Hellenic State

Greece's involvement in the Second World War is a tale of heroism, hardship, and political intrigue, marked by a brutal occupation and a complex struggle for power.

The invasion of Greece by Axis forces in 1941 led to the establishment of the Hellenic State, a puppet government that faced resistance from within and from the broader Greek populace.

This page delves into the multifaceted history of the Hellenic State, exploring its origins, political dynamics, military involvement, societal impact, and enduring legacy.

Greece’s involvement in the war began with the Italian invasion in October 1940. The nation’s spirited defense and subsequent counter-offensive against Italian forces in Albania marked one of the few early Allied successes. However, this victory was short-lived as Nazi Germany intervened in April 1941, leading to a brutal occupation that would last until the war's end. The German invasion brought profound suffering, including widespread famine, brutal reprisals, and the decimation of the Jewish community.


Despite the hardships, the Greek resistance movement emerged as a significant force, engaging in guerrilla warfare and establishing a complex network of partisan groups. These groups not only fought against the Axis powers but also laid the groundwork for the Greek Civil War that erupted in the war’s aftermath. The civil conflict further complicated Greece’s post-war recovery and influenced the nation’s political landscape for decades.


This essay will delve into the pre-war political and economic conditions in Greece, the Italian and German invasions, the experiences of the Greek people under occupation, and the multifaceted resistance efforts. It will also examine the role of the Greek government-in-exile, the impact on minority groups, the economic policies enacted during the war, and the significant military engagements that occurred on Greek soil. Finally, it will discuss the liberation of Greece, the immediate post-war repercussions, and the long-term impacts of the Second World War on the Hellenic Republic.


## 2. Pre-War Greece: Political and Economic Context


In the years leading up to the Second World War, Greece was a nation grappling with political instability and economic challenges. The interwar period saw frequent changes in government, with a series of coups and counter-coups reflecting deep-seated divisions within Greek society. The 1930s, in particular, were marked by significant turmoil.


The political landscape was dominated by the rivalry between the liberal Venizelists, led by Eleftherios Venizelos, and the royalists who supported the return of the monarchy. This division culminated in the establishment of the 4th of August Regime in 1936, when General Ioannis Metaxas assumed power through a coup d'état with the support of King George II. Metaxas' regime was authoritarian, characterized by the suppression of political dissent, censorship, and the establishment of a secret police force. Despite these repressive measures, Metaxas was widely regarded as a stabilizing force who sought to modernize the Greek military and infrastructure.


Economically, Greece was recovering from the global repercussions of the Great Depression. The country faced significant economic challenges, including high unemployment, widespread poverty, and a reliance on agriculture. Metaxas implemented a series of economic policies aimed at revitalizing the economy, such as public works programs and efforts to achieve greater self-sufficiency. These measures had some success, but Greece remained economically vulnerable on the eve of the Second World War.


The social fabric of pre-war Greece was also marked by regional disparities and a relatively weak industrial base. Urban centers like Athens and Thessaloniki were more developed, while rural areas lagged behind. The agrarian economy was particularly susceptible to fluctuations in international markets, and the standard of living for many Greeks was low. Education and healthcare systems were underdeveloped, contributing to widespread social inequality.


As Europe edged closer to war, Greece sought to maintain a position of neutrality, wary of the rising tensions between the Axis and Allied powers. However, its strategic location in the Balkans made it a potential target for both sides. Greece's attempts at neutrality were ultimately unsuccessful, and the nation was drawn into the conflict following the Italian invasion in 1940. The pre-war political and economic conditions in Greece set the stage for the profound challenges the nation would face during the Second World War, shaping its responses and resilience in the face of occupation and conflict.


## 3. Italian Invasion and Greek Counter-Offensive


The Italian invasion of Greece on October 28, 1940, marked the beginning of Greece's direct involvement in the Second World War. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sought to expand his influence in the Balkans and believed that a swift victory over Greece would be easily achieved. However, the campaign did not unfold as planned.


The Italian forces, numbering around 85,000 troops, faced a determined and well-prepared Greek defense. Under the leadership of General Alexander Papagos, the Greek army capitalized on the rugged terrain of Epirus and the Pindus Mountains to launch effective defensive operations. The Greek forces, although numerically inferior, demonstrated exceptional bravery and tactical acumen, utilizing guerrilla tactics and leveraging their knowledge of the local terrain.


The Greek counter-offensive, launched in November 1940, took the Italians by surprise. Greek troops managed to push the invaders back into Albania, capturing significant territory. This unexpected reversal of fortunes was a major blow to Mussolini's ambitions and a significant morale boost for the Allies. The Greek army's success against the Italians was one of the first major victories for the Allied forces in the Second World War, demonstrating that the Axis powers could be resisted.


The Greek victory had profound implications. It delayed the German invasion of the Soviet Union, as Hitler was compelled to divert resources to assist his beleaguered Italian ally. Moreover, the successful Greek defense earned Greece international admiration and support, with British forces arriving to provide assistance and bolster Greek defenses.


Despite these achievements, the Greek military effort was not without its challenges. The harsh winter conditions in the mountains took a heavy toll on Greek soldiers, and supply lines were stretched thin. The Greek economy, already weakened by years of instability, struggled to support the prolonged military campaign. Nonetheless, the Greek people showed remarkable resilience and unity in the face of adversity.


The Italian invasion and subsequent Greek counter-offensive were crucial in shaping the early phase of Greece's involvement in the Second World War. The determination and courage displayed by the Greek forces not only thwarted Italian ambitions but also demonstrated the potential for successful resistance against Axis aggression. This period of the war highlighted the strategic importance of Greece and set the stage for the subsequent German invasion and occupation, which would bring even greater challenges and hardships to the Greek people.


## 4. German Invasion and Occupation


The German invasion of Greece, codenamed Operation Marita, began on April 6, 1941. This invasion was precipitated by the failure of Italian forces to conquer Greece and the need for Nazi Germany to secure its southern flank before launching Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. The Germans, employing their Blitzkrieg tactics, quickly overwhelmed Greek and British Commonwealth forces.


The main thrust of the German attack came through Bulgaria, a German ally, bypassing the strong Greek defenses along the Metaxas Line. The rapid advance of the German Wehrmacht, coupled with superior air power and mechanized units, led to the swift fall of key Greek positions. By April 27, 1941, Athens had fallen, and Greece was under German occupation.


