Georgios Papadopoulos

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georgios Papadopoulos ( Greek Γεώργιος Παπαδόπουλος , born May 5, 1919 in Eleochori , Western Greece ; † June 27, 1999 in Athens ) was a Greek officer , politician and leading head of the Greek military dictatorship .


Papadopoulos was born in the small village of Eleochori ( Ελαιοχώρι Αχαΐας ) as the son of a teacher. After attending grammar school, he attended the cadet school from 1937 to 1940 ( Σχολή Ευελπίδων ). He finished training as a civil engineer without a degree. After the invasion of Italy in Greece and the beginning of the German Balkan campaign , he took part in the armed conflicts as an artillery lieutenant in World War II.

After the occupation of Greece by the German Wehrmacht , Italy and Bulgaria , Papadopoulos worked for an anti-communist organization that worked with the German occupation forces, in particular against the communist-led resistance organization ELAS . At the beginning of 1944 he left Greece with the help of the British secret service and went to Cairo , where the Greek government in exile was based. After the liberation of Greece, he helped found the right-wing paramilitary IDEA.

In 1946 Papadopoulos was promoted to captain and in 1949 to major during the Greek Civil War . After receiving training at the CIA in 1953 , he served from 1959 to 1964 as a contact for the KYP military intelligence agency with top CIA agent John Fatseas.

Papadopoulos was also a member of the court martial that sentenced communist leader Nikos Belogiannis to death in 1951 . This death sentence (Papadopoulos had voted against) was not carried out, but in early 1952 Belogiannis was again indicted, convicted and executed for espionage .

In 1956 Papadopoulos took part in a failed coup attempt against King Paul . In 1958 he helped found a military supervisory authority under General Gogousis, which later prepared the successful coup d'état of April 21, 1967. In 1964 Papadopoulos was transferred to an artillery division in western Thrace by order of the Enosis Kendrou (EK, Center Union), Defense Minister Garoufalias . In June 1965, Papadopoulos caused a stir when he arrested two soldiers under his command and eight left-wing civilians on charges of sabotage by pouring sugar into the tanks of army vehicles. The ten suspects were detained and tortured, but it was found that Papadopoulos himself had committed the sabotage. In 1967 Papadopoulos was promoted to colonel.

April 21, 1967

In the early 1960s, internal political tensions in Greece had led to an unstable situation as a result of disputes between King Constantine II and Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou . A few days before the parliamentary elections on May 28, 1967, in which a victory for Papandreou was widely expected, a group of Conservative middle-ranking officers led by Georgios Papadopoulos carried out a coup d'état. To organize the coup , Papadopoulos and his friends - first and foremost Colonel Karydas - were able to trigger the seizure of power operations by simply implementing the Prometheus Plan, one aimed at destabilizing any communist government coming to power - no matter in what way Measure, ordered. Like all Greek staff officers, Papadopoulos knew of the existence of the Prometheus Plan; the plan was drawn up according to the guidelines of NATO and constantly adapted to the latest developments. A few months before the coup they had enforced the completion of the arrest list by adding a list B with the names of the main leaders of the non-communist parliamentary factions who were to be "neutralized" or "protected" at the same time.

On the evening of April 21, 1967, over 10,000 people were arrested by heavily armed soldiers in Athens , Piraeus , Patras and Thessaloniki . Among them were old resistance fighters, hundreds of functionaries and active members of all political parties, trade unions, youth organizations and most of the ministers of the incumbent government, dozens of parliamentarians, senior administrators, numerous journalists, lawyers, writers and actors. That night the news spread through sleeping Athens and caused fear and horror.

After the coup on April 21, martial law was imposed immediately , there were censorship, arrests, beatings, torture and killings. It is estimated that the number of victims in the first month alone was approximately 8,000. This was justified by the declaration that everything must be done to save the nation from a "communist takeover".

When King Constantine was awakened early in the morning by coup plotters, he refused to admit the disobedience of the army . The generals detained by the colonels in the rooms of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the General Staff near Athens , had advised him not to do anything that might call into question the praised unity of the army. A military dictatorship seemed far better to the king than a government of his archenemy Papandreou .

The only concession that the king was able to obtain from the colonels was that Konstantinos Kollias , a former attorney-general of the highest Greek court, Areopagus , was appointed civilian prime minister. However, power remained with the junta , and Kollias only acted as a figurehead. As a minister with the Prime Minister, Papadopoulos was in charge of the strings.

