Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History

Stalinism and Trotskyism in Greece (1924-1949)

The document that follows, which is meant to serve as an outline introduction to the rest of this collection, consists of an extract from a much longer article published by Diethnistis (Internationalist) publications in Greece, written during the dictatorship of the colonels and published in 1979. Our English text is a slightly amended version of that contained in Documents of the Workers Vanguard (Greece) under the title of Fifty Years of Mistakes and Betrayals of the KKE (pp.124-59), omitting that part dealing with the period after the end of the Greek Civil War.

The author, Loukas Karliaftis (Costas Kastritis) was born in 1905, and started his revolutionary career as a member of the tendency of Tzoulatis, the left. tendency of the Socialist Workers Party of Greece (SEKE), at the age of 16 in 1921. He has remained a Communist and a Trotskyist ever since. From 1927 onwards he was an organiser for the Archeiomarxists in Athens and the Piraeus and in the neighbouring towns. A shoemaker by profession, he played an energetic part in the early years of the Greek trade union movement. He was sent to Thessalonica in 1930 to organise a municipal election campaign for an Archeiomarxist candidate, organised Workers Step, was arrested, but escaped. He was arrested again in Kavalla (Macedonia), and was sentenced to a month in prison. He was again arrested in Xanthi in Macedonia, and was then exiled without trial. Then he was brought up before a court and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, but escaped on his way to exile.

As a member of the Archeiomarxists he functioned as an organisational link alongside Giotopoulos (Witte) (1901-1965), and in the early 1930s led the Trotskyist campaign for the United Front that gained significant support amongst the working class, even though it was eventually undermined by the Stalinists. As a leading member of the Central Committee-of KOMLEA (the Archeiomarxists, the Greek Section of the International Left Opposition) in 1932 he represented about 50 trade unions led by them in discussions to form a United Front with other trade union leaders. Although he supported Witte in his agreement with Trotsky over the German debacle of 1933 and the need for a new international, when Trotsky broke with Witte he took Trotsky’s side in the dispute and became a leading cadre of the split led by Vitsoris in 1934, which united with the OKDE of Pouliopoulos in 1938 to form the EOKDE, the Greek section of the newly formed Fourth International.

He was again exiled for one and a half months in 1935, and was again arrested and tortured in 1938, spending the next few years in prison camps at Acronauplia and Neokastro on Pylos along with hundreds of KKE (Greek Communist Party) militants. He played an important part in organising the Trotskyists during and after the Second World War, and took an energetic part in the events of December 1944, narrowly escaping assassination by the OPLA (the Stalinist Secret Police) earlier in the year. By then he was bringing out the journal Workers Fight, and secured a majority after the unification congress of the Greek Trotskyist groups in 1946, becoming its General Secretary. In this capacity he was the organisation’s first speaker at the debate held with the Stalinists in Athens in October 1946. He was afterwards cut off from the rest of the international Trotskyist movement due to the civil war and the repression that followed it. The Greek Section led by Christos Anastasiades remained loyal to the International Secretariat of Michel Pablo during the split of 1953, and the Karliaftis tendency broke with them in 1958. When contacts were renewed abroad the document of the International Committee of 1961, World Prospects for Socialism, was translated, and links were made with the International Committee of Gerry Healy and Pierre Lambert in 1964, the Karliaftis group becoming its Greek section.

As leader of the Ergatike Protoporeia (Workers Vanguard) along with L. Sklavos, he took an energetic part in the revolutionary disturbances that shook Greece in the summer of 1965, and the group sent representatives to the Third World Congress of the International Committee in 1966. The group split just before the coming to power of the dictatorship of the colonels in 1967, and many of its members were either imprisoned or fled abroad. Continuing his revolutionary activity under the colonels, Karliaftis was arrested and interrogated, but was released due to his age. When the International Committee recognised the group of Sklavos as its official section in 1972, Karliaftis’ tendency was expelled, and when the dictatorship came to an end it had been overtaken in numbers by the organisations loyal to the International Committee and the United Secretariat. It has published a monthly journal, Diethnistis (Internationalist) since 1964, and has produced a large number of pamphlets, as well as translations of the writings of Trotsky into Greek. Karliaftis’ major work, published under the pseudonym of Costas Kastritis, is his ’Istoria tou Mpolsebikismos sten ’Ellada (History of Bolshevism in Greece), published by Ergatike Protoporeia, of which four volumes have appeared to date. The journal from which our text is taken also includes substantial pieces bearing on the history and politics of his organisation, The Balkans: Ingredients of an Explosion (1971), A Criticism of Six Years of the International Committee of the Fourth International in Relation to Its Greek Section (1972), The November Events in the Light of Marxism (1974) on the Polytechnic Uprising, The Bolivian Revolution and the Deviations of the FOR (1971) and The War Question and Pabloite Revisionism (1966).

The latter text, which contains important insights into the history of the Greek and international Trotskyist movement during the Second World War, was also printed in Fourth International magazine (International Committee), volume 8 no.3, Winter 1973, pp.134-6, and was discussed by Voix Ouvriere (the modern Lutte Ouvriere group) in On the Degeneration of the Fourth International. Concerning a text of the Workers Vanguard, and Origin of the Degeneration of the Fourth International in Class Struggle/Lutte de Classe, new series no.1, February 1967, pp.18-26, and no.2, March 1967, pp.14-8. The document on The Bolivian Revolution and the Deviations of the FOR is also to be found in Fourth International magazine (International Committee), volume 7 no.4, Summer 1972, pp.l53-62, and in Trotskyism versus Revisionism, volume 6, New Park, 1974, pp.128-50. It brought forth a rejoinder from Savas Michael, the leader of the Workers International League, the group that had split from Karliaftis’ Workers Vanguard and remained loyal to the International Committee, Workers Vanguard and the Bolivian Revolution, in Fourth International, volume 8 no.1, Winter 1972-73, pp.7-14, reproduced in Trotskyism versus Revisionism, volume 6, pp.151-68, which contains a number of interesting details about the history of Greek Trotskyism and of Archeiomarxism touched upon in the article below. These observations are expanded into an alternative analysis of the history of this period in the Resolution of the Fifth Congress of the Workers International League, Greek Section of the Fourth International (Fourth International magazine, volume 8 no.2, Spring 1973, pp.61-9), and a letter from Nikolaou on behalf of the Workers Vanguard group of Karliaftis (7 February 1973, in Fourth International, volume 8 no.3, Winter 1973, p.134) elicited the response of a full scale historical treatment that should be read alongside this account, in the Reply to Workers Vanguard from the Greek Section of the International Committee (Fourth International, volume 8 no.3, Winter 1973, pp.137-56), and the History of the Greek Civil War (Fourth International, volume 9 no.1, Summer 1974, pp.22-37, and volume 9 no.2, Autumn 1974, pp.61-84)

Karliaftis has also provided a wealth of material on the history of Stalinism and Trotskyism in Greece. His La Naissance du Bolchevisme en Grece (two parts, of which only the first is available in English) takes the story of the Greek Communist Party up to 1924, and Trotskyists and Archeiomarxists in the Concentration Camps of the Metaxas Dictatorship (1936-40) and In Devotion to P. Pouliopoulos and the Militant Trotskyists/Archeiomarxists Killed by the Fascists and the Stalinists (in English and French) deal with the war years, from which we excerpt a number of passages below (pp24-37). There are also two editions of his theoretical magazine Internationalist that touch upon this subject, including Andreas Papandreou, l’ex-Trotskyste, Le ‘Declarationiste’ et le Capituleur, and Cannon and the SWP: On the Track of the Social-Betrayers in Front of the Second World War (January 1983), as well as another in English dealing with economic perspectives (July/August 1984).

