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The Greek Civil War: Essays On A Conflict Of Exceptionalism And Silences
 0754641317, 9780754641315

Table of contents :
A Note on References Cited and Transliteration
Abbreviations and Glossary of Terms
About the Contributors
1 Fifty Years On
Part I. Comparative and International Perspectives
2 The Greek Civil War: Greek Exceptionalism or Mirror of a European Civil War?
3 What was the Problem in Greece? A Comparative and Contextual View of the National Problems in the Spanish, Yugoslav and Greek Civil Wars of 1936-49
4 The Cominform and the Greek Civil War, 1947-49
Part II. Politics and Economics
5 A Prime Minister for All Time: Themistoklis Sofoulis from Premiership to Opposition to Premiership, 1945-49
6 Struggling from Abroad: Greek Communist Activities in France during the Greek Civil War
7 Getting Greece ‘Working Again’: The London Agreement of January 1946*
Part III. Communism and the Culture of Anticommunism
8 Becoming Communist: Political Prisoners as a Subject during the Greek Civil War
9 Orthodoxy in the Service of Anticommunism: The Religious Organization Zoë during the Greek Civil War
10 Social Dimensions of Anticommunism in Northern Greece, 1945-50
Part IV. Testimonies and Representations of the Civil War
11 The Everyday Lives and Silences of a National Army Soldier and His Wife during the Greek Civil War
12 Pyramid 67: A Liminal Testimony on the Greek Civil War
13 The Shadow of the Greek Civil War in the Poetry of Takis Sinopoulos
14 Writing Silences: Manolis Anagnostakis and the Greek Civil War
15 The Road to Reconciliation? The Greek Civil War and the Politics of Memory in the 1980s

Citation preview


Centre For Hellenic Studies

in g s

King’s College London K LONDON College

Publications 6

unworsny at lmiooii

THE GREEK CIVIL WAR Essays on a Conflict of Exceptionalism and Silences

edited by

Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas



C 2004 Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded, or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.

Published by

Ashgate Publishing Limited Gower House, Croft Road Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 3HR Great Britain Ashgate Publishing Company Suite 420 101 Cherry Street Burlington, VT 05401-4405 USA

T he editors have asserted their moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. I Ashgate website B ritish L ibrary Cataloguing in Publication D ata T he Greek Civil Wan Essays on a Conflict of Exceptionalism and Silences. (Publications for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London). 1. Communism—Greece—History—20th century. 2. Greece—History—Civil War, 1944-1949. 3. Greece—History—Civil War, 1944-1949—Influence. I. Carabott, Philip. II. Sfikas, Thanasis D. III. King's College London. Centre for Hellenic Studies. 949.5*074 U S L ibrary o f C ongress C ataloging in Publication D a ta T he Greek Civil Wan Essays on a Conflict of Exceptionalism and Silences / edited by Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas. p. cm. - (Publications for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London; 6) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Greece—History—Civil War, 1944-1949.1. Title: Essays on a Conflict of Exceptionalism and Silences. II. Carabott, Philip. III. Sfikas, Thanasis D. IV. Publications (King’s College (University of London). Centre for Hellenic Studies); 6 DF849.52.G743 2003 949.507’4-dc22 2003065370 ISNB 0 7546 4131 7(hbk) ISBN 0 7546 4132 5 (pbk) This book is printed on acid-free paper. Typeset by W.M. Pank, King’s College London. Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, Cornwall T H E CEN TR E FOR HELLEN IC STUDIES, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, PUBLICATIONS 6


A Note on References Cited and Transliteration


Abbreviations and Glossary of Terms




About the Contributors 1.


Fifty Years On

Philip Carabott and TAanasis D. Sfikas


P a r t I C om parative and International Perspectives 2.

T he Greek Civil Wan Greek Exceptionalism or Mirror of a European Civil War?

Martin Conway 3.


What was the Problem in Greece? A Comparative and Contextual View of the National Problems in the Spanish, Yugoslav and Greek Civil Wars of 1936-49

Philip B. Minehan 4.


T he Cominform and the Greek Civil War, 1947-49

Ioanna Papathanasiou


P a r t II Politics and Econom ics 5.

A Prime Minister for All Time: Themistoklis Sofoulis from Premiership to Opposition to Premiership, 1945-49

TAanasis D. Sfikas 6.


Straggling from Abroad: Greek Communist Activities in France during the Greek Civil War

Nicolas Manitakis 7.


Getting Greece ‘Working Again’: T he London Agreement of January 1946

Athanasios Lykogiannis





P a rt III C om m unism and the C u ltu re o f A nticom m unism 8.

Becoming Communist: Political Prisoners as a Subject during the Greek Civil War

Polymeris Vog/is 9.


Orthodoxy in the Service of Anticommunism: T he Religious Organization Zoc during the Greek Civil War

Vasilios N. Matrices


10. Social Dimensions of Anticommunism in Northern Greece, 1945-50

Basil C. Gounaris


P a rt IV T estim onies and R epresentations o f the Civil W ar 11. T he Everyday Lives and Silences of a National Army Soldier and His Wife during the Greek Civil War

Philip Cambott 12. Pyramid 67\ A Liminal Testimony on the Greek Civil War Maria Niholopoulou

189 209

13. T he Shadow of the Greek Civil War in the Poetry of Takis Sinopoulos

David Ricks


14. Writing Silences: Manolis Anagnostakis and the Greek Civil War

Liana Theodoratou


P a rt V Epilogue 15.

T he Road to Reconciliation? T he Greek Civil War and the Politics of Memory in the 1980s

David Close Index

257 279

A Note on References Cited and Transliteration

References to sources have been harmonized throughout the volume. In the case of published works, the ‘author-date’ system has been employed. T h e author’s name and the date of publication are cited in the notes and, where either the author(s) is/are not identifiable or is/are unknown, a clearly identifiable short title or abbreviation is used, followed by the date of publication. Full bibliographical details of all published works and unpublished sources cited are found in the References Cited section at the end of each chapter. T h e rendering of Greek names and references in English draws upon the system employed by George Mavrogordatos,1 and has been guided by simplicity, convenience and consistency. T he general rules that follow have been waived in the case of name-places that have a standard English form (c.g. Thessaloniki instead of Thesaloniki) and names of Greek authors who have either published in a Latin-based language or are known with a different spelling (e.g. Hadziiossif, Tsoucalas, Odysseas Elytis).

1Stillborn Republic. Social Coalitions and Party Stratèges in Greece, 1922-1936 (Berkeley 1983), p. xxii-xxiii. VII



GREEK a at au

LATIN a e av or a f depending on pronunciation







y followed by e




ng g if initial, ng otherwise nch d e i ev or e f depending on pronunciation z i th i k

o ot

o i


ou p r s t

on YY

yx rt 6 e et eu

c n e l X


X P |I1C

n Q a T


LATIN I m b if initial, m b otherwise n d if initial, nd or n t otherwise

y if initial, otherwise i f ch ps o

Abbreviations and Glossary of Terms


Archia Sinchronis Kinonikis Istorias Archives of Contemporary Social History


Communist Party of the Soviet Union


Dimokratikos Stratos Elladas Democratic Army of Greece


Ethniko ApeUftherotiko Metopo National Liberation Front


Ethniios Dimokratikos Ellinikos Sindesmos National Republican Greek League


Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos National People’s Liberation Army


Eniea Panelladiki Organosi Neon United Panhellenic Youth Organization


Kommounistiko Komma EUadas Communist Party of Greece


KomunistiUka Partija Jugostavije Communist Party of Yugoslavia


Naroden Osloboditelen Front National Liberation Front


Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima Panhellenic Socialist Movement





Parti Communiste de France


Prosorini Dimokratiki Kivemisi Provisional Democratic Government


Slavjano-makedonski Narodno Osloboditelen Front Slav Macedonian National Liberation Front


United Nations


United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration


andartes Dekemvriana ditosi(s) ethnikofrosini Ethnikos Stratos pistopiitiko kinonikonfronimaton

guerrilla fighters December events (1944) declaration(s) of repentance national-mindedness and loyalty to the nation (Greek) National Army certificate of social convictions


H eld under the auspices of the Department of Byzantine and Modem Greek Studies and the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London, the conference from which the present volume derives was made possible by a generous donation from the Greek Ministry of Culture, as well as the financial assistance of the London Hellenic Foundation, the AG Leventis Foundation, and the London Hellenic Society. We would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to all of the above. W e would like to thank the volume’s contributors for tolerating our questioning and patiently responding to our queries and suggestions. We are also grateful to the following colleagues and friends, who knowingly and unwittingly have helped to bring the conference and the volume in hand to fruition: Roderick Beaton, Judith Herrin, John O. Iatrides, Mark Mazower, W endy Pank, David Ricks, and George Vassiadis.

Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas London and loannina, March 2003


About the Contributors

Philip C a ra b o tt is Cyprus Hellenic Foundation Lecturer in Modern Greek History at King’s College London. He has edited and contributed to Greece and Europe in the Modem Period: Aspects of a Troubled Relationship (Centre for Hellenic Studies, 1995), and edited Greek Society in the Making, 1863-1913: Realities, Symbols and Visions (Ashgate, 1997). He is currently finishing a monograph on the politics of the ethnic ‘other’ in interwar Greece. D avid C lose is Senior Lecturer in History at Flinders University of South Australia. He has edited and contributed to Revolution: A History of the Idea (Croom Helm, 1985) and The Greek C ivil War: Studies in Polarization (Routledge, 1993), and written The Origins o f the Gruk Civil War (Longman, 1995) and Greece Since 1945: Politics, Economy and Society (Longman, 2002). He is currently working on public health in Greece in the 1940s, and on politics and society in contemporary Greece. M artin C o n w ay is Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Balliol College, University of Oxford. He is the author of Collaboration in Belgium: Léon Degrelle and the Rexist Movement 1940-44 (Yale University Press, 1993) and Catholic Politics in Europe 1918-45 (Routledge, 1997), and has edited (with Tom Buchanan) a special issue of European History Quarterly (January 2002) on democracy in twentieth-century Europe. He is currently researching a book on the politics of Belgium after 1944. Basil C . G ounaris is Associate Professor of Social and Economic History of the Balkans at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He is the author of

Steam Over Macedonia: Socio-Economic Change and the Railway Factor (Columbia University Press, 1993), E tię ózbeę tou TSgayôça: oixoyéveia, oixovopia xai aonxi] xoivwvia oro M ovaortjçi, 1897-1911 (Athens 2000), Eyvmopévav xoivavixév q>QovtytctTa>v: xoivwvixéç xai àXÀeç otpeiç tou avrixofifiouviopov art] M axeSovia tou epqtukiou noXépov (Thessaloniki 2002), and has edited and contributed to TaurónjTeę on\ M axeSovia (Thessaloniki 1997) a n d O Qoyryurnov. To MaxeSovixo Çrjrryia OTTfvxarexopevtf Svnxrj MaxeSovia 1941-1944. Thessaloniki (2nd edn). Koliopoulos, J. 1997. ‘The war over the identity and numbers of Greece’s Slav Macedonians’, in P. Mackridge and E. Yannakakis (eds), Ourselves and Others: The Development ofa GreekMacedonian Cultural Identity Since 1912. New York, 39-57. Koliopoulos, J. 1999. Plundered Loyalties. Axis Occupation and Civil Strife in Greek West Macedonia, 1941-1949. London. Laclau, E. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory. London. Lampe, J. 19%. Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country. New York. Mavrogordatos, G. 1983. Stillborn Republic: Social Coalitions and Party Strategies in Greece, 1922-1936. Berkeley. Minehan, P. 1998. ‘Popular front, civil war and revolution in Spain, Yugoslavia and Greece, 1936-1949'. Unpublished PhD thesis, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mouzelis, N. 1979. Modem Greece: Facets of Underdevelopment. New York. Nelson, J.M. 1979. Access to Power: Politics and the Urban Poor in the Developing Nations. Princeton. Preston, P. 1986. The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Chicago. Rossos, A. 1994. ‘The British Foreign Office and Macedonian national identity, 1918-1941’, Slavic Review 53/2: 369-94. Sarafis, S. 1981. ELAS: Greek Resistance Army. New Jersey. Tomasevich, J. 1955. Peasants, Politics and Economic Change in Yugoslavia. Stanford.



van Meter, D. 1995. ‘The Macedonian Question and the guerrilla war in northern Greece on the eve of the Truman Doctrine’, Journal of ike Hellenic Diaspora 21/1: 71-90. Vucinich, W. 1969. ‘Interwar Yugoslavia’, in W. Vucinich (cd.). Contemporary Yugoslavia: Tventy Years ofSocialist Experiment. Los Angeles, 3-58.

