Costa G. Couvaras (1911-1979) was born of Greek parents in Braila, Romania. When he was two, his family moved to their ancestral home on the island of Ithaca. In 1934, after studying at Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, he came to the United States and attended Cornell University on a full scholarship. He earned his B.A. in Political Science in 1938 and his M.A. in 1939. After graduation he worked both as a correspondent for Greek newspapers and for a Greek daily in New York City. During the Second World War he enlisted in the U.S. Army. As an Intelligence Officer he was sent to occupied Greece and reported to the Office of Strategic Services on the Greek military and political situation. In 1978 his book entitled Photo Album of the Greek Resistance was published by Wire Press, San Francisco. [9]




Examination of the Greek resistance movement must take into account the fascist regime in Greece established in 1936 during the reign of King George II. General Metaxas assumed dictatorial powers and dismissed parliament. Communism was outlawed. Educational institutions, the judicial system, the civil service, and the armed forces were purged of all opposing elements. A youth program aping Hitler’s was established under the ostensible leadership of the heir apparent, Prince Paul. Then in August 1940, upon my arrival at the National Convention of the Order of Ahepa1 in Seattle, Washington, I found a telegram from a prominent journalist in Washington urging me to contact Anna Roosevelt Boetinger. Her husband was the editor of the city’s leading newspaper, the Seattle Intelligence; her father was Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1. The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association. Founded in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1922, it has about 400 chapters throughout the U.S. It is by far the most representative organization of Americans of Greek descent in the U.S.

President Roosevelt had telephoned his daughter the previous evening. The situation in Europe was getting darker by the day and Roosevelt had asked that Ahepa assist in mobilizing public opinion in favor of exchanging “old United States destroyers to Great Britain for bases in the Americas.”2

2. Roosevelt was a dues-paying member of Ahepa even before he was elected governor of New York.

[10] As chairman of the convention, I was instrumental in preparing appropriate resolutions for the consideration of the assembly: They were unanimously approved.3

3. A contributing factor to a report that Mussolini’s navy had surreptiously sunk the Greek light cruiser “Elly” without provocation in the Aegean Sea contributed to the enthusiastic approval.

The 1942 Ahepa Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia. Ahepa was already busy in World War II activities, and I, as Supreme President, vigorously intensified these efforts. We organized the fraternity into Ahepa War Service Units, whose efforts were directed toward war bonds,4 selling American Red Cross campaigns, Greek War Relief and National War Chest campaigns, civilian defense, blood donations, hospital visits, and preparation of Red Cross supplies.

4. Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Rayburn, assisted by the Supreme President of Ahepa, Lyndon Johnson, then congressman, inaugurated the Ahepa’s sale of war bonds over a national radio broadcast.

         In late 1942 the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was eager to recruit Americans of Greek descent into its service. Members of Ahepa in and out of uniform were urged to apply for acceptance in the OSS. This is how Costa Couvaras was recruited.

         Costa Couvaras had been in the United States since 1935. He studied political science and history at Cornell University receiving B.A. and M.A. degrees. His first job was with the National Herald, a Greek daily published in New York. After joining the OSS, he was dispatched to Cairo.

         In the spring of 1944 he was sent into enemy-occupied Greece as head of an OSS mission. He eventually succeeded in reaching the EAM (Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo, Greek Liberation Movement) command in the mountains of Greece. His reports were eagerly awaited by his higher-ups at the OSS headquarters. “Pericles”—his assumed name—became famous for his objectivity and lucidity. His immediate superior, Arthur J. Goldberg, postwar Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said:

“Costa Couvaras served under me with great distinction and although naturally proud of his origins, as we all should be, he remained faithful throughout to his sworn duty to forward, to the best of his ability, the interests of the United States. I never found in his work of the OSS that he ever deviated from this solemn obligation.”

Couvaras saw the EAM as a patriotic movement dedicated to the liberation of Greece and so reported.

Costa was with the EAM command until liberation. As liaison officer he promised the command of EAM that America would stand by them.

He was given the Bronze Star medal with the following citation: [11]

“First Lieutenant Costa G. Couvaras, performed meritorious service as chief of an intelligence operation in occupied Greece from March to October, 1944.

Penetrating the mountain regions he established contact with and gained the confidence of leaders of the Greek Resistance Movements, secured and transmitted important political and military information and assisted other United States intelligence missions in their operations.”

He appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advocating the traditional American policy—pursued by F.D.R. of helping all those who fought the Nazis—in vain. F.D.R. was now dead. American policy was now made by persons who in the light of their record in Greece and subsequent events must have been deaf, dumb and blind. Not only they either forgot or disregarded Roosevelt’s prophetic words uttered as late as March 1st, 1945: (The Agreement providing the establishing of the U.N.) “ought to spell the end of the system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the spheres of influence, the balance of power and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries ... and always failed.” (Address to Congress, March 1, 1945)

The Roosevelt epigons—from Truman to Nixon—have persisted in disregarding his advice by placing their faith for America’s security in regional pacts (NATO, SEATO, CENTCO, etc.) ... and lately in the balance of power!

The war in Greece was upgraded. From civil war it became “International Communist aggression,” despite the fact that Stalin—the internationally-acknowledged Communist High Priest—was fighting on the side of Truman. Through a constant barrage of anti-communist statements, news releases and pronouncements from the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House, plus special Presidential messages to the Congress personally delivered, McCarthy’s “anticommunism,” became Truman’s policy. Maniadakis—the Greek Himmler—not only survived the war and occupation of Greece, but thanks to Truman’s policies in Greece became again the cock-of-the-walk directing with uncommon fury the sub rosa fight against democracy’s and America’s friends, the resistance fighters.

That is how the “Truman Doctrine” was born, inaugurating the era of Cold War.

The U.S. domestic political dialogue soon discovered that “poor Turkey,” which played “footsie” with Hitler during the war, was also “menaced,” and awarded the major part of the “Aid to Greece” [12] program. From there the march proceeded merrily on until every country bordering the Soviet Union was included, making this the third attempt at containment of the Soviet Union. John Foster Dulles extended the principle to encompass the world.

Costa Couvaras is now dead. But there is still a story to be told and this is his final report.

George C. Vournas

Washington, D.C.


George C. Vournas is an attorney at law by profession, with offices in Washington, D.C., and a former Supreme President of Ahepa (1924-1945). In World War II he was commissioned Captain in the Army of the United States and was separated from that service with the rank of Major. He had been designated to go into occupied Greece, as a head of a military mission to come into contact with the Greek resistance fighters but, unfortunately, he failed his physical examination because of injuries sustained during maneuvers in the Egyptian desert. In the interim the Couvaras mission came into being.




April 30, 1944

We are in Greece at last. We came to the little outpost of Calamos last night, but what a night! I have never made such a difficult and dangerous trip before. The trip from Smyrna here, which under ordinary circumstances would have taken about three hours, took us eight days.

We started late one afternoon from our base near Smyrna and tried to cross the Aegean to Evia. We were counting on about eleven hours in the little, thirty-foot motor boat, but the weather was bad. Not too bad, mind you, but bad enough for the thirty-foot craft not to be able to go far. We went as far as the island of Chios, and then had to return. Then two days later, when we thought that the weather had bettered a little, we tried another dash with about the same result. This time we did not have to go as far before the waves started overtaking our little craft. On the third dash we lost our bearing and instead of reaching the island of Skyros, which would have been our first stop, we went much further north. But we reached a desolate part of Skyros by the afternoon of the seventh day of our journey from Smyrna, and stayed hidden there until well into the night. Then we dashed for Evia again, but had to return to Skyros on account of the weather.

Last night we dashed again, and finally we made it though the weather was really terrible. It was raining and it was windy at the same time. The captain couldn’t make out the shoreline because of total lack of visibility. We approached the shore at about two o’clock in the morning and tried to distinguish the mountains whose outlines would indicate our whereabouts. No luck! The captain and the mechanic of our craft knew the area very well because they had made more than twenty trips in this section working for British and American intelligence missions. We were looking for the small bay of Ochthonia, which was supposed to be in the neighborhood but whose exact location eluded us for more than two hours. At last somebody saw an opening through the night and through the mist, and we entered a narrow indentation of the coast that was entirely surrounded by mountains.

At the end of the bay there was a small village, and even at that late [16] hour a couple of lights were flickering in the dark night. Then the captain reduced his speed and looked intently at what seemed to be a long motor boat in the middle of the port. He showed his anxiety and ordered all hands to be ready for any eventuality, thinking it might be one of the German patrol boats that are operating all around the coast of Greece. If that were the case, we could not get away, but would have to elude it somehow. Pretending innocence we headed for the shore, and were preparing to jump out and try to save our skins if things got bad.

Captain Manolis then called to the shore “Heloooo,” and somebody answered back, “Heloooo!” “Is so-and-so in the village?” Manolis called again. Thank God, so-and-so was in the village. This meant that the place was safe, because if so-and-so were in the village there were no Germans or quislings in the vicinity, because so-and-so and the enemy could not mix. All of us gave a sigh of relief; we could now land at our destination.

Captain Manolis went ashore first. So-and-so had come from his home by that time, and Manolis had a short discussion with him in low tones. Then we disembarked, and were marched silently to the outskirts of the village. Neither Manolis nor our village escort would tell us where we were going, but they finally brought us to what seemed like a little hut situated on a hill overlooking the village. It was still night and we could not see, so we got out our army flashlights to investigate the place. It was actually a stable, and during this first night of our landing in Greece we were destined to sleep in the company of a light-haired donkey, good and kind but full of fleas, which made us scratch continuously. However, the stable had two compartments, and we slept in one while the donkey slept in the other.

Next morning it was explained to us why we had to sleep in the stable and not in one of the numerous houses of the village. “Security” is a word of which these people seemed very conscious. If the Germans or the quislings had come during the night, we would have been able to escape much more easily, and the village could possibly have escaped destruction by pointing to the fact that we were not sheltered by the village.

At about 10:00 that morning we made our first contact with the Greek guerrillas. Eight of them came to escort us to their post. All of them were young, less than thirty, and some even less than twenty. Some had beards, others were cleanshaven. Vasilis Messadakos, their leader at the little post called “Calamos” (near the village at which we landed last night), is a young man who fought in the Spanish civil war. He is a boat engineer by trade, tall and handsome, and rather well educated.

These guerrillas are very good to us; they come from the surrounding villages and the people seem to like them very much. One soon gets the impression that these people try to do big things with little means. They live badly, eat little, and don’t have enough arms. No one here has more than [17] ten or twenty rounds of ammunition. Many of them do not have any arms, and some go about barefoot.

It makes me feel bad to think that the three people in my mission spent about one thousand rounds of ammunition for practice in Egypt, while over here every bullet must account for one German or one quisling. Massadakos was complaining to me today that he had lent his pistol with twenty rounds of ammunition to a guerrilla who went with a convoy of animals to regimental headquarters. The second in command there was in need of weapons and kept the pistol. Stories of this type are common here, showing how widespread is the need for weapons and ammunition.

From what we were able to learn this first day in Greece, it seems that during the last month the island of Evia was full of Germans and members of the quisling Security Battalions. It seems that the Security Battalions especially did a great deal of dirty work over here, killing people, raping women, and burning villages. The antartes (the Greek word for guerrillas) were unable to stop them because they came in force. Whatever the antartes did, they did with ambushing and rear action against isolated groups. Massadakos, though, tells me that the leadership of the guerrillas on the island is pretty sure of its ability to clean out all enemy forces if they have enough arms and ammunition. This might be considered boastful, but when one sees how tough and fearless these men look it is not difficult to believe their boast. Just now, as I was sitting at the entrance of our hut near the sea writing this on my knee, ten men came down from battalion headquarters, eight hours away on foot; two of these men have no shoes on their feet.

We gave some small arms to the guerrillas, and were they happy with them! They are especially enthusiastic about the tommy guns, but they seem to be in such need of ammunition that they would have preferred bullets to rifles. They like both, of course, but their need for bullets is so much greater. Most of the rifles of the antartes are of Italian make; they got them with the Italian surrender. If our forces in Egypt, and especially the British, decided to send some of the Italian ammunition captured in the Egyptian campaign instead of keeping it to rot in desert ammo depots, they would be performing a real service.

A final observation of this most interesting day is that the antartes do not like the new Greek Premier, George Papandreou. They say that his hands are not too clean, that he was the secret adviser of the quisling Rallis, and that he, with Stylianos Gonatas, was instrumental in organizing the Security Battalions. We listened to Papandreou’s broadcast a while ago, and the antartes did not like his remarks about ELAS and EAM nor the fact that he failed to mention the destructive and fratricidal work of the Security Battalions. [18]


May 1, 1944

Our first radio contact with Cairo was a beauty! We took the radio set and one battery to the hill behind our hut, spread the antenna on the bushes, and then made the wire connections. At the exact time of the regular appointment Alex hit the key, we listened for a second, and the answer came loud and clear. Our man was there, over the mountains and the Greek islands, over the Mediterranean Sea, over the desert of Egypt, in a little cubby hole in Cairo. He was listening for us. Boy, were we happy! Both of us felt something wonderful. It’s like getting good service in a hotel, although more so, because good service here means much more than in a hotel. The success of our mission depends on these connections, and, who knows, our lives one day might depend on it.

We gave the good news of our safe arrival and a couple of more messages on the situation here. We also received one message. I congratulated Alex on getting Cairo so fast, and I was happy to do so. For some time now I have questioned his ability as a radio man, but today he proved himself and I was happy to see it.

We are still at Calamos, undecided what to do next. We can follow the original plan and go to Athens, or we can go to the mountains of Central Greece where a guerrilla government has been formed by the most prominent leaders of the underground. I am trying to find out which leaders are in Athens and which are in the mountains, because that will decide which route we will take. The antartes can help us to go to whichever of the two places we decide to go. They tell me, though, that it is pretty difficult to take equipment into Athens. If we want to take our radio set with us, we shall have to go through the mountain passes of Attica into Athens, and even then there is the risk of getting caught by German guards.

If the original plan is followed, then I am inclined to leave Alex in Evia with the radio set. Thus we can avoid the greatest risk, and can have him communicate directly with Cairo until I come back or we get established there, in which case we might be able to get him in with less risk. An additional difficulty is his poor Greek, by which he might be detected as a stranger. Any urgent messages could be sent through one of our other two missions in Athens, with whom I might be able to make contact. Meanwhile, John has gone to guerrilla headquarters in order to prepare the ground for us and to find out more news about what is happening in the mountains of Central Greece, which will have further bearing on my decision of where to proceed from here.

An interesting sidelight in this otherwise serious world we live in lately is to see the use to which Greek currency is put. The one hundred drachma [19] piece, which was the prewar equivalent of one American dollar, we found in the guerrilla toilets in the place of toilet paper. The price of the gold sovereign at the present time is about 50,000,000 drachmas. People in this section do not use money as a means of exchange anymore; the barter system is in wide use instead. Those who have any goods to sell exchange them for something else. Those who don’t have any goods to exchange starve.


May 2, 1944

“Become a spy? Not me.” That would have been my answer not long ago, but now I am one and still cannot explain how I entered this dangerous and in many ways infamous profession.

Of course I wanted to play my part in this war from the beginning and believed that it was a real opportunity for any man to participate, because it could be the greatest experience he could have in his lifetime. To look for adventure, though,'was not in my make-up, I thought. Since I entered the army, therefore, I have let things move by themselves, and have had a fatalistic faith that some way or other I will still be alive when the war comes to an end. Picturing the war in my mind as a turbulent and dangerous stream that has to be crossed, I see myself definitely on the other side.

After being in the army for about six months, one good day I was transferred to Washington to an office job that would have carried me through the war, and for a time I was happy with the idea. Two months later, though, I had had enough of it. Things moved too slowly for my satisfaction, and soon I went looking for an opportunity to go overseas. Still, the idea of becoming a spy, although it had a certain appeal, seemed too much for me to consider, and I made certain that I was not volunteering for such a dangerous assignment.

“You are going to be part of the office personnel in Cairo,” the Major said, “and you are to stay in Egypt all the time.”

Cairo was exciting at first. It was unique; it was strange! The office work was not heavy and afforded plenty of time and opportunity for the exploration of the mysteries and beauties of that strange land. The exotic beauty of the desert and the monuments left on it during its long history became added attractions that kept me satisfied for some time.

The work at the Cairo office of the OSS brought me in contact with a different world, one that was lived in the present and lived dangerously at that. This was the world of the fighter, the ordinary soldier, who would return from the front for a short rest and for the purpose of indulging in the [20] pleasures of the Egyptian sun and the mysteries of the dreamy Arabian nights; it was the world of the resistance fighter whom unforeseen circumstances had brought to a strange but hospitable land; it was the world of the spy, who, either for love of country or love of adventure, voluntarily undertook the dangers of an underground existence in the fight for a common cause.

Five months after my arrival in Egypt, I asked for an assignment behind the enemy lines. What the decisive factor was that prompted me to such action, I am still unable to determine. It might have been rather a combination of factors—a desire to help more actively in the cause I believed in, my being fed up with the dreariness of routine work, and a certain love of adventure. Last but not least was the idea of going to Greece, hoping to be able to help its gallant people in their fight for freedom.

All these factors combined to make up my mind to take on a role for which I was not cut out originally, but for which I am here now. The risks I was going to have to take weighed heavily at first, and for many days before making the final decision I pondered whether the idea that had gotten grip of my mind should be carried out. Once the decision was made, though, there was never the slightest hesitation about its correctness, and in a methodical manner I proceeded with the preparations for the trip. Any fears that came after that were rather minor and short-lasting.

Mort, my superior, outlined to me the purpose of my mission in a number of conversations: to try to create good relations with the EAM resistance movement in order to achieve the best possible results in collecting intelligence; and to explore the possibility of setting up new American intelligence groups all around the country that would cooperate with the guerrillas in collecting intelligence about the enemy.

The British and ourselves already have many missions in Greece, but relations with the EAM guerrillas are not always as smooth as they might be. My job will be to persuade the leaders of EAM that our purpose is strictly intelligence gathering, and that we have no other axe to grind. In this respect, I possess certain advantages. Besides being a U.S. officer (the guerrillas prefer Americans to British), this mission is part of the Labor Section of the OSS a factor that will supposedly facilitate my work. My labor background will, of course, help in this respect. Once I can persuade the resistance leaders that our purpose is strictly the collection of intelligence and that their internal affairs are of no interest to us, we can expect a good reception.

When the mission was first planned, we thought of sending a Greek labor man into Greece to make our first connection with the guerrillas, but this proved impossible because the right man could not be found. After I [21] volunteered for the job, we tried to get a Greek with labor or resistance background to go as my assistant. Originally it was planned that only the two of us would go, and I was supposed to come back as soon as possible and report the results.

At my insistence, a few days before we were to sail, a radio man was added to the mission. This was the result of a fear on my part of getting stuck somewhere and being unable to communicate with the Cairo office. Even if I would have to go into Athens alone, I felt, the radio operator could be left in some mountainous region and important messages could be sent to him by courier to forward. At the present time our number is three, and I don’t anticipate any changes in that.

The next important move is to try to get in touch with the leadership of the resistance movement, and if I am able to persuade them of our good will and sympathetic attitude, we might be able to achieve the dream of my superior and create an excellent intelligence network that, with the help of the guerrillas, will cover the whole country.

There is a big obstacle to my work at the present time. So far, nobody seems to know for sure where the leaders of EAM are. Some of the guerrilla leaders we have met say that the high leadership has left Athens and gone to the mountains of central Greece for the purpose of setting up a free Greek government; others think that the important persons are still hiding in' Athens. This discrepancy leaves me in a predicament as to which road to follow in the next few crucial days of this undertaking.


May 3,1944

“What does a guerrilla fight for?” All through these years of war, both while in the U.S. and overseas, I have asked myself this question on numerous occasions. Today, on our way to battalion headquarters, I asked the same question of a guerrilla.

We had an eight hour hike ahead of us when we started this morning from Calamos with a guerrilla escort of eight men. Our caravan of eight donkeys, heavily loaded with supplies, had a great deal of difficulty going up the steep path. We too, unaccustomed to mountain climbing, felt the strain. The guerrillas, though, seemed in their element. They walked up the path with the greatest of ease. They took care of the animals, and even helped lighten their load at difficult parts of the road.

One time one of the donkeys fell, and refused to go any further. Then we had to stop. Fortunately it was near one of the villages so, while the guerrillas unloaded the donkey and commandeered a new one, we had time to go to the village and meet some of the people. It was known somehow that we were Americans, and it did not take much time for everybody to come and [22] greet us. This demonstration of affection did not please me at all because it showed how fast news can travel and this might endanger our lives. Imagine all these people know that Americans had come by! The news will spread and tomorrow it is only natural that the Germans and the quislings will hear.

On our way, there were some level parts of the road where we could catch our breath and were able to talk to one another. George, the guerrilla to whom I mostly spoke, is a young man of about twenty, and extremely intelligent. At the same time he seems modest and sincere. In talking to him I know I had found the best companion of the lot. Besides, what he said more or less reflected the thoughts and ideas of all the guerrillas that we have met during the last few days, and it is important to understand the feeling prevailing among these fighters.

“I became a guerrilla to fight the enemies of my country,” George replied to my first question. But he went further than that. Of course he was angry at the Germans, the Italians, and the Bulgarians for all the harm they have brought to Greece, but he was equally angry at “internal enemies,” as he called them: quislings, Security Battalion men, and black marketeers. “These people are drinking the blood of our people,” he said emphatically. “They are Greeks who do not care what happens to the people, who are after their narrow and selfish interests. These are the same people that ruled the country for generations and that is why no one ever was able to make a decent living through clean and sincere efforts. These people should not rule us anymore!”

When I asked George about who should rule the country, he was less clear, as if he had not thought much about it. “We, the common people,” he said finally. Then he went on to specify that the people will demand a popular democratic government when liberation comes.

I tried hard to get George to define what “popular democracy” meant, because I had heard that expression often since we entered Greece. Laiki democratia is a phrase which is on everybody’s lips; one that has become a slogan, it seems, and one that we shall hear about in the future. It is a good enough term, and flexible so that it can mean anything to anybody. But I wanted an exact definition. Since it is used so much, I thought it had probably been explained well by EAM propaganda so that people would know exactly what it meant. But I was doomed to be disappointed, because George could not define it any better than that “it will be a type of government where the common people will rule the country.”

Of course George is no philosopher. He is not even remotely aware of Marxist dialectics; he is not even a Communist. He is a peasant boy who felt the patriotic call to duty. His duty, he figured, was to become a guerrilla and fight the enemies of his country. At the present time his social ideas are [23] only in the process of formation, but he absorbs well and rather quickly.

Two years ago George was just a peasant and today he is a guerrilla: tomorrow, he will be a full-fledged Communist! Of that I have no doubt, because his mind has taken that direction already. Communist or not, though, there is one fact that cannot escape the student of modern Greece: these young guerrillas are full of idealism and vigor. They belong to a rising generation that will fight hard to give their country the leadership they believe it needs.

The Greeks have always complained about their leaders, but they have never had any cohesive ideas to develop their complaints into a coherent philosophy! The EAM seems to have been providing exactly those. They have been supplying the people with the ideas and the people seem to approve, to like the change which is being promised. The popular democracy idea is good enough in content and vague enough, and very few people are troubled about its vagueness; perhaps that is precisely what people like.


May 3, 1944

Among the curiosities of the 3rd Regiment of Evia, the most interesting were some Russian soldiers who surrendered two days ago to the antartes. These soldiers, who belonged originally to the Red Army and had been captured by the Germans, were being used in Greece for garrison duty. (Russians, Poles, Czechoslovaks, Rumanians, Croatians, Italians, Moroccans, and others are given minor garrison posts to guard all around Greece.) Of course they are quislings, in spite of the fact that they tried to explain to us that it was because of hunger that they consented to enlist in the Wehrmacht.

The antartes, though, treated them like friends, and these Russians were elated. They had come over to the guerrillas with all their weapons and ammo, and that made them more welcome. Through an interpreter I asked them some questions. They had wanted to surrender long ago, they said, but the Germans were spreading rumors that the guerrillas were executing war prisoners. However, a few days ago a German soldier had gone back to his unit after he had been caught by the antartes, stripped of his weapons and clothing, and then let go. Then the Russians decided it was time to surrender, and seemed happy with their decision.


May 4, 1944

Today we came to the village of Setta, where the Evia regiment is temporarily quartered and consequently where the highest authority of the guerrillas in this region is to be found. I had to make my final decision as to [24] where to go from here, and wanted to consult with the guerrilla leadership. The leadership of the regiment is of a two-fold nature: there is a military leader and a guerrilla leader. The military leader is a former colonel of the regular army and the guerrilla leader is a man a little over twenty, who was just finishing high school when the war started. This dual leadership seems to be working smoothly from what I hear and from what I can infer from my meeting with them today.

Important decisions are made after consultation between the two; in military matters the colonel has more to say, while in political matters the opposite is true. Of these two leaders the guerrilla, although very young, is the more impressive. He gives the impression of being a serious and intelligent young man whose life is dedicated to a very important purpose. He spoke to me of the military and political situation in terms that show a good grasp of things. His advice, as well as the advice of the colonel, was to go to the mountains of central Greece where everybody of importance in the EAM will be gathered.

Then credentials were prepared separately for each of us, which give access to the various EAM and ELAS units which we shall meet on our way. In addition, they will provide us with a guerrilla escort who will stay with us as long as we are on this island.

All of us today took new names. This is the third time that we have done so since we left Egypt. We started from Cairo with assumed names and then in Smyrna we changed them. That is where fake papers were prepared for us and I became a merchant, for all intents and purposes. It was funny to see the archeologists who head our office there prepare fake papers, and being pretty good at it too!

From today on, however, I will be known as “Odysseus” to the resistance movement. Fellow Combatant Odysseus, or Synagonistis Odysseus, as the term is here. We had to change names again because among resistance fighters it is common to use one assumed name, not two. It can be either a Christian name or a surname, but not the two together. We won’t use our previously assumed names because we are afraid that in difficulties that might arise in the future the enemy might be able to make a connection and find out our real identities. This way we are making a new start and shall travel as resistance fighters, or merchants, as the situation demands and anybody will have a hard time proving otherwise.

In this village of Setta we have had a good opportunity to learn and observe how the EAM operates in the villages of Greece. In every district and village there are two types of organizations by which all functions of government and organized life in general are carried on. Most important are the EAM organizations; then come the self-government organizations.

The chief EAM organization in Setta is the EAM Committee, which [25] seems the most powerful force in every village. This committee deals with all political matters pertaining to the village, and when there is no military organization near the village, it deals with military matters as well. Among its duties is to carry on EAM propaganda activities and to organize such other organizations as the Reserve ELAS, the ETA (guerrilla quartermaster Corps), the Ethniki Alellengie, and the National Mutual Aid Society, which gives material aid to the families of the resistance fighters. It also appoints the propaganda man, the ypefthinos Typou, who is responsible for the acquisition and dissemination of news, and finally, and most important, it appoints the village ypefthinos, the most responsible position of all in a Greek village today.

The ypefthinos, which means the “responsible man,” is actually responsible for all that happens in the village. He has a great deal of authority because his suggestions are accepted by higher EAM and ELAS authorities, and people can be rewarded or punished accordingly. He has to see to it that all the EAM organizations as well as the self-government organizations function smoothly. He is the final local authority when important decisions have to be made. When strangers pass through the village, the ypefthinos must see to it that they are properly examined as to who they are and why they have come. Then, if all is well, he must find food and lodging for them and then help them proceed to their destination. In short, it is on the ypefthinos that every job in the village falls if the other committees do not work smoothly.

The self-government of Setta consists of the Community Council, a body j of seven members. This council is responsible for all local affairs that do not fall within the EAM or the ELAS jurisdiction. Then come such committees as the school committee and the church committee, each of which has jurisdiction over its own problems. Also there is the very important People’s Court, which is elective in every village and consists of three or five s members. The court has jurisdiction over all matters except divorce, crime, and treason.

All these various committees of Setta are accountable to higher provincial authority, which ties in finally with the central authority. The self- government organization is under the secretary of the interior of the PEEA, the guerrilla political government, while the People’s Courts are under the secretary of justice.

In Setta these committees function pretty well, but as I understand it, that is not the case with all other villages. To prove how well their self- government works, the people of the village pointed out a great achievement to me. For fifty years, they said, there had been a dispute raging between Setta and another village as to the distribution of certain water found in the region that is used for irrigating the fields. All these years the case had [26] been taken from court to court without any final decision. This year the affair was finally settled by the self-government organizations of the two villages.

The chief of the ETA organization in Setta is a girl of about twenty-two, called Maria. She is a very beautiful girl with smooth features and a serious face. She wears black because her brother was executed by the quislings. Her mother died during the famine of 1941 and her father is in prison for being an EAMite. Maria is a wonderful creature, efficient and selfless. She has dedicated her life to serving others and, as chief of the ETA of her village, she is responsible for finding food and shelter for all who pass by. Today, in addition to our group, she had to take care of 150 guerrillas who entered the village.

I watched Maria for some time. The minute the guerrillas came she was ready. She called all her girl helpers and sent the guerrillas to various homes, and an hour later everybody had been taken care of. Maria took our group to a clean room with two beds. Five of us had to sleep there, and Maria had to go around to find additional bedding. When we came in at night everything was ready, including supper, and Maria was there if anything further were needed.

Perhaps it was the woman’s touch (and God knows that we have been living without feminine company since we left Egypt), but Maria left a great impression on me, which I will not be able to forget for a long time. This village creature, who goes around barefoot, seems to have a golden heart. She seems to live to help other people, and has a devotion to her duty that is really touching. As a last graceful act to us, last night she brought us the insignia of the guerrillas, embroidered by herself, which we can use on our hats. Maria, who thought that we were new recruits, then bade us “Sto callo” (“good luck”) and “God be with you.”


May 4, 1944

We are proceeding north. I am writing this note at the regimental headquarters of the Evia regiment of ELAS. From preliminary talks with the chiefs here, it seems that our mission will have full success.

This regiment, the 5th ELAS Regiment, has three battalions, a total of about 1,000 men. This means that there are on the island of Evia 1,000 active guerrillas. There are many more thousands who are members of the Reserve ELAS, who would have become active guerrillas if there were enough arms to go around. We got an idea of the terrific shortages here yesterday during our visit to the 3rd Battalion. There we saw thirty men without shoes, some with rags instead of clothing, and very few with more than thirty bullets in their possession. It was pathetic to hear the plea [27] of these brave men and their leaders: “Give us arms and we can raise many thousands of antartes and chase the Germans out.”