The same period dealt with here is covered by a personal memoir, Agis Stinas’ Memoires, published by Editions La Breche-PPC, Montreuil 1990 at a cost of 130 francs, translated from the Greek of his Anamnesis, first published in two volumes in 1977 and again under a single cover in 1985. It is this book that was reviewed by Alison Peat in Revolutionary History, volume 3 no.1, pp.44-6. General accounts of the Greek Civil War in English vary in both approach and scope. The policy of the Greek Communist Party appears in such general surveys as Ian Birchall’s Workers Against the Monolith, London 1974, pp.22-3 and 30-2, Adam Westoby’s Communism since World War II, Brighton 1981, pp.24-8 and The Evolution of Modern Communism, Cambridge 1989, pp.142-4, and in a series of articles in Workers Press of 29-31 January 1975. Other general accounts include D. George Kousoulas, The Communist Party of Greece Since 1918, 1956, and Revolution and Defeat: The Story of the Greek Communist Party, Oxford UP, 1965. A right wing view extremely hostile to the Greek Communist Party is W.C. Chamberlin, Rebellion: The Rise and Fall of the Greek Communist Party, Washington, 1963. Stalinist accounts are to be consulted in M. Sarafis and M. Eve, Background to Contemporary Greece, 1990, and Dominique Eudes, The Kopetanios, New Left Books, 1972, a useful description written from a Maoist/guerrillarist point of view, which can be supplemented by the remarks of Vafiades (‘General Markos’) in the interview published under the title of The Crimes of Greek Stalinism, in Labour Review, volume 7, no.4, November 1983, pp.26-30. The grisly story of the fate of the refugees in the ‘Peoples’ Democracies’ and the Soviet Union comes out in a review of Thomas Dritsos’ Why Do You Kill Me, Comrade? which was printed in The Atrocities of Greek Stalinism, in Labour Review, volume 7 no.6, January 1984, pp.26-9. The Greek Trotskyists’ own overview of the Civil War appears in The Present Situation and Our Tasks, printed in July 1949 in Workers Fight, the clandestine organ of the International Communist Party of Greece, and translated into French in La Trahison stalinienne en Grece, in Quatrième Internationale, 7th year, volume 7 nos.8-11, October/November 1949, pp.33-8. There are also earlier and shorter accounts in Terror in Greece (Workers International News, volume 6 no.1, October 1945, pp.l7-9) and The Guerrilla Movement in Greece' (signed ‘GD’, in Workers International News, volume 7 no.4, June 1948, pp.11-6), both of them from Workers Fight, along with a first-hand report by Alice Condos, Inside Greece, in Socialist Appeal (Britain), no.29, mid-August 1946. A few other accounts exist dealing with the civil war in its earlier phase, but with no indication that they rely upon any first hand reporting. Among them we might mention that appearing in Fourth International magazine in 1944, which was reprinted as From Greece’s Revolutionary History in Labour Review, volume 9 no.2, September 1985, pp.21-38, and Civil War in Greece in Fourth Internationol (SWP), volume 6 no.2, February 1945, pp.36-49. A few more details of the Stalinist murders and the repression began to appear in the Trotskyist press abroad after contact was re-established in 1945. Trotskyism in Greece, published in the Socialist Appeal of the British RCP (mid-August 1945) speaks of the shooting of 254 Archeiomarxists and Trotskyists in Thessalonica, and a little more information comes to light in Inside the Fourth International: Greece, in Fourth International (SWP), volume 6 no.10, October 1945, p.319.

The domination of the Thermidorian regime of Stalin in the Soviet Union, the bureaucratisation of the regime, the overthrow of the soviet system, the revision of the Constitution of October, the bureaucratic structure of the plan, the industrialisation (at first at snail’s pace, later at maximum) and collectivisation, and the incorporation of the kulak into Socialism (“Kulaks enrich yourselves”), the crisis in the relations between town and country (the grain strike), concessions to the bourgeoisie, etc, and the general revisionist line of Stalinism, encapsulated in the reactionary theory of ‘Socialism in one country’ – all of this isolated the position of the Soviet Union, strengthened restorationist elements (the kulaks) and along with the threat of external intervention, led the Soviet Union to the brink of the abyss. The Bonapartist regime of Stalin destroyed democracy, abolished workers’ control, annihilated hundreds of thousands of party members and carried out an unprecedented orgy of crimes.

It imposed its bureaucratic, revisionist and counter-revolutionary methods within the Comintern as a whole, and it went down in history as the organiser of the defeats of the workers’ movement, beginning with the USSR.

In Greece, the Stalinists placed themselves at the service of the Kremlin bureaucrats, supporting their criminal tactics and their suppression of all the old Bolshevik and Trotskyist vanguard, as well as subjugating the new generation, but they were also able to develop by exploiting the authority of the USSR and the traditions of the October Revolution.


The rise of the Stalinist leadership after 1924 over the KKE, to begin with through Khaita, the Secretary of the local committee of Athens, occurred in a period of a general offensive and domination by the Kremlin triumvirate against the Comintern parties, a period of defeat for the Bolshevik-Trotskyist tendency of the world Communist movement, and of the predominance of Thermidor in the USSR. It occurred after the major defeat of the proletarian revolution in Germany in 1923, without a fight, thanks to the rightist evaluation of the situation by the Zinovievist-Stalinist administration of the Comintern and of the Brandlerite leadership of the German party, in a period in which the Stresemann government thought itself to be the last government of German capitalism.

In Greece, Stalinism rose along with the retreat and defeat of the great general strike of 1923, which was drowned in blood by the ‘democratic’ dictatorship of Plastiras, and the retreat of the movement for the transformation of the war into a revolution. The first Social Democratic rule of Georgiades-Sideris [1] choked off the enormous rise of the mass movement caused by long-term military adventures, as well as by the influence of the October Revolution. But the development was dialectical. The struggle against the war and the fight for a workers’ and peasants’ government to solve the problems offhe masses raised to the forefront the old fighting tendency of Pantelis Pouliopoulos and his elite co-workers. Pouliopoulos became secretary of the KKE, and the OKNE [2] was in the hands of the Pouliopoulos tendency. The old fighting spirit on the basis of the October Revolution penetrated to the tiniest villages. Similarly, from the war rose the revolutionary movement of the war wounded, which was dependent on the Archeiomarxist organisation and was headed by S. Verouchis [3] (the Stalinists tore him to pieces during the Nazi occupation) who led the General Confederation of Disabled and War Veterans.

The ultra-left, adventurist line of the Comintern in 1924-25 cost the movement new defeats with the coups in Estonia and Bulgaria, and sent the Greek workers’ movement into a temporary new retreat after its rise in 1925. This ultra-left lurch was followed by ultra-rightism.