4 The Cominform and the Greek Civil War, 1947-49 Ioanna Papathanasiou Introduction T h e KKE’s relations with the Soviet Union and the European communist movement between 1945 and 1949 constitute one of the most controversial and complex aspects of the Greek Civil War. From the outset of the conflict, the anticommunist camp focused its polemics on these specific relations, maintaining that the KKE was depended upon the Soviet Union and the Balkan communist parties and that its struggle was Slav-instigated. This extremist discourse, which gradually became dominant during the conflict, was supplement by the unearthing of pacts ‘proving’ the KKE’s treason, and the forging of party documents ‘establishing’ that ‘the KKE has secured the assistance of the Slav brothers’.1 For its part, for many years the communist Left denied such accusations but also passed over in silence its real relations. Yet, as is often the case, occasionally some facets of these complex relations became known and were overemphasized. Such, for instance, was the case with the disagreement of the Italian communist leader Palmiro Togliatti and the PCF over the armed dimension of the conflict in Greece.2 Regardless of the fragmentary evidence brought to light circumstantially and of the information obtained from the testimonies of the protagonists and their interlocutors, the jigsaw of the KKE’s relations with the CPSU and other communist parties has only recently begun to be pieced together. T he opening of communist party archives in most countries of the former socialist 1Efimeris ton Chiton (29 December 1947). This discourse was diffused into society through newspapers and periodicals, as well as through leaflets published by various fraternities, unions, individuals and collective associations representing the Greek sute. See for instance, Karizonis 1948; EED 1948; TSS 1948. The systematic study of such material constitutes an interesting research field, which will highlight both the premises of the anticommunist discourse and the agencies that produced and managed it; cf. chapter 9, this volume. 2See Solaro 1975:183; Nefcloudis 1974:270; Reale 1958:4.

From The Greet Civil War, ed. Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas. Copyright © 2004 by Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GUI 1 3HR, UK. 57



bloc, and especially the release of Soviet archives, has been an important boost to research on the history of the international communist movement. Covering the period 1918-56, the collections of the Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Records of Modern History on the Comintern, the Cominform and the International Relations Department of the CPSU, offer for the first time the opportunity for exhaustive research. In Greece, the establishment of ASKI has offered researchers the opportunity to consult the complete series of records of the KKE’s Politburo and Central Committee meetings for the period 1945-68.3 Thus, it is now possible to make at least some basic observations on the issue under consideration. Firstly, the position of the ’fraternal parties’ on the ‘Greek issue* was neither linear nor uniform. More importantly, it was not characterized by the monolithic unanimity and the unconditional and boundless support for the struggle of the DSE, as implied in Cold War polemics. With the exception of ‘internationalist solidarity’ towards the KKE, which manifested itself in various ways during the three-year conflict, geographic proximity, internal politics, the international conjuncture and particular political stakes all contributed in shaping the position of the communist parties as much as the ‘revolutionary duty’ did. After all, the KKE leadership itself first put out feelers and then discussed with and briefed not only the Soviet leadership, but also the leaderships of all other ‘fraternal parties’.4 Secondly, the position of the Soviet Union, or rather of the CPSU, which determined to a great extent the strategy of the international communist movement towards the G reek issue, oscillated considerably. T his was indicative of the concerns, aspirations and priorities of Soviet policy on the international scene. T h e assurances and promises of the Soviet leadership that they would support the DSE were given in tandem with Moscow’s refusal to promote and publicly support the ‘Greek cause’, or to adopt and promote proposals such as that for Greek ‘neutrality’, which the KKE had put forward since August 1946. In fact, the assignment of the main burden of responsibility for supplying and providing political support for the KKE to Yugoslavia highlighted the limits of Soviet intervention in the struggle of the Greek communists. Although the KKE leadership strove to force a clear commitment on the part of the CPSU, in the event the management of the 3 For an earlier important publication of records pertaining to the KKE’s relations with the international communist movement, see Iliou 1979-80. 4 The dear indications about the KKE’s soundings towards the ’fraternal parties’ and the guarantees which the Greek communists sought to secure included: Mitsos Partsalidis’ meetings with the general secretaries and leading cadres of the communist parties of France and Great Britain in the context of the visit of an EAM delegation to various European capitals and to Moscow in early 1946; and the trips and meetings of the KKE secretary general Nikos Zachariadis in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and Bulgaria in March 1946, on the occasion of the conference of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.



Greek issue by the Soviets stemmed exclusively from the constraints of a controlled-offensive policy. Above all, this policy aimed to safeguard Soviet gains in the negotiations amongst the victors of the Second World War. Thirdly, the changes in the policy-planning and ideological strategy of the communist world were demarcated by the rift between Stalin and T ito in the spring of 1948, and the subsequent split w ithin the Cominform (Information Bureau) in the summer of that year. T hese changes entailed a clear shift in the handling of the Greek issue by the international communist movement. At a time when the Greek question seemed to have already been resolved, and while the prospects for a victorious conclusion of the revolution were shifting eastwards due to the successes of the ‘national liberation army’ in China, the struggle of the DSE gradually became one of the Cominform’s main propaganda axes in its confrontation with Tito. However, despite the spectacular publicity given to the Greek issue by the mouthpiece of the Cominform, the Pour une paix durable, pour une démocratie populaire (PDDP),S internal discussions about Greece in the institutional bodies of the communist movement clearly subsided. Incorporated in the public discourse whose aim was to secure international peace, at that stage the struggle of the DSE exemplified only one thing: the armed resistance of a heroic people fighting for peace and tranquillity in their land against a ‘monarcho-fascist’ war machine subservient to the Americans. T his chapter aims to highlight the terms on which the international communist movement managed the Greek civil war from September 1947 onwards, when the Cominform was established. T here were two clearly distinct phases. T h e first lasted up to the T ito-S talin break and was characterized by the lack of any substantial reference to the G reek communist movement and its struggle in the pages of the PDDP. T h e second, after the break, witnessed the incorporation o f both into the institutional discourse of the Cominform. At the same time, I will also seek to explore the conditions that determined and articulated the Cominform’s stance vis-à-vis the G reek Civil War as a synthesis o f the requests and priorities of the European communist parties.

T he Cominform W hether a ‘hybrid’ or a ‘façade’, as Jacques Duclos and a Hungarian Cominformien called it respectively,6 from September 1947 to April 1956 the Cominform functioned as the co-ordinating apparatus of the international communist movement. It never became a decision-making instrument, its role being merely to ‘guide’ and to co-ordinate. Essentially it was an 5Though also published in English under the title For a Lasting Peace, for a People's

Democracy, here references are to the French edition. 6Markou 1977:1.



additional valuable tool of Stalinist authority - a com ponent of the communist ideological and political strategy. In the main the Cominform acted as an accredited porte-parole of Soviet policy. According to Andrei Zhdanov’s drawing of the new geopolitical map, which perceived ’the world as divided into two basic camps’,7*the Cominform headed ‘the democratic and anti-imperialist camp’. From its very inception, therefore, the immediate political goals of this new organization were formulated as follows: the exercise of Soviet authority in the socialist camp; hardened opposition and mobilization of the masses in the capitalist camp; and a co-ordinated pursuit of the policy of the communist camp for peace. In fact these aims also reflected the Eurocentric dimension of the com m unist movement in 1945-49, that is, until the victory of the Chinese revolution." Indeed, the invitation to participate in the Cominform’s organizational nucleus to only nine European communist parties9 demonstrates that Soviet foreign policy focused its interest on Europe, which was then threatened by ’Marshallization’. T h e setting up of the Information Bureau was a specific response to the Trum an Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, exemplifying the sim ultaneous entrenchm ent and controlled offensive with which the communist world chose to counter the American presence in Europe. It was a scheme that would ensure overall ideological coherence, safeguard the Soviet gains in the aftermath of the war and serve faithfully the Stalinist policy of ‘isolement calculi’ in the context of a strategy that was ’neither particularly offensive nor particularly defensive’.10 T h e communist parties were thus called upon to ’fight against the Marshall Plan in the name of national independence and sovereignty’, while the call for ‘people’s solidarity’ was expressed through the propaganda slogan of the ‘struggle for peace’.11 W hether a corpus sine anima or an anima sine corpore, the Cominform differed from the Comintern, which it claimed to succeed, in terms of its decision-making mechanisms and the manner in which the strategy of the international communist movement was delineated. Moreover, it had a different organizational structure. Against the labyrinthine formal and informal mechanisms of the Comintern, the new co-ordinating body of the communist movement retained the two modes of functioning but eschewed the T hird International’s multi-level and constantly adjustable political planning and organizational complexity. T h e informal functions involved

7 Zhdanov 1947:1. * Markon 1977:45. ’ Those of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Rumania and Yugoslavia. 10 Kriegei 197S: 55. " Zhdanov 1947:1.



internal party contacts, which intensified during the crisis with Yugoslavia. T h e formal functions mainly related to th e conferences of the representatives of member-parties, which were held on an irregular basis at Belgrade, the Cominform’s first seat, and then, after Yugoslavia’s expulsion from its ranks, in Bucharest. Another formal function was performed through the PDDP, which was practically the Cominform’s only institutional organ. Originally it was published fortnightly, but in Septem ber 1949, at the organization’s heyday, it came out on a weekly basis. Published in twelve languages,12 it established itself as the authentic voice of the communist dogma and, later, after the Tito-Stalin split, as the high priest of Stalinist orthodoxy against the Titoist heresy.

Spectacular Publicity Until the late summer of 1948, that is a year after the launch of the Cominform, the armed conflict in Greece and the KKE’s views did not figure prominently in the pages of the PDDP. Admittedly, there had been scanty references in editorials on instances of solidarity by the ‘Committees of Assistance to the Greek people’, and fragmentary news items on the situation in Greece and the ‘white terror’.13 Events like the establishment of the PDK in late Decem ber 1947 were simply m entioned in passing, without any comment or analysis, but only as a communiqué reproduced from the news agency E kfthm Ellada (Free Greece).14 T h e first substantial and extensive account of the situation in Greece appeared in June 1948, when a front-page piece highlighted the persecution of resistance fighters following the Varkiza Agreement.15 In August 1948, the publication of a report on military operations in Greece, on the occasion of the battle of Grammos, marked a change in the manner in which the Greek question was treated: On [Mount] Grammos the Greek people thwarted the plans of the AngloAmericans to foment a new war with the aim of turning [Greece] into a base for military operations against the Balkan countries and the Soviet Union. 12 French, Russian, English, German, Rumanian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Italian, and Spanish. The PDDP was not published in Serbo-Croat, as a large number of the articles therein were written by Yugoslavs and reprinted in the theoretical journal of the KPJ. 11From its first issue until the summer of 1948, the PDDP made five references to Greece: two of them were direct or indirect comments in the editorials of the 2nd and 10th issues, while the other three provided information on the ‘Committees of Assistance to the Greek people’ issue no. 3 on the Rumanian Committee and issue no. 8 on the French, Polish and Hungarian ones. Furthermore, issue no. 11 referred to the ‘Conférence Internationale pour l’aide au peuple grec’, which was held in Paris in April 1948 with delegates from twenty countries. MPDDP 4 (January 1948): 1. 15Gorchitch 1948.



Moreover, on Grammos the Greek people proved yet again their power of resistance against the monarchofascist reaction and their will to win without counting the sacrifices.16 T his was the first time that there was a signed contribution by a G reek correspondent. Lefteris Apostolou’s piece did not merely mark the double Greek presence in an international publication of the communist Left. In a system as highly structured and hierarchical as the communist one, the presentation of Greek views - even in the form of a journalistic report reflected the decision of the international communist movement to change its political strategy on the Greek Civil War. From then on the Greek issue, or rather, the armed conflict in Greece, became an axis in the official discourse of the communist camp, and one of the basic topics in the verbal polemics of the Manichean Gold War confrontation. Indeed, this first presentation of the conflict was followed in November 1948 by a broader analysis of the political situation and the US governm ent’s interest in Greece. With a certainty explicitly conveyed in the title of his article, the member of the KKE Politburo Miltiadis Porfyroyenis commented on George Marshall’s briefing by Lt.-General James Van Fleet and his contacts with King Paul and Prime Minister Themistoklis Sofoulis during his three-day visit to Athens a month earlier.17 However, the detailed presentation of the position and strategic pursuits of the KKE could only be formulated by the secretary general of the party. On 15 December 1948, in a page-long article, Nikos Zachariadis reminded readers of the KKE’s historical trajectory from its foundation in 1918 until the civil war, and analysed the conditions of ‘the struggle for peace and democracy in Greece’. T he message was clean Even though in the West some had said that the struggle of our people was ‘with no prospects’, the Greeks themselves have experienced the successes of the armed struggle and unswervingly believe in their victory. Inspired by the example of the victorious reconstruction in the People’s Republics, they have once more risen up in arms. This is the one and only path that may allow Greeks to save their country from the yoke of the American imperialists.1819 Thus, by the end of 1948 the KKE had acquired its own voice in the PDDP,n thereby promoting on the international plane its armed struggle against both ‘monarcho-fascism’ and ‘American imperialism’. 16Apostolou 1948:5. 17Porfyroyenis 1948. '* Zachariadis 1948:4. 19 Between the summer of 1948 and late 1949 there were more than fifty references to Greece. Twelve articles dealt exclusively with the Greek issue, while another four were signed by leading KKE members: Porfyroyenis (#25), Zachariadis (#27 and #42), Partsalidis (#34). Indicative of this publicity was the publication (#41) of the full text of the speech made by



A num ber of questions need to be addressed here. Why was the suppression of the KKE’s views abandoned in favour of their adoption and political promotion? W hat conjuncture and dynamics determ ined the incorporation of the Greek issue into the Cominform’s verbal armoury? Does the change in the strategic management of this particular case imply the lifting of the reservations of certain western communist parties, as hinted at Zachariadis’ article, or of whatever reservations had previously suppressed the Greek issue? And, if that were the case, could it be inferred that the communist world now supported wholeheartedly the struggle of the DSE?

