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The Church of Greece under Axis Occupation$

Panteleymon Anastasakis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823261994

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823261994.001.0001

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In the Spirit of Papaflessas

In the Spirit of Papaflessas

The Relationship Between EAM and the Clergy During the Axis Occupation (1941–1944)

Chapter:
(p.188) 8 In the Spirit of Papaflessas
Source:
The Church of Greece under Axis Occupation
Author(s):

Panteleymon Anastasakis

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823261994.003.0009

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter discusses the complex relationship between the clergy and the communist-led resistance movement, the National Liberation Front (EAM). Specific attention is placed on the movement’s efforts to recruit the clergy and the clergymen’s response to these overtures. A few hierarchs (Metropolitan Ioakeim of Kozane, Antonios of Eleia, Ioakeim of Chios) and many members of the lower clergy (Germanos Demakos) joined EAM. Most served in its relief organization, National Solidarity (EA). In addition, the ecclesiastical leadership in the movement organized the Panclerical Union in an effort to improve the social and economic status of the lower clergy, especially those residing in the countryside. Despite EAM’s substantial success in recruiting thousands of clerics, many others (Spyridon of Ioaninna, Ioakeim of Demetria) remained either deeply suspicious of, or even hostile to, the movement. EAM attempted to neutralize this opposition through propaganda, public and private warnings, and, in many cases, violence.

Keywords:   Antonios of Eleia, communist, Germanos Demakos, Ioakeim of Chios, Ioakeim of Demetria, Ioakeim of Kozane, National Liberation Front (EAM), National Solidarity (EA), Resistance, Spyridon of Ioaninna

Members of the clergy played a significant role in shaping the Greek War of Independence (1821–30), especially in its early years. Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras and Father Papaflessas, for instance, became synonymous with the revolution because of the active roles they played. For this reason, many members of the lower clergy who participated in the resistance assumed the pseudonym Papaflessas, and the leadership of the resistance movement, the National Liberation Front (Ethniko Apeleutheretiko Metopo—EAM) and its military wing, the Greek People’s Liberation Army (Ellenikos Laikos Apeleutheretikos Stratos—ELAS), included the names of these figures in their overtures to the clergy during the war. This strategy of utilizing the myths of the revolution, as part of a larger propaganda effort to win the support of the clergy, proved relatively effective. Many clergymen saw this organization, as did much of Greek society, as the only one actively struggling to liberate the country. In addition, the movement encouraged clergymen within its ranks to organize in order to improve their economic position. Because of the movement’s efforts, a cordial working relationship developed between EAM and a large segment of the clergy, which lasted until very late in the occupation. The growing tension between EAM and the organization’s domestic and foreign opponents, however, later led to civil war. In this atmosphere the latent anticlericalism that existed within the movement’s leadership, coupled with the growing opposition of the upper clergy to EAM at the end of the war, led to increasing tensions between the movement and the official church. During much of the occupation, however, a few clerics held powerful positions within the resistance movement, which was a testament to the enthusiasm expressed by many of its cleric members and the astute political strategy of the movement’s leadership. Attacks against cleric opponents, both through their propaganda organs and, in some cases, with violence demonstrated that while EAM refrained from any type of general frontal assault against traditional institutions, it targeted individual members of such institutions deemed a threat to their short-term and long-term goals.

(p.189) This chapter explores the development of this relationship by analyzing EAM’s efforts to win the support of the church and the response of the clergy to these overtures. I argue that the sympathy or neutrality of much of the church leadership toward the movement, coupled with the organization’s efforts, established a strong working relationship between EAM and many within the ranks of the church during the occupation. Moreover, precisely because many members of the clergy were able to see a convergence between their roles as religious leaders and the role EAM’s leadership envisioned for them in the organization’s welfare branch, National Solidarity (Ethnike Allelengye—EA), clerics established a strong presence in the resistance movement. Finally, it is important to note the complexity of this relationship, especially by recognizing that a number of clergymen who sympathized with or joined the resistance continued to maintain a working relationship with the Axis authorities in their effort to prevent unnecessary bloodshed.

Despite gaining considerable support from the clergy, a vocal minority within the hierarchy and some members of the lower clergy opposed the movement and spoke out against it both during and after the occupation. EAM responded to this opposition in numerous ways: it used its press to combat anti-EAM rhetoric and policies; undermined, according to some clerics, the position of their cleric enemies by attacking organizations and individuals affiliated with these churchmen; and, in some cases, resorted to violence. According to some sources, EAM murdered at least one hundred clerics of the middle and lower ranks during the occupation and early period after liberation, predominately for their refusal to join their movement and, in many cases, their open opposition to its efforts. This decision to use violence, however, should not overshadow the fact that EAM genuinely envisioned a place for the clergy both during its struggle during the occupation and in its postwar plans. It must be remembered that EAM’s enemies also used brutal methods against EAM cleric members, some-times even resorting to murder. In short, the movement found a place for clerics determined to play a part in the struggle against the Axis, and it allowed them to do so in way that coincided with their religious and moral beliefs. For opponents, however, the choices were limited. Many who chose to risk their lives by speaking out against the movement and its policies paid the ultimate price. The complex relationship between EAM and the clergy tells us much about the movement’s effectiveness at recruiting members, the polarization the occupation years caused in Greek society, and the consequences of members of that society for choosing sides in the struggle waged by EAM and its opponents to win the hearts and minds of the nation.

(p.190) Postwar events, especially the civil war and the conservative anticommunist politicians that dominated Greek affairs, shaped much of the literature on this controversial relationship. Early accounts depicted EAM as a communist movement determined to establish a Soviet-style regime in Greece, which would perpetuate the type of anticlerical policies pursued in the Soviet Union during the interwar period. To bolster this claim, early chroniclers of the church during the period provide long lists of clerics executed by EAM and the left during the Axis occupation and Greek Civil War, but the information provided regarding the individual victims is extremely limited and, in many cases, quite biased.1 After the collapse of the junta in 1974, memoirs of EAM members and a series of uncritical popular accounts of the movement emerged to counterbalance much of the conservative literature on the topic. Although equally biased, they provide an alternative perspective on the events of the period.2 The Church of Greece commissioned a multi-authored official history of the church during the period, published in 2000.3 At the same time, more balanced scholarly literature about the resistance in particular and the Axis occupation in general began to paint a more complex view of EAM and helped contextualize the movement’s activities during and after the period of Axis rule. This scholarship broadened our understanding of why a movement led by the Greek Communist Party gained the support of hundreds of thousands of Greeks. One factor they point to is the movement’s strategy of using nationalistic rhetoric and symbols, and its willingness to recruit people regardless of their political affiliation or prior loyalties. The general nature of their studies meant that they only briefly mention these efforts and do not provide a detailed discussion of the strategy’s effectiveness.4 This chapter hopes to build on their work in order to paint a more detailed picture of the relationship.

EAM’s successful courting of many Greek priests also represents arguably the most effective effort among communist-led resistance movements in Hitler’s Europe to win the hearts and minds of clerics. Why was that? What does the Greek case tell us about the impact war, occupation policy, and the rise of resistance movements had on traditional pillars of society such as national churches? Most important, why did EAM succeed in courting a substantial portion of the clergy while communist-led movements in other parts of Hitler’s Europe failed to record a similar level of success? By answering these questions this chapter also hopes to contribute to the literature on the relationship between organized religion and communist resistance movements during World War II.

(p.191) EAM succeeded due largely to circumstances. For instance, it was able to rally a substantial number of clergymen to its cause because it drew on a common historical tradition that most Greeks, regardless of socioeconomic background, could support. EAM propaganda referred to the movement as a second Society of Friends—a movement that all Greeks associated with the Greek War of Independence from Ottoman rule. EAM utilized this nationalist/patriotic strategy from the outset, which spread quickly via their propaganda organs, speeches, and word of mouth. Partisans in Yugoslavia, for instance, had no such common historical tradition they could use to rally the ethnically and religiously divided population, including members of the clergy of the various churches in the country.5 Related to a common historical identity is the relative ethnic homogeneity of Greece versus other countries under Axis rule during the period. This homogeneity made it easier for EAM to rally support to their cause, as the Nazis and their allies could not capitalize on ethnic or religious divisions to the same extent they could in other countries. And even efforts to associate EAM with Judaism, for instance, had little resonance with many Greek Christians.

The power vacuum left by the flight of the Greek government and the refusal of any popular political figure to serve as a puppet prime minister under the Axis authorities also helped pave the way for EAM success. This development prevented the church from rallying around a popular conservative political figure who could guide them through the uncertainty of enemy occupation. In France, in contrast, the hierarchy of both the Catholic and the Protestant churches coalesced around the legitimate government of the conservative politician and war hero Henri Philippe Pétain.6 Even when no strong political figure emerged, prominent noncommunist resistance movements filled the power vacuum left by the exiled government, sometimes with the consent and support of exiled governments, as was the case in Poland. The Greek government-in-exile, however, failed to organize a clandestine movement to act on its behalf. Moreover, no serious domestic alternative emerged that could challenge the growing power of EAM. The field, therefore, was open for an organization such as EAM to establish itself as the leading resistance movement in the country, and in the eyes of many Greeks, as the mouthpiece for the country.

Finally, although like in most interwar European states, successive Greek governments hounded the Communist Party and demonized it in the press, these efforts failed to establish deep roots among a largely agrarian population whose only exposure to communism was through the press. (p.192) This lack of personal contact with communism helps explain why EAM dispelled quite successfully many myths propagated during the interwar period about the party by omitting references to socialist doctrine it knew would be met with either indifference or hostility, such as a critique of religion or private property. As a result, many Greeks viewed it as a nationwide movement that sought the liberation of the country rather than simply a communist front aimed at seizing power upon the departure of Axis military forces. Clerics believed, therefore, that they were joining a movement that sought similar goals. The fact that most clerics rejected any postwar efforts to label them communists due to their involvement with the movement testifies to EAM’s success in convincing its noncommunist followers that they had a place in the organization. The situation in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia differed considerably, where the Partisan movements highlighted the prominent role played by their respective communist parties and were unable to gain the support of many clergymen as a result.7

An examination of both contemporary source material and postwar accounts by members of EAM and clergymen will constitute the source base for much of this chapter. Much of the contemporary source material, primarily in the form of KKE (Kommounistiko Komma Ellados—Communist Party of Greece) and EAM newspapers and reports by church leaders and foreign agents in Greece, despite their inherent ideological and personal biases, help us understand both the strategy of EAM to court the Greek clergy and the response of the nation’s clerics to these overtures. Concerning EAM newspaper accounts, all the material must be seen as propaganda and little else. Even when reporting on atrocities committed by their enemies, EAM exaggerated or produced false stories in their effort to combat enemy propaganda about the movement, a tactic utilized by the Germans and the collaborationist newspapers. EAM, for instance, reported on the execution of a cleric supporter by Nazis and Greek collaborators, the metropolitan of Chalkes, though the story was false. The cleric was forced to flee to Athens. Critics of EAM also used exaggeration and prevarication in their “observations” about the movement and its activities. No account demonstrates this more than the report by Metropolitan Spyridon of Ioannina. The report by Metropolitan Spyridon of Ioannina—a vocal opponent of EAM and later leader of the anticommunist push within the Church of Greece after the war, first as temporary president of the synod and later, after 1949, as archbishop—described EAM as a movement that caused unnecessary destruction and sought little more than a Bolshevik-style revolution in Greece. In addition to these Greek sources, we have a few (p.193) British and American reports written by agents stationed in Greece during the period.

