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The Militant, 4 May 1946

S. Stypos

May 1 in Greece – Its Significance

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 18, 4 May 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The first of May, International Labor Day, acquired new significance for the Greek revolutionary movement during World War II. The execution of Trotskyist leaders by German Nazis and Italian Fascists, which began at the close of 1943, reached its savage climax on May 1, 1944.

Many terrible disasters befell the Greek toilers during the Second Imperialist War. One million out of eight million workers starved to death or were slaughtered on the battlefields and by the terrorists. A million peasants were slain. Seventy per cent of the children of the poor contracted tuberculosis. Countless villages were destroyed, and the productivity of the peasants was drastically lowered. Permanent mass unemployment plagued the workers.

With these misfortunes as the background, the murder of the Trotskyist leaders has tremendous significance in the eyes of the Greek workers. The Trotskyist leadership was created by the Greek working class in the course of a twenty-year struggle against reaction. It developed outstanding Marxist theoreticians, trade-union leaders and party organizers. These men combined their talents and Marxist training with absolute devotion to the cause of the proletarian revolution.

Imprisoned in 1938

Many of the Trotskyist leaders became active in the Greek labor movement when it first came into existence – during and immediately after World War I. To halt their growing influence in the labor movement the ruthless Metaxas dictatorship imprisoned most of the Greek Trotskyist leaders in 1938.

Ten of them escaped from the prisons and islands where they were, being held soon after German and Italian armies occupied Greece. The others, who were unable to escape, were murdered. Oh May 1, 1944, about 20 of these comrades were mowed down by fascist firing squads. Another ten were executed in the next few mouths.

Many Martyrs

Among those murdered by the Nazis and Fascists were the following:

After the German armies were driven out of Greece late in 1944, more than 100 leaders, members and sympathizers of the Greek Trotskyist party were murdered by the Stalinists who thus continued the barbarous massacre begun by the Nazis and Fascists.

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