Silence and Support Until the summer of 1948, it was not only the struggle of the DSE and the armed conflict in Greece that were absent from the pages of the PDDP. T h e KKE itself was not asked to participate in the Constitutional Conference of the Information Bureau held at Szklarska Poręba in Poland on 22-27 Septem ber 1947. Indeed, it was the only European communist party that would never be invited to attend the Cominform’s official conferences, and the only communist party in the Balkans that never saw the publication of the PDDP in its own language.20 Both as a strategic conception and an organizational entity, the Cominform ignored the KKE and passed over its struggle. According to Zhdanov’s report,21 which was delivered at the C onstitutional C onference and became the Cominform’s ideological manifesto, Greece was irrefutably located in the ‘imperialist and anti­ democratic camp’, alongside France and Italy, although the representatives of the French and Italian communist parties were present. Yet, the situation in Greece was rather unique. T h e only ‘hot spot’ in Cold War Europe could not have been part of an ideological and political scheme aiming exclusively to safeguard Soviet gains and consolidate the glacis. Likewise, it could not have become the axis of the authoritative propaganda discourse addressed to opponents. In fact, the Greek Civil War could not have possibly constituted the frontispiece of a declared political strategy. Nevertheless, both the Cominform and its members did not rule out the possibility of a communist victory in Greece. Had that been the prevailing view, communism would have been stripped of one of its core elements, while communist parties would have lost one of their distinctive ideological

Partsalidis in Sofia at the funeral of Georgi Dimitrov. The ‘promotion’ of the KKE continued apace throughout 1950, with fifteen articles referring entirely to Greece. 20The Communist Party of Albania was represented at the Constitutional Conference by the Yugoslavs. Although it was treated by the communist world as a Yugoslav protectorate, it secured from the outset the publication of the PDDP in Albanian. After the split, it was invited to and participated with its delegates in the conferences of the Information Bureau. 21 Zhdanov 1947:1.



features. Therefore, the silence of the Cominform with regard to the civil war in Greece and its decision not to include the KKE in the nucleus of the co-ordinating apparatus cannot be considered as an a priori opposition to, or denial of, the Greek case.22 Silence was the result of a specific strategic choice that might indirectly approve of —or reinforce - other tactical choices without fully incorporating them into its public discourse or promoting them amongst its immediate political priorities.2* This rationale concurs with the view that the Rumanian leader Gheorghe Gheorghieu-Dej clearly expressed during the Constitutional Conference: * I consider it proper to say that giving aid to the Greek CP is obligatory upon all other Communist Parties, without writing that in a resolution’.24* T h e sources currently available allow the deduction that during the first phase of the relationship between the Cominform and the KKE, which lasted until the autum n of 1948, the stance of the former reflected the realpolitik of the leadership of the CPSU with regard to the Greek question: steadfast support of the KKE, together with the delegation of the main responsibility for its support to the Yugoslavs. This was coupled with a firm refusal to make a public statem ent or commitment in favour of the DSE, which could have led to the internationalization of the conflict. On the other hand, the KKE wished to join the Cominform, as this would amount to an indirect recognition of the D SE’s struggle by the socialist block. Following the refusal of the Soviets to promote internationally the proposal for G reek ‘neutrality’ and the apparent acceptance of this by Zachariadis in May 1947,0 the KKE pressed for the official recognition of the Greek question through a request for its accession to the Information Bureau. In a letter addressed to the leadership of the CPSU on 6 October 1947, amongst other more practical issues, it was also noted that ‘the conference of the communist parties in Poland gave us great pleasure. We would like to know whether it may be possible for the KKE to join the Information Bureau that has been set up’.26 T his request remained unanswered, and the official reply of the Cominform was not given until months later. In response to a new KKE appeal to join, addressed to the Communist Party of Bulgaria in the spring of

22 The numerous records on the KKE that the Archives of the Cominform contain probably constitute further proof of its interest about the ‘Greek case’; see AC (fond) 575 (opus) 1. a Papathanassiou 1988:14-130. 24Procassi 1994:403. 8 See Zachariadis’ statement to Zhdanov during their meeting in Moscow on May 22 1947: ‘You will give us what you can. We are ready to sacrifice everything for the Soviet Union’; AC 77 C (delo) 143:1-13, and To Nea (22 May 1999). In the public discourse of the KKE and EAM the question of Greek neutrality remained a point of reference up until late 1948. 26AKKE (box) 383 (document) 20/33/38.




1948, during the second conference of the Information Bureau in June of that year Goergii Malenkov publicly stated: We were guided by the consideration that, in the present international situation and with the present situation in Greece, entry by the Greek CP into the Information Bureau would create additional difficulties for Greek comrades. Anglo-American and Greek reaction would hasten to exploit this circumstance to present the Greek Communists as agents of Moscow, to describe their fight against Greek reaction as a movement directed from the outside by foreign powers, and, of course, by Moscow, through the Information Bureau. We think that the Greek comrades should not join the Information Bureau for the present. At the same time we consider it possible and useful to keep the Greek comrades informed of the Information Bureau’s activities.27 Despite the limited promotion of the Greek question and the refusal to offer m em bership to the KKE, ever since the establishm ent of the Cominform the struggle of the Greek communists had always been a subject of discussion. What until recently was only known from personal testimonies and filtered information is now confirmed and verified by the minutes of the Constitutional Conference.2” In Szklarska Poręba the role that the fraternal parties of the USSR and Yugoslavia would play in the struggle of the KKE did not change. It remained exactly as it had been agreed upon during the bilateral meetings of the leaderships of the CPSU, the KPJ and the KKE in early 1946. By demarcating the limits of this strategy and criticizing the particular political practices of various communist parties, the Yugoslavs assumed the task of presenting and defending the Greek position. Edvard Kardelj specifically referred to the KKE and its decision for armed struggle as a model-answer to the ‘parliamentarism** of the Italian and French communist parties: Consequently, the ‘Greek situation’ is at the present time an incomparably better situation than what prevails in France or Italy. While the Greek democratic forces are resisting the expansion of the American imperialists and going even to a counter-offensive against the onslaught of reaction, in France and in Italy these forces are retreating and not only letting themselves be thrown out - ‘without making a fuss’, as the bourgeoisie say - from the government, but also letting their countries be transformed, without any effective resistance on their part, into vassals and bases for war against socialism and democracy. This is why I cannot agree with the Italian comrades that the Americans and the reactionaries in France and Italy want a ‘Greek situation’ to be created in those countries. On the contrary, I am sure not only that they do

27 Procassi 1994:601. * Until the opening of the archives of the former Soviet Union, the information available on the Constitutional Conference was based on the testimony of the Italian delegate Eugenio Reale (1958), as well as on speeches and resolutions published in the PDDP.



not wish it but that a ‘Greek situation’ in Italy and France, alongside the original one in Greece, would signify a very severe blow to imperialism, would mean the ruin of the current imperialist offensive against the progressive forces.29 Yet Andrei Zhdanov, who was in charge of planning and seeing through the overall strategy, situated Greece a priori within the ‘anti-democratic camp’ and refused to make even the slightest public reference to the Greek Civil War. Indeed, when the Bulgarian representative V. Chervenkov suggested the inclusion of a special reference to Greece in the draft ‘resolution’, Zhdanov ‘replied with a clear-cut refusal: “We have already taken up a definitive position on the Greek question, and we maintain that position. We are not thinking of anything more than is already being done.”’30

Publicity and Condemnation 1947 was the turning point in the history of the Cold War, with the announcement of the Marshall Plan and the creation of the Information Bureau. T h e following year marked a momentous change within the communist world, as the rift between Stalin and Tito led to a split within the ranks of the Cominform. Correspondingly, for Greece 1947 was the year of the official adoption by the KKE of ‘the armed struggle as the dominant form of struggle’ with the tacit support of Stalin and the ‘fraternal parties’. And 1948 was characterized by the explosive publicity given to the ‘heroic struggle of the D SE’ by the Cominform, and, at the same time, by the first recorded expression of Stalin’s doubts about the prospects of the armed struggle in Greece.31 No doubt the Tito-Stalin split involved issues more complex than Stalin’s desire to exercise total control over Yugoslavia and T ito’s refusal to become a satellite. From the spring of 1948 the dispute was gradually transformed into a Soviet-Yugoslav conflict and eventually assumed the character of an open split between the Cominform and Yugoslavia on 28 June 1948, when the latter was expelled from its ranks.32 T o the extent that the fight against the «Procassi 1994:301. “ Procassi 1994:33,403. 211 am referring here to the change of Soviet policy vis-à-vis the civil war and Stalin’s statement to the Yugoslav and Bulgarian delegations in Moscow on 10 February 1948. See Djilas 1971: 225-6; Kardelj 1980; Dimitrov 1999: 204-5. Although the three testimonies render Stalin’s statement somewhat differently, it is an established fact that the Yugoslavs briefed Zachariadis and loannidis on this statement in March 1948, and that the Greek leadership was concerned. For a recapitulation of the debate, see Zachariadis’ secret letter to the Central Committee of the CPSU on 15 June 1948, in AKKE 383 20/33/55. 22See Ulam 1952; Fejto 1969:221-41; Dejider 1970; Markou 1977:198-236. Cf. the memoirs and testimonies of the Yugoslavs in particular, such as Dejider (1953) and Djilas (1971).



recalcitrant Yugoslav leadership became one of the chief priorities of Soviet policy, without differentiating its position vis-à-vis the ‘capitalist camp', the Information Bureau incorporated into its political strategy an additional dimension aiming to condemn the ‘Yugoslav deviation’. T h e new verbal polemics equated ‘T ito and his clique* with the ‘servants o f the Anglo-Americans’. In this new context, the Cominform called upon the communist parties not only to denounce the ‘nationalistic deviation’, but also to contribute actively to its extermination by putting forward their selfcriticism and declaring their confidence in communist orthodoxy. Ideological purity ws-à-vis ‘heresy’ was sought in various key phrases of the communist jargon, such as ‘revolutionary vigilance’, or the ‘intensification of the class struggle’. It was confirmed through the identification of ‘Titoist elements’ in the communist parties, a process that paved the way for large scale purges within these parties, especially in eastern Europe.33 In the Manichean confrontation between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, the Cominform could not have adopted a more powerful example with which to condemn the ‘Yugoslav treason’ than ‘the struggle of the Greek people against the will of the Americans to transform the G reek soil into a base for military operations against the Balkan countries and the Soviet Union’.34 As part of a political decision to amass arguments that exacerbated differences, the optimistic prospects of the Greek cause and ‘the struggle until victory’ were juxtaposed to T ito’s ‘submission’ and ‘treason’. T h e publicity given to the struggle of the KKE falls squarely within the framework of the Cominform’s new domestic pursuits. Relations between the KKE and the Information Bureau entered a new phase in August 1948 with the appearance of Apostolou’s article in the first issue of the PDDP to be published in Bucharest. This new phase was part of a broader ideological and political strategy initiated by the split. T he creation of the internal front within the communist camp and the simultaneous abandonment of any strategic interest in Greece enabled Soviet policy to handle the Greek issue differently and launch a propaganda campaign in its favour. However, apart from the deploym ent for internal use of a powerful counter-example regarding Yugoslavia’s attitude, the spectacular publicity given to the struggle of the KKE gradually came to serve other purposes, too. Incorporated in the Cominform’s aggressive rhetoric, which, after the ‘Marshallization’ of Europe, was articulated mainly around the ‘international peace’ axis, the struggle of the Greek communists was publicized in order to mobilize those with an already sensitized conscience. And, since negotiations* " S e e Markou 1977: 244-88; Fejto 1969: 245-93. On the Greek ‘parody of a trial’ in the context of the Third Conference of the KKE in Rumania in October 1950, see Papathanassiou 1988:352-67. ** Apostokm 1948:5.



on the Greek question were already being conducted within the framework of the UN, this in turn would provide additional impetus for the ‘resolution’ of the crisis on terms favourable to the KKE and the termination of the civil war. T h e promotion of ‘the struggle until the final victory’ at first seemed to consent to the KKE’s request for international recognition of its struggle. At the same time, it was fully consistent with the party’s policy exemplified in the slogan ‘everybody in arms, all for victory’, which a political and military conference of the DSE had adopted in January 1948. Yet the Tito-Stalin split by itself raised a series of problems that the G reek communist leadership had to address. For instance, the KKE, like all communist parties, was compelled to declare publicly its support of communist orthodoxy and condemn the heresy by carrying out its self-criticism. In the early phase of the conflict with Yugoslavia, the KKE preferred to keep its distance for two reasons: the important role that the Yugoslavs played in the conflict, including the crucial issue of supplying the DSE, and the question relating to the Slav Macedonian minority in northern Greece and the separatist tendencies of the NOF.35 Thus, although the party aligned itself with the decisions of the Cominform, it refrained from publicly condemning the Yugoslav leadership. T h e relevant decision of the Fourth Plenum of the Central Com m ittee in July 1948 condemned T ito and brought the KKE policy in line with that of the Cominform. Yet it was kept secret and was communicated only to the Secretariat of the Cominform, through which it reached the leaderships of its constituent parties.36 In the same vein, the KKE announced that it would not send representatives to the Fifth Congress of the KPJ, but only after receiving a special order by the Cominform’s Secretariat, communicated on 7 July 1948.37 Zachariadis’ article on ‘T he struggle for peace and democracy in Greece’3" constitutes a typical example of the KKE’s attitude. Published in the PDDP rather belatedly in Decem ber 1948, it served two purposes: that of a declaration in favour of ‘communist orthodoxy’, and that o f a public acknowledgement of the KKE’s self-criticism vis-à-vis the ‘nationalist Yugoslav deviation’. T here was, however, not the slightest direct reference to Yugoslavia or Tito. Thus, although the text contained the vocabulary and key words that made up the leitmotif of self-critical notes by the communist leaders of the time, the self-criticism on the part of the secretary general of the KKE related to the resistance period of 1941-44:

“ See chapter 3, this volume. 16The full text did not appear in Greek until 1952; see KKE 1952:177—8. ” AC 575/1/49:15. ■*Zachariadis 1948:4.



