King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
From Empire to Nationhood


Greek resistance fightersGreek resistance fightersDuring the Second World War, Greek resistance to Italian and German occupation was vigorous with both the communist National Popular Liberation Army (ELAS) and the non-communist National Republican Greek League (EDES) engaged in combat and a broader fight to secure independence.

Undercover support for resistance was provided by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), led by Brigadier Edmund Myers and Col Christopher Woodhouse, who persuaded both groups to cooperate to disrupt Germany's supply lines, notably leading to the destruction of the strategic Gorgopotamos bridge and Asopos viaduct in 1942-1943.

Asopos BridgeAsopos BridgeThe German occupation ended in October 1944 whereupon the uneasy alliance between resistance groups, which had begun to disintegrate in October 1943, broke down completely.

Britain supported the return from exile of the anti-communist Greek monarchy that it then equipped with arms.

Filio PapaioannouFilio PapaioannouThe Greek government and their British allies moved to suppress ELAS, ending the fragile peace that had been concluded in early 1945. In 1946 bloody civil war resumed.

The communists were weakened, however, by splits among their supporters that mirrored the deepening divisions between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia under its leader, Josip Tito.

German collaboratorGerman collaboratorThe arrival of US support in 1947 was also important in bringing about communist defeat in 1949.

A succession of conservative governments in Greece culminated in a coup and the Colonels' regime, 1967- 1974.

This period was characterised by political repression and human rights abuses that were brought to public attention by Greek exiles and British sympathisers including Sir Compton Mackenzie, who founded the League for Democracy in Greece in 1945 and the subsequent Greek Relief Fund that provided charitable support.

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