Dekemvriana, a critical period in Greek history, 1944

Syntagma Square on the day of the entry of the George Papandreou government, October 18, 1944, after the end of the Occupation

The term December, also referred to as the Battle of Athens, refers to a series of armed conflicts that took place in Athens from December 1944 to January 1945, between the armed forces of the National Liberation Front (EAM) and the Communist Party of Greece ( KKE) on the one hand and the British and Greek government forces on the other. The combatants belonged to a wide political spectrum, from social democracy to the pro-monarchist right and included former collaborators of the Axis powers during the Occupation.

The Axis occupation forces, now consisting of Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Bulgaria (since Italy had capitulated in 1943 and its occupation zones were occupied by the Germans), left Greece in October 1944 and the government was bloodlessly installed in Athens National Unity under George Papandreou, without the return of King George II. Based on agreements, this government contained political representatives of the EAM.

On December 1, 1944, the government issued an ultimatum obliging all guerrilla formations to surrender their weapons to the security services. EAM ministers disagreed and the next day resigned en masse from the government in protest. On December 3, the EAM held a massive anti-government demonstration, which ended abruptly after the armed intervention of police forces, in the wake of which 33 demonstrators died and another 148 were injured. The next morning, the first military operations in the greater Athens area took place from the Hellenic People's Liberation Army (ELAS), the military arm of the EAM, which initially turned exclusively against Greek military forces. A week later, due to the escalation of the situation, the first clashes occurred between ELAS and the British Mission in Greece.

The Decembers were characterized by extremes on both sides and atrocities against the civilian population of the capital. At the same time, they are the only case in World War II in which allied forces collided with each other.

Historical frame
Liberation and composition of the new government
Immediately after the liberation of Greece from the German invaders, the national unity government of George Papandreou undertook the difficult task of rebuilding the country. The Left had also agreed to join the government, six of whose officials assumed ministries (Alexandros Svolos, Angelos Angelopoulos, Nikolaos Askoutsis from P.E.A.A., Ilias Tsirimokos from E.A.M. and Miltiadis Porphyrogenis and Yiannis Zevgos from K.K.E.).

The main crises of the free country

The celebratory atmosphere of liberation could not hide the major problems that remained in the country. Papandreou's government had settled in Athens, while a section of ELAS welcomed it with an honorable salute. At the same time, ELAS dominated most of the mainland. German forces remained in Crete, the Dodecanese and various other Aegean islands. The situation was chaotic. Greece had been desolated by the constant looting, massacres, sabotage and destruction of the war. There was no food and the country was on the verge of starvation, while the economy was destroyed (indicative is the recession which caused, among other things, the circulation of charon coins worth billions of drachmas each). Politically, the country was divided into opposing camps, with the ravages of the Civil War already underway by 1942-1943.

The problems that had to be dealt with immediately were the state question, the prosecution and punishment of the dosilogs and the formation of a national army and police, abolishing the armed sections of the resistance groups. At the same time, on the one hand, the question of the punishment of the collaborators of the conqueror, and on the other, the method of disarming the rebels had been raised. The basis on which Papandreou's policy operated was the Caserta Agreement, which placed all Greek forces (national army and rebel groups) under allied command, specifically General Ronald Scobie, among others the head of the British military mission in Greece.

As for the state issue, it was agreed that it would be resolved by a free referendum as soon as conditions permitted, without clearly specifying the time. In this context, the exiled monarch George II had been pressured to pledge not to return to the country until the people had decided explicitly on the form of the polity they desired. Despite his objections, George finally accepted, with the urging of the British, to grant the viceroyalty to Archbishop Damascenes. Regarding the issue of the trial of the donors and collaborators, it was agreed that this should begin in mid-December. other European countries, such as in France and Italy, at the expense of those collaborating with the occupying forces, a few hours after their liberation, in Athens the ELAS of Athens gave an order that there should be no violent diversions. The peaceful disposition of ELAS is confirmed by government and British sources who state that in the first days after the liberation, Athens was quiet.

On October 15, 1944, a demonstration was organized by nationalist organizations, which was attacked in the area of ​​Omonia by EAM followers, who beat up and lynched members of the nationalist organizations. The answer did not take long to come when members of the EAM demonstration were shot, resulting in dead and injured, by armed members of dosilogous organizations who had taken refuge under restraint in the hotels of the area. For all its dead, the heamic reaction remained within the context of the complaint, without retaliation. The gunfire killed at least seven members of religious organizations and injured 82.

