The Greek war of Resistance Against Nazi Germany and  the Civil War

The Greek war of resistance against the German Nazi occupiers is still bitterly present in the collective memory of the Greek people.

As in other occupied countries, there were collaborators and fascist sympathizers.
The government and the Royal family had fled.  A number of monarchists formed a resistance movement. But the decisive resistance movement was formed by the Greek Left, which had already opposed the Metaxas dictatorship.

As in the days of the liberation struggle against the Turkish overlords, partisans took to the mountains and attacked the adversary wherever possible. 

The fighters against Turkish occupation that had achieved Greek independence in the early 19th century lived on in Greek folklore. Every school child knew the songs of the "klephts" - those seen as bandits by the Turks, and as heroes by the common people. The partisans, in the early and mid-1940s, were klephts come to life again.

Nazi German reprisals were brutal. Villagers in areas that featured partisan activities became typical victims, regardless of age and sex. Thus, children, old men who could not join the fight of the partisans, women who cared for the old and very young and did the work that had to be done, were murdered, as entire villages were burned. Often, everything that was alive was put to death, even the animals. Death was inflicted in the most cruel manner, for instance, by burning hostages alive in a church or other building.

Germany to this very day has refused to pay compensation to survivors -  the offspring and relatives of those assassinated by SS- and wehrmacht troops.

When the Germans withdrew at the end of the war, the Greek resistance movement and its popular army was widely present in Greece. The Left-wing partisan units and the left party affiliated to them were especially entrenched both in Greek Makedonia and in the Peloponnisos peninsula, and took possession of Athens at about the same time when British troops landed in Athens.

Greek writers and poets have reflected on the war of resistance, and so have historians.

The Civil War

The civil war was a direct consequence of the fact that the British impeded further control of the Greek fatherland by the forces that had liberated Greece. When the Left joined a government of national unity led by a liberal prime minister, the British sabotaged it, favoring a Conservative government sympathetic to the extreme right, a political current that included many Nazi collaborators, among them many police officer who had first served under Metaxas, and then under the occupiers.

The fact that partisans were assassinated or tried and sentenced to death because they had shot collaborators during the struggle against the German occupiers, led to increased tension. Right-wingers who had murdered leftist patriots were sometimes tried , too, but they were usually left off the hook. These people continued their covert war against the Left in those months after the British arrival when the Left had abandoned armed struggle, while seeking to engage in political work. 

When the Liberal government, under pressure from the British, refused to meet sensible Left-wing demands and the liberal-left government was discontinued, phony elections were staged in a climate of anti-Left terror that made participation in the elections impossible for the Left. It was then that the former partisans took to the hills again, resuming their fight for the liberation of the poor and exploited masses.

The new conservative government that resulted from elections, which had been boycotted by the Left, waged war now, supported first by the British army and air force, and then by the U.S.

It was in the Greek civil war thus unclenched, that a new weapon, NAPALM, was used for the first time.  And this repeatedly, both against civilians and combattants. Napalm was later on used widely in Korea (between 1950 and 1953) and in the Vietnam war.

The Greek civil war did not only result in such war crimes as the use of napalm. Leftists were assassinated or they were imprisoned in concentration camps like Makronissos. Some of those who like, Yannis Ritsos, were imprisoned at the time, were imprisoned again by a US-supported fascist military dictatorship in the 1960s and 70s. Makronissos, Leros and Yaros were island concentration camps that can be compared with the Taiwanese island KZ called Lü Dao (or Green Island, in English). They were versions of Abu Ghraib, but not versions of Auschwitz.

- Josh Carter

Giorgos Maniatakos, Diktatoria, polemos kai pezographia, 1936 - 1944.  Athinai: Hellenike logotechnia.

Giorgos Maniatakos, In den Schnee geschrieben. Dreizehn Erzählungen. Aus dem Neugriechischen von Helmut Schareika. Munich : Blanvalet.

Elli Alexiou, Anthologie der Literatur der griechischen Widerstandsbewegung von 1941 bis 1944 / Anthologia ellinikis antistasiakís logotechnias, 1941-1944. Berlin : Akademie-Verlag 1965; 1971.  2 vols.  [Vol. 1: 1965 (XIV-417 p.) ; Vol. 2: 1971 (XV-390 p.)] 

Dimiotris Psathas, Antistasi. Athinai : Fytrákis, [1961?]. 1 vol. (227-253 p.) 

Komnenos Pyromaglou, He ethnike antistasis : EAM, ELAS, EDES: Kritike eisagoge eis ten diamorphosin tes [...]

K.A. Dimadis, Diktatoria, polemos kai pezografia 1936 - 1944: Giorgos Theotokás, M. Karagátsis Strátis Myrivilis, Lilíka Nákou, Thanásis Petsális-Diomidis, Pantelis Prevelákis, Ángelos Terzákis.  Athina : Vivliopoleion tis "Hestias", 2004. 2è emploutismene ekdose (Second, expanded edition).

Nestoras Matsas, I ágria tryferótita tis efiveías : imerológio enós efivou ston emfýlio. Athina : Eleutheroudákis, 2004. 

Petros Charis, Krisimi hora: selides rembasmou kai perisyllogis. [Athinai] : Vivliopoleion tis "Hestias, [1944] (with illustrations by Spyros Vasileiou)

Glykeria Protopapa-Mpoumpoulidou, Pezografika keimena tou polemou kai tis katochis. Ioannina : Panepistimion Ioanninon, 1974.

Georgios Dimitrios Kiriakidis, Grazdanskaja vojna: 1946-1949. Moskva : Nauka  1972.

