Organization X

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Organization X
Οργάνωσις Χ
Participant in the Dekemvriana
Flag of Grivas Organization X.png
Flag of the Organization X
Active 1941-1946
Ideology Greek nationalism, Royalism, Anti-communism, Right-wing populism
Leaders Georgios Grivas
Allies Greek government-in-exile, EDES, Hellenic Gendarmerie, Cities Police, British Army, Security Battalions
Opponents EAM, ELAS, Communist Party of Greece

The Organization X (Greek: Οργάνωσις Χ, commonly referred to simply as X ("Chi" in Greek), and members as Χίτες, Chites) was a notorious paramilitary militia of the extreme right set up during the Axis occupation of Greece, in June 1941. Initially, the group's name was Grivas Military Organization' (Greek: Στρατιωτική Οργάνωσις Γρίβα) and in March 1943 it was renamed, adopting the letter of the Greek alphabet chi from the George's II royal monogram (X). X was heavily involved in the persecution of non-monarchists during and after the occupation and considered communism to be its principal or even sole enemy.

Foundation and activities during the Occupation[edit]

Founder and leader of X was Colonel Georgios Grivas, a Greek Cypriot by birth, who later acquired fame as leader of the underground EOKA movement in Cyprus. Grivas concentrated his efforts in the wealthy districts of Athens and expanded X to between 2,000 and 3,000 men in 1944. He recruited his men and arms from officers who were retained on the active list by the quisling government.[1]

X was pure anti-communist and its resistance action included spying for the Allies, minor anti-German actions and transport to the Middle East. But its relations to the occupying power were ambivalent. The organisation was tolerated and possibly armed by the Germans, and even before the German departure fortified a base near the ancient temple of Thiseion. Towards the end of the Occupation, X received arms from British sources with which its members fought in the Dekemvriana clashes of December 1944.[2]

The Dekemvriana[edit]

In the weeks between the departure of the Germans and the events of December 1944 (the Dekemvriana), X played an active part in the campaign of provocation of Athenians orchestrated by the British, according to ELAS' members.[3] This commenced in Athens on 12 October, the day that Athens was celebrating liberation, when a mixed gang of EDES and Chites killed the ELAS member Theodoros Tsilikas.[4] In late October the X of Thiseio, reinforced by Security Battalionists, made an incursion into Petralona and killed 20 locals, including a number of Petralona gypsies.[5]

On 3 December 1944 a 250,000-strong (but unarmed) demonstration was shot at by Greek police under the police chief Angelos Evert, with between 22 and 28 people killed and hundreds wounded.[6] The next day, 4 December, another peaceful demonstration cum funeral procession took place. This time government forces took no action but the procession was attacked by Chites led by Colonel Grivas, with over 100 dead. There followed the December insurrection, in which X supported the British and Greek government forces.

X during the White Terror[edit]

In accordance with the Treaty of Varkiza of February 1945, ELAS disarmed, leaving its supporters vulnerable to attacks from right-wing gangs, during a period known as the White Terror. The White Terror was conducted by an informal alliance of army officers, National Guards, policemen, armed gangs, political organisations and people from families who had victims during the occupation and Dekemvriana seeking revenge. The majority were determined to prepare the way for a rigged plebiscite and the return of the king. Anyone deemed to be left-wing, or who had supported the communist-led resistance (EAM or ELAS) in any way was subjected to random beatings, repeated arrests, torture, murder or rape. Many people left their villages for safety either in the big towns or in the mountains. Civil war now appeared to be inevitable.

X played an active role in the White Terror, and even in the weeks before Varkiza British officials were complaining of police using elements of X and EDES to make political arrests under warrants issued by a police magistrate who was a member of X.[7] One of the significant events involving X occurred in January 1946 when 1000 Chites under the bandit Manganas took over the town of Kalamata in the Peloponnese. They released 32 right-wing prisoners and terrorised the town during the night killing 6 people. In 1948 Manganas resumed a career of banditry in the Olympia region.

During 1945 attempts were made to coordinate persecution of the Left. Much of the liaison was conducted by X, which from May 1945 sent agents into the provinces to recruit members, and accepted affiliation from numerous other organisations. The local right-wing organisations rigged the electoral process and compiled lists of people to be arrested in the event of a coup.[8]

As the general election approached early in 1946 the role of X diminished. Themistoklis Sophoulis’s government closed X’s national offices in January, and its successor did not allow them to reopen. By 1946 X was regarded as an embarrassment as it discredited the Greek government in international eyes.[9]

X was officially recognized as a National Organization of Internal Resistance by a royal decree of March 10, 1950.[10] (The biggest resistance organisation EAM-ELAS was not recognised until 1982.[11])

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Louis Hondros, Occupation & Resistance: the Greek Agony (New York: Pella, 1983), p. 142
  2. ^ , Heinz Richter, British Intervention in Greece (London: Merlin Press, 1985) p. 167; David Close, The Origins of the Greek Civil War (London: Longman, 1995), p. 114; Neni Panourgia, Dangerous Citizens New York: Fordham University Press, 2009), p. 58-9.
  3. ^ Orestis Makis, Ο ΕΛΑΣ της Αθηνας (Athens: Synchroni Epochi, 1985); Επεσαν για τη Ζωη (Athens: KKE, 2004); Manos Ioannidis, Φακελος Νο9745/Β (Athens: Medousa, 2005).
  4. ^ Επεσαν για τη Ζωη (Athens: KKE, 2004), p. 56.
  5. ^ Orestis Makis, Ο ΕΛΑΣ της Αθηνας (Athens: Synchroni Epochi, 1985), p. 176.
  6. ^ Constantine Tsoucalas, The Greek Tragedy (Baltimkore: Penguin, 1969) (Tsoucalas gives a figure of 28 dead).
  7. ^ Hondros, p. 249. Hondros’s reference is R1373/4/19 Leeper to FO, January 18YT6h.
  8. ^ David Close, p. 114.
  9. ^ David Close, p. 157.
  10. ^ Papadopoulos Omiros 2000, Organosis X: Tria Hronia Tris Eones, Nea Thesis, Athens, pp. 166
  11. ^ Βαγγέλης Τζούκας, Η αναγνώριση της Εθνικής Αντίστασης", στο Β.Βαμβακάς-Π. Παναγιωτόπουλος (επιμ.), Η Ελλάδα στη δεκαετία του 80: κοινωνικό, πολιτικό και πολιτισμικό λεξικό, Αθήνα, Το πέρασμα, 2010