Ancient history

The Metropolitan's Regency

Last updated:2022-07-25

It now seems obvious that the main error of judgment committed by the leaders of the K.K.E. was to have misunderstood the reactions of foreign powers. They had little idea of ​​the agreement between Churchill and Stalin and it is quite possible that they counted on the intervention of Moscow in their favor. They doubtless refused to believe that the British would use force against them. They may also have imagined that in any case, since they controlled most of Greece, they were strong enough to fight against the British armies, which were mainly concentrated in Athens.

There are good reasons to believe that they were encouraged by Tito. One thing is certain:they took Athens as their main objective and the forces of the E.L.A.S. had already begun to converge on the capital two days before the riot which broke out on December 3, Place de la Constitution, and gave the signal for the insurrection.
The Communists had not however not entirely mistaken. The British action in Greece provoked a number of hostile Labor comments during a Commons debate on December 5 from the Foreign Office and some English journalists.
But the Communists failed to take advantage of their first tactical successes and gave London time to send reinforcements. Moreover, public opinion turned against them when Churchill and Eden traveled to Athens on Christmas Day and met the leaders of the K.K.E. Although Churchill warned them that "President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin were aware of his coming to Athens and approved of it", the leaders of the K.K.E. refused to recognize their isolation and made demands that neither the British nor their supporters could accept — which they probably knew.

At that time, the Soviet Union was certainly not seeking to attempt a showdown in Greece, as confirmed by the December 30 appointment of a Soviet ambassador to the government in Athens. The leaders of the K.K.E. could no longer hide from themselves that Moscow disapproved of their insurrection. On the other hand, Churchill himself took some steps to reconcile the different political groups. He was now convinced that a plebiscite had to be organized before the king's return to Greece, and on December 31 he had Bishop Dimitrios Damaskinos, Metropolitan of Athens, appointed regent. Papandreou was asked to resign and make way for General Nikolaos Plastiras, who had long been known for his Republican sympathies.

The Communists fought until January 11, 1945. That day, they suffered a military defeat which left them no choice but to ask General Scobie for a truce. A month later, in Varzika, near Athens, an agreement was signed:it included amnesty for communist leaders accused of political crimes and the promise of a plebiscite on the question of the monarchy, as well as several measures of general reform. In exchange, E.L.A.S. laid down their arms.

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