The occupation of Greece was divided among the Axis powers, with Germany controlling the most strategically important regions, including Athens and Thessaloniki, while Italy administered most of the mainland and the western islands. Bulgaria annexed parts of northern Greece. The tripartite occupation imposed severe hardships on the Greek population, exacerbating pre-existing economic difficulties and leading to widespread suffering.


One of the most devastating aspects of the occupation was the famine that struck Greece during the winter of 1941-1942. The combination of requisitioning of food supplies by the occupiers, disruption of agricultural production, and an Allied blockade led to acute food shortages. The famine resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 Greeks, particularly affecting urban areas where access to food was severely restricted.


The German occupation was characterized by brutal reprisals against the civilian population in response to resistance activities. Mass executions, village burnings, and other atrocities were committed, creating an atmosphere of terror. The Jewish community in Greece, particularly in Thessaloniki, faced systematic persecution and deportation to concentration camps. The Holocaust had a profound and tragic impact on Greece’s Jewish population, decimating a community that had existed for centuries.


The occupation also saw the implementation of economic policies aimed at exploiting Greece's resources for the German war effort. These policies included the confiscation of agricultural produce, raw materials, and industrial output, further impoverishing the Greek economy. Hyperinflation became rampant, and the Greek drachma lost much of its value, plunging the population into deeper poverty.


Despite the harsh conditions, resistance to the occupiers began to take shape. Various groups, from communists to royalists, started organizing guerrilla warfare against the Axis forces. This resistance movement would grow in strength and complexity, playing a crucial role in both the struggle against the occupiers and the post-war political landscape of Greece.


The German invasion and occupation marked one of the darkest periods in Greek history. The strategic and brutal nature of the occupation had long-lasting effects on the country's demographic, economic, and social fabric. The suffering endured by the Greek people during these years underscores the profound impact of the Second World War on Greece, shaping the nation's historical narrative and collective memory.


## 5. The Role of the Greek Government-in-Exile


Following the German invasion and the subsequent occupation of Greece, the legitimate Greek government was forced to flee. King George II and his ministers first relocated to Crete and then to Egypt, eventually establishing a government-in-exile in London. This government-in-exile played a crucial role in maintaining Greek sovereignty and coordinating efforts to resist Axis


 occupation from abroad.


The Greek government-in-exile was initially formed in Cairo, Egypt, with the support of the British, who saw Greece as a key ally in the Mediterranean. From Cairo, the government-in-exile worked to maintain diplomatic relations with the Allies and to represent Greek interests on the international stage. King George II, a central figure in the government, sought to rally support for the Greek cause and to ensure that Greece would be restored to its rightful place among the free nations of Europe after the war.


One of the primary tasks of the government-in-exile was to coordinate with the Allied powers to support resistance activities within occupied Greece. This involved facilitating the flow of arms, supplies, and intelligence to the various Greek resistance groups operating in the mountains and rural areas. The government-in-exile also worked to unify the disparate resistance factions under a common cause, although this proved to be a challenging task given the ideological differences among the groups.


The Greek government-in-exile established close ties with the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), which played a significant role in organizing and supporting resistance operations in Greece. These efforts included sabotage missions, the dissemination of propaganda, and the coordination of guerrilla warfare tactics. The SOE's collaboration with the government-in-exile was instrumental in keeping the spirit of resistance alive within Greece and disrupting Axis operations.


The government-in-exile also played a crucial role in addressing the humanitarian crisis caused by the occupation. It worked with international organizations to provide relief to the suffering Greek population, particularly during the devastating famine of 1941-1942. Efforts were made to secure food shipments and medical supplies, although the Allied blockade and the Axis control of transportation routes severely hampered these initiatives.


Despite its efforts, the government-in-exile faced significant challenges and criticism. The distance from occupied Greece limited its ability to directly influence events on the ground, and there were frequent disagreements among its members about the best course of action. Additionally, the government struggled to gain widespread recognition and legitimacy, both internationally and among the Greek resistance groups, some of which had differing visions for Greece's future.


The presence of the government-in-exile also highlighted the broader geopolitical considerations of the war. Greece's strategic position in the Mediterranean meant that its fate was closely linked to the interests of the major Allied powers, particularly Britain and the United States. The interactions between the government-in-exile and these powers reflected the complex interplay of military strategy, diplomatic maneuvering, and the quest for national liberation.


In conclusion, the Greek government-in-exile played a vital role in maintaining the continuity of the Greek state and in supporting the resistance against Axis occupation. Despite its limitations and the challenges it faced, the government-in-exile's efforts were crucial in ensuring that Greece remained a part of the Allied war effort and in laying the groundwork for the country's post-war reconstruction and recovery.


## 6. Life Under Axis Occupation


Life under Axis occupation in Greece was marked by extreme hardship, widespread suffering, and profound social dislocation. The occupation, which lasted from 1941 to 1944, brought about severe economic distress, food shortages, brutal reprisals, and systematic persecution, particularly against the Jewish community.


One of the most immediate and devastating impacts of the occupation was the widespread famine that struck Greece during the winter of 1941-1942. The combination of the Allied naval blockade, which cut off food imports, and the requisitioning of foodstuffs by the occupying forces led to a catastrophic food crisis. Urban centers, especially Athens, were hit hardest, with thousands dying from starvation. The famine not only caused immense suffering but also weakened the population, making them more vulnerable to disease and further hardship.


The occupation forces imposed harsh economic policies designed to extract maximum resources for the Axis war effort. Agricultural produce, industrial output, and raw materials were confiscated, leading to severe shortages and economic collapse. Hyperinflation devastated the Greek economy, rendering the local currency virtually worthless and plunging the population into deeper poverty. Black markets emerged as people struggled to obtain basic necessities, and bartering became common.


Repression and brutality were hallmarks of the occupation. The German, Italian, and Bulgarian forces employed terror tactics to suppress resistance and maintain control. Mass executions, village burnings, and other atrocities were frequent responses to guerrilla activities. These reprisals created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, as entire communities were targeted in retaliation for acts of resistance.