The colonel's regime

Papadopoulos soon emerged as the strong hand of the regime. In the first cabinet he was minister of defense and minister to the prime minister and after the failed counter-coup by the king he became prime minister himself. As a result, the king and his family had to leave the country on December 14, 1967. The regime responded by imposing a state of emergency, bringing the press into line, torture, mass arrests and deportations as well as concentration camps on the islands of Gyaros and Leros . Papadopoulos justified these measures by saying that the country had to be saved from a communist takeover. Because of its strictly anti-communist stance, the regime was supported by the USA, while otherwise it was internationally isolated.


On the morning of August 13, 1968, Alexandros Panagoulis carried out a bomb attack on Papadopoulos, but missed his target. Panagoulis had placed and detonated a bomb under the coastal road from Sounion to Athens, which Papadopoulos used on the way from his private residence at Lagonissi . Papadopoulos was unharmed, while Panagoulis was arrested, tortured, sentenced to death and was imprisoned for five years.

This whole development led to the complete isolation of Greece and severe criticism from abroad. On December 12, 1969, Greece left the Council of Europe.

The end of the Papadopoulos regime

Attempted opening

On March 21, 1972 Papadopoulos determined himself to succeed Georgios Zoitakis as regent (viceroy). On June 1, 1973 Papadopoulos proclaimed the republic and became president himself . At the same time he announced the abolition of the monarchy. In 1973, under the impression of increasing dissatisfaction with the regime, declining economic successes and foreign policy isolation, Papadopoulos initiated a gradual return to democracy, which he had previously vaguely promised, which was undeservedly described as a "political turnaround" ( Greek μεταπολίτευση metapolitefsi ). He sought the support of the old political class, but could only win over Spyros Markezinis , a conservative politician, whom he appointed prime minister. Martial law was abolished, press censorship partially lifted, and political prisoners released. Papadopoulos envisaged the transition to a presidential democracy . Political parties - albeit not the Communist Party  - should be allowed again, and free elections should be held.


After the student revolt at the Polytechnion in November 1973, this attempt at liberalization came to an abrupt end. The hardliners under the command of the military police, Dimitrios Ioannidis , took hold of the issue again. After a bloodless coup, General Phaidon Gizikis took over the presidency. Papadopoulos was placed under house arrest. An obviously staged attempt to seize power by the Greek National Guard in Cyprus with the aim of annexing the island for Greece "Enosis" then provoked an invasion by the Turkish military with devastating consequences. This ultimately led to the coup plotters giving up. General Gizikis recalled the conservative politician Konstantinos Karamanlis from exile in Paris and charged him with the formation of a new government. This should initiate the return of democratically legitimized forces.

Judgment and death

After the dictatorship was overthrown and Konstantinos Karamanlis took over government , Papadopoulos and 19 other officers were charged with high treason and sentenced to death on August 23, 1975. The death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment a short time later . He spent the rest of his life in Korydallos prison near Piraeus, from where he tried in 1984 to set up the anti-communist National Political Union Party. Without insight and self-righteously, Papadopoulos renounced petitions for mercy. Papadopoulos was transferred to an Athens hospital in August 1996 because of severe cancer, where he died on June 27, 1999 at the age of 80.

Trivia: divorce by decree

Papadopoulos was first married to Niki Vasiliadou in 1941 and had two children with her. He lived separated from his wife for a long time, but could not obtain a divorce without her consent due to the restrictive Greek divorce law . In order to solve this situation, he issued a tailor-made divorce law as head of government at the end of 1970, which made the divorce possible for him, but which expired after this purpose had been fulfilled due to an expiry clause . After this divorce he was able to marry his long-time lover Despina Gasparou, with whom he had a daughter.

Individual evidence

  1. ΤΑ ΔΙΚΑ ΜΑΣ 60's - Μέρος 3ο: ΧΑΜΕΝΗ ΑΝΟΙΞΗ ( Memento from December 2, 2008 in the web archive ) by Stelios Kouloglu
  2. ^ Obituary for Papadopoulos in the newspaper Eleftherotypia of June 28, 1999 ( Memento of September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Andreas Papandreou wrote in his memoir that Papadopoulos wanted to prove that under the government of the Center Union, the Communists could undermine national security. (Andreas Papandreou, Democracy before the firing squad, Livanis Publishing Athens (Greek) ISBN 960-14-1237-9 , p. 60)
  4. ^ Biography about Georgios Papadopoulos, Internationales Biografisches Archiv, Munzinger-Archiv GmbH, Ravensberg
predecessor Office successor
Konstantinos Kollias Prime Minister of Greece
December 13, 1967 to October 8, 1973
Spyros Markezinis
Georgios Zoitakis Regent
March 21, 1972 to June 1, 1973
Abolition of the monarchy
Change of form of government President
June 1, 1973 to November 23, 1973
Phaidon Gizikis