Content with the results it had achieved, [the leadership of KKE) had allowed its revolutionary vigilance to weaken and committed errors whose grave consequences prevented the victorious conclusion of the people’s democratic revolution in the country. On the subject of the civil war, although the article made no reference to Yugoslavia’s differentiation, it included clear hints regarding the circumspect attitude of the western European parties during the first phase of the conflict. Nonetheless, unlike the period of the resistance, the civil war was now perceived optimistically through the prospect of the ’final victory’: As for the DSE, it emerged from the 1948 battles even stronger and even more confident of its victory [...] Never before has monarchofascism been in a more difficult situation. Never before has the DSE been as strong as it is now. Until late July 1949, therefore, the prominent political presence of the KKE in the pages of the PDDP can be summed up in the expression of confidence in the victory of the DSE, the acknowledgement of both the solidarity and the support of the communist movement for the ’Greek cause’, and silence over the Yugoslav defection. Although the strategic objectives of the Cominform and the KKE coincided, in the event they were fully harmonized only in the summer of 1949. On 1 August, in an article entitled ’T ito ’s dagger stabs the People’s Democratic Greece in the back’/ 9 Zachariadis fabricated the alibi for the imminent defeat. ‘Since the times of the first occupation, the People’s Democratic movement in our country has not known a more devious and slimy enemy than T ito ’s gang’. T his article marked the beginning of a second, more intense, phase in the international campaign against Tito.*40 In the autum n of 1949 the escalation and the acrimony of that campaign, to g e th e r w ith the co n cen tratio n o f troops m ainly along th e Bulgarian-Yugoslav borders, further increased western anxieties for a possible offensive against ‘renegade Yugoslavia’, assisted by those units of the DSE that had meanwhile left Greece.41 In the event, the imminent danger of a generalized conflict in the Balkans, the so-called ‘powder keg’ of 19Zachariadis 1949:6. 40There followed a series of denunciations in the PDDP signed by leading personalities of the international communist movement, such as J. Marek (#43, 14 September 1949), R. Goboubovitch and Z. Slansky (both in #44,1 October 1949). 41 French diplomatic circles expected that the attack would probably be launched on two fronts, along the Albanian-Yugoslav and Bulgarian-Yugoslav borders. According to the various scenarios concocted, Kosovo, deemed as Yugoslavia’s soft underbelly, was considered as the most likely target of the attack of the communist world from Albania; see ADF 101: Quai d’Orsay memorandum on ‘Situation aux frontiers’ (n.d.), Athens to Paris (28 September 1949), Berne to Paris (24 September 1949), Tirana to Paris (27 September 1949). In the context of what happened fifty years later, in 1999, it was a tragic irony that the Albanian minority in KosovoMetohja would move against the authority of Belgrade.



Europe, cancelled any attem pts to administer an exemplary punishm ent upon Yugoslavia. Yet the polemics against T ito continued unabated. For the Cominform, ‘the entire domestic and foreign policy of the T ito clique constitutes evidence that it is a gang of fascists, in no way different from the Hitlerites or from fascists of the Tsaldaris and Franco type’.42 On 18 November 1949, during the T h ird C onference of the Cominform, G heorghieu-D ej symbolically confirmed in the central report the causes of the defeat of the DSE: The vilest role that the counter-revolutionary agent Tito took upon himself was to strike a blow at the Democratic Army of Greece. The hangmen of the Greek and Yugoslav peoples, Tito and Tsaldaris, reached complete agreement, arranging secretly to destroy the heroic Greek partisans. While Tito instructed his troops how to stab the Greek Democratic Army in the back, his henchman Vukmanovic wrote in Borba about the ‘mistakes’ committed by the Communist Party of Greece.4* Thus, notwithstanding any assessment of the stance of the Yugoslavs in the period following their rift with the Cominform, the ‘anti-T itoist campaign’ continued to offer legitim ate arguments and serve specific political exigencies. Notably, the ‘satellization’ o f the regimes in eastern Europe and the entrenchment of western European communist parties vis-àvis the CPSU and, thereby, the Cominform. Last, but not least, the magnitude that the public communist discourse assigned to the ‘T itoist treason’ ultimately offset the cost of the KKE’s political and military defeat in the Greek Civil War and helped the party to adjust to the new realities.

References Cited AC. Archives of the Cominform. Russian Centre for the Conservation and Study of Records of Modern History, Moscow. ADF. Archives Diplomatiques Françaises: Série Z, Europe 1949-1955, Grèce - 101. Paris. AKKE. Archive of the KKE. Archives of Contemporary Social History, Athens. Apostolou, L. 1948. ‘L’échec de la nouvelle offensive monarcho-fasciste en Grèce’, Pour unepaix durable, pour une démocratiepopulaire 18:5. Dejider, V. 1953. Tito parle. Paris. Dejider, V. 1970. Le défi de Tito. Paris. 42Thus said comrade Berman, a Polish representative, cited in Ptocassi 1994:881. *■'Procassi 1994: 845. Gheorghieu-Dej was referring to the first - public, at least - criticism by the Yugoslavs of the stance and strategy of the KKE in 1943-49, which had been put forward in the form of four articles by S. Vukmanovic-Tempo in the newspaper Borba (29 August1 September 1949).



Dimitrov, G. 1999. Tx. AtyiTirgcwp, LeXiSeçomô to anoQQijro queQoXôyio. Athens. Djilas, M. 1971. Conversations avecStatine. Paris. EED 1948. ExSôoeiç EOvixiy; Aiaqxmoeoç, TopeyàXo tpéfifia. Athens. Fejto, F. 1969. Histoire des Démocraties Populaires, vol. I. Paris. Gorchitch, M. 1948. ‘La terreur fasciste en Grice’, Pour une paix durable, pour une démocratiepopulaire 14:1. Iliou, F. 1979-80. 4>. HXiou, ‘O eiupôXioç xôXepoç ottjv EXXôfa’, hop (Athens, 1 December 1979-23 January 1980). Kardelj, E. 1980. E KagvréXi, ‘Avopvfjoeiç’, Avp (Athens, 17 February 1980). Karizonis, A. 1948. A. KagiÇcôvqç, rient o xoppowionxôç XijoroovpfioQinofiôç eivai okavôSooAoç xai oXavoxivrjroç. Athens. KKE 1952. Emoipa Keipsva. To KKE atm to 1931 aro 1952. n.p. Kriegel, A. 1975. ‘Une nouvelle stratégie communiste?’, Contrepoids 17:47-67. Markou, L. 1977. Le Cominform. Paris. Nefeloudis. P. 1974. fl. NecpekouSqç, Enç nrfyéç tîjç xaxoSatpoviaç: ta ßetövrepa aixia TTfçSiâommjç tou KKE, 1918-1968. Athens. Papathanassiou, I. 1988. ‘Contribution à l’histoire du Parti Communiste Grec 1949-1950’. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Paris X. Paris. Porfyroyenis, M. 1948. ‘Le peuple grec combattra jusqu’à la victoire’, Pour une paix durable, pour une démocratiepopulaire 25:5. Procassi, G. (ed.) 1994. The Cominform: Minutes of the Three Conferences 1947, 1948, 1949. Milan. Reale, E. 1958. AvecJacques Duclos au bancdes accusés. Paris. Solaro, A. 1975 A. ZoXoqo, IaroQta too Koppovvionxoô Kôpparoç EXXàSaç. Athens. TSS 1948. r ' Etópa Ergarou, rgaqteiov Aiaqxmoeaç, 7i Çtjroôvot BouAyaçoi peo' on] MaxeSovia. Thessaloniki. Ulam, A. 1952. Titoism and'the Cominform. Cambridge, MA. Zachariadis, N. 1948. ‘La lutte pour la paix et la démocratie en Grice’, Pour unepaix durable, pour une démocratiepopulaire 27:4. Zachariadis, N. 1949. ‘La clique de Tito poignarde dans le dos la Grice Démocratique Populaire’, Pour unepaix durable, pour unedémocratiepopulaire 42:6. Zhdanov, A. 1947. ‘Sur la situation internationale’, Pour une paix durable, pour une démocratiepopulaire 1:1.


5 A Prime Minister for All Time: Themistoklis Sofoulis from Premiership to Opposition to Premiership, 1945-49 Thanasis D. Sfikas Introduction Social-science history and microhistory may have rescued the masses and the anonymous individual from what E.P. Thom pson called ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’, but they also tend to reduce every human being to a social type or the m outhpiece of a collective discourse. T his is particularly true of the better-known individual and his will, both summarily replaced by the wills of impersonal historical forces at work. A reminder, therefore, is needed that such approaches ignore both the complexity of human nature and the plain fact that the acts through which these impersonal forces are expressed are the acts of individuals and are set in motion by the individual will. Or as Marx himself put it, 4history does nothing, it possesses no immense wealth, fights no battles. It is rather man, real living man who does everything, who possesses and fights’.1 T h e Greek Civil War is no exception to this, for the impersonal forces at work in the crisis of the 1940s were shaped by the wills of some powerful individuals. In Greece, as well as in Britain and the United States, there was a widespread perception that the KKE enjoyed one clear advantage over its opponents. Whereas Nikos Zachariadis and Markos Vafiadis were thought to provide a sense of direction and strong leadership for the communists, the anticommunist forces suffered from inept political leadership and were excessively prone to petty party squabbles. Although the perception of the leadership cohesion of the KKE can be challenged, no attention has been

1Cited in Carr 1964a: 49 (emphasis in the original). See also Evans 2001: 163-5, 189-90; Thompson 1963:12; Carr 1964b: 137.

From The Greek Civil War, ed. Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas. Copyright O 2004 by Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 75



paid to the anticommunist forces and, in particular, to the leader of the Liberal Party, Themistoklis Sofoulis. Mainly due to his long career, Sofoulis was widely perceived as the only figure of substance in the old political world. Bom in 1860, after an academic career as an archaeologist, in the interwar period he became a prominent figure in the Liberal Party, held various ministerial posts, served as president of parliament and, briefly in 1924, assumed his first premiership. After the failed Venizelist coup d'état of 1 March 1935 and Venizelos’ exile, he became leader of the Liberal Party primarily due to the support of the liberal press baron Dimitrios Lambrakis.2* His attitude towards the KKE in 1935-36 suggested that tactically he was not opposed to co-operation with the communists, if only as a means of gaining advantage over the monarchist People’s Party, but also that the liberals’ anticommunism and fear of fellowtravelling - codenamed ‘Venizelocommunism’ - could hardly be overcome. Indeed, Sofoulis’ case illustrates both the strategic continuity and the tactical discontinuity in the liberals’ response to the dilemma that visited them in 1936 and, more acutely, in 1945-47: a republican front with the Left against the monarchy or a bourgeois coalition with the People’s Party against the Left.2 During the Metaxas dictatorship his notion of resistance centred around the despatch to King George II of memoranda arguing either that the dictatorship was historically, politically and morally unjustified, or that the deterioration of the international situation necessitated the formation of an all-party government.4 This was symptomatic of the ‘exhaustion and even bankruptcy’ on the part of both the Liberal and the People’s Parties,5 and it was accentuated during the Axis occupation. Sofoulis rejected the KKE’s invitation to join EAM, refused to get involved in the ‘pinpricks’ of resistance,6 and called for ‘patience and prudence’.78T h e ideological and political vacuum exemplified in this attitude was filled in by the KKE and EAM." From 1944 to 1947 his response to the political challenge posed by the KKE was to make a habit of remaining on the fence, from which at various times he moved close either to the Left or to the People’s Party. Prior to the Dekemvriana, he was regularly lashing out against the KKE for the ‘merciless slaughter’ it was preparing, but on the night of 4-5 December all parties agreed on the formation of a new government under Sofoulis as a solution to 2 Ptinis 1994:18-23,28-136,148; Mavrogordatos 1995:33. 5 Mavrogordatos 1995:32; Sarlis 1987:340-7,354-5,362-4,366-78,381,395-7. 4 Ptinis 1994:147-8. 5 Mavrogordatos 1995:37. 6 Hondros 1993:54. 7 Fleischer 1988:158. 8 Mavrogordatos 1995:37; Smith 1993:59; Mazowcr 1993:100-1.



the erupting civil strife, only to be thwarted by Churchill.9 Thereafter, and until 1947, at least some leftists regarded him as the ‘patriarch*, ‘doyen* and ‘nestor* of Greek politics, whose consent was seen as the linchpin to any political settlement. This perception and its implications compelled Vafiadis in May 1945 to criticize the KKE leadership for its policy during the occupation, when ‘we did not have the right to depend continuously the solution of the country’s basic problems on the approval of Sofoulis, etc.’101

In Government (I): November 1945 - M arch 1946 After December 1944 the polarization between Left and Right boded ill for the liberals, while the ‘White Terror* against the Left raised the prospect of civil war. Britain’s attem pt to avert this revived the fortunes of Sofoulis and his liberals. Bent on sustaining an anticommunist regime in the country, throughout 1945 the British retained control of Greek politics. T h e arrival in Athens of Hector McNeil, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office, on 22 November 1945, led to the formation of a mainly republican and centrist government under Sofoulis. Its tasks were the restoration of law and order, reconstruction, the conduct of elections by 31 March 1946 and the postponement of the plebiscite on the constitutional question until 1948. While the Left initially supported the Sofoulis government, McNeil argued that its raison d'être was to tackle the economic chaos and prevent civil war, which the British deemed likely, as they feared that Sofoulis* failure would lead to a rightwing takeover and an armed confrontation with the KKE." T h e People’s Party im m ediately condem ned the governm ent as ‘dictatorial’ and ‘a tyranny imposed upon the Greek people’.12 T o counter such ‘tyranny’, the Right continued unabated its persecution of the Left and, through its long tentacles in the army, police, gendarmerie and state apparatus, it embarked on a concerted effort to thwart Sofoulis’ attempts to restore law and order. In this it was facilitated by the British authorities, which prevented the G reek prem ier from curbing the excesses of the security forces. T h e British motives must be sought in the mixture of arrogance towards their protégés and the long-term objective of crushing the influence and potential of the Left. If the Right could do this, there was no reason why the Labour government should stand in the way, provided that the onus fell on Greek shoulders. Thus, while officers of the Greek army and security forces refused to carry out the orders of ministers even in the latter’s presence, in early March 1946 Sofoulis’ government was rocked by a spate of resignations. In a statem ent accompanying his own departure, the deputy 9 Ptinis 1994:150,151, nn. 55,56; Sfikas 1994:34. 10Vafiadis 1985: 111; Kirkos 19%: 29-30. 11 FO371/48287/R20769: Memorandum by McNeil to Bevin (10 December 1945). 12 People's Party proclamation of 22 November 1945, cited in Sarafis 1979:192.