The Jewish community in Greece, particularly in Thessaloniki, faced systematic persecution under the German occupation. The Nazis implemented their Final Solution, deporting tens of thousands of Greek Jews to concentration and extermination camps. The Jewish population of Thessaloniki, which had been a vibrant and integral part of the city’s social fabric, was virtually annihilated. This tragic chapter left a lasting scar on Greek society and underscored the brutal nature of the occupation.


Despite the dire conditions, the Greek population demonstrated remarkable resilience and solidarity. Acts of resistance ranged from armed guerrilla warfare to acts of civil disobedience and sabotage. The resistance movement, although initially fragmented, grew in strength and organization over time. Various groups, including the communist-led National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military wing, the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), played significant roles in opposing the occupiers. Other groups, such as the royalist National Republican Greek League (EDES), also contributed to the resistance efforts.


The occupation also saw the emergence of a strong sense of national unity and identity. The shared suffering and collective struggle against the occupiers fostered a sense of solidarity among Greeks from different backgrounds and political affiliations. This unity, however, was fragile and would later be tested by the ideological divisions that emerged during the resistance and the subsequent civil war.


Cultural and intellectual life in occupied Greece was not entirely stifled, as individuals and groups found ways to maintain and express their cultural identity. Underground newspapers, clandestine schools, and secret meetings kept the spirit of resistance alive and provided a means for disseminating information and sustaining morale.


In conclusion, life under Axis occupation in Greece was characterized by extreme deprivation, brutal repression, and profound suffering. The Greek population endured unimaginable hardships, yet their resilience and determination to resist played a crucial role in the broader struggle against Axis tyranny. The experiences of occupation left a lasting impact on Greek society, shaping the nation’s collective memory and influencing its post-war development.


## 7. The Role of Propaganda and Media


Propaganda and media played significant roles in shaping public opinion and maintaining control during the Axis occupation of Greece. Both the occupiers and the resistance movements used various forms of media to influence the population, rally support, and demoralize their opponents.


The Axis powers, particularly the Germans and Italians, utilized propaganda to legitimize their occupation and suppress dissent. They took control of Greek radio stations, newspapers, and other media outlets, disseminating messages that portrayed the occupiers as liberators who were protecting Greece from British imperialism and communist subversion. This propaganda aimed to undermine the resistance and create divisions among the Greek population.


German propaganda emphasized themes of order, stability, and cooperation with the Axis powers. It often depicted the resistance fighters as terrorists and bandits, responsible for the suffering of the Greek people. Posters, leaflets, and radio broadcasts were used to spread these messages, attempting to demoralize the population and dissuade them from supporting the resistance.


Italian propaganda, on the other hand, sought to promote a sense of Mediterranean solidarity and cultural affinity between Italians and Greeks. Mussolini’s regime tried to portray the Italian occupation as a benevolent and civilizing mission, though this narrative found little traction among the Greek populace, who viewed the Italians as invaders and oppressors.


In response, the Greek resistance developed its own sophisticated propaganda networks. The National Liberation Front (EAM) and other resistance groups produced underground newspapers, pamphlets, and leaflets to counter the Axis narratives. These publications provided news about the resistance, exposed the atrocities committed by the occupiers, and fostered a sense of unity and purpose among the Greek people.


The resistance media played a crucial role in sustaining morale and mobilizing support. Underground newspapers, such as "Eleftheri Ellada" (Free Greece) and "Neos Kosmos" (New World), circulated widely despite the risks involved in their production and distribution. These publications were vital in keeping the population informed about the progress of the resistance and in countering the misinformation spread by the occupiers.


Radio also became an important tool for the resistance. The BBC’s Greek service broadcast messages of support and information from the Greek government-in-exile and the Allies, which were eagerly listened to by many Greeks. These broadcasts helped to maintain a connection between the occupied Greek population and the broader Allied war effort, providing hope and encouragement.


Cultural propaganda was another key aspect of the resistance's efforts. Songs, poems, and plays were used to boost morale and express defiance against the occupiers. These cultural forms of resistance helped to preserve Greek identity and solidarity during the dark years of occupation.


The role of propaganda and media in occupied Greece was not limited to the wartime period. The narratives and ideologies promoted during the occupation had lasting impacts on Greek society and politics. The experiences of occupation and resistance shaped post-war political discourse and contributed to the polarization that would lead to the Greek Civil War.


In conclusion, propaganda and media were powerful tools used by both the Axis occupiers and the Greek resistance during the Second World War. The battle for hearts and minds was a crucial aspect of the broader conflict, influencing public opinion, sustaining morale, and shaping the course of the resistance. The legacy of this wartime propaganda would continue to influence Greek society long after the end of the occupation.


## 8. Resistance Movements and Partisan Warfare


The resistance movements and partisan warfare in Greece during the Second World War played a pivotal role in the struggle against Axis occupation. These movements were characterized by their diversity, ranging from communist and leftist groups to royalist and nationalist factions, each contributing to the fight against the occupiers in different ways.




 National Liberation Front (EAM) emerged as the most significant resistance organization. Founded in 1941 by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) along with other leftist and progressive groups, EAM aimed to liberate Greece from Axis control and to establish a new political order based on socialist principles. EAM's military wing, the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), became the largest and most effective resistance force in Greece. Under the leadership of Aris Velouchiotis, ELAS engaged in guerrilla warfare, sabotage, and ambushes against German, Italian, and Bulgarian forces.


ELAS's operations were marked by their strategic use of Greece's rugged terrain, which provided natural advantages for guerrilla tactics. The partisans conducted hit-and-run attacks, destroyed infrastructure vital to the Axis war effort, and liberated significant areas of the Greek countryside, creating "free zones" where they established local self-government and social services. ELAS also collaborated with British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents, receiving supplies and training that enhanced their operational capabilities.


Another important resistance group was the National Republican Greek League (EDES), led by Colonel Napoleon Zervas. EDES was initially formed as a republican and anti-monarchist organization, but it evolved into a significant resistance force with a more nationalist orientation. EDES operated mainly in the Epirus region and, like ELAS, engaged in guerrilla warfare and sabotage against Axis forces. However, ideological differences and rivalries between EDES and ELAS often led to tensions and conflicts, which would later escalate into outright civil war.