Postwar accounts by clerics and former members of EAM leadership contain many of the same biases as contemporary sources, though they offer, possibly due to the benefit of distance from the events, a more balanced view of the movement. The postwar accounts of Metropolitan Eirenaios of Samos and Archimandrite Germanos Demakos paint a sympathetic image of EAM during the war, though both express deep concerns about its relationship with the institution of the church and the clergy in particular.8 Meanwhile, in a vein similar to that of Spyridon, Metropolitan Ioakeim of Demetrias paints a far less sympathetic image of the movement and its activities during the war, characterizing the organization as one that used nationalistic rhetoric as a veneer to conceal their true motives: pillage and power.9 Finally, the Holy Synod requested information about clerics who lost their lives at the hands of occupation forces or EAM. A few of the reports sent from numerous ecclesiastical sees survived and can be found in the archives of the Holy Synod.10 Despite the noted biases of these accounts, they represent the most detailed records of the movement’s methods, motives, and how its activities resonated among the nation’s clergy. Combined with the excellent scholarship on EAM and its many branch organizations, a more complete picture of the relationship between the clergy and EAM will emerge.

The response of the church hierarchy to Axis policies and EAM tell us much about their motivations and their attitudes toward national resistance. Some members of the church hierarchy, including Archbishop Damaskinos and Metropolitan Gennadios of Thessaloniki, opposed Axis policies without joining any resistance movement. They instead utilized legitimate forms of resistance such as formal complaints to the occupation authorities. They also undermined policies through subversion, such as providing temporary shelter and false documents to those targeted by the occupation authorities. Damaskinos and other like-minded clergy refused to join organized resistance movements because they deemed such a strategy as dangerous and counterproductive. Clerics that pursued this path felt they could accomplish more by maintaining a close working relationship with the occupation authorities, and using forms of passive resistance to express their opposition to individual policies they deemed detrimental to their overall goals. In contrast, Metropolitans Ioakeim of Kozane and Antonios of Ilia, and many members of the middle and lower ranks joined EAM/ELAS or other movements out of both patriotism and necessity. For instance, both metropolitans of Ilia and Kozane fled to the (p.194) mountains after Axis forces pursued them for their “subversive” activities. The same was true for the abbot of the Agathanos Monastery, Archimandrite Germanos Demakos, one of the most recognized members of the lower clergy to join EAM/ELAS. Despite later joining the movement, both Germanos and Antonios negotiated with the Axis authorities for the release of members of their flock before deciding to flee to the mountains and join the resistance.11 In addition, a majority of the clergy who decided to join the movement, for canonical reasons, joined the relief wing of the movement, EA, rather than the military wing, ELAS.12 As devout Christians and ecclesiastical leaders they remained staunch in their faith and unmoved by communist rhetoric incorporated in the patriotic songs and other propaganda of the movement. Myths of 1821 and the role of clerics such as Germanos of Old Patras and Papaflessas also inspired some of these men. In addition to the small faction within the hierarchy that joined the movement, a few others sympathized with the movement, offered it assistance, but declined to join for political and ideological reasons. Metropolitan Eirenaios of Samos counted among the most recognized sympathizers of the movement. He received much praise by a number of chroniclers of the resistance in general and of the branch in Samos in particular.13 The relationship between the metropolitan and the resistance was so amicable that it allowed them to work together on a governing committee when the Italians capitulated to the British in September 1943.14 In addition to providing relief to the population, a number of active clerics used the opportunity to improve the lot of the impoverished parish clergy; this effort resulted in the creation of the Panklerike Enose (Panclerical Union).

Resistance movements, especially EAM, hoping to benefit from the influence of the clergy used the popular accounts of the revolution of 1821, both to identify their movement as a second Society of Friends and to recruit the clergy by referencing the myths of Papaflessas and Germanos in their propaganda literature and speeches. The leadership understood that if they could win the support of local parish priests they could, through them, win over their flocks. In addition to using the myths of the revolution, EAM/ELAS attempted to blunt the anticommunist German propaganda by publishing in the resistance press acts of sacrilege against the church and the persecution of members of the clergy by the Axis and their Greek allies. Despite EAM’s determination to co-opt the clergy into their movement, the leaders did not refrain from speaking out against clerics that openly collaborated with the Axis or spoke out against the movement, and in some cases resorted to violence against middle- and lower-ranked (p.195) cleric opponents. EAM also capitalized on cleric members championing the movement and speaking on its behalf. This union between EAM and a segment of the clergy seemed to offer considerable hope for the improvement of the status of the parish priests while also strengthening the legitimacy of the movement in the eyes of the population. However, there were anticlerical elements within EAM that led to the tempering of the initial enthusiastic support offered to the church, in the eyes of many clerics. Also, communist propaganda and certain policies made many parish priests otherwise sympathetic to the movement question the intentions of the organization toward the church after the war. While the number of clerics who joined or collaborated with the movement was impressive considering the dominant role played by the KKE in its leadership, it is important to note that EAM rhetoric and methods did not sway large segments of the clergy, especially within the powerful hierarchy. A number of these opponents expressed these views publicly. For instance, Spyridon of Ioannina spoke out openly against the movement during the war, while other more politically astute opponents such as Archbishop Damaskinos refrained from making any anti-EAM statements during the occupation, focusing their criticism of its motives to pleas against sabotage. Other cleric opponents expressed their opposition to the movement and its wartime activities in their postwar memoirs, fearing that criticizing the movement during the occupation may have led to physical harm or worse for themselves or those close to them. Conditions and the active role EAM played in building an image of a movement actively seeking the liberation of the country appealed to many Greeks, many who chose to ignore the movement’s flaws.

In short, inspired by the myths of the revolution, the atrocities of the Axis, and patriotism, a small faction in the hierarchy and many in the ecclesiastical leadership’s lower ranks joined EAM’s struggle against the Axis. EAM, for its part, understood the value of the support of the church and utilized a number of propaganda techniques to win over the clergy and encouraged its more enthusiastic members to organize their brethren in an effort to gain the support of a majority of the population. While the establishment of the Panclerical Union and the general respect and enthusiasm for the institution reflected the political pragmatism of the organization’s leadership, the polarization of the population after the outbreak of the civil war, the strong anticlerical sentiments within the movement, and the continued concern and growing disillusionment among many within the clergy toward the movement limited its appeal after the war.

Axis brutality, pillaging and general indifference on the one hand, and careful organizing, clever use of propaganda, and burgeoning patriotism (p.196) on the other hand, led to the growth of resistance to the Axis in Greece. In the first year and a half of the occupation (April 1941–September 1942), much of the opposition took the form of individual acts of sabotage and other minor acts against the armies of occupation.15 Among the most recognized acts of this type included the removal of the swastika from the top of the Acropolis in late May 1941, support in the form of applause when British and Dominion troops passed in trucks on their way to Axis prisoner of war camps, and the refusal of Archbishop Chrysanthos to swear in the first occupation government of Georgios Tsolakoglou. In addition to these symbolic acts, sporadic acts of sabotage against Axis forces and the harboring of Allied soldiers represented the type of opposition the Germans and their allies faced in Greece during the first year and a half of the occupation. The case of Crete represents an important exception to this rule. German brutality, after all, was seen firsthand by the population during the summer of 1941 when the German army pursued its reprisal campaign against the Cretan population because of the large number of deaths it suffered during the Battle of Crete.16 As a result, a number of resistance movements developed in the final days of the battle in late May 1941. Crete also is an exceptional case because unlike much of the rest of Greece, the communist-led EAM did not dominate the resistance against the Axis on the island.17

Despite the lack of an organized resistance movement in the first months of the occupation in much of Greece, the Greek Communist Party, along with a number of fellow travelers joined to establish National Solidarity, a relief organization that was eventually incorporated into the general movement, the National Liberation Front, in September 1941. The following year a military wing, the Greek People’s Liberation Army, emerged.18 By 1943, EAM/ELAS became the most significant resistance movement in Greece. Its activities, initially a mere annoyance to the occupation authorities, became more troubling by the end of the year, largely due to the growth of the movement and the inability of the German army, especially after Italy’s surrender in September 1943 and reverses on all fronts, to field enough troops to maintain a presence in the Greek countryside.

Well aware of the growing influence of the church in light of the inactivity of traditional political elites, the movement’s leaders understood that the population viewed the church as a viable alternative to fill the political void that emerged. Therefore, EAM hoped to gain the support, either tacitly or openly, of the upper clergy, which the organization knew could play an important role in the expansion of the movement. They also understood (p.197) that the support of the church could help dispel much of the deep suspicion associated with the movement in the country. Despite gaining the support of a recognizable minority,19 much of the upper clergy remained neutral, at least publicly, toward EAM/ELAS.20 Many members of the nation’s lower clergy, however, flocked to the organization. According to some accounts, several thousand joined the cause, which testifies to the effectiveness of the organization’s recruitment effort. Although the harsh treatment of the population by the Axis and the burgeoning patriotism that swept through most of the country influenced the response of the clergy, the movement’s strategy toward the church deserves special attention, as it demonstrated that traditional values and local circumstances demanded that EAM, in its quest for legitimacy among the population, court the church. Moreover, EAM strategy proved to the clergy that it envisioned a place for the church in the movement both during the occupation and in a communist-led postwar Greece. In addition, only with the support of the church could the movement begin to dispel much of the suspicion with which a majority of the predominately agrarian population viewed the movement.21

To strengthen this courtship with men of the cloth, EAM also encouraged the more zealous cleric members to organize the clergy both to improve their economic status, which was deplorable, and to make it a more effective part of the movement. This effort led to the establishment of the Panclerical Union.22 By encouraging the establishment of the organization, the movement took an important step both to assuage fears many clerics had of the future intentions of the organization and to succeed in its propaganda war against the Germans and their Greek allies.

EAM knew quite well the dire condition of the parish priest in Greece and sought to take advantage of the situation. The state of the urban lower clergy received special attention from a close friend of Damaskinos. In his report about Damaskinos to Prime Minister Emmanouil Tsouderos in January 1944 he made the following statement about the state of the lower clergy: “The ordinary clergy is starving. Beneath their well-darned and well-patched cassocks, priests wear rags.” The report’s author places part of the blame on Damaskinos, who the author believed was spreading himself too thin: “This is because he is quite absorbed in other things and has left everything to his advisers.” Many, including the author, pointed to the financial crisis facing the population as a major reason for the destitute condition of the parish priests. Their impoverished state and lack of education left them at the mercy of their parishioners: “Priests cannot sink to the black market as many professors have [who] manage to live by … converting their (p.198) chemistry shops into sweet shops and their dispensaries into clothes shops. In all [this] activity the parish priests remained a spectator.” Even compared to the state of manual laborers their status was deeply troubling: “Conspicuous in his misery, he has earned 10 drachmas while others have earned 10,000. When the lowest porters in Athens get astronomical sums for ‘trivial’ moves, the priest still only gets his 100 drachmas.”23 In short, the clerics were among the most vulnerable members of Greek society, but their position and limited education restricted their ability to cope with the difficult circumstances of the occupation. The Greek government, which did not provide sufficient support to the lower clergy even in times of peace, could do little to relieve their plight during the difficult period of the occupation.