Lawrence L. Wittner, American Intervenvention in Greece: 1943-1949. New York : Columbia Univ. Press 1982.

David Close, The Origins of the Greek Civil War. London : Longman   1995.

Deuxieme livre bleu sur l'intervention américano-anglaise, sur le régime monarcho-fasciste, sur la lutte libératrice du peuple. [S.l.] : Gouvernement democratique provisoire de Grece, 1949.  191pp.

Giorgio Vaccarino, La Grecia tra Resistenza e guerra civile, 1940-1949. Milano : F. Angeli, 1988. 330 p. 

Peter J. Stavrakis, Moscow and Greek Communism, 1944-1949. Ithaca and London : Cornell Univ. Press 1989.

Thanasis D. Sfikas, The British Labour Government and the Greek Civil War 1945-1949 : the imperialism of Non-intervention. Keele : Ryburn Publishing / Keele Univ. Press 1994.

Edgar O'Ballance, The Greek Civil War : 1944-1949; with a foreword by the hon. C. M. Woodhouse. New York ; Washington : Praeger, 1966.  237 p. 

Amikam Nachmani,  International Intervention in the Greek Civil War : the United Nations special committee on the Balkans : 1947-1952. New York : Praeger 1990.  XVI, 196 p.

Bruce Robellet Kuniholm, The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East : Great Power Conflict and Diplomacy in Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Princeton, N.J : Princeton Univ. Press 1980.  XXIII, 485 p. 

Anastasia Balta, L'opinion publique française face à la guerre civile grecque. Princeton, N.J : Princeton Univ. Press, c1980  XXIII, 485 p.  Ph.D. thesis.

E.D. Smith, Victory of a Sort: the British in Greece, 1941-46. London : Robert Hale 1988.  271p.


British Intervention in the Greek civil war, 1944-1946

    "Italy invaded Greece by way of Albania on 28 October 1940, but Greek troops repelled the invaders after a bitter struggle (see Greco-Italian War). This marked the first Allied victory in the war.

    Primarily to secure his strategic southern flank, German dictator Adolf Hitler reluctantly stepped in and launched the Battle of Greece. Axis units from Germany, Bulgaria, and Italy successfully invaded Greece, through Yugoslavia, forcing out the Greek and defenders. On 20 May 1941, the Germans attempted to seize Crete with a large attack by paratroops—with the aim of reducing the threat of a counter-offensive by Allied forces in Egypt—but faced heavy resistance. The Greek campaign might have delayed German military plans against Soviet Union, and it is argued that had the German invasion of the Soviet Union started on 20 May 1941 instead of 22 June 1941, the Nazi assault against the Soviet Union might have succeeded. The heavy losses of German paratroopers led the Germans to launch no further large-scale air-invasions.

     During the years of Occupation of Greece by Nazi Germany, thousands of Greeks died in direct combat, in concentration camps, or of starvation. The occupiers murdered the greater part of the Jewish community despite efforts by Christian Greeks to shelter the Jews. The economy of Greece was devastated.

     When the Soviet Army began its drive across Romania in August 1944, the German Army in Greece began withdrawing north and northwestward from Greece to avoid being cut off in Greece. Hence, the German occupation of Greece ended in October 1944. The Resistance group ELAS seized control of Athens on 12 October 1944. The insurrection was defeated by British troops who entered Athens at 14 October 1944.(1)

     Goulter (2014) summarizes the devastation done to Greece during the war:  Between 1941 in 1945, over 8% of the Greek population had died; some 2000 villages and small towns had been razed to the ground; starvation was widespread due to the destruction of crops and worsened in many parts of Greece after liberation when agricultural labourers migrated to urban centres to escape politically inspired violence in the countryside [exerted mainly by British-supported right-wing units (often, collaborateurs of the Nazi German occupiers) againstsuspected leftists and former resistance fighters]; trade either internally or externally had all but ceased; most of Greece's merchant marine lay at the bottom of the sea; and motorized transport had been confiscated by the axis occupiers.(2)

     The Greek Civil War (Greek: Emfílios pólemos), was fought between 1944 and 1949 in Greece b[y] [...] the Greek governmental and British forces [against the Left]. Funding for the government came from Britain and the U.S.(3)The insurgents [the ELAS] [were] the military branch of the Greek communist party. According to some analysts on the Left, [British armed intervention in the Greek civil war since Oct. 1944 and US intervention] represented the first example of a post-war West interference in the political situation of a foreign country.(4)The victory of the British [forces] —and later[, of] US-supported [Greek] government forces led to American funding through [...] the Marshall Plan and to Greece's membership in NATO and helped to define the ideological balance of power in the Aegean for the entire Cold War."

1  S. Winston Churchill,  The Second World War (Volume 6), 1953. p. 285.
2  Christina J. M. Goulter, “The Greek Civil War: A National Army’s Counter-insurgency Triumph,” in: The Journal of Military History; Vol. 78, No.3 (July 2014), pp: 1017-55, quote: pp 1023-1025.
3 Nikos Marantzidis and Giorgos Antoniou. "The Axis Occupation and Civil War: Changing Trends in Greek Historiography, 1941–2002," in: Journal of Peace Research; Vol. 41, No. 2 (2004), pp: 223-231.
4 Noam Chomsky, World Orders, Old And New. London: Pluto Press 1994
(Source: History of Greece, in: Wikipedia)


1944, 14 October: British troops enter Athens.

1944, 18 October: Premier George Papandreou and his national unity government repatriate.

1944, 3 December: "Dekemvriana" (December events). 28 people are killed by British troops and policemen in Athens.

