Pengantar Sejarah Yunani

Yunani memiliki kesinambungan sejarah lebih dari 5,000 tahun. Bangsanya, disebut Hellenes, setelah mendiami sebagian besar dari daerah Laut Hitam (Efxinos Pontos) dan Laut Tengah menjelajah daerah sekitarnya, menyusun negara bagiannya, membuat perjanjian-perjanjian komersil, dan menjelajah dunia luar, mulai dari Caucasus sampai Atlantic dan dari Skandinavia samapi ke Ethiopia. Sebuah expedisi terkenal dari gabungan daerah-daerah maritim Yunani ( Danaë atau penduduk laut ) mengepung Troy seperti dinarasikan didalam sebuah karya sastra Eropa besar pertama, Homer’s Iliad. Bermacam-macam penduduk Yunani ditemukan sepanjang Laut Tengah, Asia Kecil, Laut Adriatik, Laut Hitam dan pantai Afrika Utara akibat dari penjelajahan untuk mencari tempat dan daerah komersil baru.

Selama periode Kalsik (Abad ke 5 S.M.), Yunani terdiri dari daerah-daerah bagian kecil dan besar dalam bermacam-macam bentuk internasional (sederhana, federasi, federal, konfederasi) dan bentuk-bentuk internal (kekerajaan, tirani, oligarkhi, demokrasi konstitusional, dan lain-lain) yang paling terkenal ialah Athena, diikuti oleh Sparta dan Thebes. Sebuah semangat kebebasan dan kasih yang membara membuat bangsa Yunani dapat mengalahkan bangsa Persia, adikuasa pada saat itu, didalam peperangan yang terkenal dalam sejarah kemanusiaan- Marathon, Termopylae, Salamis dan Plataea.

Pada paruh kedua abad ke 4 S.M., banyak daerah-daerah bagian di Yunani membentuk sebuah Aliansi (Cœnon of Corinth) yang dipimpin oleh Alexander Agung sebagai Presiden dan Panglima (Kaisar) dari Aliansi, Raja dari Macedonia (“Yunani takabara” dalam bahasa persia kuno) menyatakan perang dengan Persia, membebaskan saudara-saudara mereka yang terjajah, Ionian, dan menguasai daerah-daerah yang diketahui selanjutnya. Menghasilkan sebuah masyarakat yang berkebudayaan Yunani mulai dari India Utara sampai Laut Tengah barat dan dari Rusia Selatan sampai Sudan.

Pada tahun 146 S.M., Aliansi diatas jatuh ke bangsa Romawi. Pada tahun 330, ibukota negara bagian Romawi berdiri didaerah baru, Roma Baru atau Konstantinopel, sebuah bentuk popular, sebuah nama untuk memperingati Kaisar Romawi, pada saat itu, Konstantin Khloros (Konstantin Agung). Para ahli sejarah sejak abad ke 19 lebih memilih, untuk alasan referensi, menamakan periode terakhir sebagai Bizantium dengan tujuan untuk membedakan 2203 tahun wilayah Romawi menjadi dua periode. Selama periode kedua dunia budaya Yunani klasik dari Yunani Kuno berubah menjadi dunia modern masyarakat barat dan kristen. Kata Bizantium diambil dari wilayah yang sudah ada sebelumnya (Bizantium, dengan Megara sebagai Metropolis) dimana ibukota baru berada, Konstantinopel.

Setelah ibukota dan wilayah jatuh ketangan Turki pada tahun 1453, bangsa Yunani berada dibawah kekuasaan Ottoman hampir selama 400 tahun. Selama masa ini bahasa mereka, agama mereka dan rasa identitas diri tetap kuat, yang menghasilkan banyak revolusi untuk kemerdekaan meskipun gagal.