Subsequently, there was obstruction by the authorities in the arrest and bringing to trial of known collaborators of the occupiers, as well as the unprecedented escape of 720 incarcerated dosilogs from the Syngrou prisons, while former gendarmes from the province from disbanded bodies from ELAS formed the Gendarmerie Retraining Regiment and were conscripted In the center.

The question of the commander-in-chief Othonaios
On 3/11/44 General Alexandros Othonaios, who tended more towards the EAM than towards the right, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Greek forces and wanted General Sarafi as his deputy. George Papandreou refused his request, because both he and the head of the British military mission in Greece, General Ronald Scobie, wanted General Konstantinos Ventiris, former leader of an anti-communist city resistance organization, to be appointed to this position. When the ELAS and EDES rebel formations would be disbanded, and until the formation of the new national army, the commander-in-chief would not be able to command the armed forces, which would remain under the command of General Scobie. Finally Othonaios resigned on 13/11/1944 due to the government's intention to militarily reduce the EAM.

The tipping point - the creation of a national army and the disarmament ultimatum
General Ronald Scobie's December 6, 1944 order for the immediate disarmament of all armed forces except for listed exceptions, as printed by the short-lived government newspaper Hellas

The point that finally led to the crisis was the disarmament of the guerrilla groups, to create a national army. This issue could decisively determine the distribution of power between the political forces.

On November 5, George Papandreou announced, in agreement with General Ronald Scobie, that ELAS and EDES would demobilize by December 10. The decision was taken four days earlier, following a meeting in which Giorgis Siantos, General Secretary of the KKE, also participated. With the same announcement, the prime minister announced the agreement to disband the EAM National Militia, which would be temporarily replaced by a National Guard corps.

Long negotiations between the government and EAM followed. On November 18, the establishment of a National Guard was agreed, which would be staffed by the draftees of the class of 1936. On November 25, the Deputy Minister of Defense Lambros Lambrianidis was replaced as he had reinstated him in the army, without even informing the Prime Minister (who in fact held the Ministry of Defense ) or to request the permission of the General Staff, more than 100 officers of the Security Battalions, while of the total of 250 new National Guardsmen, none came from ELAS. General Ptolemios Sarigiannis, a member of the EAM, was appointed in his place, which was considered a major concession to the EAM and led Ambassador Reginald Lipper to request a possible break in the discussions between Papandreou and the EAM. On the same day (25/11/1944) Scobie relayed to Papandreou Churchill's refusal to accept the disbandment of the 3rd Mountain Brigade, which was experienced and had fought with the Allied forces at Rimini, Italy. On November 27, Papandreou announced the agreement with Greek ministers Svolos, Tsirimokos, Zevgos for the demobilization of ELAS. He had accepted a proposal of the EAM, which provided for the creation of a single body of the national army, with a single structure, command and organization, which would consist of 50% men from the 3rd Mountain Brigade, the Holy Company and the EDES and 50% ex-combatants of ELAS. At the same time, it was agreed that EDES and the gendarmerie of the Middle East would also surrender their weapons.

However, reactions were caused by everyone within the EAM (although an attempt was made to present that there was a difference of opinion within it), the government's ultimatum on December 1 for general disarmament in accordance with the recent agreement, which provided that the Third Hellenic Mountain Brigade would be excluded and the Holy Company, on the grounds that it was the only active part of the regular Greek Army that fought in North Africa and Italy. The crisis that will lead to the December conflict will focus on its preservation or dissolution, as well as that of ELAS. The military forces excluded from demobilization would also be joined by an EDES division and an ELAS brigade, so that they could take part, if necessary, in Allied operations in Crete and the Dodecanese, areas still held by German troops. What the British government wanted was "to raise a national army of 40,000 men, capable of undertaking duties of internal security, so as to enable the speediest disengagement of British forces from Greece to the other zones of operations."

