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Journal of Cold War Studies 4.3 (2002) 137-140

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Book Review

After the War Was Over:
Reconstructing the Family, Nation, and State in Greece, 1943-1960

Mark Mazower, ed., After the War Was Over: Reconstructing the Family, Nation, and State in Greece, 1943-1960. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. 352 pp. $19.95.

Insofar as the causes of the Greek crisis of the 1940s are to be found in "the very structures of Greek society" (p. 9), the contributors to this book examine their topic from the standpoint of Greece's social history before and after that crucial decade. Using new and old sources innovatively, the authors discuss how structural tensions were exacerbated by the experiences of occupation and collaboration in 1941-1944; how the occupation of Greece and the rise of the Communist-led National Liberation Front (EAM) sparked mass unrest; how this process unleashed widespread hopes for sweeping social and political change; how these hopes were frustrated in 1945-1949; how the experiences of the 1940s affected the law, the state, the individual, the family, and various social groups; the extent to which the crisis affected Greek perceptions of ethnicity and national identity; and how individuals, families, groups, communities, and the state survived the wartime decade and constructed, preserved, and used their respective memories.

The authors devote much of their attention to the themes of justice and violence. By the time of liberation in October 1944, three different political groups championed three different concepts of political criminality. For the monarchist Right, justice was intimately connected to the individual's ethnic affiliation; for the Left, justice was to be meted out to those who opposed its vision of "People's Democracy"; and for liberals and their British patrons, justice was based on the notion of individual "treachery." At different times all three forms of justice were practiced, but what ultimately prevailed was the version championed by the Right. [End Page 137]

This is illustrated by the abortive attempts to purge Greek academia and by the trials of collaborators in 1945-1946. Capitalizing on the ideological polarization and anti-Communist turn of 1945-1946, right-wing professors were able to thwart proceedings against their compromised colleagues and to manipulate the authorities' intentions to expel left-wing academics. Similarly, upon liberation the Greek government vowed to proceed with the punishment of collaborators. In 1945-1946 the punishments were only sporadic, whereas after 1946, when the only preoccupation was the elimination of the Communist "threat," the state openly reneged on its earlier promises. Yet, as discussed in the last chapter of the book, the silence imposed over wartime collaboration was broken loudly but briefly in the 1950s, when the trial of a German war criminal in Greece underscored how extensively the country's postwar elites had been compromised by their wartime activities. This burst of candor, however, did not last long. The governments of Greece and the Federal Republic of Germany reached an accommodation that prevented any unsavory revelations.

The concept of justice was intricately related to the violence that had plagued Greece since 1941. Three chapters focus on violence at the microhistorical level—a village, a group of villages (both in central Greece), and a conservative southern province. In the case of the single village, EAM remained popular and its members were proud that no one had been killed by the left-wing resistance (pp. 216-217). In the case of a group of villages, the Left waged a violent campaign against its opponents, yet the decision of the local population to support EAM was based primarily on a sense of patriotism, the deterioration of living conditions under occupation, EAM's emphasis on relief measures, and the organization's support of revered institutions such as the church and family. This was not the case after 1945, when the violence unleashed by right-wing paramilitaries and the state ("White Terror") was of "enormous proportions" and aimed to break the influence of the Left (p. 196).

The third microhistorical study, by...