Pada tanggal 25 Maret 1821, bangsa Yunani memberontak kembali, kali ini berhasil, dan pada tahun 1828, mereka mendapatkan kemerdekaannya. Sebagai sebuah negara baru yang hanya terdiri dari sebagian kecil dari negara modern mereka, perjuangan untuk membebaskan seluruh daerah yang dihuni oleh bangsa Yunani berlanjut. Pada tahun 1864, kepulauan Ionian disatukan dengan Yunani; tahun 1881 sebagian dari Epirus dan Thessaly. Crete, Kepulauan Aegean Timur dan Macedonian ditambahkan pada tahun 1913 dan Thrace Barat tahun 1919. Setelah Perang Dunia II kepulauan Dodecanese juga dikembalikan ke Yunani.

THE HISTORY: Aegean Civilization

Gathered round their natural territory, the Aegean Sea, which surrounds the mainland and the numerous islands, the Greeks perpetuate the tradition which began in this area about five thousand years ago. In a land particularly blessed by.nature with regard to sea communications but particularly hard with regard to overland communications in a mountainous mainland, the first European civilization was developed in the third and second millennia B.C. in the Aegean islands, in Crete and in the broader area around the Aegean. The first inhabitants were a white race but probably not Greeks. These pre Greeks, according to tradition, were known as Pelasgians. With the incursion of new people, Greece entered the Bronze Age in 3000 B.C.

The new inhabitants belonged to a special branch of the white race, the Mediterranean branch, and came from Asia. They settled on the coast and in the Aegean islands. They were called Aegeans and their civilization was the Aegean civilization. The Cycladic civilization was the first Aegean island civilization. Based on Milos and Thera (Santorini), Cycladic seafarers and traders conquered with their products all the harbors in the Aegean and Ionian Seas and opened up the sea route to the west before the Cretans, the Achaeans and the Phoenicians, reaching the shores of Italy and Spain. Marble statues, jewelry, utensils, weapons and exquisite, decorated pottery dating back to that period are being discovered to this day by archaeologists in the Greek islands. Moreover, on the islet of Saliangos, opposite Antiparos, neolithic settlements have been excavated with finds dating back to around 4000 B.C. Indeed, some researchers identify Thera as the capital of lost Atlantis, An entire city was discovered underneath the ashes which covered the island after the volcanic eruption of the 15th century B.C.

THE HISTORY: Cretan Civilization

The most brilliant Aegean island civilization, however, was the Cretan or Minoan civilization which flourished in Crete mainly in the 3rd and 2nd millennia B C. and took its name from the legendary king of Knossos, Minos, In 1450 B.C Crete had become a mighty sea power and had amassed great riches and treasures which allowed it to build, between 2200 and 1550 B.C. the renowned Cretan palaces of Knossos and Phaestos where the arts flourished. The Cretans taught the art of seamanship to the Phoenicians and the Greeks. They imposed themselves in the Cyclades and in Attica and exercised great influence over Mycenae and Tiryns.

It is said that the Cretan kings granted “protection”, on payment of a fee, to various other cities, as one gathers from certain myths and particularly the legend of Theseus. They also developed trade with Egypt and set up colonies in Cythera and later in Miletus. In 1893, the archaeologist Arthur Evans brought to light almost the entire Minoan civilization. The excavations uncovered a bright and colorful world. The frescoes not only in the palaces but In humble dwellings as well bear witness to the gay character of the Cretans, their love for life, for nature, for fun and dancing. A peaceful people, it is said they had concluded a “Pax Minoica” with their neighbors. Their art is marked by colour, movement and liveliness. It shows scenes of religious processions, games and bullfights as well as themes from the world of plants and the sea. Their technical knowledge is to be admired even today. Their script was hieroglyphic. The value of the Minoan civilization is very great. it was the first true civilization in Europe and formed the basis for the later, brilliant, Greek civilization, the Mycenaean. It disappeared at the end of 1500 B C. after the volcanic eruption of Thera which, according to one view, also caused the destruction of Crete. It was a chronological milestone, since from that date onwards the techniques and aesthetics of mainland Greece prevailed over the entire Aegean and in Crete.