In addition to these major groups, numerous smaller resistance organizations operated throughout Greece. These included the Panhellenic Liberation Organization (PAO), the Sacred Band, and various regional groups that contributed to the overall resistance effort. These groups often coordinated with ELAS and EDES, despite ideological differences, to mount effective resistance against the occupiers.


The resistance movements also played a crucial role in intelligence gathering and the dissemination of information. They established extensive networks for collecting and transmitting intelligence to the Allies, which was vital for planning and executing operations. The resistance's ability to disrupt Axis communications and supply lines significantly hampered the occupiers' ability to maintain control over Greece.


The social and political impact of the resistance was profound. The experience of armed struggle against the occupiers fostered a sense of national unity and solidarity among Greeks, despite the ideological differences that existed. The resistance movements also laid the groundwork for post-war political developments, as the leaders and ideologies that emerged during the resistance period continued to influence Greek politics long after the war ended.


However, the legacy of the resistance was also marked by conflict and division. The ideological rifts between leftist and nationalist factions led to a bitter civil war that erupted immediately after the end of the occupation. The struggle for control of post-war Greece became intertwined with broader geopolitical conflicts, particularly the emerging Cold War, as the United States and the Soviet Union sought to influence the outcome of the Greek Civil War.


In conclusion, the resistance movements and partisan warfare in Greece during the Second World War were crucial in the fight against Axis occupation. The bravery and determination of the Greek partisans significantly contributed to the overall Allied war effort and left an indelible mark on Greek history. The legacy of the resistance continues to be a source of national pride and reflection, shaping the collective memory and identity of the Greek people.


## 9. The Impact on Greek Jews and Other Minority Groups


The impact of the Second World War on Greek Jews and other minority groups was devastating, with long-lasting consequences for Greece's social and cultural fabric. The Axis occupation brought systematic persecution and destruction, particularly targeting the Jewish community, which faced annihilation under the Nazi regime.


Before the war, Greece was home to a diverse and vibrant Jewish community, particularly in cities like Thessaloniki, where Jews had lived for centuries. Thessaloniki's Jewish population was one of the largest in Europe, with a rich cultural and religious life. The community included Sephardic Jews, who had settled in Greece after being expelled from Spain in the 15th century, as well as Romaniote Jews, who had been in Greece for over two thousand years.


The German occupation brought the full force of the Holocaust to Greece. The Nazis implemented their plans for the Final Solution, targeting Greek Jews for extermination. In Thessaloniki, the Jewish community was subjected to systematic deportation and murder. Between March and August 1943, nearly 50,000 Jews from Thessaloniki were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps, where the vast majority were killed. The once-thriving Jewish community of Thessaloniki was virtually wiped out, with only a few survivors remaining after the war.


In other parts of Greece, Jews faced similar fates. In Athens, the Jewish population experienced deportations starting in 1944. Despite the efforts of some Greek citizens and clergy who helped hide and protect Jews, thousands were captured and sent to their deaths. The Jewish communities in smaller towns and islands, such as Ioannina and Rhodes, also suffered severe losses.


The impact of the Holocaust on Greek Jews was not limited to those who were deported and killed. The destruction of entire communities meant the loss of cultural heritage, religious traditions, and historical continuity. Synagogues, schools, and other institutions were destroyed or fell into disrepair. The psychological trauma and displacement experienced by survivors left deep scars that affected subsequent generations.


Other minority groups in Greece also faced persecution and hardship during the occupation. The Romani (Gypsy) community, though smaller than the Jewish population, suffered under Nazi racial policies. Many Roma were deported to concentration camps, where they were subjected to forced labor, medical experiments, and extermination. The Romani community in Greece, like elsewhere in Europe, was decimated by the Holocaust.


The occupation also affected other ethnic and religious minorities, including Armenians, Slavic-speaking populations, and Muslims in Western Thrace. These groups faced varying degrees of persecution, forced labor, and displacement. The complex ethnic landscape of Greece, with its historical tensions and coexistence, was further complicated by the wartime atrocities and upheavals.


In the aftermath of the war, Greece struggled to come to terms with the destruction of its Jewish and other minority communities. Efforts were made to rebuild and commemorate the lost communities, but the impact of the Holocaust and occupation left enduring voids. The surviving Jews faced challenges in reclaiming property, rebuilding their lives, and preserving their cultural identity in a country that had been irrevocably changed by the war.


The legacy of the Second World War's impact on Greek Jews and other minorities continues to be remembered and honored in Greece. Memorials, educational programs, and historical research seek to preserve the memory of those who perished and to educate future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust. The story of Greece's minorities during the war serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating consequences of hatred, bigotry, and totalitarianism.


In conclusion, the Second World War had a profound and tragic impact on Greek Jews and other minority groups. The systematic persecution and annihilation of these communities during the Axis occupation left lasting scars on Greece's social and cultural landscape. The efforts to remember and honor the victims continue to shape Greece's collective memory and serve as a testament to the resilience and perseverance of those who survived.


## 10. Economic Policies and War Economy


The Second World War brought about profound economic disruption in Greece, transforming the country's economy into a war economy under the harsh conditions of Axis occupation. The economic policies implemented by the occupiers, coupled with the overall wartime context, led to widespread hardship, resource scarcity, and economic collapse.


When the Axis powers occupied Greece, they quickly imposed economic policies aimed at exploiting the country's resources to support their war efforts. This involved the systematic requisitioning of food, raw materials, and industrial output. Agricultural produce, including grain, olive oil, and livestock, was seized and transported to support the Axis armies. This exploitation severely disrupted local food production and distribution, contributing to the devastating famine that struck Greece in the winter of 1941-1942.


The Axis occupation authorities also imposed heavy taxation and levies on the Greek population, further straining an already fragile economy. These measures were designed to extract maximum economic benefit from Greece, without regard for the well-being of its people. The result was hyperinflation, as the Greek drachma lost much of its value. Prices for basic goods soared, and the purchasing power of ordinary Greeks plummeted, plunging many into poverty.


The occupation also led to the collapse of the Greek industrial sector. Factories and workshops were either requisitioned for the war effort or shut down due to lack of raw materials and fuel. The transportation network, including railways and ports, was heavily damaged or repurposed for military use, further hampering economic activity. Unemployment skyrocketed as businesses closed and economic activity ground to a halt.