The final decision on the formation of a national army stipulated that it would consist of the 3rd Mountain Brigade, the Holy Company and a section of the EDES on the one hand, and on the other hand a brigade of the ELAS, equal in strength and weight of armament to the three aforementioned formations. The agreement was supposed to be ratified on November 28, 1944, but this did not happen. Previously, on the two days of November 26-27, in three consecutive meetings chaired by Scobi, Sarafis refused to sign the order to dissolve ELAS, pending the approval of the Left's plan by the cabinet, which was unanimously carried out on November 28 . However, the next day (29/11/1944) Papandreou changed his mind and proposed a new plan to disarm the armed forces, with separate administrations and with ELAS represented at less than 50%. Now hardening its position, the KKE, at the initiative of Siandos, conveyed to the government through the mouth of Yiannis Zevgos that the dissolution of all armed formations should definitely have been completed by December 10, as it also requested the immediate referral to trials for all dosilogs, with the hearing process having ended, with the issuance of decisions, on the same predetermined day as the disarmament. Papandreou, however, rejected these demands.

December 3, 1944
The December 3 rally
The EAM leadership, which persistently requested the renegotiation of the agreement, had in the meantime set as additional terms of agreement the disarmament of the Third Greek Mountain Brigade and the Holy Company. On December 1 General Scobie with his own initiative, he issued an order to disarm the resistance groups, accompanying it with a proclamation stating that if his order was not accepted, dire consequences would follow. Realizing the impasse, Svolos met with the head of the Soviet military mission in Greece, Colonel Popov, with the intention of persuading him to take on a mediating role with the leaders of the KKE so that the latter would abandon their intransigence and thus avoid a rupture, but he refused. As a reaction, as they perceived that the situation was leading to conflict, the ministers belonging to the EAM resigned on 2 December 1944 (except General Sarigiannis who did so a few days later), while the EAM requested and received permission for a protest rally on 3 December 1944 in Syntagma Square. On the same day (December 2nd) the leadership of EAM announced the declaration of a general strike, the order to the EAM militia not to hand over weapons to the state National Guard and the reconstitution of the Central Committee of ELAS.

The demonstration
After these decisions the government, despite the initial acceptance, finally banned the rally the evening of the previous day. Members of the EAM of Athens on Sunday, December 3, defying the government ban, peacefully flooded Syntagma Square. Moreover, even during the German-Italian occupation, the EAM did not stop demonstrating. The presence of some armed EAM civil guards scattered within the crowd (as a guard group) of the rally cannot be considered proof that the latter was not unarmed.

The well-attended demonstration turned bloody when police officers opened fire on the crowd. The toll of the attack was 33 dead and more than 140 injured. Although the British commander Chris Montagu Woodhouse in his memoirs cast doubt on who opened fire first, the police, the British or the protesters, fourteen years later the Athens police chief Angelos Evert admitted in an interview to the Akropolis newspaper that he had given the signal to shoot at the demonstrators, based on orders he had received, which is confirmed by other testimonies.

On the day of the rally, according to the testimony of Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, members of the EAM tried to invade his house with a grenade, but failed due to the reaction of his guard. According to the version of the 6th ray of the KKE, the demonstrators were attacked by the men of Papandreou's guard and 5 were killed.

Proposal for a Sofoulis government
That same night (December 3, 1944), George Papandreou, trying to find a way out of the tense situation, tabled a proposal for the formation of an ecumenical government with the leader of the Liberals Themistocles Sofoulis as prime minister, with the resignation of Papandreou himself and all the ministers (EAM members and non of EAMs). While all the warring sides in Athens (including the KKE and the British ambassador Reginald Leeper) accepted Papandreou's proposal, Churchill himself refused to even discuss it, sending a telegram to Leeper with clear instructions:

"You must compel Papandreou to do his duty and assure him that, if he does, he will be supported with all our strength. If he resigns, imprison him until he recovers when the fighting is over. He might as well get sick and be unapproachable. It is past time that any group of Greek politicians could influence this mob uprising. His only hope [Papandreou] is to get out of this situation, standing unreservedly on our side".

The next day, December 4, the general strike that the EAM had announced since December 2 took place and the funeral of the victims of the previous day's rally took place. The funeral procession took place in the metropolis of Athens and then the funeral procession headed to Syntagma. At the head of the procession stood out a banner held by three young women dressed in black and which read: "When the People are faced with the danger of tyranny they choose either chains or guns. EAM".

This march was hit again with gunfire, mainly by members of the X organization and former battalion members who were staying in hotels in Omonia with several dead.