THE HISTORY: The Mycenaean Civilization

In around 2000 B.C. an Indo-European race appeared on the stage of history which encompassed the Greeks, the Romans, the Gauls, the Britons, the Germans and others. The first Greeks to appear in, Greece were the Achaeans. More powerful and better armed and using horses and war chariots, they prevailed over the inhabitants, starting from Thessaly and ending up in the Peloponnese. Their language also prevailed over the whole of Greece and they absorbed many elements of the Cretan and Aegean civilizations A consequence of this admixture was the creation of a superior civilization, the Creto-Mycenaean. The Achaeans imposed themselves in the Mediterranean, developing trade with Asia Minor, with Egypt, with Lower Italy and with Spain.

They established permanent installations in Cyprus and in Rhodes. Their products were much in demand. Mycenae, the most important Achaean centre, reached Its peak around 1600 B.C. during the Bronze Age. Naturally fortified and strategically placed, Mycenae became very powerful described It as “golden Mycenae” because of the gold transported there by the Achaeans from the Pharaohs of Egypt. The excavations of Heinrich Schliemann in 1816 brought to light the royal graves with their treasures, architectural masterpieces such as the beehive tomb of Atreus, the Lions’ Gate and exquisite frescoes. The finds have revealed to us a warrior race which believed in the afterlife. The Mycenaean civilization spread to southern Italy, Libya, Cyrenaica and to the Near East. Multicolored vessels, kylixes and amphorae of the time were in great demand as far as the lands of the Euphrates and the Nile Valley. In the 12th century B.C. the Mycenaean civilization was obliterated by Internal conflict and in 1100 B.C. by the invasion of the Dorians. The inhabitants of the cities and villages fled and settled on Aegean Islands and Cyprus and in Tarsus and Cilicia.

THE HISTORY: Invasion of the Dorians

A new people invaded Greek territory in force. They were the Dorians, a pastoral people related to the Achaeans who created an internal migratory movement which transposed the locations of the Greek tribes at the end of the 12th century. This new people brought with it a new material, iron, which was of Balkan origin. Iron marked the end of the Mycenaean Age and the transition to the “Geometric Period” in the field of art.

The Dorians came as far down as the Peloponnese. They occupied the entire peninsula with the exception of Arcadia. The Eurotas valley in Laconia became the Doric centre. They were the forefathers of the Spartans. Then there came about a spiritual decline which was followed by the Dark Age of ancient Greece (12th to 8th B.C.).

HE HISTORY: Greek Colonization (1000-800 B.C.)

The old inhabitants migrated to the shores of Asia Minor which became the epicenter of Hellenism. A multitude of colonies was set up by the four ancient Greek tribes of historic times: the Ionian Dodecapolis (twelve cities) by the Ionians, with Miletus, Phocaea, Ephesus, Colophon and Chios as the most important; the Doric Hexapolis (six cities) by the Dorians (Cnidus, Halicarnassus, Cos and the three cities of Rhodes) and the Aeolian Dodecapolis by the Aeolians, with Lesbos and Tenedos as the most important. Up to the end of the 6th century B.C. the Greeks had spread westwards as well, mainly to southern Italy and Sicily (Syracuse, Cumae, Parthenope, Croton and Taranto) and to Marseilles which became an important Creek centre and commercial supply station for Greek seafarers. Colonies were also established in Macedonia and Thrace.

THE HISTORY: Archaic Period

The rebirth of Hellenism, after the last invasions from the north, dates from the 8th century B.C. During the Iron Age, Greece, as a mountainous country with small, isolated valleys, had been organized into small “city-kingdoms”. At the same time there was considerable cultural development marked mainly by the dissemination of the alphabet inherited from the Phoenicians, from the oral tradition of poetry with Homer, and from the Pottery with its geometric designs.

