Greek Civil War

The Greek Civil War (Greek: ο Eμφύλιος, "the Civil War") was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek government army—backed by the United Kingdom and the United States—and the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), the military branch of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania. It was the result of a highly polarized struggle between leftists and rightists that started in 1943 and targeted the power vacuum that the German-Italian occupation during World War II had created. One of the first conflicts of the Cold War, according to some analysts it represents the first example of postwar British and American involvement in the internal politics of a foreign country.

The first signs of the civil war occurred in 1942–1944, during the Occupation. With the Greek government in exile unable to influence the situation at home, various resistance groups of differing political affiliations emerged, the dominant one being the leftist National Liberation Front (EAM), controlled effectively by the KKE. Starting in autumn 1943, friction among EAM and the other resistance groups resulted in scattered clashes, which continued until the spring of 1944 when an agreement was reached forming a national unity government that included six EAM-affiliated ministers.

The prelude of the civil war occurred in December 1944, approximately three months after the mainland of the country had been liberated. A bloody battle (the "Dekemvrianá") erupted in Athens after government soldiers, backed by the British forces, opened fire on a massive peaceful demonstration organized by EAM against the disputed order for the disarmament of the left-wing guerrilla forces. The result was the defeat of EAM forces, which spelled the end of the organization's ascendancy: the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS, the military arm of EAM) was partly disarmed, while EAM continued its political action as a multi-party organization. Tensions remained high, however, as clashes between right- and left-wing factions continued.

The war erupted in 1946 when forces of former ELAS partisans that found shelter in their hideouts and were controlled by the KKE organized the DSE and its High Command headquarters. KKE backed up the endeavor, deciding that there were no more political means to use against the internationally recognised government that had been formed after the 1946 elections, which the KKE had boycotted. The Communists formed a provisional government and used DSE as the military branch of this government. The neighboring communist states of Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria offered logistical support to the Provisional Government, especially to the forces operating in the north.

Despite setbacks suffered by government forces from 1946 until 1948, increased American aid, the failure of the DSE to attract sufficient recruits and the side effects of the Tito–Stalin split eventually led to victory for the government troops. The final victory of the Western-supported government forces led to Greece's membership in NATO and helped to define the ideological balance of power in the Aegean Sea for the entire Cold War. The civil war also left Greece with a vehemently anti-Communist security establishment, which would lead to the establishment of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 and a legacy of political polarization that lasted until the 1980s.

Read more about Greek Civil WarBackground: 1941-44, Confrontation: 1944, Interlude: 1945-1946, Post-war Division and Reconciliation, Representation in Culture, List of Abbreviations

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