The decree can be found in Methenites : 485. This work is the most complete study of the area of Markopoulo, in Eastern Attica. It includes the most exhaustive account of the period from the Metaxas dictatorship to 1950. Methenites has searched the municipal archives of Markopoulo and has reproduced original documents, some of them for the first time.
Tsolacoglou issued orders that decreed the conduct of the Greek population toward the occupying forces. A “Daily Address of the President of the Government to the Army,” issued in the first days of May 1941, announced: “Now that, on account of the magnanimous gesture of the Führer, Leader of the German Nation, freedom has been granted to all military officers and soldiers, I must address the following matters to all those who fought on my side and those who fought on the side of my collaborating generals. …The German army has not come here as an enemy, as an adversary. It has come as a friend. It occupied our land in order to expel the English from mainland Greece. They, an evil fortune, had been invited to our national land by our criminal government. We are obligated to exhibit our friendly feelings toward the Germans, to submit to the new order of things, and to take to heart the great dogmas and the great principles of national socialism, this new political religion, which has been created by the luminous mind and great psyche of the Führer. Returning now to your homes, maintain your gratitude to the Führer and apply yourselves to your peaceful endeavors… G. Tsolacoglou, Lieutenant General.” This was not the only directive at collaboration to be issued. Among others, the “People's Committee of the Prefecture of Chania” (headed by the Bishop of Kydonias and Apokoronou, the ecclesiastical administration of the area), issued a communiqué that was published on September 22, 1941. It exhorted the people of Crete to work hard and with “conscientious loyalty to the law,” so that, with the help of the German authorities, they could rebuild Crete. In order for such a fast return to civilian life to take place, the communiqué continued, it would be imperative that the people of Crete surrender their arms, as had been requested by the German authorities and the Greek government in Athens. In the eyes of the population, the government was immediately exposed for what it was, and then some. It was a government both unable and unwilling to protect the population from German atrocities; it handed all the political prisoners from the Metaxas dictatorship over to the Germans, who sent many of them to the German concentration camps (primarily Dachau and Buchenwald), while keeping the rest in prisons in Greece; its corruption and financial mismanagement created galloping inflation and food shortages that, on top of the blockade imposed by the British in order to cut German lines of support and the German appropriation of Greek products, led to a famine that lasted from the autumn of 1941 until the spring of 1942 and that both decimated the Greek population and produced a rampant black market. All these circumstances not only incited hostility toward the government among the Greek population but also rendered imperative the need for active resistance against both the occupation forces and the collaborationist government.
The lack of a national government willing to fight the Germans opened the political and symbolic space for several Resistance movements (Antistasē) to form shortly after the beginning of the occupation. The largest was the Ethnikó Apeleftherōtikó Métōpo, or EAM (National Liberation Front), founded on September 27, 1941, by representatives of four left-wing parties: Lefteris Apostolou for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Christos Chomenidis for the Socialist Party of Greece (SΚΕ), Elias Tsirimokos, for the Greek Popular Republic (ΕLD), and Apostolos Voyiatzis for the Agricultural Party of Greece (ΑΚΕ). The acting leader was Georgios Siantos, a member of the Central Committee of the KKE ever since the KKE's Secretary General, Nikolaos Zachariadis, had been handed over to the Germans by the Metaxas government and was interned in Dachau. EAM had approached the liberal parties for a broader collaboration, but they had all refused. Finally, EAM built a broad coalition that included and won the support of many non-Communists and came to be thought of as a democratic republican (as opposed to monarchist) movement. In February 1942 EAM founded its military wing, the Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos, widely known as ELAS (National Popular Liberation Army), and one year later, February 23, 1943, founded the youth organization EPON. The university students established their own branch of EAM called Lochos Lord Byron (Battalion Lord Byron, not to be confused with the battalion Hieros Lochos, later established in the Middle East by career officers under the command of Lakis Tsigantes).
The communiqué was signed by the members of the committee, one of whom was Kyriakos K. Mitsotakis, the father of later Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis and grandfather of the minister of foreign affairs under the government of Kostas Karamanlis, from 2004 to the present (2008).
There were 1,983 interned Leftists of various hues (members of the Communist Party, Trotskyists, Archive Marxists, Socialists, and active members of labor unions) in the Greek prisons when the Germans entered Athens: 630 in the Akronauplia Prison; 500 in Tripolis; 170 in Aigina; 220 in Anafi; 230 in Ai-Stratis; 130 in Folegandros; 36 in Kimolos; 17 in Asvestochori; 50 in Ios, Amorgos, and Pylos (Lymberiou 2005: 352).
There is as yet no agreement on how many people died from the food crisis. The figure of one-tenth of the population seems high, and it has been disputed by people who have read this book prior to publication. Hionidou 2006 is the most comprehensive study on the question of the famine and food shortages in occupied Greece, but mainly for the islands of the Eastern Aegean; see also Hionidou 2004. Fleischer (n.d.) argues that the casualties from the famine did not exceed one hundred thousand. Konstantinos Doxiadis, the minister of reconstruction in 1946, preparing documents on the collective deaths during the war and occupation, maintains the figure of one-tenth. The numbers vary even more if one considers strictly the period of the famine in Athens and Piraeus in the winter of 1941, or instead employs a more nuanced periodization over the course of the occupation, as does Hionidou. By all accounts, in my interviews, in stories that have been circulating, and in the documents on the intervention by the International Red Cross on behalf of Greece, the famine was not only severe but was observed and acknowledged by the occupying Italian forces. Ciano mentions that Mussolini was incensed by the German position toward Greece, saying, “The Germans had taken from the Greeks even their shoelaces, and now they pretend to place the blame for the economic situation on our shoulders. We can take the responsibility, but only on condition that they clear out of Athens and the entire country” (1947: 387).
A document of food stamps, yet another palimpsest. The photograph was taken sometime in the summer of 1940 and submitted to the authorities in Thessaloniki on August 23, 1940. The seal in the upper left corner of the photograph was applied at a later date. The photograph initially certified that the persons appearing in it are members of the family of the man in the photograph, a tax inspector, and it is signed by the director of the tax service. Each person in the photograph is named (parents, three sons, and the maid of the family, who does not appear in the photograph). During the war, the photograph (by then an official document) was used as proof of family membership for receiving food aid.
On the back of the photograph, in the upper right corner, it is noted that the family received stamps for bread on October 31, 1941, a year after the war had started and six months after the Germans rolled into Athens. On the front of the photograph, in the upper left corner, a stamp states that the old stamps had been exchanged for new ones. Private collection.