Greek Civil Wars, in the Country’s Genes?



    Greek-Civil-WarsCivil wars come at a certain point in every country’s history and create some bleak historic moments. For Greece though it seems that its people have civil wars running in their blood, since during its 194-year-old modern history, Greeks have already fought three civil wars which have divided the country and its residents in half.

    On the occasion of the imprisonment of Theodoros Kolokotronis on February 6, 1825, exactly 189 years ago, let us flip through some rather dark pages of Greece ’s history and reveal the circumstances surrounding the three Greek civil wars.

    Theodoros Kolokotronis was one of the great Greek freedom fighters, who took active part in the Greek War of Independence and stood up against the Ottoman rulers of that time. Although being able to achieve record-breaking victories, promoting the Greek idea and aiding the Independence War on several occasions, the Greek rulers of the non-existent Greek state saw him as a threat and sent him to prison in 1825. On the Greek island of Hydra, Kolokotronis was to spend 3 months without any charges being brought against him or any kind of prosecution. Meanwhile, the Ottoman-Egyptian troops were gaining ground and endangering the successful outcome of the revolution.

    The imprisonment of the military leader from Peloponnese was part of the first civil war between 1823 and 1824, during the peak of the Greek revolution. Supporters of the company “Filiki Etaireia,” which was founded prior to the revolution and made the preparations for the upcoming revolt, confronted the local primates of the occupied Greek territories on leadership matters, as every party wanted to have political and military control of the operations taking place all over Greece. The war ended with a moderate deal leaving none of the confronting parties satisfied.

    As a result, the second civil war begun a few months later (October 1824), thus dividing once more the Greek people until the early months of 1825. Nobel families from the island of Hydra and people from continental Greece joined forces to fight against the people of Peloponnese, who were excluded from most government posts after a new provisional government had been formed. The final outcome of the war, in which Kolokotronis played a major role, saw the Hydriots, who were backed by the British, victorious.

    The third and final Greek civil war was fought from 1946 to 1949 and was the result of a highly polarized struggle between leftists and rightists that started in 1943, targeting the power vacuum created in the Greek political scene due to the German occupation of the country during the Second World War. The Greek government army, backed by the U.S. and the U.K. eventually overpowered the military branch of the communist party backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania, in a civil war that claimed the life of 160,000 Greek people, leaving Greece in ruins and in even greater economic distress than it had been following the end of German occupation. Additionally, it divided the Greek people for many decades, with thousands languishing in prison for many years or being sent into exile, while others sought refuge in communist countries or emigrated to Australia, Germany, Canada and the U.S.


    13 COMMENTS

    1. No civil war ever really ends. The winners believe it is their right they be the rulers, while the losers maintain a sense of resentment for generations. Memories of such wars do not pass away they are recounted on the laps of grandparents and at the dinner table passing from one generation to the next. It is very important the lessons taken away from the sacrifice are applied and entrusted by the nation’s leaders and retribution decades or generation later are inconsequential. This could be a good time for our politicians to take a refresher course in our often tempestuous history and for us to pause and reflect.

    2. Polycrates Greece has had civil wars in the past as you mentioned that have brought change to the country and its constitution. It is easy for me behind a computer to call for a civil uprising revolution NOW but I’m not sure that would be appropriate or even logical. Civil wars have brought change to Greece for the better.
      The corruption that has gone on among Greek politicians and selling out Greece to foreign interests is wrong. Greek Parliament should be punished because they are all connected with the banksters and businessmen that robbed Greece’s wealth.
      What Greece really needs to bring change to the country and its Constitution and laws is a civil revolution BUT we all know that will never happen. Why? THE EU and useless Obama will NEVER ALLLOW SUCHEVENT TO OCCUR. NEVER!