1944, 4 December: George Papandreou attempts to resign.

1944, 12 December: ELAS controls most of Athens and its environs.

1945 12 February: EAM and the Greek Government sign a peace agreement to end fighting.

1945, 16 June: Former ELAS leader Aris Velouchiotis is killed or commits suicide.

1945, 17 October: Archbishop Damaskinos assumes office as regent in an attempt to stabilize the country.

1946, March: Fighting resumes between the Government and the Communists.

1946, 28 September: A [questionable] national referendum favours constitutional monarchy.

1946: King George II returns to Greece.

1947, 1 April: King George II dies of sudden heart failure in the Palace in Athens.  He is succeeded by his younger brother Paul.

1947, December: Approximately 1,200 Communist militants are killed in a battle near Konitsa.

1948: The Communists reach the maximum of their power.

1949, August: General Alexander Papagos begins a major counter-offensive against Communist forces in northern Greece, pushing them into Albania.

1949, 16 October: Nikolaos Zachariadis, commander of the Communist guerillas, announces a ceasefire that ends the Greek Civil War.


"Air operations during the Greek Civil War involved primarily the air forces of the United Kingdom, South Africa, and the government of Greece against ground elements of the ELAS and other anti-government forces.

The arrival of British forces to Greece in September 1944 brought with it the Royal Air Force. The airfield at Araxos became the first foothold, being captured on 23 September 1944 and many airfields around it were secured within a month, including Megara taken by parachute landings of 4 Para. Near Athens, Kalamaki ultimately became the center of RAF activity, renamed Hassani on 1 December 1944, as home for No. 337 Wing RAF, under which operated a number of squadrons:
No. 32 Squadron RAF with the Supermarine Spitfire V
No. 94 Squadron RAF with the Supermarine Spitfire V
No. 108 Squadron RAF with the Bristol Beaufighter VI
No. 216 Squadron RAF with the Douglas Dakota IV
No. 221 Squadron RAF with the Vickers Wellington XIII

These were bolstered by the arrival in November 1944 of No. 335 Squadron RHAF and No. 336 Squadron RHAF. Both of these were Greek manned units within the RAF and would become the first operational units of the Royal Hellenic Air Force. Both flew the Spitfire VB fighter.

Sedes was opened with the liberation of northern Greece [from Nazi German forces] and became the new home for No. 32 Sqn.

On 2 December 1944, tensions over the role of the EAM and ELAS parties in post-war government resulted in demonstration during which British forces opened fire, killing ten civilians.The response was attacks on police stations andthus RAF units began operations against ELAS and EAM targets, mostly around Athens
No. 73 Sqn, along with the newly arrived No. 94 Squadron RAF, used their Spitfires on strafing runs and light bombing was undertaken by No. 108 Sqn. 
Additional options were gained when a flight of Beaufighters of No. 39 Squadron RAF were attached to No. 108 Sqn., armed with RP-3 rockets. These were considered very effective and over the span of two weeks 105 targets (55 buildings, 19 command posts, 10 supply dumps, 2 radio stations, 12 transportation, and 7 artillery) were struck by these aircraft. The regular aircraft of No. 108 flew 265 sorties during December. ´
The heavy bombers of No. 221 Sqn were primarily used in supply flights to the Sedes facility as well as various leaflet and illumination missions. Two actual bombing raids were carried out (both at night). The Greek Spitfire squadrons did not participate in the attacks, although the newly formed No. 13 Squadron RHAF did assist in leaflet operations.

The RAF suffered a major blow with the attack by ELAS troops on their facility at Kifisia, which was home to Allied Headquarters Greece, on 19 December 1944. The No. 2933 Squadron RAF Regiment defended strongly but was ultimately overrun with the capture of many British prisoners. No. 221 Sqn. conducted supply drops to these personnel during their march north. 
By 7 January 1945, Athens was secured, and a ceasefire negotiated on 11 January. While some fighting continued, British fighter squadrons were withdrawn by summer 1945. Hassani continued to be a hub of RAF operations however the arrival of No. 252 Wing RAF with three Douglas Boston V equipped units, No. 13 Squadron RAF, No. 18 Squadron RAF, and No. 55 Squadron RAF.

1946 saw the official transfer of Greek manned RAF squadrons into the Royal Hellenic Air Force. In addition to the aforementioned Nos. 13, 335, and 336 Sqns., these also included the No. 355 Squadron RHAF with a variety of transport types, including the C-47, Avro Anson, and Wellington and the 345, 346, and 347 Flights using the Auster AOP and other utility aircraft for liaison.

Meanwhile, government opposition was on the rise and the formation of the Democratic Army of Greece led to the loss of control of much of rural Greece.The Greek National Army responded with Operation Terminus, but this was a failure. 

March 1948 saw the RHAF enter the action with attacks on landing strips set up by Communist forces to receive aid from Albania and Yugoslavia. 

Involvement by the United States led to the launch of Operation Dawn in April 1948, and this was supported by RHAF units with a total of 641 sorties with the loss of one Spitfire plus damage to ten more. Dakotas were utilized for leaflet and supply operations. The operation was successful but the withdrawal to northern border regions limited RHAF effectiveness due to a five mile stop line to avoid an international incident.

Operation Coronis was launched in July 1948 against enemy forces in the Grammos Mountains with the support of Nos. 335 and 336 Sqns. operating from Yannina and Kozani. Additional aircraft included AT-6 Texan and Auster aircraft. Ultimate results were a draw as anti-government forces withdrew across the border to Albania. No. 337 Squadron RHAF had been formed with Spitfire IX aircraft, giving the RHAF three Spitfire units. For heavier bombing, Dakotas were jury-rigged with racks for bombs up to 500 lb each.
RAF deHavilland Mosquito photo reconnaissance aircraft were reportedly used in the affair. RHAF flew 3,474 sorties during the operation, suffering one lost Spitfire plus a further 22 damaged.