Prime Minister Yeoryios Kafantaris stated that the British authorities did not allow the government to take measures for the restoration of law and order. As a result, ‘the one-sided Regime of Barbarism and violence, which prevails today from one corner of the country to the other [...] has been consolidated’.11 Yet Sofoulis’ benevolent intentions in 1945-46 cannot be dismissed. With the Right protesting against the conduct of elections on proportional representation, on 17 January 1946 Konstantinos Tsaldaris, the leader of the People’s Party, and Sofoklis Venizelos, son of Eleftherios and a prominent liberal, appealed to Archbishop Damaskinos, the Regent, to unite the Liberal and People’s Parties. Damaskinos proposed to Sofoulis a scheme for elections on a majority system and nomination of joint candidates by the two parties. Sofoulis rejected it because that would obliterate the difference between the liberals and the People’s Party and reduce the contest to one between communism and anticommunism, with the latter camp dominated by the monarchists. Sofoulis did little to ingratiate himself with the Right and the British when he added that he was not afraid of a sizeable leftist presence in parliament.1314 Sofoulis’ refusal to co-operate with the People’s Party led to the defection of Venizelos from the liberals. Yet, on 7 March the prime minister showed consistency by rejecting a similar proposal from Zachariadis, the Secretary G eneral of the C entral C om m ittee of th e KKE, for a two-m onth postponement of the elections and a 50:50 electoral coalition between EAM and the Liberal Party.15 Apart from his perception of his own importance, Sofoulis’ motives stemmed from his conviction that the liberals differed from both the KKE and the People’s Party. N ot only was he fearful of the reactions of the latter and the British should he co-operate with the Left, but he also hoped that the abstention of EAM from the elections might earn the liberals some leftist votes. Thus, throughout March 1946 he made several feeble requests to the British to allow the postponement of the elections. As this might strengthen the Left, they refused and were quite content to pursue their Greek objectives alongside a monarchist government in Athens. Sofoulis was reduced to admitting publicly that although conditions were unsatisfactory, the elections would still go ahead on 31 March because of ‘pressure of international conjecture’.16

13 To Vima (10 and 20 Match 1946); Sfikas 1994:73-5. i4KTP (file) 11: Tsaldaris and Venizelos to Damaskinos (17 January 1946); Parties of the National [Political] Union to Damaskinos (16 February 1946). 15 Rixospasris (7 March 1946). 16 FO 371/58676/R2713: Minute by Warner (23 February 1946); FO 371/58682/R5019: Norton to FO (29 March 1946); Elefthena( 19 March 1946).



In Opposition (I): April 1946 - January 1947 Sofoulis* spell in opposition after April 1946 consolidated his attem pt to claim the ground between the Right and the KKE. In his first appearance in parliament he attributed the electoral victory of the People’s Party to a vote of ‘disapproval’ and ‘condemnation’ of the KKE because of the communists’ ‘criminal activity’. If this established the distance between the KKE and the liberals, the latter, he affirmed, differed ‘radically’ from the government on the constitutional issue. In a vociferous speech Sofoulis lashed out against the decision of the Tsaldaris government to hold a plebiscite in September 1946, rather than in 1948, not on the constitutional question at large, but specifically on the return of George II. Dismissing the government as a ‘thoroughbred (of the] extreme Right’, he warned that the insistence of the People’s Party on the plebiscite would ‘intensify and perpetuate the anomaly’ and plunge the country ‘once more (...) into civil conflict’. Yet at the end of his speech he restored some balance by assuring all concerned that ‘despite these political and constitutional differences, there is also the rallying point, which unites us all into one national entity. T h ere is Greece’.17 Thus, although in his first official statement in parliament Sofoulis placed himself on the fence that separated the People’s Party from the KKE, he spiced it with enough condemnation of the KKE to pre-empt the odium of fellow-travelling. T he enthusiastic applaud with which his last words were met disclosed the major point of convergence between the liberals and the People’s Party: the perceived anti-national and foreign-inspired conspiracies of the communists. Sofoulis’ attem pt to maintain a visible distance from the KKE generated communist suspicion rather than hostility. In the summer of 1946 the KKE’s appeals for an all-party agreement to restore law and order and for co­ operation amongst all republicans were ignored because, to centrist politicians, the charge of fellow-travelling was infinitely more unwelcome than the return of the king.1" Nor could their endemic anticommunism be easily concealed, as illustrated in the liberals’ reaction to the notorious Resolution C ‘On Extraordinary Measures Concerning Public O rder and Security’ of 18 June 1946, which effectively outlawed leftwing political activity. Although they agreed with the People’s Party on the interpretation of the aims of the KKE and the need to stamp out communism, they advised the governm ent to dem onstrate that it was the KKE that rejected pacification by allowing the communists to launch the ‘revolution’ and then suppress them.19

17 EPSVE 1946-49 (13 May-20 June 1946): 1,17-9. '* Rhospasris (29 June, 6 and 10 July 1946); Katkimerina Nea (26 May 1946). 19 EPSVE 1946-49(13 May-20 June 1946): 235-6.



Despite their contradictory pronouncements, the liberals were correct in their thinking with regard to the plebiscite. On 20 June 1946 Sofoulis pointed out that the government’s haste was due to the fact that, under the present circumstances, the return of the king was a certainty - something that might not hold true in 1948. Accordingly, the plebiscite was not only a coup d'état equal to that of Metaxas, but also an ‘insult’ to the Greek people, as it amounted to the endorsement of a king with an established preference for dictatorial rule. Sofoulis called on the government to withdraw the resolution and first attempt to restore law and order. T hen there should be a plebiscite on the choice between a monarchy and a republic; if the people voted for a monarchy, then there should be a second plebiscite on whether George II should return or a new king ought to assume the throne.20 But the People’s Party would not relent. Its meticulous, expensive and violent preparations inspired it with confidence that despite ‘the propaganda of the dimokratikokommounistes' (republicans and communists), the king would receive more than 75 per cent.21 In late August the party moderated its expectations to ‘at least 70 per cent’,22 and on 1 September the cause was eventually approved by 69 per cent of the electorate. Sofoulis announced that he accepted ‘the new political reality’ and secretly intimated to Clifford Norton, the British ambassador in Athens, that he would accept even a royal dictatorship if that were to guarantee Greece against the Slavs and the KKE.23 These statements reflected an attem pt to strengthen the respectability of the liberals as a credible alternative to the People’s Party, should the latter falter. Indeed, after the restoration of the monarchy Britain and the USA wanted to isolate the KKE through the formation of a Liberal-People’s Parties coalition. However, Tsaldaris’ crude policies had alienated the liberals, while Sofoulis, to whom the army was hostile, demanded for himself nothing less than the premiership.2425 Sofoulis further estranged himself from the People’s Party, the British and the Americans when he began to preach a policy of appeasem ent. In September 1946 he sent the People’s Party a note calling for a coalition government with the liberals, which would offer an amnesty to the guerrillas and guarantee their safety. T o the People’s Party this was ‘utterly unacceptable’ because it amounted to a ‘capitulation’ to the communists.2* In the wake of monarchist intransigence, the liberals increased their verbal 20 EPSVE 1946-49 (13 May-20 June 1946): 270-1. 21 KTP 11: 'Propaganda plan for the plebiscite of 1 September 1946’ (undated and unsigned memorandum). 22 KTP 11: Kalkanis to Tsaldaris (25 August 1946). 23 KTP 11: Statement by Sofoulis (8 September 1946); FO 371/58707/R13459: Norton to FO (2 September 1946). 24 KTP 11: Yeorgoulis to Petzopoulos (23 September 1946); Sfikas 1994:133-5. 25 KTP 11: Unsigned note (30 September 1946); Ptinis 1994:156.



attacks on the government but were careful enough to keep their distance from the KKE.26 T his, in turn, reinforced com m unist scepticism and suspicion. In September 1946 the KKE claimed that despite constitutional and tactical differences, Sofoulis and the ‘republican C en tre’ were ‘essentially inspired by the same anticommunism, antisovictism and antislavism’ as the People’s Party, and thus remained ‘a reserve in England’s sleeve’.27 It was not a far-fetched assessment, for in December 1946 the British briefly toyed with idea of a new government that would include Sofoulis and possibly EAM;2* and, at the same time, the KKE insisted that Sofoulis was still capable of offering services to the nation.2930

In Opposition (II): January 1947 - September 1947 T h e liberal leader appeared to be offering a ‘service to the nation’ in January 1947, when he refused to participate in the new government of Dimitrios Maximos, which included practically all anticommunist parties but was still under the control of the People’s Party. Sofoulis had obstinately demanded to form a government of his own and implement a policy of appeasement. Once this had been rejected, he refused to follow the policy of the majority parties in order to ensure that the opposition would not consist only of the KKE.'10T he communists welcomed his decision, attributing it to the fact that Sofoulis ‘sees very well the inevitable total bankruptcy of such a governmental “gathering’” .31 T he KKE was further gratified on 28 January 1947, when Sofoulis scorned the decision of the Maximos government to intensify the civil war ‘through the absolute strengthening of the armed forces’ and the offer of an amnesty to those DSE guerrillas who would surrender, whilst keeping in gaol the thousands of prisoners and deportees. T his, he said in parliament, was a ‘war-peace policy consisting of two extreme contradictions, of which one cancels out the implementation of the other’. While his views earned him the accolade ‘a traitor and a Bulgarian’ by the government-controlled radio,32 on the following day Sofoulis outlined formally his appeasement policy. It comprised the abolition of deportation measures, the release of all deportees, and a general amnesty, without which ‘no civil war can be considered at an end’.33 T o the inevitable charges of 26 EPSVE 1946-49(1 October 1946-27 February 1947): 770. 27 Ioannidis to the fraternal parties (12 September 1946), in DSE 1998:590. “ Sfikas 1994:129-30. 29 Rnospastis (13 and 20 December 1946). 30 EPSVE 1946-49 (1 October 1946-27 February 1947): 929-32; FO 371/66995/R460: Norton to FO (10 January 1947); FO 371/66996/R517: Lascelles to Bevin (13 January 1947); FRUS 1971:9-11 (Marshall to Athens, 21 January 1947). 31 Rnospastis (24 January 1947). 32 EPSVE 1946-49 (1 October 1946-27 February 1947): 941-2. 33 EPSVE 1946-49(1 October 1946-27 February 1947): 956.



fellow-travelling, the liberals countered apologetically that the opposition should not consist only of the lawless minority’ of the KKE.34 By then an interesting pattern had emerged, with the liberals making one statement that reduced their distance from the Left, only to follow it up with another that restored the balance. In explaining where they stood, Konstantinos Rentis, a prominent deputy and one of Sofoulis’ lieutenants in the party, insisted that there were three political camps because the liberals were ’neither with the government nor with the guerrillas’. With the KKE they disagreed ‘not so much with regard to the social aspect but with regard to the position of freedom’. T hus, whilst they could discuss with the communists ‘social developm ents in favour of the poor classes’, they ‘refuse[d] to sacrifice the freedom of the individual in the name of a chimeric economic justice’. With the People’s Party they disagreed on less fundamental grounds, notably the activities of ‘the extreme Right’ and its ‘paramilitary organisations’.*5 Sofoulis’ ambivalence continued to shape the attitude of the KKE towards him. W hile in February 1947 Zachariadis rejected a purely C entre governm ent because of Sofoulis’ failure in 1945-46, he nonetheless identified ‘some convergence’ between the liberals’ views and those of the KKE. T he difference lay in the ‘inconsistency, oscillation and tergiversation’ of the liberals, which Zachariadis attributed to petty party considerations and pressure from the party’s rightist flank. Even so, for the KKE there was a possibility of co-operation. After the demonstration of some ‘democratic consistency’ by the liberals, and on the basis of a prior agreement, the KKE was willing ‘to entrust the leadership and leave the initiative for the solution of our political problem’ to Sofoulis.36 Yet, while these words were being published in Rizospastis, in February-March 1947 the KKE decided to give priority to its military effort without discarding altogether the search for a compromise. What followed until September 1947 was the most intriguing phase of the Greek Civil War. It was marked by successive contacts between EAM, Maximos and Sofoulis to explore the possibility of a settlement; the enunciation o f the Truman Doctrine, and the arrival of the American Mission for Aid to Greece (AMAG); the determination of Washington to make no deals with Greek and international communism, and its insistence on the formation o f an anticommunist coalition government; and the announcement of the KKE in June that it intended to set up its own government in northern Greece.37

34 EPSVE 1946-49 (I October 1946-27 February 1947): 962-5. 35 EPSVE 1946-49(1 October 1946-27 February 1947): 952-4. 36 Rixospastis (6 February and 1 March 1947). 37 KTP 23A: Marshall to US embassy in Athens (28 May 1947); FRUS 1971: 219-24 (Marshall to Griswold. 11 July 1947); KKE 1987:440-3; Kirkos 1996:36.38-43.