The economic hardship was exacerbated by the destruction of infrastructure and housing during the occupation. Cities and towns suffered from bombings, battles, and deliberate destruction by the retreating Axis forces. The damage to infrastructure not only hindered economic recovery but also caused significant displacement and suffering among the civilian population.


In response to the dire economic conditions, a black market economy emerged. Bartering became a common means of exchange as the formal economy collapsed. Goods such as food, fuel, and clothing were traded illegally at exorbitant prices. The black market, while helping some survive, also led to further inequality and exploitation.


The resistance movements, particularly the National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military wing, the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), attempted to address the economic crisis in areas they controlled. They established local self-governance in liberated zones, organized agricultural production, and distributed food and resources to the population. These efforts, while limited by the broader context of occupation, provided some relief and demonstrated alternative models of economic organization.


After the liberation of Greece in 1944, the country faced the monumental task of rebuilding its shattered economy


. The immediate post-war period was marked by economic instability and continued hardship. The Greek Civil War, which erupted shortly after the end of the occupation, further complicated recovery efforts. The civil conflict drained resources, disrupted reconstruction, and deepened social and economic divisions.


International aid, particularly from the United States through the Marshall Plan, played a crucial role in Greece's post-war economic recovery. The Marshall Plan provided financial assistance for rebuilding infrastructure, revitalizing industry, and stabilizing the economy. Despite these efforts, the legacy of wartime economic policies and the devastation of the occupation left lasting scars on Greece's economic landscape.


In conclusion, the economic policies and war economy imposed during the Second World War had devastating effects on Greece. The exploitation of resources, hyperinflation, and destruction of infrastructure led to widespread poverty and suffering. The post-war recovery, aided by international assistance, was a long and challenging process, reflecting the profound impact of the war on Greece's economic and social fabric.


## 11. Collaboration and Quisling Governments


During the Second World War, Greece, like many occupied countries, experienced the phenomenon of collaboration and the establishment of quisling governments. These were regimes and individuals who cooperated with the Axis occupiers, often driven by ideological alignment, opportunism, or coercion. The collaborationist governments in Greece played a significant role in the administration and exploitation of the country during the occupation, and their actions had lasting repercussions on Greek society.


The first collaborationist government in Greece was established soon after the German invasion in April 1941. General Georgios Tsolakoglou, who had been a senior officer in the Greek army, was appointed as the head of the new regime. Tsolakoglou's government sought to maintain order and manage the day-to-day affairs of the country under the oversight of the Axis powers. This government, however, lacked legitimacy and was widely viewed as a puppet regime serving the interests of the occupiers rather than those of the Greek people.


Following Tsolakoglou, two other prominent collaborationist governments were established. Konstantinos Logothetopoulos succeeded Tsolakoglou in December 1942, followed by Ioannis Rallis in April 1943. Rallis's government, in particular, was notable for its formation of the Security Battalions, paramilitary units tasked with combating the Greek resistance movements. These battalions, composed of Greek collaborators, were notorious for their brutality and were deeply hated by the resistance and the general population.


The motivations for collaboration were varied. Some individuals and groups saw cooperation with the Axis as a means to gain or maintain power and influence. Others were driven by ideological alignment, particularly with the fascist and anti-communist policies of the Axis powers. Economic opportunism also played a role, as collaboration offered access to resources, jobs, and positions of authority in the new order imposed by the occupiers.


The collaborationist governments implemented policies that facilitated the Axis exploitation of Greece's resources. They assisted in the requisitioning of food, raw materials, and industrial products, contributing to the severe shortages and economic hardship faced by the population. These governments also enforced Axis policies of repression and persecution, including the deportation of Greek Jews to concentration camps.


The actions of the collaborationist regimes exacerbated social divisions and fueled resistance. Many Greeks viewed collaborators as traitors, and acts of collaboration were met with hostility and violence. The resistance movements targeted collaborators for retribution, carrying out assassinations and attacks against individuals and institutions seen as complicit with the occupiers.


The end of the occupation and the liberation of Greece in 1944 brought the issue of collaboration to the forefront of the national consciousness. Collaborators and members of the quisling governments faced retribution and justice in the post-war period. Many were arrested, tried, and executed or imprisoned for their actions during the occupation. The purge of collaborators was part of the broader process of rebuilding and reconciling Greek society after the trauma of the war.


The legacy of collaboration during the Second World War left lasting scars on Greek society. The divisions and conflicts that arose from collaboration and resistance continued to influence Greek politics and social dynamics in the post-war period. The issue of collaboration also became intertwined with the ideological struggles of the Greek Civil War, as accusations of collaboration were used to discredit political opponents.


In conclusion, the phenomenon of collaboration and the establishment of quisling governments during the Axis occupation of Greece had significant and lasting impacts on the country. These regimes facilitated the exploitation and repression of the Greek population, deepened social divisions, and fueled resistance. The post-war retribution against collaborators was part of the broader effort to rebuild and heal Greek society, but the legacy of collaboration continued to influence the nation's history and politics long after the war ended.


## 12. The Role of the Greek Orthodox Church


The Greek Orthodox Church played a multifaceted role during the Second World War, navigating the complexities of occupation, resistance, and survival. The Church's influence in Greek society, its moral authority, and its extensive network of clergy and institutions positioned it as a significant actor during the tumultuous years of the war and occupation.


During the Axis occupation, the Greek Orthodox Church faced immense challenges. The occupiers imposed strict controls on religious institutions, and the Church had to navigate a delicate balance between cooperation and resistance. Despite these constraints, many members of the clergy and laypeople played crucial roles in supporting the resistance and providing relief to the suffering population.


The Church's leadership, under Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens, took a public stance against the atrocities committed by the occupiers. Damaskinos used his position to advocate for the protection of Greek Jews and other persecuted groups. He issued public statements condemning the deportations and urged the Greek people to provide shelter and assistance to those in need. His actions, though limited in their immediate impact, demonstrated moral courage and provided a voice of conscience during a dark period.


In addition to its public advocacy, the Church was instrumental in organizing and supporting resistance activities. Many priests and monks joined the resistance movements, offering spiritual guidance, shelter, and logistical support. Monasteries and churches often served as hiding places for resistance fighters, Jews, and other persecuted individuals. The Church's extensive network of parishes and institutions facilitated communication and coordination among resistance groups.