The Greeks were conscious, on a panhellenic scale, of their common descent, their common language, their common manners and customs and their common religion. The ideal of unity, however, was incompatible with the isolation of the “city-kingdoms”. But the need for unbreakable bonds between them was strongly felt. The role of the oracles, with the Oracle of Delphi at the hub (to which Greeks converged from every corner of the ancient world), the amphictionies (temple leagues) and the athletic games were effective in unifying the Greeks. In 776 B.C. the Olympic games were inaugurated to honour Olympian Zeus and armistices were declared for their duration. Free Greek citizens from the Greek mainland, the islands and from the colonies, competed for the prize, which was an olive branch, the symbol of peace.

It was a period of political, economic and cultural development and a period of colonization as well, although that was an activity which differed substantially from the colonization carried out in later times by European states. There was economic development, (the appearance of the first coins at Lydia) and a flowering of culture with the poetry of Sappho and with sculpture and philosophy. In the whole of the land, political developments displayed common features. In the “city-kingdoms” the institution of monarchy began to be questioned and often, the leading citizens replaced the king by a dictaror or “tyrant”. Good “tyrants” were replaced by bad “tyrants” and vice versa, while revolts and counter-revolts continued up to the 5th century.

Hellenism continued to waver between the oligarchies which wanted to hand power to their “select” candidates and the democrats who supported a broader and more radical distribution of power. Naturally, they meant a democratic regime that was limited in scope since it barred women, foreigners and slaves from participating in the exercise of such power. The 5th century in the Hellenic world was marked by the conflict between Sparta, with its “frozen” monarchic culture, and democratic Athens where parliament exercised power. Every Athenian citizen had the right to vote and to speak in parliament while for most offices, the choice was made by ballot.

At the start of the 5th century the two cities, Athens and Sparta, had joined forces and gained victory over the Persians at Marathon and Salamis. However, from 431 to 404 B.C. they had engaged in the exhausting and catastrophic Peloponnesian War. Thucydides has given us a gripping account of this conflict between Sparta and Athens.

THE HISTORY: Classical Period – “The Golden Age”

Pericles stamped the Classical Period with the seal of his personality and, despite the horror of war, the flowering of culture in this period was unique in history. The tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides; the comedies of Aristophanes, the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, the unique personality of Socrates, the Parthenon, the sculptures, Pheidias and so many other artists, the wonderful pottery with its red designs – they all constitute a group of people,ideas, creators and works by which Greece established its eternal fame. Plate and Aristotle pronounced their philosophical systems and sought the revival of the ideal of the “republic” while Isocrates vainly called upon the Greeks to unite.

In the 4th century, Philip of Macedon undertook the definitive expulsion of the Persians from the Aegean and rescued the Greeks from enslavement. The Battle of Chefoneia in 338 B.C. marked the beginning of a new era for Greece, The small city-states lost their independence and the foundations for the future unity of the country were laid. The superiority of the Macedonian army, Philip’s great abilities and the abundant financial means at his disposal all contributed to the prevalence of this new Greek race, the Macedonians. Philip was succeeded to the throne by his son, Alexander, at the age of twenty in 336 B.C.

Alexander the Great

Gifted with physical attributes and intelligence, Alexander was the greatest conqueror of the ancient world. Taught by Aristotle and inspired by Greek classical culture, he was also a military genius who mounted an expedition against the Persians. His aspiration was to conquer the Persian empire and his aim was to reach the edge of the world and come to the Ocean, which according to Greek belief, surrounded the earth. Within seven years he has conquered the entire Persian state and then decided to conquer India too, which he also succeeded in doing. He died at the age of 33 in 324 B.C. The conquests and achievements of Alexander brought about radical changes in the ancient Greek world, having given access to the wealth of the East. He founded new Greek cities in the new lands and thus created centres of Greek culture. He promoted the sciences, mainly geography and also mathematics, astronomy and physics. The Greek language was spoken everywhere and became the lingua franca of commerce.

THE HISTORY: Hellenistic Period (336-30 B.C.)

