List of Greek Resistance organizations
During the period of the
Axis Occupation of Greecein the Second World War, a multitude of Resistance organizations sprang up. A May 1943 report of the Intelligence Bureau of the Greek government in exilementioned 33 active groups, [ΔΙΣ/ΓΕΣ (Army History Directorate): "Αρχεία Εθνικής Αντίστασης (1941-44)" (Archives of the National Resistance), Athens 1998, Vol. 7, pp. 51-53] a number that increased to 79 in a joint British report of 17 October 1943. ["Greek Resistance Organisations and Connected Political Parties", Appendix A, WO204/8897; This report includes "all" active groups, including those gathered within the framework of EAM and others which co-operated closely] According to some sources, the number was as high as 140. These numbers include groups of vastly different natures, which can be roughly divided in three categories: the major organizations, which displayed significant regional or nation-wide action, including guerrillaoperations against the Occupation authorities; the small political groupings, mainly active in Athens, with a limited following and engaged mainly in political propaganda and small-scale sabotage; and a small number of groups focused on intelligence and sabotage operations, in direct cooperation with the British secret services in the Middle East.
These were organizations with a political agenda, usually progressive, republican and with socialist tendencies. They all developed guerrilla forces, but with the exception of the National Liberation Front, none succeeded to become a true nation-wide mass movement, and all were confined to the regions where they were first established.
National Liberation Front
The National Liberation Front ("Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo", EAM) was the largest organization, with a membership of over one million. It was formed on
27 September 1941out of several leftist parties and organizations, but the central role was played by the Greek Communist Party. From 1943 onwards, EAM came into increasing conflict with the other Resistance groups. The parties and organizations that functioned within EAM included:
Communist Party of Greece(KKE)
Socialist Party of Greece(SΚΕ)
Union of Popular Democracy(ΕLD)
Agricultural Party of Greece(AKE)
National Labour Liberation Front(EEAM), which functioned as EAM's trade union
* the National Solidarity (E.A.), EAM's welfare wing
Greek People's Liberation Army(ELAS), the movement's armed guerrilla wing
United Panhellenic Organization of Youth(EPON), EAM's youth wing, formed from the amalgamation of ten leftist youth organizations in February 1943
Organization for the Protection of the People's Fighters(OPLA), the Communist Party's paramilitary security force
* the Slavic-Macedonian National Liberation Front (SNOF)
National Republican Greek League
National Republican Greek League("Ethnikos Dimokratikos Ellinikos Syndesmos", EDES) was the second-largest organization, founded on 9 September 1941. Its military wing, the National Groups of Greek Guerrillas (EOEA), were active mainly in the Epirusarea, but its political wing, centered in Athens, was accused of collaboration with the Germans.
National and Social Liberation
National and Social Liberation("Ethniki kai Koinoniki Apeleftherosis", EKKA) was the smallest and last of the three main Resistance groups to be formed, in the autumn of 1942. Its military wing, the 5/42 Evzones Regimentwas active mainly in eastern Central Greecebefore its bloody dissolution by ELAS troops in April 1944.
Defenders of Northern Greece("Yperaspistai Voreiou Ellados", YVE) was one of the first organizations to be formed, and the first to field guerrilla units. It was concentrated in Northern Greece, in the area of Macedonia and was formed especially against the Bulgarian occupation. Because of subsequent collaboration of many of its senior members with the Germans, the Resistance wing was reformed as the Panhellenic Liberation Organization(PAO).
The Hellenic Army (E.S.) was formed by ex-Army officers, and aimed to reconstitute the Greek Army. It did not succeed to extend its activities beyond the
National Organization of Crete
National Organization of Crete("Ethniki Organosi Kritis", EOK) was the umbrella organization for all non-EAM guerrilla groups in the island of Crete.
These groups were confined to Athens and its suburbs, and engaged primarily in political propaganda, through the publication of various proclamations and newspapers. In terms of membership they were small, centered around a leader, with members largely drawn from his family and friends, and often overlapping with other groups. Generally, their members were young, and the political programs they espoused were republican and socialist. There were however exceptions, such as the groups formed by royalist army officers.
