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Relations between Greece and Britain

The liberation of occupied Europe

The war and the liberation

The occupation of Greece by the German forces constituted the start of a big adventure for the Greek people and for the political future of the country. From the outset, the exiled Greek government, which was supported politically by the British, endeavoured to safeguard the territorial and material compensation of the country for the postwar period. At the same time, however, and inside the occupied Greek territory, a new strong centre of political power was established with the widening of ELAS' resistance activities.

The organised allied counterattack against the Axis, after 1942, led to the gradual retreat of the fascist powers in all fronts. The predominance of the Soviets in Stalingrad and the victories of the Western Allies in the Italian front induced deliberations (meeting in Tehran, in 1943) and actions of military coordination. These deliberations came to fruition through the creation of a joint attack plan that was materialised in a gigantic military operation, the Normandy Invasion, which began on June 6, 1944 from the French coasts towards the European inland. The simultaneous advance of the Red Army from the east put heavy pressure on Germany, which continued on her own now the multi-front struggle in Europe.

In October 1944, the Germans were abandoning mainland Greece, giving way to the exiled Greek government and its British allies.

The challenge to the legitimacy of the exiled government by EAM-ELAS from 1943 onwards was intense, in spite of the efforts for compromise (such as the Lebanon agreement). Here lay the origins of an ideological-political schism, which would torment the country from the liberation until 1949.

The undermining of the mild political climate began to take form in the autumn of 1944 through a series of erroneous actions and provocative positions from the two sides. The clash in Athens, in December 1944 appeared as the result of the escalating aggravation in the relations of the two sides, the Papandreou government and the British on the one hand and EAM and the communist leadership on the other.

The political normality that was sealed by the Varkiza agreement (February 1945), was to be short-lived. Although the end of the European war against the fascist fury was approaching (May 1945), Greece got involved in a series of new violent and painful war adventures, fratricidal this time, which would last approximately until the end of the 1940s.

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