Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kostas Skolarikos: On December 1944, Radio Interview, 3/12/2014 (Part 1)

Journalist: We referred then, in our introduction, to December 1944, and we will explore this issue a bit further, since the Communist Party of Greece has launched a process of re-approaching and re-reading history, if you wish. So, we will have a look at the basic aspects it indicates in this re-reading. Let me welcome Mr. Kostas Skolarikos, who works at the History Department of the Central Committee of the KKE. Good morning, Mr. Skolarikos.

Skolarikos: Good morning. Let me initially point out that this isn't a re-reading, because the KKE has never ceased trying to examine its history -- and its history is a part of the history of modern Greece as a whole. This rather concerns the lessons we can draw today, under the light of new sources and archives that have been published. This is then the process in which the new book published by our party is embedded. I'm referring to the volume December 1944: Crucial moment of the class struggle, where one can find data on December, as well as some testimonies on the campaign of dynamiting the hotel Grande Bretagne [British Army HQ in Athens], and diverse other elements of the period.

Journalist: I see. It was a very turbulent era, so, essentially, was December 1944 what ignited the Civil War?

Skolarikos: I think that in order to adequately evaluate the conflicts of December 1944, we have to undertake a brief historical recapitulation.

Journalist: Let us hear it.

Skolarikos: Metaxas's dictatorship, imposed with the consensus of the king in August of 1936, created a specific situation in Greece, similar to that in other countries. All the bourgeois states of that era, in preparation for World War II, made choices in the direction of the centralisation, let's say, of the state, whose purpose was on the one hand to allow them to respond to the conflict with external enemies, and on the other, to deal, within the country, with the workers' and popular movement.

Metaxas's persecution of trade unionists and communists through the dictatorship period are well known, as are the assassinations, the torture, and so on. At the same time, of course, Metaxas, with the king's consensus, created a new situation in the bourgeois political system by imposing a dictatorship. Bourgeois parties stopped functioning, and as a consequence, they stopped obtaining legitimation and prestige among the workers and the popular strata.

This situation was further complicated after the imposition of the triple fascist occupation, because at that stage, one part of the bourgeois political world, along with the king, followed the British to London and Cairo; a second part of the bourgeoisie decided to stay in Greece and to collaborate with the conquerors, creating the well-known collaborationist governments; while a third part of the bourgeois political world -- and correspondingly, whenever we refer to the bourgeois political world we are also referring to the correlated business interests -- chose to remain in Greece, expecting a better correlation of forces in the future, but at the same time opting not to be the protagonist in the creation of mass resistance organizations.

This fact complicated the situation, and thus, at the antipodes of the class struggle, on the side of the working class and popular movement, we witness communists escaping prison or exile, the constitution of the workers' EAM in the beginning and of EAM afterward, with all the mass organizations that were included in it -- like ELAS, ELAN [navy], EPON [youth], OPLA, etc. In this sense, in 1943, when it becomes clear that the war is permanently turning to the detriment of the Axis forces, it becomes perceptible, both in the bourgeois political world and in the bourgeoisie, but also to British imperialism, that the situation that will prevail in Greece on the day after liberation will be one that will question the maintenance and perpetuation of bourgeois power.

So at that point, these three parts of the bourgeois political world and the correlated bourgeois economic interests are compelled to reach a new alliance against the worker and popular movement and against the KKE and EAM. In this sense, it is not accidental that in the crucial year that is 1943, there is a series of developments in the bourgeois political world and in British imperialism that prepare the ground for the conflict of December 1944. Already in the summer of 1943, in the meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt, they pose the issue of preparations for the "Mana" Plan, that is, of the deployment of 5,000 British troops following the liberation of Greece; at the same time, within the country, we have the foundation of the Security Battalions, whose basic duty is crushing the KKE and EAM. And British imperialism is in full cognizance of the foundation of Security Battalions, while these Battalions, unlike what is usually reputed, are not staffed only by pro-fascist officers but also by centralist officers, who come from all parts of the bourgeois political system. And of course, there are also the resistance groups that are linked to the bourgeois political forces, such as EDES, which, as has at this point been corroborated from the British archives, declared, in 1943, an informal truce with the Germans.

Thus we have a broader plan, which, despite the fact that the World War is still under way, is a plan aiming not against the Germans but at controlling the situation on the day after their departure. Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou [Senior] himself --the Prime Minister of the country during the events of December 1944-- confessed, in 1947, in a statement he made to the newspaper "Kathimerini", that "we knew very well that to return to Greece EAM had to accept the principle of national unity and ELAS had to be disarmed." You understand, then, that December 1944 is an effort to violently reconstitute bourgeois power and the bourgeois state in Greece.

Interview transcription and translation by Lenin Reloaded.

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