According to whom you ask, American intervention in the Greek civil war either led to the Truman Doctrine or was a result of it. Either way, American presidents were using the success of the Greek war to justify campaigns in Korea and Vietnam over the coming decades.

The Greek civil war was fought between the years 1944 and 1949 - the defender of their rule was an American and Great Britain backed government, and the agressor was Greek communist revolutionaries. The militant arm of the Greek Communist National Liberation Front (EAM), the People's National Army of Liberation (ELAS) had been heavily involved in the Greek resistance against Nazi Germany, and so when the Nazis withdrew in 1944 the EAM was allowed to become part of the former government, which Great Britain installed back in power.

The more radical elements of the ELAS would not agree with the British-sponsored government - after all, these people payed ideological homage to Josef Stalin (a fact that would eventually be their undoing). Also, Britain wanted to disarm the ELAS now the war was drawing to a close - the Communists opposed this move, and they declared a general strike in Athens on December 2, 1944. The day after armed members of the ELAS where involved with combat with the Athens police.

Eventually, the ELAS agreed to withdraw from Athens and turn in their weapons in fourteen days. However, the conflict would not draw to an end here, as foreign powers once against chose to intervene in Greek politics: the governments of Albania and Yugoslavia, who supported the ELAS-EAM due to territorial conflicts with Greece, invited the rebels to withdraw to the mountains near their borders to support them.

Great Britain and the United States gave military and financial aid to Greece - Britain sent 40,000 troops, and Congress permitted a $400 million joint aid package for Greece and Turkey. Between 20,000 and 30,000 guerrillas began to fight their way south towards Athens. Things looked bleak.

However, the Western forces eventually won out, and the final blow was struck to the Communists when Yugoslavia withdrew its support for them due to ideological differences - the Communist world was split into supporters of Josef Stalin and Josip Broz Tito, the Yugoslavian leader. The Greek rebels picked the wrong side. They announced their surrender on October 16, 1949 - the United States' first major postwar operation had been a success.

EAM translates as 'National Liberation Front'.

This was the major resistance movement against Nazi occupation in Greece. Very popular among the people. NOT communist in orientation. Its orientation was National, against the foreign forces who occupied Greece.

Unfortunately, its leadership was eventually overrun by communists with their ruthlesness and future promises, who took orders from Stalin himself, and Moscow. This was tragic.

There are many secrets and tragedies hidden well beneath the Greek Civil War.

Let us reveal some of them.

Great Britain & the Americans had already divided the devastated Europe with Stalin. The two superpowers were the true winners of the war. Not the people of Europe. Greece was given to the 'West'. Had been a pawn of Great Britain till then, from it's independence about a century ago. It would in a short time be handed from the British to the Americans. Here is a little secret: The British/Americans informed the pro-western Greek government of the post-WW2 Greece, that they would provide support, financially, militarily, politically. But, there is a condition, in regard to the population. Yes, Stalin had handed over Greece, for other countries on the dealing table. But now, there shouldn't be more than 10% communists in the Greek population. How would this wish of the 'West' be met? Well, one simple way was to find a way to kill the irritating percentages.

Government western-loyal and far right wing groups were harsh on communists they caught after the end of the war. Sometimes they paid for crimes they had commited as communist guerillas during the occupation, sometimes simply for their beliefs. But the real reason for the beginning of the Civil War was the traitorous Communist leadership, who despite knowing that Stalin had abandonded them, refused to accept not ruling the country after the war. Of course, the British and Americans probably wanted things that way too, because of the 10%. That is why there are so many stories of them providing weapons and resources to both sides. And, neighboring, now communist countries, chasing after the Panslavic dream of reaching the Aegean (a passage to the Meditteranean) were struggling to lay their hands on the northern Greek province of Makedonia. All these, created a very bad situation at the time. And when the war was over all over Europe, in Greece, a long, bloody, hate-filled civil war was just starting. Its effect has been tremendous in the political and social life of the country for the next 50 years. Maybe after another 50, things will start to be forgoten. Unfortunately, forgeting, means forgeting the horrors too. Which makes it possible for them to happen again, so that history will fulfill the bitter saying and "repeat itself". When history does not teach us, it is bound to repeat itself.

