Schism in Greek society under Axis occupation: an interpretation


  • David H Close


The occupation of Greece between April 1941 and November 1944 by Germany and its allies. Italy and Bulgaria, provoked civil strife of remarkable intensity. The hatred which arose between the antagonists often exceeded that which most Greeks felt for the occupying forces. Thus on their own admission the leaders of the communist-dominated National Liberation Front (EAM) hated the Greek collaborationist troops more even than the latter's German patrons (Grigoriadis, 1964: 5. 150). The co-leader of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), Giorgis Siantos, referred even to rival resistance groups as "scum" (Chatzis, 1977-1979: 2.503). The main group to which he referred, the National Democratic Hellenic League, EDES, was, according to a close observer. "certainly more concerned about EAM than about the Germans" (Baerentzen, 1982: 150). The Greek collaborationist forces tended to be
still more ruthless than the Germans in fighting against EAM and its army ELAS (Fleischer, 1980-1982: 194). For George Papandreou overseas (the prime minister of what was widely recognised, in the last six months of the occupation, as the legitimate government) a major preoccupation was "the extension of the terroristic occupation of Greece by EAM" (papandreou, 1945: 125). Civil strife flared up immediately after the German withdrawal. According to convincing sources, about
1,800 people were massacred by ELAS at Meligala in Messenia; while at Kilkis in Macedonia, 6,000 ELAS forces incurred 356 casualties in destroying an army of 9,000 collaborators.

Author Biography

David H Close

Flinders University of South Australia