The Greek Civil War, 1946–1949

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The years 1940–1949 were ones of continuous horror for the Greek people.

When the Second World War (WWII) ended in 1945 and the rest of Europe was beginning to rebuild itself, Greece entered into a second war, more vicious than that fought against the Axis powers. If eight percent of the population of seven million had died or been killed during WWII, the Greek civil war (GCW) brought that figure up to ten percent.

After the First World War, Greece did not enjoy political stability, enduring repeated coups d’état and dozens of governments. Although Greek communists had been a serious threat to all Greece’s frequently changing governments, the struggle between monarchists and republicans was also bitter. Despite pro-German sympathies the Greek government remained neutral at the outset of World War II. When the country was invaded by Italy, Greece became an Allied nation in 1940. Although the Italian invasion was repulsed, by May 1941 when German troops swept through the Balkans, Greece was also occupied and partitioned among Italian, German, and Bulgarian forces. The occupation was brutal: the people were crushed and the land and whatever grew or was built on it decimated. The period of Greek civil strife is commonly divided into three “rounds”. The first one began in 1943, long before WWII was over. At that point, the communist-supported Greek resistance movement that fought the occupation—the National Liberation Front (EAM)—and its guerilla units—the National People’s Liberation Army (ELAS)—found themselves fighting at times against their rival in the resistance, the National Republican Greek League (EDES).

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