After a preliminary round of contacts with Maximos, in early July EAM appealed to Sofoulis to undertake an initiative. With the urging of Lambrakis, Sofoulis held ‘successive meetings’ with the prime minister and decided that there was still ’a possibility of (a] political solution’. Sofoulis then visited King Paul, in all probability to ask for the dissolution of parliament and the formation of his own government, but the latter refused to discuss any initiative because the Americans would allow none. While, according to the People’s Party and EAM, Sofoulis ‘was not at all pleased’ by the new king’s response or lack of it, the People’s Party were enraged by the fact that discussions were taking place behind their backs, and more so by ’the sad thing’ that ‘Maximos agrees with Sofoulis’.38 Yet Sofoulis was betting on both horses. On the one hand, he told the People’s Party that the need for co-operation betw een the two parties had ‘m atured’ in view of the ‘antinational stance’ of the KKE. On the other, he and Maximos continued their contacts with EAM, as they both ‘still believed in the possibility of an understanding’.39 T o compound the anxieties of the People’s Party, on 13 July Yeoryios Drosos, the assistant M inister for Press and Information, depicted a ‘doddering’ government well past the point of redemption: Venizelos is sleeping, Panayiotakis [Kanellopoulos] has been overcome by anticommunist hysteria [and is] prattling insufferably and inanely, [Stilianos] Gonatas is silent, [Apostolos] Alexandris is displeasing everybody and is said to take bribes, and [Yeoryios] Papandreou has made a fool of himself by being in Paris at the public expense, (...) and awaiting [Tsaldaris’] consent to travel to the United Sûtes.40 A day earlier an emissary of the KKE had proposed to Sofoulis the dissolution of parliament and the formation of a ‘pure Centre’ government under his premiership and with the participation of Nikolaos Plastiras and Emmanouil Tsouderos but no representative of EAM or the KKE. Such a government would negotiate with the KKE an agreement, to be guaranteed by the UN or ‘allied factors’, on the basis of Sofoulis’ earlier statements on appeasement, a general amnesty, guarantees of security and new elections, and in return the KKE would ‘call o ff the war. In communicating these views to the Americans, Sofoulis stressed his anticommunist beliefs but insisted that a reply was needed to avoid the charge that he opposed a settlement.41 Within a few days rumours emerged that he supported the EAM proposals for a general amnesty and Greek neutrality. Sofoulis denied them and indicated that he was prepared to co-operate with the People’s 38 KTP 23A: Pipinelis to Tsaldaris (12 July 1947); AKKE (box) 151, (file) 7/38/6: Moas to Dionisis (7 July 1947); Kirkos 19%: 30-2 (emphasis in the original). 39 KTP 23A: Pipinelis to Tsaldaris (16 July 1947). 40 KTP 23A: Drosos to Tsaldaris (13 July 1947). 41 Sfikas 1992 and 1994:170-1.



Party. T h e latter refused unless he abandoned his views on appeasement and friendship with the Soviet Union, which would be seen as ‘a sign of American weakness’ and an attempt ‘to implore the flattery of the Slavs’.42* By 17 July Sofoulis’ ambivalence had convinced the KKE that he was abandoning the fence in favour of the People’s Party.41 Two weeks later, on 2 August, Sofoulis once more denied ‘flatly’ the statement, made before the UN Security Council by the Polish delegate, that the Liberal Party had accepted the EAM proposals for a general amnesty, Greek neutrality and the withdrawal of the British and US troops and missions.4445On the very same day, however, he addressed to the ‘KK’ of EAM a formal note with his ‘definitive decisions’ on the prospect of co-operation between the two. He proposed to EAM to co-operate for one year with his government for the implementation of the liberals’ programme and ‘the creation of conditions to resort to the ballot box’. Within three months after the assumption of the premiership by Sofoulis, the DSE should disarm and disband under four preconditions: a) T he official recognition of ‘the resistance movement’; b) A general amnesty for political offences com m itted by both sides and legislation to ensure the protection of those amnestied; c) T h e placing of ELAS and DSE officers, as well as of those who served in other resistance organizations during the occupation, ‘in the reservist classes in which they belong as honourably discharged’, whilst the collaborationist officers would be placed in ‘a special list of castigation’; d) T h e assumption of the command of the armed forces by officers who enjoyed the confidence of all parties. Following the surrender of arms, the government would be broadened with two ministers without portfolio representing EAM, and then ‘the withdrawal of foreign troops shall be officially asked for’. Within three months after the surrender of arms, municipal elections would be held with new registers, and on the basis of their results the government would be broadened with the participation of all parties. At that stage Sofoulis would hand over the premiership ‘to a person of common consent’ for the conduct of a plebiscite on the constitutional question and elections for a new ‘representative’ parliament.41 Sofoulis had gone some way to meet a number of the demands of EAM and the KKE, but there were still several potentially contentious points. 42 KTP 23A: News bulletin (18 July 1947); Pipinelis to Tsaldaris (draft, 21 July 1947); unsigned note (30 July 1947); Pipinelis to permanent Greek delegation at the United Nations (31 July 1947); Dendramis to Athens (1 August 1947). 41 KKE report to the CPSU (17 July 1947), in DSE 1998:621-32. 44 KTP 23A: Press release of the Greek government Office of Information in New York (3 August 1947). 45 KTP 23A: Sofoulis to ‘KK' of EAM (2 August 1947). It is not clear whether the note was addressed to the *Kommounistiko Komma* (KK) of EAM, or, by virtue of a typing error, to the ‘Kentriki EpitropT (KE) of EAM.



Whereas he demanded the disarmament of the DSE, the KKE was willing to suspend operations but retain its army until the deal had proven workable; this made sense in the light of what had followed the disarmament of ELAS in 1945 - something that the KKE never forgot throughout 1945-49. Then, the KKE wanted the formation of a ‘pure Centre* government to precede direct negotiations for an agreement. And finally, Sofoulis remained silent on the question of UN or allied guarantees of any deal, whilst he proposed a general amnesty for all political offences, a term whose ambiguity had cost the Left dearly in 1945-46. Nonetheless, on 6 August the Central Committee of EAM replied with a note proposing the following modifications: a nine-month period of co­ operation between EAM and Sofoulis* government; the surrender of arms to committees comprising individuals whom the DSE could trust; the trial of collaborationist officers and the voluntary retirem ent of the rest who so wished; the allocation of the portfolios of Labour and Economics to two EAM ministers; a statement by the US Economic Mission that it would not interfere with the political and military affairs of the Greek state, and that its presence in the country aimed only at the implementation of the programme for economic reconstruction. As for the elections, EAM agreed with Sofoulis’ plan but wanted the new parliament to have the power to revise the constitution.46 For its part, the KKE insisted that ‘any negotiation must be done by the appropriate bodies’.4748This was not a repudiation of the negotiations between Sofoulis and EAM, since EAM’s feelers enjoyed at least the tentative consent of the KKE;46 rather it confirms that the definitive negotiations would have to be carried out between the KKE itself and the Sofoulis government. For his part, Sofoulis seemed to be weighing the odds as to whether a deal with the Left could elevate him to the premiership. Such a deal would enrage the People’s Party, the Americans and the British, while at the same time widespread hostility against the People’s Party suggested that it might soon be evicted from government. On 5 August Drosos informed Tsaldaris that the liberals were strongly favoured by the British and the Americans, with the latter being ‘clearly ill-disposed towards the People's Party'. Claiming that he had direct knowledge of the liberals’ reasoning, Drosos argued that they initially viewed sympathetically the possibility of a government consisting exclusively of themselves and the People’s Party, but they demanded equal representation and the adoption of their policies by the latter. In the last few days, however, they entertained a novel hope that parliament would be dissolved and that they would be asked 46 KTP 24/3: Central Committee of EAM to Sofoulis (6 August 1947). 47 AKKE 117 7/14/16 and 17: Athens branch of the Politburo to Politburo (10 August 1947). 48 Fleischer 1995:84.



to form a government of their own; in fact they were ‘orienting themselves more intensely in this direction, expecting a lotfrom American support!* If so, Sofoulis undermined his own chances in a controversial interview with Stephen Barber of News Chronicle. On 11 August 1947 he told the British correspondent that the guerrillas would eventually prevail, and that the government’s dynamic policy had failed and should be replaced by a policy of appeasement. In terms of the international dimension of the conflict, he wanted friendship with the country’s northern communist neighbours because Greece should not become an anti-Slav and anti-Balkan bastion; and, in the boldest statement of all, he claimed that ’American policy bears the main responsibility for all arbitrary, anti-democratic misdeeds that are taking place in Greece, for its tragic deadlock’. Following loud protests from the People’s Party, Sofoulis retracted the two statements about the victory of the communists and the tragic nature of US policy, but News Chronicle insisted that the entire interview had been reported accurately.** M atters came to a head on 23 August 1947, when the Maximos government resigned and King Paul gave Tsaldaris the mandate to form a new government. Throughout the following week the leader of the People’s Party tried to obtain the co-operation of the liberals or, failing that, to reconstitute the government that had just collapsed.49501 On the day the Maximos government resigned, Dwight Griswold, the head of AMAG, threatened Tsaldaris that unless the government was broadened, Congress might terminate aid to Greece. On the following day Tsaldaris proposed to Sofoulis the co-operation of the two ‘historic parties in fu ll equality', meaning an equal share of ministerial portfolios and the assumption of the premiership by Tsaldaris himself, whereas Sofoulis would be chairing cabinet meetings. Sofoulis demanded a ‘change of policy’ and at the same time hinted that the liberals might give a Tsaldaris government a vote of tolerance in parliament. In the afternoon of the same day the liberal deputies met to discuss the issue and then Sofoulis replied to Tsaldaris in writing. T h e liberals demanded to form a government of their own to implement their policy of appeasement, though they were willing to take into account ‘parliamentary reality and the constitutional rules’.52 When Sofoulis’ intransigence compelled Tsaldaris to contem plate the formation of a People’s Party government, Griwsold stated bluntly that this would be ‘inadmissible’, which he subsequently changed to ‘inadvisable’ due

49 KTP 23A: Drosos to Tsaldaris (5 August 1947; emphasis in the original). 50 KTP 23A: Hourmouzios to Herbert (13 August 1947), and Herbert to Hourmouzios (14 August 1947); EUftheri Ellada ( 13 August 1947). 51 EPSVE 1946-49 (21 April 1947-13 September 1947): 1466-7. 52 KTP 23A: Note by Sofoulis (24 August 1947); notes and minutes (20-29 August 1947; emphasis in the original).



to Tsaldaris’ strong protests.** On 26 August Tsaldaris and Lincoln MacVeagh, the US ambassador in Athens, appealed to Sofoulis once more, but in vain. When the liberal leader insisted on forming his own government and implementing his appeasement policy, Tsaldaris turned to the other party leaders and nearly managed to set up a new government under Maximos, until the scheme collapsed in view of bitter disagreements over the portfolios of War and Public Order. Tsaldaris decided that he had had enough of everybody and on 29 August announced the formation of a People’s Party government.*4 By then the Americans, too, had decided that they had had enough of the Greeks. On 28 August the Greek ambassador in Washington informed Athens that Loy Henderson, Director of the S u te Departm ent’s Office of N ear Eastern and African Affairs, would arrive in Athens on the following day. T he aim of his trip was more than hinted at when he had ’expressed his annoyance at Sofoulis’ unwillingness to co-operate in a broad coalition government’.** As for the manner in which he would try to rectify the situation, Henderson’s entourage told Greek officials that the American public ‘does not comprehend our attitude and that its perpetuation may render difficult the American assisunce’.*6 On 4 September 1947 Henderson met Tsaldaris and Sofoulis separately and forced them into co-operation by threatening the stoppage of American aid, for which the two G reek leaders would each be held individually responsible, and also by raising the prospect of a ’service’ government under Alexandras Papagos or Plastiras. Tsaldaris and Sofoulis were left with no choice. Thus on 7 September a coalition government of 10 liberals and 14 People’s Party ministers, with Sofoulis as prime minister and Tsaldaris as deputy premier and foreign minister, was sworn in.*54*657 Prior to this, however, Henderson had ensured that Sofoulis had clarified his position vis-à-vis the KKE. This was an essential qualification for the office of prime minister of Greece, because Sofoulis’s advocacy of appeasement and his conucts with EAM had by late August 1947 prompted the Americans to regard him as *a possible Kerensky’. Henderson had to ensure that, in his new post, Sofoulis would not pursue his contact with the Left. W hether he was specifically invited to do so or not, it was an attempt to meet that qualification that on 4 September the 87-year old liberal leader submitted to Henderson a ’note’ on his intended political programme. In this, he went out of his way to

