Memories of the Occupation in Greece

Consequences

The destroyed Papadia railway bridge, 1941. Private Collection George Chandrinos

The destroyed Papadia railway bridge, 1941. Private Collection George Chandrinos

The women of Kalavrita, mourning for their relatives two years after the tragic events at the first memorial service, 1945. Municipal Museum for the Holocaust of Kalavrita

The women of Kalavrita, mourning for their relatives two years after the tragic events at the first memorial service, 1945. Municipal Museum for the Holocaust of Kalavrita

The Dekemvriana (“December events”) began in Athens on December 3rd, 1944 when the police opened fire on unarmed EAM demonstrators in Syntagma Square in central Athens, a deliberate provocation. Street fighting took place between demonstrators supporting the communist EAM party and its ELAS military wing against government forces backed by the British. The clashes were limited to Athens, and the rest of the country remained relatively tranquil.

After the end of the war, a bloody civil war followed (1946–1949) between the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and the royalist government, a coalition of center and right-wing parties restored by plebiscite in 1946. Britain and the USA supported Greece’s monarchical government. The Civil War had lasting and dramatic consequences for the country in general and the economy in particular. The effect of the Civil War also influenced and distorted the official memory of the Occupation: for both the Occupation and the Civil War, the communists were declared the main enemy and traitors to the nation and society. The resistance of the EAM was reduced to its negative aspects, which makes it easier to justify the ex-collaborators and their re-integration into the victorious national anthem. The former Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany did not hesitate to speak about “communist bandits, and the conservative Athenian governments used the same terminology. Thus the representation of the Occupation in Greek memory remains inseparable from the traumatic experiences of the Civil War.