The Church also played a crucial role in providing humanitarian assistance to the Greek population, which was suffering from severe food shortages, displacement, and repression. Church organizations distributed food, clothing, and medical supplies to those in need, often working in cooperation with international relief agencies. The Church's charitable activities helped to alleviate some of the suffering and provided a source of hope and solidarity for many Greeks.


Despite these positive contributions, the Church's role during the occupation was not without controversy. Some members of the clergy were accused of collaboration with the occupiers, either out of self-preservation or ideological alignment. These instances of collaboration, though not representative of the Church as a whole, created tensions and divisions within the Church and broader society.


After the liberation of Greece, the Church continued to play a significant role in the nation's recovery and reconciliation. Archbishop Damaskinos served as a regent of Greece in the immediate post-war period, helping to stabilize the country during the transition from occupation to liberation. The Church also participated in efforts to rebuild communities, restore social services, and address the deep wounds left by the war and occupation.


The legacy of the Greek Orthodox Church's role during the Second World War is complex and multifaceted. The Church's actions during this period are remembered for their moral leadership, humanitarian efforts, and support for the resistance. At the same time, the instances of collaboration highlight the challenges and dilemmas faced by religious institutions in times of crisis.


In conclusion, the Greek Orthodox Church played a significant and multifaceted role during the Second World War. Its leadership provided moral guidance and advocacy against persecution, while its members contributed to resistance efforts and humanitarian relief. The Church's actions during this period reflect both the challenges of navigating occupation and the enduring importance of faith and community in times of hardship. The legacy of the Church's role during the war continues to influence Greek society and its collective memory of this pivotal period in history.


## 13. The Battle of Crete and Other Key Military Engagements


The Battle of Crete, which took place in May 1941, was one of the most significant and dramatic military engagements involving Greece during the Second World War. This battle, alongside other key military actions, highlighted the strategic importance of Greece in the broader context of the war and showcased the bravery and resilience of the Greek and Allied forces.


The Battle of Crete began on May 20, 1941, when Nazi Germany launched a massive airborne invasion of the island, codenamed Operation Mercury. This operation marked the first time in history that an invasion of this scale was carried out primarily by airborne forces. The Germans aimed to capture Crete quickly, leveraging its strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean to control sea routes and airfields critical for operations in North Africa and the Middle East.


The defense of Crete was a joint effort by Greek forces, British Commonwealth troops, and local Cretan civilians. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the defenders put up a fierce resistance. The battle began with intense fighting around the key airfields at Maleme, Rethymno, and Heraklion. The German paratroopers faced stiff resistance, suffering heavy casualties as they attempted to secure these strategic locations.


One of the most notable aspects of the Battle of Crete was the involvement of the local civilian population. Cretan men, women, and even children took up arms, using whatever weapons they could find to defend their homes. Their participation was crucial in delaying the German advance and inflicting significant losses on the invaders. This widespread civilian resistance was unprecedented and demonstrated the determination of the Cretan people to defend their island.


Despite the valiant defense, the Germans eventually secured Maleme airfield, allowing them to bring in reinforcements and heavy equipment. This turning point enabled them to overpower the defenders and gain control of the island. By June


1, 1941, the Battle of Crete had ended with a German victory, but at a high cost. The Germans suffered significant casualties, with around 6,000 killed, wounded, or missing. The heavy losses incurred by the elite paratrooper units led Hitler to abandon large-scale airborne operations for the remainder of the war.


The Battle of Crete had several important implications. For the Allies, it underscored the need to prepare for airborne assaults and improved their understanding of airborne warfare tactics. The battle also highlighted the importance of local resistance and the potential for civilian populations to play a crucial role in defending against invasions.


Other key military engagements involving Greece during the Second World War included the Greco-Italian War and the subsequent German invasion. The Greco-Italian War, which began with the Italian invasion on October 28, 1940, saw the Greek forces achieve a significant victory by repelling the Italian advance and even pushing into Albanian territory. This success delayed the German plans and demonstrated the effectiveness of Greek military strategy and resolve.


The subsequent German invasion in April 1941, however, overwhelmed the Greek and British Commonwealth forces. The rapid German advance, using Blitzkrieg tactics, led to the occupation of mainland Greece. The defense of the Metaxas Line and the battles in central and southern Greece, although ultimately unsuccessful in preventing occupation, showcased the determination and bravery of the Greek forces.


In conclusion, the Battle of Crete and other key military engagements involving Greece during the Second World War were significant both strategically and symbolically. The fierce resistance demonstrated by Greek and Allied forces, as well as the active participation of local civilians, highlighted the resilience and determination of the Greek people. These battles had lasting implications for military tactics and underscored the strategic importance of Greece in the broader context of the war.


## 14. The Greek Civil War: Roots and Early Conflict


The Greek Civil War, which erupted in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, was rooted in the deep political and social divisions that had been exacerbated by the occupation and resistance movements. This conflict, which lasted from 1946 to 1949, was a struggle for control of Greece between communist and nationalist forces, and it had profound and lasting impacts on the country's political landscape.


The roots of the Greek Civil War can be traced back to the pre-war period, characterized by political instability, social inequality, and ideological divisions. The interwar years saw a series of coups, counter-coups, and fluctuating political alliances, which created a fragmented and polarized society. The rise of the Metaxas dictatorship in 1936 further suppressed political freedoms and deepened existing tensions.


During the Axis occupation, these divisions were amplified as various resistance groups emerged with differing political ideologies and visions for Greece's future. The National Liberation Front (EAM), dominated by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), became the largest and most influential resistance organization. EAM's military wing, the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), played a significant role in fighting the occupiers and liberating parts of Greece. However, their vision of a post-war socialist Greece was opposed by other resistance groups and political factions.


The ideological rivalry between EAM/ELAS and other resistance groups, such as the National Republican Greek League (EDES), which was more aligned with the pre-war republican and nationalist elements, laid the groundwork for the civil conflict. The power vacuum created by the withdrawal of German forces in 1944 intensified these rivalries. The British-supported Greek government-in-exile, which returned to Greece, was largely composed of conservative and royalist elements, further alienating the leftist resistance factions.