Operations in September 1948centered on the Vitsi Mountains area, and were supported again by the RHAF. They were marked by better cooperation with GNA units and the first use of napalm, although this was not used heavily. These operations lasted through the end of the year, bringing the grand total of sorties for 1948 to 8,907 combat and 9,891 transport, with the loss of twelve airmen. A major attack at Florina by guerrilla forces was defeated with significant air support by the RHAF.

August 1949 marked the final series of operations against the guerrilla forces, and again the RHAF played a large role in supporting government forces. In particular, during the final portion of the month, No. 336 Sqn. began employing its newly acquired SB2C Helldiver aircraft, of which 40 had been acquired from the United States Navy. This operation resulted in the final destruction of opposition military resistance and resulted in a final ceasefire being signed.
During August 826 sorties had been flown dropping 288 tons of bombs and firing 1935 rockets. Napalm was used again, with 114 such strikes being made.

Source: "Air operations during the Greek Civil War," in:

Commemoration of the 62nd Anniversary of the British Napalm Bombing of Gramos and Vicho

World Macedonian Congress 

August 25, 2010, Skopje, Macedonia (WMC) - The World Macedonian Congress and the Association of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia this year will continue the tradition of commemorating the anniversary of the 1948 British napalm bombing of Gramos and Vico in the Aegean part of Macedonia during the 1946 to 1949 Civil War in Greece with a memorial for the victims of the war. 

On August 27, Friday, 10 am, a delegation of the World Macedonian Congress and the Association of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia will mark the 62nd anniversary of the napalm bombing. The bombing in Aegean Macedonia was the first time napalm bombs had been used in the world. The delgates will lay fresh flowers at the monument to the victims of the civil war at Woman Park before the Parliament of Macedonia. At 11 am in the courtyard of the church of St. Mary Mother of God on the Vardar River, Skopje a memorial service will be held for the victims of the bombing. 

Invited guests to the commemoration include representatives of the religious communities in Macedonia, the president, members of Parliament and ministers, directors of national institutes, directors of state universities, the mayors of the city of Skopje and the Skopje municipalities, diplomatic and consular missions and foreign missions in Macedonia, associations of Macedonians from the Aegean part of Macedonia, and the Macedonian print and electronic media. 

The memorial service will send a request to Britain to apologize to the Macedonian and Greek anti-fascists in the Second World War for the defeat in the Civil War in Greece, for the victims of the British napalm bombing at Gramos and Vico, and for the British assistance for the victory of the Greek monarcho-fascists who fought fiercely against the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia, due to the agreement between Churchill and Stalin that the United Kingdom win Greece and the Soviet Union win Bulgaria and Romania. 
Macedonia and Macedonians will no longer be collateral damage to the interests of the big powers and their spheres of influence in the region. No longer can they hide the history and archeology in order not to reveal the truth about Macedonia. 

The commemoration will condemn the use of weapons of mass destruction (napalm, hydrogen and atomic bombs), and send a message to the world, of peace and love over war and hate. 

Macedonians around the world wait for Britain's apology, and recognition of the Republic of Macedonia and membership of the European Union and NATO alliance under the state name of Macedonia. 

The World Macedonian Congress and the Association of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia expect not only the fulfillment of the contract between Macedonians from the Aegean part of Macedonia and the Communist Party of Greece for cultural autonomy of the Macedonian people in Greece after the victory in the Second World War. 

With thousands of victims between 1940 to 1949, Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia laid the foundation of Greek statehood, because together with Greeks they were able to free themselves from the fascists. And because of that they unconditionally seek to reclaim the civil and property rights of the Macedonians forcibly exiled from Greece from the Balkan Wars to today, and to receive respect and universal human rights for Macedonians who live in Greece. 

Macedonians around the world reject the request to change the state name of Macedonia in order to legalize the Greek genocide against the Macedonian people and the occupation of Macedonia that occurred during the Balkan Wars and continues to this day. They require the immediate and unconditional suspension of talks on the state name of Macedonia. Macedonians around the world reject the pressures to change the state name of Macedonia and see these pressures as cultural genocide against the Macedonian people and crimes against humanity. 

Source: "Pollitecon Publications"

Napalm used in the Greek civil war (1946-49) and the Korean civil war (1950-53)

"American tacticians [...} developed techniques of napalm bombing [...] [N]apalm became a common weapon and was used in the Greek civil war and Indochina. The U.S. Far East Air Force used at least  32,357 tons of napalm in Korea in addition  to napalm detonated by the Navy and the Marines. Ironically, Japan, Korea's former suppressor, manufactured napalm for [U.S.-led] UN
On the average day, the Air Force dropped 45,000 gallons, the Navy released 12,000 gallons, and the Marines delivered 5,000 gallons to targets. Napalm's volatile mixture was improved when more precise thermometers  were used to monitor  its production, and in Korea,  two Army companies were employed solely to mix napalm.
Pilots realized that dive-bombing  was the best  procedure to drop napalm. They also learned how to bounce bombs toward targets. Tanks could quickly be destroyed by napalm because fuel tanks, rubber tires, and ammunition caught fire and the heat killed the crew. A procedure known as "Golden Rain" was developed where the napalm mixture was sprayed in the air above troops, showering them with flame. [...]
As U.N. troops retreated from North Korea  in the winter of 1950, they implemented a scorched earth policy, aided by pilots who burned enemy installations [houses, factories, infrastructure] with napalm.
When targets were too  closely located to permit precision  bombing, napalm was used. Five major cities in North Korea were sites for heavy napalm bombing: Pyongyang, Seishin, Rashin, Wonsan, and Chinnampo. By the end of the war, these cities had practically ceased to function above ground. Pilots focused on dropping napalm bombs  to cut communications and strike dams, factories, power plants, [hospitals, schools, water works, sewage treatment plants,] and industrial centers.
Napalm was [believed to be] effective in lowering civilian morale. It often struck civilian populations; people not only suffered horrific burns and death, but often expired  from carbon monoxide poisoning  or suffocation."
Source: "Napalm" , in: Stanley Sandler (ed.), The Korean War: An Encyclopedia, New York: Routledge 2013, p.227