The state of parish priests in the countryside was only slightly better. Archimandrite Germanos Demakos, a cleric member of EAM, commented on the issue of the “parish obligation”: “The clergy found themselves in a difficult situation from every side. They lived on a little wheat and corn which they received from their parishioners, as the ‘parish obligation,’ because the state did not pay them as they do today.” As times became more difficult, the parishioners were less willing to fulfill this obligation. Germanos captured the general state of affairs for the parish clergy in the following hypothetical exchange between a parishioner and a parish priest: “When a priest complains to a parishioner about not receiving his parish obligation, the response is: ‘And you, my priest, don’t need to bury me when I die.’”24

A number of clergymen became deeply concerned about this matter. Under the leadership of Father Demetrios Cholevas, a group of clerics met on June 23, 1943, in Spercheiada, Fthiotis (Central Greece) to discuss ways to organize the church for the struggle and to improve the life of the parish priests.25 They made three decisions: (a) to demand that the clergy should be paid in kind; (b) to participate in the national liberation struggle through the EA; (c) to organize a Panclerical Union.26 The first meeting of the Panclerical Union would take place two months later in August 1943.

Germanos Demakos, an active member of the newly created organization, wanted his superiors to allow him to recruit clerics from the surrounding area to attend the August meeting. In July 1943, Germanos brought up the idea of organizing the clergy in the surrounding area in preparation for the meeting during a conversation with Aris, one of the leading figures of ELAS, about the clergy’s attitude toward the resistance. In response to a question posed by Aris about the attitude of the clergy toward the movement, Germanos responded by stating, “The priests, all of the parish priests, (p.199) love you and support the struggle, but they have many problems, and are unenlightened. The bishops, moreover, abandoned their metropolises and the priests have been left completely leaderless.” Due to this state of affairs, Germanos informed Aris that the clergy needed to be enlightened and organized. The ELAS captain responded by saying that Ioakeim of Kozane would help resolve the problem when he arrived. Moreover, when Aris asked how he could assist, Germanos then asked for and received permission to travel in the countryside of Fthiotis and Domokos to preach about the liberation struggle and to organize a clerical conference.27 After the arrival of Ioakeim, the men left for the mission. In the initial stages they promoted the movement and spoke to the parish priests about the possibility of organizing. Aris’s active support symbolized the prudent course taken by astute leaders within EAM/ELAS, who understood that this small token of encouragement helped reinforce the propaganda campaign by EAM toward the clergy during the occupation.

The culmination of this effort came in August 1943 in Karpenesi, Eurytania, in Central Greece. During the meeting the group of congregated clergy discussed two issues: (1) the clergy’s role in the national resistance and its various organizations; (2) alleviation of the poor conditions of the clergy and their families, most of which had many children.28 In addition, they wrote a charter for the organization. A group of clergymen, who represented Eurytania and Fthiotis, decided that similar conferences should take place in other parts of liberated Greece. In the first half of 1944, meetings took place in Western Macedonia, Trikala, and Thessaly, among other places. On June 20–21, 1944, the Panclerical Union of Greece congregated its second national meeting in Karpenesi, Evrytania; indeed, this was the first genuinely nationwide meeting. Clergy from Thessaly, Sterea Greece, Epirus, Macedonia, Peloponnesus, and the island of Lefkas attended. At this meeting the group decided that regional ecclesiastical groups should be formed in all parts of “Free Greece.” For this reason, they approved the charter for a second time. A few days after this national conference they elected a Legislative Committee, headed by its general secretary, Father Demetrios Cholevas, and published an encyclical to be distributed to the regional committee of Free Greece about the decisions made by the Panclerical Union at the second national meeting.29 Despite the organization’s ambitions, liberation and the civil conflict that erupted soon after brought an end to its work. Its final act was the publication of an encyclical in October 1944.30

EAM’s encouragement of the establishment of the Panclerical Union served an important purpose. It demonstrated to the clergy that the (p.200) organization welcomed the church as an integral institution in its struggle against the Axis and that it sought to improve the lot of the lower clergy. In addition to the Panclerical Union, EAM wanted to express, by the election of two prominent clerics to its sponsored Political Committee of National Liberation (Politike Epitrope Ethnikes Apeleutheroses—PEEA), that there was a place for the church in the organization’s future plans for the nation. The disbanding of the PEEA in June 1944 with the Lebanon Agreement, however, ended the church’s involvement in the political affairs of the movement.31

EAM also confirmed the legal status of the Church of Greece in the body of laws, known as the Codex of Self-Rule and Popular Justice, used to govern Free Greece, the territory under EAM control. Under this code of laws, the ecclesiastical charter continued to govern the administration and organization of the law, with few exceptions.32 Members of the clergy played a crucial role in the local communities as members of the Ecclesiastical Committee. These committees consisted of four members, two permanent and two alternate or nonvoting. The community elected the first two. The Demotiko Symvoulio (Municipal Council) and the clergy of the community elected the other two members (a public adviser and a priest). This committee “dealt with all questions related to the churches, the clergy, the chanters, and the other matters that involve church authority.”33 Thus EAM/ELAS realized that the church needed a legal standing within the new governing system because of its significance in Greek society. This, no doubt, would have also provided a framework for the status of the church within an EAM-controlled Greece if the organization were to take power at the end of the war. It is also important to note that the individuals drafting the laws respected canon law and the existing administrative and legal standing of the church in Greek society before the occupation.

Among the more fascinating aspects of EAM’s strategy toward the church was the use of the organization’s newspapers both to court members of the church and to combat anti-EAM-themed Axis propaganda against the organization. To recruit clerics, EAM newspapers published numerous articles about the church’s involvement in the nation’s historical struggles, especially its participation in the Greek War of Independence. The movement pursued this strategy because it wanted churchmen to overcome their well-established perception of Greek communism’s anticlericalism; EAM could then utilize the respected position of the church in society to influence their flocks to join or support the movement. Toward this goal, EAM wanted the church to view the movement as a national endeavor that welcomed all individuals who shared the same goal: to liberate, (p.201) the country from foreign rule. Specifically, it wanted the church to view the organization as a new Society of Friends. To demonstrate both to the population in general and the clergy in particular that the organization sought and championed the involvement of the church, newspapers published numerous articles about the activities of cleric members such as the metropolitan of Kozane, Ioakeim Apostolides. Well aware of the existence of anticommunist Axis propaganda and critics within the hierarchy, the leadership devised a strategy that both refuted Axis propaganda and challenged the criticisms of the vocal minority within the hierarchy by attacking their character. To discredit Axis propaganda, the newspapers focused on the activity of the Axis and their Greek allies. Specifically, the orgation reported on the numerous accounts of Axis assaults on religious leaders and buildings.34 To blunt the criticism of cleric critics, the organization condemned them as traitors and individuals who were either unworthy of their position or had strayed from their apostolic mission. A series of articles critical of the metropolitan of Ioannina, Spyridon Vlachos, and his opposition to the movement exemplify both the nature and the limits of their opposition to ecclesiastical leaders.35 At the village level, EAM attempted to recruit parish priests. If, however, a priest refused and/or spoke out against the movement, the movement resorted to violence.

The movement’s leadership sought the support of the upper clergy not only to gain legitimacy but more importantly to use their example to recruit more men of the cloth to the movement. By arguing that cleric members followed the examples of their ancestors such as Old Patras Germanos, the movement wanted the population in general and other clerics in particular to view it as a national liberation movement and its struggle as a second war of independence against a new foreign occupier.

Elefthere Hellada, the central newspaper of EAM, made a point, on several occasions, of publishing articles about the leadership of the church. For instance, on March 30, 1943, it published a report from another newspaper communicating that Metropolitan Ioakeim of Kozane had joined EAM and become a leader of the movement. From the same newspaper we have information that the metropolitan had gone to the mountains and united with the guerillas of Thessaly. Aware of his influential status, the movement appointed him an honorary member of the leadership of the Olympus branch of ELAS. On April 15, the paper published a follow-up article with the title “The Example of the Metropolitan of Kozane.”36 It wanted his decision to flee to the mountains to join the guerillas not only to serve as an example to other clerics, but also to dispel the fears that the organization had plans to attack the Greek Church during or after the war. (p.202) Ioakeim was put forth as an example for clergymen to join the ranks of EAM. Specifically, the paper emphasized that his example echoed that of heroic clerics of the past: “This effort reflects an exceptional title of honor for him who takes that path as a holy follower of the heroic model of Papaflessas and the other honored clerics in Greek history.” Clearly, with these references to the crucial role of the clergy in the Greek War of Independence, EAM members wanted the population to view their resistance movement as the second liberation struggle.

A similar plea to the clergy to join EAM was published in the February 1943 edition of Hellenika Niata: “We are addressing you, apostles of love, equality, and justice; you who believe in Greece, her steadfast soul, and her ability to overcome major calamities.”37 As with Elefthere Hellada, the paper was calling on the clergy to follow the examples of their pre decessor: “You should be in the front lines. The Greek Church stands behind you. The past, with its Gregory Vs, Samuels, Papaflessases, and Chrysostomoses calls you.”38 The article encouraged the clergy to help both the people in the mountains and others who hoped to flee to safety: “The free people are living in the mountains; help them in their struggle … Hide them when they are being hunted; send others into the mountains; show the slaves the path to the free mountain peaks.” It concluded with a forceful demand: “Prepare the people for the big moment. You will then be Greek clergymen worthy of your past.”

Combating Axis anticommunist propaganda, however, remained the central theme in EAM’s newspaper coverage of the church. The first part of this strategy was to dispel or discredit Axis propaganda, which they did by exposing the hypocrisy of this propaganda through a series of articles reporting about abuses committed by Axis forces against Orthodoxy in the country. Specifically, these articles reported on the use of indiscriminate violence pursued by their enemies against religious leaders and structures, despite their claims that they were the defenders of Christianity against godless communism.

For instance, Rizospastis, the Greek Communist Party’s official newspaper, published a series of articles in late 1942 and the first half of 1943 that condemned a series of Axis actions, which included the destruction of a number of churches. On December 15, 1942, the paper published a long article, titled “Mommioi,” on the atrocities committed by the Italian occupation authorities. The emphasized the destruction of the twelfth-century Byzantine church Zoodoxos Pigis, in Parnassus. Similar articles condemning actions against churches and church property appeared in the April 1 and July 10, 1943, editions of the paper.