From the Fifth Congress of the Comintern the Stalinist bureaucracy sought allies outside the proletariat, in the pseudo-peasant ‘International’, in the Macedonian-Bulgarian Federalists, in the left democrats, in the English trade union officials, etc. In China, the alliance with Chiang Kai-Shek, and Wang Ching Wei and his officers, the liquidation of the Communist party into the Guomindang, and the Menshevik-revisionist line of the bourgeois democratic revolution, led the Chinese revolution of 1925-27 to betrayal, and brought calamity to the Canton uprising (30,000 were victims of Stalin’s friend, the butcher Chiang).

In Greece, the right zigzag was linked with adventures by the deformed Stalinist tendency, semi-alliances with Plastiras [4] against the Metaxas-Gargalides [5] movement (instead of an independent KKE intervention) and with proposals for collaboration with the ‘democratic’ Papanastasios [6] the murderer of the workers, and against the Pangalos dictatorship, on the proposals of Zachariades [7] in Salonika and of Khaites from exile in Anafe [8] for the open support of the KKE for the dictatorship.

The rightist zigzag of the Stalinists culminated in slogans of support to ‘bourgeois democracy’, and of the ‘pure democracy’ of Khaites and Zachariades (1926).

With this adaptation within the confines of capitalist ‘democracy’ they closed off the halting rise of the movement that occurred after the war and helped the bourgeois system overcome the great postwar crisis of Greek capitalism.

In contrast with the politics of self-determination up to separation for the oppressed nationalities, according to the Fifth Congress of the Comintern, Kolarov and Dimitrov denounced the Greek delegation of Pouliopoulos-Maximos for opportunism, and imposed the unrealistic slogan: “For a United and Independent Macedonia and Thrace”.


The slogan was completely unrealistic and contradicted the Leninist line of selfdetermination, which presupposed support to the nationally oppressed masses who had already begun fighting, as was the case with the Macedonian nationality, who included those inhabiting areas in Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, but who did not have a basis within the solid mass of Greeks in the Macedonian-Thrace area. Thus almost ail the KKE cadre were sent into exile on a programme of independence for Macedonia-Thrace, and Pouliopoulos, the secretary of the KKE, was taken to court with the threat of execution, where he gave an heroic defence of the line of self-determination. To save the honour of the KKE the slogan was withdrawn. But the KKE disintegrated.

They used demagogy – for pure reformism – against all those who thought the slogans on the ‘national’ question were wrong, and “those who later spoke of the simple protection of the minorities in the past elections” as New Beginning put it in 1926, had betrayed the Leninist principles of self-determination up to separation. They called them ‘rightist’ – they who only recently had supported Pangalos and were now supporting ‘left democracy’. These were “vulgar opportunists”, said Pouliopoulos in New Beginning.

After the fall of Pangalos, the Stalinists in the events that followed opened up a foul and dishonest slander campaign and tirade against the KKE secretary Pouliopoulos. The split that opened up in the ranks of the KKE in exile from which Trotskyism emerged could have been avoided. They recruited Smeral and Remmele, and they isolated and expelled Pouliopoulos as a ‘rightist’! The expulsion of the secretary of the KKE followed the expulsion of the Secretary of the Comintern, Zinoviev, and the rise of the liquidationist operations of the clique that ruled in the Kremlin among all the Communist parties in the world. In other words, they expelled the most enlightened, internationalist and advanced Marxist revolutionaries. They dissolved the movement of the War Veterans. Thus they sank into the swamp of opportunism. The victory against the internationalist left was due to the low political-theoretical level and to the concentration of petty-bourgeois and even lumpen elements due to the unceasing degeneration of the KKE.

The number of major strikes declined significantly between 1920 and 1930. The trade union movement was split by the pseudo-Socialists, and the split was formalised with the founding of the United Confederation.

The ‘third and last period’ of capitalism followed, which was the ‘Third Period of the betrayals of Stalinism’. The noncombative ‘combative demonstrations and political strikes’ brought the KKE to its knees. The trade unions fell to pieces. The strike wave was destroyed, and the prisons and barren islands filled up, and all with nothing to show for it.

The Stalinists thought that the relatively short economic boom would be a longterm stabilisation. But the great crisis of 1929-30 astonished them. On their evaluation of this they framed the politics of the ‘Third Period’.

Pouliopoulos, after his return from the Fifth Congress, defended himself firmly against the dishonest and disruptive activities of the fraudulent Stalinists and started a fight against the bourgeoisdemocratic orientation. After his expulsion he started the Neo Xekinema (New Beginning), a development towards Trotskyism which closed with his legendary death in Nezero by the shots of a Fascist officer in June 1943.


In the meantime, in 1924 the Stalinist Khaita tendency had excelled itself and expelled from the KKE General Council the Archeio leader, Tzoulatis. [9] Tzoulatis, together with Ligdopoulos, the first delegate to the founding congress of the SEKE was a continuator of the Communism group which had raised high the banner of the Third International of Lenin and Trotsky, fought for the victory of the October revolution, and for the 21 Conditions, the first documents of the Third International and the basic classic work of Marxism, and had completed the union of the Greek movement with the Third International. From 1923 it published the Archives of Marxism, the theoretical organ that supplied the original movement with Trotsky’s documents Whither Russia? and Where is Britain Going?, and the fight against the Stalinisation of the KKE which was called ‘Bolshevisation’, showed the firm orientation of the Archeio on the side of the International Left Opposition.

Together with Tzoulatis, dozens of Trotskyists were expelled, betrayed by the apostate Apostolou. [10] (Among these were the secretary of the largest trade union group of store clerks, Karliaftis, and the majority of the Youth groups in Athens.)

The pogrom of expulsions in 1924 also included the party organisation in the Piraeus, for its ultra-left line during the 1923 strike, with the slogan “Seize the ships” directed towards the sailors. Along with them was the Seitanidi group Towards the Masses which took its name from a similar slogan of the Comintern.

The origin of all these expulsions undoubtedly lay in the Stalinist Kremlin and they were carried out by the Stalinist faction of Khatia and company.

During the period after Pangalos (1927-30) Trotskyism developed. The Neo Xekinema (New Beginning) of Pouliopoulos discredited the degenerated leadership of the Stalinist KKE. It raised questions about the great split between Stalin and Trotsky. It noted the degeneration of the KKE and foresaw that Archeiomarxism would contribute cadres to the movement of the future. But it also fought against the particular character of Archeiomarxism and its liquidatory work against the KKE.

Spartacus put into action the slogans of the New Beginning – for the creation of a serious Communist Party upon a correct basis. They centralised a staff of coworkers unrivalled in their theoretical and political formation. They declared their solidarity with Trotskyism, and publicised the Declaration of the 83. They also gave us the rich documents of the International Left Opposition, and thus raised the level of the movement. And the chief coworkers of Pouliopoulos such as Nicolis, Maximos and others became distinguished at all levels of the class struggle.

The Spartacists revealed the disastrous results of the ‘Bolshevisation’ of 1924 (with the introduction of 5,000 new members and the fall in the revolutionary level of the ranks of the KKE) which was nothing but part of the Stalinisation of the KKE.

During this period of 1927 to 1930, despite the relative ‘stabilisation’ which according the the Stalinists was an ‘organic stabilisation’, we had an intense crisis in prices and wages which precipitated strike struggles.

The tendency of the Archeiomarxists – of Trotskyist orientation – entered into open trade union work. Dozens of unions passed into their hands, more than 10 unions in Athens and as many in Thessalonica. They took over the Kokinias Local Centre in the Piraeus and the Local Centres of Podaradon and Kaisarianis in Athens. They organised important strikes such as the one at Lipasmate. They led the industrial strikes at Kokkaldikou and in Keremidadon, strikes against which the army was mobilised.

