Communist Terror in Greece

The Communist Party of Greece was founded in 1918, and later emerged as one of the region's most principled supporters of the Soviet Union and the Third International. During the 1930s, the communists attempted to seize power by violent means, but were defeated.

Although communist influence was largely subdued, the party continued its activities. For example, it supported Stalin’s decision to, during the invasion of Greece in 1940-1941 by Fascist Italy, encourage Greek soldiers to initiate a civil war rather than repel the Italian invaders.

When Greece was occupied by Nazi Germany, communists emerged as a dominant force in the guerilla warfare against the invaders. This helped gain public sympathy for communism, which the communists then used to engage in ruthless conflict against partisans supporting the legitimate Greek government.

At the end of World War II, communist partisans attempted to seize all of Greek territory, but were rebuffed by British forces and nationalist partisans. The ensuing truce was short-lived, as the communists again endeavoured to overthrow the government. A bloody civil war followed, killing tens of thousands.

Greek communists resorted to terror to assert their authority. Their most serious crime was the kidnapping of 30,000 children, who were deported abroad to communist countries.

Parents attempting to rescue their children were shot. This crime has been recorded in N. Gage's renowned book “Eleni”. Although communist resistance was eventually squashed, the legacy of the Civil War continued to divide Greek society long after its conclusion.