70 years after defeat of the communists, the leftist whitewash of the Greek civil war has succeeded

Yesterday, October 16, marked 70 years since general secretary of the Communist Party of Greece and commander of Democratic Army of Greece, Nikos Zachariadis, ordered a "temporary ceasefire to prevent the complete annihilation of Greece," effectively ending the Greek Civil War.  Repatriation of Greek communists since the '50s and the Left's cultural domination have whitewashed atrocities committed by communists and their intentions for Greek society.  And, as the losers of the war, there is no shortage of ex-guerrillas willing to share their minimized accounts of red terrorism and good intentions with leftist cultural leaders and intellectuals.  These unfortunate circumstances have portrayed the Greek Civil War as a war of rightist colonial aggression instead of a battle for what it was: the soul of Greece.

It was critical for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), whose members admired the Russian Revolution, to distance their brand of communism from the Bolshevik horrors in Russia.  After all, as Philip Jenkins recounts:

The regime also rooted up the churches and monasteries that were the heart of Russian culture and spiritual life. Officials wandered the country, vandalizing churches, desecrating saints' shrines and seizing church goods, and murdering those who protested the acts. Militant atheist groups used sacred objects to stage anti-religious skits and processions. Between 1927 and 1940, active Orthodox churches all but vanished from the Russian Republic, as their numbers fell from 30,000 to just 500.

Italy invaded Greece in 1940, followed by Germany the in 1941.  In response, leaders of left-leaning political parties formed the National Liberation Front (EAM) in 1941.  The KKE was the strongest of the five or six parties that constituted the EAM.  The organization downplayed its revolutionary aspirations while emphasizing Greek unity to encourage non-communists to join the ranks of the only effective resistance group.  EAM's military arm was a guerrilla army known as the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS).

A prominent leader of the ELAS, Aris Velouchiotis, consciously made outward efforts to appear religious in order to appeal to a society steeped in 1,900 years of Christendom.  In one of his final speeches, Velouchiotis insisted that the communists couldn't destroy the Church if they wanted to, but rather that "religion is an issue of consciousness."  Even so, communists waged a brutal campaign against the "unenlightened" villagers in rural Greece that started during the Axis occupation.  According to Panteleymon Anastasakis, regular reports of sacrilegious violence occurred in villages occupied by EAM/ELAS forces.  One of the few academics to examine left-wing terror in the civil war, Stathis N. Kalyvas, writes:

The EAM terror campaign of winter 1943–1944 was hardly peculiar to the Argolid. A similar wave of killings swept the entire Peloponnese during the same time, and most probably the whole country as well. This campaign of assassinations was carried out by EAM's newly formed OPLA squads — a combination of secret police and death squads. (OPLA is the Greek acronym for Organization for the Protection of the People's Struggle; the acronym also means "weapons.") These groups established very rapidly a reputation for ruthless violence that is still alive in the memories of many among my informants. In an interview he gave me, a former OPLA member described his job starkly: "I was not a regular guerrilla; I was a devil's guerrilla."

As a Nazi defeat became clear, ELAS's toleration of religious foundations gave way to lessons on communist doctrine and outward acts of evil.  After the Nazi retreat, ELAS was dismantled and replaced by the Greek Democratic Army (GDA), which, unlike ELAS, fell directly under the KKE's authority.  One of the most ardent supporters of the GDA was Albanian dictator Enver Halil Hoxha, who ruled Albania with an iron fist for 44 years.  Hoxha declared Albania the "first atheist state of the world" in 1967 and no doubt had encouraged it in Greece during the war.

From 1946 to '49, Greece was in no-holds-barred civil war.  Societal polarization left little room for political nuance.  Nicholas Gage grew up in a communist-occupied village in northern Greece.  Gage recalls that communists kidnapped children, who were sent to Eastern Bloc countries to be given a proper communist upbringing.  His sister was sent to a battlefield in Macedonia and his mother, Eleni, was executed after she arranged for Nicholas's escape (Gage went on to author a memoir entitled Eleni, which was made into a film).  An op-ed by Nicholas Elias claimed, "Communist guerrillas executed dozens of people for criticizing them or their methods."  The communists' ruthless campaigns permanently traumatized the psyche of the Greek people.  "'I was here when the Communists came,' an old woman in the village said.  'I would rather have the junta for a hundred years than to have those bastards back for one day,'" reported the New York Times.

Post-independence political instability, Nazi occupation, and the civil war left Greece a broken nation.  Amikam Nachmani writes, "By September 1949, at the end of the civil war, the cost of living was 254 times that of before the war, while 2,400,000 people were said to be "one step from starvation."  Between the Axis occupation and the civil war, 10 percent of the population was estimated to have been killed.  The guerrillas killed more than 57,000 civilians while displacing more than 684,000.  The anniversary of the communist defeat in Greece should serve as a reminder of the communists' horrific legacy in the twentieth century and their deceptive lies to cover it up.

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