Panhellenic Union of Fighting Youths
Panhellenic Union of Fighting Youths(PEAN) was perhaps the most active of the small urban resistance groups. It was founded in October 1941 by the Air Force Lieutenant Kostas Perrikos. Aside from its political activities, PEAN is most notable for carrying out two of the largest urban sabotage acts of the entire Occupation: the bombings of the pro-Nazi OEDE and ESPOorganizations in August and September 1942. Although the main core of the group was soon after betrayed to the Germans and executed, the organization continued to function, albeit largely limited to a purely political role, until Liberation.gr icon [http://www.enet.gr/online/online_obj?pid=93&tp=T&id=20570856 "Οι αντιστασιακές οργανώσεις φύτρωναν σαν μανιτάρια"] article in the " Eleftherotypia" newspaper, 8.4.2006]
Army of Enslaved Victors
The Army of Enslaved Victors ("Stratia Sklavomenon Nikiton", SSN) was founded by
Kostas Perrikos, Andreas Gyftakis and Nikolaos Mylonas in June 1941 and published its forst proclamation in October of that year. At that point, Perrikos left the group to found PEAN. From December 1942, SSN published its own paper, "Greater Greece" ("Megali Ellas").
The Sacred Brigade ("Iera Taxiarchia", IT) was founded by Kostas Perrikos in June 1942, but appeared openly on its own only in August 1942. Closely cooperating with PEAN and the "Omiros" group, it printed its own newspaper, the monthly "Hellenic Youth" ("Ellinika Neiata"), with over 3,000 copies. In June 1943, it fused with PEAN.
These were small organizations, which functioned mainly in the big cities. They were not politically active, but focused solely on obtaining intelligence on the Axis forces in Greece, as well as carrying out several sabotage missions and heloing Allied military personnel to escape to neutral Turkey. Most of these were led by former military officers, and functioned under the supervision of either the British
Special Operations Executive(SOE) or the Inter-Services Liaison Department (ISLD) of the Secret Intelligence Service(MI6).
The "Bouboulina" group was founded on
10 May 1941by Lela Karagianniand her family and named after Laskarina Bouboulina, a heroine of the Greek War of Independence. Initially, the group focused on helping Allied soldiers to flee to the Middle East. Gradually, the group established an effective intelligence network, and engaged in sabotage acts. It also smuggled 80 Jews to Turkey. However, on 11 July 1944Karagianni was betrayed and arrested, being executed two months later.
The "Omiros" ("
Homer") group was founded in September 1941, and established contact with the ISLD in April 1942. Active in the wider Athens area, including the harbour of Piraeus, Corinthand Thessaloniki, it eventually spread over much of the Greek mainland. It was led by Colonel Stylianos Kitrilakisand Lt Colonel Konstantinos Dovas, both of whom would rise to significant positions in the post-war royalist establishment.
Maleas and Aliki
The "Maleas" group (named after
Cape Malea) was founded in late 1941 by Navy Captain Alexandros Levidis, and was initially focused on aiding the escape of British servicemen to the Middle East. Eventually, in October 1942, the group was split in two: "Maleas 1", under the control of ISLD, with Commander Evgenios Valasakis as its head, carried on with the intelligence-gathering operations, while "Maleas 2" under Levidis continued to aid the escape of Allied personnel, in cooperation with MI9. "Maleas 1" was later renamed to "Syrios" ("the Syrian") and finally to "Aliki" ("Alice"). From August 1943, it was under the direction of Commander Konstantinos Hasiotis.
The "Kodros" group (named after King
Codrus) was founded in October 1942 by the retired Lt Commander Panagiotis Lykourezos. It was the third group under ISLD control, and was active mainly in the Athens area.
Odysseus and Prometheus II
The two agents "Odysseus" and "Prometheus II" had been enlisted by the Special Operations Executive already before the outbreak of the war, and were the service's main Greek operatives in occupied Greece. "Odysseus" was the codename of Gerasimos Alexatos, a professional smuggler, while "Prometheus II" was Navy officer Charalambos Koutsogiannopoulos. Alexatos made frequent trips to Turkey, acting as a courier and bringing back money, instructions and equipment. Later, his team would act as the liaison between SOE and EAM, while the "Prometheus II" team took on the liaison with EDES. "Prometheus II" continued to function until its radio team, together with Koutsogiannopoulos, was seized by the Germans on
3 February 1943.
The "Apollo" ("Apollon") group was founded by
Ioannis Peltekis, a member of "Prometheus II" who had fled to Turkey upon that organization's destruction by the Germans. He soon returned to Athens, authorized by SOE to create a new group. Under his direction, "Apollo" became one of the largest intelligence organizations in wartime Europe, with over 800 agents. Peltekis quickly succeeded in freeing Koutsogiannopoulos from jail, and his organization provided the British with accurate information on Axis shipping, air defenses and aircraft deplyments on an almost daily basis.
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