Equally heroic were the strikes of the bakers with Trotskyists in the leadership headed by Soula-Sakko, of the shoemakers (headed by Lampi, who went over to the Spartacists) within the context of the general strike which the Stalinists led, and of the confectionary workers in the industrial factories. They led strikes in Salonika, in Agrinni, in Patras, etc.

The strangling of democracy and the shameless outbursts of insults against the ‘Archeio-Trotskyists’ as “traitors” and “fascists” led to a civil war within the trade unions.


Unacceptable methods were used by both sides, both by Stalinists and Archeiomarxists. They reflected the decline of the movement due to the degeneration of Stalinism from the political programme of Bolshevism, whose principles only Trotsky’s Russian Opposition could supply. The people who hissed Trotsky in his first oppositional demonstrations and did not scruple to label Pouliopoulos with insults of “betrayal” went to the extent of murdering Archeiomarxist trade unionists, the baker Georgopapadato and the shoemaker Lada. Georgopapadato and Lada were the first martyrs of the Trotskyist movement in our country.

The accumulation of defeats and the crisis of the CPSU and the Comintern with the split of Zinoviev and Kamenev could not but influence the KKE, where we had the split between Spartacus and the Stalinists. The regime of KhaitaEftihiadi-Zachariades was overthrown and replaced by the regime of Theos and Siantos, which also fell and was succeeded by Zachariades (the GPU had the last word on these changes).

The Archeiomarxists fell into the crisis of the ‘Third Situation’ of 1927, which on the one hand expressed the tendencies of a political development which began to take place and on the other hand the influence of Stalinism within the Left Opposition.

In 1929 a ‘factional crisis’ broke out, which was led by Soula. In essence there were no programmatic or tactical differences, but only organisational problems. To tell the truth, these problems were caused by a lack of democratic centralism and by the personal and autocratic regime which Giotopoulos, the successor of Tzoulatis, had imposed upon the Archeiomarxists. Furthermore, there was a lack of a clear programme, which only the platform of the ILO of Trotsky was able to provide to rearm its Greek adherents. But these two tendencies were the most proletarian of the few that still existed in the international movement. On the other hand, according to Pouliopoulos, there were in the KKE a large number of members drawn from the lowest elements of the proletariat, from the lumpen proletariat and from the petty-bourgeoisie with an anti-proletarian psychology.

Finally, the group led by Pindaros, which was called ‘Democratic Centralism’, in fact launched such a perspective itself in 1930. The affiliation of the Archeiomarxists to the ILO was necessary in order to make democratic centralism work.

A crisis hit Spartacus during the same period. But this crisis was more general, and it had its roots in the deeper turmoil that was occurring in the Soviet Union, due to the bureaucracy’s betrayal of the revolution.

In 1930 Spartacus made a statement: At no other time – it said – had the collapse of the KKE become so catastrophic. At no other time was the retreat of Spartacus so great. At no other time was the Archeiomarxist group so strong.

In fact, as the events of 1930 showed, the Archeio-Trotskyists took the initiative of the unemployed struggle away from the KKE. From large meetings, drawing in over 1500 unemployed in Athens and as many in Thessalonica,they formed their 50-member committee in Athens and their 30-member committee in Thessalonica and mobilised wide layers of unemployed for bread and jobs.

A meeting near the Acropolis of between 3,000 and 4,000 unemployed people was drowned in blood. In Thessalonica, a meeting at the Fountain was broken up in a three hour long struggle with hordes of mounted police.


In 1930 the Archeiomarxists became the official section of the ILO. The competition that took place in 1927-28 between the Archeiomarxists and Spartacus to become the official section of the International Left Opposition in Greece tended to favour the Archeiomarxists. Before the astonished eyes of the ILO representatives when they came to Greece, hundreds of militants demonstrated, devoted adherents of Leon Trotsky, who were Archeiomarxists who accepted Trotsky’s platform, and agreed to unite with Spartacus. But Spartacus refused to unite unless the Archeio disavowed its past. Thus it remained outside the ILO. The Archeiomarxists assumed the name of Bolshevik-Leninists.

The crisis of 1930 brought on a new upsurge. The dilemma of Fascism or Communism was once more on the order of the day. Germany was now the key to this situation, said the famous pamphlet of Trotsky.

The retreat of the KKE from proletarian revolution, the breaking of the United Front against Hitler’s rapid rise, the ultra-leftism, the theory of ‘social Fascism’ which obstructed the class front, the defeatism of “first Hitler, then us”, all ruined the movement and brought Hitler to power without a fight. Centrism was transformed into opportunism.

The campaign of the Trotskyists of Pali ton Taxeon (Class Struggle), of Spartacus, and of the Leninist Opposition for the united anti-Fascist front, and Trotsky’s famous What Next? and The Only Road, which the Bolshevik-Leninists published, and the general upsurge of the workers, compelled the KKE to make a turn, at the eleventh hour. But yet again their line split up the united anti-Fascist front. Now they talked of the ‘United Front from below’.

The struggle of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Archeiomarxists) within the trade unions for the programme of the United Workers Front won over substantial forces at the expense of the KKE. If the Spartacists had not refused to give them the four votes they carried, the whole Workers’ Centre in Athens would have passed over to them from Kalivas’ hands.

In 1933, the Bolshevik-Leninists, being at the head of the Workers’ Centre is Kalamata, led the great general strike, which was smashed although the militarists could not assert their control over all the sections of the army. Here the KKE was led by Manolea, who was well known as a member of parliament, but who passed over into the service of the Metaxas dictatorship like a common agent.

With the revolutionary upsurge, in the first student strike of 1929, which lasted 50 days and shook the university and the state, the Archeio-Trotskyists with their organ Student headed by K. Anastasiadis and Pliako and 20 or so other militants pushed aside the Stalinists led by the Velouchiotis-Klaras [11] brothers, to take the leadership of this strike.

The Trotskyists fought side by side with the Stalinist OKNE (Communist Youth Organisation of Greece), which started to decay and degenerate, whereas previously it had great struggles and great gains to its credit.

A discussion meeting took place, with Vitsoris as speaker for the official organisation, Pouliopoulos for Spartacus, and a representative of the Stalinists, where the opponents of the Workers’ United Front, the Stalinists, were hissed.

In the trade union movement, all the tendencies organised for the United Workers’ Front. A high level meeting took place between Kalomiris, Stratia, Dimitratos and the Kalivas, and the representatives of the trade unions of the Bolshevik-Leninists, Karliaftis and Sakkos. But the Stalinists and reformists attacked the Workers’ United Anti-Fascist Front in Greece as well. With the historic defeat of 1933, which led to the slaughter of thousands of anti-Fascists, the storm of counter-revolution in Europe, and the threat of war, Trotsky declared that any hope for the rebirth of the Comintern and its parties was lost. The parties that were unable to rise above this seismic catastrophe died.

Now he raised the banner for the creation of new parties and a new International.

In Greece, the ‘Bolshevik’ tendency of Vitsoris, Karliaftis, Theodoratou, Sakkos, Papadopoulos and Verouchis was the first to raise the banner of the Fourth International. It declared that the KKE had died along with all the Communist Parties of the Third International, and it started to build the Revolutionary Party of the New International.


