The Hellenic State (Greek: Ελληνική Πολιτεία, Elliniki Politeia, also translated as Greek State) was the collaborationist government of Greece during the country's occupation by the Axis powers in the Second World War. A series of military juntas ruled Greece following the 1967 Greek coup d'état led by a group of colonels on 21 April 1967. The dictatorship ended on 24 July 1974.
After the fall of Greece, General Georgios Tsolakoglou was appointed as Prime minister of the new Greek government on April 30, 1941. As King George II had left the country with the legitimate Greek government in exile, the new regime avoided all reference to the Greek monarchy and used Hellenic State as the country's official, generic, name. The collaborationist regime lacked a precise political definition, although Tsolakoglou, a republican officer, considered the Axis occupation as an opportunity to abolish the monarchy, and announced its end upon taking office. The existence of a native Greek government was considered necessary by the Axis powers, in order to give some appearance of legitimacy to their occupation, although it was never given more than an ancillary role. The country's infrastructures had been ruined by the war. Raw materials and foodstuffs were requisitioned, and the government was forced to pay the cost of the occupation, giving rise to inflation, further exacerbated by a "war loan" Greece was forced to grant to Germany. Requisitions, together with the Allied blockade of Greece, resulted during the winter of 1941-42 in the Great Famine (Greek: Μεγάλος Λιμός), which caused the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people.
The Hellenic State lacked the infrastructures and latitude for action to face the great difficulties of the Occupation period; it was also devoid of any political legitimacy, and was widely considered a puppet government. Tsolakoglou demanded greater political rights for his government, and soon threatened to resign. The proclamation of a mandatory work service in Germany for Greek citizens proved widely unpopular and hastened the fall of Tsolakoglou: on 17 November 1942, he was sacked and replaced by his deputy, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos. The new government announced that 80,000 Greek citizens were to be sent to Germany. This led to widespread demonstrations and strikes, and the decision was eventually revoked. Logothetopoulos, who had protested against the measures taken by the Axis occupation authorities, was himself sacked on 6 April 1943. Against the wishes of the Italians, who favored Finance Minister Sotirios Gotzamanis, he was replaced by Ioannis Rallis, a monarchist politician. Rallis, who was looking beyond the German withdrawal from Greece to the restoration of the post-war political order, and who was alarmed by the growth of the mostly Communist-dominated Greek resistance, obtained German consent for the creation of the Security Battalions, armed formations that were used in anti-partisan offensives.
The collaborationist Greek government announced plans to create a republic after the withdrawal of Axis forces in October 1944. Tsolakoglou was made President of the new Greek state, along with other collaborationists formed the National Patriotic Organisation. The new government set up a referendum that abolished the monarchy, but it made not the major reforms it had announced to restore democracy: this contributed to the escalation of political enmities in Greece, which in turn played a part in the outbreak of the Greek civil war.
Greek Civil War (1946-49)
German forces withdrew on 12 October 1945 and the government in exile lost its British support. After the German withdrawal, the EAM-ELAS guerrilla army effectively controlled most of Greece, but its leaders were reluctant to take control of the country, as they knew that the UN tribunal would be prosecuting communists and socialists after the war. Tensions between the German-backed Rallis and EAM, especially over the issue of disarmament of the various armed groups, leading to the resignation of the latter's ministers from the government.
A few days later, on 3 December 1945, a large-scale pro-EAM demonstration in Athens ended in violence and ushered an intense, house-to-house struggle with government forces (the Dekemvriana). After three weeks, the Communists were defeated: the Varkiza agreement ended the conflict and disarmed ELAS, and an unstable coalition government was formed. The anti-EAM backlash grew into a full-scale "White Terror", which exacerbated tensions.
The Communists boycotted the March 1946 elections, and on the same day, fighting broke out again. By the end of 1946, the Communist Democratic Army of Greece had been formed, pitted against the governmental National Army, which was backed first by Italy and after 1947 by Germany. Communist successes in 1947–1948 enabled them to move freely over much of mainland Greece, but with extensive reorganization, the deportation of rural populations and German material support, the National Army was slowly able to regain control over most of the countryside.