I received more detailed information on the formation of the new guerrilla government today. It was given to me by a political inspector of the EAM who came from Athens. The new government contains the best elements of the Greek political world. It is composed of communists, socialists, agrarians, and members of the old liberal and democratic parties.

If anything, professors of the University of Athens predominate, and one of them, Alexander Svolos of the political science department, is the premier. Svolos as well as the great majority of the members of this government are liberals and democrats, some with socialist inclinations. There is only one communist, George Siantos, general secretary of the Communist party, who is secretary of the interior.

I also found out today that a national assembly will convene in the mountains of central Greece, and will be composed of the deputies that were named in the elections of four days ago. The deputies that were elected to the 1936 parliament, the one that the dictator Metaxas dissolved on August 4, 1936, have also been invited to participate as members of this assembly. Many of the elected deputies have already departed for the mountains.

This political inspector from Athens also gave me the names of some of the best generals of the Greek army who have gone to the mountains to participate in the struggle with the guerrillas.

It is three o’clock in the morning, and the candle is almost out. Besides, we have to start at six for our long hike to ELAS headquarters in the mountains of central Greece, and we will have to move fast from now on.


May 6, 1944

Today we tried to contact Cairo, but had no luck. Alex thinks there might be something wrong with the set, because he could receive faint sounds on it but could not get our station. Carrying a radio set around the mountains is not fun, especially the way we travel.

We are traveling incognito, because if we were known as Americans we might get into trouble. The experience of the first few days taught us a great deal about security. People of the surrounding district find out that Americans have arrived, and then they flock around us and turn us into curiosities. Under ordinary circumstances to be a curiosity is not bad, but under present conditions it is not healthy at all. Once it starts going around that Americans are in a certain district, anything can happen. The Germans might decide to ambush us as we travel, or they might surround the village where we stop at night and catch us in our sleep.

For this reason I gave strict orders for secrecy to the men, but had some [28] difficulty in making them obey. Yannis, especially, who has a tendency to show off, could not understand why we had to travel with our nice American equipment inside burlap bags and not hang it over our shoulders. He likes the tommy guns particularly, and would like to show them to the villagers and the guerrillas, explaining how they work. Finally I had to give in to Yannis’ entreaties and let him carry his forty-five pistol in the open.



We tried again to make contact with Cairo, but with no results. There are two important messages I want to send today, and I don’t know what to do. I must have been very nervous, because I talked badly to Alex about some inconsistencies in what he said about the radio. The trouble is that he is not as well trained as I thought he was. In any case, we shall try to work with the guerrilla radio that they have in this village. We have a message about a plane that the guerrillas shot down a few days ago further north. This plane contained maps of the German aerodromes in northern Greece and Yugoslavia, and might be important for us. If so, there is a way of securing them, and the office in Cairo should know about it.

Last night we witnessed an amazing display of feminine capabilities. Our host here is the chief of the EAM organization. This man has two little daughters, one eight years old and one four. What a little girl, that older one, a cute intelligent little thing with burning red hair and a dead serious face. Her mother has been visiting relatives in another village, and this eight year old is the mistress of the house.

When I say mistress I mean it in every sense of the word! When we came home last night we found bean soup ready for us. Who cooked it? The little girl. There was fresh bread on the table, and the little girl had prepared the dough and had taken it to an aunt in another house to put it in the oven. Then she served the meal and later wouldn’t let anybody touch the beds. All of us stood admiring her poise, her efficiency and her seriousness toward the job at hand. Her father said women had to learn good and young how to take care of the home, because life was hard in the village. I have seen serious little girls before, but what we saw last night I consider a real phenomenon one should write and talk about!


May 6, 1944

After an overnight trip of adventure we reached the village of Pyli this morning. We walked to the sea from Stropones yesterday afternoon [29] hoping to get a rowboat to Pyli, ten hours away. But there was no boat to be found when we reached the shore, and after unloading our baggage from the mules and putting it behind some high rocks, we sat on the beach to wait for a boat to come and to have our supper.

Yannis, who was sitting a little higher than the rest of us, started looking intensely to the north with a nervous twitch in his eye. He got up to look better, and the rest of us got up instinctively. Then we saw a queer spectacle that seemed potentially very dangerous.

There was a large motor boat dragging about twenty small row boats behind it, coming with great speed in our direction. We looked at the village people near us, but they could not explain. They said it might be a German patrol boat picking up small fishing boats for some reason or other. We felt sick in our stomachs, but acted quickly because the boat was approaching fast. We hid our stuff among the rocks on the beach and took with us only the radio set, our pistols, and tommy guns, and we climbed a hill that was near the shore. Then we waited.

The motor boat came straight to the beach. We looked intently from our hideout but could not distinguish any Germans in the dusk. Then somebody called to the shore; then he called again two or three times. Finally one of the villagers answered him. He wanted to know if there was water on the beach. The villager asked who he was, and what they were doing there. They were fishermen, he said, coming from further north to catch certain kinds of fish that were in season in these waters. Then we breathed!

All of us went back to the beach, and started discussing our false adventure, which could have been a real one and a very serious one at that, especially since the hill that we had chosen in our haste for our hideout could not have afforded much protection. The experience created in us a feeling of apprehension of what might happen, especially on unprotected trips like the one ahead of us, which was to be taken in a small rowboat with extremely limited speed. With all our baggage piled high in the boat and visible for some distance, any German patrol boat could pull up and catch us like mice in a cage. That is why we tried hard to make Pyli while it was still dark, but hard as we tried we could not make it until nine o’clock in the morning.

Pyli is a mining village. An English company owns a magnesite mine here, which is inoperative at the present time. The village is situated in a large ravine with mountains on either side, and the mines are on the slope of the mountains near the shore. We spent most of our day today at the mines with the only man who is taking care of the property, an old caretaker who is a kind soul. A number of people drifted by—fishermen, farmers, workers,—and by asking them innumerable questions, we were able to reconstruct something of the recent history of the village, and understand [30] its present condition.

During the famine of 1941, 180 inhabitants of Pyli died out of a total population of 1200. The village was hit terribly hard, for before the war everybody was working in the mines and the inhabitants owned very little property. There was little farming connected with the village, and famine struck suddenly and hard. “The people died like flies,” as an older man put it.

Lack of work and lack of individual holdings are now driving the people to producing charcoal. But a shameful situation exists, as I found out soon enough: mostly women do this type of work, and they are badly exploited. A woman receives 49,000 drachmas a day, plus a pound and a half of corn. The price of one cigarette in Pyli at the present time is 20,000 drachmas, while one egg costs fifty thousand. The EAM organization of the region the other day took the charcoal merchant who pays such low wages into custody branding him an “exploiter of the people.”

Pyli is almost 100 percent pro-EAM. The people love and support the antartes. Villagers and guerrillas dance and sing together during festive occasions and today, they are celebrating some anniversary. There are six young men from this village who have joined the guerrillas, and there are many more who belong to the Reserve ELAS. During the elections that took place a few days ago for the National Council, the village voted for the two EAM candidates giving them all the votes, although there were three opposition candidates on the ballot. The elections were very fair, according to the president of the village, and the results were verified to me by a number of people, particularly by the guard of the mines with whom we spent most of our time while in this village. Pyli is proud because it did not produce any traitors. In fact the village has suffered at the hands of the enemy for being so pro-EAM, and lately at the hands of the Security Battalions, who were here a short time ago and plundered the place, destroying some of the houses.

Before the ousting of Mussolini, when the Italians had large forces in Greece, Pyli quartered at least one hundred Italian soldiers. On the beach around the mines and further inland there are many trenches and underground connecting passages, which show the fear the Italians had of surprise attacks. The people complained to me that at times the Italians would take away their lambs or cows without paying for them, even during such a difficult year as 1941.

An interesting phenomenon in this village is its mayor, a stout man of about forty, who was also mayor when the Italians were here. The persons I asked about him said that EAM permits him to function as mayor even now because he is an honest man and the people have faith in him. So far this is the only place we have come to where such a thing happened. To be able to [31] work smoothly with all administrations is a great achievement during this chaotic period of the war.

The old guard at the mines had nothing to eat when we reached his home this morning, so it was not difficult to persuade him to get somebody to look around for food for all of us. At the beginning we looked for fish, but could not find any even though people fish with dynamite around here. Then we told the man to go to the village and look for eggs. Five hours after he started, the man came back having achieved the almost impossible: handed us six eggs, which cost fifty thousand drachmas each. The old man and I then had the great pleasure of cooking these eggs. We also gathered some vegetables from his garden, and had a really good meal, all five of us.

The people in this region are badly in need of fishing nets, which could help their food problem. Dynamiting, which is substituted for the more conventional methods of fishing, is bad for it kills small fish as well as big, destroying fish reserves. In the past the Greek government had forbidden this type of fishing, but the antartes permit it now because there is no other way: its either dynamiting or starvation for these people that live near the sea. By some good or bad fortune, a large underground store of dynamite was found lately in northern Evia, which apparently had been kept for emergencies by one of the mining companies. Now both the guerrillas and the fishermen have plenty of dynamite for their activities and both use it extensively—the villagers for fishing and the guerrillas to blow up bridges and enemy installations.

Amazingly enough our Greek money was accepted this morning by the person who sold us eggs. However, this is not the usual procedure away from the large cities. The village people usually refuse to accept paper money because, before it reaches their hands, it has lost the original value which was placed on it in Athens. Therefore almost everything has to be paid in kind. Value is calculated by the prevailing product of a certain region (such as wheat, olive oil, tobacco or eggs), and value is set in accordance with the scarcity of each product or, at times, with the relative prewar prices of the products to be exchanged.

Gold has a great deal of value, but gold pieces are difficult to exchange in villages because no one has enough money. This will be a great problem in the very near future when the little paper money we have gives out. On leaving Pyli we tried again to sell a gold piece but the only thing we could buy with it was a load of wheat, which would have added to the difficulties we already have in transporting our baggage and equipment.


May 17,1944

This is the 16th day since we have lost contact with Cairo. I bet those [32] people are worried about us. Meanwhile, we have had a wonderful trip crossing mountains and plains, but mostly mountains, since we left Evia. There was some danger connected with the trip too, but one forgets about that easily. This radio situation has me worried, though, no end. Everything depends on good communication, and if I cannot achieve it, my mission is almost totally lost. If the set is bad I shall have to contact some other American agent, in Athens or elsewhere, and ask Cairo for another set. Or I might have to go back to Egypt and report (which was the original plan) and then come back again.


May 23,1944

Today I went for the first time to the village of Koryshades, where the National Council is meeting. The purpose of my going there, however, was not so much to attend the assembly as to meet some of the leaders of EAM. A meeting had been arranged beforehand by Gianni, but I did not know in advance who was going to be there. It was noon when we got to Koryshades, after more than an hour’s fast walk from Karpenissi. The assembly had adjourned for lunch, and the delegates were hanging around in small groups in front of the large schoolhouse where they are meeting. This schoolhouse is situated in the center of the village, where the square is.

As I was sitting on a rock, waiting to be called by the EAM chiefs, an enemy reconnaissance plane appeared above us. The sky was clear and the pilot must have had an excellent view of what was happening below. There is no doubt that the Germans know that the assembly is meeting someplace in this section and are trying to locate the place. It was interesting to me, however, that these people, seasoned resistance fighters, did not pay any attention to the plane. No one tried to hide, and the square stayed full of people for the four or five minutes that the plane spent above us.

I was asked to enter a small house in the middle of the square that had the peculiar appearance of a lighthouse, with two narrow sides and something that looked like a tower in the middle. I went up a staircase and entered a small foyer. On one side there was a kitchen with some women preparing food, and on the other a fairly large room with three men: George Siantos, John Zevgos and John Ioannides. All, as I found out later in the day, are members of the Politburo of the Communist party.

Gianni introduced me as “Co-Fighter” Ulysses, an American officer. They asked me to excuse them for not receiving me earlier, which was due to the heavy work they had on account of the assembly. They then invited me to partake of their lunch, which I was happy to do. The first questions were about my trip. I told them that it was long, but more or less pleasant if I forgot about the dangers. Then I told them who I was. I gave my real name, [33] and said I was an officer of the U.S. Army, at the same time handing them my A.G.O. card and a couple of letters I carried with me. I mentioned casually, but with a purpose, that I had heard that a relative of mine, Nick Carvounis, had a high position with EAM and was someplace nearby. They said they knew all that.

We sat at the table. George Siantos, the secretary general of the Communist party, sat at my right, Zevgos sat opposite me, and Ioannides sat at my left. Then, all of a sudden, there was a small commotion outside the door and a man entered the room. It was my Uncle Nick, or “Barba-Nicos” as they call him here. We recognized each other immediately and fell into each other’s arms. I have an idea that these Communists had a motive in bringing in Uncle Nick: they wanted to be sure that they were not being taken for a ride. They must have been satisfied. The old man felt emotional at seeing me in the Greek mountains with the resistance movement, my having come from such a faraway land.

The discussion came around to my mission. I told them I belonged to an American intelligence outfit, of which Bill Donovan was in charge, and that I belonged to the labor section of that outfit, the section most sympathetic to their ideals. I wanted their cooperation to establish my mission near them and also to explore the possibility of getting more missions into Greece to work in cooperation with other guerrilla units.

Three things I stressed: first, that I had no authority to conclude any agreements; second, that I had very little to offer in tangible remuneration; and thirdly, that, according to my opinion, it was to their benefit to cooperate with us, because it was important that the Americans get firsthand information on the Greek situation themselves instead of getting it through British sources. Also I told them that the Americans, who have no big interests to support in Greece, stand on the side of what they think to be right.

My thesis was accepted without much difficulty, and they were soon satisfied that they were dealing with a sympathetic Greek-American. From this very first meeting the leaders promised to help us as much as possible. They permitted us to set up an intelligence organization of our own, and promised to make their intelligence reports available to us.

I am very happy today because everything points to a successful mission; the next important job will be to get our radio set going. Even for that we were promised help. The guerrillas feel that their men can repair any minor trouble, and tomorrow I might go to take care of that.


May 25, 1944

These days I am following the deliberations of the National Council [34] more or less regularly. It is an inspiration to attend these sessions, and to see and hear the delegates talk about the problems of their country. One gets the feeling that he is following history in the making. This assembly, which is composed of intellectuals, farmers, workers, priests, and soldiers—all of them resistance fighters—might prove very important in the history of Greece. Greek history books refer to the Troezone Assembly of the Greek Revolution of Independence; in the future they might also refer to the National Council of Koryshades. My only criticism of this assembly so far is that it has not come out with any important declaration on the right of the small nations to be independent and on their desire to avoid interference in their internal affairs by friend or foe. I was talking about this to one of the leaders yesterday, and it seems they are reluctant to come out with such highfalutin phrases because they do not want to offend England, at least not as long as the war is on.

The council is meeting at the grammar school of Koryshades. This is the only school in this village of about one hundred families, and the largest and most up-to-date building in this section. Just before the war started, the school of Koryshades was finished with money collected by the people from the village who had emigrated to the U.S. The upper floor consists of a large meeting hall, which can accommodate about 350 persons and is where the council meets. Pictures of heroes of the Greek revolution and slogans from the present resistance of the Greek people decorate the walls inside and outside. “Long live the honored and heroic army, the ELAS,” declares one large sign; “Fire and sword to the quislings,” says a second one. A third extols “Our Great Allies.” “Liberty, Democratic Government,” says another, and “Death to Fascism,” “Greek Unity for Victory and Independence,” say yet others. There are many more slogans, but the above give an idea of the general spirit that prevails.

When I arrived at the first meeting I attended, the Bishop of Pyrgos, who had arrived late, was taking oath in an impressive ceremony. Then the secretary of education spoke, giving a general account of what is being done in that field by the PEEA government and what is planned for the future. It was interesting to note how many schools that had been closed since the occupation had been opened through the efforts of the guerrilla government. A plan has been devised by which the villagers pay for the teachers in kind, and thus their children get some sort of an education.

Yesterday I heard a shepherd from western Greece give a speech on what he and the people in his district expect from the new government that will come after liberation. His speech sounded somewhat funny because the man lacked an education. In addition he had the heavy accent of his region, and thus drew many more laughs than anybody else. But everybody listened because he had some great truths to say, although he spoke them crudely. [35] He said that he and his fellow villagers wanted progress, and all the good things that came with it. They were tired of suffering all the time in order to earn a meager existence. They were looking forward to better homes, better education for the children, more food, and machines to do the work in the fields. He drew terrific laughter from the audience with demands for machines to milk sheep and for a railroad line to take them to the mountain pastures in the summer and down to the valleys in the winter. Above all he hated the old-style politicians who promised bridges and rivers to the people at election time, and then forgot all. He didn’t want lawyers for politicians; he wanted assemblies just like this one where he could get up and speak his mind. A better speech couldn’t be made, so full of sense and so full of humor.


May 26, 1944

In high circles of the EAM there is open talk against the spirit of the agreement reportedly reached among the different factions conferring now in Lebanon for the purpose of forming a “unity” government. The EAMites do not want George Papandreou as premier. This man has been getting promoted lately for the job, by the British who seem to have decided to drop the old set-up of pushing Tsouderos and the Greek government-in-exile.

Papandreou had passed through Smyrna going to the Middle East a few days before we arrived there. Then, as we got into Greece, we learned in villages along the way that the EAM delegation, headed by Professor Svolos, was going to the Middle East for a conference. A few days later, we started getting news of the “Lebanon Conference” on the radio, and some news of disagreements. Yesterday a highly placed EAM personality told me openly that there were serious disagreements at the conference, and that cables had been sent to EAM delegates about the minimum EAM demands for participating in the new government. I asked to see the cables. He was reluctant at first, but he gave in to my argument that it is to their advantage to have the Americans know exactly what is happening at the negotiations.

Today copies of the cables were handed to me in person by this man.

We put them in cipher and sent them to Cairo right away. This is perhaps the best piece of intelligence I have been able to get so far. One cable is directed to all members of the EAM delegation, and it is signed by the representatives of the different parties in the PEEA (Political Committee of National Liberation), which is the guerrilla civil government. It expresses amazement that only one cable has been received from them, which states that they have had to make concessions in order to reach agreement, but [36] which does not specify the nature of those concessions. Then, it goes on to say that the terms of the agreement that have been broadcast are against the written instructions given to them, which contained the demands of the fighting nation. The other cable is signed by the vice-premier of the PEEA, Col. Bakirdjis, and tells them that Papandreou is unacceptable to EAM as premier.

These two cables show clearly what I have been suspecting for some time now, that there is a wide gulf separating the two political camps of Greece: the old political parties, helped and advised by the British; and the resistance movement, the EAM, which feels its present strength among the people. The EAM has not acted cleverly in this question. These people, strong and intelligent as they are, seem to lack political experience and acumen. With their clever move in forming a guerrilla government and calling the National Council, they took the show from the government-in-exile and the old party politicians. The politicians in Cairo were at a loss and did not know what to do. They were willing to talk terms, even to their disadvantage.

Then the EAM fell into a pitfall prepared by the British—the Lebanon Conference. As I told the EAM chiefs whom I met a few days ago, their participation in that conference was a mistake. The idea startled them for a minute. I explained to them that when the British first proposed the idea, they should have answered that they were in favor of a conference, but inside Greece. That way the psychological advantage would have been theirs and the conference would have been held in an atmosphere that could hardly have helped but affect everyone there; it wouldn’t have been the spirit of exile or of occupation but the heroic spirit of free Greece.

Then I added, “If your proposition had not been accepted, and you felt that you had to go to the Middle East, you should have done two things: first, you should not have sent your purported highest man, Svolos; and second, you should have insisted on having your own radio communications.” I explained to them that, as a man that had read many books on political science, I know that governments never send their chiefs to participate in negotiations so that they will not be asked to agree to things right away. A secondary man can always plead for time in order to ask for instructions, but the chief cannot do that; if he is a real chief, he does not need to refer things to anybody else. If he is not chief in reality but in name only, then it is embarrassing for him to admit that he is not the real chief and he is at a disadvantage. This would be especially true with the “bears of Cairo,” who are old hands at horse trading and have the expert advice of the British. The importance of having their own radio communications was not difficult to prove. Since the British had promised them at least one long [37] cable a day and the only one they had received so far was the one announcing that they had to make concessions.

It was interesting to watch the reaction to my ideas. No one talked for a while, but the most cunning one, Ioannides, looked at some of the others with a knowing look, as if to say, “Didn’t I tell you so before?” The conversation was then changed to another subject.


May 27, 1944

Now we know that it was the batteries that caused all the trouble with the radio. When we reached Karpenissi, we borrowed some batteries from EAM headquarters, but they didn’t work either. Then yesterday EAM gave me permission to visit the village of Stenoma, where they keep their radio station. These men were experts, they told me, and could fix our set. We went on foot for four hours, I and a guerrilla guide, carrying the set with us. To reach Stenoma from Karpenissi one has to go up the mountain for two hours and down the mountain for another two hours. There is very little level land in between, but it is the most dangerous part because one has to pass on very narrow paths through loose rock and gravel.

Our troubles ended in Stenoma and the trip was worth all the trouble. Anthony, the chief of the EAM station there, a former steamship radio telegrapher, soon found the trouble. The set is O.K.; the trouble came from weak batteries. Yesterday we made our first contact with Cairo in a long time, and we had some very important messages to send. From now on, we shall have to send our batteries to Stenoma for recharge because this is the only place in the vicinity where they have a really good charger, which operates with gasoline. All the nice instruments our base supplied us with don’t seem to be worth a damn. Who knows how many other agents have trouble trying to charge their batteries?


May 27, 1944

I am seeing my friend Christo a great deal these days. He is unable to leave for Athens on account of the fighting in the plain of Thessaly, so he stays here doing nothing. We meet in the center of the village every day, and sit on a bench in the park. At times we go to the coffeehouse. There we sip a drink made with garbanzo beans for coffee and carob syrup for sugar, and talk of old times and the changes in Greece since the occupation. Amazingly enough, this Greek coffee concoction is not too bad, and the syrup they use gives it a flavor that I like.

Christo told me a great deal about what is happening in Athens. The people don’t take the occupation lying down. Resistance is very strong. The [38] EAM has done an excellent job, as it has in every other Greek city, and the organization of Athens is the best. Politically, Athens is now divided into two sections: the middle part of the city, where German control is strong: and the outskirts, where EAM is supreme. In order to enter any of the suburbs of Athens, the Germans have to go in force. In many cases they encircle the place at night and then enter slowly for searches, arrests, and executions.

EAM is organized in every section of Athens, just as in the villages of free Greece. The Reserve ELAS of each district is responsible for the security of that district. Recently, an organization parallel to the ELAS has been formed in Athens: the OPLA. This is an ultra-secret group, organized for the purpose of protecting the resistance fighters. It uses all methods to achieve its purposes, from persuasion to extermination. OPLA was first organized for the purpose of protecting those fighters who took active part in the effort of disseminating the news through loud speakers around the city, and also those writing slogans on walls. Of late, though, the activities of the quislings have increased to such a great extent that OPLA has turned actively against them.

Christo described to me some of the demonstrations of EAM in Athens, which defied the enemy and brought glory to the Greek people, and great credit to the EAM. Great demonstrations took place on the occasion of the Bulgarian occupation of the northern provinces of Greece. And when the Germans, with the cooperation of the quisling government, were talking about mobilizing the Greek youth in order to send them to fight against the Russians and the western Allies, again EAM called a great demonstration. The result showed the Germans where the Greek people stood, and thus thwarted their plans. If for nothing else, the Greek people will be always grateful for this type of leadership from the EAM which has saved them from great grief and national humiliation.

On issues that have moved the nation during these terrible days of occupation only the EAM has shown leadership, and for this the people of Greece will be grateful in years to come. The reason why the old politicians and the army officer casts are discredited today in the eyes of the Greek people is that they have refused to act in these times of crisis. The EAM of Athens has never lost an opportunity to defy the enemy. Every national holiday has been celebrated in defiance of German or Italian orders. These demonstrations have brought untold suffering and cost many human lives, but they have brought pride to the people and have solidified their will to resist. After all, the question is still resistance or collaboration, and the Greek people long ago chose the former. It is some of their former leaders who have chosen collaboration or inactivity, but such leaders won’t be able to exist in the future, at least as indicated at the present time. [39]

Christo told me the story of two girls which he witnessed with his own eyes. The youth movement of the Gyzi district was demonstrating someplace when German tanks moved in. One girl was at the head of the demonstration carrying the Greek flag. The Germans ordered her to put the flag down and, when she refused, they ran the tank over her. A girlfriend, seeing what was happening, mounted the tank and hit the German driver over the head. She was killed with automatic rifle fire. Next day, the EPON youth movement stole the two corpses from the morgue and took them to the church of the neighborhood where the scared priest was prevailed upon by force to officiate. “It was the most beautiful funeral I’ve ever seen,” Christo said, “where these thousands of people came from all of a sudden ... and the flowers ... it was beautiful and touching. Then the long line walked to the cemetery, and the Germans did not realize what was happening.”


May 28, 1944

PEEA Vice-Premier Bakirdjis made an important speech yesterday at the last session of the National Council. Among other things, he said that the minimum demands of the PEEA, in order to agree to participate in the new Greek government, are as follows: (1) King George should not return to Greece before a plebiscite takes place; (2) EAM and the Communist party should be represented in the government in proportion to their strengths; and (3) the ELAS army should be strengthened and its character as a people’s army retained.

In all the speeches yesterday one could detect an undercurrent of suspicion at the clever maneuvering by the Greek politicians and the British in Cairo to defeat EAM. Some representatives, like Karasevdas, former Liberal party deputy of the 1936 parliament, openly accused Churchill of meddling in Greek affairs. The vice-president of the council, Ioakim, Bishop of Kozani, spoke of “bad friends of Greece” and “Greek refugee politicians” who are fighting from abroad against the social revolution which is taking place in Greece today.


May 28, 1944

During my first meeting with the EAM chiefs, John Ioannides was designated as the man I would work with if anything went wrong or if I needed anything of importance. As I have found out since, Ioannides is the second secretary of the Communist party, a very important position. The man impressed me as the most intelligent of the three I have met so far. He is short and stocky, and from what they say he suffers from TB. He is well [40] respected here, but does not seem to be a man who can have many friends; he gives the impression of being a ruthless man if need be. In any case I have to deal with him, and so far things have gone well.

I had more talks with him on the possibility of organizing American intelligence groups around Greece, and he accepts my general plan. I told him that I am submitting a report to my superiors for the organization of twelve; or thirteen additional missions around Greece, in order to cover the country well. I said that we would like to use their people to gather intelligence, but in every case the main agent would be a person appointed and trained by us; he could be an American of Greek descent, a person recruited in Greece, or one recruited in Egypt, but in every case a man sympathetic to the labor point of view. The main intelligence we are interested in is military, but we also want economic and some political information. We are not interested in organizing groups that will work against the EAM, because American interests in Greece are not of that type.

They agreed to help us set up our organization, with the understanding that they too will be able to use the same facilities to collect information.

What they seem to be interested in is radio communications; I told them that I would refer this to my superiors, but thought they wouldn’t object if there would not be interference with our work. I also asked for preparation of mail routes, and for the possibility of setting up groups in such faraway places as eastern Macedonia, Thrace and Peloponnesos.

The meeting of the National Council has been helpful in my work because the main EAM leaders have been gathered here, and I have been able to meet a number of them and exchange ideas about the best way of setting up intelligence groups in different regions.


June 1, 1944

I am very happy to be in Greece at this time. These are great days indeed, in spite of the misery that the situation is causing. Something tells me that the Greek people are in flux, and it is so interesting to watch them during this crucial time. It was very difficult from abroad to get a real picture of what is happening here; even the OSS does not have enough (or accurate enough) information to make one see truth.

Greece is very different from the country I left nine years ago, and most of the changes have taken place during the last three years of German, Italian, and Bulgarian occupation. My trip through eastern and central Greece has convinced me that the information we get in Cairo is not always right, and that impressions gained from talking to people coming out of Greece are mostly wrong.

The Greeks that go to Cairo are not representative of the majority of [41] the people here. Rather, they are representatives of a certain minority; they are either former army officers or professional men who feel bitter about the changes that have taken place among the majority of the population and mostly among the lower classes. These changes do not favor the middle class or the army caste. Against the latter a great part of the population feels a certain bitterness because army officers did very little to take leadership against the enemies of the country.

The Communists are very strong in Greece today because they have taken action and have shown ability in leading the people in their struggle. A great part of the younger generation is communist; and, amazingly enough, the most conservative element in the Greek social structure, the peasant, has become communist to a certain degree. It is not always the poor and the landless that support the antartes or the Communist leadership today. In fact, the “trash” from among the very poor have gone with the enemy, having been recruited into the Security Battalions and other collaborationist groups.

Most of the supporters of EAM in the villages come from the average village family, which owns its own home and possesses a certain amount of property. Of course, the Communists have changed some of their ideas now about property and religion, and the conservatism of the Greek peasant (which has always been strong as far as these matters are concerned) is not affected.

The EAM is not all communist, but is far to the left of the old political parties of the country. These parties seem to be totally dead, as far as most of the people that I have talked to are concerned, along with the monarchy.


June 2, 1944

For some time now my curiosity has been aroused by five kids I see every time I pass by the guerrilla prison of Karpenissi. At the beginning I thought they might have been living there with their parents, because obviously they could not be prisoners themselves. The other day, however, one of the EAM leaders mentioned the kids as “the urchins of Volos,” and said they had been used by the Germans to spy on the antartes.

The story was of interest and I was determined to get the facts about it, so today I went up and spoke to the kids themselves. They were playing some kind of a pebble game sitting on the ground in front of the guard at the main entrance of the prison.

Synagonisti,” I addressed the guard, “what are these little devils doing all the time near the prison?”

“We are prisoners of war,” the oldest of the boys answered with great exuberance. [42]

“Don’t talk before you are spoken to you little bastard,” the guard commanded in a severe tone. Then turning to me, he said “These urchins from Volos were used by the Germans to spy on the guerrillas of the region, and they were caught and sent to us. Now we don’t know what to do with them.”

Then all the little kids started talking together, and I had to organize the discussions to get their story. They are regular street urchins like those one sees in the streets of Cairo, who sleep, eat, and play in the streets, and who never seem to have had a family. They are badly dressed and without shoes, but look rather well fed and very happy. The oldest of them is twelve, the youngest eight, and the rest in between. All of them are orphans of at least one parent, and one of them has no parents at all. This is the story they told me.

They are from the city of Volos, and every day for most of the day they roamed the streets hungry and in search of food. At times they would go to German army units, and once in a while they would find things in the garbage can. One day a German took them aside and made a proposition. He first gave them a piece of bread each, and then promised more food when they came back. Meanwhile, he wanted them to go to a village ten miles outside of Volos and find out if guerrillas were there. He put them on the local train and told them to get off some place before they reached their destination, and then to proceed on foot. When they completed their investigation they were to come back and report to him.