(p.203) Allelengye tou Laou, a newspaper of National Solidarity, the relief wing of EAM, took a similar approach. On August 8, 1944, it published an article titled “They Continue Their Sacrilege, They Don’t Even Respect Our Church or Monasteries.” The article criticized the pillaging of churches and monasteries by German-controlled military units. It also pointed out their hypocrisy: “Those sacrilegious ones dare to speak about their support of religion. They, who have nothing holy inside them, showed their piety in their recent raid.” This reference appears to attack the notion that the right-wing opponents of EAM/ELAS are defenders of religion in the country. The following month, the newspaper reported on the execution of Metropolitan Gregory of Chalkes by a German-supported anticommunist band, the Tsoliades, for refusing to be used as their tool.39

Another issue that arose was the movement’s tie to the Soviet Union. In the KKE’s official newspaper, Rizospastis, the movement attempted to blunt the anti-EAM and anti-Soviet Axis propaganda by reporting on the improved relations between the Soviet state and organized religion in the Soviet Union. In a February 23, 1943, article titled “The Soviet Union and the Christian Church” it pointed out the praise Stalin received from the metropolitan of Kiev and the patriarch of Moscow for his recent victories against the Nazis.40

While EAM refrained from launching any open assaults against the clergy, they criticized individual clerics openly hostile to the resistance movement. The most famous propaganda assault against a cleric took place in Ioannina, where the local resistance newspaper, Ho Agonistes, published a series of scathing articles critical of the powerful Spyridon of Ioannina. A memorandum by the metropolitan of Ioannina to Prime Minister Tsouderos gives an idea of his views toward the movement and the reason for the movement’s open opposition to him. Scooter House, a British Foreign Office official, sent the memorandum with a preface to Dennis Lasky of the British Foreign Office’s Southern Division: “Part of the troubles of the forceful cleric, who undoubtedly did good work during the Albanian war and had long been something of a miniature dictator in his diocese, was no doubt due to the fact that he played no inconspicuous part in the armistice.”41 Another account of the attitude of the metropolitan, which seemed plausible considering his scathing view of EAM/ELAS, was a story conveyed by the secretary of the metropolitan of Dryinoupolis, Demetrios Tasos, to Archimandrite Germanos Demakos. He stated that the metropolitan ruled the city like a dictator, comparing him directly to Ali Pasha, the Ottoman governor of the region of Epirus during the revolution of 1821: “Here, father, Ali Pasha once ruled. In order to survive here you (p.204) worshipped him … Ali Pasha has been succeeded by the metropolitan of Ioannina Spyridon. We, here, have not been liberated; we have simply changed our leader!” But, more important, the author provided a colorful story about the metropolitan’s attitude toward the resistance and communism. Referring to graduates of the local seminary that sympathized with EAM, Spyridon states, “Perhaps I should have built a trough rather than a seminary, so to raise pigs in order to provide the villagers with piglets. Instead I went and built a school in order to produce enemies of the nation!”42 As with the previous statement, the author’s story is difficult to verify, but the open opposition of Spyridon to EAM became apparent rather early in the occupation.

EAM’s local press organ, Ho Agonistes, made it clear that it viewed Spyridon with antipathy, expressing its displeasure through attacks on his person and his associates. Local EAM leaders accused him of serving as a tool of the Axis, even claiming that he headed the fictitious pro-Axis organization Sphinx.43 On December 7, 1943, an article titled “The Despote Is at It Again” criticized a recent anti-EAM speech given by the metropolitan at a fund-raiser for recent fire victims. The event, hosted by the Ioannina Women’s Committee, reflected the long-standing feud between the two sides. Interestingly, the article began by criticizing the metropolitan for straying from his ecclesiastical roots: “His eminence forgot that he was a representative of God, it appears, … forgot the words of Christ, even much more frequently, he forgot the enslavement of our people, their danger of dying of hunger and from exposure.” Spyridon was portrayed as an old crank who could think of nothing else but criticizing the movement. Moreover, the paper stated that Spyridon found every opportunity to criticize the movement in public: “He did not, therefore, lose the opportunity … to spew, yet again, his poison with his acidic tongue against our popular movements and our organization, just as he did during the Zosimades celebration and at other times.”

The same newspaper also claimed that Spyridon’s collaboration with the enemy and determination to maintain control of his flock prevented him from coping with the problems facing the population. For instance, on December 9 in an article titled “National Solidarity” the paper stated that the relief work in the city was hindered by the metropolitan’s involvement. For this reason, “the people of Ioannina will ask the committee to sever relations with the metropolitan and his circles.” He and his supporters, in the eyes of EAM, represented the reactionary elites who were not effectively utilizing and distributing food to the population. Later on, another article referred to his palace as a center of treason. It stated that the (p.205) traitors concealed their collaboration with the Germans by claiming to the population that they desired an end to the civil strife. The culmination of the criticism of Spyridon came on December 11 in an article titled “The Despote’s Trip.” On that day, the paper reported on the metropolitan’s recent trip to Athens. Rather than securing funds for the beleaguered population, the reporter stated, he was working with the Rallis government, officials in Athens from EDES (Ethnikos Demokratikos Ellenikos Syndesmos—National Republican Greek League), and the Germans in an attempt to restore his influence over his flock by claiming that a struggle against EAM was a struggle for the preservation of civilization against godless communism.

EAM’s press usually attacked clerics that spoke out openly against the movement. In the case of Spyridon, the war of words represented a power struggle for control of the city. Spyridon, a staunch anticommunist and the most powerful individual in the city, saw the growing power and influence of EAM/ELAS as a threat both to himself and to Greece. EAM, for its part, launched a steadily harsher propaganda assault against the metropolitan and his supporters after their initial unwillingness to offer either their open or tacit support for EAM, and later, based on the articles, for their open opposition to the movement. By December 1943, both sides were engaged deeply in a war to win the hearts and minds of the local population. In these attacks, however, the newspaper never criticized the metropolitan’s position as a cleric, but rather took the opposite approach, claiming that, as a cleric, he had failed to rise to the occasion because of his obsessive hatred of the movement.

EAM also faced a new challenge when Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis established several units of the Security Battalions throughout the country, especially in Macedonia and the Peloponnese region beginning in the summer and fall of 1943. Some clerics either tacitly or actively supported these units due to their fear of EAM and an EAM-controlled postwar Greece. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Metropolitan Gennadios of Thessaloniki served on the deeply anticommunist National Macedonian Committee. Leutera Niata, the magazine of EAM student organization, the Eniaia Panelladike Organose Neon (EPON—the United Panhellenic Organization of Youth), published an article on January 31, 1944, titled “Metropolites Gennadios,” that demanded the metropolitan take a firm stand on the Security Battalions. When asked, “Gennadios avoided commenting on the Security Battalions. We invite him to openly take a clear position and to declare that the Security Battalions should not exist. Otherwise he is clearly crossing over to the side of the conquerors.” The statement seems (p.206) to indicate that Gennadios has tactfully avoided making any statement about the Security Battalions, but EAM was aware that he opposed the movement, and thus was likely a supporter of any movement established to eliminate its influence in Greek society.

EAM used its numerous newspapers to combat the Greek government and their propaganda campaign. However, when assaulted by a member of the church, as the case of Spyridon shows, the movement used its media outlets to attack the person of the hierarch by focusing on his character and his negligence as a cleric. EAM’s leadership understood that it needed to dispel previous myths about communist atheism to increase its ranks. Toward this goal, it championed members of the hierarchy that supported the movement (e.g., Ioakiem) by publishing numerous articles about their activities and identified them as model members of the church, while it attacked its ecclesiastical opponents by identifying them as traitors and inadequate or inept members of the hierarchy. By drawing these distinctions among the members of the clergy, they refrained from attacking the institution of the church as such.

In addition to the press, some resistance leaders took upon themselves the task of performing symbolic acts of reverence and deference toward the church in order to combat the growing propaganda by the Axis and their Greek allies. Prominent leaders such as Aris Velouchiotis attempted to combat the notion that EAM leaders were atheists by attending an occasional church service or treating a local priest or hierarch with deference. Especially Aris, as a political leader, understood the value of showing respect to the local clergy and village officials. For example, upon arriving to a small village, Aris “dismounted, kissed the hand of the priest, greeted the notables and then proceeded to the place where he was to give his speech.”44 EAM officials also made a point of including clerics in national celebrations and other events. Mark Mazower describes the political astuteness of EAM leadership, especially the military captains, as follows: “The communists were much too concerned about alienating the peasantry to go along with their dangerously atheistic ideas. Aris, for instance, always emphasized the importance of the church. At resistance parades, large numbers of priests would take part.”45 In addition, clerics took part in major political events, such as the swearing in of the communist-dominated resistance government, which was done by Ioakeim of Kozane.

Aris made a point of using symbolic gestures to combat the anti-EAM propaganda of the right-wing resistance and the German-controlled government. These gestures can be seen, for example, in a story that Germanos relates about Aris and his retinue attending a church service on the (p.207) ELAS captain’s name day, January 18, 1944, in Epirus.46 Aris shocked the village population when he and his band of guerillas attended the morning service. He gave the following orders to his men before attending the service: “Comrades, you will all go to the church quietly, light a candle, and worship the icons. You will stand still, as I do not want to detect any mischief because I will punish it severely. You will watch me and Father Anyponomos and do the same.” He concluded by informing them that they would stay to the end of the service and show the priest proper respect: “[At the end of the service] we will take the communion and kiss the hand of the priest.” The villagers and the priest, Papa-Lambros Tsetsos, appeared dumbfounded by the scene at their church: “It made a deep impression on them when they saw the guerillas, especially Aris, lighting candles and worshipping the icons. For them, Aris was the butcher; the atheist who burned icons, destroyed crosses, and committed a thousand and two other acts of sacrilege.” This negative image was due to the government and German propaganda about EAM: “The antartes47 of ELAS desecrated churches, burned and destroyed icons.”48 Though we cannot be sure whether these actions represented his sincere beliefs, Aris was an astute politician who understood the propaganda value of such an act. As Germanos mentioned, the population had received countless reports of the sacrilegious activities of ELAS guerillas, an issue that EAM continued to battle against throughout the occupation.49

Unlike Tito in Yugoslavia, for instance, Aris and other leaders sought to build a nationwide organization from the outset of the occupation by co-opting any groups willing to work with them, especially those groups which could offer them a weapon to blunt the anti-EAM propaganda of the Axis. The impact of the multipronged approach toward winning the support of the church paid handsome dividends. By the end of the war, the number of priests who served in or were sympathetic to EAM/ELAS numbered three thousand by some accounts, which does not seem out of the realm of possibility considering that many parish priests usually follow the lead of their parishioners.50 A report by an OSS agent in Greece seemed to confirm this in Euboea: “Almost all clergy of Evvia espoused EAM course.”51 In April 1944, another report outlined the reasons for the growing support of EAM among villagers including parish priests: “The fact that the communists have changed a great deal themselves has helped to alleviate that fear.” EAM understood that any attack on traditional values or institutions constituted political suicide. Thus, once these myths about communist opposition to private property or organized religion were weakened, the previous mistrust dissipated and support for the movement (p.208) grew: “The question … of the abolition of private property and the church that had made him [the villager] look with suspicion toward communism does not exist today.” The same report discussed the growing support of the church for EAM: “Many members of the Greek Church favored EAM.” As mentioned above, the lower clergy, who usually shared the same values as their fellow parishioners (many of whom supported the movement for patriotic reasons), backed the movement: “The lower clergy is to a large extent pro-EAM. Many priests are fighting side by side with the antartes.” The report did, however, mention a generational divide within the lower clergy regarding the movement: “It is generally considered that the younger clergy are in favor of EAM and the older are against it openly because of their fear of communist influence, or at best they remain neutral.” Regarding the upper clergy, the report indicated that though many refused to openly support the movement, they favored its goals.52

