The Unnecessary War: the Greek Civil War 1946-1949

Geoffrey Chandler analyses the complex pattern of reasons why Greece became the arena where the first violent post-war trial of strength took place between Communism and the West.

For two and a half years, from 1946 to the late summer of 1949, the future of Greece depended on the outcome of civil war. Throughout this time the prospect of defeat for the government forces—a defeat that would have brought Greece within the Soviet sphere—was never far distant. It was only removed when the last guerilla forces were prised from their remaining mountain footholds and pushed over the northern borders.

The roots of the struggle lay in the three and a half years of the German occupation of the country and in the events that succeeded liberation. The pattern of the occupation has now become familiar history. Yet it was a scene so complex that to simplify it is to distort, and to trace it in detail is to lose its broad outlines.

A Left-Wing resistance movement, EAM (National Liberation Front), with its military arm ELAS (National People’s Liberation Army) had built up its strength in the mountains and eliminated all but one major general markos, guerilla leader and head of the Greek Communist “Government” until superseded, probably for “nationalist deviationism,” early in 1949. From a guerilla propaganda booklet rival resistance group.

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