The disarmament of the 2nd ELAS regiment
The well-equipped and war-experienced 2nd regiment of ELAS (captain: lieutenant general Dimitris Dimitriou (Nikiforos), soldier: major Michalis Papazisis) at midnight on 3/12/1944 had arrived in Filothei Attica, where it met with the British troops. As there were no orders to engage British forces, and since Nikephoros was absent, the regiment surrendered on Papazisi's order, without fighting. The consequence of this event was to issue banning orders as the ultimate betrayal of surrender to British forces, by the ELAS central committee.

The initial phase of the conflict December 4-9
British soldiers in Regiment, during the Decembrians. The reception at the junction of Panepistimiou Street and Kriezotou Street. The former offices of ATEbank are located on the site of the building pictured from behind today.

The next day at dawn, in the area of ​​Thisio, the first battle took place between two battalions of ELAS and the entirety of Organization X that was based in the area. The battle lasted a few hours and ELAS overwhelmed the defense of its opponents, but the British intervened with tanks and transported the leader of Organization X, Georgios Grivas, to the British-occupied center of Athens. On the same day, ELAS forces proceeded to occupy several police stations in Piraeus and in areas around the center of Athens, such as Kypseli, Neo Kosmos, Ampelokipi, Kolonos, Patisia and elsewhere. In the afternoon of the same day, ELAS forces attacked the Variotis prison, at the beginning of Vouliagmeni Avenue, which they occupied.

The rupture
On the night of December 4th to 5th, ELAS forces attempted to take over the Syngrou prisons, where prisoners were being held. The attack was stopped after the intervention of the British who used armored vehicles. The attack on Hatzikosta prisons had a similar development, which ended with the intervention of the British. In the early hours of December 6, ELAS forces launched an attack on the gendarmerie regiment in the Makrygianni area. After a four-day hard battle, the ELAS forces were repelled after a drastic intervention by British armored personnel carriers, as a result of which they were pinned down around the camp.

According to (later) reports of ELAS fighters, the holy rock was occupied by ELAS members and after an agreement with British forces with the mediation of the Red Cross they left, so that the monument would remain unfortified. With the opposite logic, ELAS Major Yiannis Kilismanis had previously requested that an artillery embankment be erected on the holy rock, which the Athens Party Organization replied that it would be "sacrilege". The fact was that ELAS fighters had left the Acropolis and on December 6, forces of the 2nd British paratrooper brigade occupied the holy rock, where they installed machine guns and mortars, attacking ELAS positions along the entire perimeter of the rock (Makryiannis, Thisio, Filopappou, Scabies). In fact, the use of this strategic point proved to be of pivotal importance in the Battle of Makrygiannis. On the other hand, ELAS was also unable to retaliate in order not to damage the monument. Returned some fire (4 mortars) on 17/12/1944. While his two attempts to recapture the Acropolis on December 6 and 7 were fruitless. As a result of this, the Acropolis suffered significant damage. Throughout the Decembers, the ELAS Central Committee will denounce the "cowardice" of Great Britain.

The attack by ELAS forces on the barracks of Goudi where the 3rd Greek Mountain Brigade was based had a similar development. On December 9, ELAS carried out an attack on the Euelpidon school (then located in Ampelokipi), where 23 officers and 183 Euelpids were present. The siege was resolved by the intervention of the British who moved the school staff to the palaces.

On December 5, ELAS captured the General Security of Athens at the junction of Patision and Tositsa streets and took some prisoners, while most of the policemen defending the building were fled by English tanks. Also, the 4th regiment of ELAS captured the headquarters of the Supreme Gendarmerie Command of Greece on Patision Street in the Field of Areos and captured approximately 80 gendarmerie officers. On December 6, ELAS, after a two-day siege, occupied and set fire to the building on 3rd September and Derigny Street, which the Athens Special Security used during the occupation as a den of torture and executions of resistance fighters.

Generalization of the conflict - Reinforcements
Aids - Military Administration of Athens
On December 9, Winston Churchill ordered new reinforcements to be sent to Greece. Marshal Harold Alexander himself having seen the situation in Athens decided to replace General Ronald Scobie who was considered to have no combat experience as he had served in administrative positions. Alexander ordered the immediate departure from Italy of Major-General John Hawkesworth and Brigadier General Hugh Mainwaring, who were flanked by the experienced staff of the 10th Army Corps, and the Athens Military Command was established, which conducted military operations until the end of the battle, but remained in obscurity so as not to damage the prestige of General Scobie.
A soldier of the British 5th Parachute Battalion takes cover on a street in Athens

Piraeus - Faliro
The next day, the British launched an operation to recapture Piraeus. The 5th Indian Brigade was used in the operation to capture Castella Hill. His soldiers, known as Gurkhas, after a fierce battle, in which they suffered significant losses, captured Castella on 14 December.