It is evident from the reports quoted above that many clerics responded positively to EAM’s overtures, especially among the middle and lower clergy. We also know that a few hierarchs either tacitly or actively worked with the movement during the period. Archimandrite Germanos Demakos and Metropolitan Eirenaios of Samos both wrote detailed accounts of their experience with EAM in their postwar memoirs. Both sympathized with the movement, but also harbored some deep reservations about its activities and, in the case of Eirenaios, deep concerns about its postwar goals. A large segment of the clergy, however, remained unmoved by these overtures and activities. From the few contemporary sources and many postwar published accounts, it appears that a group within the ranks of the clergy expressed their concerns about the movement in various ways. Led by arch critics Spyridon of Ioannina and Ioakeim of Demetrias, a small section of the hierarchy openly opposed the movement, viewing it as little more than a vehicle of the Greek Communist Party to seize power at the end of the war. For them, EAM’s nationalistic rhetoric served as little more than a veneer, which their actions on the ground demonstrated. Other opponents also remained deeply suspicious of the movement, and over time grew to dislike and distrust its methods. Archbishop Damaskinos led this group within the hierarchy, but only expressed his misgivings in private, refusing to serve as a mouthpiece for the Germans and their Greek allies who hoped to use the cleric’s immense popularity in their struggle against the growing movement. Their opposition, however, became public knowledge after the war. Some lower-ranked members of the clergy paid with their lives for opposing the movement. Their stories, however, come to us through a series of reports submitted by local hierarchs to (p.209) the Holy Synod after the war. Thus, while they provide an important source, they are deeply influenced by the openly anti-EAM stance of postwar Greek governments and the church leadership.

Archbishop Damaskinos’s attitude toward armed resistance remained ambiguous, at least publicly, during the occupation. He admired the patriotic act of fighting with the resistance, but the negative impact resistance activity had on the population, and the political motivations of EAM in particular, concerned him. The archbishop learned about the movement in August 1942. A member of EAM approached Ioanna Tsatsou, Damaskinos’s personal secretary and close friend, in 1942 requesting that she join the movement. She informed the archbishop about the organization, but the latter, unfamiliar with the organization’s leadership and motives, remained leery: “But what is this EAM? Can’t they give us a name? … I hear about it, but I don’t know it.” He continued by explaining his reservations about this secretive organization: “I don’t believe in abstract ideas—at least for our country. I must know who the men who are fighting for these ideas are. Only when the men are honorable do the ideas have substance.”53 As mentioned earlier, he remained deeply concerned about socialist ideas, and, more important, understood that he could not join any resistance movement regardless of its political affiliation.54 German officials kept a close eye on him, and any concrete information tying him to such an organization would seriously jeopardize his close working relationship with the occupation authorities. A relationship that, despite its limited success, had led to important concessions for the population. Unlike his other acts of resistance, such as his formal complaints against Bulgarian policies and the Holocaust, joining a resistance movement would be untenable. Along with many other clerics, he remained skeptical of the political intentions of EAM/ELAS at the end of the war. Still, despite his unwillingness to join the movement and his concerns about its political motives, he declined requests by the occupation governments and the German and Italian occupation authorities to denounce the organization. According to Ioannes Georgakes, his legal adviser during the war, Damaskinos explained his attitude toward the resistance as follows: “I do not distinguish those who desire the liberation of the nation into bad and good. I pray for them all.”55 His official stance changed at the end of the occupation, an issue that will receive further attention in the epilogue.

A few hierarchs, however, took a clear stand toward EAM/ELAS. Led by Metropolitans Ioakeim of Kozane and Antonios of Ilia, this group offered instant legitimacy to the movement. EAM appreciated the value these men offered and publicized their involvement in a number of ways: they (p.210) published reports of their movements and speeches they gave, ensured these men served in an official capacity, were present during official photography opportunities, and so forth. For their part, these men, some with reservations, supported the movement’s goals of liberating the country and its promotion of social justice. In addition to these popular figures, four other hierarchs maintained a working relationship and sympathized with EAM: Metropolitan Eirenaios Papamichael of Samos, Metropolitan Iakovos of Attica, Metropolitan Gregory of Chalkes, and Metropolitan Ioakeim Stroumbes of Chios.56 Postwar chroniclers of the resistance referred to this group of clerics as “the six.”57

Metropolitan of Kozane Ioakeim earned a reputation as a strong-willed and patriotic church leader, who successively clashed with the Ottoman authorities, the Theodoros Pangalos and Metaxas regimes, and the Axis occupation authorities. The last conflict forced him to flee to EAM/ELAS controlled mountains near the city of Kozane. Ioakeim was born in Outrake, Vithynia, in 1883. He attended the Theological School at Chalkes from 1889 to 1906. Patriarch Ioakeim V ordained him and appointed him deacon of the patriarchate in 1910. In 1923 he was elected metropolitan of Kozane. In the same year as his election to head the church of Kozane, the nationalist government of Mustafa Kemal sentenced him to death for his activities. With the assistance of the Allies, he fled to Greece on February 6, 1923.58 He remained metropolitan of Kozane until his dethronement in February 1945. Conflicts with the Pangalos and Metaxas regimes, however, led to his temporary dethronement by both dictators (1926, 1936).59 Axis authorities became concerned about Ioakeim’s activity in early 1942, which ultimately led him to flee to the mountains of Western Macedonia in March 1943, before travelling with the 500th Regiment of ELAS to Western Thessaly, where he finally settled.60 Unfortunately, the Germans seized, tortured, and finally executed his assistant, Archimandrite Ioakeim Lioulias, on June 6, 1943, both for his affiliation with the metropolitan and his own patriotic sermons.61

The metropolitan’s arrival provided a public relations coup for EAM. He became deeply involved in the movement, traveling throughout EAM-controlled Thessaly giving impassioned speeches and recruiting many to the cause. According to one eyewitness, “He toured the villages and spoke, enlightening and raising the spirit of the people, but never ministered or wore a stole [required to perform the liturgy].” The metropolitan respected the rights of the local parish priest and communicated with him before making any speeches: “Wherever he went, before anything else, he sought to speak with the village priest. He did this in order to avoid being reported (p.211) to the Holy Synod for canonical infractions.”62 Upon returning from his tour with the metropolitan, Aris Velouchiotis, the most important military leader of the Greek resistance, thanked Archimandrite Germanos Demakos for accompanying the elderly hierarch and discussed the benefits of the trip: “Do you see, little father, the work that was done? Do you see how beneficial the tour was? You and the despote63 may be more exhausted, but none of us could have done the work that you did. They hear us differently from the way they hear you [clergy].”64 EAM understood this and utilized his position and enthusiasm well throughout the occupation.

Later, EAM used Ioakeim to communicate their concerns to the Allies in the Middle East in April 1944. In this message, the metropolitan had four objectives: (1) to paint a positive picture of the movement and its contribution to the Allied cause; (2) to request arms against an impending civil war against the Rallis government and its forces; (3) to condemn Axis policies against the population; and (4) to encourage the creation of a “national” government and national military force in Greece. His reference to Axis atrocities is of particular significance for its propagandistic value: “Using our signature please [communicate] to the leaders of all … churches [that] the Germans and Bulgarians [are] burning churches, monasteries, and art monuments; [they’re guilty] of wholesale murder against the clergy, unarmed population, and women and children.”65 No doubt, EAM understood that Ioakeim’s title of metropolitan placed him in a place of respect and authority that had, in the minds of the movement’s leadership, greater weight than their own. Moreover, the movement was trying to refute Axis propaganda claims that EAM disrespected religion and mistreated clergymen and destroyed church property. EAM’s leadership struggled against these accusations throughout the occupation, but found numerous ways to counter them such as the telegram mentioned above. In May 1944, Ioakeim was elected as an adviser to the National Committee, which congregated in May 1944 to write a new constitution.66

Metropolitan Antonios of Ilia, the president of National Solidarity, after Ioakeim of Kozane, became the most recognizable hierarch to join EAM. Born on the island of Syros in 1891, he was ordained in 1917 and served as a military chaplain on the Macedonian front during World War I and, later, during the Greco-Turkish War of 1920–22. In December 1922, he was elected metropolitan of Ilia, a position he held until his dethronement by an ecclesiastical court in the spring of 1945. During the first years of the occupation, he intervened with the occupation authorities on behalf of members of his ecclesiastical see. He joined EAM in 1943, but did not flee to the mountains until March 1944 due to German attempts to arrest (p.212) him for his resistance activity. Like his fellow hierarch, Antonios served the movement by taking tours of the Peloponnesus to enlighten the population. In addition to these activities, EAM elected him as representative to the National Committee in May 1944.67 This organization, better known as the PEEA or the “government in the mountains,” was dominated by EAM.68

In 1943, Metropolitan Ioakeim of Chios began working closely with the local branch of EAM, and formally joined the movement the following year. His story is of value for a variety of reasons. At war’s end, a group of local opponents succeeded in convincing the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece to dethrone the metropolitan. They accused him of a series of contradictory crimes that included collaborating with the Nazi occupiers and joining EAM. His dethronement is reflective of the effort within postwar Greece in general and the church leadership in particular to “cleanse” society of EAM members, especially those residing in positions of power. He challenged his dethronement in a series of reports he sent to the synod. Ioakeim’s story suggests that the movement appealed to him because of its sincere effort to liberate the country from Axis rule.69 He first explained his reasons for joining the movement in the local newspaper Protoporos on November 9, 1944: “Iason Kalampokas and other leaders … introduced me to EAM … EAM is a national organization whose members rekindled, fought tirelessly, and endangered their lives for the nation’s liberation … to remain indifferent toward its effort would have been a national crime.” Even during his struggle to save his position, Ioakeim refused to hide his open support for the movement. In a report he sent to the synod defending himself against accusations made by local officials about his activity during the occupation, he explained why he worked so closely with EAM: “During the period I confess to working with Greek officers sent by Headquarters Middle East … and assisting them in their efforts during the national liberation struggle.” For him, the struggle was a holy venture and deserved all his strength. To do otherwise, in his view, “constituted disgraceful treason.” More interestingly, he denied the allegations made by local opponents and most government officials that the local branch of EAM had ulterior motives and that it fomented civil war on the island.70 Ioakeim’s account demonstrates that in the eyes of many of its noncommunist members EAM had genuinely established a nationwide movement and that many of its members refused to identify themselves as anything other than patriots. Circumstances forced Ioakeim and others to take such a position because after the occupation opponents of EAM labeled all its members communists. The synod dethroned Ioakeim of Kozane, Ioakeim (p.213) of Chios, and Antonios of Ilia at the end of the war. For the Greek government and the ecclesiastical authorities, their close association with EAM made them personae non gratae.