The rest of the story seems familiar. The local EAM organization spotted them and questioned them until they came out with the whole truth. Then, for some silly reasons, they sent them to Headquarters, where they are still kept because there is nothing else to do with them. One of the kids told me that originally he didn’t belong to the rest of the gang, but the day of this happening he had had nothing to eat all day, and one of his friends had suggested that he try the garbage can of the German unit. Afterwards he was taken in and added to the gang.

Now the kids look happy and seem satisfied with their lot; at least they have enough to eat, and nobody interferes with their play. They climb up and down the wall of the prison, and they can go down to the village whenever they want. But food is a great attraction for them, and they never leave the prison for any length of time.

These little urchins are victims of circumstances who were led by the force of hunger to attempt to perform a dastardly act against their country, without their realizing the implications. In the end, though, they have found a better living and are extremely happy playing with the guards and singing guerrilla songs.

This story also is an example of the excellent control that the antartes [43] exercise all around the country, with the exception of the main German bases. The Germans, in their desperation to learn what was happening ten miles outside of Volos, had to send a gang of urchins because there was no other recourse. Even the local quislings by this time have learned their lesson and are not willing to venture their necks for such undertakings.


June 3, 1944

Mort’s silence is worrying me terribly. What has happened to him? The only thing we have received from him so far is a short message congratulating us on our arrival; nothing about my talks with the EAM here, no instructions on how to proceed. I hope that everything is all right and that Cairo will act soon, because we can act quickly to set up a good organization.

Even airdromes have been promised to me by EAM. To bring in people by plane would be the best method that could be used. I really hope that our people who come to Greece in the future will not have to suffer the delays and hardships of our long trip in the Mediterranean, or face the danger that we faced. Making three unsuccessful trials to cross the Aegean was no fun, especially in that thirty-foot motor boat with the bad engine, and with the sea full of mines and German patrols. Those were excursions that I did not enjoy. That is why I feel that plane service should be one of our main interests, and should be set up as soon as possible.


June 4, 1944

One impression that one gets by talking to people from different parts of the country is that the Germans are trying to keep hold of Greece with the help of the quisling Security Battalions and with a wave of terror. Apparently the Germans do not have strong forces here, or they are trying to take out part of what they have for use on other fronts. If the antartes had enough arms, clothing, and food, they could increase to many times their number, and it is not inconceivable that they could make it so difficult for the Germans that they would either have to withdraw or bring much stronger forces into Greece. In most sections we passed through, additional antartes are not accepted for lack of arms and other supplies.

There are plenty of young men around the country who want to join the guerrillas, but do not do so because of the great hardships they would have to endure. These hardships are real and we have witnessed them ourselves. Men at times have to fight barefoot, with scant clothing and inadequate food. Whenever we have eaten with the antartes we have gotten two meals a day, but they were such small meals that one was perpetually [44] hungry. But instead of complaining about food, the antartes all over are begging for bullets because not one of them has enough. We met guerrillas having as few as three cartridges in their belts.

To Orestes, the famous Kapetanios (“chief”) who once saved ten American aviators from the hands of the Germans, I made a present of fifty rounds of 9 MM ammo the other day for his German pistol. Was he happy to get it! At the time he had only ten rounds in his possession.


June 6, 1944

The official ELAS headquarters communiques show plenty of action lately between the antartes and the enemy. It is centered mostly in the region of Thessaly but is also in Epirus and Bulgarian-held Macedonia, and shows an unmistakable trend: harvest time is approaching and the guerrilla leadership is trying to secure positions for the battles to come. The antartes have decided to fight hard for the new harvest, because food needs in this part of Greece are great. I was told confidentially today that the guerrilla Kapetanios of eastern central Greece, Soterios Begnis, left last night with instructions to take the offensive in his sector. In addition to Begnis, other EAM leaders, are moving secretly out of this district.

This might point in the same direction or might mean preparation for a change of Headquarters location, which has to take place every so often in this fast-moving world of guerrilla warfare. Or it might have even greater significance; the higher-ups I talked to about it pretended to know nothing and quickly changed the subject, which means that actually something is cooking!


June 10,1944

What has amazed all of us since we set foot on Greek soil is the amount of control that EAM exercises in every part of the country. To a certain extent, one can say that EAM is the most effective government of Greece today, and Greece at the present time has at least four governments: the Germans, the quislings, the government-in-exile and the EAM. The greater part of the country is ruled and controlled by EAM. By control I don’t mean that the antartes are always in any certain region, or that the Germans couldn’t get there if they tried. Rather, I mean that the Germans would have to fight hard to get at the regions that EAM has under full control, and that EAM exercises some kind of control even in places where there are no active antartes.

For instance, EAM collects taxes in cities that are garrisoned by German troops, and even in German-controlled territory, the old courts have [45] been suspended and the so-called popular courts (laika dicastiria) work effectively. Also, the EAM self-government (autodioikisis) has been established throughout the country for small and large communities. These last two innovations are very popular and have done a great deal to bring the people to the side of EAM.


June 10, 1944

There is every indication that the EAM is preparing to withdraw for the Lebanon Agreement if its minimum demands, as defined in the PEEA declaration to the National Council, are not met. Public opinion is being prepared by the leaders of the EAM for the eventual break.

The main spokesman of the Communist party gave an interview in a special edition of its official organ yesterday, in which he made the following points: the king is the center of the reaction and is responsible for the revolt of the Greek forces in the Middle East; Papandreou showed bad faith and, with his announced eight point program, is trying to crush the will of the fighting nation; the Greek army of the Middle East expresses the national will, which the Cairo Government is trying to crush by thwarting democratic ends with the threat that the fighting nation will continue to fight even without the Cairo Government.

These are very bad signs. Just at time when there was hope that the two sides of the fighting nation would get together, things seem to have blown to pieces. Who knows what is going to happen from now on?


June 11, 1944

The organization of the EAM, wherever we pass, is terrific. Every village has its own organization (meaning the EAM setup of a number of organizations), and you need to have an EAM permit to enter a village if you are a stranger. If you pass by and are doing work for the organization, whether you are a guerrilla or a civilian the village EAM will lodge you and feed you. They will also supply you with horses and a liaison to the next village in case you need it.

This is the way we have travelled since we set foot in Evia. It is not for a few travelers a day that things are organized so efficiently; whole companies or battalions of guerrillas can come to a village and be taken care of by the local organization in a few hours. Individual travelers eat at the homes where they stay. Large groups get their food from the ETA, the supply arm of the antartes, which I will say more about later. When we had to cross waters, the EAM organization commandeered motor boats for us and got us safely across, although a couple of times we barely saved our skins. [46]

It is due to the EAM organizational efficiency that we are alive today; they have saved us from more than one difficulty. Their intelligence is amazingly well organized. Information flows constantly on the activities of the enemy in each separate district. What is lacking is communication other than that delivered by foot or animal. But faster communications are something of an impossibility for guerrilla warfare, which is based on hit and run methods rather than organization and heavy equipment.


June 12, 1944

I have started expanding here in spite of the uncertainties that the lack of instructions from Cairo has caused me. I asked EAM to help me create mail routes so that I can collect intelligence material from different parts of the country. The Evia route, which will connect us with the Cairo office, has already started. The men that carry the mail to Evia have a long and dangerous trip and payment is not too high for each service—especially if one considers the real value of money. If we go on this way, however, soon we shall nevertheless need money and I don’t know what Cairo is going to do about it. Our expansion here has proceeded with the idea that we are following our original plans, and that intelligence and time are both important. The way Cairo acts, though, one begins to doubt, the importance of either.

The EAM has given me certain authorization to get some classified material, but I have stuck my nose deeper and have been getting perhaps more than I should. That is how I was in a position today to send a report to Cairo on a Gestapo agent who was simultaneously working for the British, and also a detailed report on the military situation in the district covered by the XIII Guerrilla Division.


June 14, 1944

For some reason or other, there seems to be great agitation among German and quisling forces in the region of Thessaly and central Greece, as reports reaching me here indicate. Members of the Security Battalions are reportedly moving their families from small centers to larger ones, such as Larissa and Athens. In a number of guard posts along the railroad line, the Germans are being replaced by Security Battalion men and gendarmes. Large German convoys are moving from various cities, and in others they are preparing their baggage. In certain cases reports are conflicting, and I don’t know what to make out.

If all these reports are true, then we are on the eve of a German withdrawal from Greece; however, the commotion might be only local, and [47] might mean only preparation for attacks against the guerrillas. If the latter is true we must get ready for the fireworks.


June 15, 1944

In different sections of the country, there is some difference in the reactions of the people towards EAM and the antartes. In Evia there is much enthusiasm for antartes in general, and one can detect it by the willingness of the people to accept one in their homes and give one their animals to carry equipment. However, as one proceeds to the mainland the willingness to help lessens considerably, and the nearer one gets to the mountains of central Greece the less help he gets. I have tried to understand this phenomenon, and by asking innumerable questions of all kinds of people I have come to conclusions with which most people agree.

This section of the country has had the main burden of the guerrilla movement for the last two and half years; the antartes first appeared in this mountainous region of central Greece, and they have been here ever since. It is the poorest section of the whole country, and the burden is felt strongly. The people are less educated, and thus they are less affected by patriotic ideas with a social tint. In addition, the Germans have seen to it that the difficulties of the population are increased by cutting this section of the country off from any help from the International Red Cross. But there is another important factor which has affected the people economically more severely than the people of other regions: the constant struggle here against the enemy has cut down communication, and foodstuffs are much more difficult to secure than in any other part of Greece.

A final reason, which though difficult to believe has strong foundations in fact, is that this region has not felt the enemy in actual contact very much. The Germans and the Italians were here but little. The Greek Security Battalions, which the people generally hate more than they hate the Germans, have never been here, and the villagers do not exactly realize what it means to have the enemy in their villages. It seems to be generally true that sections that have suffered more from the Germans and the Security Battalions are those that are supporting the antartes more. This is true in Evia; I was told many times that Evia became much more pro-EAM after the Security Battalions visited there. The same thing is true for many other parts of Greece.


June 16, 1944

Four Germans and one Moroccan were executed today in Karpenissi. A Greek was also executed at the same time for having killed his wife. The [48] Germans were prisoners of war, but the antartes do not spare lives, just as the Germans do not spare guerrilla lives if the guerrillas fall into German hands.

Pavlos, a young guerrila, was a member of the execution squad and came to the house two hours after the execution. He said that all the prisoners showed a great deal of courage. They did not ask for mercy and they did not speak to the end. Only the Moroccan called out “vive la Grece,” and who knows why. One of the Germans, on the way to the execution said, “Hurrah, Germany,” or something similar.

In order to save on bullets they had two antartes aiming at each prisoner, and after the first volley a guerrilla went to each one separately and put a bullet into his head. Before executing the Greek prisoner, the verdict of the jury that tried him was read. I asked Pavlos if they read a verdict to the Germans, too. He looked at me as though I were a fool. “What verdict could we read?” he asked. “We execute them so that they won’t eat our food.”

At times like this the reality of war comes closer to me. I cannot help but feel sorry for these German prisoners of war, but neither can I help but sympathize with the guerrillas. The matter-of-fact attitude of Pavlos is a result of tremendous experience, and his common sense has been acquired mostly during the last three of his twenty-two years of life. He has suffered and seen much during these three years as a guerrilla. It has hardened him but has not taken away from him his sense of values. Four more German prisoners meant for him four less portions of bread for his unit, and four portions of bread during famine is an extremely important amount.

Pavlos is not inhuman, and he isn’t a crook either; he is just a hard- boiled guerrilla whose military life started at eighteen when Greece had no more than fifty guerrillas, and he has suffered unimaginable hardships during this period. At present he has been assigned to us, and he carries out his duties with diligence and good spirit. His great ambition in life is neither to become a policeman nor to get a comfortable government job: like most people from his village he wants to go to America and open a restaurant.


June 17, 1944

Gianni wants to return to Cairo and I am glad to send him, for two reasons: first, we don’t get along too well and he is no help to me here; and second, and more important, he will be able to communicate with Mort personally and tell him how bad I feel about the way things have developed with the Pericles Mission. I feel that there must be something wrong somewhere—I came here on a supposedly important mission, and more than a month has passed and nothing has happened. Mort has disappeared [49] from the horizon and nobody tells me what has happened to him. The only thing I can detect, reading through the short lines of the cables, is that he is alive somewhere.

Since we came here, I have tried to do my best and have worked with whatever came my way. However, my main job was not to act as an agent, but rather to come to some kind of an agreement with EAM about settling up intelligence groups in Greece and to organize a good network with their help and cooperation. The people here have accepted us very well, and are trying to help us in every way possible. But I find myself cooling my heels in a way. We don’t sit doing nothing around here, and I hope Cairo can realize that from the amount of material I’ve already sent them by cable and courier. But I feel that I am not doing what I came here for, which is much more important.

The EAM here has opened many doors to us, and I have no illusions about why they do so: they want to disprove British claims and reports. But if EAM begins to think that this mission is not what we have said it is, they could stop showing interest and might stop helping us altogether. They must have expected that by one month after our first meeting there would be an answer about the things we discussed. Just now I don’t know where I stand, and I am very upset about it. Gianni can tell Mort about my apprehensions and give him a good picture of what is happening here.

If we are still interested in creating a good intelligence system, we have our chance and are missing it. With the cooperation of EAM we can create one that even the British will envy; EAM is the real power in Greece and can do almost anything it wants to collect intelligence. The British are trying to work altogether independently of EAM, but if they are interested in military information against the enemy and accurate information at that, they are making a mistake. Of course the British have other designs that we don’t.

But a system of cooperation with the EAM is to our advantage: cooperation, in which we would supply our superior communication systems, technical knowledge, and money whenever it were needed. This would give us a beautiful information network throughout the country.


June 19, 1944

Minor battles are reported from the plain of Thessaly, where guerrillas are helping the farmers harvest and secure their wheat. These are part of the “Battle of the Harvest,” as it is called here. One such battle has been in progress since yesterday between Makrakomi and Sperhias, about thirty miles from here. These two towns have been changing hands constantly during the last two years. They are situated at the end of the plain where the mountains begin, and it is difficult for either adversary to keep them for long. [50]

Both towns have been totally destroyed by the Germans, as every time they enter them they use artillery to get the guerrillas out. Makrakomi especially has had a tough history; they tell me that it has changed hands ten times so far, and for that reason it is called “Stalingrad.” During this period of the “Battle of the Harvest” the Germans are particularly anxious to hold such key positions as Makrakomi and Sperhias because the antartes use them as stepping stones for their nightly operations on the plain. The guerrillas also sometimes harvest at night and help the farmers carry the wheat to secure places, where it will eventually be threshed away from German control.


June 21, 1944

A very welcome cable arrived from Cairo today. It is from Lakes of the OSS, and after such a long silence. “CABLE AND MAIL MATERIAL EXCELLENT,” it said, “KEEP SENDING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE OF BOTH.” That is good news, and sets me right again! From what he says it sounds as if our original plans will materialize. He has even asked for our promotion, and is taking care of our personal matters.


June 22, 1944

Today a very important cable came from Cairo. They want me to investigate the possibility that some kind of a radio bomb, of which they give a long description, might exist in Greece. It seems as if I will have to create one or more groups to look after this matter because they do not want me to undertake the job personally. The cable says that I must stay where I am, which shows me that Cairo attaches at least some importance to this mission and the work I have done so far.


June 27, 1944

We have moved to a new location, a group of small villages known by the collective name of Petrilia. This is a very inaccessible region in the center of the Pindus mountain range. Apparently this region was selected for the greater security it affords. There is no road at all and it takes about two days on foot to reach the plain of Thessaly. We reached here last night after a tiresome journey of four days.

The trip was breathtaking. We climbed high mountain peaks, went through long gorges, and crossed mountain streams. The latter had no bridges and had to be crossed by either stripping to the waist or climbing on the back of a mule. We used five mules to carry our stuff, or rather four [51] mules as carriers and one riding. This last one we had to divide between the three of us. Barba Costas, who is the oldest and in rather bad shape on account of his five years in prison, rode most of the time.

This section is terribly poor, and people live in a primitive manner; houses are small huts and have only one room, and at times animals quartered in the house itself. How sorry I have been that we left our sleeping bags at Karpenissi! If we had them we could sleep outdoors and avoid the discomfort of such bad housing.

The first night of the trip, instead of sleeping inside a room with the rest of a large village family, I slept on a balcony under which, to my consternation, I found a pig quartered. Most of the night I was kept awake by the noises the pig made.

The second night the house we slept in was also a one-room, with no bath or toilet. Things were much worse, though. I slept on the top of a large and narrow chest with a goat tied to its side. In addition to me and the goat, the occupants of the room were a snoring farmer and an Italian prisoner of war, who is used as a laborer by the farmer. Of course, in such de luxe sleeping quarters nobody takes off his clothes.

The third night was the worst of all although things looked promising in the beginning. The house was much better than anyone we had been in during the last few days, and we had great hopes. Besides, we had a room to ourselves!

But we were destined not to sleep again, because a real enemy attacked us, an enemy both dirty and vicious, who finally drove us out of the house in the middle of the night: bedbugs! They attack in swarms, and the worst thing to do is to counterattack. That is when the tragedy comes; you kill your enemy but that proves to be your undoing because every killed enemy stinks to high heaven. There comes a time when you can stand it no longer: you give up and go outside, leaving the enemy conqueror of the field with some of your own blood strewn around. That is what happened to us two nights ago. We took our blankets and tried to sleep outside in the cold mountain air.

I am afraid that in addition to everything else we have gotten lice again. There is nothing that scares me more than lice. We made first contact with this enemy on the way to Karpenissi, and had such a difficult time getting rid of them. Now, something tells me we have got them again, and there is much less chance of getting rid of them now, because the conveniences for clearing oneself here are nil.

It does not seem that things have improved with our arrival in this village. Last night we were terribly tired, and sleeping in these houses reminded us of the first night we landed in Evia, when we slept in the stable of a donkey. We were itching all night, a signal that points to the presence [52] of enemy number three; not as bad as lice and bedbugs, mind you, but one that bothers one all the time, be it day or night: fleas!

Of course nobody expects a bathtub here. People bath in creeks during the hot months of the summer, but water is still very cold in this region. The only way to wash is to take some hot water into the stable, probably to get more dirt and acquire more fleas.


June 28, 1944

Signs of civil war are hanging in the air. The atmosphere in this place is very heavy. In the first place, the breakdown of the Middle East talks does not make anybody happy. EAM, it seems, was after some kind of an agreement that would have guaranteed the resistance movement certain prerogatives, but apparently the other side did not want to give in at all. The British are backing the government-in-exile and the old party politicians that are siding with it. In addition to everything else, the revolt of the armed forces in the Middle East has not helped EAM at all; it is blamed on EAM instigation and has been used in the talks as a strong argument against the resistance movement.

According to Porfyrogenis, who was one of the EAM delegates to the conference and who returned yesterday, the psychological pressure exerted on the EAM delegation was terrific. Coming from the clean and heroic atmosphere of the Greek mountains, the EAM delegates found themselves all of a sudden in hostile surroundings. The other conferees looked at them and treated them not as leaders of a great movement but as guilty persons who were expected to give an account of themselves. During the first few days they were even confined by the British, and could not exchange ideas with the other conferees outside of the conference. Even among themselves they were separated, the communists being quartered apart from the more moderate elements of the EAM delegation.

This is how Porfyrogenis explains the concessions that they had to make, deviating from the original instructions they had received when they left. Porfyrogenis was called here for consultations, but at the present time there seems little likelihood that the position of EAM will change. I was told confidentially that the plan is to recall the rest of the delegation from Cairo and leave the next move to the government-in-exile.


June 28, 1944

News of the last few days of the fratricidal struggle among Greeks is getting more alarming. The Security Battalions and the Germans are reported to have intensified their activities all over the country, but mostly [53] inside Athens. These same forces, and especially Security Battalions, were subdued about a month ago when the agreement was reported from the Lebanon Conference. But they have become lively again and large scale persecutions are reported especially in the suburbs of Athens, where the enemy and the quislings are carrying out a program of extermination against EAM members. During the last few days attacks against ELAS by Zervas’ forces in the region north of Preveza have been reported.

The whole mess is viewed here be EAM leaders as part of a master plan put in operation to force EAM to accept the Cairo views on the question of Greek unity. They also claim privately that there is close cooperation between the quisling setup of Athens, British intelligence, Zervas, the Security Battalions and the Papandreou government.

I am informed that EAM protested Zervas’ attacks to the Greek government-in-exile, holding Papandreou responsible for Zervas’ breaking of past agreement regarding military positions. The protest was made on the grounds that, by Zervas’ own admission, he has placed himself under the orders of the Cairo government.


June 29, 1944

A critical situation has developed in many sections of the country. In Evia it is reported that three and a half thousand German and quisling troops have invaded the island, and ELAS of Evia has cabled headquarters that is it unable to cope with the situation for lack of ammunition. They ask for ammunition but headquarters is unable to meet the request.

More news has come of the battle of central Greece that occurred last week. The enemy attacked in force and was supplied with artillery and armored cars. They clashed with the guerrillas but could not be stopped. The towns of Sperhias and Ypati were destroyed; in Makrakomi there was nothing left to destroy. The saddest news, though, comes from a small town further south, near the gulf of Corinth: in Distomon, German and Moroccan troops massacred more than five thousand civilians. More details on this dastardly crime are lacking at the present time. Athens again reports continuous German and quisling attacks against almost all of the suburbs of the city. Great terror reigns there, and the population is in a desperate situation.

All these activities of the enemy must have some kind of explanation: perhaps the Germans are planning for their eventual withdrawal and are trying to exhaust the Greek people and the resistance movement, so that they will not be able to inflict great damage on the occupation forces when they try to leave the country. ELAS is hitting the Germans daily all over the country, but it is badly handicapped for lack of heavy weapons and [54] sufficient ammunition.


July 2, 1944

An answer was given me today by the Central Committee of the EAM to the questions that the Cairo office asked ten days ago regarding the Noah’s Ark project. The Cairo cable seemed difficult to understand when it first came, but as the days passed its meaning and importance became more apparent. The OSS seems to have been disturbed by the breakdown of the Greek unity talks, and wants to get direct and firsthand information on the reactions of EAM towards the project[.]

The Noah’s Ark project was agreed upon some time ago by the ELAS, the British and the OSS. Basically, I think it is a British idea to which the others subscribed. ELAS didn’t seem enthusiastic about the project because they consider it something of a ruse on the part of the British to immobilize their forces. But they were willing to go ahead with it so that they wouldn’t be considered as working against the military plans of Middle East headquarters, of which they claim to be a part.

EAM brought me a long written answer, which goes far beyond the subject matter of the questions. It declares that “in the most categorical and responsible manner, ELAS is part of the Allied armed forces ... and is following faithfully the orders of Allied Middle East headquarters.” Ordinarily such declaration wouldn’t be necessary, but owing to the breakdown of the negotiations it is probably very important. It then goes on to say that the necessary forces to carry out the Noah’s Ark project have been set aside and in a way complains that these forces have been kept immobilized “while they could have been used in operations.” They also declare that they “will cooperate and execute faithfully all military orders of the Allies.”

To the question about a leader of a national army that would be acceptable to ELAS, the answer is that the ELAS will sacrifice its own leaders and will accept General Othoneos, “whose past gives assurance that the national army will be used only to fight fascism on the side of Allies and will not become an organ of fascist and anti-democratic aims.” The above are more or less direct answers to the questions posed by Cairo. However EAM found opportunity to include in its answer a number of complaints that highlight the differences separating EAM and the British.

Continuing, here is a long quotation from the answer: “The Allies must count on the maximum that an army like ELAS can give with its great fighting power and its offensive spirit. The only drawback of ELAS today is that it lacks its own supplies and must depend entirely for arms and ammunition on what can be gotten from the enemy. EAM expresses [55] amazement and asks why the Allies at the present critical moment do not supply and use ELAS in more active war operations, much more so since ELAS can mobilize its reserves instantly and thus double its numbers and fighting, power. Assurance is given once more that ELAS is a democratic army, whose purpose is to fight the fascist invaders. Any other opinion about ELAS is outside reality.”

If these assurances on the part of EAM are accepted by the OSS, and I hope they will be, then soon we shall have a number of American commandos in Greece working together with ELAS and the British in harassing the enemy.


July 4, 1944

I cabled Lakes today to send an assistant. I am asking him not to send him by sea route, because it is long and very dangerous at present on account of enemy activities in Evia. If he sends him with a radio set as I have requested, then EAM will lend us a radio operator and can set him up somewhere in Thessaly, where he can watch German movements and be very helpful to military intelligence. The arrest of Nassos, who was supposed to come, worries me no end. Lakes says that he was arrested by the British and that the charges are serious. What I suspect is that he must have taken some part in the recent Greek armed forces revolt in the Middle East.

I am asking for certain supplies of food and equipment in case they decide to parachute, which could be dropped at the same time with no extra cost or extra work.


July 4, 1944

The press in free Greece is well organized and is as important as that of any well organized society. I would not have imagined that in these mountainous sections we would have found daily papers, bi-weeklies, weeklies, and monthlies, but that is actually the case. These people realize the importance of the written word. Lately, I understand they have been trying to organize a radio station to broadcast shortwave news abroad. There are presses scattered all around the village of the section. The Communists print most of the papers, but the Socialists and the other minor parties of EAM as well as the EAM itself have their own organs. The EAM bi-weekly paper is called “Free Greece,” and uncle Nick is its editor in chief.

As with Greeks everywhere, be it in a village, in an Athenian coffeehouse, or on New York’s 42nd Street, politics and news in general are the main topics of the day. Wherever there is a radio set and a battery (there is no electricity), you see people congregate in the room with the radio and in [56] the court-yard outside hear the news from London, or the Voice of America if they can get it.

The greatest means of communication in this region, though, is not the radio or newspapers, but a method that need and inventiveness have developed. It is called the honi, which means “funnel.” It is made out of tin in the shape of a big funnel, and reminds me of old-time megaphone contraptions for phonographs. Every day at designated hours in the morning and in the evening, but mostly in the evening, in free Greece and occupied Greece, young men representing the EAM get up on platforms and call the people with their honis. “The EAM of (the name of the village or town) is talking to you. This is the latest news from our Allies ... Yesterday at Stalingrad the Germans suffered their greatest defeat of this war ... a thousand American planes raided German targets with telling results ...” Then the local news follows. “Our heroic ELAS gives the following report of operations. The important bridge of ... was destroyed by the guerrillas of Thessaly ... 10 miles of railroad were made inoperative in the region of western Macedonia, where German mop-up operations are reported in progress ..., etc.”

In Athens, and in the rest of occupied Greece in general, these propaganda operations are extremely dangerous, but they are carried out just the same because “the news must reach the people,” as a resistance fighter put it. To protect their people the EAM of the occupied sections uses the following method. A young man with a honi gets to the top of a building at night while a fairly large group of armed men surrounds the district, covering a number of blocks where the megaphone voice can be heard. Any move by the enemy or the police is reported by special signal, and then the propaganda worker tries to escape. Fighting is avoided if possible, but the guards below give battle if things get tough. Many of these propaganda workers and their pals get killed but “the news must reach the people.”


July 5, 1944

Zervas answered the EAM protest by cable, saying that he started the offensive to obtain the region of Preveza under orders from British Middle East Headquarters. EAM is very much disturbed about the whole situation. They are especially resentful of the British, who, they say, do not trust EAM and prefer to deal with a paid mercenary of Zervas. What prevents EAM from fighting Zervas at this time is probably the feeling that the Germans will pull out of Greece soon. Also, it is possible that the German forces in Epirus would help Zervas against the ELAS, as happened in last year’s operations; now the cooperation between Zervas and the Germans, according to EAM sources, is much closer than before. Secret EAM reports [57] that I have seen give plenty of evidence of cooperation between the EDES organization and the Germans, particularly in the regions of Thessaly, Epirus, and Athens.

Col. Chris, chief of the British Mission in Greece, is very much disliked here and his rumored recall has gladdened many of the guerrilla leaders. On a number of occasions in the past EAM has asked for his recall. EAM leaders feel that Chris is partial to Zervas, and from what I am told, they have certain documents in their hands to prove that these two men are very close, both in their official as well as in their personal relations.


July 5, 1944

The general policies of the EAM, and of the Communist party in particular, are very interesting, and a careful study of them might give insight into future trends of this dynamic Greek political movement. Of what I can see so far, EAM does not follow a “class” policy. The Communist party, which is the strongest group in the leadership of EAM, does not even follow a socialist policy at the present time. In fact there are elements within EAM that belong to middle of the road groups that are asking for more radical reforms than the communists are willing to accept. An example of this is the demand that the Liberals of the left made to the National Council asking for the passage of a resolution favoring the separation of church and state. The Communist party came out against and defeated the resolution, claiming this to be a basic reform which will have to be settled by the national assembly which will be called after liberation.

Another example of this type of communist policy I learned from a reliable source this morning. The chief of the Politburo of the Communist party, my informant said, went to the meeting of the PEEA government yesterday and asked the ministers not to make radical reforms. At the same time I know for a fact that the members of the Communist party have been instructed that the Party does not follow “dynamic solutions.” The KKE wants to be accepted as a lawful party in the postwar period, and will work through constitutional means to gain a place in the political life of the nation. On the subject of the Allies, the order given from above to Communist party members is “not to make any distinction among them” (meaning not to show any preference for the Russians).

All these things I learned from my contact with the guerrillas and scores of other people every day. These people talk very freely with me because they think I am one of them, and in my innocence in asking some of the questions they most probably think that I am simply not up to date.

On the question of the policy of non-discrimination among the great powers, I heard an excellent example as we were coming from Evia to [58] Karpenissi. Somewhere on the route and in a rather minor post we met Plato, a former worker and a Communist party member of long standing. Plato seemed to me a terrifically able man, the most able that we had met until then in our two weeks in Greece. I therefore expressed my amazement to the people I met afterwards, telling them that such an able man should be transferred to a place where he could use his abilities. Since then I have learned that Plato is well known in the resistance movement and that in the past he was with Headquarters. His transfer to that minor post was by order of the chief of the Communist party, because of anti-British sentiments that reached the ears of members of the British mission here.

This attitude of the Communists is one that I did not expect. When I was on my way to Greece I thought (and was led to believe) that the Communists were taking advantage of every little detail to further their doctrines and solidify their socialist beliefs. That is why this new attitude has impressed me.

From what I understand, the attitude of Tito in Yugoslavia is not the same as that of the Greek Communists; his theories and present practices are much more radical. This opinion of Tito has been gained through secret documents I read while in Cairo.