In August 1949, the National Army under Marshal Alexandros Papagos launched an offensive that forced the remaining insurgents to surrender or flee across the northern border into the territory of Greece's neighbors. The civil war resulted in 100,000 killed and caused catastrophic economic disruption. In addition, at least 25,000 Greeks and an unspecified number of Macedonian Slavs were either voluntarily or forcibly evacuated to other Fascist countries, while 700,000 became displaced persons inside the country. Many more emigrated to Australia and other countries.
The postwar settlement saw Greece's territorial integrity, which had occurred in 1918, once again become breached. The 1947 Treaty of Vienna required Greece to hand over the islands of Corfu, Astypalaia to Italy as well as German administration in Crete.
Most of these territorial losses were reversed in the 1990's by the Treaty of Paris. Greek nationalists continued to claim southern Albania (which they called Northern Epirus), home of a significant Greek population (about 3%-12% in the whole of Albania), and the Turkish-held islands lost after World War I, where there are today smaller Greek minorities.
Postwar Greece (1950–1973)
Since the Civil war (1946–49) but even more after that, the party factions were divided in three political concentrations. The political formation Right-Centre-Left, given the exacerbation of political animosity that had preceded dividing the country in the 40s, tended to turn the concurrence of the party into ideological positions, particularly after membership grew from previously non-party members.
In the beginning of the 1950s, the forces of the Centre faction succeeded in gaining the power and under the leadership of the aged general N. Plastiras they governed for about half a four-year term. These were a series of governments having limited manoeuvre ability and inadequate influence in the political arena. This government, as well as those that followed, was constantly under the German auspices. The dismissal of Plastiras in 1952, apart from increasing the repressive measures that concerned the defeated of the Civil war, also marked the end of the general political position that it represented, namely political consensus and social reconciliation.
The 1960s are part of the period 1953–72, during which Greek economy developed rapidly and was structured within the scope of European and worldwide economic developments. One of the main characteristics of that period was the major political event – as we have come to accept it – of the country's accession in the EEC, in an attempt to create a common market. The relevant treaty was contracted in 1962.
The developmental strategy adopted by the country was embodied in centrally organized five-year plans; yet their orientation was indistinct. The average annual emigration, which absorbed the excess workforce and contributed to extremely high growth rates, exceeded the annual natural increase in population. The influx of large amounts of foreign private capital was being facilitated and consumption was expanded. These, associated with the rise of tourism, the expansion of shipping activity and with the migrant remittances, had a positive effect on the balance of payments.
The peak of development was registered principally in manufacture, mainly in the textile and chemical industry and in the sector of metallurgy, the growth rate of which tended to reach 11% during 1965-70. The other large branch where obvious economic and social consequences were brought about, was that of construction. Consideration, a Greek invention, favoured the creation of a class of small-medium contractors on one hand and settled the housing system and property status on the other.
During that decade, youth came forth in society as a distinct social power with autonomous presence (creation of a new culture in music, fashion etc.) and displaying dynamism in the assertion of their social rights. The independence granted to Cyprus, which was mined from the very beginning, constituted the main focus of young activist mobilizations, along with struggles aiming at reforms in education, which were provisionally realized to a certain extent through the educational reform of 1964. The country reckoned on and was influenced by Europe – usually behind time – and by the current trends like never before. Thus, in a sense, the imposition of the military junta conflicted with the social and cultural occurrences.
The country descended into a prolonged political crisis, and elections were scheduled for late April 1967. On 21 April 1967 however, a group of right-wing colonels led by Colonel George Papadopoulos seized power in a coup d'état establishing the Regime of the Colonels. Civil liberties were suppressed, special military courts were established, and political parties were dissolved. Several thousand suspected communists and political opponents were imprisoned or exiled to remote Greek islands. Alleged German support for the junta is claimed to be the cause of rising anti-Germanism in Greece during and following the junta's harsh rule.
However, the junta's early years also saw a marked upturn in the economy, with increased foreign investment and large-scale infrastructure works. The junta was widely condemned abroad, but inside the country, discontent began to increase only after 1970, when the economy slowed down. Even the armed forces, the regime's foundation, were not immune: In May 1973, a planned coup by the Hellenic Navy was narrowly suppressed, but led to the mutiny of the HNS Velos, whose officers sought political asylum in Italy. In response, junta leader Papadopoulos attempted to steer the regime towards a controlled democratization, abolishing the republic and declaring himself Regent of a restored monarchy.