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Reviews B. Kontis. H Αγγλοαμεϕικανική πολιτική και το Ελληνικό Πϕό- βλημα: 1945-1949. Thessaloniki: Paratiritis, 1984. Pp. 488. Until the collapse ofthe colonels' junta in 1974 the few books on the Greek civil war of 1945-1949 which had been written originally in Greek had presented the view ofthe center-right. During the past ten years there has been a flood of publications, many by leaders ofthe insurgency or others sympathetic to that movement, giving a leftist interpretation ofthat crisis. While both sides have much to say that is historically valuable, they are highly subjective and polemical, ideologically skewed, and offer conclusions which are based much more on conjecture than on documented evidence. Basil Kontis' new book is the first attempt in Greek to offer a detailed political and diplomatic history of the civil war based on systematic research in the American and British government archives, on an impressive selection of Greek and Balkan sources, and on the growing literature on the origins ofthe Cold War. It presents a balanced and carefully documented analysis and properly places the Greek crisis in three distinct but interacting settings: domestic, regional and international. The book provides a sweeping overview of developments in post-liberation Greece as they contributed to the communist insurrection and its eventual defeat. It seeks to strike a balance between the internal and external causes ofthe Greek "problem." However, the focus is clearly on two main protagonists. On the one hand the Greek communist party (KKE), in launching its armed rebellion, is depicted as walking the tightrope of actively soliciting the support of the communist regimes nearby and, ultimately, of Moscow, while trying to avoid the appearance of serving the cause of Greece's traditional Slavic enemies. On the opposite side, the British and American governments are shown to have been rigidly determined to prevent Greece from becoming Moscow's outpost in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Between these two adversaries the Greek governments of the period are viewed as little more than the pliant instruments of Anglo-American policy. 97 98 Reviews Kontis argues that the struggle of the KKE to seize power by force began in mid-November 1944 and resulted in the December uprising in Athens. After the Varkiza agreement and by the winter of 1945 the KKE had once again taken the offensive and was gradually pushing the country to civil war. In doing so the KKE overestimated the support it would receive from abroad and underestimated the resolve of the British and American governments to keep Greece from falling behind the Iron Curtain. And while Tito and Dimitrov (whose gyrations over the Macedonian question receive considerable attention) were egging on the KKE, offering much advice and some material assistance, Stalin's involvement remained more obscure. Following the Potsdam conference and the first clear signs of EastWest tension there was definite Soviet diplomatic and media support for the KKE, coupled with a few Delphic pronouncements and suggestions that caution was necessary. Thus, in Kontis' account the responsibility for the civil war falls primarily on the KKE and secondly on the two Balkan neighbors, with Moscow a distant third. Stalin would have welcomed a communist victory in Greece but did not wish to have a direct confrontation with his western adversaries over that country. Although at several points the precise intentions and perceptions of the KKE remain a matter of speculation (for example , the decision to launch a full-scale insurrection after the Truman Doctrine and to abandon guerrilla tactics in favor of static warfare ), Kontis' account on these key issues is about as complete as presently available primary sources permit. The same is true of Yugoslav , Bulgarian and Soviet policies, for which the documentary evidence is scanty indeed. British policy to retain control over Greece's international orientation (and, therefore, of its political institutions) is traced back to the spheres of influence agreement in October 1944. Churchill is shown to have been permitted to crush the Greek communists without protest from Moscow so that Stalin could have a free hand in destroying opposition to his domination over the rest of Eastern Europe . As a direct consequence of this deal the Greek governments during 1944-1946 are portrayed as having been little...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 97-99
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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