On the death of Alexander, a bitter struggle broke out among his generals for the succession. The clashes and the quarrels lasted for three centuries as the Macedonian empire was split up among the “successors” Three Kingdoms were formed: the kingdom of Macedonia; the kingdom of Greece proper; the kingdom of Egypt, which was ruled by the dynasty of the Ptolemies and the kingdom of Antioch, ruled by the dynasty of the Seleucids. Hellenism had now expanded beyond its metropolitan bounds and had created new centres of culture. The Greeks had made the discovery that they were not only members of a narrow community like that of the “city-state” but of a broader, civilized and Hellenized community. The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers taught new ideas of brotherhood while the Cynics became beaters of more radical messages and considered themselves to be “citizens of the world”. The Museum of Alexandna and the Library of Pergamon became renowned cosmopolitan centres of arts and letters from which great poets of the 3rd century B.C. emerged such as Apollonius, Callimachus and Theocritus.

The Roman Conquest

But the long-lasting wars among the successors weakened the new states to the extent that they fell easy prey to the Romans. The Romans conquered Greece in 146 B.C. but in conquering the East they were charmed by it and imitated its culture. They were deeply Influenced by it in all aspects of their lives and it changed their habits, manners and customs. This is why their civilization was known as the “GrecoRoman civilization” The Roman Empire began to decline in the middle of the 4th century A.D.

THE HISTORY: Byzantine Civilization

In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire was finally dismembered. Its western part fell to the barbarians while the eastern part played an important role in world history for more than a thousand years. With the establishment of Constantinople in 330 A.D. as the capital of the Eastern Roman and the complete predominance of Christianity, the Greeks became conscious of their national identity and laid the foundations of the later powerful Byzantine Empire. Byzantine civilization is considered to be a continuation of ancient Greek civilization with many Roman and Eastern influences. Its main identifying feature was the Christian religion which pervaded its legislation, its literature, its architecture, etc. The Byzantine emperors converted neighboring people to Christianity and, with their powerful fleet, ruled the seas up to the 8th century A.D.

The strategic position of Constantinople, on the site of old Byzantium, between the two large continents of Europe and Asia, shifted the centre of gravity of world domination to the east. But it also became a pole of attraction for all foreign invaders.

In 1096 A.D. the “Frankish” infiltration of the Levant began with the First Crusade. The Crusaders overran the Greek lands. The Fourth Crusade ended with the taking of Constantinople in 1204 and the sharing of the empire among the Crusaders, while Venice imposed itself on the Levant for centuries, in parallel with the Turks. Venice dominated some Creek islands either directly or indirectly. Euboea, the Cyclades, the Ionian islands, Crete and Cyprus were more or less Venetian possessions from 1489 onwards while in the 15th century, Thasos, Samothrace, Imbros, Lemnos, Chios, Samos, Icaria and the ports of Ainos in Thrace and Phocaea in Ionia were Genoese dependencies. Rhodes and Its neighboring islands had been occupied by the Knights of St. John since 1308.

The dismantling of the Byzantine Empire, however, did not bring about the dismantling of Hellenism as well. The idea of national unity had already been sufficiently developed to spark the formation of cores of resistance. Michael Palaeologus succeeded in retaking Constantinople in 1262 and the revived empire lived on for another two centuries. The empire of the Palaeologi was, in fact, nothing more than a national Greek state which, under attack from the Serbs, Bulgarians and Turks was obliged to abandon the dream of empire and barricade itself behind a national idea in order to defend what had remained of Hellenism. The same spirit of resistance inspired the rest of the Greeks, those who were still under Frankish occupation.

The Fall of Constantinople

Finally, in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks after a siege of two months. The last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine Palaeologus, fell with the city. Hellenism was then nourished by traditions in which one legend featured very largely: that of the king (Constantine) who had been turned into marble by an angel, and hidden from the Turks until the time was ripe for his resurrection and return. The structure of the social and political life of the Turks, who occupied themselves mainly with their holy war, led them to leave such things as trade, arts and crafts and other productive activities to their vassals, thus making the latter indispensable to the functioning of the empire’s administrative machine.

