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One of the children suffering from the Civil War



Greek Civil War
Civil War
1946 -1949

Fighting resumed in March 1946 when a gang of 30 ex-ELAS members, most of whom were persecuted, attacked a police station in the village of Litohoro. Armed gangs of ELAS veterans infiltrated into Greece through the mountainous regions near the Yugoslav Markos Vafiadis, known as General Markos, commander of the Democratic Army of Greeceand Albanian borders. They now were organized as the Democratic Army of Greece (Dimokratikos Stratos Elladas, DSE) under the command of the ELAS veteran Markos Vafiadis (known as General Markos), who operated from a base in Yugoslavia and who was sent by the KKE to organize already existing troops.

By late 1946 DSE could deploy about 10.000 partisans in various areas of Greece, mainly in the northern mountains. According to the DSE, its fighters, "resisted the reign of terror that the right-wing gangs conducted all over Greece".

The Greek Army numbered about 90.000 men and gradually was being put on a more professional basis. The task of re-equipping and training the army had been carried out by its Western Allies but by early 1947 Britain, which had spent 85 million pounds in Greece since 1944, no longer could afford this burden. President Truman announced that the United States would step in to support the government of Greece against communist pressure. This was the start of a long and troubled relationship between Greece and the United States. For several decades the American Ambassador advised the King about important issues such as the appointment of the Prime Minister. Top

Camp at Domokos in 1949. Many makeshift camps were set up during that period by inhabitants of the massifs of Central and North Greece, who were forced to abandon their homes because of the Civil War - Tolis collectionThrough 1947 the scale of fighting increased. DSE launched large-scale attacks on towns across northern Epirus, Thessaly and Macedonia, provoking the army into massive counter-offensives, which then encountered no opposition as the DSE pulled back into the mountains and into its safe havens over the northern borders. Army morale remained low and it would be some time before the support of the United States became apparent.

In September 1947, the KKE’s leadership decided to move from guerrilla tactics to full-scale conventional war despite the opposition of Vafiadis. In December the KKE announced the formation of a Provisional Democratic Government with Vafiadis as Prime Minister. This led the Athens government to finally ban the KKE.

The new strategy led the DSE into costly attempts to seize a major town to be the seat of its government. In December 1947 1.200 DSE men were killed at a battle around Konitsa. This strategy forced the government to increase the size of the army. Controlling the main cities, the government cracked down on KKE members and sympathizers, many of whom were imprisoned on the island of Makronisos.

The island of Makronisos from the airDespite setbacks such as the fighting at Konitsa, the DSE reached the height of its power in 1948, extending its operations to the Peloponessos and even to Attica, within 20 km of Athens. It had at least 20.000 fighters and a network of sympathizers and informants in every village and suburb. It has been estimated that out of DSE's 20.000 fighters, 14.000 were of Slavic Macedonian origin.

Western Allied funds, advisers and equipment were flooding into the country and, under Western Allied guidance, a series of major offensives were launched in the mountains of central Greece. Although these offensives did not achieve all their objectives, they inflicted some serious defeats on the DSE. Top



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