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The Greek Civil War

With this political instability in Greece during the early twentieth century, General Ioannis Metaxas took power with a fascist-style dictatorship. Once Metaxas died in 1941, Greece was left powerless and the Communist Party took control and created the National Liberation Front, also called the EAM. Another group was formed that was against the EAM 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. Winston Churchill met with Joseph Stalin in 1944. Churchill agreed to give Stalin power in Romania if Stalin gave Churchill power in Greece. The Germans, still there from World War II, began to withdraw from Greece because of this and Stalin gave no help to the communists, even though they were the powerful group in Greece. On December 2, 1944, fighting started between the British and the EAM. The nationalists won and the size of the Communist party greatly decreased.

In March of 1946, elections were held in Greece. The elections were corrupt and as a result, the victory was greatly in favor of the 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 so President Truman issued the Truman Doctrine to help Greece fight the Communists.

By the time the US entered, the DA was holding land at the boarders of Yugoslavia and Albania, as well as land in southern Greece. The DA used guerrilla tactics for their warfare whereas the nationalists were receiving weapons from the United States and Britain. Once the United States went to Greece, the nationalist army 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. However, in the 1950’s, Greece went through a growth of development, both socially and economically. From 1960 until 1974, Greece was ruled by Georgios Papandreou. Finally in 1974, Greece was restored as a democracy by Konstantinos Karamanlis.

Research by Kelsey Leonard
Cosby High School
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum

Sources:

“Civil War and It’s Legacy.”Britannica. 15th ed. 2005.

“Greek Civil War.” World History: The Modern Era. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 1 May 2008

“The Metaxas Regime and World War II.”Britannica. 15th ed. 2005.

Pederson, Vernon. “Greek Civil War: Cold War.” United States at War:
Understanding Conflict and Society. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 1 May 2008

“Restoration of Democracy.”Britannica. 15th ed. 2005.

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