On December 16, new British reinforcements landed in Faliro and began operations to recapture the areas of Athens that were under the control of ELAS, starting with securing control of Andreas Syngrou Avenue, which allowed them to transport soldiers from Faliro to the center of Athens. of Athens.

Handover of RAF HQ in the northern suburbs
The Royal Air Force (RAF, 124 officers, 594 pilots and ground staff) had their force headquarters in three hotels in Kifissia. On the night of December 17-18, a force of 1,000 ELAS fighters carried out a successful operation, occupying the Cecil, Apergi and Pendelikon hotels in Kifissia, where RAF personnel were staying. RAF aircraft flying very low acted against the ELAS operation. It was the only time in World War II that an RAF headquarters was surrendered to the enemy. Of the British forces, 11 were killed, 585 captured and 133 escaped.

During all these days of fighting, the British Air Force attacked, with rockets and machine guns, ELAS positions in the capital and in the suburbs, causing many civilian deaths.

Churchill in Athens
Churchill disembarking from the cruiser Ajax. In the background the coast of Attica (28/12/1944).

On the night of December 23rd to 24th, ELAS forces proceeded to implement a plan aimed at blowing up the Great Britain Hotel where the Greek government and the British staff were staying. For this purpose, a sewer that ended up next to the foundation of the building was trapped with explosives. The team was headed by Spyros Kalodikis, organizational secretary of the KOA. The explosion was temporarily postponed due to the arrival of Winston Churchill in Greece, and in the meantime the English located and deactivated the explosives. It has also been reported that it was only a pressure measure and there was no intention to blow it up in the first place, as high-ranking members of the Soviet delegation were also staying at the hotel.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Greece at noon on December 25, accompanied by Great Britain's Foreign Minister Anthony Eden. The first day he stayed in Faliro on the cruiser Ajax and the next day he went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he participated in negotiations between the government-Ronald Scobie and a delegation of EAM-ELAS.

Failure of negotiations, last battles
Proclamation of the Mountain Brigade of the EAM during December 1944

Second general attack
On the front of the battles, the British forces launched from December 27, a general attack against ELAS. ELAS forces were forced to abandon Athens on 5 January and Piraeus on 7 January, when the volume of British vehicles and the depletion of supplies and ammunition forced ELAS forces to retreat northwards. The British forces, air force and artillery, bombarded Peristeri, hitting the 13th division of ELAS. According to a report by the ELAS division, more than 4,000 bombs hit the area resulting in civilian casualties.

Battles in Metaxourgeio, Exarchia, Gerokomeio
The 5th paratrooper battalion, the 6th battalion together with the 153rd national guard battalion along with tanks were fighting in the area of ​​Metaxourgeio. The British advance was slow as they fought against the experienced ELAS 9th Regiment (Messinia). On January 3, 1945, ELAS fighters were surrounded. According to British reports, ELAS had 151 dead, while the British had 10.

In the area of ​​Exarchia, the British forces fought mainly against ELAS studying. The battles were also fought inside apartment buildings, while the last big battle took place in the area of ​​the Nursing Home.

Five days after the evacuation of Athens, on January 11, the fighting ended, after Theodoros Makridis, Athenagoras Athinellis, Yiannis Zevgos and Dimitris Partsalidis, as representatives of the K.E. of ELAS, signed a military truce with Ronald Scobie, which came into force on 1/14/1945.

December in the rest of Greece
When the conflicts within Attica became generalized (after 6/12), the G.S. of ELAS wanted to take measures against the British forces inside the rest of Greece. But the ELAS Council "outright rejected" these proposals. On 10/44 British forces moving in the area of ​​Eleusis were surrounded by ELAS forces and negotiations were held for the disarmament of the British. But by order of George Siandou, these forces were allowed to head towards Athens undisturbed. A similar incident happened with a phalanx of British vehicles that was surrounded in the area of ​​Livadeia and General Emmanuel Mantakas ordered them not to be offended saying: "Let them be lynched by the people of Athens".