And another dirty little secret: the Greek mountains, hiding thousands of communist guerillas, were the first test site for the newly discovered Napalm Bombs of the Americans. These, after passing the test of burning alive unknown numbers of Greeks would later be used very extensively during the Vietnam and other wars..

*Follow up:

I happened to pick a newspaper today (31/08/09) which had several pieces about the Civil War, since this year is 60 years after the official ending of the War.

A professor of history had gathered some interesting statistics, not known before, since there has been continuous research for all these years, through documents, diaries and every medium that would help in the writing of history of these times. Let us not forget that a devastated, bankrupt, divided Greece, after the Axis occupation, was not in the best possible position to record what was happening in the country.

Here are the latest results of historical research. With the government of Athens side (pro-western, 'democratic', right wing, center-right wing) fought about 300.000 armed men. Soldiers, National Guard, Policemen, but also Militias and Armed villagers. That side had more than 20.000 dead, in 3 years of conflict. Not counting the wounded, disabled, etc.
In the other side, the Guerilla army had about 100.000 armed men and women, they were either voluntarily or forcibly recruited. From these, around 20-25.000 are thought to have been killed. Some parts of their forces, totaly wiped out.

To these numbers we should add, the non-combatants. 6.000 officialy executed by the State and 3.000 more executed by paramilitary groups working with the State forces. Another 3.000 executed by the Guerilla army forces.

700.000 farmers and villagers where forcibly evicted from their places of residence during the war. The government didn't want existing populations where the Guerillas went, so that there would be no chance of support. 300.000 domestic refugees from rural to urban areas. Tens of thousands of children in state institutions (orphans or with parents in the Guerilla army). More that 100.000 kept in prisons, in reality concentration camps for communists, built in far away islands. More than 50.000 forcibly leaving Greece as political refugees, of them 20.000 were children. Hundreds of villages burnt to the ground for ever (were not rebuilt).

Some statistics.

Another addition i would like to make, follows:

I mentioned that the responsibility for the breaking of the Civil War goes to the Communist Leadership of the time. Zahariadis, the person who was in charge, had met with Stalin himself and the Soviet leadership, prior to the first elections in Greece, after WW2. The Soviets advised him to have the Communist Party "take part" in the democratic elections. But no, he returned and called for a general non-voting stance for all communists. And the day before the elections, armed communist forces delivered the first strike on two mountainous villages, the strike that marked the official beginning of the generalised armed conflict. The tragic irony? He was later to be murdered by the Soviets in '73. He, appointed directly by Stalin, his mentor, a Major with KGB according to some sources, he who had followed so blindly the commands of the Leninist mechanism, leading to exile, torture and death, countless people along his way, following the commands of this mechanism, was murdered too, by the KGB. Up to this day, the Russian top secret files related to this death are not given to publicity, because it would "hurt the Russian national interests" as a Russian official stated. During conflicts he had, in the 50's, with the meta-stalinist soviet leadership, he was accused among others as an "agent of the imperialists"! He, who was an agent of the Soviets! He was finally exiled to Sibiria where he "commited suicide" according to the meta-stalinist regime, killed because of his devotion to his mentor, Stalin, from the regime, according to others.

At the time of the first democratic elections after the end of the occupation in Greece, the communists would get at least 30%. Along with other leftists, it was very probable that they would win the elections. I mentioned in the first part, that the Angloamericans, received Greece during the bargain with Stalin. But demanded from the pro-western appointed government that there will be no more than 10% communists. Seems like they did a good planing. Why do i say that?

After 1974, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was accepted in Parliament as a legal party, with a spirit of general immunity for the past prevailing in the political scene. Results from all elections since then, in percentages, for KKE:

1974 9.47
1977 9.36
1981 10.93
1985 9.89
1989 June 13.1
1989 November 11
1990 10.3
1993 4.53
1996 5.61
2000 5.52
2004 5.9
2007 8.15

Pretty close, huh? What a coincidence!

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