Return to Home Page Harrys Greece Guide

Greek History: The aftermath of WWII and the Civil War Page 1

Those whose emotions are tweaked by the novel, ‘Eleni’, and the barbaric excesses portrayed therein of the communist guerillas, including mass murder and kidnapping, often fail to read of the ‘political re-education camps’, often on arid islands, and convicted murderers exiled for a quarter of a century (KKE) by the non-communist government that won the Greek Civil War.

After 1952, the communists were also excluded from future governments by the change from the electoral system to the majority vote. The right wing Greek Rally party, headed by General Papagos, and backed by the United States, ruled the government from 1952 until Papagos’ death in 1955.

Greece joined NATO in 1952, and the US was granted the right to have set up bases on Greek soil, smoothing the way with continued aid, including military aid, but also such things as pesticides to wipe out malaria. Papagos’ successor was Konstandinos Karamanlis., who liberalized things to an extent, and who established some degree of financial stability, especially with the return of (ironically) Greece’s old German markets.

He encouraged the law of ‘antiparohi’, however, which had very long ranging effects, quite negative in terms of architectural integrity and beauty. This law enabled owners of houses to offer the sites on which their houses stood (whether small, mud brick refugee houses , or neoclassical mansions) to highrise apartment developers, in exchange for two of the eight to ten apartments in the building.

As anyone who views modern Athens can easily see, most of these buildings were thrown up with no eye to grace or beauty, their grey concrete often unpainted and streaked, and such building continues even now, more than a half century later. Many Greeks will defend the destruction of the old single story houses by referring to the desperate need for work and housing that existed after the ten horrific years of World War II and the subsequent Civil War.

Such high rises often house extended families, who would not have been able to move to the city at a time when that was the main other choice besides emigration. The manner in which they were built however, seems to have been unregulated , and people will also speak of the common practice of bribing to get one’s way in Greece. Many of those who didn’t move into the high rises in the 1950s, migrated to west Europe, Canada, the United States and Australia, driven by the need for work and a better future.