Greece History During World Wars


In 1914 the First World War broke out. Meanwhile, George I was succeeded (1913) by his son Constantine: pro-German (he was brother-in-law of the Kaiser), he clashed with Venizèlos who advocated Greece’s entry into the war against the Central Empires. The Venizèlos government resigned, but, when the Turks and Bulgarians invaded eastern Macedonia (1916), a military revolt broke out in Thessaloniki, supported by the forces of the Entente: a provisional government was formed (whose presidency was assumed by Venizèlos himself), who declared war on the Central Empires. On November 18, 1916, huge forces of the Entente occupied Piraeus and, after various events, King Constantine and the heir to the throne Georgethey left Greece (May 19, 1917), while their second son Alexander ascended the throne. Shortly after, Venizèlos, having left Thessaloniki, became prime minister of the new government which, despite the war effort, immediately promoted a school reform, within the framework of the work undertaken by the liberals in 1911. After the defeat of the Central Powers, Greece landed a contingent in Smyrna: with the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) obtained Eastern Thrace (up to 30 km from Istanbul) and the protectorate of Smyrna. After the signing of the treaty (which Turkey did not ratify) Venizèlos was, however, the sign of an attack and was defeated in the November elections. Meanwhile, Alexander died, a popular referendum had decreed the return of Constantine who was not accepted by the former allies; France broke all ties with Greece, favoring Turkey in the Asia Minor campaign, which ended with a reversal of the Greek army (1922). The defeat was followed by a military revolt, which among other things obtained the abdication of Constantine in favor of his son Giorgio. The Peace of Lausanne (1923), which provided for the evacuation of Thrace to the W of the Ebro by the Turkish army and the exchange of populations, caused a real economic upheaval in Greece. The country (approx. 6 million residents) found itself having to accommodate 1.5 million refugees. Another troubled period followed, characterized by a military counter-revolution (October 1923) led by I. Metaxàs (which failed and led to the abdication of George II, accused of having favored it), the proclamation of the Republic (25 March 1924) and the return of Venizèlos, attracted by impressive street demonstrations. On 25 June 1925, however, General Panalos established a military dictatorship with a coup, which was in turn overthrown by a coup by General Kondilis. (August 22, 1926). He called new elections and handed over power to a coalition government. The elections of 1928 gave an absolute majority to the Liberal Party, again headed by Venizèlos, which ruled until 1932, in a period made difficult by the collapse of the Wall Street Stock Exchange and the economic crisis that followed throughout the Western world. The elections of 1933 brought the monarchists back to power and they purged the Venetian elements. A period of instability followed, characterized among other things by a second attack in Venizèlos, by elements linked to the government. In 1935 a coup attempt organized by the republican general N. Plastiras he was thwarted by Kondilis who brought George II back to Greece. After the elections of 1936 which gave an uncertain result (143 seats for the monarchists, 142 for the republicans, 15 for the communists), the almost simultaneous death of Kondilis, Venizèlos and Tsaldaris offered the king the right to entrust the government to Metaxàs, who on 4 August 1936, under the pretext of a general strike, proclaimed the dictatorship. The Constitution was abolished, Parliament was dissolved, parties banned, trade unions reduced to impotence: borders and prisons were filled with opponents of the regime, while the press was gagged and the organization of youth on the Nazi-Fascist model was undertaken.


According to petsinclude, the contradictions of the regime exploded at the outbreak of the Second World War: Greece first tried to remain neutral, balancing the pro-Nazi sentiments of Metaxàs and the king’s ties with Great Britain. The delays of a grotesque situation, characterized by the provocations of Italy and the interference of Germany, were broken on October 28, 1940 by the heavy ultimatum of Italy which required the occupation of some bases. Thus the war broke out on the Albanian front, sustained by such popular enthusiasm and by such spontaneous mobilization that, despite the inadequacy of armaments, the difficulties of supplies and the defeatism of the General Staff, the Greek army not only contained the advance. Italian, but he refuted it and moved the front far beyond the border, as far as Corizza. The aid obtained by Great Britain from the king, that when Metaxàs died he had practically taken over the government, were insufficient. The reverses of the Italian army, on the other hand, had pushed Hitler intervened and on 9 April 1941 the German troops, despite the strenuous resistance of the defenders, entered Thessaloniki. In addition to the overwhelming numerical and technical superiority, the German advance was favored by the climate that reigned among the upper cadres of the army: on April 17 two generals at the front ordered the government to ask for surrender, appointing General Tsolàkoglu as Chief of Staff in place of A. Papàgos. The surrender was signed and the king with the court left Greece, moving first to Crete and then to Africa. On April 28, the German troops entered Athens: Greece was divided into three occupation zones (German, Italian and Bulgarian) and on May 20 the attack on Crete also began, defended by a few British and Greek forces supported by the population. With the fall of Greece and Crete, spontaneous resistance also began: many political prisoners escaped and went underground (the others were handed over to the Nazis). The occupiers favored the establishment of a puppet government, chaired by Tsolàkoglu, charged with “maintaining public order”.

Greece Recent History 2

About the author