I had opportunity to verify my opinion three weeks ago when we met an Albanian partisan who was heading for of the Greek guerrilla hospitals to have X-rays taken of a bullet lodged in his body. (There are no X-ray facilities in Albania at this time.) In talking with him for two hours I learned a great deal about the Albanian partisans. Firstly, I found out that the Albanian guerrillas have a strong attachment to Tito, and that they believe in the same ideas and ideals.

Secondly, I saw that he spoke and acted much differently than the Greek guerrillas. On his cap he wore a large red star, something you never see on Greek guerrillas. His salute was the clenched fist together with the phrase, “Death to Fascism.” (Greek guerrillas salute you with, “Hello fellow combatant”.) This man spoke openly for the Sovietizing of the Balkan Peninsula, a thing that I have never heard from Greek resistance fighters. In general, the Greek Communists seem very tame in their political beliefs in comparison to this Tito-Albanian product.

ELAS Headquarters, which is ruled by old-time officers of the regular Greek army, seems to keep good relations with the Communist party and I am impressed that the Communist chiefs try to interfere as little as possible with the ELAS. For example, Ioannides, chief of the Communist party Politburo, is very reluctant to ask favors from the army chiefs, and he is very careful not to create the impression that he is trying to influence army Headquarters. However, although decisions as to military action in general are made by the military, George Siantos, chief of the Communist party, is [59] always consulted as to the advisability of such action from a political point of view.


July 6, 1944

EAM intelligence reports from Athens, which are usually full of juicy news on the quislings, lately talk of a crisis in the Athens government. For some reason or other, the German bosses seem to be dissatisfied with present Premier John Rallis, and the only thing that has so far prevented his downfall is the disagreement about his successor. Names of greater quislings are being mentioned for the job. There are some names that appear in this connection that I have never heard before: a certain Tsironikos, a man named Boulas, and a general Kavrakos. All of them are great patriots, no doubt! The irony is that they really do pose as patriots.

EAM of Athens has an amazing intelligence organization which reaches within the quisling government departments and the police, and at times gives verbatim conversations among the quislings in its reports. Of course all collaboration is being justified as part of the anti-communist campaign, but behind it all there is greed, envy, malice, and low ambition. Rallis, for example, never was able to show his “greatness” and his abilities in his more than forty years as a politician, so he accepted the job of premier under the Germans. The time is soon approaching, however, when all this scum will pay dearly for the harm they are causing.


July 6, 1944

A moderate and trustworthy EAM leader with whom I communicate often told me that, after the last meeting between Svolos and Papandreou in Cairo, there is optimism developing here that the EAM proposals will be accepted. If these proposals are not accepted he foresees a great deal of trouble and the following developments: the EAM delegation will be recalled from Cairo; there will be changes within the PEEA government at the expense of the moderates, whose policies would be interpreted as having failed; and there will be some kind of break with the British.

High officials of EAM told me that Foreign Minister Eden of Great Britain lied in the recent declaration that ELAS is receiving help in arms. They said that ELAS has not been supplied with arms for many months, and that other supplies received during the period have been insignificantly small. [60]


July 7, 1944

The Germans have started mop-up operations against the antartes in Western Macedonia. The enemy is reported moving in three directions, and is aiming at the forces of the 9th ELAS division. Apparently this operation is a large one, because guerrilla leaders are very alarmed about it.

There is nothing more terrible than a German mop-up operation. In this case the local population suffers more than the antartes. Passing through the different villages, the enemy is killing people, looting homes and destroying property. When the villagers hear that the enemy is coming in force, they desert the village altogether and go to the hills. At times, the people dig big holes in the ground and hide their most valuable property, and where there is time, trunks, clothing and kitchen utensils as well. However, the enemy is thorough and often finds even these holes in the ground.

If the enemy knows that guerrillas have been in a certain village, then severe punishment follows. The village is destroyed in part or as a whole; some people are executed and others taken prisoner. I have seen destruction of this type all over Greece. Many people are living in small rooms or in huts dug out of the ground because their homes have been destroyed in this manner. In the town of Karpenissi only the center of the city was destroyed when the Germans passed through some time ago; the outlying sections were left more or less intact. Another village ten miles away was totally destroyed. In Karpenissi they destroyed the high school too, a large and beautiful building that was demolished because they found a Greek flag with the words “Liberty or Death” on it.

It is the destruction and executions that the Germans are carrying out that the quislings use to justify their philosophy of collaboration. They tell the people, “Lie low. Do not help the antartes, and be friendly with the Germans; that way you will be spared these difficulties that make your existence problematical.” This is a powerful and practical philosophy because it is not easy for every person to fight against such terrific odds, and to see his people butchered and his home destroyed. But people are willing to fight against such terrific odds! Once enthusiasm and idealism in the cause of freedom is instilled in people, they react magnificently and can take anything that comes to them, regardless of how severe the blow.

I met people in free Greece who told me with pride, and a certain satisfaction, of ones close to them who had been killed in the struggle.” And storekeepers in the town of Karpenissi were not resentful that their property had been destroyed: “We shall create property anew,” a merchant told me one day, “but the country must take active part against the enemy. This is more important.” Such is the spirit of free souls, and it has been [61] created by the guerrillas. This spirit is opposite to one prevailing among the quislings in Athens and in other parts of Greece. Their spirit is defeatist—the spirit of slaves, through which nations come to their doom.


July 10,1944

The ELAS is an amazing army—it moves around without any supplies! There are no more supplies than what each man carries for himself, and each man carries very little: his rifle, a couple of belts of cartridges worn across his chest, an overcoat and sometimes a small bag for food and incidentals. Besides carrying no supplies, the antartes move around without money either. I tried to cash a gold sovereign at the regimental Headquarters in Evvia one day, but no money was to be found.

The problem of shaving, which is a great one for the average U.S. soldier, has been solved by the guerrillas simply by not shaving at all. I think it is a pretty good solution, especially when I think back to the morning after bivouacking on a cold night in North Carolina. We were ordered to shave in the dark and three minutes later we were called into formation—and all of us were supposed to have had time to shave!

In a certain section where guerrillas concentrate, the men at times leave their dirty clothing to be washed in a village, and get clean ones that have been left by other guerrillas. In other places, especially in central Greece, we found guerrillas who had not changed underclothes for months at a time.

To take care of guerrilla supplies the ETA, an offshot EAM organization, takes care of simple needs as they arise in each village. Homes and food are provided by the local EAM for as long as a guerrilla unit stays within the village. The ETA also taxes the people and sends provisions to other villages where guerrilla units are quartered.

Discipline is excellent among the antartes. For the first time in the history of the Greek army, discipline is a matter of conscience. When the guerrillas go to a village they do not ask for or steal anything—even fruits from the trees are not touched. There is no woman problem in this army either: rape and stealing are punished by death. But there is very little occasion for such punishment because the antartes feel that everything has to be endured for the sake of the great struggle. There is an amazing willingness on the part of the younger guerrillas to do things, as if there were a contest among themselves to excel.

All this good behavior, of course, is the result of teaching. Good results are achieved because of the excellent organization of every unit, and also because of the volunteer nature of the army and the high ideals that prevail. Each one who becomes a guerrilla knows exactly why he has done so and is very serious in his undertaking. Adventurers and loafers do not usually [62] choose such a difficult life.

At night we sit together with the antartes and listen to their songs or to discussions of battles in which they have participated. The type of fighting they mostly do is ambushing, and this apparently is dreaded by the enemy. In addition to Germans there are presently troops of other nationalities in Greece as well: Russian renegades, and Italian, Hungarian and Rumanian Fascists. The guerrillas speak with little respect for the enemy, although they admit that the Germans usually put up a better fight than the rest. The antartes suffer light losses in their ambushes, while they usually inflict severe losses on the enemy.

A certain amount of fatalism is evident in the action and thoughts of the antartes as well as among the Greek people in general at the present time. This shows in their almost total lack of fear. I suppose that so much has happened so far to everyone that each one thinks that nothing worse can happen. You see this fatalism in the attitude of many persons some kind of inner pride when they relate that a certain number of the family died fighting the enemy or the quislings. Only women sometimes betray a kind of hysterical attitude and seem tired of the whole thing.


July 14, 1944

This village we live in is not one fourth as good as Karpenissi, as far as living conveniences and procurement of food are concerned. This section is something like the backwoods of Kentucky, judging from the cartoons in Esquire. The people here are very poor, but do little to better their situation; rather, the women work hard, but the men sit on their backsides all day. The local picture is exactly as if it were taken out of the Esquire! The men here smoke pipes, too, when they have the tobacco.

To be able to live in something resembling human conditions, we had to take the upper half of a house and fix it, putting floors and two separate rooms, and plastering and whitewashing the inside. We also had wooden beds made for us, and a couple of tables, because there are no such “luxuries” in this village. Before the EAM headquarters moved here, only one person in the whole village of about one hundred houses had a bed. Everybody sleeps on the floor and all in one room—young, middle-aged and old. At the present time the work of fixing the house is going on and we live in expectation of a little better life.

Until a few days ago I was pondering the idea of building a small wooden shack for ourselves. It would have been clean and would have had the advantage of affording us privacy. However, I decided against it for reasons of personal security; in addition to being new and attracting attention, a thin wooden shack cannot offer any protection. What finally [63] decided me against it was the German attack that reportedly took place against Tito’s headquarters lately.

If parachutists fall in this section, a house like the one we are in is well enough constructed to enable us to put up a good fight at least. It is made of stone and the windows are small. The thought of selling one’s skin dearly at least is comforting! As far as the fleas are concerned, to some degree we seem to have solved the “bloodsucking” problem. Now that we have wooden beds we use lots of naphthalene on the blankets, and there must be something about its smell that fleas try to avoid. The question now is to find plenty of naphthalene, and we have this item high on the list of our prospective purchases.


July 14, 1944

The intensification of warfare on the part of the ELAS, according to reliable information, has a two-fold purpose: to obtain arms and ammunition from the enemy, and to strengthen guerrilla bonds with the people in order to offset any bad feeling that may have been created by the break in the unity talks in Cairo. Guerrilla warfare has been accelerated in every part of Greece. Ares Velouhiotis, a guerrilla leader, has been in the Peloponessos for the last two months, and his presence there has resulted in more action by the local ELAS and many clashes with the Germans and local quisling troops.

The Germans, so far, have been unsuccessful in obtaining the harvest of central Greece and Thessaly. The enemy operations in western Macedonia seem to be part of a plan to secure their shattered communications between Macedonia and Epirus. The Germans are reported to have about 100,000 troops on the Greek mainland at the present time but everything seems to be in flux, with extensive German troop movements and the intensification of guerrilla warfare on the part of the ELAS.


July 14, 1944

A very dangerous situation has been created with the break in the unity talks in Cairo. The strife between the forces of the quisling government in Athens and those of the EAM will eventually lead to civil war. Fighting among them has already begun to intensify. Most of the old politicians of Greece seem to be morally supporting the activities of the quisling government because they feel it weakens the power of EAM and, consequently, the power of the Communists.

The idea of the creation of the Security Battalions can be laid on these fears of the old politicians, and EAM says that the present premier of the [64] government-in-exile, George Papandreou, is to some extent responsible. The aim of these troops, as it is proclaimed by their officers, is to take over the government in the event of a German departure from Greece. EAM, which is strong among the people and has a large armed force, will not accept such a solution, however. It will fight back, and thus a long civil war will result.

The Germans know the real aim of the quisling troops, but they favor the situation because the Greeks are being kept divided and therefore weak. At the present time terrorist raids are taking place daily against the various suburbs of Athens and Piraeus that are strongholds of EAM, and many people are being killed and taken prisoner. But the Central Committee of the EAM is not alarmed by these raids, claiming that instead of weakening the will of the people they solidify resistance against the enemy and the quislings.


July 15, 1944

The problems of living accommodations has been bothering me a great deal, especially since we came to Petrilia. Here we find ourselves in the peculiar position of being literally lousy with gold but unable to use it for a decent living. Carrying this gold around under the circumstances in which we are living is very difficult. I am carrying about three hundred sovereigns in my belt, and the damn thing is heavy. Even in sleep I have to have it on all the time because no one knows what might happen from one minute to the next, and it makes my sleep difficult. At times I ask myself what good all this gold is to us since it has helped us little so far. There is not one store in the villages of this section, or for any distance less than fifteen hours walk.

For the last three weeks we have been starving. The only thing we eat is boiled flour, which is supplied us by the family in whose house we live. We offered to buy some flour with a gold sovereign, but nobody in the village has enough to sell to cover the value. Therefore we had to borrow it. Then three days ago I sent Barba Costa to the village on the fringes of the Thessaly plain to buy provisions. This village has been totally destroyed by the enemy but, because of its position, still attracts a market every Saturday as in the old days. Barba Costa returned this afternoon and brought a great deal with him. He had taken four mules and ten gold sovereigns, and he had bought whatever he could: a small lamb, three live chickens, butter, tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, eggplant, and other vegetables. He bought soap of which we have had none for the last few days, and he even bought a tin can with a faucet so that we will not have to pour water on each other to wash anymore.

We really seem wealthy in comparison to what we had until now. [65] However, everybody will talk about us from now on, and I am afraid of losing our anonymity. Anticipating that difficulty I made up a story and told my men to start spreading the rumor that I am a rich man’s son from Athens, who sympathizes with the EAM movement and has come to the mountains to work for it in its political section; that my father, who is a wealthy industrialist, does not like my leftist ideas, but that he likes me well enough to supply me with money so I can live well.

In a way it is bad to spread the idea that we are wealthy among the poor people we live with; however, that is much better than having it known that we are Americans. The third alternative would be to go on starving, but we decided that we had had enough of that. If we had started spending money without giving any explanation for the benefit of the public, curiosity would have made us a great object of attraction and many myths would have been woven around us. This way not many questions are asked. When anyone tries to prod them further my men say that they do not know much more about me except that I am wealthy.

I personally keep aloof from the people and have few intimates, and therefore no one dares to ask me any questions. In addition, work in the underground and with the guerrillas has taught most people that it is not right to ask questions about people, and that one can be punished for doing so.

The only difficulty is that someone might get the idea of robbing or killing me to get any money I might be carrying. But that is pretty remote, too, because since the guerrillas have come to the mountains they have put an end to robbery and all other criminal acts. For precaution, however, I always carry my pistol, and when going from village to village I take a guerilla as bodyguard.


July 17, 1944

A large raid by ELAS has recently taken place against the southwestern district of Central Greece called Xiromeron. Units of ELAS have entered a number of enemy-held towns, including Amphilochia. An ELAS report claims 250 enemy dead and 30 prisoners and the seizure of large amounts of war material, among which there are 5,000 land mines taken at sea.


July 18, 1944

Much nervousness is reported among German troops in Athens and other parts of Greece. German officers have been executed in Athens for expressing defeatist views. Peloponnesos and other parts of Greece report extensive movements of enemy troops from the islands to the mainland, and [66] also movements of German garrisons on the mainland. German units in Athens are reportedly being replaced by troops of other nationalities (mostly White Russians) while more Greeks in German uniforms have been appearing in the streets lately. ELAS of western Macedonia reported that three trainloads of German soldiers who revolted have passed on the railroad line to Yugoslavia, and that some of the soldiers were tied to each other. These are signs of deterioration that some of the EAM leaders say are reminiscent of the period just before the fall of Mussolini.

The break in the Cairo talks is leading Greece into a terrible abyss. There are two forces working hard against each other. EAM on one side and on the other, most of the old politicians, together with the hundred percent quislings and reactionaries. It is really an unhealthy situation. Today Greek is killing Greek, and the fight will intensify as time passes and turn to civil war when liberation comes. This is the way I see things from here.

At the present time all the forces of reaction—special interests, old politicians, fascists, collaborators, and some of the capital of the country—are uniting for the sole purpose of beating EAM. All these people have either been inactive since the occupation took place and thus let the initiative of national leadership pass to the radicals that compose EAM, or they have been active in selling the country to the Germans, as happened with the fascists and the outright traitors and quislings. The old politicians of Greece, who otherwise would have been the logical leadership of the country, forfeited that leadership by staying inactive during the most critical time in the history of their country. This was the period of the last eight years; four years of occupation, plus the four years of the Metaxas dictatorship that preceded the occupation. During this time the initiative passed into the hands of those who were active and willing to fight and risk their lives: the Communists and the other left-wingers that compose the EAM. When the old politicians opened their eyes to the new situation it was too late; the others had gone far already! In the end, and under the clever manipulations of German propaganda, many of these politicians and their collaborating groups fell into a German trap, and have not been able to get out since.

The Germans have proclaimed themselves protectors of Greece in particular (and Europe in general) from the Bolsheviks. In addition, as a special favor to the Greeks, they have proclaimed themselves its protectors from the “Slavic danger,” an old bogey of the Greeks that has been revived lately and is the first seed of another war. The old politicians were willing to fall into this trap because they felt that there was no other way out of their [67] predicament; they grabbed the anti-communist harp and started playing the German tune. It did not seem that the old politicians favored the former governments of General Tsolakoglou or of Professor Logothetopoulos, but it seems that many of them agreed that John Rallis should become a premier, and a number of them helped him in forming the Security Battalions to chase out EAM. However one clothes such acts, in the final analysis they are collaboration, and no other word can be used to describe them.

Patriotic-sounding organizations, which otherwise could use their efforts and energy in fighting the enemy have started forming assault groups in the best Nazi tradition. These groups are composed of ruffians and jobless young men, and their purpose is to participate in raids organized by the Gestapo and the SS against the resistance movement. The leaders tell their men that they are performing patriotic acts, and that they are fighting communism and the “Slavic menace.” They are paid with money gathered from certain rich Greeks, from raids against innocent people, and through acts of plain robbery.

All these organizations claim that England and America are in favor of what they are doing, and in particular the leaders refer to a “certain great power” that has interests in Greece and is backing them in every way. The members of some of these organizations are told not to ask too many questions about the policy pursued. Such questions, they are told, are harmful and cannot be explained at the present time; it is “high politics.” Soon they find themselves participating in raids with the Gestapo, the SS and the Security Battalions against other Greeks. Then they try to find out what it is all about and receive mystic answers.

The politicians who started the Security Battalions thought that they were going to fool the Germans. They led many officers into collaboration, some formerly of patriotic organization. This policy, though, brought them only small dividends. In the end it has not brought the people to their side, and it has not fooled the Germans. The people of Greece become more pro-guerrilla in localities that the Security Battalions pass through, and the same thing is true in Athens, where every raid in the suburbs by quisling troops brings more people to the side of EAM. That the Germans have not been fooled was proved lately when Gonatas and others were put under arrest the minute it was thought Greek unity had been achieved in Cairo. The German aim is to keep the Greeks divided, and they have succeeded in that aim.

The subject of EAM vs. politicians and Security Battalions has an international aspect about which I know little in fact, but which I must mention in passing. This internal strife within Greece seems to become one between Russia and England, or Russia and the capitalist powers when considered on an international basis. [68] Of course EAM is pro-Russian. In spite of the fact that all EAM members, and especially the leaders, go out of their way to prove to you that they do not distinguish between one ally and another, one can be reasonably sure that EAM sympathies are more pro-Russian than pro-British or pro-American.

I can’t tell how far EAM is willing to go towards Russia; all I know is that EAM policy is not the Communist policy of old. Also, the EAM movement is a mild left-wing movement in comparison with other Balkan liberation movements. There is no talk here among the antartes of making Greece a Soviet republic or connecting it with a federated Balkan state, which I understand is the case with the Yugoslav and Albanian partisans.

The antartes and their leaders envision a “popular democracy” in the future, a term which nobody has defined to me yet, but which is taken to mean loosely a form of democratic government with greater guarantees regarding the interests and the economic well-being of the poorer classes. They also talk of a Greece that will include all the territories it possessed at the beginning of this war, plus such Greek territories as the Dodecanese Islands and the Island of Cyprus. They speak against the old political machines, which they say exploited the people, bestowing on them few and superficial benefits. The leaders of EAM, including the Communists, proclaim that they are not interested in taking power by force at the end of the war, but are not willing to let anybody else do so either. They say that they are interested in a democratic regime for Greece, within which all parties, including the Communist, will be free to present their programs.

Those fighting EAM and those collaborating with the Germans under one pretext or another profess to be pro-British. This section covers a wide range of political opinion in Greece, from right wing democrats to Royalists and former Fascists who find that their old game is lost. Many of these individuals and groups claim to have the approval and active help of England. EDES, which is British backed to a great extent, has many of its officers participating in the Security Battalions, and Zervas is cooperating with them in Epirus. Of course, no one can say how much of this is British instigation and how much is imagination on the part of those claiming British backing. In any case, one can deduce that there must be some truth in the claims.

For the future of Greece, these anti-EAM organizations speak in terms of a “greater Greece.” They want to aggrandize the country at the expense of its neighbors to the north, but do not define exactly how far they want to go. They claim that the western Allies will want a “great” and “strong” Greece as part of their anti-Russian policy in Europe and as compensation for the role Greece played in this war.

It is interesting to note that when agreement was announced among the [69] Greek factions in Cairo, the members, and especially the leaders of anti-EAM organizations, were at a loss to explain what had happened. Some of those who had gone too far in working for German victory said that they would go on with their activities, in spite of what had happened. Still others presented the agreement as a triumph of their own policy, saying that “now we shall take the Communists with us, and when we make them powerless by disarming them, we shall throw them out again.” In general, there was much confusion among these groups, according to all reports. In a number of cities, members of the Security Battalions went and gave themselves up to the guerrillas.

In the present what is more logical than to expect a civil war when the Germans pull out? Today, there is still the common enemy to fight; tomorrow, when the common enemy gets out of the picture, Greeks will find themselves at each other’s throats if unity is not achieved soon.


Bitter feelings against the British were expressed to me today after the [70] arrival of this telegram. Never before have EAM leaders been so outspoken, at least not in my presence. The British were accused of being behind every reactionary force in the country today and, in collusion with Papandreou and Rallis, of trying to install a new dictatorial regime to further their own ends. The new terror that has been unleashed in Athens since the failure of the Cairo talks is considered to be part of the British policy. I think that we are nearing a turning point in the relations between EAM and the British. It seems as if EAM is going to abandon its guarded and outwardly friendly attitude toward the British and take a stiffer position, which might result in a propaganda campaign publicizing British actions in Greece in an unfavorable light.


July 24, 1944

Part of the American commando force that will participate with the antartes in the operations of the Noah’s Ark Project is reported to have arrived in Epirus. This means that the OSS must have been satisfied with EAM’s answers to their questions concerning the project, which I sent some time ago. These seem to be part of our preparations for the eventual withdrawal of the German troops, which should be starting any day now.


July 24, 1944

Today I cabled the grid point for the parachute drop. The point was chosen by ELAS, but the mountain plateau of Karvassara that they suggested is exactly the place that I had selected when we were passing by that section a month ago on our way to this village. Yesterday I went to the plateau to make some kind of map so that I could describe it in the cable. It is rather a large plateau as plateaus go in this section, and seems ideal for a drop. However, there are two main drawbacks: (1) there are mountain peaks all around, which will cause the plane to fly rather high, and (2) the whole plateau is sown with wheat that will not be harvested for another month, and which I am afraid will be damaged by our operation.

Yesterday we found only shepherds on the journey, which is four hours fast walk. These shepherds were curious to know what we were doing up there and about the significance of the maps we were making. We told them that EAM is planning the installation of a meteorological station, and that some of us might have to come and stay on the plateau for some time. That was a good excuse to ask for some information about the weather, and especially about the direction of the wind at night. We could not very well tell them that we were expecting a parachute drop of supplies, because the news would spread all around the region and might cause trouble when the [71] time comes. In addition, some people might get ideas about stealing some of the packages.

The shepherds offered us hot milk, freshly milked from the sheep, and we ate it with bread that we had with us. This was a really good meal, although we wouldn’t think so back home. Sheep milk is very rich in this section at this time of year because the sheep eat dry grass. Besides we were very hungry and had only bread and some bad-quality cheese with us.

The shepherds are the only well-fed people in this section, and that is because they have plenty of milk to drink. They have two Italian prisoners, Lazzaro and Guiseppe, as servants, and they looked well-fed too. In fact one of them (who could make himself understood in Greek) said that it was the milk that kept them alive. These two prisoners, however, were dressed almost in rags and Lazzaro had no shoes at all.

The eldest of the shepherds, a tall stout man of 85, is blind and very curious about us strangers. He spoke to us of the good-old times, when he was young and the most famous rustler of the region. He told us how he would go by night to the opposite mountain, and by morning another ten sheep were added to his flock and nobody knew what had happened. “These good-for-nothings,” he said, pointing toward the younger people, grandchildren, nephews, and what not. “They sit on their fannies all day and the only thing they care about is to have their hair well parted.”

Then, somewhat slyly he said, “Since Ares came to the mountains they don’t even tend the sheep anymore.” This was an obvious reference to the fact that since the guerrillas have come to the mountains animal theft has been done away with, and shepherds, knowing that their animals are secure, let the sheep graze alone on the mountain side. The heroic days of rustling are over for the old man, and as far as he is concerned, the whole world is going to the dogs!

Yesterday I learned something about dogs, too. Greece was full of ferocious mountain shepherd dogs in the years before the war. They are excellent guards for the sheep and good companions for their masters but are terrible and dangerous to strangers. But now there are very few dogs in Greece because they died during the famine or were eaten by the people. One sees but few of them around and these are very skinny indeed.

Yesterday as we were approaching the shepherd huts, though, five big and ferocious dogs started toward us from the other side of the ravine. As I watched them getting closer I did not know what to do. The stick in my hands was not strong enough; as for throwing stones at them, no one could manage five dogs of that size. I had to act quickly. My companion was some distance away, and we could not put up a common defense; therefore, my hand instinctively went to my pistol, which I took out and fired to the right of the dogs with the idea of scaring them. The trick worked. The dogs didn’t [72] get scared as I thought they would, but they started running in the direction of the bullet and let us alone for a minute. Hearing the commotion and the shot, the shepherds came out of the huts and chased the dogs away.

Later they complained about my firing, afraid that I had fired at the dogs; shepherds hate to see their dogs scared, because they say it spoils their fighting spirit. This episode, however, made me wiser. I learned that even these ferocious mountain dogs have an inborn hunting instinct which makes them move in the direction in which the shot is fired. It also taught me that one can avoid dogs that way!


July 27, 1944

Today I took an action that might aid in a solution to the crisis that has existed among the Greek factions since the breakdown of the unity talks. It might also lead to a reprimand from my superiors in Cairo.

The possibility of a full-fledged civil war when the Germans pull out of Greece has been worrying me no end during the last month. That realization is what led me today to send a cable suggesting that some American authority in Cairo take a hand in bringing about a rapprochement between the two sides. From confidential reports that I have been getting from a number of sources in the last few days, it seems that many EAM leaders feel that the negotiations with the Cairo government were mishandled, and that things should not have been brought to a real break. Apparently, the realization of the meaning of a definite break with the government-in-exile is making even the most extreme among EAM leaders think twice about embarking on an entirely independent course with unpredictable consequences. It might mean civil war, and nobody here wants that, including the Communists.

If I judge correctly, EAM would be willing to reopen negotiations if some face-saving solution could be found. What I am suggesting to Cairo, therefore, is that some high American official approach the Greek government and propose even a minor concession, which could have a face-saving effect for EAM, reopen negotiations, and finally result in the EAM entering the government.

As far as I could find out, there is no Russian instigation behind the so far unyielding attitude of EAM. In fact, the Greek Communists have not had any contact with Moscow since before the Metaxas dictatorship. I was told by a very reliable informant that the first contact with Russia that the Greek Communists had had in years was meeting with the Russian ambassador in Cairo that some members of the EAM delegation had a few months ago. Contact promises to be good from now on, since the arrival of the Russian Military Mission at Headquarters yesterday, But, strange as it seems, I learned from moderate EAM sources that the chief of the mission [73] counselled the Communists in leadership moderation and toward participation in the government-in-exile.

The stubborn attitude of EAM so far has been due to the fact that they believe they did not get treatment commensurate with their strength and sacrifices. This complaint is made not against the government-in-exile alone, but against the British as well. The latter are suspected of holding a policy of weakening EAM and diminishing its power.

The bad treatment that the EAM delegation to the Lebanon Conference received both from the British and the Greek government had a great deal to do with the final breakdown of the negotiations. It did not take the EAM delegates long to realize that they had to deal in an unfriendly environment, a hostile atmosphere in which various shades of political opinion among the delegated were played one against the other. Finally the delegates realized that the British, with the connivance of Premier Papandreou, were trying to double-cross them by withholding vital information from messages that were received from the mountains.

This last fact was understood from the message that I sent to the OSS in Cairo at the end of May, which came to the attention of the EAM delegates. My message quoted extensively from a cable that EAM had sent to its delegates (through the British) declaring that Papandreou was not acceptable as prime minister. The British had given the EAM cable to the delegation, but so distorted that it left out the reference to the prime minister. As I have learned since the return of the EAM delegation from Cairo, the realization that their instructions from Headquarters were being distorted disturbed the delegates greatly. The chief delegate, Professor Svolos, became almost panicked at the realization that he had already accepted participation in the government, contrary to the wishes of the EAM leaders.

Even after the above scandal was bared, the British, who had originally promised the delegation good communications with the mountains, stalled and let the delegates cool their heels in Cairo after they refused to sign the agreement for the formation of the unity government. The EAM finally recalled the delegation, creating a situation that everybody was hoping to avoid.


July 28, 1944

The transformations war brings are apparent in a little village like the one in which we live now, which is almost in the middle of the most inaccessible part of the Agrafa mountain range. The village boasts many and various innovations these days. The antartes have brought these people in contact with civilization for the first time; in a sense, civilization came at [74] once, and it will disappear as soon as we leave. This town of one hundred houses now possesses an electric generator, two radio sets, and three portable radio stations—one Greek, one American, and one Russian. All these blessings of civilization, if blessings they are, are being seen for the first time by the inhabitants.

When electricity was installed for the first time, the other day after dusk, children stole to our upper floor and stood outside of our window, and they looked at the miracle for hours. One very old woman came to see in order to believe, and she was ecstatic. The only thing she could utter in wonderment, was “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Then somebody brought an extension with a lighted bulb to her, and instinctively she tried to blow it out when it came near. Everybody laughed, and the poor old woman was embarrassed and left quickly.

These are the tangible blessings of civilization that we have brought in and will take away, and perhaps they will never be seen again in these villages of Petrilia. There are some intangible aspects, though, that our presence here has brought, which promise to stay with the people longer. These are the new ideas that have filtered into the minds of the people: ideas for better living, of easier ways of doing things; ideas about the position of women, who are regarded here as little better than animals and are treated about the same.

