Memories of the Occupation in Greece

Collaboration

Members of the Security Battalions in the Goudi Barracks, August 1944. Private collection Iassonas Chandrinos

Members of the Security Battalions in the Goudi Barracks, August 1944. Private collection Iassonas Chandrinos

The formation of collaborationist governments and the stimulation of political and social groups to this direction was one of the basic conceptions of the German occupation policy in all occupied countries. Although the framework of this policy was always set by the occupiers, it was shaped by persons willing to pursue their own interests through the Collaboration, either official or unofficial. 

In Greece, three collaborationist governments were formed during the Occupation. On April 30, 1941, the General Georgios Tsolakoglou, who as an army corps commander had signed the armistice with the Wehrmacht a few days earlier, formed the first government in the occupied country. He was followed by the Proefessor of Gynaecology of the University of Athens, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos, an avid pro-German on December 2, 1942. The third scheme was shaped in April 1943 by Ioannis Rallis, the only career politician to become prime minister under the occupying forces. His term in office was marked by the rise of armed collaboration and particularly the formation of the Evzone or Security Batallions, a state-fostered military force that would fight the leftist EAM/ELAS in order to save the political and social order, as Rallis himself believed and even set as a precondition to the Germans in order to accept the position. 

The Germans were keen on accepting such a proposal, because the participation of Greek "nationalists" in the fight against the leftist Resistance would not only "spare valuable German blood" but would also be a serious “political measure in the course of the fight against communism, because the anti-communist part of the Greek population must be put completely under pressure, so that it is clearly defined and driven into open hostility to the communist part”, as the commander of the Wehrmacht in the Balkans. This propaganda deepened the political division among the Greeks. By the end of 1943, the Security Batallions would participate in raids and sweep operations against EAM/ELAS in Athens and elsewhere, made arrests and executed hostages in their own initiative. The gradual consolidation of an anticommunist puppet state fueled by this escalation of violence was supported by various politicians, personalities, high-rank officials and career army officers.

Security Batallions were not the only military group in occupied Greece. In Macedonia, the infamous organisation "Greek National Army (EES) by the colonel Georgios Poulos operated under the command of the SS and cooperated with other paramilitary formations, such as the groups of Vichos and Dangoulas and the Jagdkommando Schubert, who commited the atrocities in Giannitsa and Chortiatis in September 1944. Pillaging and looting was in the daily order. According to the historical research, no less than 20.000 Greeks took up arms to support the occupation forces. Greece is a striking exception to the european rule of collaborators being persecuted after the War. Because of the anticommunist turn of the political order during the Civil War and long afterwards, armed collaborators -with a very few exceptions-not only avoided postwar justice but were also acknowledged as pure nationalists who had fought for a just cause.