Athens 1944: Britain’s dirty secret

  • by  theguardian.com
Syntagma square, December 3rd 1944, shortly after the first shots fired Syntagma square, December 3rd 1944, shortly after the first shots fired

When 28 civilians were killed in Athens, it wasn’t the Nazis who were to blame, it was the British. Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith reveal how Churchill’s shameful decision to turn on the partisans who had fought on our side in the war sowed the seeds for the rise of the far right in Greece today.

This was the day, those 70 years ago this week, when the British army, still at war with Germany, opened fire upon – and gave locals who had collaborated with the Nazis the guns to fire upon – a civilian crowd demonstrating in support of the partisans with whom Britain had been allied for three years.

The crowd carried Greek, American, British and Soviet flags, and chanted: “Viva Churchill, Viva Roosevelt, Viva Stalin’” in endorsement of the wartime alliance.

Britain’s logic was brutal and perfidious: Prime minister Winston Churchill considered the influence of the Communist Party within the resistance movement he had backed throughout the war – the National Liberation Front, EAM – to have grown stronger than he had calculated, sufficient to jeopardise his plan to return the Greek king to power and keep Communism at bay. So he switched allegiances to back the supporters of Hitler against his own erstwhile allies.

Read the article by Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith on theguardian.com

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