Of those hierarchs who refused to join the movement but remained sympathetic to its goals, the Metropolitan Eirenaios of Samos deserves attention. He represented a group within the hierarchy that supported the intentions of the movement during the war but, like many hierarchs, harbored a number of concerns. His relationship with EAM included a short period in the fall of 1943 when he served as president of a governing committee with representatives of the Samos branch of EAM and other island notables. His memoirs provide interesting insight into the reasons underlying his support for the movement as well as his reservations: “On my behalf, the struggle of the antartes is an expression of the virility of the race, a condemnation against foreign rule and an effort toward liberation. The antartes are armatoloi and klephts of the struggle of 1821.” He added that the church supported their effort as it had all of the nation’s struggles: “This spirit of love toward the nation and sacrifice on its behalf is blessed by the church, in accordance with its historical tradition; and it supports the movement against the enemy.” He also mentioned the fact that the movement genuinely represented the entire nation: “They had gathered strength from all the political parties and the communists, and were a genuine National Liberation Front, and in this regard they embodied a panhellenic character.”71 This attitude explains why he supported the movement and worked closely with it.

Despite his ardent support for the movement’s desire to liberate the country from foreign rule, he harbored reservations about EAM’s plans for social reform in postwar Greece, especially regarding the church. Based on his conflicts with the Metaxas regime, he favored a democratic form of government and a state apparatus that was more in tune with the needs of the population. He appreciated the movement’s goal of social reform, but he warned that the reform should be grounded in the current social values as reflected in the context of the nation, the church, the family, and the dignity and freedom of the individual.72 He specifically rejected the internationalism of communist ideology.

Among the reasons for his rejection of this aspect of communist ideology included its inability to grasp each nation’s contribution to Western civilization. In the case of Greek civilization, it was the introduction of Orthodox Christianity: “Our nation, which has a bright and shining creativity, continues to influence the entire world, is of colossal significance, (p.214) and we should be honored to be its children.” He ranked Orthodox Christianity among Greece’s greatest contributions: “The Orthodox Church is a synthesis of the ancient Greek spirit and Christ…. The Orthodox Greek Church is the creative strength of the history of the nation, which strove to brighten it, to raise it, in the support of love and justice in its breast.”73

For Eirenaios, the church played and would continue to play a critical role in the development of the nation. He even found common ground for collaboration in the values of communism and Christianity. However, in his view, the international nature of communism threatened the very uniqueness of the Greek people. No doubt, his attempt to discuss the place of the church in the development of Greek history took into consideration the Soviet government’s persecution of organized religion in general, and the Orthodox Church in particular. In short, he understood the value of the social justice promoted by the movement, but wanted to ensure that overzealous reformers did not threaten the basic values of Greek society after the war. Eirenaios’s position toward the movement was not unique. Many clerics, including Damaskinos, sympathized with the movement’s goal of liberating the nation. The official church, in theory, did not oppose such a path. However, long-standing fears of communism’s attitude toward religion and the movement’s plans for postwar Greece caused many to look wearily toward EAM’s postwar agenda. This issue concerned the parish priests as well as the hierarchs.74

While the metropolitans of Ilia, Kozane, Samos, and several other hierarchs all formed close working relationships with EAM, a minority within the hierarchy diametrically opposed the movement and expressed their opposition both during and after the war. Among the harshest critics were Metropolitan Spyridon of Ioannina and the Metropolitan Ioakeim of Demetrias. In addition, some remained indifferent to its overtures, but refrained from speaking out openly against it, a position best demonstrated by Metropolitan Methodios of Corfu and Paxos. For these clerics, especially Ioakeim and Spyridon, their anticommunism, wartime activities, and deep suspicion of EAM’s postwar plans led them to speak out against the movement during and after the occupation. Despite representing a minority position, however, Spyridon and other cleric opponents used British and Greek government opposition to EAM after the war to “cleanse” the church of “communist elements” during the Greek Civil War.

As mentioned above, Metropolitan Spyridon was an ardent nationalist and central actor in the armistice discussions. To complicate matters, Epirus, the seat of Spyridon’s power, served as the epicenter of a complex struggle between a variety of forces including the occupation authorities, (p.215) EAM, and EDES. By taking a firm stance against EAM, he placed himself firmly in this struggle, which comes as no surprise when considering his established reputation as a central political figure in the region.75 From the movement’s establishment in Ioannina, he remained a vocal opponent of EAM. The barrage of articles published by EAM’s local mouthpiece, Ho Agonistes, gives us some idea of the depth of his opposition to the movement. EAM, as it did throughout the country, sought to win over the powerful hierarch when it established its local branch in the city. The hierarch, however, rebuffed these overtures. The hierarch viewed the movement as little more than a communist front bent on revolution and chaos. Spyridon conveyed his attitude toward the movement to the Allies and the Greek government-in-exile in a memorandum to the Greek Prime Minister Emmanouil Tsouderos in 1944. He remained a critic throughout the occupation and expended considerable effort to stamp out its influence in general and within the church in particular.

In 1944 he sent a report to Greek Prime Minister Tsouderos about the movement and his struggle against it. He begins by explaining why he refused its offer to join the movement: “Obviously it is inconceivable that a man should consciously abandon the tradition of his entire lifetime.” According to Spyridon, EAM threatened to murder him if he did not desist for preaching against the movement. In response, he considered capitulation more shameful than death itself: “It would be shameful if he [referring to himself] was to go against his conscience and serve ends and systems of which he disapproves.”76 The hierarch’s harshest criticisms were related to the movement’s future plans for the country and the secretive nature of the organization. He argued that he could not work with organizations without knowing the men leading them. Of course, it must be noted that Greek political life was dominated by personality politics at the time.77 Thus, people usually supported a political party for its leader rather than its political platform. Regarding the future plans of the organization, he made the following statement: “If the organization is aiming at purely communistic ends, and indeed, under the violent form of revolutionary communism as in Russia in 1918, then it is obvious that the metropolitan of Ioannina cannot rally to it.” Support for such a movement meant to “give his blessing to crimes, civil war, social upheaval, abandonment, and degradation of national and religious ideals.”78 Here Spyridon best conveys his view of the movement’s implied, according to the metropolitan, postwar goals. His attitude expressed that of many cleric opponents who feared that an EAM-dominated Greece meant a Soviet-style government with accompanying anticlerical policies. Despite EAM’s best efforts to assuage (p.216) such concerns, most clerics regardless of political inclination harbored deep suspicions about the movement’s postwar plans.

He also argues that the movement sought to undermine his position and influence by attacking institutions and individuals close to the metropolitan: “They … systematically looted and dissolved entirely popular institutions, such as the Dourouta Agricultural College, the Lampriades School of Domestic Science, and the Vella Seminary.” The countryside, which had been abandoned by Axis forces, was in the thralls of a reign of terror: “Murders were committed, people were beaten up, often with the only justification that they were the bishop’s men.”79 These tactics, according to other clerics, were pursued in other regions of Greece. Spyridon’s contemporary report is the most detailed we have of a hierarch who chose to challenge the movement in his ecclesiastical see. His report along with the articles published in EAM’s local paper give us some insight into how the movement dealt with opposition from within the hierarchy. Ioakeim of Demetrias provides a similar picture in his postwar memoir.

Ioakeim of Demetrias represents this postwar attitude against the movement. In his postwar memoir he compares EAM to simple thieves that used the veneer of nationalism to steal from the church and the people, and more damning, he argues that they instigated the civil war that broke out during the occupation. Regarding their intentions, he states that, rather than being the reincarnation of the historical armatoloi and klephts, they “were instead only modern-day thieves.” He also argues that in areas of Free Greece they established their own administration and code of laws. Instead of bringing peace and justice, the cleric claims that EAM caused the local population unnecessary hardship by ambushing German and Italian soldiers. These ambushes, according to Ioakeim, “provoked unimaginable reprisals against innocent individuals or groups and whole villages … imprisoning and executing their residents.” Local EAM officials, he argues, justified such sacrifices: “The response [to his pleas to stop ambushing occupation troops because of its consequences for the local population] was stereotypical: ‘You cannot make an omelet without cracking eggs.’”80

Fomenting civil war, however, constituted the movement’s greatest crime in Ioakeim’s eyes. He argues that by murdering individual nationalists and members of the gendarmerie, EAM forced its opponents to take up arms against the movement: “They began [the conflict] with their systematic injustice and murders, actions which led Ioannis Rallis to establish the Nationalist Battalions and later EASAD [Ethnikos Agrotikos Syndesmos Antikommounistikes Draseos—National Agricultural Federation of (p.217) Anticommunist Action] and the EEE [Ethnikos Enosis Ellados—National Union of Greece], etc.”81 Thus, by attacking Axis forces and Greek police and other resistance bands, he claims, they only added to the miseries of a state already under foreign occupation. There is some truth to these claims, as EAM attempted to establish itself as the sole armed force in a countryside abandoned by the Germans and their Greek allies. However, to identify EAM’s enemies as innocents simply trying to defend themselves is also problematic. As Ioakeim later states, EASAD, along with its German patrons, contributed to the chaotic and violent state of affairs in the region after 1944, though the cleric claimed that EAM’s contribution to the escalation of violence exceeded that of its enemies. Later ecclesiastical critics writing in the aftermath of the civil war omitted such details in their discussion of the struggle between EAM and its right-wing enemies.

One of the charges of Ioakeim against EAM is that the organization tried to win his support in the summer of 1943 using duplicitous means. EAM, Ioakeim claims, tried to kidnap him and use him as a propaganda tool in the mountains. According to his account, on August 1, 1943, EAM informed the metropolitan that local ELAS officer K. Karageorge wanted to meet with him in a village outside Velestinos. To his surprise, however, he was driving to Karditsa, then EAM headquarters. Only after the car suffered a flat tire on the road was the elderly hierarch able to escape his captors. Ioakeim speculates that EAM intended the following for him depending on his attitude: (1) for EAM to use him to benefit from his region-wide reputation, which was gained by remaining with his flock during the nation’s trials; (2) to establish a Holy Synod of the Mountains along with Ioakeim of Kozane and Antonios of Ilia; (3) to replace Metropolitan Iezekiel and appoint Captain Depountes Loukianos his successor. If he refused, however, Ioakeim claims that they planned to take him prisoner.82 His claim that EAM wanted to use him and his position seems reasonable, as they understood the value of having a hierarch as a mouthpiece for the movement.

Failing to win over Ioakeim, EAM tried to reduce the power and influence of the hierarch by replacing his appointees throughout his diocese, robbing regional churches and monasteries, and severing communication between the metropolitan and ecclesiastical institutions, according to his account: “But ‘the children’ [EAM] needed all these things [church organizations and personnel], not only the money for their maintenance, but also to have on their side the personnel of the churches and the monasteries and the bishop himself.” Ioakeim proceeds to provide examples of pillaging and intimidation used by EAM throughout his diocese in its effort to (p.218) wrest control of the local church administration from him. For instance, they seized 1.4 million drachmas from the funds of the St. George Keramidios Church. Another act of theft took place when EAM members stole the rental income of the Church of the Assumption in Magnesia (a city thirty miles outside of Volos). EAM also began replacing the leadership of local ecclesiastical councils with their own men. To ensure the severing of relations between Ioakeim and local ecclesiastical leaders and organizations, “an order was issued [by EAM] to ecclesiastical councils and priests to no longer recognize the metropolitan and to refrain from corresponding with him.”83 These tactics indicate that EAM sought to undermine the influence of prominent hierarchs by attacking their source base, severing relations between them and their subordinates in the countryside. Ioakeim repeats many of the claims made by Spyridon against EAM. Rather than risk the public relations nightmare of harming a member of the hierarchy, EAM preferred to weaken their power and seize their resources. Seizing the church’s revenue and commodities, they distributed them to their members and local sympathizers, thus strengthening their position in the region.