The Turkish Occupation

For Hellenism, the Turkish conquest signified catastrophe, decline and retrogression. Religion played an important role during the first centuries of the conquest in upholding morale and fostering resistance. In the 18th century, however, in parallel with the development of trade in Greek lands, there was a change in economic relations and a Greek urban, middle class began to be formed which, in spite of its peculiar nature, promoted the development of a national conscience.

Inspired by the age of enlightenment in France and stimulating a flowering of intellectual thought, it fired enslaved Greeks with the idea of freedom and equality. At the beginning of the 19th century, the national conscience of the Greeks had reached full maturity and clarity.

THE HISTORY: The Revolution of 1821

After many trials and errors, the Revolution of 1821 broke out. It was a revolution of liberation like so many others in Europe at the time. The West was moved by the struggle of the Greek people. After the founding of the Friendly Society in 1814 by Greek patriots, a Philhellenic movement was launched in Europe, prompted by a romantic admiration for ancient Greece by European intellectuals. The great powers of the time finally became interested in solving the “Greek”, and by extension, what was known as “the Eastern question”. In 1827 the “protecting” powers clashed with the Turkish-Egyptian fleet In Navarino Bay and hastened the conclusion of the bloody struggle of the Greeks.

In 1828 a small, independent Greek state was formed with 800,000 inhabitants. It was a penniless state of extremely size, consisting of the Peloponnese, Central Greece and the Cyclades. It would take another century of struggle before all the Greeks were freed.

The first man to govern the country was a Greek former minister of the Tsar, Ioannis Kapodistrias. His first task was to organize the state – its Internal administration, the army, the questions of the national territories and independence and the border question. However, his clash with the local aristocracy provoked intense reactions which led to his assassination in 1831.

In 1832, with the Treaty of London, Greece became an independent state with a hereditary king, Otho, son of the King of Bavaria. The 19th century was a long and trying time for the Greeks. It was a period during which Greek society, through a myriad difficulties, was trying to define its national image and bring about its national fulfillment. The liberality and democracy of the first Creek Constitutions were replaced by an absolute monarchy guided by foreigners. In 1843 Otho, under popular pressure, granted a conservative Constitution (1844) which, however, was often ignored. Otho was finally driven out of the country in 1862.

With the Constitution of 1864 the regime of a Constitutional Monarchy was established. The new king was George I, a scion of the Danish dynasty of the Glucksburgs. In the same year, the Ionian Islands were united with Greece, introducing progressive political customs and organized social frameworks for Greece’s political and social life. There was relative calm during the period that ensued, up to the end of the century. The political battles were often relegated to the Chamber of Deputies while public opinion was more occupied by national and Balkan affairs. These were the Cretan Revolution of 1866-69; the establishment of a Bulgarian Church that was independent of the Patriarchate (Bulgarian Hexarchy of 1870) and which, in turn, created a Macedonian problem when the limits of its authority had to be defined; the Russian-Turkish War (1877-88) and the rise of panslavism; the establishment of a large Bulgarian state which stretched Into Creek Macedonia (Treaty of San Stefano 1878); the invasion of Thessaly by the Greek army and its annexation (1881); new uprisings in Epirus and Crete, etc.

The Great Idea

The new ideology which took root in the decade of the 1840s and which dictated Greece’s foreign policy for a long time was the concept of the “Great Idea”. It aimed at freeing all the Greeks who were still under the Ottoman yoke and in creating a greater Greece. It started as an ideology of the urban middle and lower-middle classes, passed through various phases and several ups and downs before ending up, at the beginning of the following century as the ideology of the urban upper class, acting as an inspiration for the liberation of enslaved Greeks and ending, finally, in national disasters and most acute internal conflicts. In the years that followed 1864, the man who prevailed on the political scene was Harilaos Trikoupis. The first socialist ideas and organizations made their appearance at this time. The continuous failures of national policy made it obvious that a general rearrangement of the country’s political structure was needed together with its dissociation from the royal court.