    3. You have good points, keep in mind Obama will be gone in a few years and the same can be said about the EU and Greece’s leadership. Patience and toleration are important attributes we as Greeks have in limited quantity. Hopefully we can hold out. The constitution is in dire need to be reworked and it is puzzling why SYRIZA hasn’t made it a focus point for it’s media platform. While we know they have absorbed has a healthy number of former PASOK-ites they should still recognize the glaring constitutionally sanctioned abuses that is bringing ND down and make it a campaign issue. Most importantly, if we must live through another civil war, may it be limited to a war of words and ideas.

    4. First of all I see this article as flawed in the sense that structurally it has no summation or concluding paragraph which supports the thesis inherent in the title. It just presents some historical events and then leaves us hanging. So much more could have been presented as evidence for the writer’s hypothesis, as well.

      Having lived in this country for 20 years, though not being Greek (my wife’s family is and my children are half), I have made some observations about what this article is eluding to. Through my own reading and experiences I have explored this curious phenomenon of the Greek mind, and have made some–from what they are worth, observations on the subject. While this article implies rather simplistically that Greeks have a genetic predisposition to civil wars, it can be argued that dating deep into their ancient history conflict among themselves is common place.
      The development of the City State which viewed itself as autonomous among other Greek societies, with few examples of cooperation other than during wartime, is a prime example of the Greek character supporting its own subculture first and foremost. These entities fought continuously, forming alliances which were only temporary at best and often short lived. A case in point was the attempt of Phillip of Macedonia, who in 338 BCE, along with his 18 year old son, Alexander, amassed a large army to invade the Greek mainland and conquer the Athenians–seemingly to unite all Greek states. Yet the Athenians and Thespians, with others, formed an alliance to defend their sovereignty. After this attempt was foiled, with many Greek lives lost on the battlefield, the states went back to their own entities once more–fighting with each other when challenged.

      There does seem to be (even today) something in the “Greek character” which fosters skepticism and manifests itself into some aversion to working in concert for a goal. Whether this is more a matter of culture or genetics I am the last to say. The amazing thing is that when confronted with a common enemy, the various factions of ideology, historically and in the present, will at least temporarily cooperate, as long as it seems to reward their interests–but generally not beyond this. Just look at the political parties and their history for the past 40 years.

      Looking at Modern Greece and the civil wars this article outlines since the revolution, it all seems to go back to people putting personal power and wealth above a national or cultural framework of cooperation. It is no surprise that when foreigners come to Greece today, they are astounded that the population will not treat even their streets in the city of Athens as their own. To the mainstream Greek only their extended family matter in any significant way. This lack of community spirit and communal effort to overcome difficulties (vis a vis paying taxes, volunteering to fix the holes in the street), is what I believe is the “hard-wired” constraint the Greek people can not come to terms with in their struggle to maintain any autonomy. Not being able to put their house in order without foreign intervention has been a curse for the Greek state. Watching their leaders put greed and power before any since of patriotism only instills in the public how hopeless the situation has become. Until the idea of concerted efforts and shared responsibilities make a country and society strong, there will be this constant strife between contentious and mistrusting factions which vie for total power and often control of the wealth.

    5. Civil wars exist in the genes of some Greeks — the far left Greeks that are anti-nationalists . It is those treasonous anti-nationalist extremists that end up irrationality putting foreign interests ahead of their own homeland (as they did during the civil war when communist thugs mass murdered thousands of Greeks for the sake of IMRO, Tito and Stalin as they tried to annex 1/3 of Greece to Vardar Yugoslavia – aka Skopia)

      Today once again leftists betray their country. To a man any ‘Greek” that calls Skopia “Macedonia” is a leftist coward. Even here on Greek Reporter its leftist staff (and leftist owner) keep treasonously apologizing for the invasion of our country by masses of illegals.

      The reason why leftists are more prone to treason is because of the nature of their collectivist ideology to oppose the nation they live in. They use cliches like “we are all human”, or call any patriot “fascist”. They are “proud” of their anti-nationalism. Taken to an extreme anti-nationalism is as sociopathic as extreme nationalism. A nation cannot exist unless it protects its borders and people.