EAM’s record with the hierarchy was mixed. A majority, following the example of Damaskinos, remained suspicious of the movement but refrained from making public statements against it. A substantial minority led by Ioakeim of Kozane, Antonios of Ilia, and Ioakeim of Chios, however, joined the movement. Others including Eirenaios of Samos sympathized with the movement’s goal to liberate the country, but refrained from joining the movement openly and shared some of the concerns help by Damaskinos and other hierarchs. The fact that nearly 10 percent of the hierarchy worked with the movement testifies to its effectiveness in convincing a large segment of the population that it represented their interests, at least during the period of the occupation. Despite the fact that both Antonios of Ilia and Ioakeim of Kozane relied on EAM’s hospitality for their safety, little evidence exists to indicate that EAM forced them to make statements against their will in favor of the movement. The fact that the Holy Synod dethroned them along with Ioakeim of Chios for their wartime record seems to indicate that they refused to renounce their involvement with the movement and that they genuinely believed in the movement’s goals.

EAM found far more support among the parish priests and monks in the countryside. As with the hierarchy, however, their support was far from universal. Some members of the lower clergy joined other resistance movements; some even joined the Security Battalions or other German-controlled units. As mentioned above, motivated cleric members used the movement as an opportunity to improve the quality of life of poorer members (p.219) of their ranks by establishing the Panclerical Union, a move supported by EAM’s leadership. As with the hierarchs, EAM welcomed lower clergy into their ranks and encouraged them to play a role in line with their social and moral values. If, however, parish priests or monks refused to work with the movement, or if they took the bolder step of speaking out against it in their village or town, EAM issued warnings to desist from such activity or resorted to violence to neutralize them. The response of the lower clergy to EAM reflected the division within Greek society created by war and occupation. While hundreds or even thousands joined or worked with EAM, many others chose the path of opposition, sharing the views held by Spyridon or Ioannina and Ioakeim of Demetrias.

A cleric member of EAM, Archimandrite Germanos Demakos (who later went by the pseudonym Father Anyponomos in resistance circles), explains the reasoning behind their decision to participate in the resistance: “Tradition calls upon Greek Orthodox priests and monks, both as leaders and comrades, to be involved in all of the nation’s struggles—never uninvolved!” Archimandrite Germanos Demakos used these words to define the role of the church during periods of struggle in his poignant memoir of his experience as a close confidant of Aris Velouchiotis. In this memoir Germanos underscores the role conditions played in the decision to join: “Someone would have to have a heart of iron or steel to close his eyes and ears … to the tragic situation in which our country and people found themselves, even if one was not moved … by this patriotic call, to this call to arms for our liberation from the barbaric occupiers.”84 As one can imagine, the nationwide famine, the ineptitude and unpopularity of the occupation governments, and the brutality of the occupation authorities led many to join the ranks of the resistance to liberate their country. Thus, when a village came out in support of EAM, the parish priest usually followed the example of his parishioners, and the opposite was also true.85

From the beginning of the movement, a number of patriotic priests joined EAM, primarily serving in National Solidarity and in administrative capacities. Later, after the establishment of the military wing, ELAS, a small group served as military chaplains and, on occasion, as soldiers. Based on the few surviving accounts, patriotism remained the major motivating factor leading these men to join the armed resistance. In Roumele, where Aris’s band began to gain notoriety by May 1943, a number of later prominent clerics in the movement joined the newly formed group. Among the most well-known include K. Tzebelekas of Kolokythia, Paparisteidis of Stromi, and Papa Kostas Papaleventes. Most of these men served in roles comparable to those they had in peacetime: caring for the social and (p.220) religious needs of the population, primarily through their work in National Solidarity.

Papa Kostas Papaleventes is an interesting case not only for his involvement in the movement but also because of his fate at the hands of his superior, Metropolitan Amvrosios of Fthiotis. His comrades knew him by his pseudonym, Papaflessas. Born in Amfikleia, Thessaly, in 1893, Papaleventes was the son of a priest and had four siblings, three brothers and a sister. He served in the army (1912–22), before returning home a wounded veteran. Once home, he decided to get married and become a priest, serving initially in his father’s church. Although anticommunist before the war, the events of the occupation changed him. Frustrated by the abuses of the occupation authorities, he sought a way to resist.86 His first resistance activity was with National Solidarity, which he joined in 1942. Among other missions for the organization, he traveled to Athens on behalf of Aris to raise money for the movement among well-known Greeks from the region residing in the capital.87

Despite his involvement in EAM, however, he continued to serve as a mediating force, along with Germanos, with the occupation authorities in the region. One striking example of his role as mediator can be seen in his intervention after the occupation authorities began executing innocent community members following the “Battle of Dadi,” or the act of sabotage that destroyed part of the railway near the local train station that left seventeen German soldiers dead. Fifteen Axis soldiers were taken hostage (nine Germans, six Italians), and two hundred railway cars were destroyed on April 13, 1943.88 Infuriated, the Italians, who occupied this part of the country, handed ten random citizens to the Germans, who promptly executed them the following day.89 This led many in the town to flee to the nearby mountains. The Italians, discovering that much of the dynamite used in the destruction of the railway station had been hidden in the nearby town of Velitsa, decided to travel there and punish the population. They set fire to the town, burning half of its houses and killing a number of the residents. In addition, the Germans took many of the remaining young and middle-aged men as hostages. Hoping to end this wave of terror by the occupation authorities, Papaleventes, along with Germanos and others, began negotiating with the occupation authorities.90 These efforts led to a temporary end to Axis violence in the town.

In May, after an incident that cost the life of an Italian soldier named Giovanni, Papaleventes fled to the mountains. He served in ELAS, even taking part in a skirmish (known as the “Battle of Pavlianes” in resistance literature) with the Axis authorities that same month. The following year, (p.221) on June 20–21, he took part in the Congress of the Panclerical Union to discuss the role of the clergy in EAM and ways to improve the economic status of the lower clergy.91 In short, Papaleventes’s role appears to be representative of that of many lower clergy in Greece, as many clergymen, in their effort to preserve life and serve their country, both negotiated with the occupation authorities and served in the resistance. At the end of the war the local metropolitan and his superior, Amvrosios, suspended him for his wartime activities, though accounts differ about his ultimate fate after the war.92 His punishment reflected a general position taken by the church after the war against clerics who served in EAM/ELAS.

Archimandrite Germanos Demakos played a similar role to that of Papaleventes. He was born in the Peloponnesus, in the small village of Agridake, Gortynia, in 1912. He attended the local grammar school and gymnasium before leaving in 1929 to become a monk in the Panagias Ksenia Monastery. On July 29, 1934, while at the monastery, he was ordained a deacon and took the ecclesiastical name Germanos. Metropolitan Amvrosios of Fthiotis ordained him a presbyter on October 4, 1940, and sent him to the Agathanos Monastery, where he served as temporary abbot until receiving the position permanently on July 17, 1945. He remained at the monastery, outside of a two-year period in the mountains, until his death on June 8, 2004.93 During the occupation he played an important role, both in the nearby town of Amfikleia and later as a member of ELAS. Despite his participation in the resistance, his goals remained similar: to provide for the population, to save lives when possible, and to perform his spiritual duties as a cleric.

Before discussing his resistance activity, a brief summary of Germanos’s relationship with the occupation authorities deserves attention. Keenly aware of the fact that in most cases the occupation authorities treated clergy with deference, he gained concessions from the occupation authorities: “I, due to my position as a priest and monk, approached them [the local Italian military leaders] and they responded and were friendly … Maybe they thought that it would be better for them to have a relationship with the abbot of the local monastery.” He utilized this relationship to his advantage: “They showed me respect, which I used for good…. Whatever I wanted, they granted me. They may have harbored reservations initially, but due to my pleading and diplomacy they came around in the end.”94 The Italians developed such a good relationship with the abbot that they insisted on his becoming community president in March 1943.95

On three separate occasions Germanos used his position as a cleric and his good standing with the occupation authorities to assist fellow Greeks (p.222) in their dealings with them. The first instance came several months before his ascension to the position of community president on October 1, 1942. Frustrated by the growing resistance to their rule, the Italian occupation authorities imprisoned seventy innocent members of the community to discourage further acts against their forces. Germanos and Papaleventes accompanied the families of most of those imprisoned and negotiated the release of most of the prisoners. One young man, however, who had come to the city for work, had no one to intervene for him. Germanos took it upon himself to act on his behalf. He vouched that the man was a good, hardworking citizen and that he did not intend to join the resistance. This satisfied the Italians, who promptly released him. Ultimately, months later, he in fact did flee to the mountains.96

As briefly mentioned above in the discussion of the activities of Papaleventes, Germanos also made a concerted effort to improve relations between the occupation authorities and the resistance after the destruction of the Amfikleia railway station on April 13, 1943. In addition to handing men to the Germans for execution, the Italians also took a number of individuals as prisoners in the town as insurance against similar attacks. In this atmosphere of hatred and animosity, which led many townspeople to flee to the Parnassus Mountains, Germanos wanted to use his position as president to improve the relationship between the local population and the occupiers. He attempted to convince the local Italian commander that the majority involved were not locals, but others working in or visiting the city: “We exhorted them, we approached them obsequiously and pleaded with them, I as president and a cleric, near me was Papaleventes and the relatives and friends of the prisoners … We pleaded for them to release them, giving them personal assurances and support of their innocence and, finally, we succeeded in securing their release.”97 Here, no doubt, his position as president, priest, and close collaborator with the Italian commander played an important role in the release of these men. This action, according to the most recent chronicler of the resistance in Amfikleia, occurred with the blessing of the local resistance leadership.98 Meeting with the occupation authorities, in the eyes of many resistance leaders, did not immediately constitute collaboration; it was rather the intentions of these meetings that determined the response of the resistance.