Some of the socialist and communist women and some of the guerrilla girls found opportunities to talk to the women of this section about the equality of the sexes. Of course, most of the villagers can see for themselves how we strangers behave, and that is the best example. The other day, Barba Costa could not stand the sight of seeing our landlord sitting around all day while his wife was doing a man’s job of helping with the plastering of the house, so he called them in one by one and told them so. He told the man of his obligations and the woman of her rights. Such teachings will create some kind of revolution in the near future, which will be a blessing for the women because at the present time they are overworked and badly exploited.

The greatest temporary blessing to come to this section, though, has been the presence of a number of doctors, among them some of the best known professors of the University of Athens. These doctors don’t stay idle; they are taking care of the sick, who otherwise would have to travel for days on mule back or die slowly. Very important operations are being performed here now with crude medical instruments and without anaesthetic but performed just the same by expert hands, and lives are saved. This blessing will soon be lost to these people, and the loss will be a great blow.

But whatever happens after we go away, things are not going to be the same at Petrilia: some people will use the beds we are going to leave behind [75] and someone might buy a radio with batteries in the distant future; some women will clean and feed their children better; and many will try to seek medical advice. But perhaps these people will not again see radio stations, electricity, or university professors operating on crude village tables. And most probably they will not have any more American, British or Russian officers snooping around and criticising their way of living!


July 29, 1944

Good news from Cairo! In answer to my cable of two days ago they inform me that some members of the Greek government are anxious to keep good relations with EAM. They think that the best way is to send the moderate socialist John Sofianopoulos to Greece to resume negotiations on the part of the government. If EAM accepts, they will have to issue an invitation, which should be sent through British channels and not through me. I showed this message to the EAM Central Committee and they were gratified with its content. Of course I did not tell them that I initiated the whole thing, but let them understand that it started with American officials in Cairo. The thought that the Americans were taking a hand in their affairs pleased them a great deal. Hard as it might be to believe, even the Communists want the U.S. to take an interest in their affairs. They are so much against the intervention of the British, and they feel that American interest helps in weakening the British grip on Greek affairs.

I was asked to convey EAM’s appreciation for the American interest, and was told that a meeting was going to take place soon to review the political situation, and that a decision regarding entering the government might be made.

An interesting item that came out of the conversation today pertained to the mistrust the Communists have for the Socialists and for moderates in general. An important Communist leader spoke to me against having Sofianopoulos come to Greece for further negotiations. “I don’t trust the man,” he said “Sofianopoulos deals with both sides, and you can never tell if he is for you or against you.” He then expressed his preference for more rightist politicians carrying out negotiations.


July 30, 1944

EAM decided in yesterday’s meeting to enter the government-in-exile under the condition that the present prime minister, George Papandreou, be dropped as its head. I was given a copy of the cable that is to be sent to the Greek government tomorrow. This is some kind of a scoop for me and for our office in Cairo, to have the news in advance of the actual notification to [76] the Greek government and the British, and shows that my relations with EAM are excellent. The five ministers that will represent EAM in the government have not been appointed yet, and that is what is keeping the official notification from being sent out. However, I am sending the main body of the message today, and will send the names of the ministers as soon as they are decided upon.

The EAM message puts the responsibility for the break of the original negotiations on Papandreou, claiming that “his hostile public declarations against EAM, befitting a fanatic enemy rather than a leader of a unity government, had created a situation of misunderstanding and mistrust from the beginning, which resulted in violent opposition throughout Greece and prevented the formation of a unified government.”

I cannot help but note that EAM is correct in this analysis of the situation. It seems that the trust of the British in asking him to form a government went to Papandreou’s head. Most people say that although he is capable he suffers from delusions of grandeur combined with a messianic complex. It was in this role as the new Greek messiah that he made some stupid speeches over Middle East radio to the Greek public, which were not liked at all by the resistance movement. It is not very easy for fighters, who realize their tremendous power within the country, to take abuse from one whose role during the occupation has been one of total inaction. Some say that Papandreou has not been so inactive, but that together with some other Greek politicians he can claim the spiritual leadership in the formation of the quisling Security Battalions. For lack of proof of that claim, let us suppose that Papandreou’s only blemish has been inactivity: it is a great crime for one who is supposed to be a leader and who wants to continue as such.

NOTE: As I learned on my return to Cairo a year later, the above mentioned EAM cable was not given in full by the British to the Greek government members. The message as given out in Cairo mentioned that EAM had decided to enter the government but deleted the reference to Papandreou not being acceptable as Premier. A few days later, however, through an American intelligence bulletin that was being issued in Cairo for the benefit of various allied bureaus, the full text of the EAM message as sent by me was disclosed to the members of the Greek government, and at a cabinet meeting a real crisis developed.

The Liberal party members, under the leadership of Vice-Premier Sophocles Venizelos, were very indignant and demanded the resignation of Papandreou. The prime minister answered that “for the sake of national unity” he was willing to place his resignation at the disposal of the government. Then, so a crisis would be avoided, a compromise was reached in which Papandreou was to remain premier until the arrival of the new EAM ministers. Then a vote of confidence was given to him, and he was authorized to issue the official invitation to the new members.

On August 6, I received a message from Venizelos and the other Liberals in the [77] government urging the government of the mountains to accept this solution, and reassuring EAM that Papandreou would be replaced as soon as the new ministers went to Cairo. The Cairo office, in order to avoid embarrassment about taking part in matters outside its own scope, addressed the message to me “for your information and use” and not directly to EAM as coming from the Greek vice-premier.


August 11, 1944

We are living in expectation of a plane, which will bring us supplies of all kinds—food, clothing, some weapons, a new radio set, batteries, and a number of other things.

At 10 o’clock this morning we came to this high plateau, which is perhaps 4,000 feet above sea level, and we pitched camp. As camps go, ours is a poor imitation: it is more like a gypsy camp than an army camp. We have no tent, so we selected a nice sturdy tree to protect us from the sun and maybe from light rain when it comes. Our blankets, clothing, cooking utensils, and some food were carried on the backs of two mules that accompanied us on this expedition. Cairo said that the plane would come any day between tonight and the 18th, so preparations were made for a rather long stay.

The time of arrival has been given, and the signals have been double-checked to be sure that they have been understood. We must make a triangle with five fires, with a sixth at the apex. Then when we hear the drone of the plane at the appointed hour, the fires will be lit and the parachutes will drop in the middle. The only thing that bothers me now is that this plateau is planted with wheat that will not be harvested for at least two more weeks. If the packages fall on the wheat, a lot of damage will result to people that cannot afford to lose even a small part of their precious crop. Unfortunately, in these high mountains of Agrafa where we live there are no other good plateaus where a parachute drop can be made, so we had to select this one.

Even this plateau is not ideal, and has many shortcomings for the pilot who will be at the controls of the plane; here are mountain peaks all around the plateau that will force the plane to keep at a high altitude. Only from east to west are the summits a good distance from each other, but if the plane follows the directions I cabled, it will be able to come in low enough for a good drop.

We spent our time this morning gathering wood for the fires. This is not an easy job, because this section is sparsely wooded like most Greek mountains; only here and there can you find a pine tree. There are ravines full of pine but it will be difficult to carry the wood up their steep sides. Fortunately, the two Italian prisoners whom I met when I came to this region to [78] look at the plateau for the first time have offered to help us. The poor kids probably figure and quite correctly, that they can get some food from us to supplement their meager diet, and they are full of willingness to help. This is very fortunate for us, because both of them know the region very well, and that will save us a lot of trouble. They know where to get water, which is a problem, and they know where to get wood.

Lazzaro is an especially nice young man. About 21 years old, he is short and of stocky build, and his nice disposition has not yet been spoiled by the bitter experience he has undergone. The terrible life he leads on these barren mountains has deepened his already strong Italian sentimentalism, which is doubly evident when he sings a particular tune that has the word “mamma” in it. In the melody when he sings that word it makes me too feel sentimental and nostalgic for better days, easier life and a more peaceful world. The barefoot and half-dressed Lazzaro of today probably thinks back to the green pasture of Foggia and he puts his lament for his present condition in the songs he sings so well, and into the word “mamma” that he loves so much!


August 13, 1944

Complications have arisen again! I have learned that a new message was received at EAM through the British Mission radio station, which promises to upset all the work that has been done so far to achieve Greek unity. The message, which comes from Sophocles Venizelos and the other Liberal members of the Greek government of Cairo, asks EAM to reconsider accepting Papandreou as prime minister because “the British government is not willing to accept a change of premier on the eve of liberation.”

I have not been able to get the official reaction to this message yet because only a very small circle of EAM high officials know about it so far, and those were unwilling to talk much except to express their indignation.


August 15, 1944

This morning I got up very early and walked five hours from our mountain watch to the village, to find out the results of the meetings that have been taking place the last three days to discuss EAM’s relationship to the exiled government.

A great deal of resentment is evident among all circles of the resistance movement toward the British for their latest intervention in what are considered here to be purely internal Greek affairs. Some moderate EAMites, with whom I was talking earlier today, told me with disgust that “the British are dealing with Greece as if it were part of their colonial empire.” [79] An influential leader representing the EAM Central Committee wants me to ask Cairo why the Liberal members of the government have changed their position in regards to Papandreou, and why they did not insist on his resignation in spite of British pressure. He also wants me to find out the opinion in American circles in Cairo regarding the developments of the last few days.

I was very reliably informed again today that the Russian mission has counselled EAM to enter the government-in-exile even under Papandreou.

All indications point to a favorable decision, and that it will come out of the meeting that is going on now. My only hope is that this meeting will end early, because I have to go to the mountain again and the prospect of climbing its steep side in darkness is not a pleasing one.

NOTE: I found out almost a year later that the Papandreou resignation was prevented directly by Churchill himself, who sent a cable to that effect to the British ambassador in Cairo. This fact explains the acquiescence of the Liberal members of the government in accepting Papandreou and their efforts to persuade EAM to do likewise. It also explains, in part, the hate of the Greek leftists towards Churchill’s high-handed policies in their country, and might have had a great deal to do with subsequent EAM decision to fight a civil war rather than continue to give in to\ British pressure.


August 16, 1944

A decision to enter the government came out of the EAM meeting late last night, but I could not wait for it. I sent the news to Cairo this morning, together with an EAM cable to the Liberal party members of the government announcing EAM’s decision to accept Papandreou as premier. The soft tone of the EAM message, though, does not reveal the resentment felt here against both Papandreou and the British. Because of the way things have happened, EAM is full of suspicion about the good faith of their adversaries, and I foresee difficult sailing ahead.

There is no doubt that EAM has changed its opinion about the British. Some time ago even the Communists spoke of the British with respect and always minimized any differences that existed between them. Now resentment is expressed openly against British actions by members of all factions that compose this leftist coalition. However, at least temporarily, the action of yesterday’s meeting brings relief after the suffocating atmosphere that has affected all of us the last few days. Let us only hope that this relief will prove to be permanent rather than temporary. [80]


August 18, 1944

The most important people (from the point of view of power in the antartes movement) are the Communists, and the most important Communists in free Greece today are these: George Siantos, general secretary of the party; John Ioannides, second secretary of the party and chief of the Politburo; and John Zevgos, who is considered the intellectual leader of the Communists. No one of these three is a great leader, but each one complements the others in such a way as to make a pretty good and complete leadership. Communist leadership rests in the hands of these three men; no decision of importance is made if they don’t come together to discuss it thoroughly.

From what I know so far, it is difficult to say who is the most important—perhaps no one. Of the three, though, Zevgos seems to exert the least power and Siantos holds the most exalted position. In the absence of Nikos Zachariades, the “leader” of the Communist party who at present is imprisoned in Germany, Siantos is the leader.

But the position of Ioannides seems to me as perhaps of greater importance. He is the party “boss,” in the American sense of the word. He controls the party machine, and that is very important in any country; especially among the Communists, who have strict discipline in their party organization. Also, Ioannides is the most clever of the three. His mind is sharp and quick and he is the type that makes decisions quickly, which is an asset for a party leader in times like these. It might be Ioannides’s personality that has prevented him from securing the leadership of the party so far. Basically, he gives the impression of being a ruthless man, a man who keeps mostly to himself does not trust people, and therefore does not have many friends. People respect him, but keep more or less at a distance from him.

Siantos, on the other hand, has a warm and likeable personality. His is open, and somewhat exuberant in his relations with other people. He praises his co-workers, and always has a kind word for strangers, even when he meets them for the first time. Siantos is not as sharp as Ioannides, but he seems to possess a great deal of native intelligence and a high degree of penetrating intuition, which makes him sure of himself. Siantos is thoughtful and calm, perhaps characteristic of his village background. Though only a little past fifty, he is respectfully called Geros (“Old Man”) by everybody. And indeed he gives the impression of the elder of a village, the type to whom people go for advice and whose opinions are highly respected. There are no complaints about Siantos around here, either from his own party or from members of other parties.

Zevgos is thin and tall, and looks old for his age, which is not much above forty-five. A former grammar school teacher by profession, he is [81] considered the intellectual par excellance by his fellow Communists because he is well versed in Marxist philosophy. To me, though, he does not seem like an intellectual giant. He might know Marxism very well, but with other ideas he is very inflexible. Like Ioannides, he too is a lone wolf. His attitude perhaps is not so much due to personality as to his physical condition. A stomach ailment makes him look sour most of the time, but one nevertheless can detect a soft man under the surface who would like nothing better than a strong argument on any topic.

All three leaders of the Communist party, as is the case with almost every member of the party and definitely with anybody of any importance, have spent many years in prison and exile. As a consequence, there are very few Communists in Greece who are not sick men. Siantos, because of his strong peasant constitution still seems to be healthy; Ioannides, though, suffers from T.B., which he calls “the most aristocratic disease” because, he says, “you can live a long time, if you eat well and sleep plenty.”

Communists have been persecuted by all the successive governments of the last twenty years, but during the Metaxas dictatorship of 1936–41 they suffered their most ruthless persecution. One thing they are very bitter about is the fact that, when the enemy troops came to occupy the country, the dictatorship handed them over to the Germans and Italians instead of opening the prisons and letting them escape. The great majority of them escaped in the end, one way or another, and they became the ones to organize guerrilla warfare in the country.

When important matters come up, Siantos, Ioannides and Zevgos meet in a hurry for many hours. They live near each other and have no difficulty doing so. Then at intervals of three months or so, the full strength of the Politburo meets, with members coming from various sections of Greece to participate in the discussions. That happened lately when the questions of Greek unity was discussed and important decisions had to be made. At these meetings, the three main leaders dominate, but there is free discussion of issues, and decisions are not always dictated from above. I learned confidentially that during this last meeting the leadership was very sharply criticized for the handling of the negotiations with the Cairo government, and that its position became very shaky.

These Communist party meetings are very secret, and usually very little comes out. However, my position here is one of good standing and gives me a good opportunity to learn things. In the first place, people have confidence in me and talk easily. Secondly, the smaller fry do not know who I am. They see me mixing and talking with the big shots on equal terms at times, and they think that I am one of them; therefore, I sometimes learn things that I ordinarily wouldn’t. In this way I learn more than the British, who have the stupid policy of keeping to themselves and being on bad social [82] terms with the EAM and the Communists.

A Communist leader that everyone around here talks about with great respect is Nikos Zachariades, who, as I mentioned before, is reported to be in a concentration camp in Germany. From what everybody says, Zachariades must be far above every other Communist leader here in intellect and ability. He is spoken of by the Communists as someone superhuman and inspiring. The non-Communists, too, speak about him with respect, and many moderates have told me that if he were here many of the mistakes of the present leadership would not have taken place.

In any case, mistakes or not, EAM was organized and has been thriving under the present leadership, and that speaks well of their ability and value.


August 19, 1944

Life is not actually bad on the mountain but I begin to get fed up with it. We are still waiting for the plane to come. Or rather, it came three days ago and things went wrong. We heard a plane passing high above us, but it was two hours off schedule, and we did not light our signal fires. Yesterday we received a cable that that was our plane, and that the pilot could not locate us. No wonder he could not! I can’t see why, when a man has such an important rendevouz, he would come at the wrong time. In occupied territory during war you just don’t act as you would at a picnic. That night we figured that most probably the plane that passed overhead was a German one. Suppose we had given our signal to the enemy—what would have happened? If the plane had had any bombs in its bomb bays, it could have let loose of a couple. If it had not had bombs, the pilot could have marked the location and had someone else come with gifts from the air!

We figured that if that was our plane, the pilot would come back later and try to locate us. But the pilot did not come anywhere near us again; instead he returned far to the south, and we heard the drone of the motor very dimly. Now the cable says we have to wait another twelve days, and this is no fun. It is no fun for me to have to go down to the village every second day to follow what is happening and send messages to Cairo. Alex has been left in the village, so our daily communication with the base is maintained.

In spite of difficulties, though, there are certain pleasures in life on the mountain. It is nice to be outside all the time, to have the sun during the day and the moon as a companion at night. I have my sleeping bag with me, and thus avoid the cold mountain air; the other men in the group envy my comfort. So far the only thing that bothers our night’s sleep is dampness, and that is avoided to a great extent because we all manage to get under the protective foliage of the trees. We pass our day cooking, taking care of the animals, going to the spring for water, telling stories to each other, and [83] singing. Our night singing is especially beautiful because a number of shepherds join us, and we alternate between Greek and Italian songs. Lazzaro has the best voice of all, and he is always willing to oblige whenever we ask for one of his pathetic tunes.

Our food is rather good these days. Since we solved the food problem by sending to the Thessaly plain every two weeks for provisions, we have no difficulties in taking care of our needs. Sometimes we even have a feast, like the other day when we bought a whole lamb and roasted it on a spit. That day we had a regular holiday and our shepherd friends joined in the merrymaking. Our songs lasted late into the night.

Yesterday we had an accident. One of our Greek helpers took the mules to the spring, which is in a ravine, and one of the animals slipped on the narrow path and fell to the bottom some thirty feet below. Unusual as it may seem, the animal was unharmed; the difficulty came when we tried to get him out of the ravine. The mule, who is pretty advanced in years, refused to move. There were rocks all around him, and he was afraid to make the real effort of a climb. Last night he remained there because there was nothing we could do in the darkness. We gave him enough food, and left him alone to ponder his difficulties.

This morning all of us went to try to get him out. He just refused to move! We tried every method we could think of: we tried to drag him up, while at the same time pushing him from behind; we tied his front legs and tried to pull him. No soap! He even received a terrific beating as a help to persuasive action, but we had no luck in that either. Then someone thought of tying his eyes so that he could not see, because we realized that it was through fear that he was unwillingly to cooperate. That trick worked! The mule was willing to move when he could not see, and he made an effort to get out as we dragged and prodded him.

But that did not take us any place either because the rocks were steep, and only by stepping on certain limited spots could we succeed in getting him out. Then, thinking fast, we devised an improved method. In addition to tying his eyes, we also tied each of his front legs separately. Thus, by pulling each leg by a rope, we managed to place them on the right spots, and on the third or fourth trial we finally got him out of his hole. That took four hours of real work this morning, but it was worthwhile because we saved a precious mule.


August 26, 1944

For the last five days it has been raining constantly with hard winds blowing at the same time. Although it is still August, the cold is severe. We are still on the mountain waiting for the plane to come. It is our fifteenth [84] day up here and who knows how many days more will elapse before the plane comes.

After the cold weather started, we moved into a little hut at the end of the plateau that is used by the shepherds in winter time. These days nobody comes up to this God-forsaken place, and we are out of communication with the rest of the world. There is no way to communicate with the village, either, to find out from Alex if any messages have come from Cairo. Today it has been clearing since noon and we hope to be able to light the fires if need be. Perhaps we shall have clear sky again for a change.

Five of us have been sleeping in the little hut and there is hardly enough room to move, especially since we must have a fire going all the time. The saddest thing about this adventure, though, is that we have caught vermin again. The Italian prisoners must have passed them on to us, because they have had them all the time. When the cold weather came all of us had to get into the hut because there was no other place to go. Because of the lack of space we had to be near each other, and because of the Italians’ lack of warm clothing we had to give them some of our blankets to cover themselves. The result is that all of us now have lice and are comrades in every sense of the word. John, one of my Greek assistants, laughingly told us the other day that his lice are of two different hues: there are blondes and brunettes. He said the blondes come from Lazzaro and the brunettes from Giuseppe. Now he hopes to breed them before the plane comes so he can produce “a new and better variety!” All jokes aside, we are going to have a difficult time getting rid of this product because of the lack of even the most elementary facilities for cleanliness in this village.

Fortunately our food has not given out yet. We brought plenty of provisions with us with the exception of bread, which gave out yesterday, and we always manage to get two meals a day. We still have some dry beans and lentils, and we had fresh vegetables until two days ago. As far as water is concerned, we always have plenty by keeping pots out in the rain.


August 29, 1944

The plane came last night! It hit the exact hour this time, and we lit our fires alright. Then we saw it circle four times above us, and each time it passed the fires a red light was flashed. But in spite of the clearness of the night we saw no packages fall. After it made its fourth round, it gradually left our position, and the drone of its motors diminished until it could not be heard anymore. We continued staying at our fires, all five of us, because we felt that the circling was only preliminary and that the plane was going to return. Ten minutes later, though, when there were no more signs of a plane, all of us met in the center of the field and tried to explain what had [85] happened. No one had seen or heard any parachutes fall, and the consensus of opinion was that no drop had been made. Perhaps the plane had come to investigate the place and would return the next night. We decided to wait another hour before leaving, and returned to our fires. No more plane! At our second meeting in the center of the field we decided to go to sleep and, at my insistence, decided to get up at dawn and start searching the surroundings for any possible packages that might have fallen.

If I managed to steal an hour’s sleep last night, it is a miracle. The disappointment was too big to take. After waiting for so many days, and after all the hardships we had suffered, it was a terrible letdown. I tried to figure out what had happened and how we would start searching in the morning. The place around us is full of mountain peaks and deep ravines, and difficult climbs and descents were promised ahead. Then I tried to figure out which way the wind was blowing when the plane came, and to estimate the most likely section where the parachutes could have fallen. At five, when the pale light of dawn was touching the surrounding peaks, I was up trying to awaken the rest of the men to start on our thankless task.

We divided into three groups, the five of us. John and Giuseppe went northwest toward the highest peaks, the likeliest section for the chutes to have dropped into because the wind was blowing that way last night. Jacob and Lazzaro went towards the southwest. I went into the ravines that lead to the nearest village.

Everytime I came to a good lookout I stopped and searched the surrounding district, but there was nothing to be seen. As I approached the village, the people I met on the way all spoke about the plane that had come in the middle of the night, but nobody had seen or heard any parachutes falling. In the village there was a guerrilla telephone, and after some difficulty I managed to get Alex on the other end of the line. I gave him a message to send to Cairo: “Plane came, signals given, but no chutes seen to fall. We are searching surroundings and will continue our nightly vigil.”

Four hours later I returned to the plateau and heard a shepherd calling me by name from the opposite peak: “Fellow-Combatant Ulysses,” he called very loudly, “there are some parachutes on the trees on the other side of the summit. Someone has seen some more in the ravine yonder.” I began to breathe again, and in spite of my fatigue I climbed up the mountainside at an accelerated pace.

When I reached the clear ridge, which is an hour’s hard walk above the plateau, there were John and a number of local people from the surrounding villages with five packages they had already gathered. One parachute was hanging from a tree above a nearby precipice. Then, a shepherd coming from the peak above told us that there was a chute with a blue package on top. I pretended it was not important, but sent John with two men to bring [86] it down right away. That was our treasure, as the cables from Cairo had said, containing the gold that would keep us in existence for the months to come. So when the blue package came I stayed there with it.

The packages continued to come in all day. Giuseppe picked a number of them from the ravine and brought them up its steep sides with the help of other men. I opened some of the packages and took out food and candy, and I gave it to the men who had helped. Towards the late afternoon, when I realized that many packages were still missing, I promised that whoever brought more packages would have the right to keep the parachutes.

The EAM organization treats those who steal goods very harshly, but the need for clothing is great, and the large amount that a parachute could provide is enough to make people risk the severest punishment. I figured, therefore, that if the parachute were promised people wouldn’t want to risk stealing a package, the contents of which they were not sure. It was a terrific incentive. By late afternoon six more packages were brought, but according to my estimate five more are missing. But there is nothing else we can do tonight!

The greatest pleasure of the day for me was not the fact that the supplies were received, but rather that a minor bundle was included in the supplies that filled my heart with joy: my personal mail. We have received no mail since we left Cairo six months ago, but there were plenty of letters to make up for the delay. When I found them twilight had fallen and the writing was barely visible, but with the aid of my flashlight and what little daylight was left, I read them all from cover to cover. There were letters from the States, letters from my Egyptian friends who had lost me suddenly and did not know what was happening to me, and letters from my brother in South Africa.

My only regret is that it is impossible to get news from my sister and my other relatives who actually live in Greece but with whom, for reasons of security, I don’t dare communicate. When some time ago an opportunity arose to communicate with my sister on the island of Ithaca, I let it go by because I was afraid that, once it were known that I was in the mountains with the guerrillas, the news would spread far and wide. The enemy might hear about it and my relatives would certainly suffer. Therefore, I made the sad decision not to meet a man who was then leaving for Ithaca.

The mail that came in today is actually full of “holes.” These holes were made wherever there is a name written, and my name on the envelope is totally cut out. Then the second name of the sender is cut out as well as names in the body of the letter, in case they refer to somebody working for the OSS. In fact, such a thorough job has been done that I had difficulty knowing from whom the letters came, and in one case I still can’t figure it out. The letter is signed by George, but the question is which one. [87]

Another blessing that was dropped from the air last night was reading material. There are plenty of back issues of magazines from home and many pocket book editions of novels. They promise to keep us happy for a long time.

A preliminary general examination of the packages disclosed canned meat, sugar, rice and plenty of “C” rations; clothing, our new radio set and some weapons. We have already opened some of the “C” rations and had a rather pleasant meal tonight. Now the men are sleeping, covered in parachute cloth because on this ridge where we gathered the packages we have nothing else to use. Soon I will join them, for I haven’t really rested since this ordeal started last night, and feel very tired now. But I at least feel satisfied, because this thing is really over.


August 31, 1944

Another chapter in the turbulent history of Greece has come to an end. Unity among Greek factions has finally been achieved, and the EAM ministers left two days ago for Cairo by British plane to take their posts in the new government. I saw the group crossing the mountain on muleback as we were scanning the region for the packages from the parachute drop. I took out my binoculars and followed them for a long time.

There was Professor Svolos, the head of the PEEA mountain government, which would be discarded with the new agreement. The Socialist professor seemed happy, because the dream of unity that he has cherished so much has finally come true. John Zevgos, the former school teacher, was going along to become minister of agriculture. Some days ago I carried the first news to Zevgos of his acceptance as a minister, as it came to us before it officially reached EAM through the British mission. “Congratulations Fellow-Combatant Minister,” I greeted him in the best form of resistance lingo. He became happy for a moment and then, with the usual reserve of a Communist, he said: “Let us wait a little and see the official version and find out if everything is really all right.” As it happened, everything was not all right and the negotiations were protracted for many more days.

The other day when I saw the new ministers crossing the mountain, the old newspaper photographer urge got grip of me and I felt like running up to them and snapping a picture of this historic event. I let the opportunity pass, though, as I have let many other opportunities of this type pass since I accepted the job of a spy. Many of the ministers did not know of my existence and it might have proven detrimental to my work in the future if the anonymity that has helped me so much until now had been destroyed.

I know that someplace in the luggage of the new ministers there is an envelope full of documents and reports that I am sending to our Cairo [88] office, and that knowledge is enough to keep me satisfied. The envelope contains intelligence of all kinds, some which is not so kind to our British allies, who, I hope, will carry it to its destination in ignorance of its contents. In contrast to my other mailed reports, which take about two months to reach their destination, this might reach the OSS in record time. Because of its contents our government will know more about what is happening in Greece today, and will be able to make wiser decisions in its policies toward this country. So the “Bon voyage” that my lips uttered as the last of the contingent was rounding the curve that put them out of sight was meant for two: for the safety of the ministers, of course, but also for the safe arrival of my latest reports, the result of hard physical work and great mental hardship.


Schools for Revolutionaries

Sept. 2, 1944

For many years before the war, Communism was under persecution in Greece. Surprisingly, it was during the Liberal party regime under the famous Eleftherios Venizelos that a special law was enacted by parliament putting Communist activities under its jurisdiction. Afterwards, it was difficult for Communists to operate under democratic regimes, but not impossible. The government didn’t imprison anybody for believing in communism or for reading Communist literature, but it did for carrying on certain activities, such as propaganda demonstrations. Under these regimes the Communist press was illegally published and distributed widely. During one period, there were more Communist weekly and monthly journals being published all around Greece than all other publications put together!

On August 4, 1936, a small-size dictator with German military training and Nazi ideas took over the government of Greece. Mimicking the great German master, he announced his intention of creating a “Third Greek Civilization,” copying the phrase from Hitler’s “Third Reich.” One of the first acts of dictator Ioannis Metaxas was to intensify the war against Communism, and he order his local “security committees” to unearth anybody who had Communist leanings and send him to prison or exile. Metaxas chose an able and ruthless former contractor, Constantine Maniadakis, as minister of security, to supervise the war against Communism. Today in Greece, the four years of Metaxas power, which ended with foreign occupation, is referred to mockingly as either the “Epoch of the Third Civilization,” or “Maniadakis’s Regime.”

Metaxas and Maniadakis were in a way able to uproot Communisim from Greece, at least temporarily. Greek prisons and islands of exile were filled with thousands of people: some Communists, some liberals, and some who had just expressed dissatisfaction with the regime. Maniadaks was an [89] efficient man who loved regimentation, and who put out edicts that would make the people behave. He bolstered the church and tried to make people attend every Sunday and holiday. He outlawed cursing. He created youth organizations, to which all young people were obliged to belong in order to teach them respect for the state and the ideals of the “Third Civilization.” But all these were copies from the greater masters, Hitler and Mussolini. The great dictators had introduced these ideas with good results before Maniadakis did, so he could not claim fame as the originator of any of them.

But it did not take Maniadakis long to improve on some of the methods of his master. He made his name synonymous with castor oil because of the profuse use of it on prisoners during interrogations. To make castor oil more efficient and his victims more talkative, he would have them sit naked on cakes of ice. If these tricks did not work he had more painful ones for the very stubborn.