In May, 1909 a Military league was formed. It demanded the reorganization of the army and the navy, the dismissal of the princes from any military command and the cleaning up of political life. The military coup of 1909, which was to leave Its mark on the nation’s development, broke out at Goudi and was marked by total success. It exiled the political parties and in August 1910 handed over power to a new politician from Crete, Eleftherios Venizelos. From 1910 to 1935, the Greek political scene was dominated by the personality of Eleftherios Venizelos.

of the Euphrates and the Nile Valley. In the 12th century B.C. the Mycenaean civilization was obliterated by Internal conflict and in 1100 B.C. by the invasion of the Dorians. The inhabitants of the cities and villages fled and settled on Aegean Islands and Cyprus and in Tarsus and Cilicia.

THE HISTORY: Balkan Wars (1912-13)

Meanwhile, the Balkan Wars added themselves to the general climate of belligerency which prevailed in Europe and gave rise to the development of national movements in the Balkans, to the hardening of Turkish policy and to a change in the balance of power in Europe. Alliances were formed between Greece and Serbia, between Serbia and Bulgaria and between Bulgaria and Greece and all these Balkan allies demanded the immediate application of reforms for Christian subjects in Ottoman lands. In reply, Turkey declared war on Serbia and Bulgaria while Greece responded by declaring war on Turkey (1912).

At the end of the Balkan Wars Thessaloniki, Yannina, Samos, Chios and Lesbos became Greek as well as all the land west,of the Evros river, thanks mainly to Greece’s powerful fleet. Also, the government had admitted deputies from Crete in the Greek Chamber before the had started.

THE HISTORY: World Wars

World War I

World War I broke out In 1914 and Venizelos was in favour of Greece’s entry into the war on the side of the Allies while King Constantine, who had ascended the throne in 1913, wanted Greece to remain neutral. This created a conflict which became known as the “dichasmos” (division) . Venizelos’s view finally prevailed and Constantine abdicated in favour of his son Alexander. Greece entered the war in its last phase in 1917. After the end of the war Greek territorial claims were dealt with at the treaties of Neuilly (November 27, 1919) and Sevres (August 10, 1920) according to which Greece annexed Eastern and Western Thrace and the islands of Imbros and Tenedos and acquired the right to occupy Smyrna and its coastline on condition that it would be able to incorporate this territory after a referendum. The Dodecanese islands were recognized as Italian possessions and Cyprus as a British possession. Two months after the signature of the treaty, Venizelos was removed from power.

King Constantine returned, followinq a plebiscite (1920) and continued the campaign against Turkey in Smyrna. The Greek army, having lost the support of the Allies, was led to catastrophe The Kemalian army occupied Smyrna and set it on fire on September 9, 1922. The Greeks of Asia Minor were routed and the Treaty of Lausanne imposed an exchange of minority populations between Greece and Turkey and, according to the same treaty, Eastern Thrace was lost to Greece.

1923 saw the beginning of Greece’s first Republic which was marked by political instability .King Constantine abandoned the throne and during the rest of this period there was a series of military coups and dictatorships. In 1935, by means of a fraudulent plebiscite, King George II, son of Constantine, returned to Greece and, a few months later, imposed a dictatorship on August 4, 1936 under a retired general, Ioannis Metaxas.

World War II

Greece was still ruled by dictatorship when World War II broke out. But in spite of their differences, the Greeks sided unanimously with the Allies and rejected the Italian ultimatum presented on October 28, 1940 by which Italy sought free passage for its troops. The Greeks were successful in repulsing the attack and drove back the Italians 60 km. beyond the Albanian border. On April 6, 1941, Germany attacked and Hitler’s armies marched into Greece. The government and the king went into exile. The “Occupation” was a particularly hard time for Greece. Starvation decimated the population while executions and deportations rounded off the catastrophe. From the very first moments of the occupation a mass resistance movement came into being. In 1941, political personalities, trade union groups, communists and representatives of related political bodies set up the National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military branch (ELAS).

