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The Fight Not Won Yet, But

ELAS Leaders Throw in the Towel

(12 March 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 11, 12 March 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The pact which was signed by the Stalinist leaders of the ELAS and the puppet Greek government of Nicholas Plastiras is an outright betrayal of all that the Greek masses were fighting for when they took up arms in a struggle that was waged for over a month

The heroic Greek people who had fought for freedom and democracy against the Nazis and had continued the fight against the British were once more betrayed by the agents of one of the Big Three, Stalinist Russia.

Under the Nazis and later when the British took over through the Papandreou regime the Greek people had learned that the only way ini which they could press for and defend their rights was through the use of arms. What led to the direct outbreak of hostilities between the ELAS and the government was the attempt of the latter to disarm the resistance fighters, while permitting the pro-fascist and royalist military groups to retain their arms.

Popular opposition to the Papandreou government and the King, whom the British were trying to ram down the throats of the Greek people, led to the removal of the former and the appointment of a regency. The new Plastiras government then entered into negotiations with the ELAS in order to establish “law and order.”

During the armed conflict, in which London directed the bombing and strafing of the Greek people and Washington limited itself to words of indignation at British policy (not before it cut off UNRRA supplies to Greece), Moscow maintained official silence.

Yalta Aids Pact

On the day the decisions of the Yalta Conference were announced, the world was also informed that the leaders of ELAS had finally signed a pact with the Plastiras government. The terms of the pact and the fact that it was signed by the Stalinist leaders of ELAS indicate the close connection between it and the “pacts” signed at Yalta by the Big Three.

The accord stipulates that the ELAS fighters are to surrender their arms within two weeks. No political amnesty will be given persons who refuse to give up their arms by March 15th. In place of the armed people, the National Guard will start calling up men by age groups. At the same time the reactionary and royalist military formations were to retain their arms. ELAS is to turn over a minimum of 41,500 rifles, 1,000 light machine guns, 163 mortars, submachine guns, heavy machine guns, 32 pieces of assorted artillery and 15 radios, and ELAS guards are to collect these from the people for the government.

Negotiations which finally resulted in the agreement to disarm the Greek warriors and peasants had been going on for many weeks, with the government refusing to meet the conditions made by ELAS, which included the demand that all military groups be disarmed, including the reactionary and pro-fascist Mountain Brigade and Sacred Squadron; that political amnesty be granted to all who participated in the fighting; and that collaborationists be punished. Suddenly, but coineidentally with the Yalta agreement, comes the news that an agreement was signed in which not one of the above conditions was included.

A Betrayal of Labor

The general secretary of EAM stated to the press that this agreement would contribute to the “pacification of the country,” and that EAM will continue to exist “with a view of securing the people’s rights.” He’ did not say how this jibed with what the people had learned, namely, that their rights could be secured only by their own armed strength.

Partsalides went on to repudiate the ELAS “for taking things into their own hands” and promised an investigation of the executions carried out by them.

The role of the Communist Party and the Stalinists in EAM and ELAS was suspect from the very beginning, when, as members of the Papandreou government, they had voted to disarm the fighting forces of the people. When this proved to be impossible, they placed themselves in the leadership of the fighting ELAS and sought to utilize the opposition of the Greek people to British domination for the purpose of strengthening Stalin’s hand against Churchill.

The role of the Greek Communist Party, and this holds for the Stalinist parties throughout the world, is clear only if we understand that what motivated it was the service it renders to the policies of the Russian ruling class. Stalin saw in the conflict in Greece an opportunity to pressure Churchill into reinforcing agreements previously reached for the partitioning of Europe in which domination of the eastern half of that continent would go to Russia: Hence the militant action of the Greek Communists.

The Greek situation was undoubtedly another of the “arguments” Stalin used at the Yalta Conference to “persuade” the other two partners of the “justice” of Russia’s claims. Once these were conceded, Stalin agreed to the liquidation of the Greek situation, that is, he instructed his agents to sign the pact with the British puppet government by which all that the Greek people were fighting for, and the means which they had for achieving their aims, were surrendered. Stalin’s aims may be satisfied, and the militancy of the Greek Stalinists may be at an end, but the Greek people still have the struggle before them.

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