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Labor Action, 20 June 1949

 

M. Stevens

In Memoriam

A Fighter for Freedom: Pantelis Pouliopoulos ...

 

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 24, 13 June 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

 

Six years ago this week, June 6, 1943, Pantelis Pouliopoulos was stood up against a wall at Larrissa, Greece, and shot to death. His executioners were Mussolini’s military authorities, who were jointly occupying Greece with Hitler’s henchmen.

In Pouliopoulos’ death, the international socialist movement lost one of its brightest lights and the radical movement in Greece out of the most outstanding revolutionists it has yet produced. As general secretary of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) and later as a Fourth Internationalist leader, he was held in high esteem by the workers of Greece.

His stature among the workers was so high that the full pressure of Stalin’s Comintern for more than four years was not strong enough to remove him and his tendency from the KKE—and then only through gangster methods and the importation of a solid corps from Moscow, including the present secretary of the KKE, N. Zachariades.

Pouliopoulos joined the Communist movement in 1919. He first came into prominence as an organizer of the Soldiers’ Councils in Macedonia and Asia Minor. These councils gained considerable strength during the Asia Minor debacle. This was a war organized by King Constantine of Greece and backed by Lloyd George and Winston Churchill immediately after the First World War in an attempt to take territory away from Turkey.

Fear of revolt by the Greek soldiers and the threat of revolution forced King Constantine to abdicate his throne. But the “democrats” who took power still feared the soldiers councils; they arrested Pouliopoulos, who was now a member of the central committee of the councils, and in 1922 imprisoned him on the charge of treason.

In 1924, Pouliopoulos was elected president of the Revolutionary Veterans’ Conference and during that same year was elected general secretary of the KKE and delegate to the fifth congress of the Communist International in Moscow.
 

Fought Stalinism

As early as 1926 he was questioning the policies of the Comintern and the directives being forced on the party. He withdrew as a candidate for the Greek parliament to devote his energies toward fighting the non-socialist theories that were being advanced in the party by various elements.

By 1927 he realized that these nonsocialist theories were the root of Stalinism and along with others he organized the first Left Opposition group (Pireaus) in the KKE. The fight against him and his co-workers was long and bitter, with the Stalinists eventually winning out. Pouliopoulos organized the Spartakos Left Opposition, which with other Trotskyist groups eventually emerged as a party.

Pouliopoulos was arrested again and stood trial for treason in 1925, 1928 and 1935. In 1938 he was arrested by the Greek fascist dictatorship of Metaxas and sentenced to the notorious prisons on the islands where in 1942 he contracted tuberculosis. He was confined to the hospital when Mussolini’s armed forces came to Greece. They took him to Larrissa and shot him.

He was the author of hundreds of articles and many serious works on Marxism which appeared in pamphlet and book forms. He also translated many of the Marxist classics into the Greek language. His last translation, finished in prison shortly before he was killed, was Leon Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed.

On this sixth anniversary of his death we tip our flags to the memory of this heroic socialist.

 
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