The Greek Civil War
Date: October 29, 1949
Source: World News and Views, Vol. 29, No. 44
Author: Pat Sloan
Transcribed/HTML: Mike B. for MIA, 2005
Proofread by: H. Antonn and Hari Kumar
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
AS LONG AGO as October, 1946, a British All-Party Parliamentary Delegation—having visited Greece at the official invitation of Athens—recommended:
"That the special security decrees should be cancelled", all political exiles be returned home, that "the action of the Government in appointing a new General Council of Labour and nominating new trade union executives should be rescinded" and elected trade union officials be returned to their posts.
None of these recommendations were carried out. If they had been, there would have been no cause for civil war. But instead, tens of thousands were arrested and exiled under the security decrees. And Athens has officially admitted executions at the rate of almost two a day for the two and a half years following June 1946. The War Minister recently admitted the execution of 700 prisoners of war in the first seven months of this year.
At the United Nations the voice of the Soviet Union and the New Democracies is beig sharply raised in demanding an end to the executions and a democratic peace in Greece, based on a general amnesty, the end of the terror, and elections in which (unlike 1946) the Left can take part without fear.
Coincident with the U.N.O. discussions, the Provisional Democratic Government has announced that, since the end of August, its main forces have not been fighting. Therefore Athens has no excuse for perpetuating the state of war, the emergency measures, martial law and the reign of terror. But this does not mean a complete "cease fire", for the proclamation makes it clear that throughout Greece the Democrats will fight in self- defence so long as the terrorist regime continues. The Proclamation of the Democratic Government, broadcast on October 16, is in fact a renewed and urgent appeal to the Greek people themselves to restore peace
It stresses the depths of ruin afflicting the country at the hands of the U.S.A. and Britain and the danger of Greece being turned into a base for a war against the U.S.S.R. and New Democracies, which would mean "ten times greater misfortunes" for Greece. It denounced the enemies of the people for "wanting to see the very last inhabitant killed, the last house demolished and the last tree uprooted rather than accept the will of the people", and warned that a "military dictatorship under the Palace lackey, Papagos", was an imminent danger.
It condemned the monarchists for selling Greece as an imperialist war base with its accompaniment of "aero-dromes, strategic roads and military camps; gallows, prisons and the muzzling of the people
Referring to the great battles of August in the North, on Grammos and Vitsi, the proclamation explains that the Democratic Army ceased fighting there in order to "save Greece from total annihilation" in view of the enormous weight of arms used by the enemy and Tito's treachery in the iear. The Democratic Army was not annihilated, however, but remains intact and vigilant.
Naming all the most important provinces and islands of Greece, it says that "because the Monarcho-Fascists are continuing their murderous orgy, thousands of our fighters" in these areas "defend and will continue to defend their lives and the lives of the people from the knavery of the Athens hangmen and their firing squads".
The proclamation recalls the repeated proposals of the Democratic Government for "a just and democratic peace", but warns that if the terror continues "the people will not bend the knee". It calls on the people to strive for peace as, "united, the Greek people are in a position to impose their will". It also lays great stress on the Soviet peace proposals and the fact that the world camp of peace and democracy, led by the Soviet Union, is on the side of the Greek people.
In view of the real nature of the proclamation it is clear that a deliberate attempt was made by Athens and the capitalist press, on the eve of the Greek discussion in the Political Committee of the United Nations Assembly, to present the Greek internal situation as settled. But this is not so, either militarily or economically.
The Greek people are facing ever heavier burdens. When the pound was devalued by one-third, the Greek drachma was devalued still more. Despite the arrest of practically every elected trade union leader, strikes this year have involved the following: small shopkeepers (against new taxes), bank clerks, civil servants, public services, cinemas, chemical workers, miners, teachers, gas workers, social insurance employees (including a mass walk-out of doctors), petroleum workers.
Anticipating the limelight at the United Nations Assembly, the Athens press recently announced certain "leniency measures" which, when examined, are found to provide for a possible speeding up of executions. It should be noted that even after the Athens spokesman had assured the Assembly that there would be no more executions, the Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union of Greece was executed.
Mrs. Katherine Zevgos, widow of the leading Communist who was assassinated in March, 1947, was sentenced to death just before the United Nations Assembly met. At the Assembly the Greek spokesman gave an assurance that she would not be executed. She was at once tried a second time, among another batch of thirty- eight prisoners, and sentenced to death again. Clearly her life is in serious danger, and only world-wide protests can secure her safety.
Again, the ten trade unionists sentenced to death one year ago, on November 4, have not yet been reprieved. Their appeal is said to be now under consideration. Only world-wide protests will secure their reprieve.
The Tory M.P., Major Tufton-Beamish, has stated that he has good reason to believe that Britain has spent £400 million on intervention in Greece since 1944-four times what Churchill spent against Russia from 1918 to 1920. Thus Greece is a special burden, and a special responsibility on us in Britain.
For this reason demtnds must be intensified for an end of the executions and a general amnesty, for the complete withdrawal of British troops and a democratic peace. The Foreign Office, the Greek Embassy and the British Delegation to the U.N. Assembly should be constantly reminded that these are the wishes of the British people.
[NOTE: For a fuller and more detailed study of the present Greek situation, readers are recommended to procure the pamphlet Greece Needs Peace (League for Democracy in Greece, 64.]