The decisions of the Sixth Plenum of the KKE in 1934 brought about a general abandonment of an orientation towards the proletarian revolution, and a slide into the anti-Marxist politics of class collaboration, along with the beginning of the class collaborationist Popular Fronts. The passing over of the KKE to the strategy of the ‘democratic dictatorship’ of workers and middle and poor peasants, not as Lenin had understood it, but with the incorrect form of the Stalinists (for a regime intermediate between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and that of the working class) led our workers’ movement to great catastrophe and defeats, and confirmed the death of the KKE as a revolutionary organisation.

The Trotskyists, with an article in Class Struggle, and especially with the famous document of Pouliopoulos, showed with firm arguments that Greece was not semifeudal but a capitalist country, with all its relative backwardness. They discredited the view that “there do not exist the necessary minimum material conditions for the Socialist revolution”, with the conclusion that the unfinished bourgeois-democratic tasks will be solved only by the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the model of the Permanent Revolution. But the betrayals continued without end.

The KKE, allying with the Liberal Party in 1935 and rejecting the United Worker-Peasant Front against reaction, helped the Venizelists [12] to deceive the anti-Fascist masses and to prepare easily even from 1935 their compromise with the deposed king and restore him. When he was restored, the Popular Front (KKE) sowed dire illusions in the masses that “a new period of liberal idylls is opening up” and officially went and kowtowed to the palace. (Pouliopoulos, The Popular Front in Greece).

In the context of class collaboration, in 1935-36 the KKE renewed the collaboration of the past decade with the ‘democrats’ and the ‘democratic’ officers and dictators, launched the slogan of a ‘democratic coalition’, signed the Sklavena-Sofouli accord and supported the Liberals in parliament, who went on the rampage with their anti-working class politics at the expense of the masses, for example the Idionym Laws. Rizospastis [13] demanded a government of the KKE, Papanastasios and the anti-Fascist officers!

In May 1936 a general strike of tobacco workers broke out and extended into a general strike in Thessalonica, and Metaxas' regime murdered strikers. Thus a revolutionary uprising of the masses was provoked. The murderers locked themselves in the police departments. The bourgeoisie panicked, and while Trotskyists like Pantazis called for a government of tobacco workers, the Stalinists (Theos) betrayed the strike with the intervention of the liberals in Parliament. Metaxas headed towards a dictatorship without facing any opposition.


The establishment of the Metaxas dictatorship was a result of the collusion of the Court and the Premier to hold back the ascent of the working class movement as it manifested itself in the general uprising of 1936, and to prepare the “internal front” for the coming war. The dictatorship would not have triumphed if the workers’ movement had not been castrated by the Popular Front. The KKE curbed the working class, and instead of sharpening and broadening the struggle against monarchic-capitalist reaction, it blunted the edge of the class with the conciliationism of the Popular Front. In the final analysis the KKE became the basis of victory of the Metaxas dictatorship.

Then came the Second World War. The theory that the Popular Fronts would avert war was shown to be mistaken. The Popular Fronts stifled the class contradictions, and the bourgeoisie, safe in the rear, felt safe to enter the war.

In the beginning the Kremlin rejected relations with Hitler. But then the Hitler-Stalin Pact was signed. The Stalinists could not believe it. Then, however, they began their new tune: for the “poor” and “anti-plutocratic” countries against the “glutted” imperialists. These anti-Fascists passed into the service of National Socialism and of its finance capital, and stifled the anti-Fascist sentiments of the masses. When Hitler broke the non aggression pact, the Stalinists made a 180 degree turn. Now they allied with the Western imperialists. They now discovered that the war of the Western Allied imperialists was “progressive” and “anti-Fascist”, and they made a holy alliance with the bourgeoisie of their “own” state in favour of bourgeois democracy. They now passed over into support for the war. They exploited the pro-Soviet and anti-Fascist mood of the masses and brought over the oppressed onto the side of “our allies”. All the ‘Socialist’ and ‘Communist’ parties betrayed disgracefully the traditions of proletarian internationalism.

In Greece Zachariades called on the workers to submit to the ‘fascist’ Metaxas in order to fight Mussolini and Hitler, and to defend with their blood the bosses’ fatherland! The KKE became even more chauvinist than the parties of the extreme right! With the “theory of the two poles” Zachariades justified the double dependence of the politics of the KKE upon the Soviet bureaucracy and upon British capitalism: “In the war a realistic foreign policy for the EAM and the PEEA [14] would have to move between two poles: the European Balkans with the Soviet Union at its centre, and the Middle East with its centre in Britain. A correct policy would be to tie together these two poles.” (Zachariades, Plenum, 1945). In reality this double dependence was leaning only to one side, because the entire organisation and policy of the Stalinists “against Hitlerism” came under the direct control of the General Staff of the Middle East. (With the necessary capitulation to sterling of ELAS as well as Zervas). [15]

During the Metaxas dictatorship and in exile, in the prisons, on the barren islands and in the concentration camps, the Trotskyists became united. The two related tendencies from which Trotskyism arose – the Spartacus-Pouliopoulos tendency, and the New Road tendency of Vitsoris, Kastritis and Theodoratou – united.

Once more, in the Second World War as in the First, Pouliopoulos was to be found in the anti-war, anti-capitalist, internationalist camp. The crisis of 1930 had brought him to the forefront against the coming storm of Fascism and war. He became the pole of attraction for all the cadres who had originated front Archeiomarxism, and later from the factions that had gathered around the KEO and the Leninist Opposition of the KKE (LAKKE), whose leaders were Soula and Pablo. [16]

With the unification Pouliopoulos now became the unquestioned leader of all the Trotskyists who remained loyal to the Fourth International, and he fought ceaselessly against all the social chauvinist opportunists who capitulated during the war.

The slogan of the Trotskyists was elaborated by Pouliopoulos in June 1937:

Independent revolutionary struggle for the establishment of a government of workers and peasants – that is the direction of struggle in the period through which we are passing, and only thus will the workers be saved from the catastrophe and horror of war.

United Front struggle for the overthrow of the monarchist dictatorship in Greece, for the imposition of the immediate political and economic demands of the workers, and for the speedy preparation of the rule of the workers and peasants.

For Marxists the war was not progressive for the two blocs outside the Soviet Union, as the social-traitors trumpeted. As Lenin wrote: “War does not cease being imperialist because charlatans and petty-bourgeois philistines throw out a sugared slogan. War is an extension of the politics of finance capital. The fundamental point is to know what class is carrying out the war. War is imperialist when it is carried out by the bourgeois class for its predatory goals.”

Pouliopoulos added: “There is no greater deception than that which is committed by Stalinism and Social Democracy with the propaganda of the so-called ‘anti-Fascist war’.”

The participation of the Soviet Union on the side of Western imperialism did not modify the character of the war of her imperialist Allies.

During the occupation the most shameless social-patriotism was shown by the so-called resistance movement of the KKE, EAM, and ELAS, with the slogans of “struggle against the occupying forces” and for the “victory of the Allies”. We declared the occupation to be a phase of the continuing war. Its character had not changed. Neither was the question of ‘national uprising’ or ‘national liberation’ posed. The deception of the masses with pro-Soviet and anti-capitalist tendencies, who had been led into support for the war of the western imperialists and the domestic bourgeois class, was the most dishonest deception of the masses, in contrast to the Leninist lines of transforming the war into civil war, and for the defeat of ‘our own’ country.