The immediate post-war period was marked by a struggle for control and the establishment of authority in liberated areas. EAM/ELAS, having established significant influence and control over large parts of the country, sought to consolidate their power. However, the return of the Greek government-in-exile, supported by British forces, led to clashes and tensions. The British were determined to prevent a communist takeover, seeing Greece as a critical strategic ally in the emerging Cold War context.


The conflict escalated in December 1944, known as the Dekemvriana, when clashes broke out in Athens between ELAS forces and British-backed government troops. The fighting, which lasted several weeks, resulted in significant casualties and marked the beginning of open hostilities between the opposing factions. The British intervention played a decisive role in suppressing the immediate threat posed by ELAS in Athens, but it did not resolve the underlying political tensions.


The Greek Civil War officially began in March 1946, following a controversial election boycotted by the leftist parties. The Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), the military wing of the KKE, launched a full-scale insurgency against the government forces. The civil war was characterized by brutal and protracted fighting, widespread destruction, and significant civilian suffering. Villages were destroyed, populations were displaced, and atrocities were committed by both sides.


The conflict was heavily influenced by the broader geopolitical context of the Cold War. The Greek government received substantial military and economic support from the United States under the Truman Doctrine, which aimed to contain the spread of communism. The Soviet Union, although providing some support to the communist forces, was more restrained due to its agreements with the Western Allies. The Yugoslav government, under Josip Broz Tito, provided critical support to the DSE, but this aid diminished after the Tito-Stalin split in 1948.


The Greek Civil War ended in 1949 with the defeat of the DSE. The Greek government, bolstered by American aid and military support, launched successful offensives that ultimately crushed the communist insurgency. The end of the civil war left Greece deeply divided and scarred by the conflict. Thousands were killed, many were displaced, and the social and economic fabric of the country was severely damaged.


In conclusion, the Greek Civil War was rooted in the deep political and ideological divisions that predated the Second World War and were exacerbated by the occupation and resistance. The conflict, heavily influenced by the Cold War context, had profound and lasting impacts on Greece, shaping its political landscape and leaving a legacy of division and trauma that would influence Greek society for decades to come.


## 15. The Liberation of Greece and Immediate Aftermath


The liberation of Greece from Axis occupation in 1944 marked the end of a brutal and devastating period in Greek history. However, the immediate aftermath of liberation was far from a period of peace and stability. Instead, it was characterized by political turmoil, social upheaval, and the onset of the Greek Civil War.


The process of liberation began in the summer of 1944, as the German forces, facing increasing pressure from the advancing Soviet and Allied armies, began to withdraw from the Balkans. The retreat of German troops from Greece accelerated in October 1944, leading to the liberation of Athens on October 12, 1944. The departure of the occupiers was greeted with jubilation by the Greek population, who had endured years of suffering and repression.


However, the joy of liberation was tempered by the complex and contentious political landscape that emerged. The National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military wing, the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), controlled significant parts of the country and sought to establish their vision of a post-war Greece. In contrast, the Greek government-in-exile, which returned to Greece with the support of British forces, represented more conservative and royalist elements.


The power vacuum left by the German withdrawal led to immediate clashes between EAM/ELAS and the returning government forces. The British, under Prime Minister Winston Churchill, were determined to prevent a communist takeover in Greece, seeing it as a key strategic ally in the emerging Cold War. This led to the British intervention in Greek affairs, including the deployment of troops to maintain order and support the government.


The tensions between the rival factions came to a head in December 1944, during the events known as the Dekemvriana. Fighting broke out in Athens between ELAS forces and British-backed government troops, resulting in significant casualties and the eventual defeat of ELAS in the capital. The Varkiza Agreement, signed in February 1945, attempted to disarm ELAS and establish a framework for political stability, but it failed to resolve the underlying tensions and divisions.


The immediate post-liberation period was marked by economic hardship and social dislocation. The war and occupation had left Greece's infrastructure in ruins, with widespread destruction of towns, villages, and industrial facilities. The economy was in a state of collapse, with rampant inflation, food shortages, and unemployment. The social fabric was also deeply damaged, with widespread displacement, loss of life, and the trauma of occupation and resistance.


The political situation remained volatile, with frequent clashes between leftist and rightist forces. The right-wing government, supported by the British and later the Americans, sought to consolidate its power and suppress leftist elements. This led to widespread arrests, repression, and persecution of suspected communists and their sympathizers. The actions of the government and the lingering presence of armed resistance groups created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.


The international context also played a crucial role in shaping the immediate aftermath of liberation. The onset of the Cold War heightened the strategic importance of Greece, leading to significant involvement by the United States. The Truman Doctrine, announced in 1947, aimed to contain the spread of communism by providing military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey. This marked the beginning of substantial American support for the Greek government, which was instrumental in the eventual defeat of the communist insurgency during the civil war.


In conclusion, the liberation of Greece in 1944 was a moment of great hope and relief for the Greek people, but it also ushered in a period of intense political and social upheaval. The immediate aftermath was characterized by clashes between rival factions, economic hardship, and the onset of the Greek Civil War. The legacy of these tumultuous years continued to shape Greece's political and social landscape for decades to come,


 leaving lasting scars on the nation's collective memory and identity.


## 16. Post-War Repercussions and Political Changes


The post-war repercussions and political changes in Greece were profound and far-reaching, as the nation struggled to recover from the devastation of the Second World War and the subsequent civil conflict. The period following the war was marked by significant political realignments, social upheaval, and economic reconstruction efforts, all of which shaped the trajectory of modern Greece.


The immediate aftermath of the war saw Greece grappling with the immense task of rebuilding its shattered economy and infrastructure. The country had suffered extensive damage during the occupation, with towns, villages, and industrial facilities in ruins. The agricultural sector, which was the backbone of the Greek economy, had been severely disrupted, leading to food shortages and widespread poverty. The process of economic reconstruction was slow and challenging, exacerbated by the continuing instability and conflict of the Greek Civil War.


Politically, the end of the Second World War and the Greek Civil War led to significant changes in the nation's governance and political landscape. The defeat of the communist insurgency in 1949, with substantial support from the United States under the Truman Doctrine, resulted in the consolidation of a right-wing government. The Greek government, led by conservative and royalist elements, implemented policies aimed at stabilizing the country and preventing the resurgence of leftist forces.