Re use of Napalm by Greek government troops in 1946-1949, see also:



Go back to Art in Society # 14, Contents


U.S. indirect intervention in the Greek civil war (1945/46-1949)
First phase of the civil war, 1942–1944:

In 1936, a coup d'état by general Ionannis Metaxis had established a fascist dictatorship. In Oct. 1940, Italy attacked Greece but suffered defeat. In Jan. 1941, the fascist Greek dictator died. Three months later, on Apr. 6, Hitler Germany invaded Greece. When German troops approached Athens on Apr. 18, Prime Minister Alexandros Koryzis commited suicide. Two days later, the Greek army surrendered, and again two days later the Royal family and the government fled the Greek mainland, going first to Crete and in May 1941, to Alexandria in British-rule Egypt.
The Nazi occupation was soon met by armed resistance. A Left-wing youth (today a Left member of the European Parliament) took away the Nazi flag that had been hoisted on top of the Acropolis. Partisans attacked the army of the occupier in the mountains. 
"The Communist Party took control [of the popular resistance movement] and created the National Liberation Front, also called the EAM. Another [Royalist] group [of lesser importance, more peoccupied with fighting the EAM than the GErman Wehrmacht troops] was formed that was [...] called the National Republican Greek League (EDES). 
The EAM and EDES fought each other in the winter of 1943-1944. The EDES received help from the British since Britain was worried about a communist takeover." 

"On December 2, 1944, fighting started between the British and the EAM." 

"In March of 1946, elections were held in Greece. The elections were corrupt [just as in South Korea a bit later] and as a result, [...] victory was [...] [proclaimed by the right-wing] EDES. 
Therefore, the Communists formed the Democratic Army of Greece (DA), declaring they were fighting to restore Greece to a democracy. During the first year of fighting, the DA was ahead since they were receiving help from Yugoslavia and controlled the northern part of Greece. The British became increasingly worried and turned to the United States for help. 
In 1947, the United States agreed to help [....]  President Truman issued the Truman Doctrine to help [the right in] Greece fight the Communists.

By the time the US entered, the DA was holding land at the borders of Yugoslavia and Albania, as well as land in southern Greece [the Peloponnesos]. The DA used guerrilla tactics for their warfare [...]  [T]he nationalists were receiving weapons from the United States and Britain. Once the United States [intervened] [...], the nationalist army [was] greatly increased. 
Then, Stalin ended his relationship with Yugoslavia’s leader, Tito. The DA decided to support Stalin and lost the support of Yugoslavia. With this factor, and the help from the Americans, the nationalists were able to defeat the communists by the summer of 1949. During the course of the war, more than 80,000 people were killed while another 700,000 were left homeless. The civil war left Greece in shambles."  (Source of quotes: Kelsey Leonard, Cold War Museum)

