Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aris Velouchiotis- The leader of the ELAS ressistance force against the Nazis

Thanasis Claras(his real name) was born in 1905 in Lamia. He was later destined to be the leader of the biggest military ressistance force in the Nazi occupied Europe. Descended from a wealthy family of lawyers he followed his own route. In 1929 he got his degree in agriculture and later he joined the Greek Communist party.

Ironically in his youth he was a pacifist that's why he joined the Greek CP which was the only one having antimilitaristic ideas.It's worth to note that during this period the Greek government is lead by a military regime with Metaxas as prime minister.Because of the economic crisis most of the countries of Europe were lead by right wing  parties or the military. The regime of Greece was deeply anti-communist and considered the communist party members outlaws. Velouchiotis life changed when he joined the communist party of Greece.
As a member of the cp he spent his military service at the working battalions. Later he was sent to prison in the island of Aigina.(the communists who were not renouncing the greek CP were sent to exile in the islands of the Aegean).

He achieved to escape but he was arrested again in 1939. Eventually he signed the CP renouncement to get free after a command by the general secretary of the CP.Velochiotis fought as an artillery corporal at the mountains of Pindus against  the Italians during the WW2. Eventually the Musolini with the help of the Hitler's tanks and the Bulgarian army established a triple occupation in Greece.

While everything was in disorder Velouchiotis had already began his ressistance. While the Germans were entering the country the Greek king and the government had already fled from the country. A pro German government that was formed signed truce with the Germans and  commanded the Greek forces to disarm themselves and give up their weapons. However Velouchiotis didn't do that. He return with his battlalion in full arms in southern Greece and he destroyed some greek airplanes that were to be delivered to the Germans.

He returned back to Athens to find old comrades  and contact with the Communist party for the organisation of  a ressistance force.The situation was difficult. Many comrades who would be able to fight had died in war or were in jails or in exile and many citizens under the fear of the Nazis became their collaborators.

After many efforts the National liberation front was created in 1941 and its military branch ELAS(Greek peoples' liberation army became active in the mountains of central Greece. In the Eurytania perfecture was the first village that Velouchiotis liberated with his army. There was the time he got his alternative name. He presented himself to the local population  as Aris(from the god of war) Velouchiotis(from a local mountain called Velouchi) for obvious reasons.

Later he was engaged in battles mainly against the Italian occupation forces and he achieved to take much of their weaponry plus capturing Italian soldiers for trading them for political prisoners. However the Italians to avoid recognition of the ressistance force refused to trade prisoners and instead executed them. Velouchiotis as a response executed his Italian prisoners.Many historians accuse him for this action.
Generally his activity lead to the  creation of a free zone in the mountains of Greece with administration by Eam members.

Velouchiotis' success  and popularity was envied by certain communist party mebers and they seeked a way to remove him from the military operations of the ressistance.He was invited in a panhellenic convention of the CP in Athens. It would be dangerous for Velouchiotis to go to Athens as he was the most wanted man by the occupation government. Velouchiotis achieved to come to Athens initially disguised as a priest and later as a civilian(he shaved his beard). At the convention he persuaded everyone about his qualities and eventually he wasn't replaced .

The British waching the Communist(Soviet influenced) EAM prevailing supported an another ressistance group called EDES and they were supplying it with weaponry. However EDES wasn't as strong as ELAS and at the most famous historical event of the Greek ressistance the destruction of the bridge of Gorgopotamos the British had to collaborate with ELAS and Velouchiotis. Nevertheless the British from the next day propagated that EDES was the only responsible for blowing the bridge.

In 1943 ELAS had reached the peak of its power. The Greek cp was worried cause the ressistance force had grown so strong that they wouldn't be able to control it anymore for their aims.Thus they ordered the officers of  ELAS to turn from an irregular force to a professional army. Velouchiotis strongly dissagreed with this development.

When the Nazis started evacuating Greece a big struggle for dominance began among the Communist party and the British backed government in exile. The British landed in Athens and Velouchiotis once again knew that they came to occupy and like he had done after Greece surrendered to the Nazis he also did in 1945.
After many fights at the streets and the neighbours of Athens between EAM and ELAS members against Britsh forces the CP agreed to give up its weapons(Varkiza agreement) and seek dominance through politics.

Velouchiotis knew that this was a mistake  he refused to give up his weapons  and fled back to the mountains. He attempted to create anew ressistance force against the British but he didn't find enthusiastic response.
Moreover the situation became worse. The general secretary of the greek CP denounced him and declered him wanted. After this Velouchiotis continuously chased by enemies and dissapointed by the turn of events commited suicide in 16th June 1945.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

kke die!! viva 21 04 1967!

put your country on top

free counters