Maniadakis’ greatest tool, however, was one that had much more value than physical torture because it promised to stick with his victim all his life, and to make him hated by his comrades. This was self-ridicule. When a victim became weak-willed from torture or from the horrible prison life, Maniadakis would produce a “declaration” for him to sign. The content would be something like this: “I, so and so, declare unequivocally that I do not believe in Communism anymore because I have come to realize that it is inimical to my country and against our great national traditions. I declare my devotion to the church, to the family, and to our government.”

Then, the prisoner would be set free and his declaration published in the newspapers and posted around the community. This was a satanical trick, because by this simple method a man was discredited. If he ever had been a Communist, he would be despised by his comrades for what he did and would be forever ridiculed by his neighbors for having changed the beliefs he had maintained so strongly in the past. If he ever had been a leader, he would be classified in the future with the weak-willed people who bend their heads under pressure.

Maniadakis would gather his political prisoners from all over Greece in Athens or Piraeus, where they were examined and classified according to their importance and the strength of their beliefs. Then those who were not willing to sign the “declaration” would be sent either to a regular prison or to an island exile. The important Communists were always assigned to prison. At one time the great prison of “Acronauplia” held as many as 800 political prisoners, in addition to the common law prisoners there. Although Acronauplia was the most famous political prison, many others were used all over the country. The various islands held anywhere from fifty to six or seven hundred exiles each. [90]

Within two years Maniadakis had succeeded in putting almost every Communist in Greece under his control. He succeeded in shutting down all Communist publications; he even succeeded in severing the connection of the Greek Communists with Moscow, which was admitted to me by important Communists. But for all his success, Maniadakis failed in the most important aspect of his work: he failed dismally in his goal to exterminate communism from Greece. In fact, he not only failed, but he immeasurably helped to create more and better Communists in the country, and thus will one day be recognized not as a persecutor, but rather as one of the fathers of communism in Greece.

The lesson [that] can be gained from the Metaxas-Maniadakis experience is that you cannot fight revolution by persecution. Persecution solidified the Greek revolutionary movement, gave it strength and unity, and above all, educated its adherents in both revolutionary theory and practice in building the new society in which they believed. The prisons and places of exile of Maniadakis became schools for revolutionaries.

Here in the mountains I have met with countless products of the revolutionary schools that the Metaxas dictatorship created, and I should say that the great majority seem to be very well educated. In addition, I have learned how this peculiar school system operated.

The first Coummunists that were assigned to a prison or an island would form a “collective.” This collective would be the center of activity around which the daily life of the prisoners would rotate. The Greek government would pay each prisoner a small amount of money for his living expenses. This money would be put together, and out of it food would be purchased. If work was done by the prisoners or exiles, each had to contribute a percentage of his earnings to the collective, which at times approached the total amount. If gifts came from home or from friends, the individual had to contribute a percentage that would not ordinarily exceed 50%.

(If there were solitary confinement, which was the practice of few prisons, such a collective system could not work, of course. But solitary confinement was not the common practice because Greek prisons did not have the space or the facilities for it. The prisoners usually lived in large dormitories, or in especially rented houses on the islands of exile.)

The collective system was forced on prison wardens, usually after big fights. At times, hunger strikes would take place so that this privilege could be won. If the collective was prevented from being organized, the prison warden knew that he was in for perpetual trouble. But if the prisoners were permitted to have their collective, a number of benefits accrued to the prison itself. A prison with a well-organized collective was a model prison! The prison warden could boast to his superiors that he had no trouble with [91] his inmates. During inspection the prison would be spic and s[pa]n, and without any effort on the part of the prison personnel. The warden had only to let the prisoners alone and everything would work like a clock! What was happening, which at the time prison wardens could not understand, was that the inmates were actually practicing in a miniature model society for the one in which they hoped to participate as free men in the future.

One of my assistants here in the mountains is Barba Costas, a lean man of average size who is forty-five years old but looks sixty or even more. He is a former furniture worker of Athens and a member of old standing in the Communist party of Greece. Barba Costas is an Acronauplia prison veteran of seven years tenure. He received the honor of being imprisoned in this most famous of prisons among Greek revolutionaries because of his great fighting spirit, which always moved him to the head of demonstrations and brought for him the most dangerous revolutionary assignments. Now Barba Costas is in ill health, as is the case with everyone who has spent many years in prison. He cannot fight anymore in the front lines, but his belief in communism is as strong as ever. In fact, Barba Costas does not think that anything else exists, and he looks with hope into the future when the new society in which he will be able to live a real and full life will be created.

Barba Costas (barba means “uncle” in Greek) attended only grammar school as a kid, but in a narrow sense you can call him a well-educated man. I say “narrow” because his only education is a Marxist one. That education was a result of his seven-year confinement in prison. He learned history, economics, sociology, and some mathematics and physics. But all these he learned from the Marxist point of view. He also heard countless lectures on all subjects by persons able to speak in various fields. All these have made a better product of what must have been a raw and unfinished worker. Now Barba Costas is much above the average.

He looks and acts like a refined man, loves reading, and is able to converse on any subject. His thin face shows the ability to learn, and he loves to do things neatly and in detail. If he had started young in life he might have developed into a good artist, or perhaps an excellent school teacher. For lack of a typewriter or a competent secretary, I am having Barba Costas copy some Greek documents that I want to send to Cairo, and he does the job beautifully. A typewriter could not do any better. I don’t even have to check for accuracy because every time I have, I have found them perfect—with all periods and commas, too!

When Barba Costas speaks of Acronauplia, he does so with a certain amount of reverence. There is nothing of the bitterness of prison life in him because he manages to forget the idea of confinement and prison guards. What matters to him is his comrades, and the fact the Acronauplia was a school and a new society for him. This I found to be true with all other [92] inmates of this prison, too. They act among themselves as members of a special fraternity, and a good one at that, because they believe themselves to be the elite of all the thousands that lived under the dictator’s program of prison and exile. Other former prisoners look with reverence upon the former Acronauplia inmates due to the better organization and better schooling that was to be had there, which of course was a result of the fact that the leaders of the Communist movement of Greece were imprisoned there.

The mistakes of the Metaxas-Maniadakis policy was that it brought all these people together. This solidified the will of all and the hardships were forgotten. It brought the schooled and the educated in contact with the rest, and that created the opportunity for teaching. Some of the Communist leaders were members of the Greek intelligentsia; others, a large number of them, had studied in the revolutionary schools of Moscow. All of them had something to contribute. The way Barba Costas described it, “Acronauplia looked like a boarding school.” There was work to be done, and there were classes to attend. Some went to work, some went to school. At times all would go to work or all would go to lectures at the same time, but the usual method was to divide the inmates by dormitories so that each section had appointed times on the day’s schedule. All would participate in activities of both work and school, except for the regular teachers. Those only taught, and they were the most highly respected members of this peculiar society. “It looked exactly like school,” Barba Costas would say with nostalgia, “with people carrying their books and copy books under their arms from one class to another!”

When political prisoners first went to Acronauplia they came in such numbers that facilities of all sorts were totally lacking. At first there was a great deal of trouble and confusion, but soon the collective was organized and a committee of prisoners went to the prison warden with a petition and a plan. They asked for raw materials to build more toilets, ovens for baking their bread, and even a large new dining room and kitchen. The warden, who was a decent sort of man, granted their request and work started soon. In this congregation of workers it was not difficult to find specialists of all kinds, and it did not take long to finish the job.

It seems peculiar to me to find that such a good system of cooperation between prisoners and guards existed under so oppressive a regime as that of Metaxas, but then such conditions were seldom achieved without a fight. A new warden once came to Acronauplia and wanted to cut down on the “privileges” of the political prisoners. He tried it, but he soon had so much trouble that he had to reconsider. The same thing was true in other prisons. There would be difficulty at the beginning in gaining the privileges, but later on everything would go smoothly. In fact, some of the prison wardens tried [93] to introduce the same kind of reforms in the penal law sections of their prisons, but without success because of the lower element to be found there.

On the islands of exile things were easier from the beginning and, if good organizers were found, a good system could be set up right away. The trouble there, at times, was that not enough trained people were sent there, and in certain cases the collective system lagged.

The collectives of the exiles would operate under the same system of contributions as in the prisons. Here, though, there was greater variety of income and better possibilities for organization. The collective would rent a number of houses in accordance with its needs and the availability of houses on the islands. Some of the houses would be used for sleeping quarters, others for dining rooms or living rooms, and still others for store houses. The exiles could work for the islanders and be paid, contributing part of their pay to the collective. They could have gardens, and could even sow wheat. On one of the most barren islands that had very little water, they even introduced certain vegetables, such as tomatoes, that the natives did not believe they could grow. The school system was the same as in prison except that classes could be held at night as well, and the exiles could even have parties once in a while.

The exiles had to present themselves at stipulated days and hours to the police station, and identify themselves. The frequency of reporting in would vary in accordance with the rules of each island, and at times with the importance of the individual. Another rule forbade them to ride on a boat without being accompanied by an armed guard. The natives were discouraged from having social relations with, or even talking to, the exiles, but rules regarding this varied according to local conditions.

After I started inquiring about the prison and exile system under Metaxas, I was soon convinced of its effectiveness in producing the results desired by the regime. This fact and the lack of bitterness on the part of those who suffered under it impressed me very much. There is no doubt that, in spite of the good organization of the collective, there was great deal of suffering connected with such life. The results of this can be found all around. There is hardly one of these people today who does not suffer either from tuberculosis, nervousness or some stomach ailment. The great majority of these men are broken men because of ill health.

However, their bitterness is not towards the fact that they were put in prison under the dictatorship (or even before, under the parliamentary Greek regime). The great complaint among former prisoners is that they were not set free when the Germans and Italians occupied Greece but were handed over to the invaders. Fortunately for the exiles, the way things developed it was easy to escape. As soon as the Germans reached the mainland of Greece all governmental machinery was paralyzed, and, among [94] others, the policemen left their posts. Therefore, before the Germans were able to reach the islands most of the exiles had managed to find means of escape. However, not all were so lucky and some of them were caught by the enemy.

The mainland prisoners, though, were locked in and the keys were handed to the invader, and some of them are still in prison although most have been executed in reprisal for acts of sabotage. A small percentage of them managed to escape, and it was from among these, together with the escaped exiles, that the first ideas of a liberation movement came resulting in the formation of EAM in the fall of 1941.


October 17, 1944

Yesterday we reached Athens. The Germans left three days ago and our paths almost crossed somewhere between Thebes and Athens. The physical aspects of the city are almost the same as when I left ten years ago; very little has changed. Even war did not leave much of a mark on this cradle of civilization. The people, rather than the city, were left scarred by the enemy. The atmosphere of Athens is not the clean atmosphere of the mountains that we left a few days ago. There is something here that suffocates, something that affects one’s breath, but I cannot easily define what it is. Perhaps it is the great scar of war that the enemy bequeathed to this city. This scar is not on buildings destroyed, it is not on transportation wrecked: it is in the souls of men.

Athens is divided into halves, and one half hates the other. One half likes EAM, and the other half hopes for the destruction of EAM. For the present EAM seems the strongest and is definitely the better organized. The other half is weak both in numbers and in leadership. But both sides are strong in hate. The weakness of the anti-EAM half makes it hate more, while the strength of EAM makes it cocky and sure of itself. In fact, EAM feels its strength so much that it tends to disregard the strength of the opposition.

This morning I saw one of the EAM chiefs, and observed casually that Athens is not the same as the mountains. “There is a great deal of opposition here to EAM,” I said. He told me that I was making the common mistake of not realizing the strength of EAM among the masses. “The people are with us,” he said. “Don’t be influenced by the weak but loud opposition of our opponents.” I did not say much more because he might be more nearly right than I, but I closed my remarks by saying that the air did not seem clear. And it is true that the air is not clear at all. Many of my old friends, whom I’ve met since I came yesterday, are anti-EAMites, and they showed me their hatred for EAM. Each side is passionately convinced that [95] it is right.

It is interesting to see how far the teachings of Hitler penetrated the minds of people. Most of the anti-EAM people give you Dr. Goebbels[’] anti-Communist line or a variation of it. Using this Hitler kept the Greeks, or at least some of the Greeks, on his side. Now these same Greeks profess undying friendship to the western Allies. They expect England and America to save them from Communism and the “Slavic danger,” as they call it. Of course, they brand EAM as wholly Communist.

The division of Athens is more or less a class division, but it is a physical division as well. One can draw a circle around the center of Athens and say that the inner part is inhabited by those who hate EAM, while on the outer part live those who love it. The poor classes are pro-EAM. These are the workers, most of the government employees, and other salaried people. The wealthy classes in general are anti-EAM. These are the industrialists, the merchants, people with large fixed incomes (local or foreign) and most of the army caste. Of course there are variations in both camps, and one can find rich people with EAM and poor people with the opposition.

Most of the opponents of EAM seem to have been impressed and at the same time scared by the great EAM demonstration that took place the day that the Germans left. Anti-EAMites still talk about the “Communists” who paraded with clenched fists shouting, “Koo-Koo-EEE” (which is a chant formed from the initial letters of the Communist Party of Greece). These people claim that the Communist party showed its true colors that day, for it no longer used EAM as a disguise. The “Nationalists” paraded that day too, but apparently their parade was not as impressive in numbers or in spirit. Besides, a number of German collaborators were recognized among the latter, and some episodes took place when spectators tried to seize and lynch them.

The beautiful October weather that we are enjoying these days conceals the unseen but all-present political volcanoes that exist in the minds of the people of this beautiful but tragic city. Even such seasoned observers as my EAM friend cannot see them. They are here just the same, though, and who knows how things will turn when the explosion comes. Some of the EAMites don’t see them because their strength is so great at present that they are prone to underestimate the strength of their opponents. That is exactly what is happening to my friend, who probably spends too much time with people of his own political persuasion, and too little time, or none at all, with the opposition. [96]


Nov. 5, 1944

Why Greeks Become Communists

I saw Uncle Nick again today and heard the usual lecture on what he calls “the Greek problem.” He has talked to me so much on this topic during the last few months that I am able to recite his arguments almost verbatim. Whether one likes it or not, it is worthwhile to listen to what this man says because his arguments explain in a way why so many people in Greece are Communists, and why the biggest part of the youthful and most lively section of the country has turned away from the influence of the West and is looking to the East for its salvation.

The whole discussion today started with my asking why he did not like the British and preferred to have Greece under the influence of Russia. In summary, the views of this Communist intellectual are about as follows: “England was never sincerely concerned with helping Greece, but always interfered in Greek internal affairs in accordance with British interests. In the process, Greece received some help in the form of loans that, in the end, had the effect of making the country more dependent on Britain.

“Britain was against the independence of Greece when the Greek Revolution started in 1821, but later on, because of the force of events, it too had to get on the bandwagon. When Greece finally was freed a new British policy started, one which was calculated to keep Greece small, weak, and in need of protection. Later on the policy of keeping Greece on bad terms with its neighbors was initiated as part of a greater plan calculated to keep the whole Balkan peninsula divided. This policy is still in existence today, and it is the one we try to fight most.”

Uncle Nick, who is a very thin man of almost saintly appearance, is rather advanced in years. An accomplished linguist, he has been of inestimable value to the leaders of the resistance movement of his country. The first two years of occupation he worked with the underground in Athens as editor of an illegal paper. When we got to the mountains, we found him there doing his usual work of writing, organizing and speaking, and, with the aid of a crude cane, going from village to village to carry out his daily tasks. Now Uncle Nick is in Athens working at EAM Headquarters. His work keeps him busy long hours and I am not able to see him often, but once in a while we still meet and have a full discussion. Our long acquaintance has created lasting friendship between the two of us, and the reserve that usually exists between me and the Communists never separates Uncle Nick and me.

The average Communist in Greece today, and especially those in leadership, tried to convince non-Communists that they have nothing [97] against the British, and that after the war everything is going to turn out all right. Perhaps these people believe what they say, or perhaps this is the Communist party line at the present time. In any case, my friend has no illusions or inhibitions on the subject. He told me outright: “Greece has had enough of Britain!”

This does not mean that he is for a break with the West, because he realizes the geographic fact of Greece’s dependence on the sea. However, he thinks that the first factor that any country, and Greece in particular, should consider is its relations with its neighbors. “It is like commit[t]ing suicide, if our relations with the other Balkan countries are bad,” he said. “I am thinking as a good Greek when I say that the Russian factor in Europe looms bigger for Greece than any other,” he protested, “not as a Russian puppet.”

He went on to say that Russia will emerge as the strongest country in Europe, and that she will be “sitting on the neck of Greece” because of her position with the other Balkan countries. He used the argument that “one can’t be on bad terms with his neighbors and feel safe and happy.” Then Uncle Nick, who seems very sincere in his convictions and apparently has thought of the problems of his country for a long time, went into a discussion of the cultural and educational benefits that Greece will derive from some kind of a tie with the East.

“We are supporting a “Balkan federation” friendly to Russia”, he said, “in which each country will have its own demilitarized frontiers, but inside of which goods and people will move freely. A central government will guarantee unity in internal and external policies.” Such a federation, he thinks, will end once and for all disputes among the Balkan states that have made for war in the past. It will also end meddling by the bigger powers which has always kept the peninsula in constant turmoil. “We prefer to tie such a federation to Russia,” he continued, “because we believe the socialist system will create better economic and social opportunities for the Greek people.”

Then he went into specific cases and examples. He told me that Greece, in her long history, always depended on the export of men for her livelihood; goods and services were exported too, but men were the main export of the country. During ancient times Greece created an empire all around the fringes, of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea through this export of men. “Strange as it seems, this empire lasted until the beginning of the First World War.” Greece didn’t always own the territory of the Eastern Mediterranean, but Greeks lived there, and helped the motherland economically.

Then the Bulgarians and the Rumanians got nationalistic and chased the Greeks out of the prosperous cities of their portion of the Black sea and [98] Danubian Basin; Russia had its Bolshevic Revolution and the Greek element there disintegrated. The Turks, after 1914 and before 1922, completed the destruction and uprooting of two million Greeks from Asia Minor. Then all these people came to live on a small poor and mountainous country. The result? Starvation!

“What did the Western powers do to help Greece after the First World War?” my friend asked in an excited manner. “Examine the record: the United States clamped down on immigration and put high tariffs on Greece’s exports of dry fruits, tobacco, and olive oil.” Then, Uncle Nick took on his favorite subject, the British Empire! “Our great friends and allies, the British, what did they do to make life livable for the country, which during the First World War tore itself apart and divided itself in order to join England in her war against the central powers? Britain too shut her door to the immigration of Greeks, and instituted a system of high tariffs.” He went on to say that the British, with their great empire, should have tried to help their friends and allies. “Why should there be empty spaces in Australia and in Canada when there are starving people in Europe? That is not ethical. But some of these countries with great empty spaces have received the scare of their lives during this war because of the Japanese expansion. Australia for instance, received a scare that wouldn’t have occurred if that country had a population of thirty million instead of six. But these countries that have the territory institute “selective” immigration laws and treat human beings as “desirable” and “undesirable.” And then they complain about the radicalism of the undesirables, who go on starving.

“Greece and other poor countries don’t need loans or grants of money, which act as weak shots in the arm. They need a more just world to live in, a world in which differences in nationality, race, or religion will not be a disadvantage. They need a world in which opportunities will be equal for all people regardless of their origin and background. And the world needs a better economic system, one which will guarantee every man a job, and not one that is marked only with the alternatives of prosperity or starvation. Then the world won’t have radicals, and I won’t be looking to Russia for the uplifting of my country. Russia and this Balkan federation will give us benefits that we do not enjoy as a nation at the present time.”

He said he hoped that the greatest problem that plagues the nation, next to the economic one, would be solved by this new orientation. This is the problem of Greek youth, who grow up aimlessly and without opportunities for the future. The problem, as he sees it, is an especially hopeless one for the educated young people of the country. Greece is too small to provide a really good education, and it is too poor to give its educated people a decent living. That is why everyone is looking for a government job, and everybody is starving at the same time. [99]

“There is not enough room to grow in Greece,” as Uncle Nick put it. The word “grow,” as he explained, was used in an intellectual sense rather than economic. He went on to explain how talent is being stifled. “Even if a young man shows promise, he has no opportunity to advance and there comes a day in his life when he finds himself middle-aged and broken in spirit, without having accomplished anything. His struggle for existence has consumed so much of his life and energy that he never had any opportunity to exercise his most elementary functions as a human being. He has not created a family; he is not even married.

“In Athens,” he continued, “you find so many people that never work for a living! They live by their wits, as the American expression has it.” He said the last phrase in English, which he knows remarkably well for a man that took only short trips abroad. “These people are unproductive today, but if they had the opportunity they would be among the leaders of society. The fact that they manage to live without working shows that they are intelligent. As young people, all of them probably had dreams that remained unfulfilled, and became frustrated in the things they loved to do. Then they developed into loafers because being intelligent was the easiest thing for them to do. That is one example of the decay of the Greek youth.”

He thinks that the connection with Russia will solve the economic problem and the youth problem of Greece. The country will become part of the greater socialist economy, and a market for her products will be assured as well as work for her people. Culturally Greece wil[l] remain a unique entity, he thinks, because of the strength of her culture, but will also be part of the greater socialist civilization. “There will not be any reason for her youth to decay because the new good blood of the country will have a great continent to conquer. The Greeks, who are an intelligent and ambitious people, will satisfy all their cravings for greater freedom and opportunity, which will be afforded to them as citizens of a world where no passports or economic barriers will limit their activities.

“The Greeks lived and prospered in the past during the Turkish empire among people of many nationalities. Under this oppressive foreign yoke they became ministers of state, navy ministers, and seal keepers. They were appointed prince-governors of principalities, and ruled the economic life of the empire! Why should the Greeks be afraid of Bolshevik Russia, when a more oppressive Russian regime of the past elevated them to the highest positions, among them that of foreign minister?” The Communists, my friend thinks, have devised the best policy for minorities that exists today; and “the Russian character is much more tolerant of foreigners than that of the Anglo-Saxons.”

I pointed out to my friend that through this cultural freedom he speaks of and likes so much, Greece is sure to disappear soon as cultural entity and [100] be absorbed into the greater Russian cultural development. He had his answer ready for this one, too. He has faith in Greek culture, he said, and thinks it would outlast the culture of all other small nations, at least. “But,” he added thoughtfully, “the world is moving toward a cultural unity in which all great cultures will make their contributions. Greece has already left her mark on the culture of the world, and even when Greece disappears as a nation she will be remembered forever.”

Uncle Nick spoke the following phrase, which closed our conversation for the day, with great emphasis. He uttered his words slowly and with an apparent touch of emotion. “Whether we like it or not,” he said, “the world is being unified at this moment at an accelerated pace. Economic factors and our mechanical progress are taking care of world unity. Let us not worry too much about that; instead let us try to better the lot of the common people, keeping in mind that the desire for bread is stronger than the desire for the maintenance of culture!”


November 17, 1944

Yesterday I managed to get a room at a hotel. It is not easy to get a room in Athens these days because every room in every building is taken either by British army personnel or by Greeks returning from the Middle East. Besides, Athens is now full of refugees, persons who have flocked into the big cities during the occupation in order to avoid persecution or to take advantage of the more even distribution of Red Cross food, which is being given out free to all people. It is estimated that at this time Athens has double its pre-war population, and this has created a terrific housing problem.

An opportunity to get a room came when I met some old friends that work in this hotel, fellow workers with whom I had worked at the old Hotel d’Angleterre years ago. These people were happy to see me. They had lost track of me, but they knew that since I had left them I had attended school for many years and had been staying in America. Now they feel very proud that one of their own managed to get out of the drabness of hotel work in Greece, and had returned to Greece with the liberating armies as an American officer. So these friends worked fast, and within a few days accomplished the impossible and got a room for their former colleague.

It is amusing to see how these fellows treat me now. The seventeen years that have elapsed since the time I left my hotel job have severed ties of intimacy between us; rather, they feel somewhat strange with me. Their attitude is not the old chummy one, but one of respect. They treat me with the respect they have been trained to treat the customers they serve, to the point that once in a while someone forgets and uses the word “mister” in [101] addressing me. I have tried to cut through that reserve and show them that there is no actual change in me since leaving their ranks but I suppose that is impossible. Hotel people in Greece have been trained to highly respect those they serve. There is always a “master-slave” relationship apparent, and the “servant” always looks up to the “master.”

That is the spirit I hated most when I first started working at the Hotel d’Angleterre at the tender age of thirteen, and it was my unwillingness to accept a secondary position that finally made me decide to get out of that type of work five years later. The present attitude of my friends reminds me of a lecture that was given me on the subject by one of the older employees when I first entered hotel work as bellhop. I got mad one day at being unjustly treated by one of the patrons and I expressed my indignation to one of my colleagues, who was old and subdued by that time. “Keep always in mind that he is the master, and you are the slave,” he admonished me. “He can say only one word,” he continued, “and you will lose your job, and then you and your family will suffer.”

I hated the words he uttered but accepted his advice because in a way he was right—I could have lost my job, and I needed it so much! Apparently this spirit still exists among at least the older hotel employees in Athens today, and is why my friends treat me as if I never had been one of them.

It has also impressed me to realize that some of the hotel employees are anti-EAM. George, who was my closest friend in the old days, is particularly vociferous in his anti-EAM feelings. He feels that EAM is a communistic organization, and that the British should help to suppress it altogether. Petros, who is a very cunning fellow, is less anti-EAM; that is, he is anti- EAM in the open, but when he talks privately he recognizes many of the real contributions of the resistance movement. As I found out, Petros is one of the officials of the rightist faction that controls his union at the present time, and his caution is due to his desire to be re-elected in the future.

The overwhelming majority of the Greek workers is of course pro-EAM, and the attitude of my friends seems out of step with the general trend. It can be explained by their training to be submissive, and also by the influence of the people they serve. This is a more or less high-class hotel, and the people that lived here during the occupation were enemy officers and civilian personnel, Greek black marketeers that could pay the price, and some of the wealthy landowners from the provinces, whom the EAM had chased out in order to distribute their estates to the villagers. All these people hate the EAM with all the force of their hearts. At the present time they don’t express their sentiments, but during the Occupation they had plenty of opportunity to spread propaganda among the hotel employees.

Apropos of George’s present attitude I am reminded of an incident that took place many years ago. When he found out that I had joined the Hotel [102] Employees Union he took me aside and told me that I had made a bad mistake. I must have been less than fifteen then and he more than twenty-five, so he gave me fatherly advice. “When the owner finds out about this,” he said, “you will lose your job.”

I kept my union card against my friend’s advice because other fellow workers had convinced me that it was the only way to fight for better conditions, better food, a cut in our fifteen-hour stretch of daily work, and for the always promised but never given weekly day off. George, who is a good man but always cautious and never original in his thinking, still has the same job he had twenty years ago. He makes even less money now than he did then because this hotel is not as high-class as the one he worked at before, and because the “masters” are not as free with their money.


December 3, 1944

Eighteen people died in front of my eyes today; many more were wounded. I am trying to write what I saw, but don’t seem to be able to collect my thoughts. How shall I start?

I saw people coming in formation with their banners—Greek, American, British, and Russian flags—in the front. It was a huge line but the people were orderly, singing guerrilla songs and shouting slogans. Coming west on University Street, they tried to enter Constitution Square by turning left on Othonos Street. The police stopped them. The huge line started moving again, trying to get into the square by going down the steps that lead from the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. The police stopped them again but the people started marching once more.

We were on the second floor balcony of the Hotel Grand Bretagne. George had virtually pulled me up there just before the demonstrators reached us. We had been in the square watching the people and looking at the British soldiers that were amassed with considerable tank force.

“Let us get out of here,” George said, sensing that danger was approaching. I didn’t want to go, but George was insistent. I said that if anything happened, I wanted to be in the middle of it. George had a better idea. “From the hotel,” he said, “we will be able to see everything, while if we stay in the square we are apt to see nothing, besides getting shot at.”

The long and wide balcony of the second floor at the Grand Bretagne was crowded with people who came to see the show, mostly American and British officers, and UNRRA personnel. There were a few Greeks, too, wealthy patrons of the swanky hotel. Everybody was apprehensive. The demonstration had been forbidden last night, although permission had been granted earlier. The police were in full force, sporting new British rifles and sub-machine guns for the first time. Also, there were British tanks and [103] armored cars all around. The first tank at the curb in front of us had a man standing in its open turret in constant telephone communication with HQ, reporting the happenings.

The front of the demonstration had reached our end of the square, and as I looked carefully, I heard its leaders arguing with the police only fifty feet away from where we stood. We tried to follow the argument, which was being carried on in high tones but did not seem exceptional under the circumstances. The demonstrators were pressing to enter the square, but no scuffle of any kind developed.

Suddenly an order to “fall back” was given in a shrill military tone, (and all policemen withdrew about fifty feet, fell on their knees, and started shooting! The shooting was heavy. Two hundred policemen were firing, the majority with automatic weapons.

The crowd left our large balcony in a hurry and few of us remained there to watch the happenings. We had a full view and could move around freely now. We ran around from place to place in order to get the best view, thinking that the police were firing in the air just to scare the demonstrators. But one of us happened to look at the policeman who was kneeling a few feet from us, and called to the others, “He is firing straight into the crowd!” Then we looked more carefully and saw blood. A kid of about fifteen was lying just ahead with a red pool around him; a girl of twenty was bleeding a little further down.

“We had better take cover!” someone shouted, “These people are being shot at, and someone from the crowd might get crazed and shoot at our shining uniforms!” We followed this constructive piece of advice and, although we stayed on the balcony, tried to keep ourselves covered by staying behind the thick square columns. By this time only seven persons were left on the balcony: six American officers and one Greek newspaperman.

Ten minutes after the shooting started, a bomb exploded in the empty space between the crowd and the police. Who threw it? All of us on the balcony got together and tried to decide. The bomb was not a big one and did not do any damage to either side, but left a dark mark on the asphalt. Since none of us saw the bomb thrown we decided that it had not come from the crowd, because it was the crowd that we were watching. (The police were at our left and we would have had to risk getting out from cover to look at them.) Besides, no one had seen anybody from the crowd firing.

There was one consoling thought in my mind today in watching this ordeal, and that was the behavior of the crowd. It made me feel proud to be of the same blood as those people. When the shooting started the crowd remained immobile for a moment as if stunned by the blow, and then it fell to the ground. In certain places the crowd was thick, people having fallen on one another in a pile. [104]

As the shooting continued, and with the realization that some among them were being wounded, people started spreading out. The space was wide, though, and cover was diff[i]cult to find. Some ran behind the thick stone blocks of the Unknown Soldier Monument; others fell down, wounded in the attempt. Still others tried to jump down into the garden of Consti[t]ution Square, which is about twenty feet below at this point, and had to pass first through an iron railing to do so. But most of the crowd stayed where it was, and was still there when the shooting subsided. Then, after almost twenty minutes of incessant heavy shooting there was a lull and the crowd ran for cover. Some trigger-happy policemen could not stop firing even then, and took potshots at the fleeing people.