ELAS, on the initiative of Markos Vafiadis, had occupied the city of Thessaloniki contrary to what was stipulated in the Caserta Agreement, while the British had proceeded with a naval blockade of the city. The P.G. of the KKE sent instructions to the Macedonian office on 12/12/1944 to organize a strike and make rallies and memos to the representatives of the Soviet Union, the USA and England.

The G.S. of ELAS with Aris Velouhiotis and Stefanos Sarafis in charge of the 1st, 8th, 9th and 10th divisions of ELAS arrived on 12/18/44 in Epirus, where they attacked EDES. Within four days they defeated EDES. Napoleon Zervas, as well as ELAS soldiers, expressed their question as to why such a volume of forces was directed against EDES on such a small front, while the British did not help EDES as they considered the conflict unimportant. Finally EDES retreated and fled to Corfu via Preveza.

Crete and islands
In Crete the conflict was limited and in fact in Rethymno it was called Genariana because the bloody conflict unfolded in January 1945.

Consequences of the conflict
KKE proclamation to the workers of various Athenian districts to fight against the Papandreou government and its British supporters.

The bourgeois political world of the time accused the leadership of the EAM and the KKE of backsliding in terms of the disarmament of the rebel groups and of a sham initial agreement, which many at the time attributed to the fact that far more allied (British) forces were expected in Greece than what ended up being they came The EAM accused its opponents of interference by foreign powers in Greek political affairs. Much of Athens was reduced to ruins and many civilians lost their lives from the fighting that took place in the streets of Athens as well as from the aerial bombardment of the British.

During the Decembers, members of the OPLA organization murdered a number of dissidents, supporters of the bourgeois regime, but also challengers to the official KKE party line, including around 50 Trotskyists/archive Marxists who characterized the Decembers as a "Stalinist coup". Executions took place in the area of ​​Ulen refineries. OPLA's victims included:

the actress Eleni Papadakis,
the rector of NTUA Ioannis Theofanopoulos,
Spyros Trikoupis,
Stelios Koryzis (brother of former Prime Minister Alexandros Koryzis),
Admiral Antonis Kriezis, grandson of the Hydra fighter Antonis Kriezis,
the journalist of the newspaper Ethnos Thomas Malavetas,
the athlete Faini Xydis.
The events of December 1944 in Athens are considered by historians to be the second phase of the Greek Civil War (the "second round" from a post-war perspective) and led to the third phase ("third round"), which ended in 1949 with ( military) defeat of the KKE. The conflict of the Decemberists, as well as cases of extreme violence, not only against dosilogs, but against supporters of the government and the bourgeois regime, increased the anti-communist temper of the opposing side and made the prospect of softening passions very difficult.

Another side of historians clearly speaks of an imperialist intervention in the affairs of an allied country, as during the war, Britain sent almost 100,000 troops to Greece to defend its geostrategic interests. It should be noted that the number of these soldiers was clearly greater than those sent to help Greece when it was attacked by Italy and almost the same as the number of Italian invaders in the period 1940-41.

The victims
Aggregated data
In the most accepted "casualty table" of the warring sides in the battles of Athens, the British forces had 210 dead, 55 permanently missing and 1100 prisoners in the hands of ELAS. The government forces had 3,480 dead (889 belonged to the gendarmerie and police and 2,540 to the military units) and many prisoners. The losses of ELAS were estimated at 2-3 thousand dead and 7-8 thousand captured, not including the left-wing citizens and followers of EAM who were captured by the British. The total losses from the 33 days of conflict amounted to 17,000 dead, i.e. more than those lost in the war of 1940-41 (15,000).

The account of the Decemberists is greater than those of the inter-resistance conflicts during the occupation, because in a month of battles and conflicts throughout Greece, the number of dead is around 7,000 people. Figures from resistance organizations confirm the numbers. Of the 75 dead of the RAN organization, 73 were killed by ELAS or OPLA in Decembriana. In the exact same period, out of the 36 dead of PEAN, 16 were killed by OPLA. Of the 147 dead of the 6th regiment of ELAS, 54% were killed during the December events and 25% in clashes with the Security Battalions.

The fate of the prisoners
The KKE, with leverage from the EAM, carried out mass arrests of citizens. The hostage-taking - as it was described - of a total of 15,000 prisoners led to a blow to the prestige of the EAM. The EAM could not support the hostages with food, while they were forced to make exhausting hikes as well as executions of hostages who arrived late or died from the hardships. Among the personalities executed by the EAM teams were university students (Ioannis Theofanopoulos rector of NTUA), athletes (Faini Xydis) and others, while the poet Andreas Empirikos managed to escape.

