anti-fascists’ of yesterday were converted abruptly, into defenders of Hitler’s justice. And in this new point of view there was the same fanaticism as in all previous changes.

“They studied the map with conclusions about a war between Russia and Germany against England and France. Russia would take half of Poland, the Baltics, Bessarabia, the Indies, etc. They even spoke of a peaceful change of the fascist regime to one of soviets. They gave the impression of a phonograph with a different record. With the eruption of the Greek-Italian war, there was further sharpening, in our relationship. At the meetings they called, we defended the principles of proletarian internationalism with pathos and daring, amidst howling and swearing of the assembled Stalinists.

“During the crumbling of the battlefront, the decomposition of the governmental mechanism and the bombings by the Germans, a situation developed at the guardhouse of Akronauplio making it possible for all the prisoners to escape. The fortress was being bombed, the guards had been terrified and were scattered. But the leaders of the Stalinists hindered the escape. They said they did not want to endanger the group, and because the head of the guardhouse had promised them that as soon as the Germans reached Athens he would open the gates and liberate all the prisoners. To our protests that the heads of the guardhouse would turn us over to the Germans, the bureaucrats called upon their members to follow and watch us in case we tried to escape.

“The Germans took Nauplio first, instead of Athens. The head of the guardhouse turned us over to the Germans. This dishonorable act of the Stalinists cost the lives of hundreds of workers. The Stalinists really believed that Hitler, to please Stalin, would set them free!”

(The report then describes how, in the chaotic situation, a number of comrades managed to escape from their island prisons and return to the Greek mainland. – Ed.)

The Party of Greek Trotskyism Lives Again!

“Immediately, from the escaped prisoners, the party was put together. The banner of the Fourth International is again proudly unfurled. After six years in hell, without even bothering to take a breath, they leap in battle. Naked, barefoot, hungry, sick, they run to their relatives, friends and to old comrades; collect money and buy a typewriter and a duplicating machine. A proclamation is immediately issued and circulated. A little later a print shop is purchased and our printing activities begin. We issue our newspaper and the magazine, Permanent Revolution. Proclamations are distributed regularly by the thousands. On the walls, after a lapse of years and under the terror of the occupation, appear the slogans of the proletarian revolution.

“There is a change in the situation in the Fall of 1943. The crumbling of Italian fascism generates life in the working masses and for a moment awakens its class consciousness. The activity of the nationalist organizations, especially the EAM, is paralyzed. Our slogans find a response. The program of the Fourth International becomes the object of the most lively concern to the masses. A strike wave with class demands breaks out and our party leads the bakery-workers’ strike. The merchants have food hidden in the warehouses, and the masses demand the opening of these warehouses and the distribution of the food. Our party takes an active part in this movement, and under the leadership of our comrades many warehouses are opened and with model honesty the food is distributed. Our comrades refuse to take the share to which they are entitled.

“Everything gives the impression that things have changed, and our party develops strength. But the seizure of Italy by the Anglo-American and German forces and the forced interruption there of the revolutionary unfolding have an immediate effect here. The working class, which for a moment had risen up, not on its two feet, but on one knee, now falls down again.”

Today, despite the oppression and reaction in Greece, that section of the Fourth International continues to rebuild itself. We can offer but one tribute to the Greek martyrs who died in the struggle and to those who managed to survive and continue the fight: to build a strong revolutionary socialist party here in the United States and continue the fight until we achieve together a socialist world.

* * *

Some Greek Martyrs to the Socialist Cause

This is a partial list of our heroic martyrs who died in the struggle:

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