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A soldier of the Communist-led ELAS guerrilla army




Greek Civil War
The first conflict


At the beginning, the Western Allies were helping all resistance organizations with funds and equipment since they themselves needed any help they could find in the Second World War. However, the British Foreign Office, foreseeing a communist upsurge, didn’t like ELAS being transformed into a large-scale conventional army and not a bunch of autonomous small local troops without any head guidance and administration as it would be surely preferable.

From October 1943 and following, Western Allies tried to promote the anti-communist resistance organizations and minimize ELAS’ increasing influence by stopping ELAS supply with weapon and funds. However, ELAS took control of the weapons of the Italian garrisons in Greece when Italy joined the Western Allies in the summer of 1943. In 1944 ELAS was able to equip its units with weapons looted from the enemy while EDES enjoyed Western Allied support.

There also were right-wing, paramilitary organizations such as X ("Khi") in Athens, PAO in Macedonia and others, accused by EAM-ELAS of having been armed by the Germans. All resistance organizations in Greece accused each other of secret agreements, and possible collaboration which made the situation and the alliances very unstable. Communist guerrilla fighters in Kaimaktzalan, in North Greece, during the Civil War - Christopoulos G., Bastias, T. - Ekdotiki Athinon, Athens

EAM was the strongest of all resistance organizations and it attacked all non-communist resistance fighters as well as the paramilitary forces of the collaborationist government. In order to establish a monopoly over the resistance, EAM accused EDES of collaboration with the Germans since it was obvious that the Allies would soon invade southern Europe through Greece and ELAS wanted to be in a dominant position the day the Germans would leave Greece.

This situation led to triangular battles among ELAS, EDES and the Germans. Given the support of the British and the Greek Cairo Government for EDES, these conflicts precipitated a civil war. In October 1943 ELAS attacked its rivals, particularly EDES, precipitating a civil war across many parts of Greece which continued until February 1944 when British agents in Greece negotiated a ceasefire (the Plaka agreement).

The first hard winter, 1941-1942, Katochis had 300.000 victims, mostly children, who died from starvation and coldThe struggle was bitter and there was no room for delicate differentiations. All sides burned villages, executed civilians and suspected collaborators. According to the KKE, "the collaborationist groups such as X used terrorism as a deliberate strategy, while with ELAS fighters it was the result of over-zealous local commanders rather than official policy". ELAS was also responsible for numerous atrocities, the worst being the Meligala massacre where 1.500 people were killed when ELAS attacked the village.

The execution of the EKKA leader Dimitrios Psaros was another ELAS crime. According to the KKE some of their officers later were proven to be collaborators with the Germans. According to the officers themselves they were forced to act, after the ELAS attacks against all other resistance organizations. In several cases former officers of the Greek army were forced at gun-point to join ELAS although they preferred to join the anti-communist partisan groups or the forces of the government in the Middle East. Top



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