Lenin wrote: “The national question in the imperialist epoch is characteristic of colonial and dependent countries which are permanently dependent on the imperialist governments.” “The temporary occupation of Europe by Hitler’s troops”, wrote the Internationalist [17] of August-September 1965, “did not create a national question, just as the now permanent occupation by the ‘Allied’ troops does not create a question of national liberation.”

Trotsky, as a result of the occupation of half of Norway by Hitler, declared that this occupation did not change our slogan of transforming the war into civil war, exactly because the temporary character of an occupation does not create a permanent colonisation and thus the question of national liberation.

The first guerrilla war of ELAS was an extension of the social-patriotic defence of the bourgeois state, according to Zachariades, of Greece under the ‘Fascist’ Metaxas. Its goals were not Socialist, but completely nationalist, patriotic, against merely the Axis powers, and chauvinist.


The pro-Soviet demonstrations of the KKE and ELAS leadership were in the spirit of pro-Allied declarations, pro-American, pro-English and pro-French, with which they aimed to mislead the masses who had confused pro-Soviet tendencies, and to tie them to the chariot of the war.

The Trotskyists were defenders of the Soviet Union, but with the only valid means, that of revolutionary anti-capitalist class revolution and of the transformation of the war into revolution in the capitalist countries, not by the shameless submission of the Communist parties to the governments of the capitalist countries.

The basis of the ELAS forces was plebeian cadres from the countryside, because basically only those drugged by the nationalist slogans of the social-traitors would volunteer (another way being forced recruitment). The ‘ELAS Reserve’ meant in practice placing in reserve the proletariat of the cities. Naturally many proletarian fighters went over to guerrillaism because they were misled, still believing in the Stalinists.

But the military aid that such groups offer to the Soviet Union is insignificant. On the other hand, destroying the class thought of the workers, developing chauvinism, tearing the workers away from their struggle, sowing splits among them, and turning them against the German soldiers, these groups disarm the working class, and tie the German proletariat to their bourgeoisie and to Hitler. And they prepare the destruction of the German and world revolution. (Thesis of the 1944 Conference of the Fourth International).

But the organised groups, militarily disciplined, despite the misled masses of leftist combatants, were “objectively in goals and action, militarist, nationalist, basically counter-revolutionary, and in the service of national capitalism and of Anglo-American imperialism.” (Thesis of the 1944 Conference of the Fourth International).


The methods of ELAS had no relation to the Leninist tactic of revolutionary defeatism, basically the destruction of the bourgeois state, defeat of ‘one’s own’ country, arrest of the officers, fraternal action at the front, and soviets in the army, but they aimed at the destruction of all Germans, as the Kremlin said, sabotage and the victory of the national army, etc.

The tactics of ELAS were not the relentless struggle of classes but a compromise of all parties, of Kanellopoulos [18] and Papandreou, as far as an agreement with the counter-revolutionary guerrilla groups of Zervas, and the ‘democrats’ of Psarou, with the blessing of the English staff. The slogan was for a National Front and a national government.

The Lebanon, Caserta and Varkiza treaties were treaties signed by the leadership of EAM/ELAS. The Trotskyists condemned them. They were beneath the contempt of all the militants of the movement. It was simply the logical extension of guerrilla nationalism. It was not by accident that de Gaulle congratulated the Stalinist national resistance.

The feelings and the struggle of the masses against Fascism, like those in favour of peace and against war, are progressive. They are of a spontaneous character, an expression of the inevitable revolt not only against the Fascists but against the domestic bourgeoisie, one of whose sections identified itself with German and Italian Fascism.

The duty of Trotskyists was to sharpen these tendencies of the masses, and to orient them towards class and Socialist goals. In this sense they were found at the head of strikes (mainly those of clerical workers at that time) as well as against round-ups, against arrests and Nazi murders, and in solidarity with the hungry who were breaking into the storage bins of the black marketeers, etc.

In this way they provided hundreds of victims. Below we give a list of the Trotskyists killed by Stalinists. Most of them fell because of the barrier of fire organised by the KKE headed by the GPU agent Bartzotas [19], in order to prevent the independent intervention of the revolutionary workers and of the Trotskyists from taking their place on the first of the barricades during the December uprising.

In the period before December the secretary of the united Trotskyist organisation, Kastritis, narrowly escaped from an assassination attack. But hundreds of others ...

All these crimes against the Trotskyists, along with the Stalinists’ operations in the cells of the Stalinist security, make up a story that has yet to be written.

The following Archeiomarxists were killed:

The whole organisation of Agriniou that went over to guerrilla warfare in that area: P. Anastasiou, M. Kapetanakis, L. Kapetanakis, M. Xanthopoulos, M. Zisimopoulos, K. Ladas, Themelis, Karoyeridis, Pagonis, a student, and many others. Of the old cadre of the KKE, and later of the Trotskyists, were the leader of the Workers’ Centre of Agriniou, etc, along with More, Touris, Pliakos, Bambakis, and dozens of others.

The following were killed from the Opposition in the KKE:

Asimidis, an old cadre of the KKE, Doubas of the party organisation in Agriniou, and many others.

The uprising in the Middle East gave another opportunity for the chauvinist role of EAM/ELAS to be manifested in the war.

Infuriated by the slaughter and the destruction of war, the infantry threw down their weapons. The front broke up in all parts of the Middle East. The capitalist chain broke in the Greek link.

The war should have entered the phase of its transformation into a civil war, if there had existed a strong Trotskyist party, and if the chauvinist forces of EAM/ ELAS with their pro-war propaganda in support of the Allies had not fallen on the rebellious infantry. Churchill’s staff disarmed all the infantry with the use of backward troops. He interned them in camps. Then the Stalinists began to work in support of the continuation of the war and for a government of Papandreou and EAM, while the Trotskyists inside the camps faced assassination attempts from those who had refused to transform the war into a Socialist revolution.

One occupation followed another, when the defeated troops of the German-Italian imperialists withdrew, the Anglo-Saxon troops entered Greece. This is what we said at the time, and we put out a proclamation of ours which was circulated in thousands, saying that it was a big lie that the Allied troops were entering Greece as liberators.


The December events confirmed our view. The ‘national liberation struggle’ against the ‘occupier’ was a disaster for the masses, who had been tricked into supporting the alliance of the Soviet bureaucracy and the Western imperialists.

“Welcome to our allies, welcome to our friends” – the walls were filled with welcome posters, and the streets rang with the shouts of the followers of the KKE. Tens of thousands drugged by the slogans of “national liberation” welcomed Scobie triumphantly, and later Eisenhower and Montgomery, who drowned Greece and Cyprus in blood. (Nowadays those who had been allies of the imperialists only yesterday changed their tune, and shout “Americans out”. Their line was always determined by the directives of the Moscow bureaucracy.)

The revolutionary upsurge caused by the destruction of war, despair and hunger culminated in the December events. As with the revolt in the Middle East the uprising sprang from below. In fact there existed all the preconditions for the transformation of the war into a Socialist revolution – a deep crisis, a rapid turn to the left, a desire for revolutionary change, and a paralysis within the ruling class.

According to the directives of the Stalinist leadership of the Soviet Union, the KKE in Cairo made an agreement with Papandreou. It submitted itself to the demands of the British imperialists which had been agreed in the Stalin/Churchill/ Roosevelt accord. The Soviet embassy in Cairo was the godfather of the legal child of the counter-revolution, the Papandreou government of ‘Socialists’ and Stalinists.