The post-war period also saw significant international involvement in Greek affairs, particularly from the United States. The Marshall Plan, implemented in 1948, provided crucial economic assistance to Greece, helping to rebuild infrastructure, stabilize the economy, and modernize key sectors. This aid was instrumental in Greece's recovery and laid the foundation for its post-war economic growth. The influence of American political and economic models also had a lasting impact on Greek governance and policy-making.


The political repression and persecution of leftist elements continued in the post-war years, as the government sought to eliminate any remaining communist influence. Thousands of suspected communists and sympathizers were arrested, tried, and imprisoned, often under harsh conditions. This period of political repression, known as the "White Terror," created deep divisions within Greek society and left a legacy of mistrust and resentment that persisted for decades.


The monarchy, restored after the end of the Second World War, played a contentious role in post-war Greek politics. King George II, who returned to Greece in 1946, was succeeded by his brother, King Paul, in 1947. The monarchy's involvement in political affairs, particularly its support for right-wing governments and its opposition to leftist movements, contributed to ongoing political instability. The monarchy remained a divisive institution until its eventual abolition in 1974 following the fall of the military junta.


The social fabric of Greece was also profoundly affected by the war and its aftermath. The population displacement, loss of life, and destruction of communities had long-lasting impacts on Greek society. The migration from rural areas to urban centers increased as people sought better opportunities and stability. This urbanization process contributed to significant social and economic changes, including the growth of the middle class and the modernization of Greek society.


The legacy of the Second World War and the Greek Civil War also influenced cultural and intellectual life in Greece. The experiences of occupation, resistance, and civil conflict were reflected in literature, art, and cinema, shaping the national narrative and collective memory. The themes of resistance, suffering, and resilience became central to Greek cultural expressions, providing a means for the nation to process and understand its recent history.


In conclusion, the post-war repercussions and political changes in Greece were characterized by significant challenges and transformations. The process of economic reconstruction, political realignment, and social change shaped the trajectory of modern Greece, influencing its governance, culture, and society. The legacies of the Second World War and the Greek Civil War continued to impact the nation for decades, leaving an indelible mark on its history and identity.


## 17. The Impact of the Second World War on Greece


The Second World War had a profound and lasting impact on Greece, shaping its political, economic, and social landscape in ways that continued to resonate long after the conflict ended. The experiences of occupation, resistance, and liberation left indelible marks on the nation's history and collective memory.


Politically, the war and subsequent civil conflict fundamentally altered the structure and dynamics of Greek governance. The Axis occupation disrupted existing political institutions and paved the way for the emergence of powerful resistance movements. The ideological battles between communists and nationalists during the occupation set the stage for the Greek Civil War, which further polarized Greek society and entrenched deep political divisions. The post-war period saw the consolidation of a right-wing government with substantial American support, as part of the broader context of the Cold War. This political realignment had lasting implications for Greece's domestic and foreign policies.


Economically, the Second World War devastated Greece's infrastructure and economy. The occupation led to widespread destruction, resource extraction, and severe food shortages, culminating in the catastrophic famine of 1941-1942. The post-war reconstruction efforts, supported by international aid such as the Marshall Plan, were crucial in rebuilding the country's economy and modernizing its industrial and agricultural sectors. However, the economic recovery was slow, and the legacy of wartime destruction and occupation continued to affect Greece's economic development for years.


Socially, the war had a profound impact on Greek society. The occupation and resistance fostered a strong sense of national unity and resilience, but also left deep scars. The widespread atrocities committed by the occupiers, the persecution of minority groups such as Jews and Roma, and the displacement of populations created lasting trauma. The experiences of war and occupation were reflected in Greek culture, influencing literature, art, and cinema, and becoming integral to the national narrative.


The Greek Orthodox Church played a significant role during the war, providing moral guidance, humanitarian assistance, and support for the resistance. The Church's actions during this period helped to sustain the population's spirit and resilience, and its influence continued to be felt in post-war Greek society.


The impact of the Second World War also included significant demographic changes. The destruction of Jewish communities, particularly in Thessaloniki, represented a tragic loss of cultural and historical heritage. The war also accelerated urbanization trends, as many Greeks moved from rural areas to cities in search of better opportunities and stability.


The legacy of the Second World War in Greece is multifaceted, encompassing the memories of occupation, resistance, and the struggle for liberation. These experiences have been commemorated and honored through various memorials, museums, and educational programs, ensuring that the lessons and sacrifices of this period are not forgotten.


In conclusion, the Second World War had a profound impact on Greece, shaping its political, economic, and social landscape in lasting ways. The experiences of occupation, resistance, and liberation left deep scars and influenced the nation's trajectory for decades. The legacy of the war continues to be a significant part of Greece's collective memory and identity, reflecting the resilience and determination of the Greek people during one of the most challenging periods in their history.


## 18. Conclusion


The Second World War was a transformative period in Greek history, marked by profound challenges, resilience, and lasting impacts. The Italian invasion, the subsequent German occupation, and the fierce resistance efforts shaped the nation's wartime experience and had enduring effects on its post-war development. The political and ideological divisions that emerged during the occupation set the stage for the Greek Civil War, further complicating Greece's recovery and influencing its future trajectory.


The experiences of occupation and resistance fostered a strong sense of national unity and resilience among the Greek people, while also exposing deep-seated political and social divisions. The economic devastation wrought by the war required substantial international aid and efforts to rebuild, leading to significant changes in Greece's economic and industrial landscape. The cultural and demographic impacts of the war, including the tragic loss of Jewish communities and the accelerated urbanization, also left lasting marks on Greek society.


The legacy of the Second World War in Greece is complex and multifaceted, encompassing the memories of suffering, resistance, and the struggle for liberation. The nation's collective memory of this period continues to shape its identity and serves as a reminder of the resilience and determination of the Greek people in the face of adversity.


In reflecting on the Second World War's impact on Greece, it is essential to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who fought and suffered during this tumultuous period. Their courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Greek people and their unwavering commitment to freedom and justice. The lessons of this period continue to resonate, reminding future generations of the importance of resilience, unity, and the enduring quest for a better and more just world.

Further reading