Olive Sutton

Murder Inc. in Greece



In April, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. After that, no official voice spoke up from America for the Greek people. The American government gradually changed hands, and the State Department gave tacit approval to the doings of the British—with an eye to that future time when it could administer the coup de grace, shove Britain aside and take over Greece for itself.

Thus, millions of dollars' worth of U.N.R.R.A. goods, to the horror of many U.N.R.R.A. officials, were turned into weapons against the Greek people.

You saw the pictures of Greek children…there were pictures like them from other countries, too…great heads a-top spindling pot-bellied bodies…large dark eyes staring at you. Eyes asking food and wanting to be able to trust the giver.

But while food and clothing and drugs piled up in the warehouses, the children's bodies were deformed by disease and twisted by malnutrition, because their mothers and fathers had fought the Germans and their Royalist collaborators and wanted no more foreign rule. Newborn babies did not live long enough to gasp a first wail.

In towns and villages Greek officials picked by the British-rim regime in Athens tried to use U.N.R.R.A. supplies to buy the workers' trade union membership, to buy the people's support for the return of the King and perpetuation of Royalist power. The food rotted and the drugs spoiled.

The U.S. State Department first openly intervened in Greek affairs when it sent a delegation to help supervise the elections of March 31, 1946. The elections were pronounced illegal by the F.A.M. coalition because of the presence of British troops, the terror of the fascist bands sponsored by the British, and the failure to fulfill the terms of Varkiza. The E.A.M. warned that under these conditions the elections could only result in more civil war. E.A.M. followers, the vast majority of the Greek people, boycotted them.

Themisokles Sofoulis, premier then as he is today, protested to British Foreign Minister Bevin that the elections could not be carried out fairly because of the terror.

During the six weeks before March 31, 1,289 persons were assassinated.

Helen Crosby, a member of the American supervisory mission, resigned because of the things she saw.

Later she explained; "I resigned because the total ultimate effect of our intervention in Greek affairs would clearly be to establish an unrepresentative, undemocratic government and thereby to encourage a new and more terrible civil war."

Among the irregularities she witnessed were the police terror and fixed electoral lists. In one village near Salonika, she recounted, her group checked 38 names from a registration of 300. Of these 38, they found that only eight existed.

"And if you think that the dead cannot vote," she said, "then you are mistaken."

The results gave the Royalists 296 seats in the Parliament out of a possible 351. In September another staged election brought King George back to Greece.

After that, one shaky cabinet followed another in Athens, each of them constituted around the same civil war policy, relying wholly on British support for power. Trade unions, newspapers, the whole Greek people continued to protest with strikes and demonstrations.

The Royalists and their British backers started the movement to liquidate the trade unions, to cut the people off from the organizations through which they could speak. More and more people were forced to go to the mountains to escape the terror and poverty. There the E.L.A.S. was reorganized, able finally to fight off its fascist attackers. Its tactics were the classic tactics of guerrilla warfare. The partisans fought when attacked, and when they could extend their lines and gain new territory which would help them support themselves.

Students and teachers, doctors and priests, nurses and small shopkeepers were in their ranks. Their arms were weapons captured from the fascist bands—German and Italian and British.

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