The Church of Greece under Axis Occupation

The Church of Greece under Axis Occupation

Panteleymon Anastasakis

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780823261994

Publisher: Fordham University Press


This book examines the response of the Church of Greece to enemy occupation during World War II. Historically the Greek people looked to the church to help them preserve faith and culture and expected the leader of the church to serve as an ethnarch. In some instances, church policy played an important role in the very physical survival of the Greek nation. During the Axis occupation, the Greek church, under the leadership of Archbishop Damaskinos, intervened to mitigate the harshest of Axis policies, although these interventions had limitedeffects and required distasteful compromises.Drawing upon contemporary official sources as well as pertinent published primary and secondary literature, the book explores attempts by the church leadership to maintain a precarious balance between capitalizing on opportunistic moments to gain concessions from the enemy occupiers and opposing policies deemed detrimental to the wellbeing of state and society. Church leadership also utilized more imaginative forms of passive resistance against Axis policies on vital issues such as the Holocaust and ethnic policies in the Bulgarian-occupied territories of the country. Other clerics (Ioakeim of Kozane, Germanos Demakos) chose the path of active resistance and joined the National Liberation Front (EAM). Despite significant differences between the Greek case and those of other territories in Axis-occupied Europe, the response of the Greek church is instructive in understanding the conditions under which collaboration and resistance occur as well as the challenges of drawing clear-cut distinctions between the two.