When University Street was cleared, we could see only the dead and the wounded. Corpses were strewn all over and pools of blood remained where wounded had been helped away by friends. People ran back to the broad avenue like crazy to look for lost friends, and the policemen fired at them too. A young girl rushed up the broad marble steps leading up from Constitution Square and was stopped in the middle of University Street by the body of a young man who could move no more. She stayed there for a long time hugging and kissing the lifeless body. Blood and dirt soiled her light colored dress.

The shooting continued in an intermittent manner although only the wounded remained on the avenue. Friends and relatives stood on the fringes pleading with the police to be allowed to look after their dear ones.

A half hour after the shooting started, we left our big balcony and went to the other side of the building from where we could better watch the actions of the police. There we saw an American correspondent, who originally was among the crowd, pleading with the police officers to stop the shooting. It was obvious that he was having no success. Then he took a British major with him and entered police HQ on the other side of the street. A few minutes later an officer came out and gave the cease-fire order.

An hour had gone by since the shooting started, but people did not leave the scene of action. They had emptied University Street, but stood by in the surrounding streets and in Constitution Square. The British soldiers had stayed in their tanks, reporting to HQ, but had not participated in the melee. When the shooting ceased, the tanks started moving. They left our corner and went into the square. The crowd, for some unknown reason, or perhaps as a gesture of disapproval of the police behavior, started cheering the British soldiers, and the sound of clapping hands filled the air as the tanks moved toward the square with their turrets open.

Then, someone from the crowd recognized our American uniforms on the hotel balcony and started cheering at us. The crowd picked up the cheer [105] and a peculiar chorus of “Roosevelt, Roosevelt” came from the people, accompanied by loud and prolonged clapping. All of us felt ashamed to be treated thus during such a terrible occasion, and did not know what to do.

“To the square, to the square!” the leaders of the crowd started calling. There was no more shooting, and the people started towards Constitution Square in an orderly manner. As they moved, touching scenes of love and devotion unfolded before our eyes. The dead and the wounded had been taken away and only pools of blood remained to remind people of what had taken place a few minutes before.

Crowds of young people stopped at the pools of blood, and reactions varied with individual emotions: some cried, some crossed themselves, others vowed revenge. A large crowd gathered at a pool near our balcony where a girl had been crying for some time. She was a friend of the girl whose spilled blood she was trying to protect. Friends tried to take her away but she refused to move. Finally, some of the people started cutting branches from the trees around and placed them on top of the blood. Then a makeshift cross was fashioned of two small stems and was placed on top of the branches that formed the make-believe grave. When I passed by two hours later the branches were still covering the blood, and the makeshift cross was still there to remind of a young girl who had died in vain.

We got down from our balcony and I left George, who had had enough by this time and wanted to get away. I went into the square, where a huge crowd had gathered. The signal to kneel was given and everybody fell on their knees. Then a moving dirge was sung, the words of which caused shivers to run down my spine. “We mourn you brothers and sisters, in a worthy cause you fell ....”

I stayed a while in the square and heard some of the speeches, but soon felt restless and left. Going up Kifissia Boulevard I saw a Greek friend and stopped to say hello.

“Meet policeman Demetrios,” my friend said, and I shook hands with a man of about thirty-five in civilian clothes.

“Why in civilian clothes today of all days?” I asked in amazement. “Tell the man your story,” my friend prodded him, “He is an American officer and should know what happened.”

The policeman said he was known in the force to be pro-EAM, and that he and all other pro-EAM elements had been given leave for the last two days while the rest were being instructed in the use of new British automatic weapons, and in how to deal with the demonstration. In place of the pro-EAM policemen, new and trusted ones had been taken in lately. The speeches at the square ended soon and large peaceful marches formed in the main streets going in all directions. One such demonstration overtook me on Kifissia Boulevard and I followed until it reached the [106] American Embassy. There the crowd stopped behind its large array of allied flags among which the Stars and Stripes predominated, and shouts of “Long Live America” and “Roosevelt, Roosevelt” were repeated for a long time.

Then I went further north and saw a large force of police in front of the home of Premier Papandreou. I had already heard that some shooting had taken place there and wanted to investigate. An American newspaperman had joined me and both of us made a try. On the sidewalk in front of the house one could see the markings of an exploded bomb. We asked the police officer what had happened. A demonstrator had had the bomb in his hand, we were told, ready to throw it inside the house, but it had exploded suddenly and killed him instead. Another demonstrator was killed in the shooting that followed.

“He is telling lies,” a man who recognized us as Americans called out from the crowd. “No demonstrator threw any bomb. The police threw the bomb, and the police killed the other man too. I was here when it happened.” The police officer was furious. He ordered the place cleared of the crowd and told us firmly to get away too.

Such was my eventful day. I came back to the office and tried to write my report, but I could not work on it. Fortunately, late in the afternoon all of us that had witnessed the events were instructed to write a collective report instead of separate ones. This saved me from great trouble and anxiety.

With minor exceptions in details all of us agreed on what we saw, and came to almost identical conclusions about the happenings. The only disagreement that arose in writing the report was in regard to the length of time that the heavy shooting had lasted. Some thought it had lasted for a long time, and others only a few minutes. Nobody had looked at his watch! In the end we took a middle course and decided that the intensive shooting had lasted twenty minutes, which is probably correct.

What a day!


December 22, 1944

These are undoubtedly the most terrible days of my life. As I write this, 75 mm guns mounted on American-made tanks are firing against homes five blocks up this street. Airplanes are bombing and strafing the workers’ districts surrounding the city. It is a terrible situation and a most terrible Christmas for all of us here. This is something the people of Athens never bargained for, and definitely never expected.

This morning we listened in at the office to the BBC from London. It said that planes were patrolling Athens yesterday in order to draw fire from [107] below and then try to silence the firing guns. “No incidents occurred,” the announcer said. However, what we saw with our own eyes yesterday when “no incidents occurred” was a very different story. From the roof of this building as well as from one of the rooms of the Grande Bretagne Hotel we saw planes swooping from the sky, bombing and strafing the suburbs of this city!

Also, I visited an apartment house yesterday where a friend of mine lived, which had been hit by tank fire fifteen minutes before. When I arrived the front part of the house did not exist anymore and the surviving inhabitants were trying to evacuate in a hurry, leaving behind them all their earthly possessions and only taking food provisions that they had. The little daughter of my friend, panic-stricken, was clutching the dress of her mother in terror.

I have been full of idealism about this war so far, but I am losing it fast lately. In fact, I am getting very pessimistic about the result of the war, and the ideals we are fighting for. We have been led to believe that we are fighting for freedom and democracy, but the last few days make me think that we are fighting to make the world safe for fascism and imperialism.

I hope that people in the States get the facts of the Greek situation and don’t get confused by propaganda from the other side. Once the people at home know what is happening over here things will change, because they will demand change. The people are always on the side of right, but the truth is always late in reaching the people and sometimes does not reach them at all.


December 25, 1944

Three of our men were involved in an incident last night: one was killed, one was wounded, and another escaped unharmed. There was no good reason for the tragedy, and the one that got killed died for no reason at all. The wounded one received the Purple Heart, but there was no reason for his wounds either. The story behind the tragedy is a silly one, but it reveals certain weaknesses in our unit that should not exist.

The boys had gotten drunk at our Christmas Eve party and felt big enough and important enough to try to stop the civil war. It is not yet clear whose idea it was originally, but what they started out to do was to bring together the British and the guerrillas who are fighting each other all over Athens. The strong drinks served at the party helped hatch the idea, and the instigators thought that the same drinks could be used for the moral cause of trying to make friends out of mortal enemies.

It was a crazy plan, which only could have been developed under the influence of liquor. But even liquor should not have been enough of an excuse [108] for the attempt to put the plan into action. The trouble is that the civil war, although only two blocks away at its nearest point, has not actually affected our men and seems like a[n] unreal dream to most of them. If we had any feeling for what is going on outside, we wouldn’t have had this party. Even if someone was silly enough to ask for a party, as actually happened, our commanding officer should not have given permission for it to take place.

Actually, though, we don’t know what is going on outside. We stay cooped up in this big house doing very little, waiting for breakfast, lunch and supper to break the monotony of our existence. Of course, we don’t take sides in the fight, but at the same time we have no opportunity to see the misery, death and destruction it has brought. We hear the shooting, but not seeing the results causes a 4th of July sort of feeling in some of us. We see British planes dive to strafe the suburbs, but again we see no blood spilled to arouse our feelings.

This is the reason why the shooting that has been taking place on Solonos and Tricoupi Streets for the last three weeks seemed unreal to our men last night. Solonos Street has been a no-man’s land for some time, and people get shot at in crossing it. There is a lull at times in the fighting and some people dare the crossing, but even then they run for dear life. That is exactly what happened to me a few days ago—the shooting was intermittent and I had to cross fast because bullets were whizzing by on either side. In accordance with the orders of our commander, the three men had almost never ventured outside.

It was to Solonos Street that our three “Good Samaritans” started going last night. Feeling high, they walked slowly toward their destination. On the way, crossing the small blocks, they met some Greek government soldiers and extended an invitation to join the American party. Further up the block they met two British officers chatting with a woman in the dark and invited them too. The only thing they needed now were some guerrillas to complete their list, and they moved towards Solonos Street where they knew they could get them.

A British detachment separated them from their destination, but that obstacle wouldn’t be difficult to overcome, they thought. The British Tommies aren’t bad fellows, they reasoned; and when they hear what the Americans want they’ll cooperate. Our boys, of course, will guarantee to bring the guerrillas back to where they got them, after the party is over and all that. A sort of truce, you know! Everything will work well and everybody will be happier in the end for having done a good deed.

Suddenly a sharp “Halt!” was heard piercing the darkness on the corner and at the same instant a burst of automatic fire hit the three moving targets. All three fell on the sidewalk, and someone started calling, “Americans! Americans!” at the top of his voice. Nobody heard the call, [109] because the shooting continued. One of the men, the one farthest from the point where the fire was coming, managed to creep toward a basement door and was unharmed. From there he could hear the other two moaning, but as long as the shooting continued he could not move to help his comrades. At last the British guard, satisfied that he had exterminated the “enemy,” ceased firing and, realizing that the people spoke English, went toward them to investigate.

That is the end of the silly affair, and that was the end of the “happy” party. That is how John lost his life and Harry went to the hospital. There was no reason at all for this tragedy except the superficiality of some people, whose laxity and lack of understanding of the real situation let this thing happen.


December 28, 1944

Our Christmas Eve party, in addition to its tragic effects, had its funny moments and its interesting sidelights due to the participation of some Greek school girls at the party and my meeting two Greek government soldiers, whom I was able to pump for important and interesting information.

The girls are boarders of the Catholic school opposite our office building. To kill time during dull moments, most of us carry on some kind of daily conversation across the street. While the party was being organized somebody came up with the suggestion that the girls be invited, and all agreed happily with the idea.

When these girls entered our hall the other night, chaperoned by their nun teachers, we led them to the far end of the room where a large bowl of eggnog was to be found. The drink was really strong, made of brandy, whiskey, and lots of gin. Sugar, canned milk, and beaten eggs made it easy on the palate. The girls congregated around the large bowl and we filled tall glasses for them. They protested that they didn’t want any drinks, but this was no liquor, it was just “milk from American cows” somebody said, and we left it at that! The girls drank the first glassfuls quickly, and most of them took second helpings. Within fifteen minutes every one of them was sitting dazed on the chairs at the periphery of the hall, wondering what there could be in this “American milk” that cause such strong effects!

Constant shooting could be heard two blocks away. As the party progressed, what some of us thought were uninvited guests started infiltrating our gathering. First, some British officers and their girlfriends came in. Later, I noticed two Greek soldiers being entertained with eggnog by one of our radio operators, who was trying to make himself understood with his limited Greek and the use of sign language. [110]

I was curious to find out how these people managed to come in, and went toward them to investigate. With a friendly “hello” and a pat on the back I welcomed them to the jolly American atmosphere, and politely asked how they happened to be there. They had been on guard outside the building, they said, when some of our men had invited them to join the party. In the course of conversation, after expressing their delight at being with Americans, they spoke of their hate for the ELAS, whom they called “Bulgars” and “Communists.” As they went on in this vain, one of the soldiers mentioned that he had been fighting the Communists for a long time. This aroused my curiosity, and I asked this newly-acquired friend in what capacity he had been fighting Communists before. The obvious answer came without hesitation; the man was a former member in the quisling Security Battalions.

This revelation was a welcome and delightful surprise for me. From the point of view of a spy, I had hit on a gold mine. For days our office had been interested in finding out if the accusations that the British were using former quislings to fight on their side against the ELAS were correct. Highly-placed British spokesmen in Athens and in London (including Eden and Churchill), had denied vehemently that such accusations could be true, but the accusations persisted and we were curious to find out.

Noticing that the most talkative of the two soldiers had no taste for eggnog, I offered him whiskey and took him into the kitchen with me and a half-full bottle. Things were getting interesting, and I wanted to try to get as much out of this man as possible. Using words of admiration for the “splendid” work of the Security Battalions, I prodded my man to tell me more of his recent and past activities while pouring more whiskey into his glass.

“How did you manage to be fighting the ELAS in British uniforms and with British weapons, when these same people had branded the Security Battalions as quislings and ordered all of you placed in confinement?” I asked.

On the second and third day after the start of the fighting, the soldier said in low tones with his comrade nodding agreement, British military trucks, closed with canvas on the top and on the sides and manned by British soldiers, went to their barracks, ordered the men into the trucks, and took them to the back door of the old palace. There they were issued new uniforms, given new weapons, and put into action fighting the ELAS guerrillas.

“If the British wanted you to fight on their side, how do you account for the fact that they made you prisoners as soon as they came into Greece?” I asked.

“Things were not as bad as they looked,” he retorted with a knowing [111] smile. “The British never kept us prisoners. What they did was necessary and for our own good. There was feeling against us after liberation, and the only way to protect us from the mobs was to put us in confinement.” He went on to say that it was not safe for a member of the Security Battalions to walk the streets at that time, and that the few that had left and gone home came right back to ask for the protection of “confinement” because their lives were in danger.

“We were not prisoners,” he protested. Those who wanted could leave for good, or, they could change into civilian clothes and got out for the day. “Our relations with the British guards were excellent. We played soccer together, and they gave us cigarettes and chocolate all the time.”

Time and again during our long conversation, these two men told me that the British were their friends and were backing the work of the Security Battalions. They were told this repeatedly by their commanding officers.

When the time of dissolution of the Security Battalions came about two months ago, the units that were in Athens were ordered into a large training field behind their barracks, where the commander made his farewell speech. As he had told them in the past, he said, “you are not going to be let down.” They had to give up their arms as a temporary expedient, which was necessary because the situation demanded it at the time. Next to the commander stood a British officer nodding approval to his words. Finally, the men were asked to place their arms at one end of the field, and appointed details took them away to store them in the same building where the men slept.

The confession of these two quislings went beyond the established fact of their participation in the present civil war under British auspices. It went further back, to the establishment of the Security Battalions, the responsibility for their formation, and to the use of these units by the British during the occupation.

The EAM, on a number of occasions, has claimed that the quisling formations were basically instigated and backed by the British, and my conclusion is that there is a great deal of truth in that claim. Of course it is not easy to prove such an accusation and the British deny it vehemently, but nobody expects them to admit it. Let us examine some facts, though, which point to some general conclusions on this subject.

General Napoleon Zervas, head of the EDES, is the acknowledged number one man of the British in Greece, and he has always had dealings, secret and otherwise, with the quislings that fought on the side of the Germans. His latest achievement was collaboration with the quisling battalions on the island of Leukas for the purpose of denying control of the island to the ELAS, under whose jurisdiction the island had been placed in the Caserta Agreement (which was signed just before the liberation of Greece by the [112] British, the ELAS, and the EDES).

An American OSS agent, who participated in the surrender negotiations between the ELAS guerrillas and a section of the local Security Battalions, told me that on a number of occasions the quislings made references to past agreements between themselves and the British as to the role that they would play after liberation. This, according to their claims, was in accordance with previous British instructions that stated that they were supposed to keep their arms and not surrender to the ELAS guerrillas.

These instructions to the quislings from the British in Greece first came to my attention through EAM sources last August. I forwarded the information to Cairo without comment because I was doubtful as to its truthfulness, but my OSS colleague verified it. He even told me of letters sent by the quislings, which he had had to translate for his British colleagues, complaining that the British had not kept their word as to promises made in the past to the Security Battalions.

Another man working with the British is General Stylianos Gonatas. Before 1943, during the days when little information was getting out of Greece (and whatever was getting out was British controlled), he was advertised as the head of the Greek underground. Such a title could never have been claimed for Gonatas with justice. The facts place him in another camp; his dealings with the quislings, and especially with the last quisling government of John Rallis, are well known. Well known also is the fact that he diverted many officers from joining the guerrillas, and led them into joining the Security Battalions. At the present time Gonatas is under the protection of the British, staying at the Hotel Grand Bretagne, which is a second British General Headquarters in Greece. He has been there since the recent troubles started, and there is no doubt about who must have tipped him off as to the danger to his life.

British instructions to the quislings all over Greece, to keep their arms after the Germans went away and not to surrender to the ELAS, were part of their plan to get control of Greece after liberation, and came as a result of their fear that EAM-ELAS was planning to take control of the government of the country. EAM-ELAS did not press for control of Greece, however, and agreed to participate in the national unity government together with the government-in-exile. Although the British were proved wrong in this matter, they used Premier George Papandreou as their tool and went on with their further aim of trying to nullify any vestige of power that remained in EAM hands. By trying to push into a corner this powerful popular movement, the British and their rightist Greek allies brought about the present civil war, for which they are responsible since it was from their side that the first shots were fired and blood was spilled. [113]


January 30, 1945

It was dark when we entered the local coffeehouse looking for something to eat. By that time we had already found a room in a small hotel, and a garage for our jeep. Our arrival had been heralded all around the village and the people in the coffeehouse must have been talking about us, because the minute we entered, the animated conversation that we had heard from outside stopped as if it had been cut with a knife. We sat down at a table in total silence. Nobody talked, and all were listening attentively to hear what we were going to say. We called the waiter, and asked for food. He had nothing, he said, but could get some eggs for us. So we ordered eggs, and gave him some pork rations that we had with us to cook with them.

The coffeehouse was packed full of people, and everyone was looking at us. Both of us were dressed in our American uniforms with the American flag on our left sleeve, but we both spoke Greek and that made the local people very suspicious. Slowly and quietly they started to talk among themselves in small groups. Atalanti was very jittery these days, and many rumors were flying. The British had passed through a few days ago chasing the guerrillas as they were fleeing north: a skirmish had been fought a few miles outside of town, and the antartes blew up two armored cars and took some British prisoners. So the question must have been in the minds of all these people: “For whom are these two spying, for the British or the guerrillas?” Then a brilliant idea came to my mind.

“Waiter!” I called in a loud voice, so as to be heard by everybody. “Give wine to all in the house.” Then real conversation started, and they lost all restraint.

“Who are you?” “What are you doing in our town just after the civil war?” people asked.

We answered that we were Americans going to Larissa to find out about some American personnel in guerrilla territory. Then added that we were in Greece as observers, and that we were favoring neither side in Greece’s internal troubles; that American interests were not involved in Greece’s fight, so Americans were neutral.

Little by little, and with the help of the wine, we lost fear of each other and my questions were answered promptly and frankly. They said that there were no British or ELAS troops in the village, but that the local EAM organization was still functioning. The only existing authority at present was the “citizens’ police.” Most of the people in the village were supporters of EAM, everyone acknowledged; those in the coffeehouse blamed the Greek Right and the British for the civil war.

The mayor, they said, is pro-EAM, although he is the same man that [114] was mayor under the Germans. This, they explained, is with EAM knowledge and permission.

That is the story of Atalanti, just after the civil war—not very important, but interesting. It is different from places like Athens where people were directly affected by the civil war, where the Right is in full power and one does not know how to find out about public opinion. The people here still feel free to talk and express their feelings about the important questions of the day. That is they still felt free today. But will they feel free tomorrow when the British and Greek government troops come to occupy their city? Something tells me that today was the last day Atalanti was free, and that her freedom will be lost for a long time to come.


Mid-February 1945

Ares Velouhiotis

By the time I met Ares Velouhiotis, in February 1945, I had heard so much about the leader of the Greek guerrillas that the man had become a kind of legend in my imagination. First I had read the stories that British propaganda circulated around the Allied world, some of them painting Ares as a sadist and a criminal. Later, after entering Greece, I k[n]ew a number of people who had served with Ares at different periods of his career, and they spoke highly of the “The Leader.”

In particular it was Pavlos, my young guerrilla escort, who gave me an insight into Ares’ character. Pavlos joined the guerrillas at the age of eighteen, when Ares could claim only twenty-three men under him, he had a great deal of firsthand information to give me. Besides, he was simple and straightforward, and the picture he presented was never a flowery one. But Pavlos needed questions to help him talk, and even then, his answers were not given readily because he had never bothered to think about many things.

The picture of Ares that emerged from these conversations with Pavlos and other people was that of a brilliant leader and a very intelligent man; a man who could be harsh or soft, according to the requirements of the moment; a man who could drink enough to get drunk, but who could also stay away from wine and even from food for many days at a time; a man who considered himself part of the group rather than acting the part of a leader. His dress and food was not different from that of his men. Ares set harsh rules for his men and himself to follow, and that was the single factor most responsible for the creation of a great army. The weak ones left Ares within a few days, but the strong stayed and their example was followed by others, until he commanded thousands.

Ares’ rules forbade stealing, relations with the enemy, and sexual [115] relations with any woman except one’s wife. The argument was that once these rules were broken, there could be no guerrilla movement in the country. My experience proved to me time and again how important these simple rules were, and how they helped to bind the guerrillas together and gain for them the respect and the love of the people.

Pavlos told me one story of a guerilla who “slept” with a village girl while quartered in her father’s home. The guerrilla was a handsome man, and the girl went crazy over him. Unusual as it seems for Greek manners, it was proved that the guerrilla had not forced himself on the girl but that she had crawled into his bed in the middle of the night. In accordance with the rules that Ares had set for his group, there was a court-martial composed of all the men to try the offender. His comrades found the guerrilla guilty, not of rape (because it was admitted that the girl was largely responsible), but of disobeying the code of the guerrillas.

Soteres, a guerrilla with whom we travelled once for about ten days, told me another story, concerning a guerrilla who was tried and executed by his own squad for stealing a chicken from an old woman and eating it. “The woman, although poor, with only one other chicken as her sole possession, came and pleaded for the boy,” Soteres said, “but rules are rules. What is more important is our struggle, and we cannot afford to have weak people in our midst.”

These severe rules of Ares created a new and strong generation of Greeks, a generation of idealists with strong character and high morality. One heard amazing stories in the villages, stories of young boys and girls working and fighting and sleeping together, without any complaint of immoral conduct. This is more impressive because it was taking place in Greece, where the sexes have always been kept apart, and where young people ordinarily look for an opportunity to get out of bounds.

One of the great achievements of Ares was the doing away with rustling and with general robbery in the countryside. The great famine of 1941 had demoralized the Greeks and brought out the bad instincts in every man. Ares preached a four-point program: war against traitors; war against black marketeers; war against rustlers and thieves, and war against women who befriended the enemy. It is not superficial to say that his program saved the country, for it saved Greece both morally and physically. It helped materially in the struggle for survival by reducing robbery and the excessive prices of the black market, and it contributed to the moral elevation of the weak elements in the population that poverty and famine had led into collaboration, traitorous acts, and prostitution.

Ares was by no means an angel. Those who accuse him of past misdemeanors are right in their accusations, to some degree. Once a woman acquaintance showed me photostatic copies of documents (published by the [116] Germans during the occupation) pertaining to convictions handed down to Ares by the Greek courts. As a youth, Ares, whose real name was Thanasis Klaras, had been convicted of robbery and had served a short prison term. In later life he had at least two more convictions, one for robbery and another for misrepresentation, but those were political convictions. The first was for stealing to obtain funds for the Communist party, and the other was for possession of false identity papers, which were usual for the European revolutionary.

But Ares was not the “badman” or “killer” that German and British propaganda painted him to be. He was a man of distinct personality and rounded education. The son of a fairly prosperous and educated middle-class family of Lamia, he studied agriculture in school, and at least one of his brothers was graduated from the University of Athens. His youngest brother, Babis Klaras, whom I got to know rather well, is a professional newspaper man and a very likeable person, not the type that would belong to a family of “killers.”

Ares is not unique as a man who has led both a questionable and an exemplary life; Greece’s history abounds with examples from antiquity onwards. At least two of the greatest characters of the Greek Revolution of Independence, Karaiskakis and Androutsos, were by no means angels themselves. This is why I think that Ares’ place in Greek history is more than secure. His acts as a leader are more important than those for which he can be blamed, and the mistakes of his youth are far outweighed by his contributions to his nation during the terrible days of occupation.

I met Ares at his headquarters in the city of Trikalla after the civil war, in the early part of 1945. It was not a good time for him, for his army had been defeated by the British Army. However, the great tragedy that one felt in the undercurrent of life in Trikalla at the time was not so much the defeat itself, but the realization that there should have been no fight. Neither Ares nor his men were bitter against the enemy that had beaten them in the field; the feeling of bitterness was against the Greek right, which had brought the fighting about and rejoiced in the defeat of the guerrillas more than the British.

A scene in one of the main streets of Athens has recurred many times in my mind. It was during the hectic days of the civil war. The British soldiers were leading guerrilla prisoners up the street when a group of Rightists tried to beat up the handcuffed prisoners. Another American officer and myself did not try to interfere because we had strict orders to avoid trouble; our policy was one of “strict neutrality.” But the British Tommies did intervene. One of them prepared his gun while the other hit one of the Rightists on the head, cursing him at the same time. “You bastard,” he shouted, “What did you do against the Jerries? These chaps at least put up [117] a good fight!” The feeling among good fighters is always on a higher plane: they appreciate each other. What they cannot stand is a coward!

When we met, Ares was standing behind a small desk in a large office with a high ceiling, and looked very unimpressive. He was short and stocky, with a long beard. He grew on one, however, by the minute, until one came to realize that in front of him was a real man.

He was glad to see me. He knew who I was and we needed no time for introductions. Before I could ask any questions, he wanted to hear news from me. I had the distinction of being the first person to come from Athens after the withdrawal of the guerrillas and he wanted to know what was happening. I told him of the reactions against the antartes and the EAM as seen in the streets of Athens, and he became gloomy. “We are not defeated,” he said. “We have strong forces and we can fight for years in the mountains where the British tanks cannot reach us. We do not want to fight anymore because it is not good for the country, but we are not going to surrender. There must be a settlement!”

Then, he spoke with bitterness against British participation in the internal affairs of Greece, and expressed his regret for not having attempted to clean out the British in the first few days of the civil war, when they were weak. “The British,” he said, “have been laying the ground for this since long ago. British agents in Greece created the quisling Security Battalions, and in some cases paid their salaries as well.” Then he mentioned a colonel, one of the leaders of the Security Battalions in the region of the Peleponessos, who at one time during the occupation had gone to Athens to join the guerrillas, but who was directed by the British to join the Security Battalions instead.

When I told Ares of the boast of the then Greek Premier that if the British gave him enough arms, he could put the ELAS guerrilla army out of existence within ten days, his face lighted with a bitter smile. “If the British get out of Greece, we will be back in Athens within ten days.” This was Ares’ answer. He further sneered: “Let the British equip government troops with arms. That is the only way we can replenish our losses from British supplies.”

That was the first and last time I saw Ares. Five months later his head was hauled up on a telephone pole in the same city of Trikalla in which we met. His picture was published in all the papers of Athens with blood streaming from his slit throat, and the captions read: “Traitor;” “Criminal;” “Executioner.”

Another chapter of Greek history had come to a close. [118]


February 25, 1945

This morning in front of my hotel, which is situated in the center of Athens, there was a big disturbance. Looking out of my window I saw a mob chasing some newsboys selling Communist and EAM papers. I got down to the street quickly and followed the mob, and there I saw newsboys being beaten while a number of people tried to protect them. However, the newsboys were isolated one by one and their papers were torn to pieces; some of them were badly beaten as well, while others managed to escape.

A British soldier rescued one of the newsboys from the hands of the mob, and he had to use his fists to do so, because the rightists wouldn’t let go. In the end they cursed the Tommy for interfering in their affairs. It was ironic; I hate to think what would have happened to these rightists if the British had not interfered on their behalf during the civil war. People have such short memories!

A number of other such incidents were reported to me today. One had to do with a policeman in one of the main squares of Athens, who tore EAM papers from the hands of a newsboy and threatened the people who wanted to buy them. Another had to do with some newsboys who were beaten inside a neighborhood police station.

These incidents throughout Athens are small at present, but they will grow both in number and in intensity. The aim of those who start them—and these mobs are definitely organized—is to discourage the EAMites and keep them under control. But EAM is still very strong, especially in the suburbs, and does not seem to be discouraged. So there promise to be more fights in the future. The most disturbing fact of all is that these mobs seem to enjoy police immunity and protection.


March 5, 1945

I am getting reports from a number of private sources that secret rightist organizations are being formed in the suburbs of Athens, in the Peloponesse and on the island of Zante. The purpose of these organizations is “to deal with EAM.” All around Athens yesterday EAM newspapers were destroyed by rightist mobs, and newsboys were beaten up for selling them. A number of killings are reported in the suburbs.


March 8, 1945

We saw girl guerrillas for the first time in the town of Karpenissi one month after we entered Greece. Dressed like men fighters, with serious faces, these girls shared the rigors of guerrilla life equally with the men. The [119] men guerrillas respected them in every way because some of these women had already proven themselves in battle. When we reached Karpenissi in May 1944, a women’s unit was being newly organized as part of the XIII Guerrilla Division. Most of the girls were novices in guerrilla life, but among them there were a few that had been with men’s units for some time. One could pick out the veterans without knowing them: their poise and bearing was much different than that of the newcomers. They had self assurance. They acted like seasoned fighters in every sense of the word.

In particular there was one girl who attracted my attention, and I soon asked our guerrilla guide about her. Her name was “Tempest,” an assumed name, of course. Her real name was not known to our companion. For two years, my companion said, Tempest had been participating in all the guerrilla campaigns with the men. At first she was the only girl, then another came. The two behaved and fought like men, and were treated with equality by the other guerrillas. “We respected them as if they were our sisters,” Pavlos said. No trouble ever developed in the unit, although the girls lived and even slept at times in the same room with the men.