British forces, when occupying an area controlled by the EAM, took the people of the area as prisoners. Around 12,000 prisoners had been captured by early January 1945. Many of them were imprisoned in concentration camps within Attica, while others were sent to El-Daba, Egypt.

The victims of British bombing
It is estimated that around 500 civilians lost their lives from the British bombing in the Athens area.

Soviet silence
6/12/1944: British tanks and soldiers invade the headquarters of the EAM, on Korai Street, opposite the University of Athens.

As long as there was the danger of a separate US-British peace with defeated Germany, the Soviet troops, which by the summer of 1944 had advanced to the Greco-Bulgarian border, were not going to cross the Greco-Bulgarian border. The Yalta meeting was approaching and the Soviet Union did not want to displease the British and thus risk important interests in other areas. After the events Joseph Stalin kept a strange silence; he avoided both criticizing the British and discouraging ELAS. Regarding this attitude of Stalin, Winston Churchill observes that while the US criticized the British intervention in Greece, "Stalin remained strictly and faithfully attached to our October Agreement" October 9, 1944 and during the many weeks of the struggle against the communists in the streets of Athens not a single word of reproach came out of Pravda or Izvestia. However, recently revealed evidence shows that, before the armistice, the USSR warned the leadership of the KKE, through the Bulgarian communist leader Georgi Dimitrov, not to expect any help.

Stalin had strictly adhered to the quota agreement, and during the six weeks of fighting against ELAS in Athens, Izvestia and Pravda did not mention the event. But in the two Balkan countries of the Black Sea (Bulgaria, Romania), it followed the opposite course. But if they pressed him, he might have said: "I don't interfere in what you do in Greece. So why don't you let me act freely in Romania?"

In April 1945, Churchill, in his letter to Stalin, acknowledges the "consideration" shown by the latter for Britain's military intervention against EAM-ELAS. He adds that he does not care whether Greece becomes a kingdom or a republic, but that he hopes for fair and free elections to be held in the coming months, and that he intends to invite representatives of the Soviet Union and the United States as observers.

The British intervention
The British, on the other hand, after their initial surprise, appeared determined to the utmost. Winston Churchill had strengthened his position with the Anglo-Soviet Moscow agreement of October 9, 1944, which concerned the Balkans, and included the immediate withdrawal, by the end of October, of Bulgarian troops from the regions of Macedonia and Thrace, while the KKE counterbalanced , asked the Bulgarian Communist Party to send a large quantity of arms and ammunition, only to receive a negative response on the 21st of the same month. The reason was the risks of international complications but also the lack of weapons itself. Churchill ordered the suppression of the rebellion and in his message to General Ronald Scobie he said verbatim: "Do not hesitate to act as if you were in a conquered city where a local insurrection has broken out." At the same time he telegraphed the British ambassador in Athens, Sir Reginald Leeper, that he and George Papandreou were to follow Scobie's orders on all matters of public order and security. Still, in his memoirs, he notes in this regard: "There is no point in doing such things in half measures." Seeking to gain the support of American President Franklin Roosevelt for his intervention in Greece, Churchill did not hesitate to deliberately lie in his message to him, citing losses of allegedly 40,000 British soldiers in the attempt to defend Greece when it was attacked by his forces. Axis during the period 1940-41.

Churchill's marriage
On 18/1/1945 the British Prime Minister spoke before the House of Commons and explained his policy regarding the situation in Greece and the Decembrians in Athens. Winston Churchill defended his policy and proceeded to criticize ELAS.

"We went to Greece with the intention of helping the Greek Government, which was facing the confusion that the terror of the Germans had caused in the country. We had supplied these men with weapons in considerable quantity, with the hope that they would fight against the Germans. They weren't going to attack the Germans, but for the most part they simply took these weapons and lay down, waiting for the moment to seize control and make Greece a communist state with the complete elimination of all opponents. The armed ELAS during the last two years played a very small role in the fight against the Germans. I cannot help his role, as he will pay tribute to the heroic French Mackies and the Belgians."