" "
"In 1944 Greece is liberated from the German occupation though the celebration is a short one. The victorious resistance fighters of the left and the right have already begun to fight each other. With the King, the government and the army still in Egypt and the collapse of the occupation government, it is the Greek communists who control most of the country. Even before the Germans had left they controlled all but the cities. But it has already been decided by Stalin and Churchill that Britain will be in charge of a non-communist Greece in return for Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary falling under the influence of the Soviet Union. This is known as Percentages Agreement. The usual interpretation is that the main reason that Churchill wanted to keep the Soviets out of Greece was the eternal British preoccupation with keeping the Russians out of the [...] the Mediterranean. 
The British also know that their business interests in Greece have no future if the communists are able to take over. The forces of ELAS (The Greek-communist resistance) could have easily taken the city of Athens but instead obey the orders of the British and the promise that they will have a part in the post-war government of Greece, perhaps believing that the small British force in Athens was just the tip of the iceberg with more troops waiting in the wings. When George Papandreou returns to Greece with his government he is in a difficult position. On one side is EAM who have been preparing through the years of occupation for the day that they would take power in Greece. On the other side is the British who to protect their own interests will back the king, the collaborators and the security battalions because they are anti-communist. Papandreou had foreseen that the communists would be in a strong position to take over the country once the Germans had left and had asked Churchill to send a large force to Greece. Churchill said he did not have the forces to spare so Papandreou did the next best thing. He got them to agree that King George would not return to Greece until after a plebiscite. At least this would keep the Royalists and the Republicans unified against the communists instead of fighting each other.
In the meantime in England, Winston Churchill informs British foreign secretary Anthony Eden that he is planning to create a confrontation between the new Greek government and the former resistance fighters of EAM-ELAS. He tells Eden that he will use the British military, already in Athens, to defend Papandreou's government. Papandreou orders the 60,000 members of the resistance to disarm if they want to continue to take part in the government. The communists agree provided that all Nazi collaboratorsare removed from positions of power and the members of the ultra-right security battalions who have been terrorizing the left are disarmed or arrested. 
The British are now focused on the communist threat and have no desire to disarm the groups, choosing now to form an alliance with the extremist forces of the collaborators. 
With the country so polarized Papandreou as a moderate is in an impossible situation. he can't carry out the programs of the British-backed extreme right nor can he join the communist in what seems to be heading for open revolt. 
When the EAM ministers resign from the government, a protest rally is staged by their supporters in Syntagma Square followed by a general strike. The British ambassador demands [from] the [Papandreou] government to not allow the Greek people to express their views through this protest (as they are entitled to in any true democracy) and the government agrees to break up the rally, by force if they have to. Whether by accident or by plan the police open fire on the demonstrators, killing several. This sets off battles all over Athens as ELAS units attack police stations to get weapons and ammunition. The riots of December 3rd 1944 and the six weeks of fighting which follow are known as the Dekembriana.The Greek fighters who have just finished a war with the Germans are now at war with the British troops in Athens and the right-wing security battalions all over Greece. During this battle the British control a small area around Syntagma Square and their headquarters in the Grande Bretagne Hotel while the forces of ELAS control almost all of Athens with the exception of Kolonaki. British paratroopers are stationed on the Acropolis where they have a view of most of the city.
On Christmas day of 1944, Winston Churchill arrives in Athens along with Anthony Eden. Papandreou is replaced by an old Venizelist, General Plastiras and King George is convinced to delay his return to Greece and allow the role of regent to be filled by Archbishop Damaskinos. Churchill had previously described Damaskinos as a 'pestilent priest' and a 'survivor of the middle ages' but he leaves Greece with a new respect for the religious leader of Athens and he has also brokered a cease-fire between ELAS and British forces. 
In 1945 the government and the communists sign the Varkiza Agreement which is to disarm the ELAS resistance fighters as well as the Nazi collaborators and members of the [Collaborationist] far right who have been attacking the communistsin retribution for attacksagainst them during the occupation. 
As trials begin for members of ELAS and the collaborators begin, an odd pattern takes form. Communists are given the death sentence while Nazi collaborators are let off lightly. 
In the British House of Commons this sets off a debate and the trials are stopped, but the persecution of the members of ELAS continues. The government of Prime Minister Plastiras has no power over the British supported right-wing para-government, a-state-within-a-state. 
In the trials of the leaders of the Nazi collaborators three members of the puppet government are sentenced to death including Prime Minister Rallis who had ordered the execution of fifty Greek hostages as a reprisal for the execution of a Nazi collaborator. None of these death sentences are carried out.
Aris Velouchiotis, the hero of the resistance, believes that taking part in the new government is capitulation and the only way to achieve the communist goal is through armed struggle. He takes off for the hills with a small group of followers where he is killed (or some say commits suicide) after being surrounded by the National Guard. He had been denounced as a traitor by the Greek Communist Party (KKE) politburo the day before. 
In December of 1945 members of the KKE meet with various Bulgarian and Yugoslavian officers who assure them that they can use Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia as bases in the event of a full-scale war. 
When the government does not honor the agreement to rid the country of fascists collaborators who continue to attack the left, the communists abstain from the elections. They attack a police station in Litohoro, Pieria. The Civil war has begun. In January of 1946 three thousand members of General Grivas rightwing terrorist organization known as X attacked the town of Kalamata, freeing imprisoned collaborators who were waiting to go to trial, burned files and attempted to take over the building where the communists were being held. Failing this they killed 14 unarmed citizens and escaped with 150 hostages.After executing some of the hostages they attacked towns in Laconia and killed the relatives of known communists. 

"The government was powerless or unwilling to take action and the communist party of Greece publicly tells its members to take matters into their own hands, a call to war.
In the United Nations Soviet Ambassador Vishinsky details attacks on Greek citizens by the British backed security battalions which British Foreign minister declared propaganda, claiming that upcoming elections in March would be free and honest. 
But with the countryside a battleground of murders and reprisals the communists want the elections postponed at least until order can be restored. The British tell the Greeks that the elections can't be postponed because the allied mission of election observers can't stay longer. Prime Minister Sophoulis declares that the elections will be held with or without the communists but privately urges them to participate. With the left voting in the elections the possibility of a centrist government to oppose the right and limit their power, was possible. Nikos Zakhariades, leader of the KKE, who had spent the entire Second World War in Dachau, considers the advice of his counterpart in the Italian Communist party who also urges him to take part in the elections to avoid Greece being totally dominated by the right. To the glee of the right, Zakhariades decides the communists will not take part in the election. The opponents of the far right have been split.