The Stalinists Zevgos and Porphyrogenis entered the government. This was ministerialism a thousand times more treacherous than that of the ‘Socialists’, Millerand, MacDonald, Thomas, Noske and company. They entered a government for the reconstitution of bourgeois rule (“first of all reconstruction and work”) and for the stifling of the revolutionary storm which the war had provoked, just as happened in France and Italy. The KKE being relatively dominant in the Greek peninsula carried Papandreou on its back. The December counterrevolution was prepared with the slogans of a ‘Government of National Unity’.

“For a people’s state” triumphantly cried the Stalinists. “For a people’s state and law” cried Papandreou, and this law was passed with the bombs and bullets of Scobie and Papandreou on bloody Sunday in December.

ELAS, which had occupied the whole country, entered the December conflict. The rank and file ELAS members fought heroically. But the leadership did not leave the initiative to the ‘reserve’ ELAS proletariat. It feared their spontaneous initiative. Even in the fire of a civil war it held out its hand to the bloody hands of Scobie and Papandreou, and for a ‘Government of National Unity’. Churchill reached Athens in haste and in a state of panic. He ordered reinforcements. While he organised the crushing of the December struggle, his lackeys in the KKE visited him in the Great Britain hotel, and implored a peaceful solution.


They believed that the Allied governments should try Liber and Scobie. On 17 December Rizopastis and the heroes of the slogan “Americans out”, the quixotic ‘anti-imperialists’, put out an SOS “to the great Anglo-Saxon country of America”. There was no mention of the intervention of the world and Russian proletariat! Some ELASites who were revolutionists laid a mine to blow up the ‘Great Britain’ and Churchill. But the capitulationist leadership of the KKE intervened, and stopped them from dynamiting Churchill.

Only a patch of land in Zervas’ territory, another small islet in Syntagma Square, and Makryianni and Sotiria were in the hands of Churchill, Liber, Scobie and Papandreou. And yet something incomprehensible happened for those who could not understand, unlike the Trotskyists, what a capitulationist bureaucracy meant.

An ELAS trumpet blew for retreat. The December struggle was betrayed. The revolutionary Socialist desires of the masses were betrayed. And the Greek movement experienced a major new defeat.

Churchill declared to the world that the December events were the work of the Trotskyists. This was correct in the sense of the long term struggle of Trotskyism for the transformation of the war into a revolution, in the sense of the pressure of the radicalised masses whom the adherents of Permanent Revolution objectively represented, and in the sense of their untiring, relentless, anti-Popular Front struggle for the independent intervention of the masses, which exercised a great influence upon the rank and file of the KKE, EAM and ELAS.

It was misleading, however, in the sense of Trotskyists being in the leadership of the movement. Because within the class front there occurred an unprecedented slaughter of the Trotskyists (according to the message of Bartzotas to the GPU, 800), in order to stifle the revolution.

The betrayals continued. The first act of the ruling class after every war or defeated revolution where the masses have taken up arms, is disarmament. This was done by the Popular Front of the KKE itself and by Sofianopoulou, by means of the filthy agreement in Varkiza.

With this the EAM/ELAS/KKE leadership secured their own immunity in the ‘horror’ of the betrayal. All the officers of ELAS became enrolled in the National Guard (correctly so). But 70,000 ELAS guerrillas were disarmed and given up to the mercies of the reaction, of the Fascist scum. There was one exception, Aris Velouchiotis (Klaras) and his group took a left wing stand against the agreements that the bureaucracy made.

The second guerrilla war developed on a progressive basis. The war turned Greece into a powderkeg which threatened to explode and shake capitalism to its foundations. The black market, speculation and starvation wages sharpened social discontent. The gap between the poor and the new rich became an abyss.

The turn to the left was rapid. The masses who had shed their blood for ‘liberation’ against the Fascist occupier now saw that capitalist slavery still existed. It was only a change of the guards. The Anglo-Saxon imperialists had replaced the Hitlerites.

The domestic ‘democrats’ who had been threatened by a victorious revolution in December, now became ferocious to stifle the workers’ movement. Setting side by side the executioner Papandreou with the ‘pro-Soviet’ Sofianopoulou, they managed to disarm 70,000 guerrillas, and later allowed the hordes of state auxiliaries to slaughter the betrayed combatants of both city and country.

The guerrillas were led into the dishonourable trap of war for the victory of the Allied imperialists, believing that in this way they were helping the Soviet Union, but Stalin, instead of demanding a peace without annexations such as Lenin called for, had sold out Greece to the Anglo-Saxons.

Thus, persecuted and murdered in their homes and fields, they returned to the mountains. This time, they took up arms against ‘their own’ capitalist rulers, and the guerrilla war took on a class and progressive character.

Velouchiotis, with the indomitable courage which characterised him, came into violent opposition with the capitulationists of Caserta and Lebanon, and the disarmers of Varkiza. He simply constituted the left wing of the bureaucracy, the ‘Reiss tendency’ as we would say in the case of Russia, or of the Mao tendency at its beginning and not in its Bonapartist decay. The Trotskyists who were alongside him in his staff were not murdered at a time when dozens of others were butchered according to Zachariades’ orders.

He expressed the tendency which opposed the leadership, and which had been expelled after the betrayal and the defeat of December, and of the awakening of the vanguard and the class in general.

Zachariades’ KKE expelled him for indiscipline, slandered him for ‘treason’ and betrayed him. Thus in June 1945 he was surrounded and killed. Zachariades betrayed him hand in hand with the counter-revolution.

But the guerrilla war developed. The arch-capitulationists were forced to support it in order to derail it. With Vafiades [20] in the leadership, it became the fear and terror of the bourgeois class and of the British and American imperialists. The war reached up as far as Athens and Parnitha [21], as the government admitted. Stalin’s Kremlin sold out the second guerrilla war, as it did with the December culmination of the first. The KKE of Zachariades, despite and against the knowledge of the leader of the ‘Democratic Army of Greece’ Vafiades, who insisted on guerrillaism, wanted to fight a conventional war and produced nothing but a disastrous defeat, within a chain of defeats.

We were in solidarity with the second guerrilla war, and on the side of the revolutionary peasants who supported its leadership.

We declared, however, that guerrilla war in the mountains was equivalent to the abandonment of the class struggle in the cities and villages. It (guerrillaism) disregards the struggle for wage demands and reforms. (They did not make reforms even in the places they controlled.) It isolates itself, it breaks unity with the workers, and it leads to an impasse. It is a solution born of the weakness of the workers’ movement. The peasantry, which forms the basis of guerrillaism, with its dispersion and its individualistic psychology, cannot have a strength analogous to its size. It cannot attain Socialist and internationalist goals. The peasant class cannot but vacillate, either behind the bourgeoisie or behind the proletariat.


The proletarian revolution cannot win without the revolutionary party winning the leadership of the majority of the proletariat. To win it must base itself upon soviets as organs of the United Front of the workers and peasants. Guerrilla war ignores the strategy of winning over and mobilising the masses, ignores the soviets, and avoids the front with the workers. Its petty-bourgeois, bourgeois or collaborationist leadership fears workers’ control and democracy, and often silences its critics.