The opposite political side set up Its own resistance organizations the most important of which were EKKA and EDES (National and Social Liberation and National Greek Democratic League). The leaders of ELAS, EKKA and EDES were former officers in the regular army. They organized the armed resistance movement of the Greek people while urban underground groups hampered the task of the conqueror with strikes and sabotage.

In spite of their successes, however, and particularly whenever opposed political organizations got together for some common activity, it became apparent that their permanent union was impossible. The peak moment of united action by ELAS and EDES came with the blowing up of the Gorgopotamos bridge in November 1942 which was a heavy blow to the conqueror.

THE HISTORY: Liberation and Civil wars

On October 12, 1944 Greece was liberated from the Nazis The National Unity government returned from abroad with George Papandreou as prime minister. The situation in the country was critical. The British, who had been given military control of the area by the Allies, demanded the disbanding of the ELAS guerilla army and the surrender of its weapons. Thus, the first phase of the Civil War began on December 3, 1944 and ended in early January 1945 with the defeat of the leftists and the signature of the Varkiza agreement. The mass movement of the left now came under pressure and persecution and thus, in 1946 the tragedy began of a war that cost thousands of lives, with Greek fighting Greek in the mountains and in the cities. It ended in 1949 with the defeat of the “Democratic Army”, the armed force of the Greek Communist Party (KKE). Rather than stay in Greece, those of the fighters who survived and tens of thousands of other leftists chose exile in camps In neighboring communist countries and in the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Greece’s borders had grown with the annexation in 1948 of the Dodecanese islands which had been occupied from 1911 to 1943 by the Italians from 1943 to 1945 by the Germans and from 1945 to 1948 by the British.

The political life during the 50s and 60s

In 1950, a change came about in Greek political life with the entry into politics of a group of socialists and democrats who were former EAMists and who got together to form a legal party In parliament up to April 21, 1967. From 1950 to 1963 there was a succession of governments formed by liberal and conservative political groupings. From 1963 to 1965 the country was governed by George Papandreou, He was dismissed in July 1965 by the palace which, in order to gain its own ends, drove a wedge into the governing Centre Union party.

The military dictatorship 1967-1974

In 1967 a dictatorship was imposed by a group of army colonels. The political leaders of the conservative, liberal and leftist parties were arrested and thousands of party members and followers were jailed or exiled. A new, popular resistance movement was born which culminated in student uprisings in the Law School of Athens University and In the Polytechnic. The dictatorship of the colonels collapsed in 1914 but not before it had delivered about half the territory of Cyprus to the Turks.

The fall of the dictatorship was followed by a government of National Unity under Constantine Karamanlis who returned from Paris. Free elections were held and Michael Stassinopoulos, an academician and president of the Council of State, was appointed President of the Republic. A plebiscite was held by which the Greek people chose the regime of a Presidential Republic and the first elected president was Constantine Tsatsos, a university professor and academician. He was followed by Constantine Karamanlis, the leader of the New Democracy party. In March 1985 the next elected President was Christos Sartzetakis, a Supreme Court judge and an eminent personality in Greek life, known for his integrity as a judge and as a fighter for democracy. He was followed by Constantinos Karamanlis in 1990. In 1995 Costis Stephanopoulos elected president of Greece .

From 1974 onwards the Greek people devoted all their efforts to consolidating democracy in the land of its birth and laying the foundations for a better life. In 1981 Greece became the IOth full member of the European Union and in 1981 a new party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), won the general election and became the governing party. At the present time, after a series of social reforms, Greece remains ever faithful to the causes of peace and democracy and continues on Its course of development. It is championing Balkan cooperation, intercedes in world disputes, undertakes peace initiatives within the framework of the EC and NATO and is one of the six countries that have become world-renowned through the “Initiative of the six leaders” for peace and disarmament.

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