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Greek Resistance Movements during WWII

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The Greek resistance movements were precipitated by the invasion and occupation of Greece from 1941-1944 by Nazi Germany and its allies Italy and Bulgaria. The movements, both communist and non-communist (EAM) battled the Axis occupiers in an effort, not only to save Greece, but also to save the Jews living there.


Those involved risked their lives through many different and dangerous activities such as sabotaging, providing intelligence to the British and running escape lines. Urban resistance operativeswere always in danger of arrest and summary execution, suffering heavy casualties. Captured fighters were routinely tortured by the Abwehr and the Gestapo, the job of wireless operators perhaps being the most dangerous, since the Germans used torture prior to executing the saboteurs, .....continued

The different movements:

  1. The National Liberation Front – EAM was the first major resistance group to be founded comprising a political movement which by 1944 had grown to more than 1,800,000 members out of a Greek population of around 7,500,000.
  2. The Greek People's Army – ELAS was mainly localized in the area of Mount Giona. This became the strongest group controlling militarily three-fifths of the country (mainly the mountains) and having in its ranks more than 800 officers of the former National Army.
  3. The Political Committee of National Liberation (PEEA) establised by EAM-ELAS was widely known as the "Mountain Government."

A major part was played in blowing up the Gorgopotamos railway bridge linking northern and southern Greece was the world's most spectacular sabotage act, disrupting for weeks the German transport of ammunition via Greece to Rommel's forces. Mass reprisals took place which resulted in war crimes and were the cause of hundreds of villages being systematically torched and almost one million people left homeless.

Enormous antagonism existed between the resistance groups which became the Prelude to the Civil War ……..and continued to develop into the Greek Civil War

Jewish girls who escaped to the mountains during the spring 1943 deportations acted as runners, contacts, and smugglers of weapons and propaganda. Others were able to communicate with the occupiers and so assist in the rescue of threatened resistance activists. Many women were part of the fighting units of ELAS, army protecting their morality and virtues by threatening violators with death.

Perhaps the greatest single act of the Greek Underground took place in far away Auschwitz-Birkenau. 135 members of the Sonderkommando who cremated the corpses of those gassed in the extermination camp mutinied and blew up two crematoria. They held out for an hour before being gunned down.

List of important battles

1942

  • The battle of Ryka (40 Italians killed)
  • The battle of Mikro Chorio (70 Italians killed)
  • November 1942 – The battle of Gorgopotamos

1943

  • March 1943 – The battle of Fardykambos (together with PAO, 95 Italians killed)
  • June 1943 – The destruction of the Kournovo Tunnel (c.100 Italians killed)
  • July 1943 – The battle of Myrtia
  • The battle of Sarantaporo (99 Germans killed)
  • The battle of Porta (many Italians killed)
  • September 1943 – The battle of Arachova
  • September 1943 – Disarmament of the 24 Infantry Division Pinerolo

1944

  • June 1944 – The battle of Steiri (40 Germans killed)
  • July 1944 – The battle of Agorelitsa (180 Germans killed)
  • The capture of Kastoria
  • The capture of Elefsina military airport

List of important ELAS members

This list contains the names of the most well-known ELAS leaders or simple members, with their nom de guerre in parentheses:

  • Athanasios Klaras (Aris Velouchiotis), chief captain of ELAS
  • Colonel Stefanos Sarafis, chief military expert of ELAS
  • Andreas Tzimas (Vasilis Samariniotis), chief political commissioner of ELAS
  • Georgios Siantos
  • Major General Neokosmos Grigoriadis (Lambros), Chairman of ELAS Central Committee
  • Lieutenant General Ptolemaios Sarigiannis, Chief of Staff of ELAS Central Committee
  • Colonel Evripidis Bakirtzis, commander of ELAS' Macedonian theatre
  • Captain Theodoros Makridis (Ektoras), one of ELAS chief staff officers
  • Markos Vafiadis
  • Nikos Beloyannis
  • Iannis Xenakis
  • Leon Tzavelas
  • Panos Tzavelas
  • Father Dimitrios Holevas (Papa-Holevas, Papaflessas)
  • Father Germanos Dimakos (Papa-Anypomonos)
  • Fotis Mastrokostas (Thanos)
  • Nikos Kavretzos (Kostoulas Agrafiotis)
  • Dimitrios Dimitriou (Nikiforos)
  • Giorgos Houliaras (Periklis)
  • Pandelis Laskos (Pelopidas)
  • Ioannis Alexandrou (Diamantis)
  • Lambros Koumbouras (Achilleas)
  • Lefteris Tsiligiannis
  • Sarantos Kapourelakos, serving directly under Velouchiotis command.
  • Spyros Bekios (Lambros)
  • Dimitrios Tassos (Boukouvalas)
  • Thomas Pallas (Kozakas)
  • Nikos Xinos (Smolikas)
  • Vangelis Papadakis (Tassos Lefterias)
  • Ioannis Aggeletos (Tzavelas)
  • Vasilis Priovolos (Ermis)
  • Gerasimos Avgeropoulos
  • Andreas Zacharopoulos
  • Ioannis Hatzipanagiotou (Thomas)
  • Christos Margaritis (Armatolos)
  • Georgios Zarogiannis (Kavallaris)
  • Vasilis Ganatsios (Cheimarros)

Resources:

Cretan Resistance

Greek Resistance

Political Committee of National Liberation