List of Greek Resistance organizations
During the period of the Axis Occupation of Greece in the Second World War, a multitude of Resistance organizations sprang up. A May 1943 report of the Intelligence Bureau of the Greek government in exile mentioned 33 active groups, a number that increased to 79 in a joint British report of 17 October 1943. 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 nationwide action, including guerrilla operations 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.
- 1 Major organizations
- 2 Minor groups
- 3 Intelligence groups
- 4 Notes
- 5 Sources
These were organizations with a political agenda, usually progressive, republican and with more or less socialist tendencies. They all developed guerrilla forces, but with the exception of the National Liberation Front, none succeeded in becoming a true nationwide mass movement, and were confined to the regions where they were first established.
National Liberation Front (EAM)
The National Liberation Front (Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo, EAM) was by far the largest organization, with a membership estimated between half and two million and up to 150,000 fighters. It was formed on 27 September 1941 out of several leftist parties and organizations, such as the Socialist Party of Greece (SΚΕ), the Union of People's Democracy (ΕLD), and the Agricultural Party of Greece (AKE), but the central role was played by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). From 1943 onwards, EAM came into increasing conflict with the other Resistance groups. The parties and organizations that functioned within EAM included:
- the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), the movement's armed guerrilla wing
- the Greek People's Liberation Navy (ELAN), the auxiliary naval force of ELAS
- the National Labour Liberation Front (EEAM), which functioned as EAM's trade union
- the National Solidarity (E.A.), EAM's welfare wing
- the United Panhellenic Organization of Youth (EPON), EAM's youth wing, formed from the amalgamation of ten leftist youth organizations in February 1943
- the 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 (EDES)
The 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 Epirus area, but its political wing, centered in Athens, engaged in collaboration with the Germans. Included:
- the National Groups of Greek Guerrillas (EOEA), military wing
- the Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI), a branch based in Albanian territory under the leadership of Vasilios Sahinis
National and Social Liberation (EKKA)
The National and Social Liberation (Ethniki kai Koinoniki Apeleftherosis, EKKA), founded by Dimitrios Psarros, 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 Evzone Regiment was active mainly in eastern Central Greece before its bloody dissolution by ELAS troops in April 1944 and the murder of Psarros.
The Defenders of Northern Greece (Υπερασπισταί Βορείου Ελλάδος, 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). Participated in the Battle of Fardykambos, but shortly after was attacked by ELAS and dissolved.
National Organization 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 (PEAN)
The 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 Organisation of the National Forces of Greece (OEDE) and National-Socialist Patriotic Organisation (ESPO) organizations 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.
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 first 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.
RAN (Rumelia-Avlona-Nisoi) was another small armed urban resistance group, based in Athens. It was under the command of the Venizelist general Konstantinos Ventiris. During the Dekemvriana it fought with the government forces against EAM-ELAS. Its acronym derived from its post-war territorial claims, i.e. (Eastern) Rumelia, Avlona (and Northern Epirus) and the Italian-occupied Dodecanese Islands.
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 helping 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 1941 by Lela Karagianni and 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, engaged in sabotage acts and was collaborating with EDES of Napoleon Zervas. It also smuggled 80 Jews to Turkey. However, on 11 July 1944 Karagianni 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, Corinth and Thessaloniki, it eventually spread over much of the Greek mainland. It was led by Colonel Stylianos Kitrilakis and Lt Colonel Konstantinos Dovas, both of whom would rise to significant positions in the post-war royalist establishment. Another notable member was Stylianos Pattakos, later member of the Greek junta of the Colonels.
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.
Organization of National Resistance of the Interior X
Founder and leader of the organization was Georgios Grivas, lieutenant colonel of the Hellenic Army at the time and leader of the guerrilla campaign of Greek Cypriots against British colonial rule in the 1950s.
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. It was anti-communist and its resistance action included spying for the Allies, minor anti-German actions and transport to the Middle East.
- ΔΙΣ/ΓΕΣ (Army History Directorate): Αρχεία Εθνικής Αντίστασης (1941-44) (Archives of the National Resistance), Athens 1998, Vol. 7, pp. 51-53
- 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
- Tucker, Spencer C. (2013). Encyclopedia of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: A New Era of Modern Warfare. ABC-CLIO. p. 155. ISBN 1610692802.
- Stavrakis, Peter J. (1989). Moscow and Greek Communism, 1944-1949. Cornell University Press. pp. 11–14. ISBN 080142125X.
- Clogg, Richard (1979). A Short History of Modern Greece. Cambridge University Press. p. 150. ISBN 0521295173.
- (Greek) "Οι αντιστασιακές οργανώσεις φύτρωναν σαν μανιτάρια" article in the Eleftherotypia newspaper, 8.4.2006
- Fleischer, Hagen (1990). Στέμμα και Σβάστικα: Η Ελλάδα της Κατοχής και της Αντίστασης, Τόμος Α′ [Crown and Swastika: Greece of the Occupation and the Resistance, Vol. 1] (in Greek). Athens: Papazissis. ISBN 960-02-0764-X.
- Fleischer, Hagen (1995). Στέμμα και Σβάστικα: Η Ελλάδα της Κατοχής και της Αντίστασης, Τόμος Β′ [Crown and Swastika: Greece of the Occupation and the Resistance, Vol. 2] (in Greek). Athens: Papazissis. ISBN 960-02-1079-9.
- Lymberatos, Michalis P. (2007). "Οι οργανώσεις της Αντίστασης" [The organizations of the Resistance]. In Hatziiosif, Christos; Papastratis, Prokopis. Ιστορία της Ελλάδας του 20ού αιώνα, Γ' Τόμος: Β' Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος. Κατοχή - Αντίσταση 1940–1945, Μέρος 2ο. [History of Greece in the 20th Century, Volume III: World War II. Occupation and Resistance 1940–1945, Part 2] (in Greek). Athens: Bibliorama. pp. 9–67. ISBN 978-960-8087-06-4.