ELAS ( Greek ΕΛΑΣ ) is the acronym of the Greek People's Liberation Army ( E llinikós or E thnikós L Aiko A pelevtherotikós S TRATOS, .epsilon. λληνικός or .epsilon. θνικός .LAMBDA αϊκός .alpha. πελευθερωτικός Σ τρατός) of the military arm of the EAM , the NLF ( E thnikó A pelevtherotikó M étopo, Greek Εθνικό Απελευθερωτικό Μέτωπο ).
During the Second World War , ELAS led a bitter partisan fight against the German , Italian and Bulgarian occupation forces and their fascist collaborators under the command of the communist resistance fighter Áris Velouchiótis .
In December 1941, the Central Committee of the "National Liberation Front" EAM formed on September 27, 1941, decided to found the Greek People's Liberation Army. In mid-1942, the ELAS partisans took up armed struggle. ELAS then developed into the strongest military power in the Greek resistance struggle.
On July 5, 1943, ELAS was recognized as an Allied Army by the British Middle East Headquarters. It caused the occupation forces considerable losses in people and material. At this point in time, the German leadership still considered it possible to militarily crush the liberation movement “after the planned German troops have been brought in”. A total of eight divisions and special units totaling eight battalions were relocated to Greece in 1943. On May 1, 1944, the number of German soldiers more than doubled compared to 1942, but Colonel-General Löhr still had to declare that it would never be possible to “completely destroy the ELAS and pacify the area”. Terrorism was supposed to weaken it so that in the event of an invasion the main traffic routes could be kept open for a certain period of time. In July, the German troops, according to their own assessment, “no longer dominated a large contiguous area”. On August 26, 1944, Hitler ordered the evacuation of southern and central Greece.
In 1943 a small National People's Liberation Navy was founded under the name ELAN ( E llinikó L aikó A pelevtherotikó N avtikó, Greek Ελληνικό Λαϊκό Απελευθερωτικό Ναυτικό ).
The ELAS was due to its actions, which were also directed against its own compatriots, not without controversy and in the post-war period was presented by the ruling right as a communist terrorist organization. Both EAM (B. Stefanos Sarafis z.) Contained and ELAS the wide range of left-wing movement, the democratic left to Stalinist (z. B. Nikos Zachariadis ) filed and around Aris Velouchiotis , Georgios Siantos and Andreas Tzimas a very had strong non-Stalinist communist wings. When the former left-liberal and socialist resistance movement EDES of Komninos Pyromaglou and General Nikolaos Plastiras under the leadership of Napoleon Zervas became more and more a reservoir for royalist and fascist forces on the one hand, which did not shy away from collaboration with the Germans Winter of 1943 on the conflict with ELAS.
By September 1944, around 120,000 fighters had joined ELAS. Relatives of the Germans deployed in Greece also ran to ELAS. a. Penal Division 999 formed from former political prisoners such as Wolfgang Abendroth , Ludwig Gehm and Kurt Lohberger . Also Falk Harnack , previously a member of the famous resistance group White Rose , struggled from the winter of 1943 in the ranks of ELAS. Some of the Italian occupation troops had deep sympathy for the Greek partisan struggle and in many places went over to ELAS as closed combat units when Italy broke away from the Axis Alliance .
After the surrender of the Italian and Bulgarian occupation forces and the withdrawal of the German Wehrmacht in October 1944, EAM and ELAS turned against those of Great Britain pursued return of exiled after the occupation of the Axis King George II. To the throne, but especially against the possible restoration of the authoritarian, anti-democratic regime of General Metaxás, who died in 1941 . Due to the Moscow secret agreement between the Churchill and Stalin governments , Greece had been declared a British sphere of influence. The conservative British government feared the establishment of a Greek People's Republic and therefore pursued an irreconcilable course of confrontation against EAM and ELAS in order to enforce its claim to power in Greece. This led to armed conflicts at the end of 1944, which were fought out in the so-called Battle of Athens . After British military intervention on December 5, 1944, ELAS was to be disarmed and demobilized in accordance with the Varkiza Agreement of February 12, 1945. This did not happen completely, and the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), as a purely communist successor to ELAS, continued the civil war against the government until its final defeat in 1949.
During the Greek Civil War , which lasted from 1946 to 1949 , many of the demobilized ELAS commanders and their families had to leave the country in order to avoid the persecution that began, which nonetheless fell victim to numerous ELAS members with the approval of the Western Allies. They found acceptance in Bulgaria and Romania . Many of them, including more than 1,100 children , moved to the newly founded GDR after 1949 .
To this day, the ELAS resistance struggle is an identification factor for the Communist Party of Greece KKE , which sees itself as a champion for the recognition of the achievements of the former partisans.
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