Reactions within Britain
The intervention of the British in the internal affairs of Greece and in general in liberated Europe, contrary to what was foreseen regarding respecting the wishes of the peoples in the Atlantic Charter it caused a stormy session of the English Parliament on 8 December when Labor MP Seymour Cox went so far as to parallel Winston Churchill's actions of imposing governments of his choice with those of Adolf Hitler appointing Gauleiter to the occupied Axis countries.

The preparation of the opposing sides
Forces and preparation of K.E. of ELAS
By his personal order, Giorgis Siantos, as secretary of the KKE, and without forming any collective body of the KKE or the EAM, reconstituted the central committee of ELAS while at the same time forbidding any involvement of the general headquarters of ELAS. In the central committee of ELAS, non-party officials were placed (in an effort to avoid conflicts) headed by Siado himself and the officers Emmanuel Mandaka and Michalis Hatzimichalis. Konstantinos Langouranis, former deputy commander of the 5/42nd regiment, while passing through Athens, was appointed chief of staff of the central committee. In fact, his participation in this critical position caused reactions, because his brother served in the American mission in Greece.

The First Army Corps had on paper a recorded strength of close to 20,000 men and women, but had only 6,000 guns with very little ammunition. Central Greece units, the 2nd and 13th Divisions had about 5,000 men near Athens (the 2nd regiment was disarmed before the conflict). During the fighting, units from the Peloponnese, Sterea and Thessaly, the cavalry brigade and the 54th regiment arrived in Athens; a total of 6,000 to 7,000 armed men. The total forces of ELAS consisted of the 1st army corps, the 2nd division, the 52nd infantry regiment, the 8th brigade, the national militia, etc. units.

The political office of the KKE
At a meeting on 7/12 of members of the politburo and the central committee of the KKE, Giorgis Siantos became the recipient of criticism from Yiannis Ioannidis - with which the other members agreed - that he was swayed by the moods of the angry crowd and involved ELAS in the conflict with the British forces leading to the split of the EAM front.

The general headquarters of ELAS
The staff officer of ELAS, Theodoros Makridis, had predicted in time that it was "a very possible British armed intervention" and had called on the leadership of the KKE to take measures for confrontation with the British. On the contrary, the KKE cut off the general headquarters of ELAS, whose members were the supporters of the conflict, Stefanos Sarafis and Aris Velouhiotis.

British services regularly informed Commander-in-Chief Ronald Scobie of Velouchiotis' movements throughout the Decembers. When the latter approached Thebes on 5/1/1945, the CS of ELAS and the PG of the KKE forbade him from further involvement. Scobie on 2/12/1944 asked the Special Missions Operations to investigate the possibility of characterizing Velouchiotis as a "war criminal".

British and Government forces
As early as 1943, the British side was oriented towards sending troops after the liberation so that the interests of the empire in Greece would not be harmed. In a note to Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill wrote on August 6, 1944: "Either we will support Papandreou, if necessary by force as we have agreed, or we will cease to have any aspirations in Greece." After all, in letters to Churchill on August 21, 1944, the Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou, explained that "it was necessary to create a National Army and Police, and to achieve this goal, British armed assistance would be necessary."

At Athens and Piraeus, the British forces consisted of a deficient armored brigade, the 23rd with a company of 35-ton Sherman tanks. At the same time, a large part of the brigade's units were scattered in the Peloponnese and Central Greece. There were also the reduced 2nd Parachute Brigade preparing to go to Italy (two parachute battalions of two companies each, against the intended composition of three companies per battalion) as well as two battalions of the 139th Brigade of the 46th Infantry Division which arrived by air on 3 December for to replace the paratroopers who were about to depart. In all, the British had 5,000 men. There were also a number of auxiliary units with their personnel, nearly 10,000 people. In the period until December 10, the 23rd Armored Brigade gathered in Athens all its scattered units in Southern Greece, the 2nd Parachute Brigade was ordered to remain in Athens and was reinforced with one more battalion, the 139th Brigade was supplemented in strength, while at the same time it landed in Piraeus the 5th Brigade of the 4th Indian Division. Decisive for the development of the operations was the reinforcement of the British forces from
Dmitri Kessel, born Dmitri Kesselman (August 20, 1902, Kiev - March 26, 1995, Southampton, New York) was a Ukrainian-American journalist and photojournalist for Life magazine. He is known for the war photographs he took on the front line and during the liberation of Europe at the end of the Second World War, but also from war conflicts in the Congo. It was also found in Greece during the Decembrian period, capturing important moments of modern Greek history.