    6. Your first first decent post but an observation.

      There is not capital “M” in modern. We are Greeks and our country is called Greece not “Modern” Greece. This point actually relates to my next one as well. You state ” this lack of community spirit and communal effort to overcome difficulties”.

      You should first look at your own actions before lecturing others. Calling the former Yugoslavians “Macedonia” is treason not “community spirit” nor “communal effort”. For that you have to support Greece not a foreign state that wish to delete the Greek people and annex a fair chunk of our country (while nearly everyone plays stupid to hide their embarrassment for calling obvious ultra nationalist propagandists “Macedonians”)

    7. It would be irrational and harmful to our country to bring ND down without a reasonable replacement.

      Those that oppose our current coalition government tend to fall in one of these three camps:

      – leftwing extremists (e.g. Syriza)
      – fascists (e.g. Golden Dawn)
      – any foreigners that are anti-Greek

    8. What happens if none applies?
      ND needs time to reorganize and purge itself of worn out politicos and family dynasties. It will probably have a brief respite during the SYRIZA tenure. If they evolve they may be a future for ND. If Not then one can assume another party will rise from their ashes and fill the niche.

    9. IN practice all whining about ND achieves is gives votes to fascists and communists. Unless there is a reasonable alternative engaging in anti-government rants like communist and fascist fanatics only further undermines our country.

    10. “while others sought refuge in communist countries or emigrated to Australia, Germany, Canada and the U.S.”

      Those “others’ were TREASONOUS LEFTISTS that massacred Greeks for IMRO and Stalinist tyranny (who not only tried to annex 1/3 of our country to Vardar Yugoslavia but tried to ethnically delete the Greek people).

      Contrary to this ridiculous article’s ridiculous claim that after the civil war Greece was in “ruins and in even greater economic distress than it had been following the end of German occupation”… After the communists were booted out of Greece, Greece experienced an unparalleled spike in both GDP and standard of living. This continued well until the 80s. That’s when we let in the communists and socialism came back into vogue in Greece. Its been downhill ever since. Even our alleged right wing pandered to leftist unionists constant rioting

      Finally there is change today. It took our national credit cards being revoked and going broke but cuts are happening. Unfortunately our far leftist parasites don’t want it. They are still sitting around shamelessly demanding government handouts rather than focusing on what they themselves as individuals are producing. Instead of defending their country against Skopians and other foreign threats, they use up all their time whining for handouts and lobbying for illegals (even here on Greek Reporter)

      Far leftist ideology has destroyed Greece.

    11. Samaras is not part of the mystotakis family.

      Who are we supposed to vote for? Communists? Fascists? Or the oarty of disillusioned leftist whiners upset that Pasok stopped promising them handouts but not quite stupid enough to vote for communists or fascists?

      When another reasonable pro-hellenic party comes along that’s always an option but at the moment there are no reasonable alternatives other than ND That’s the reality. Undermining ND with extremists waiting in the wings is only gong to make things worse.

    12. Samaras owes the Mitsokatis family and repays a favour. He is preparing Kyriakos to assume the party leadership but it will not be easy as there are others that covet the position. Certainly if the elections go bad ND should use that time to re-organize and purge itself from profiteers and career politicians.
      If you are asking for who to vote for, which party and whether to vote at all. These are entirely personal decisions that you need to make. If you are saying ND and Samaras are the lesser of all the other evil parties in Greece, I would say take a look around, read the news, and think back to when he assumed power, has the country benefitted or are we comparing rotten apples. Rotten is rotten.

    13. Samaras is his own man. Resorting to unsubstantiated slander is what populists do. They don’t care who they hurt with their lies. Their goal is only to harm those they don’t like.

      You say “look around”. I have. I suggest you do too before rushing to attack the only man standing between us and treasonous anti hellenic communist extremists running our country.