I met Tempest soon after that and the two of us became good friends. One day, after taking pictures of her unit, we went for a walk at the outskirts of the town. There, under the shade of a large pine and in view of a breathtaking landscape of high mountains, small plains, and deep ravines, I became romantic and tried to make love to her.

Morality among resistance fighters was at a high level, and I knew that trouble would arise if anything came out about my weakness towards the other sex. In spite the fact that we belonged to a foreign mission and our position was somewhat different from that of the guerrillas, wavering from the straight path wouldn’t be easily excusable. Only a few days before, one of the EAM leaders, who had arranged for us to live in the nice home of a widow and her daughter, had cautioned us: “There is a nice-looking girl in the house, but be sure there won’t be any trouble. We are very particular about such matters here!”

Tempest was an attractive girl, though, and since I had left Egypt four months before I had not even been near a woman; therefore, during that romantic occasion, I forgot the whole situation and tried to kiss her!

The expression in her eyes was something unbelievable, and one that I will always remember. She was startled! For a minute she looked like a lone deer realizing that danger lurks nearby. Her no was emphatic, but soon she became composed and said in an assured manner, “This is no time for love, fellow combatant. We have a great task ahead of us, and we cannot waver.”

A smile of admiration mingled with disbelief must have appeared on my face, because she hastened to add, “Don’t get me wrong, [120] Fellow-Combatant Ulysses. It is not because of moral reasons that I act this way. Before I joined the ELAS guerrillas I lived with my husband and my two children, and had a paramour besides. But I have changed since!”

Like it or not, my friendship with Tempest was destined to remain on a platonic level. With great eloquence I expounded the theory of “some work and some play,” but that did not get me anyplace either. She was serious and determined about the task ahead, and I could not help but admire her character. She was really an interesting person beside, and every time we saw each other I prodded her to tell me more of her life story.

Tempest came from a worker’s family, and had lived in Athens most of her life. There she attended school as far as junior high. Marriage came at an early age to a man she did not love, but with whom she managed to live peacefully for many years. Her interests at the time were the same as those of most women: good clothes, movies, and good times. Her husband tried to provide as well as he could with the meager salary of a junior police officer. Then the occupation came and life became much more difficult.

During the famine of 1941 her family suffered untold privations. Fortunately though, her husband was moved to a small town outside of Athens to be chief of police, and from then on the family food problems became easier. It was in this town that Tempest’s active nature first showed up. Since there were no other interests to make life exciting, she got interested in patriotism and the resistance movement.

The little town was a passage point that connected Athens to the guerrilla strongholds in the mountains, and it was used extensively as a courier base and for the purpose of passing through new recruits. Tempest at first provided food for those passing by; then she became liaison messenger between the various villages of the district. One day a British officer was brought to her to hide and care for. He had to stay there for a few weeks and in the course of time, in addition to food and shelter, he asked for love from his attractive hostess. He was a decent sort of a man and handsome besides, and Tempest obliged. When the Britisher departed, he left behind his former interpreter to be the liaison between Athens and the new hideout. The inevitable soon happened, and Tempest became the mistress of the interpreter.

Tempest was able to hide her indiscretions from her husband under the guise of working for the resistance movement, but the husband did not like the idea. The guerrillas might be all right, he thought, but what would happen to him if it was found that the wife of the police chief was mixed up with them? Besides, the instructions from his superiors were to fight against the underground.

Until that time Tempest had been working for the rightist underground movement of Colonel Napoleon Zervas. In addition, there was always [121] some money to be had for people offering their services to that organization, and this pleased Tempest at the beginning. Then, one good day she made contact with the leftist underground. A neighbor girl asked her to help the ELAS guerrillas as well. “As wife of the police chief, it is your duty to help,” she was told. For a time, then, Tempest went on helping both rightists and leftists. At that time no fight had developed between the two groups, and Tempest felt happy to be the only friendly link between ideological rivals.

The period of dual allegiance did not last long for the wife of the police chief. Soon she developed a better liking for the leftists. “They were better people,” she told me. “The others talked of money all the time, and after a while that made me sick.” She came to feel that it was wrong to be paid for patriotic acts, and the poverty-clothed ideology of EAM-ELAS appealed to her heart more intensely. When the fights with her husband became frequent and intolerable, she left him and went to the mountains. There she first became a nurse and later joined the fighting men to claim the distinction of being the first girl guerrilla of Greece.

When I first met Tempest she was a real fanatic. The Marxist teachings she had heard and absorbed had brought a new religion to her heart that had never existed there before. She had developed an extreme morality together with a fierce desire to fight for what she believed to be right.

A woman of about twenty-five, Tempest was rather good looking, but her hardened face betrayed the difficult life she had pursued in the last few year[s]. Her hair was rather short, done in braids hanging over her neck, and always tied neatly with a piece of string. Being with men for so long, she got into the habit of considering herself one of them. The only difference between her and the men was the cleanliness of her face and the neatness of her clothes. On her head she always wore the usual soldier’s cap with the insignia of the ELAS embroidered on it. A khaki jacket, a pair of blue-colored trousers, and a pair of heavy boots with nails made up her dress, which was completed by an Italian rifle and a belt of cartridges worn across her chest.

The story of the blue, heavy trousers, which Tempest would never part with, is a particularly amusing one. During one of the clashes between the ELAS and Zervas, Tempest captured a colonel. The haughty militarist did not particularly cherish the idea of having been captured by a woman, and expressed his indignation about it. But Tempest was not fooling and got really mad with the insolence of her prisoner: she cocked her rifle and ordered the colonel to take off his pants. Since she meant business, the colonel had to comply. Then Tempest took off her skirt and ordered the man to wear it.

Since that time, she always wears her captured trophy and refuses to [122] exchange it for anything else. When the Women’s Unit was first organized the officer in charge ordered Tempest to change her blue trousers for khaki ones, in order to be uniform with the rest of the unit. She refused to comply, and the case was finally taken to the division commander, who ruled that Tempest had earned the right to be different in the case of her famous blue pants!

Last November Tempest came to Athens, and it was a kind of triumph for her. In the streets of the city people congregated around her to admire her and ask questions. She had on exactly the same clothes she wore in the mountains, blue pants, rifle, cartridge belt and all. Two days after her arrival the British commander issued an order forbidding guerrillas to carry arms in the city. Tempest was furious! “They are scared to see us armed!” she told me. But she complied with the order because ELAS had issued an identical order under British pressure, and that was enough to cool Tempest’s fury.

The civil war came, and I never saw Tempest again. Today a woman member of the resistance movement told me how Tempest died fighting against the British in the streets of Athens.

I lament the death of this brave girl not so much because it came in the spring of her life, but rather because it came from the bullet of a former ally and not from that of the enemy she hated so much. To die fighting was a fitting end for this modern Amazon.


March 14, 1945

Today I went to see the secretary general of EAM in a small office they have established for the organization. I have known Demetrios Partsalides since the days in the mountains, and although my impression is that he does not trust me completely, he likes me well enough to talk more or less freely.

Partsalides is a very quiet man with a ready smile on his face, but it is a smile of the faint type that does not stay long and that one forgets easily. What one remembers of Partsalides is his easy manner and the slow and quiet way that dominates his whole personality. People must have faith in him because he is so measured and not in the least boastful or overbearing. He gives the impression of being a good organizer of men. In conversation he will not give direct answers, but rather talks the “diplomatic language.” This is strange for the tobacco worker that he is.

My most vivid recollection of Partsalides is of a day during the civil war. It was a very cold day, and I managed to cross the lines to find out what was happening on the side of the guerrillas. The civil war had been going on for three weeks and the guerrillas were still strong; however, one could see that they could not hold out for long. As somebody had expressed [123] it[,] “They were fighting against the British Empire, and they were not strong enough to fight it successfully!” It is true in a sense that the British had taken a beating at the beginning, and one could see that the British could not afford to fight a defensive war for long. They meant to do something drastic to put things in order. Churchill was being expected in Athens in those days, and he must have had something up his sleeve!

On that cold day in December when I reached the headquarters of EAM, I asked to see somebody high up. I felt that I had a mission of my own to perform, and was eager to talk with someone in authority who would be willing to listen. It wasn’t that I felt that people had to listen to me because of my position or authority, because I had no illusions of that kind. But I thought that the EAM people had no reason to feel they were dealing with an enemy, and that I would be able to produce a feeling of sincerity in what I had to say.

The man that came to see me was Partsalides. EAM Headquarters that day was in a textile mill in a suburb of Athens called Kato Patissia. For some reason or other Partsalides did not take me inside the factory, and we talked outside the buildings inside the factory enclosure. Two British planes were flying above. We kept moving from wall to wall according to the direction they were taking, trying to avoid their direct line of fire so that we would be safe from strafing, which was common on the part of the British in those days.

“The fighting must stop right away,” I told Partsalides, “You are not strong enough to beat the British!” My idea was that ELAS was in a rather advantageous position at the time because the British and Greek government troops were still cooped within very narrow limits in Athens. But the situation could not stay that way for long, because the British could not possibly permit it. British prestige was involved. In addition, Churchill was expected soon, and some major development would probably follow. Therefore, ELAS had better accept the original armistice terms that the British had offered some time before and get out of Athens.

ELAS prestige was [s]till high, and by ending the fighting abruptly they could expect better treatment from the British in the eventual settlement than if they waited until they were pushed out of Athens by force. I used the additional strong argument that public opinion, especially in the U.S., was still on the side of the guerrillas, and that would force a much better settlement at that time. Finally, in order to avoid any misunderstanding on his part, I told Partsalides in no uncertain terms that what I was saying was my personal opinion and that I did not represent anybody else.

The man I was talking to was listening solemnly as we moved from wall to wall, but he said little. From the few words he uttered, I realized that one of two things had happened: either a decision had already been made that [124] was contrary to what I was saying, or Partsalides, for some reason or other, was powerless to act. I then asked to see some of the higher-ups in EAM, but was given to understand that they could not be reached.

It was still early afternoon when I started my long way back on foot to the government-controlled section of Athens. I had to pass through fighting lines once more (Greek government troop patrols and British points of inspection), and this was not particularly pleasant. Meanwhile, through both quiet streets and streets where war was raging, I had plenty of time to muse on the powerlessness of the individual to overcome the forces of revolution, which at times are blind or which perhaps have a logic of their own. My mission, then, seemed ridiculous, not because I had failed, but because I had even attempted to do what I had done.

Three weeks ago, just before the civil war started, a friend of mine had told me that it was imperative that we try to do our best to avert what was coming. At that time I had refused to act. I had told my friend that I felt too small to deal with such powerful forces. If civil war were coming, who was I to try to stop it? And could I stop it by talking to a few people? The situation seemed ridiculous to me then, and as I was returning to the center of Athens after my unsuccessful mission, I felt ridiculous. I felt like a small man who had tried to control an onrushing river!

The picture of Partsalides and myself on that cold day at the textile mill will long stay imbedded in my memory. It is a picture of fear and persecution, of what the plane could have done to us if it started strafing. It is also a picture of frustration and failure for an idea that did not succeed. Today, when I went to see Partsalides that picture was still in my mind, and in some way what he had to say did not seem important. He spoke of the present situation; of terrorism and British propaganda; of the fact that EAM had lost some strength on account of the civil war but expected to regain the lost ground, not so much because of constructive measures on their part, but because of the bad policies of their adversaries—the policy of rightist terror, which in the end will have the result of bringing the people back to the EAM side.

My meeting today with Partsalides was definitely an anti-climax.


April 2, 1945

Today I saw a close friend of Premier Plastiras, who told me the following interesting gossip about what is happening in the Greek government these days:

The British, he said, are playing a dirty game in Greece and Plastiras is their virtual prisoner! They got the premier into a difficult position at the beginning without his realizing exactly what was happening. When the [125] British first brought Plastiras from abroad, they instructed him to make irreconcilable declarations, but now they ask him to be soft. At the same time the British intelligence services are working from a different angle and are using their people to attack Plastiras.

Plastiras has just come to realize what is happening and is very much upset. He has found out, for instance, that he doesn’t have much power in the ministry of war. The real power in that ministry is held by two pro-royalist colonels, the director general and the chief personnel officer, and the minister of war (who is a Plastiras man) is powerless to offset the machinations of these two. My friend is of the opinion that Plastiras is losing prestige fast, and that whenever the British wish they will kick him out without trouble.


April 30, 1945

Yesterday a “block” was reported in the Peristeri. At midnight on Monday, police and army units together with plainclothesmen shooting and ringing church bells ordered the people of this suburb to gather in the main square. There, exactly as happened during the occupation, informers pointed to EAM members, who were kicked and beaten, put into big trucks, and then taken to an unknown destination. As in the time of occupation, women cried, children shrieked and policemen cursed people and spat in their faces, telling them, “We will exterminate you yet, you Communists!”


May 10, 1945

Geras, who holds a high position as a civilian in the Greek army, told me today of a conversation he had with a colonel of the air force. What the colonel had to say is important, Geras pointed out, because he, together with other officers of high rank, is in daily contact with the British forces in Greece. He spoke of a Greek army that the British will create, which in a sense will be part of the British army. Greece, he said, will be used as a base by the British in a future war with Russia; this war will be started by England in Greece under one pretext or another. The British, he said, intend to show a soft policy toward the Communists in their public and open pronouncements, but secretly the intelligence services will use various methods to clear the Communists out of all aspects of Greek life.


May 25, 1945

I saw the former prime minister, George Kaphandares, again the other [126] day. My talks with him are usually very refreshing, but during this last visit he seemed sick and tired. But the man is witty and highly intelligent, and even at his worst he towers above the great majority of Greek politicians today. Talking, for Kaphandares, is like oiling a machine: it makes the machine work better and with less effort. His ideas are clear, although he is very laconic at times. There is nothing flowery about the man, and what he says is not said to make an impression. Though he is a sick man, he knows a great deal of what is happening around the country.

Kaphandares was full of questions: “What is the attitude of the U.S. towards the terrorist methods of the Right?” “Are the Americans well informed on the situation?” He attached a great deal of importance to the attitude of the United States toward Greece, and discounted the British as “weak.” I asked him why he himself did not try to be in touch with high American officials in Greece and suggested he contact the embassy. His ideas, I pointed out, would command prestige as those of a former premier.

Then Kaphandares came out with a secret, although he felt uneasy in telling: the American ambassador seemed to avoid meeting him. “I had been on very good terms with the ambassador before the war,” he said, “but now things seem to have changed. Since he has come back after liberation he has not asked to see me once, although I have been home and sick most of the time.” Then he told me how he went as far as to leave his calling card at the embassy, but that his call was not even acknowledged! The logical conclusion of this grand old man was that he was persona non grata with the embassy, but he didn’t know the reason.

Suddenly, he turned his big weary head toward me and asked: “Who could be a real power in the American embassy? I don’t mean the ambassador, I mean some vigorous and intelligent young man of the type usually found in such positions. I want to meet such a person and explain to him the situation in Greece today.” I tried hard, but unfortunately could not think of any such person now at the American embassy. I came through with a couple of suggestions but they were not what Kaphandares meant, and he knew and I knew that the situation was hopeless from that point of view.

We soon went into the political situation, and I asked his opinion of the Civil War. “Whom do you think is most responsible for the bloodshed?” “Did EAM want to take power, as the anti-EAM forces claim?”

Kaphandares said no to this question. He cited two arguments to prove his point. EAM, he said, could have gotten into power when the Germans pulled out of Greece, when the ELAS held the only real power in Greece in its hands. Secondly, when the demonstration took place on December 3rd, EAM came into the streets unarmed. “That is not the way to take power,” he smiled ironically. “The fact is that the Right wanted to do away with [127] EAM once and for all.” The clash came when the EAMites asked for the dissolution of all “volunteer” forces. This Kaphandares thought was a rightful demand, because both the Rimini Brigade and the Sacred Battalions are organs of the monarchy.” Both of these units had been brought from abroad by the government-in-exile, and EAM considered them in the category of mercenary troops.

When the question turned to former Premier Papandreou, Kaphandares had some acid comments to make. He called Papandreou a small man whose only interest is to keep himself in power, and to achieve that end he is willing to cooperate with anybody. “He left Greece anti-royalist, and returned a puppet of the king. He became the blind tool of the British and brought Greece to the status of a colony. In order to keep himself in power he was even willing to cooperate, after a fashion, with his archenemy the EAM!”

Kaphandares thinks that the policies of the Greek government-in-exile toward Russia were entirely wrong. “Greece,” he said, “is in mortal danger from the north, but this danger will not disappear by tying Greece to Great Britain. Greece usually ties herself to Britain blindly, without asking for just recompense.” He thinks that Greece should try to be on good terms with all the great powers, because if she is not it will work against her best interests.

The old parties are all in bad shape, and it would be better if they did not exist at all. They are “without heads,” as he put it; there is nobody worthwhile to lead them. The Greek people, he said, are going left, and party policies will have to orient themselves in accordance with this trend.

“Who will take power in Greece, ultimately?” I asked. He could not say, answering, “It might be the socialists; it might be the Communists!” But one thing he spoke of with certainty: “Power will not fall into the grasp of certain smaller parties that proclaim their leftist leanings while actually cooperating closely with the extreme Right. The Communists, too, suffer from the same lack of leadership as the older parties, and the mistakes they have made during the last few years prove this contention. However,” he added, “by instinct the Communists did many correct things too.”


July 10, 1945

George and I took a jeep and went riding by the sea yesterday after work. It was a beautiful day, and although hot, it was late enough in the afternoon to enjoy the rejuvenating sea breeze that makes Athenian summer afternoons pleasant. The beaches at Old Phaleron and all the way to Glyfada, our destination, were full of people. But George, who was at the wheel, felt depressed that day and without realizing it turned left just before we reached Kalamaki. There we entered the British military cemetery, which [128] is in a beautiful spot on a small elevation overlooking the sea.

George must have been there before, for he seemed familiar with the place. He stopped the car at the proper place, and we got out to look at the neat rows of similar graves with crosses at the head that dotted the landscape. We visited row after row, and we read name after name. All the dead were young men, and all of them had died during the Civil War.

The two of us didn’t exchange one word in more than an hour—each kept his thoughts to himself.

I for my part was thinking with pity of these poor Britishers who had died. For what? It was difficult to make out. When they died, the war was over and all of them were hoping to return home. Then one day they were ordered into battle again, a senseless battle in which they had to kill their former allies. These poor boys didn’t want the fight, but as loyal Britishers, they had to go through with it. They killed quite a few of their opponents, and in the process a number of them got killed as well. There are now about three hundred crosses dotting this beautiful landscape of Kalamaki and the cemetery is not yet complete I am told.

This visit to the cemetery gave me food for thought. I thought of those Greeks who, at the risk of their lives, saved many British soldiers who were left behind when the Germans occupied the country. These were mostly poor Greeks who belonged to the resistance movement, and who fought on the other side of the civil war. Who can tell—it might be that some British soldier even killed his benefactor in the fight that raged in Athens for more than a month!

I thought of those that start wars; of democracy and dictatorship; of Hitler, Mussolini, and Churchill. Then, I compared the three men, and tried to draw the line that differentiates them. It was difficult for me to decide where to draw it. Hitler and Mussolini preached war and started a war in what they thought was the interest of their countries and their people. Churchill did not start the Second World War, but got into it as a defensive measure. But in this small Greek affair, Churchill did start a war; small war mind you, but a war just the same. Churchill prepared that war, and went through with it. He was responsible for the lives of those British boys whose graves I saw last night as the sun was reddening the mountains and the sea.

And who is going to forgive Churchill for doing so? Five hundred Britishers, and ten thousand Greeks? They died—for what? No, I couldn’t draw the line between Hitler, Mussolini, and Churchill.

Whether big or small, a war is a war, and whoever starts it (for whatever motives) is responsible. If Churchill is not responsible for the lives of ten thousand five hundred, then why should Hitler or Mussolini be responsible for the lives of ten and a half million? Or, should we say that one should draw the line to separate quantities; not absolving anybody, [129] mind you, but speaking of a crime in degree. But in both cases a crime should be labelled a crime!

But some Greeks think that Churchill is a great champion of democracy and human rights. These Greeks gave him a great ovation when he came to Athens last March; they still express their admiration for him at every opportunity. Some time ago they renamed the central street of Athens with his name. Of course that is only some Greeks. There are others that hate Churchill’s guts. That part of the population feels it an insult every time they have to walk the street bearing Churchill’s name. “Our dead will not forgive him,” one such Greek told me the other day. “We shall remedy the insult sometime in the future.”

I believe this Greek, because I know he meant what he said. Many others think the same way. I believe him also because I have read Greek history, and I know that Greeks in the past have made statues of tyrants when they thought their interest dictated it, but the statues never stayed up for long; they were destroyed when the first opportunity came. That is how I know that “Churchill Street” is a temporary name. The Greeks will not stand for a street bearing the name of a man responsible for the death of ten thousand of their people and five hundred of his own.

I knew yesterday that George did not have exactly the same thoughts I had. George and I seldom agree on politics and social beliefs, but at times of great stress George too sympathizes with the poor. His thoughts must have been similar to a time during the civil war when the battle was raging outside and he burst into tears in my office. He was not sure who was responsible, but the conflict in him produced an emotional upheaval that he could not control anymore. “This is senseless killing,” he uttered in-between his sobs. George did not cry last night but I know that he came near doing so.


July 14, 1945

In Greece too, there is a Michailovich. He is Napoleon Zervas, an old time political army career man. The first time that I heard of Zervas was in the middle Twenties when he staged a couple of revolutions, one to put up a dictator and another trying to take power for himself. In the second revolt he was unsuccessful, and instead of going to the Palace he landed in prison for some time. From then on Zervas took an active part in all the revolts that took place in Greece. His ambitions, though, were never totally fulfilled because his role was always secondary.

During the early part of the German occupation Zervas was active in the black market. Some say, and there is a great deal to substantiate their claim, that Zervas was making a little side money operating as a[n] informer for the Italian secret police. When the Italians didn’t need him anymore, [130] they stopped paying his salary. That must have been in the early part of 1942.

Then during that year Zervas started emerging as a guerrilla hero, with British money and propaganda to back him. For some time the British had been trying to create some kind of a guerrilla force on the mainland of Greece that would directly obey their orders. EAM had already emerged and created guerrilla bands. There were other guerrillas all over Greece at the time, but none of these groups was what the British wanted: they wanted control of the guerrilla movement. They wanted somebody whom they could equip, train, and control at the same time, who would have the possibility of growing bigger and bigger, and thus be able to get the other guerrilla groups under control in the future. Major John Tsigantes was sent from Cairo into Greece with plenty of British gold in order to achieve this purpose. After looking over the situation and talking with numerous army officers, Tsigantes settled on Zervas for carrying out the British plan.

Zervas was willing when approached. He set his price, which was stiff; but then large expenses were needed for a good organization, he said. In the end an agreement was reached and a substantial advance was granted to Zervas, and he started the job of recruiting people. This job went on for some time, in fact too long, and Tsigantes and the British became jittery. They called Zervas in. Zervas said that he had the plans ready but that recruiting personnel among army officers was difficult. He was threatened with being out from the payroll and probably exposed, and he agreed to act right away. Epirus (his birthplace) was selected and in the summer of 1942 he went there with a few trusted followers to start the new guerrilla movement.

The first significant engagement of Zervas was one in which he cooperated with the rival ELAS band under Ares Velouhiotis in the destruction of the bridge of Gorgopotamos in Central Greece. The British placed great importance on its destruction during the Egyptian campaign since the bridge was a key link in the only railroad line that the Germans could use to bring re-enforcements through Greece for Rommel’s army in Egypt. Zervas’ role in this undertaking, though, was minor to that of Ares; this was admitted by Zervas himself in a letter to Ares that I read in which he said that he did not claim the “laurels of Gorgopotamos” for himself. Some British were present at the Gorgopotamos undertaking, and they must have reported the superiority of the ELAS in spirit and ability over their protege. A policy of giving help to ELAS was started by the British, which had a very beneficial effect in the growth of that army.

After Gorgopotamos, Zervas returned to Epirus and tried to strengthen his guerrilla bands. Under his direction, together with the cooperation of a former premier, General Stylianos Gonatas, a political [131] organization by the name of EDES was formed. (The Zervas guerrilla groups were also known as EDES, the name derived from the first letters of National Greek Democratic Army.) Great efforts were then made to spread the EDES all around Greece, and to some degree they succeeded in creating sub-divisions in many sections of the country. But those supporting the EDES didn’t have idealistic motives. In EDES they saw a way of making some money and that was the main reason they enlisted, both in the military and the political organization. The fault for this probably rests with the leadership of the EDES, who advertised its connection with the British and so raised the hopes of the many adventurers who at first flocked to it. The leaders of EAM once gave me permission to browse through their extensive collection of captured documents regarding Zervas and the EDES. The “Zervas Archives,” as they were called, consisted of about six or seven trunks full of documents on Zervas, some incriminating, some historical, and some simply funny. They gave me insight into the Zervas organization and taught me a great deal about British operations in Greece; but fundamentally, they exposed the weakness of the whole organization.

One received the impression of decadence all around, like an empire during its last years of existence. Almost everybody was corrupt and looking for personal gain; almost everyone writing to Zervas was asking for favors, either money or position. Others were intriguing, or were complaining of intrigues. Some were complaining that part of the organization, or such and such a leader, was collaborating with the Germans, and still others were trying to justify their collaboration. Zervas was always trying to patch up things. He would say that he was against collaboration, but at the same time he would do nothing to stop it. He wouldn’t denounce the collaborators openly, although in a half-hearted way he wrote letters to his followers saying that he was against it.

Once in a while Zervas would get mad, too, as happened with EDES in the city of Messolongi. That newly organized branch was asking for gold sovereigns “in order to be able to go ahead full speed” and do great things. Zervas wrote them back a very revealing letter. “Gold, gold, gold,” he said, “everyone in the EDES organization is asking for gold.” Then, he went on to point out the fact that the EAM had much less gold than the EDES “because the British don’t give them as much,” but that they had a much greater and more effective organization. Finally he admonished his men at Messolongi to have as much idealism and enthusiasm as the EAM people, and to try to do things for the present without help in gold from Headquarters.

When I look back and try to analyze the personality of this Greek Michailovich and the accomplishments of his movement, I come to a fatalistic conclusion: things had to turn out the way they did, there was no [132] other way out. Zervas tried to create a right wing guerrilla movement when the time was not propitious. During this war, the people of Europe who wanted to change and were willing to sacrifice to get that change were not to be found among the people of Zervas’ type. Only the poor people of Europe wanted a real change, and those people were moved only by socialist or communist tendencies.

Zervas had nothing to offer to the poorer classes. The people he tried to appeal to were the decadent ruling classes of Greece, and an equally decadent and inactive middle class. It was therefore natural that he should fail, and that he and his followers should look for other compensations for their activities. The compensation of the idealist was lacking in them. The idealist would die for his cause, and the ideal of the poorer classes of Europe was a better standard of living; only the Socialists or the Communists promised them that. The idea of democracy did not move the masses anymore; bread was more powerful than freedom.

Zervas started as a democrat and ended as a royalist. He started with patriotic motives and ended as a collaborator. That is the fate of all Michailoviches. They try to swim against the stream, and the current of the stream takes them to a different destination than they desired. In Europe and in every other part of the world in this war, there were no other guerrillas except leftist guerrillas. All other attempts to organize guerrillas failed. The Michailoviches of the world started with the idea of fighting the enemy, but events moved them to the unfortunate position of having to collaborate with the enemy.

Zervas collaborated, although he probably did not like to do so. But he did collaborate to save himself and his movement. He never managed to create an effective force, and the fighting spirit of that force was never too high. Events brought him up against the superior force of his adversary, the ELAS guerrillas, and each time he tackled them he got a licking. The British extricated him from more than one bad situation. The EDES organization in Athens started its collaboration early in its existence, first with the quisling government, and then later with the enemy. Zervas started collaborating later.

In the beginning collaboration probably came accidentally, during the clashes between Zervas and the ELAS; Zervas would hit the ELAS from one side and the Germans from the other. Members of the ELAS who participated in these battles told me the story. Then came more coordination of this type, until a situation was worked out between the German 22nd Army Corps in Epirus and Zervas, in which neither bothered the other. The Zervas guerrillas rubbed shoulders with the Germans without any scruples on anybody’s part. Zervas’ guerrillas passed through German lines and vice versa. [133]

In the city of Ioannina the Zervas quartermaster depot was near the German army Headquarters. A Zervas section leader sent a German soldier who had been caught as a prisoner by ELAS and rescued by the Zervas guerrillas to the German garrison commander at Arta. A letter accompanied the prisoner saying: “The EDES forces assaulted the Communists from the rear, and in their flight they left this German soldier behind.” Then, further down, “We, the true fascists, never bother you ... we have nothing against the German troops. We only fight the Communists and EAMites.” The same man who wrote this, K. Voidaros, took an active part after liberation in the rightist terror that was unleashed against the EAM, and was one of those who participated in the extermination of Ares. As far as I know, he is still the leader of a terrorist band in the region of Epirus.

The German XXII Mountain Army, which was in control of western Greece and southern Albania, in its Military Situation Report of the 7th of August, 1944, speaks of the “lawful attitude of Zervas toward the German troops;” and that under pressure from the British Zervas had abandoned “temporarily” that “lawful attitude,” but had returned to it soon enough.

Let us read further from this German document, which fell into my hands the end of August, 1944: “After a few days he (Zervas) stopped the fighting, and since then has kept a neutral position and does not follow the orders of the Allies to renew his attacks against the German troops ...” Then, again: “Mine explosions, blow-ups and general sabotage activities against our mail routes continued in the southern sector (the ELAS sector) with the same frequency as before and became more frequent in the northern sector, where last month attacks were extremely rare. In Zervas’ territory no sabotage took place.” This last is a great indictment against Mr. Zervas.

The powerful German XXII Army report concludes than “an important factor in the above would be if the Allies were able to force Zervas to give up his until now lawful attitude and use his troops again for attacks against German forces. We must also expect continuous activities from the Greek Communist bands throughout the entire sector of this corps, unless these forces are stopped with frequent mop-up operations or are distracted by attacks on the part of Zervas’ forces.” Thus spoke the Germans in their official documents about Zervas and his guerrillas. At that time Zervas had the best equipped and best fed guerrilla group in Greece. In addition, his guerrillas were receiving money and their families were being taken care of.

But apparently Zervas was not interested in fighting the Germans, and probably the British did not want him to do so either. Zervas’ army was being prepared for the day when the Germans would pull out of Greece, when he and the British would need a powerful force to cope with ELAS, which they thought was preparing to grab power.