Les Kapetanios: La guerre civile grecque 1943-1949
by Dominique Eudes
Fayard (Paris), 493 pp., 30 Fr.
Democracy at Gunpoint: the Greek Front
by Andreas Papandreou
Doubleday, 365 pp., $7.95
by Andreas Papandreou
Carnegie-Mellon (distributed by Columbia University Press), 72 pp., $4.00
Nightmare in Athens
by Margaret Papandreou
Prentice-Hall, 390 pp., $8.95
Vérité sur la Grèce
La Cité (Lausanne), 252 pp., 21 Fr.
Greece: February 1971 Relations, United States Senate
A Staff Report Prepared for the Use of the Committee on Foreign
U.S. Government Printing Office, 16 pp.
Imagine what would be the common belief today if General Westmoreland had won the war in Vietnam several years ago. Ho Chi Minh would be remembered as a bloodthirsty communist traitor, while Emperor Bao Dai, Diem, Ky, and Thieu would be hailed as the saviors of their country. We would know nothing of My Lai, and we would have forgotten about napalm, defoliants, “free fire zones,” and mass “relocation” of peasants. Instead we would be treated to tales (which ultimately we would accept as the full story) of wholesale atrocities in POW camps and of mass graves which would be exposed and publicized, as they were when the My Lai story first broke.
Such transformation of fact into myth, and myth into fact, has happened in the case of Greece. Unlike Westmoreland, who failed in Vietnam, the British General Scobie and the American General Van Fleet won their wars in Greece. As a result, few people now realize that Greece entered the postwar period with a state apparatus pervaded from top to bottom with quislings. Few people also know that in Greece no resistance fighter ever received a medal for his services to his country; instead these men were hounded down and imprisoned and shot. This, and much more, remains largely unknown outside Greece, because no revisionist historian has so far refuted the cold war mythology about Greece.
How great the need for a reappraisal of the history of the Greek resistance and how useful such a reappraisal would be are evident in Les Kapetanios, the pioneering study by the French journalist Dominique Eudes. Based on extensive personal interviews as well as published sources, Eudes’s work contains much hitherto unpublished information. Certainly it should be translated into many other languages.
The hero of Les Kapetanios is Ares Velouchiotes, who might be described as a Greek Tito who failed. Like his Yugoslav counterpart, Ares was a Communist leader who, during the Occupation, sought to ensure Partisan hegemony against both native oligarchs and foreign powers. But Ares was a tragic figure, doomed both by flaws in his own personality and by a Stalinist party leadership slavishly committed to the Kremlin line. Against this leadership Ares had no chance because he lacked Tito’s ability to formulate a nationalist communist doctrine, and to organize and lead a nationalist communist party.
Rather Ares was a typical guerrilla chieftain—a fearless, commanding figure, a brilliant tactician in mountain fighting, but far too impetuous and undisciplined to work with the plodding mediocrities of the Communist Party hierarchy. Accordingly he was always an outsider. This was especially so after he signed under mysterious circumstances a “declaration of repentance” which freed him from incarceration during the Metaxas dictatorship of the late 1930s. But unlike other signatories, Ares promptly resumed the struggle against the dictatorship after his release.
With the Axis occupation of Greece in 1941, Ares finally came into his own. In the mountains of Roumele he became a folk hero—the leading resistance fighter in …