The British government pressures the Greeks to hold the elections as planned though they know the results will rip the country apart. Fourteen of the thirty-five ministers in the Greek government are against the elections, nine of whom resign. But it was not only the British at fault for this rush to a marred democracy. The United States made it clear to Prime Minister Sophoulis that it was in Greece's best interest not to postpone the elections. So despite knowing that disaster was around the next corner, the Greek government declared that since not even a two month postponement would be permitted by the UK and the US, elections would go on as planned. 
In the first free elections in 10 years only half the eligible voters of Greece actually voted. The two rightwing parties got a majority of these votes. The foreign observers low-balled the abstentions to give the election validity and claimed the elections fair since they had observed no violence or voter intimidation. But who was there to intimidate if the left did not participate
A right-wing coalition dominated by the new People's Party is elected and their leader Constantinos Tsaldaris in the opening session of parliament calls for the return of the king and initiates a constitutional plebiscite. When members of Britain's labor party come to Athens they report on well-armed bands attacking the left and the liberals, and daily political assassinations. The new right wing government is using the power of the state against anyone who is opposed to them. Laws are passed that result in the dismissal from government jobs and jobs in the private sector of anyone with democrat or leftist leanings.
At this point it is not only the communists who are heading for the mountains but terrified citizens.
Once again in yet another rigged election 68% vote for the return of the king, some of whom may have seen Greece's return to a monarchy as being better then being run by the communists. King George arrives in Greece on September 27 1946 at about the same time as the British Parliamentary delegation is writing their report on the situation, calling it hopeless.
While the Tsaldaris government in Athens relies on the right-wing security battalions to fight ELAS sympathizers in the city's streets, the communists announce the formation of a new Democratic Army or DAG (Demokratikos Stratos Elladas) under the leadership of former ELAS leader Markos Vafiades and begin to wage war on the government. By the end of 1946, he has 7,000 combatants. By early 1947, the Democratic army controls perhaps 100 Greek villages. Their first battles are against right-wing bands and the establishment of 'free territories' in the mountains of northern Greece where 'People's Tribunals' try and execute 'monarchofascist traitors'. They also begin to collect taxes from held villages, conscript peasants as labor or fighters and force them to donate food, livestock and other necessities to the Democratic Army of Greece. The ranks of the DAG are swollen by enforced recruitment and villages that refuse to cooperate suffer severe reprisals. There are also secret Communist units carrying out assassinations and terrorism in the cities.
In 1947 the communist party is outlawed in Greece. Napoleon Zervas, founder of EDES (National Republican Greek League) becomes the minister for public order and promptly arrests some 3,000 Communists and condems a number to death. 
That same year, the British, losing influence in the Middle East and realizing that they have made a mess of things in Greece, announce they no longer are able to support the government they have put in power. They step aside to let the Americans take over. President Truman pours money, weapons and military advisors into the country to support the right wing-royalist Greek government against the communists. 
Greece is the first battle of what comes to be known as The Cold War. His speech to the US congress asking for money to fight communism worldwide, but particularly in Greece, becomes known as The Truman Doctrine. America joining the fray is vindication of a sorts for Winston Churchill. President Roosevelt believed Great Britain's policies in Greece were a mistake and that people had the right to work out their problems democratically without influence from the outside. Had Roosevelt been in control instead of Churchill one might argue that the war and the years that followed would have been completely different. In fact if left to work this out for themselves without the intervention and manipulations of the British the next twenty or thirty years in Greece might have been quite pleasant. As it turns out they could not have been any worse. 
America's attempt to clean up the mess the British have made, combined with their zeal for stamping out communism caused them to make matters worse rather then get the two sides to the table and force them to work things out. Despite controlling the countryside, the communists did not have more than 25% support of the country. They might have been part of coalitions [....] 
[If] the democratic process [had been] allowed to go forth, without the right having the military might of the allies behind them and the communists feeling like they were in a no-win situation, true democracy would have come to Greece a lot sooner. The majority of the Greeks believed in democracy.It was the US and Great Britain who believed democracy in Greece, at this particular moment was not in anyone's best interest. At least until they were certain that someone they liked could be elected.

In March 1948, the communists, who kept records on all the children aged three to fourteen in all the areas they controlled, [would] take children from the villages and send them across the northern borders, supposedly for safety reasons. The perception (probably correct) of many of the Greeks is that they want[ed] to indoctrinate them as future soldiers much as the Turks did with the young Greek boys who became jannisaries during the Ottoman period. More than 25,000 Greek children are taken to the communist Balkan countries and Eastern Europe. 
On November 17, 1948, and again in November 1949 the UN General assembly passe[´d] a resolution condemning the removal of the Greek children, demanding their return. These and all subsequent UN resolutions [we]re never answered. From 1950 to 1952 only 684 children are permitted to return to Greece. By 1963, around 4000 children (some of them born in Communist countries) have been repatriated. Of those who did not return many died of illness, some escaped to Germany and others have since returned or have yet to return. The kidnapping of the children is a bad move of the war for the communists because from that point on they lost any support they had in the villages.
It must be pointed out that the Yugoslavians provided nearly 10,000 volunteers recruited from their own army[...] 

On May 16, 1948 the body of CBS News correspondent George Polk is found in the harbor of Thessaloniki several days after he'd left his hotel for an interview with Markos Vafiades of ELAS. This becomes an international news story, some say the equivalent of the Dreyfus affair (or the Lambrakis murder in the same city 15 years later). In the trial, another journalist, Gregory Staktopoulos, is convicted of being an accomplice along with several guerilla leaders, (two of whom may have been dead before the murder). Staktopoulos who had worked for a local Greek Communist daily published clandestinely during the German occupation, was believed to have been the scapegoat and many theories circulate that Polk was killed by the Americans, British Intelligence, the Greek ultra-right, the communists or take your pick. Polk's articles had been very critical of the Truman Doctrine and the Greek Government. He had uncovered a scandal involving leading Royalist and Greek Foreign Minister Constantine Tsaldaris which could have brought down the government. 