Revolution starts from the centre of capitalism, but guerrilla war starts from its periphery. Concentrating the struggle in the mountain isolates it from the huge reserves of the cities, and contributes to the unfavourable relation of forces and the counter-revolution. Revolution organises the supreme technique of the mass uprising, the flood of workers. Guerrilla war cannot win in a conventional fight against the superior military means of the enemy.


Only the working class can become the motor force of the Socialist revolution. Its hegemony comes from its position in production, from its forces and from the Socialist goals set for it by history:

The fact that individual Communists are in the leadership of the present armies does not at all transform the social character of these armies ... It is one thing when a Communist Party, firmly resting on the flower of the urban proletariat, strives through the workers to lead a peasant war. It is an altogether different thing when a few thousand or even tens of thousands of revolutionaries, who are truly Communists, or only take the name, assume the leadership of a peasant war without having serious support from the proletariat. (L.D. Trotsky, Peasant War in China and the Proletariat)

From the end of 1946 we foresaw correctly: “Guerrilla activity alone cannot defeat the capitalist attack. Left only to its own forces the new guerrillaism, sooner or later, is obliged to succumb.” (Karliaftis’ speech on behalf of the KDKE in the debate with the KKE)

And the confirmation was tragic. The city movement was betrayed, the guerrilla war was sold out by Stalin to his Anglo-Saxon Allies, and Tito closed the borders to the guerrillas. The government of the mountains was not recognised by Moscow, Belgrade and Sofia. It remained without international proletarian support (world mobilisations, volunteers, etc.), and without tanks and airplanes. And in the end, the adventurist intervention of Zachariades, transforming the guerrilla war into conventional warfare, became disastrous. This is what Markos Vafiadis, leader of the ‘Democratic Army of Greece’ (DSE) and president of the ‘Provisional Democratic Government’, says in his document of November 1948:

The abstention from the elections by the KKE was incorrect. The KKE created illusions in the people for the peaceful solution of the Greek problem. It did not believe in the possible victory of guerrillaism. It saw it as a means of pressure and engaged in indecisive politics, while the capitalist reaction was gaining time and organising its forces. During this period the mass movement retreated to the cities. From mid-1947 the voluntary recruits to the DSE in the country did not even reach 10 per cent.

At the Fifth Plenum of the CC of the KKE in January 1949 Vafiadis and Hatzivasiliou were made scapegoats, and labelled ‘capitulationists’ and ‘Trotskyists’.

The turn of Partsalides [22] came at the Seventh Plenum in May 1950, when he was denounced as a ‘factionalist’, and ‘opportunist’ and a ‘Trotskyist’.

In a short while the disagreements of Karageorgis, the editor of Rizopastis, and lieutenant general of the DSE, became pronounced. “Zachariades failed in the second phase of the guerrilla war,” he said, “just as Ionnides and Siantos did in the first phase ... He lacks confidence in Stalin to the point of appearing in opposition to him.” And he referred to the rottenness which existed inside the KKE.

Karageorgis, who had taunted the Trotskyists in speeches addressed “to some birds who chirp in the ravines”, now saw that the chirping of the guerrillas’ guns posed no threat to capitalism.

This was not the fault of the heroic guerrillas, but of the general line of the KKE and of the Kremlin bureaucracy. Zachariades was later to characterise Siantos as a provocateur, and his policy, in the cheap agreements of Lebanon, Caserta and Varkiza, as “incorrect politics which basically comprised a submission to the interests and pursuits of the British imperialists”.

But this was really a condemnation of the line of national resistance, and it is well known that the responsibility for all of it lay with the Kremlin directives.

Loukas Karliaftis



(The footnotes are those of the author unless otherwise stated)

1. Georgiades-Sideris – right wing leaders of the Socialist Workers Party of Greece.

2. OKNE – the youth organisation of the Greek Communist Party founded in 1922.

3. S. Verouchis – a leader of the Trotskyist Archeiomarxists who had lost his eyes during the war between the Greeks and the Turks in Asia Minor, and Secretary of the Union of the War Disabled, which he led to victory, and was repeatedly sent to prison. In 1943, taking part in the anti-Nazi resistance movement on his own responsibility, he was executed by the Stalinists along with 800 others. His body was thrown to the wild dogs by the Stalinists while he was still half alive.

4. Plastiras – a bourgeois ‘liberal’ politician, formerly a general.

5. Ioannis Metaxas (1871-1941) was a right wing general who ruled as dictator between 1936 and 1941 [Editor’s Note].

6. Papanastasios – a bourgeois ‘democrat’.

7. Zachariades – Stalin’s foremost supporter in Greece, trained along with Khaitas in the Stalinist school of Koutvi in Russia, and installed as General Secretary of the Greek Communist Party by the Stalinist Comintern. He was the chief organiser of all the executions of Trotsky‘s followers in Greece. The policy of the Greek Communist Party brought about the Metaxas dictatorship straightaway, and Zachariades was put in prison and moved to Germany by the Nazis. Mysteriously released, he went back to Greece to carry out new betrayals during the civil war. After the smashing of the second guerrilla war he was made the scapegoat by Stalin and was expelled from the party, dying recently in Russia.

8. Anafe – a barren island.

9. Tzoulatis – along with Ligdopoulos, leader of the Socialist Youth in Athens (1916), and the first martyr of Bolshevism in Greece. He was elected to the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party of Greece at its founding conference in 1918, and along with Giotopoulos split from the SWPG in the same way that Lenin did (1919). He published the journal Communism (1920-21) in which he fought for the 21 Conditions of adherence to the Communist International, and rejoined the SWPG in 1921, where he built up a faction publishing the journal Archives of Marxism (May 1923), and consistently orientated towards Trotsky from 1923 onwards. He was thus the first Trotskyist in Greece, and was finally expelled from the party at the beginning of 1924.

10. Apostolou – a leader of the Archeiomarxists, one of the few who went over to Stalinism.

11. Aris Velouchiotis was a famous left wing Stalinist leader during the resistance movement, who rejected the directives of the Greek Communist Party to hand over his group’s guns. Expelled from the party as a ‘Trotskyist’, he was soon after trapped mysteriously and executed by the Greek army.

12. Eleutherios Venizelos (1864-1936) was a well known bourgeois leader of the Liberals, frequently in office during the early part of the twentieth century [Editor’s Note].

13. Rizopastis (Radical) is the daily paper of the Greek Communist Party.

14. The PEEA was the ‘Provisional Democratic Government’, or ’Government of the Mountains‚.

15. Zervas was a bourgeois ‘anti-Nazi’ leader.

16. Michel Pablo (Michael Raptis) later became leader of the Fourth International after the war.

17. Diethnistis (Internationalist) is the theoretical organ of the Workers Vanguard (Trotskyist) of Greece.

18. Kanellopoulos was a right wing bourgeois politician.

19. Bartzotas was a notorious leader of the Stalinists who produced a statement for his masters in the Kremlin during the second guerrilla war stating proudly that over 800 Trotskyists had been executed by the OPLA, the Stalinist militia, in Greece.

20. Vafiades – a left wing Stalinist leader who was expelled from the Central Committee as a bourgeois agent, and now lives in Russia.

21. Parnitha (ancient Mount Parnes), a mountain near Athens.

22. Partsalides was a top leader of the Stalinists, both in the EAM and amongst today’s Eurocommunists.

Updated by ETOL: 13.8.2003