Greek Civil War


Greek Civil War

(1944–45, 1946–49). Two-stage conflict during which Greek communists unsuccessfully tried to gain control of Greece. The two principal Greek guerrilla forces that had resisted Nazi Germany's occupation—the communist-controlled National Liberation Front–National Popular Liberation Army (EAM-ELAS) and the Greek Democratic National Army (EDES)—came into conflict after EAM-ELAS set up a provisional government that rejected the Greek king and his government-in-exile. When Germany withdrew from Greece in 1944, the communists and royalist guerrillas were brought together by the British in an uneasy coalition. Because the communist guerrillas refused to disband their forces, a bitter civil war broke out in late 1944 that was put down by British forces. After elections that the communists did not participate in, the Greek king was restored to his throne. In 1946 a full-scale guerrilla war was reopened by the communists. The U.S. government took over the defense of Greece, creating the Truman Doctrine as justification. After fierce skirmishes in the mountains, in 1949 the communists announced the end of open hostilities. An estimated 50,000 Greeks died in the conflict, which left a legacy of bitterness.

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