Whoever killed Polk it was obvious to people that the communists are the scapegoats and unlikely perpetrators. When the New York Newspaper Guild attempts to send an independent team of journalists to Greece to investigate Polk's death they are pre-empted by a committee of prestigious media representatives, headed by Washington columnist Walter Lippmann. The Lippmann Committee refuses to back an independent inquiry, working with the State Department in monitoring the Greek government's investigation and appointing General William (Wild Bill) Donovan, the wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), as their counsel. Under pressure by the Americans to make an arrest, Staktopoulosis picked up and tortured until he names the killers as two high-ranking communists on orders from the Kremlin and 'admits' his role was to set-up Polk. Unlikely story, but the Greek and International press bought it and that was the end of it. Except that Staktopoulos declares his innocence until he dies in 1988. In January 2004 his widow, Theodora Zisimopoulou- Staktopoulou’s appeal for a posthumous retrial based on claims that new evidence proves his innocence, is rejected by the Supreme Court of Greece. Clearly if the US and Greek governments were not involved in the murder, their investigators had failed to ask the most important question when one wants to solve any crime; Motive. Who had the stronger motive for wanting Polk dead? The communists? Why? Was the interview with Markos so bad? On the other hand the Greek government might go to great lengths to avoid being exposed as corrupt or in the pocket of the US. And as for the Americans, one life is cheap to protect the world from communism.

In January of 1949 Markos and his strategy of guerilla warfare are replaced by Nikos Zakhariades. He believes in more conventional warfare, but by now the Greek Armed forces are better equipped by the Americans who had introduced a new weapon to finish off the war called napalm B. They are led by General Alexander Papagos, the hero of the 1940 triumph over the Italians. Zakhariades decision to fight conventionally is another bad one and one has to wonder how this guy had any followers whatsoever. But this decision is not as critical a mistake as siding with Moscow in its dispute with Tito and Yugoslavia. Everything from weapons to food had been coming across the border from communist Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania. When Yugoslavia closes its borders and cuts off the essential supply of weapons, followed by Albania a few months later, the communist position is hopeless and Stalin tells them so.

The new-improved Greek armed forces begins an offensive in the summer of 1949, code-named Operation TORCH. Papagos attacks the last communist strongholds in northern Greece with more than 50,000 men, driving them across the border into Albania and Bulgaria. 

The Civil war is another catastrophe for Greece, for many worse than the occupation. More people are killed during the Civil war than during the occupation. The village populations fall as people move to the cities, some for safety reasons and others because they are forced to by the government who believe that the fewer people in the villages, the less support the rebels will have. This creates tremendous pressure on the government to feed these refugees from the countryside who have filled the cities and towns, many who never return to the villages. 

In the end the communists realise their struggle is over, for now. Some are executed as traitors. Many are sent to the prison island of Makronissos for re-programming. Others escape across the border to Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe, never to return again. It is easy to have sympathy for someone who has fought to liberate Greece and is then declared an enemy of the state [since late 1944 or since 1945], hunted down, tortured and made to confess to treason, and then executed or exiled. 
A large number of the communist fighters were young and naive, and though hardened by war still had a dream of a new, more democratic society. But the executions, torture and reprisals that took place on both sides [the Left executed collaborators during the anti-German war of resistance, and again, since 1946, during the civil war, in liberated zones; they were particularly subject to reprisals, executions, and torture since the moment they disarmed, after the arrival of the British, something that was prompted by the Stalin-Churchill agreement] are enough to turn sympathy into a simmering hatred of an enemy that at one time was a fellow countryman. This kind of hatred can continue for generations.

The period is perhaps the darkest in Greek history. But the world is never as black and white as it seems. The Greek Civil war was not a clash of good vs evil but one of two extreme belief systems that could not co-exist, with the majority of the Greek people trapped somewhere in the middle. It was a battle of ideologies and while the Greek government can be blamed for seeing the communists as a bigger problem then the fascists (who were never purged), the communists by abstaining from the elections chose to give up their small slice of the pie, which could have grown larger. (The communists did have some public support and do so even today.) Rather then play whatever role they could get in Greek post-war politics and gain power a bit at a time [they felt that the fruits of their anti-Nazi resistance struggle had been stolen from them by the British, and they felt at risk after having disarmed, faced as they were with assassinations,  arrests, and death sentences meted out to resistance heroes; therefore, rather then running the risk of being terrorized by rightists and participating in rigged elections under these conditions,] they chose to go back to the mountains and play the part of resistance fighters which they had become comfortable with during the occupation. 

When you have two antagonistic groups who both believe they are right and are willing to fight to the death, there are always those people who will stand on the sidelines to cheer and supply weapons, in exchange for an influential role in the society of the victors. When one side is backed by these forces, the only chance the other has of victory is by being patient and playing the role assigned to them while taking small steps to bring forth their agenda. The communists were victims of their inability to adapt to a new situation. They had the misfortune of being communists at the exact moment that the US declared war on communism.

The sense of hopelessness in Greece triggered a mass exodus of young people looking for a better life in Australia, the USA and Canada. [...] 

For the next 25 years or so Greece is to be under the influence of the US government who protect their investment by injecting lots of money, much of it for the military, into the country. At the same time the number of Greeks living and finding success in America creates a bond between the people of both countries. Without the British and the Americans, it is likely Greece would have become a communist country. Where it would have gone from there, nobody can say for certain. But while the rest of war-torn Europe was rebuilding, Greece was fighting a war with itself and is several years behind.

[...]The glories and heroism of the Greeks that had inspired the world during Second World War are nearly forgotten. What is not forgotten are the scars of this period in Greek history, which will last through the rest of the century and the contradiction of afreeUS-protected Greece with concentration camps [like Leros and Jaros] that are just as horrific and brutal as those during the Nazi occupation.

For more on post-war Greece and the Civil war, I recommend this very interesting video called Greece: The Hidden War. This is a British political documentary produced in 1986 and s[it was] shown for just on[c]e [...] [by] British television, before being banned.

Source of quotes: Matt Barrett, "History of Greece: The Greek Civil War"