** KTP 23A: Notes and minutes (20-29 August 1947; emphasis in the original); MacVeagh to Tsaldaris (26 August 1947). 54 KTP 23A: Notes and minutes (20-29 August 1947). ** AGMFA (file) 134.2: Dendramis to Athens (28 August 1947). 56 AGMFA 134.2: Rodopoulos to Tsaldaris and Pipinelis (1 September 1947). 57 PO 371/72240/R2576: Norton to Bcvin (18 February 1948; annual report for 1947).



emphasize the impeccably anticommunist credentials of the Liberal Party and outlined a concept of appeasement that consisted of an amnesty that the KKE could not accept.5" Ignoring the thousands of prisoners and deportees, Sofoulis offered an amnesty only to those guerrillas who would surrender their arms within thirty days. Those who assisted them would be included in the amnesty only if they helped towards the suppression of the ‘insurgency* by handing over information.*59 T h at this was ‘an amnesty for sneaks and betrayers* was patently clear even to the Foreign Office, which pointed out the fundamental flaw in Sofoulis’ actions. By co-operating with the People’s Party he had done what he had pledged not to do: apply his appeasement policy ‘in the company of ministerial colleagues compromised in his eyes and in the eyes of the KKE by their partiality and indiscriminate use of dynamic methods*.60 Sofoulis himself confirmed British suspicions on 12 September, when he asked Norton whether those guerrillas who would surrender might be despatched to the British Dominions.61 In Rizospastis Kostas Karayioryis lashed out against ‘the grotesque government of SUPER-DYNAMIC APPEASEMENT*. T he KKE rejected an amnesty proposed by a prime minister who was held captive by the People’s Party, which lay behind him, and the Americans, who were above him. Not least of all, the Left had some difficulty in trusting a new premier who deported as hostages the relatives of communist guerrillas, whereas in January 1947 he had condemned this measure and had demanded the immediate release of all deportees. Nor could the party rejoice at the fact that the implementation of the amnesty was in the hands of Yeoryios Stratos and Petros Mavromichalis, People’s Party hardliners, who took over the ministries of War and the Interior.62 Nonetheless, the establishment of a coalition government under Sofoulis was a major development. T he anticommunist front that the British and the Americans had been pursuing for eighteen months was formed and the KKE was politically isolated. Sofoulis would no longer be misunderstood as a would-be Greek Kerensky, whilst the domestic and international position of his government would be significantly improved. T h e liberals, it was hoped, would temper some of the more unpleasant measures of the People’s Party, while the latter would ensure that the former would terminate all contacts with the Left. Ultimately, the deal was far more favourable to the People’s H FO 371/67007/R12591: Sofoulis to Henderson (4 September 1947). 59 EPSVE 1946-49(21 April 1947-13 September 1947): 1470-2,1492--», 1514. 60 FO 371/67007/R12325, R11885, R12273: Minutes by Balfour (2, 9-11 September 1947); FO 371/67007/R12692: FO Southern Department to Athens (29 September 1947). 61 FO 371/67007 R12544: Norton to FO (12 September 1947). 62 Risospastis (7, 9-13 September 1947; capitals in the original); Eteflheri Ellada (12 September 1947).



Party than to the liberals. Knowing that it was too crude to be allowed to rule on its own, the People’s Party agreed to co-operate as long as it had a majority in the government and as long as the liberals abandoned their views on appeasement. Sofoulis, on the other hand, achieved his long-cherished objective of becoming prime minister, while he felt that participation in the government with ten portfolios would enable him to revive the fortunes of the Liberal Party. Still, the latter would have to answer to the cabinet and parliamentary majorities of the People’s Party as well as to the omnipresent British and Americans.

In Government (II): September 1947 - June 1949 First Sofoulis had to secure Griswold’s approval o f a ‘dual approach’ comprising a ‘generous amnesty’ and the ‘necessary military operations’, and then be lectured by the AMAG chief on the ‘offensive spirit’ with which he ought to infuse the army.61 T o comply with the hardline policy required of him, he also announced that the special courts martial would continue to function throughout the duration of his ‘generous amnesty’, while during the period of ‘appeasem ent’, which would end on 14 November 1947, all sentences imposed by them would be carried out.*64 Tactically, Sofoulis pursued a partly different agenda, which included an attempt to win over the non-communist elements of EAM, isolate the KKE within the leftist coalition, attract prom inent liberals who had been estranged from the party fold, and get rid of the KKE militarily and the People’s Party politically. Only a few days after the formation the coalition, the third plenum of the Central Committee of the KKE formally decided to give priority to the armed struggle and accelerate the preparation for the establishm ent of its provisional government.65 When informed of these decisions, some members of the Central Committee of EAM at first ‘went wild’, then became ‘numb and demoralized’, and certainly began to ‘lack certainty in victory’. T he members of the KKE Central Committee who were in Athens attributed the ‘hesitations and oscillations’ of their EAM partners to discussions between them and ‘the Sofoulis circles’. Whilst continuing the legal persecution of the Left, the prime minister and his confidants were exerting ‘great pressure’ on the leaders o f EAM by promising them they would dissolve parliament and hold new elections. T his threatened to bring about an irreparable rupture within EAM, but at

65 AGMFA 134.2: Griswold to Sofoulis (19 September 1947). 64 Rnospastis (14 October 1947). 65 DSE 1998:257-61,640-4.



the same time it sparked bitter infighting within the government, as the People’s Party was threatening to form one of its own.66 On 28 September 1947 Drosos accused the Liberals that ’right from the start [...] they regarded this Government as a means and not as an end’, and he spoke of the: certain failure of the policy of appeasement and [of] vigorous pressure by the left-wing of the [Liberal] Party and the Lambrakis group in the direction of following a more leftwing policy. T o illustrate his case, he charged Rends, now the minister of Public Order, of trying to appoint Liberal Party followers in key positions in the army and the security forces. T hen To Vima and Eleftheria, two newspapers which backed the liberals, demanded ‘general administrative changes’ and called for an indefinite extension of the deadline for the surrender of the guerrillas, which the People’s Party dismissed as ‘a permanent appeasement regime.’ T h e liberals also asked for the winning over of other small parties and personalities of the Left and the Centre as long as they condemned the insurgency. Such groups were specifically said to be those of Tsouderos, Yeoryios Kartalis and Alexandras Svolos. What particularly concerned the People’s Party was that Lambrakis *exercise[d] massive influence’ on the liberals, so much so that ‘there is some kind of competition amongst the Party elem ents about who will become more agreeable to Mr. Lambrakis and whom Eleftheria will cajole.’ As one liberal deputy told Drosos, many liberals, including Rentis, ‘are afraid of Lambrakis’. In consequence, amongst the People’s Party there was ‘discontent’ at liberal intrigue.67 Drosos’ information was confirmed by Panayiotis Pipinelis. On 3 October 1947 the Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister, himself of the People’s Party, warned Tsaldaris that whilst the military activity of the DSE had led to a rapid deterioration of the security situation, ‘three current Liberal Ministers in co-operation with To Vima group’ were spearheading a move masterminded by the ‘Sofoulis circles’ to ‘impose dynamic solutions’. Though Pipinelis did not specify what these might be, it was clear that the liberals wanted to rid themselves of the People’s Party, and to that end they were ‘in contact with Communists in daily meetings’. Moreover, some liberal deputies were pressuring Sofoulis to overthrow the government on the grounds that no appeasement policy could be applied in the company of the People’s Party. Yet, in a telling insight into the prime minister’s limitations,

66 AKKE 151 7/38/26 (8 October 1947); 7/38/27 (11 October 1947); 7/38/30 (27 October 1947); all telegrams by ‘Smaro’ to ‘Dionisis’; AKKE 117 7/4/20: ‘S' (Athens Branch) to Politburo (13 October 1947). 67 KTP 23A: Drosos to Tsaldaris (28 September 1947). It must be noted that Ehftkeria was not published by Lambrakis, but by P. Kokas.



Pipinelis added that ‘fortunately Sofoulis is still holding, saying that he respects his written promise to Henderson’.6" By the end of October 1947 the communists talked of ‘uncertainty and pessimism’ amongst government circles.*69 What the KKE called ‘political fermentation’ took an interesting turn in November, when the Athens-based members of its Central Committee reported that Plastiras was becoming politically active and had told a representative of the Left that his views ‘approach our own’. At the same time a group of liberal deputies, led by Yeoryios Mavros and apparently in contact with Plastiras, were openly expressing disaffection with Sofoulis’ policy and were reportedly preparing a manifesto against the government. T he KKE interpreted these moves as an American attem pt to resurrect and unite under Sofoulis the old Venizelist camp ‘and cast aside the agents of the English’ - apparently the People’s Party. T his new scheme would also include Kanellopoulos, Plastiras, Tsouderos and Ioannis Sofianopoulos and would be used by the Americans as ‘a reserve on the Left’ should the existing government fail.70 T hese possibilities came nearer to realization on 28 November 1947, when the Venizelist liberals of Venizelos, who had defected in 1946, rejoined Sofoulis’ liberals.71 T his political ferm entation may well have been reinforced by the government’s perceptions about the disposition of the KKE. On 14 November 1947 an intelligence bulletin by the Army Protection Service claimed that: from all sources it is being confirmed that the KK[E] believes that the guerrilla issue will be resolved politically through the intervention of America. The present Government will be succeeded by one of personalities in which they mention the names of Tsouderos, Sofianopoulos, etc., which will hold elections after it has granted an amnesty, in which case the KK[E] will take part in the elections and will follow a legal course.72 Plastiras proceeded a step further when he proposed to a representative of EAM ‘a leftist government of his own’, which would grant an amnesty, reinstate former ELAS officers in the army, secure the ‘independence’ and ‘neutrality’ of Greece, and hold new elections. Yet, the KKE continued to regard this as ‘an American attempt to prepare a reserve government.’73 60 AGMFA 134.2: Pipinelis to Tsaldaris (draft, October 1947). 69 AKKE 151 7/38/32:. Smaro to Dionisis (30 October 1947). 70 AKKE 151 7/38/36: Smaro to Dionisis (9 November 1947); 7/38/38: Smaro to Dionisis (14 November 1947); 7/38/44: Smaro to Dionisis (27 November 1947); 7/38/46: (Smaro?] to Dionisis (1 December 1947). 71 EPSVE 1946-49 (1 November 1947-23 Januaiy 1948): 147. In the elections of March 1946 the Venizelist liberals had won 30 seats, whilst Sofoulis* liberals had won 48; see Nikolakopoulos 2000:378,379, n. 5. 72 AGMFA 134.2: Intelligence bulletin (14 November 1947). 73 AKKE 151 7/38/50: Smaro to Dionisis (4 December 1947).



In the meantime, the People’s Party began to prepare its own counter­ measures. In late December 1947 the KKE learned that while the old Venizelists were preparing ‘a successor situation [...] with Tsouderos [and/or] Plastiras’, the monarchists were hatching their own with General Papagos, who, in collaboration with the General Staff, was said to be preparing a military coup. T hese rumours did not dent Plastiras, who claimed optimistically that ‘in a month he will form a government because the Americans will prefer him to Markos’.74 Yet, despite communist speculation about American participation in liberal intrigue, the record of its involvement only goes as far as to demonstrate that in December 1947 Henderson told the Greek ambassador in Washington that the US would strongly disapprove of a government crisis in Athens, and that ‘on no account’ should Tsaldaris or Sofoulis resign. If they were unable to settle their differences, they should go and see Karl Rankin, the US chargé in Athens, to have them settled.75 T h e break-up of the governm ent was temporarily averted by the announcement of the formation of the KKE’s ‘government’, the PDK, on Christmas Eve 1947. On 5 January 1948 Sofoulis sent a stem and urgent message to the C hief of the Army General Staff, in which he stated his ‘irrevocable decision [...] to crush the rebellion and restore security in the country as soon as possible’.76 At the same time the liberals intensified their efforts to get the EAM leaders to denounce the KKE and its ‘rebellion’. For the communists the danger was real enough, as their partners in EAM were ‘being waylaid by Rends’.77 More crucially, the British and the Americans left Athens in no doubt as to what it should do. On 14 February Norton, Rankin and the deputy chief of AMAG visited Sofoulis, Tsaldaris and other ministers and ‘expressed their concern at the lack of organization which exists in the Greek High Military Command’. T h e issue that they put before the government - ‘and asked for [its] consent’ - was that ‘the [communist] bands must be crushed in a decisive manner within the next six or seven months, otherwise the survival of Greece as a sovereign democratic state is doubtful’.78 Although Sofoulis and Tsaldaris complied, they also tried to appeal to Moscow. On 9 March 1948 the prime minister told a foreign correspondent that the resolution of the crisis could only come about as a result of a

74AKKE 151 7/58/53: Smaro to Dionisis (19 December 1947); 7/38/54: Smaro to Dionisis (23 December 1947). 75 AGMFA 134.2: Dendramis to Tsaldaris (15 and 24 December 1947). 76 KTP 31: Sofoulis to Yiantzis (5 January 1948). 77 AKKE 151 7/38/106: Smaro to Dionisis (8 February 1948); 7/38/110: Smaro to Dionisis (20 February 1948). 78 KTP 31: Greek translation of a memorandum (14 February 1948).



settlem ent at the highest international level.79 On 22 March Tsaldaris im parted exclusively’ to P. Leacacos, a Greck-Amcrican staff correspondent, proposals for ‘a sweeping solution of the explosive Greek problem that was at the same time calculated to ease Russian fears concerning Greece’s role in international affairs.’ These proposals would ‘be formally communicated’ to the Soviet government, the UN Security Council and to the Council of Foreign Ministers ‘in the next few days’. Tsaldaris referred pointedly to the Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting held in New York in December 1946, when he ‘had predicted the current G reek crisis’, had given ‘a detailed prognosis to the US State Department’ and had appealed directly to Bevin, Bymes and Molotov to ‘fix up a direct solution’ for Greece. In March 1948 he planned to appeal to the Soviet Union itself. As the Greek government wished ‘to live in amity rather than suspicion (...) with such a great world power as Soviet Russia’, Tsaldaris envisaged a statement by Stalin that he: prefers to see the victory of the philosophy of Communism through peaceful democratic means and popular elections rather than by armed revolutionary tactics. (This) need not have any implication that suggestion of armed uprising comes from Moscow but rather would emphasize that Communism may win on the strength of the many merits its followers believe it has. Apart from Tsaldaris’s desire to ‘remove the Greek fear of Communist intransigence on the highest level’, his motives may well have had to do with a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to defeat the KKE militarily. T h e government, he claimed, considered the prospect of an ‘outright battle’ against the DSE ‘disastrous for the nation’, and admitted that the armed forces ‘are only now beginning to be capable of enforcing the authority of the G reek state’ on the guerrillas. Accordingly, Tsaldaris proposed the establishment by an international or UN committee of a neutral zone at the northern frontiers of Greece, where the DSE could enter ‘freely and safely’ to surrender its arms to a neutral force of Americans, British, French and Soviet soldiers; those who surrendered would be given ‘a free choice’ to ‘emigrate’ or ‘remain in Greece proper under guaranteed police protection’. Following the surrender of arms, an internationally supervised ‘wide and liberal amnesty’ would be granted to all guerrillas and political -prisoners, to be followed by internationally supervised elections within three months: Then if by regular democratic methods and arguments the Greek people want to elect Communists to the majority or (a) strong representation in the National Assembly, the Communists are welcome to it. Finally, as part of his ‘sweeping’ plan, Tsaldaris had something to offer to the Yugoslav and Bulgarian providers of the KKE: new treaties would grant 79

Kathimerini (10 March 1948).



(hem free customs zones in the port of Thessaloniki in order to allow them access to the Aegean Sea."0 Although no reaction to these proposals has been traced, clearly some dialogue by proxy between the KKE and the government was taking place in early and mid-1948.KI T h e government returned to the subject in the summer with a less generous plan, whereby it would suspend military operations as soon as the leadership of the KKE announced publicly that they had put an end to the ‘insurgency’. T his would be followed by the surrender of DSE arms to the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans, state guarantees about the security of the disarmed, a ‘broad amnesty’, the lifting of deportation measures and elections within six months. T h e question of an amnesty to the KKE leadership and the legalization of the party would be decided by the new parliament.808182* T h e evidence on the Greek government’s thoughts on the possibility and content of a compromise might re-open the question whether in the summer of 1948 Zachariadis contemptuously rejected a peace offer by Tsaldaris.0 Yet the mere existence of a draft plan is not proof that the offer ever left the desk of its author or that it reached its destination; and, bearing in mind the ubiquitous presence of the Americans and the British, one can only speculate about their reaction if they found out that the Greek government was secretly putting out feelers to the KKE. There is no evidence that either offer reached the KKE, nor any record of communist reaction. T h e only certainty is that in early and mid-1948 the Greek government was exploring the possibility of a settlement, in part because of doubts about the ability of its army to defeat the DSE. Moreover, the various ideas for a peaceful settlem ent during 1948 must also be seen in the context of British and US wishes, the ferocity of the war, and the mood of the Greek military and monarchy. Washington and London were determined to resolve the crisis by force of arms, hence Marshall and Bevin discouraged Athens’ contacts with the Soviets and the KKE.84 T h e Greek General Staff, which refused to recognize the communists as Greeks, was demanding more napalm bombs to throw at them, while its request for ‘anaesthetic or asphyxiating gases’ and ‘chemical warfare material’ was cut short by the Americans.8* 80 KTP 31: Draft telegram by Leacacos (22 March 1948). For Tsaldaris’ appeal in December 1946, see Sfikas 1994:127-8. 81 Sfikas 1994:219-20. 82 KTP 31: Unsigned, undated (summer 1948), hand-written peace terms. ** See Smith 1987. 84 Sfikas 1994:224-5. 88 KTP 31: ‘The struggle against the rebellion’, by Kitrilakis (16 February 1948); top secret note of a meeting between the Greek Minister of War and Colonel White of AMAG (summer 1948); KTP 32 folio 1: ‘Evaluation of the military situation in mid-July 1948* by Kitrilakis (n.d); Sfikas 1994:225.



After the failure of the Ethnikos Stratos to defeat the DSE on M ount Grammos in July-August, and the guerrillas’ successful diversionary operations in September, the military situation became dire enough to necessitate the immediate attention of Marshall. T h e Secretary of State visited Athens on 16-18 October and, according to the Greek government, he ‘strengthened the morale of the People and heartened the army’. T he euphoria, however, was short-lived. Barely ten days after Marshall’s visit, the government admitted that public opinion ‘suffered a serious moral blow’ because of the continued activity of the D SE, especially in the Péloponnèse.84 A major government crisis erupted in late October. Venizelos announced that the time to overthrow the government had matured and advocated a scheme that would not be based on party criteria, though he said nothing about its composition. In the last days of October he had a ‘long meeting’ with Plastiras and Tsouderos, and in its immediate aftermath 54 deputies who followed him decided to defect from the Liberal Party and lift their confidence in the government. On 30 October Athenian newspapers published reports about the need for an ecum enical or non-party government under Papagos, Nikolaos Theotokis, Petros Voulgaris and Damaskinos. Venizelos openly stated that he w anted a non-party government of national unity and, with the support of Papandreou, he called for the mandate to be granted to the opposition. In response to these moves, Sofoulis announced that he would resign on 12 November and invited Tsaldaris to discuss the continuation of their co-operation. With his position as premier under grave threat, it was a sign of his mood that he ended his letter to the People’s Party leader with an affirmation of his ‘deepest love and appreciation’.86878 T h e threat facing the two men was identical. On the day Sofoulis sent this letter to Tsaldaris, the latter received another letter from the Central Committee of the ‘Ieros Desmos Ellinon Axiomatikon’ (IDEA; Sacred Bond of Greek Officers). This secret organization of royalist and rightwing officers demanded a ‘government above parties under the Premiership of an extraparliamentary man’ whose ‘selection [...] will be left to the initiative of the King, in whom those who are fighting have absolute confidence’. Otherwise, IDEA warned Tsaldaris that there would be ‘disastrous consequences for the evolution of the situation, the responsibility for which will weigh on You’.1* This move reflected the desire of King Paul and Queen Frederika to take up

86 KTP 32 folio 1: Stefanopoulos to Tsaldaris (19 and 27 October 1948). 87 KTP 32 folio 1: Stefanopoulos to Tsaldaris (29 and 30 October 1948); Mavromichalis and Lontos to Tsaldaris (12 November 1948); Sofoulis to Tsaldaris (11 November 1948); KTP 32: Sofoulis to Tsaldaris (16 November 1948). 88 KTP 32: IDEA to Tsaldaris (16 November 1948).



personal control of the situation through the devout royalist General Papagos, who would assume the premiership of a non-party government and, if need be, dissolve parliament. It was swiftly blocked by the British and US ambassadors, who regarded the preservation of the coalition as Greece’s ’last chance for parliamentary democracy’.*9 In the negotiations for the formation of a new government Sofoulis wanted to take over the Ministry of War. This was bitterly opposed by the People’s Party, as it would have cancelled out its long endeavours since 1933 to create a staunchly royalist command in the armed forces.*90 Sofoulis’ position became untenable on 19 November, when the 54 liberal defectors formally recognized Venizelos as their leader, and Tsaldaris agreed with Napoleon Zervas and Gonatas to form a government in which the two intractable anticommunists would hold the Ministries of Public Order and War respectively.91 Whereas Sofoulis could do nothing about Venizelos’ peregrinations in and out of the Liberal Party, the ambassadors of Britain and the US immediately intervened to abort T saldaris’ ‘reactionary’ set up.92 U nder th eir ‘constructive advice’, on 19 November Sofoulis and Tsaldaris reconstituted their coalition government, which managed to survive in parliament by a single vote.93 Throughout the crisis Sofoulis resisted calls to hand over the premiership with the words ‘of course I am not leaving of my own free will’. He managed to keep his grip on the premiership, but the crisis inflicted a serious blow on his health. In late November he was taken ill with an inflammation of the lungs. Venizelos continued to call upon him to resign but he refused to step aside - literally so, as he did not even abandon the prime minister’s office but chose to be treated there for his illness. But despite his obduracy, after November 1948 politically and physically the odds were strongly against him. From then on the 88-year old Sofoulis was locked in a triple struggle against the KKE, against those who wanted to overthrow him from within, and against the deterioration of his health, with the People’s Party and the liberals alike speculating openly about what would happen in the event of his death.94 T hat Sofoulis was not removed until his death was due to the insistence of the British and the Americans, who wanted the continuation of the existing coalition government in order to concentrate on military matters. On 20 January 1949 Papagos was appointed commander-in-chief of the armed 09 Sfikas 1994:253. 90 KTP 32: Stratos to Tsaldaris (17 November 1948). 91 KTP 32: Statement by 54 liberal deputies to Theotokis (19 November 1948). 92 Sfikas 1994:230. Ol ‘ KTP 32: Tsaldaris to Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister (21 November 1948). ** KTP 32: Hatzipanos to Tsaldaris (26 November and 1 December 1948); Ptinis 1994: 177-82,188.



forces, which temporarily removed one of the most powerful contenders for the premiership. In the course of 1949 the military resolution of the war seemed increasingly likely, and this reinforced the case against any political crises that might distract attention from the battlefield. When Sofoulis died on 24 June 1949, at the age of 89, he was still prime minister, though he had not lived long enough to see the defeat of the KKE, which occurred two months later.9*

Conclusion On the morrow of Sofoulis’ death, the KKE offered a merciless indictment: The cunning, hypocritical and capricious Sofoulis repeatedly betrayed the people’s interests with his insidious policy and tactics outside and inside the government, (when he tried] to deceive some sections of the people. [He was] the most appropriate person for today’s circumstances, [one] with whom they were ‘salvaging’ the last democratic remnants and ‘balancing’ the contradictions of the parties of the monarchofascist jungle.* 96 Indeed, one of Sofoulis’ intentions in 1945-49 was to try to use the KKE as a means of defeating the People’s Party, which regarded this as evidence that the aged liberal ‘belong[ed] in the past’.97 If so, this was not entirely of his making. In 1945-47 the liberals were once more confronted with the dilemma between a republican alliance with the Left or an anticommunist alliance with the Right, but this time the Left was much stronger, while there were also the British and the Americans to be attended to. Whereas in 1935-36 the liberals had opted for an accommodation with the People’s Party, in 1945-47 Sofoulis chose to sit on the fence as an alternative to the People’s Party and the KKE - until September 1947, when he had to make up his mind. His compromise on 4 September 1947 cannot obscure his various guises. In 1945-46 he posed as a prime minister of peace and reconciliation; in 1946-47 he posed as an appeaser prime minister in waiting; in 1947-49 he posed as a warrior prime minister whose only brief was to see the civil war through. If amidst his contradictions he had one clear objective, this was an attempt to strengthen the liberals by playing the Left and the Right against each other. T h e People’s Party and its overseas friends were too strong to allow this, while the communists were alienated by his failure in 1945-46, his inconsistency thereafter, and the growing recognition that his call for appeasement was only a method of weakening the KKE.

96 Sfikas 1994:253,261; Ptinis 1994:184-5,188. 96 Cited in DSE 1998:532. VJ KTP 23A: Summary of a conversation between Norton and Pipinelis (17 June 1947).



Sofoulis’ case demonstrates that there is still a fair amount of the political history of the Greek Civil War to be written, and that the interpretations of the actions of one side must necessarily take into account the actions of the other. This raises the need for the periodization of the years of the civil war, for Sofoulis’ conduct confirms that the choices facing all parties changed substantially even within 1945-49. T he KKE courted Sofoulis from 1945 to Septem ber 1947, and thus the formation of the People’s Party-Liberal coalition government must be seen as a major turning point. Yet even within this sub-period of liberal-communist flirtation, two distinct phases are visible. First, from May 1945 to February 1947, when, as Zachariadis later claimed, the KKE was hoping to ’persuade’ the Centre about the justice of its cause.*” Sofoulis’ ’democratic inconsistency’ was in part responsible for the inauguration of the second phase between February and Septem ber 1947, when the KKE decided to step up its military campaign, yet without discarding altogether the search for a political solution. In short, in 1946-47 the KKE seemed to place on Sofoulis some tentative hope, which was undermined by the latter’s ambivalence until it was totally destroyed on 4 September 1947. If Sofoulis’ case helps to clarify these crucial nuances, this is no small contribution from a man who, justly or unjustly, is now remembered by few, but one who proved to be a prime minister for all time.

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