The German occupation authorities took many of the young and middle-aged men as hostages from the neighboring town of Velitsa and transported them to the German prison in Livadeia for assisting in the attack against the Amfikleia station.99 In response, the relatives of many of these prisoners approached Archimandrite Germanos to intervene with (p.223) the local German commander on behalf of their relatives. He agreed and traveled to the town to speak for the community. Germanos chose to include two older men from the group to accompany him to the meeting, likely to evoke the sympathy of the German commander. He instructed the men to stand and behave in a deferential way to appeal to the vanity of the local officer: “You will also participate in the meeting, but without speaking. You will show humility, lowering your heads, without raising them at all; you will bend down, toward the ground.” During the meeting, he was obsequious and kept his eye on the general to see if his demeanor changed. He stated, “Unfortunately, my compatriots, who acted against the [occupation] authorities, are fools. That is because they did not understand that that their actions had tragic consequences for so many people.” According to Germanos, the general slowly began to come around and, in the end, released the hostages.100

Germanos, ultimately, understood the power and influence of his position. He refused to accept praise for his successful negotiation with the Germans. For him, his faith in God and his position as cleric allowed him to accomplish this task: “This [successful intervention] took place because I wore my priestly robes and my priestly hat, my cross and my miter.”101 Intervening on behalf of prisoners remained a central goal for Germanos after joining the resistance; he viewed his role to be the same, for the most part, as it was when he served as abbot and temporary president of Amfikleia. Germanos first became involved in resistance activity in the early part of the occupation as an active member of National Solidarity.102 Under the aegis of preaching about the faith to the local communities, the local Metropolitan Amvrosios appointed him a traveling preacher. He roamed the countryside around Amfikleia to spread the word about the resistance movement and to encourage the population to assist the national resistance by donating goods or funds. By and large these missions met with success.103

On May 9, Lieutenant Mario, an Italian military intelligence officer who spoke Greek fluently, removed a typed resistance flyer posted in town. After questioning the local official working in the city’s town hall, including the residing typist, he learned that the abbot–president granted permission to a child to have his flyer typed in the office. Germanos, in his memoir, stated that he did not read the flyer and thus was unaware of its content. Infuriated, the Italian officer began looking for the abbot. Germanos managed to evade the enraged officer and flee to the Parnassus Mountains. Interestingly, Mario appeared both stunned and angered by the news of Germanos’s involvement, stating, “Ah, papa! (Oh, priest!).” His (p.224) reaction indicated that he never expected Germanos could commit such an act against the occupation authorities.104

After joining the resistance in the mountains in May, his role changed slightly, but much of his time was spent promoting the movement in the countryside, saving individuals from execution and performing other tasks such as gathering supplies for ELAS.105 The main difference, however, was his involvement in the Panclerical Union. On May 14 he met Aris Velouchiotis, the ELAS chieftain, and became his confidant and traveling companion. In fact, he served in the Mavroskoufides (Black Hats), the ceremonial bodyguards of Aris.106 Germanos acted primarily as the group’s priest and as adviser to the ELAS captain. With Aris, he served as a mediating force, as he had with Italian occupation authorities. Although life in the mountains made him commit acts inappropriate for a man of God, he typically attempted to avoid such behavior and continued to serve the movement in a way he found morally acceptable. He remained a companion of Aris until the two parted ways in the spring of 1945.

On two separate occasions, he intervened on behalf of individuals he deemed innocent and whom Aris had slated for imprisonment or execution. The first occasion came while traveling in Epirus on his way to meet Aris. On his way, he passed through the village of Miliana. While there, he met with the wife of Colonel Matsoukes, who was held prisoner by ELAS in Pramanta. She pleaded with him to intervene with local ELAS officials on behalf of her husband. He agreed to inquire about her husband’s fate when he arrived in Pramanta. Once he arrived, he found an opportunity to approach Aris on her behalf. With a little swaying, Aris relented. Before allowing Matsoukes to leave, the ELAS captain made the following statement to the colonel: “The little father is pleased. I would not have released you, because I know that you are a snake waiting to eat me. You are free to leave now, but be careful: don’t let them bring you here again, because no one will save you, neither the priest nor the despote.”107

During the winter of 1943–44, Aris and his band found themselves in Epirus on orders from Georgios Siantos, the general secretary of the Greek Communist Party and leader of EAM. Because the rival resistance band, the National Republican Greek League, controlled the region, the group wanted to maintain telephone communication with the leadership in Thessaly. The bad winter weather, however, severed communication between the two sides. Aris ordered the mayor of the town of Voulgarele, closest to the severed line, to fix the problem. The mayor assigned the task to three young men, who, despite their efforts, failed to repair the line. Infuriated, (p.225) Aris planned to execute them and the town leader for failing. Deeply troubled, Germanos again intervened. He informed Aris that such a harsh punishment, in light of the fact that no harm came to the group, was unnecessary and would only damage his reputation. As with the previous case, Aris relented.108 The incidents are significant because they provide insight into the role of the majority of clergy who served in the resistance, as most served in National Solidarity and worked in some welfare capacity. They also demonstrated that Germanos and other clerics had the respect of and some influence over the more pragmatic members of EAM leadership.

Germanos realized that the antartes were in a constant propaganda struggle with the Germans and their Greek allies, and for this reason he complained to EAM leaders about the misbehavior of members of the movement, especially because he began hearing complaints from potential supporters in the countryside. For instance, in late 1943, during the fighting between EAM and EDES, he discussed the state of affairs with EAM leader Georgios Siantos. In response to a question by Siantos on the general situation, Germanos responded, “Comrade Elder, the population, for the most part, has awakened to the struggle and in that regard we must be happy. There exist, however, situations where the population resents us, based on the misguided actions of many antartes.” He explained the consequences it had among many of the villagers: “I am a priest and the people speak to me freely; and they tell me things that they do not tell the ‘leaders.’” On another occasion, he complained, bitterly, about how much of the goodwill created by the resistance among the population quickly dissipated in light of some of these misdeeds: “How many times did we gather the milk drop by drop, only to spill it with our own hands.”109 In addition to these random acts by individual resistance fighters, the movement had to contend with a considerable amount of bad press from the beginning due to the central role played by the Communist Party. It was in EAM’s relief wing that many priests found a home in the movement.

Despite all the positive efforts made by EAM to win support, a number of lower clergy remained skeptical. For some, the patriotic overtures were overshadowed by the poor behavior of the antartes in some places. In addition, the growing indoctrination became a serious problem for active supporters such as Germanos. Most clerics never associated themselves or the movement with communism. They understood that much of the leadership was communist because it was the only organization that actively fought the Axis in Greece. However, these men scoffed at the accusation made by the official church and the post–civil war governments that (p.226) members of the clergy that supported and participated in the movement were communists. As liberation neared, acts of aggression against certain members of the clergy became more frequent and anticlericalism became stronger.110

In reference to indoctrination, Germanos mentioned the events in the town of Agia Triada. He became especially critical of the “lessons” they received from the leadership on how to treat the population, which started to resemble a communist propaganda session more than anything else: “Soon they consisted of communist songs, enlightenment about the proletariat and socialism, propaganda about the Soviet Union and the Red Army and the like.” He lamented that traditional myths and culture were ignored: “About Greek history, Roman civilization, Orthodox tradition, faith in God, when the commissars did not criticize them, in the best case scenario, they remained silent about them.”111 The abbot wondered why they were not singing songs about the klephts, discussing the heroes of 1821, and other patriotic stories. He saw a dramatic turn toward more indoctrination as ELAS began to grow, and blamed the communist leadership in EAM. For him, this policy ran parallel to their effort to gain control of the rapidly growing and spontaneous ELAS bands springing up throughout Greece.

The impact, in his eyes, had a number of consequences for the movement. Many members of the movement chose to ignore the propaganda or leave: “Many antartes were scandalized by this communist atmosphere which developed among ELAS groups and units, and many resisted in different ways.” The most popular form of resistance to this indoctrination was to ignore it: “Some left, but most remained, closing their eyes, feeling that the independence struggle was more important than their political ideas.” However, Germanos also began to sense a change in a number of rank-and-file members of the movement. “Many were influenced by the systematic teaching and propaganda of the communists.”112 He goes so far as to say that these “lessons” contributed to the division of the population which eventually brought on the civil war.

Paralleling the increase in the use of communist propaganda was the movement’s waning support for the church. Germanos blamed the communist leadership for this change: “The occasions were many, but there was one reason: ‘The hostile attitude toward the Church of Christ by many communists … which was not only tolerated but encouraged by their leaders.’ “Apparently, there was a disconnect between the leadership and the rest of the movement, who did not harbor communist ideas. This was true especially among the clergy. He also commented on the troubling questions (p.227) parish priests began to ask about the movement: “Is it worth it for me to be a comrade and supporter of people who ridicule, humiliate, and abuse with vulgarity and baseness the Lord whom I worship, and slander the things that are holy and which I respect and honor?”113 Germanos held out hope that the movement could enact social change and improve the lives of the parish priests. However, as the occupation was coming to an end and civil war appeared imminent, EAM leadership became less sympathetic toward the plight of the clergy. By 1944, most of the concerns that Germanos had about the movement were similar to those held by Eirenaios. Particularly alarming was the potential threat that the communist reforms might unleash against the church.

The issue, however, that really soured the abbot on the leadership occurred at the end of the occupation, and this centered on the execution of parish priests, some of whom even served in the resistance. Demakos notes one example of such an individual: “They did not execute him [the priest] quickly, they literally slaughtered him.”114 The division between the anticlerical element and the rest of the resistance movement grew as the polarization of society increased with the end of the occupation and the start of the civil war.

Despite the significant support EAM received from the middle and lower clergy, many within their ranks opposed the movement and spoke out against its activities during the occupation and the civil war. Many of these opponents paid for their actions with their lives, which is a testament to EAM’s determination to eliminate political opponents, even within organizations it sought to court. At war’s end, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece published a series of encyclicals requesting information about clerics who lost their lives during the Second World War and the civil war that followed. Metropolitan Dionyseos of Lemnos published a selection of these reports in a volume titled Pistoi Achri Thanatou (Faithful Until Death). Between 1940 and 1944 more than three hundred clerics lost their lives, mainly at the hands of the Italians, Bulgarians, and Germans, though roughly one-third of these men were killed because of their opposition to EAM between 1942 and 1944. Despite the bias of these reports, they highlight the divisions within the clergy regarding EAM. Unlike hierarchs such as Ioakeim of Demetrias and Spyridon on Ioannina, their position did not protect them from EAM. A few lost their lives as members of the Security Battalions or other anticommunist units in 1944 and 1945. Looking at a few of these accounts may be instructive in understanding the nature and reasoning behind the opposition EAM faced throughout the country from the lower clergy.

(p.228) Village clerics opposed EAM for various reasons, ranging from the negative impact EAM activities had on their flock to ideological antipathy. A representative example of the type of opposition EAM faced in the countryside occurred in the village of Tournava near the town of Trikkala. On May 15, 1944, units of EAM murdered the parish priest Antonios Papachristou for his opposition to the movement and his decision to blame EAM for the killing of two German soldiers near the village. Attempting to preempt a German reprisal against the village, Papachristou headed a committee of village notables that reported the killing of the German to the local Axis commander in Trikkala. It appears, according to the report, that the committee’s initiative paid dividends, as the Germans decided to spare the village. EAM captured the cleric soon after he returned from the city, but later released him after pleas from his parishioners. Relations, however, between EAM and the priest remained hostile after the latter spoke out against the movement to his fellow villagers. As a result of his efforts, the report claimed, “none of the villagers became communists and joined the guerillas.”115 It is likely due to his continued opposition to the movement that EAM chose to capture, arrest, and, ultimately, execute him on May 15, 1944. According to church records, a similar scenario took place in the village of Lefkakia in the district of Nafplion, where units of EAM executed Father Aristeides Tsiros on January 8, 1944. The report stated that EAM executed him for the crime of anticommunist propaganda speeches. EAM’s secret police organ, OPLA (Organose Perifroureses Laikou Agonou—Organization for the Protection of the People’s Struggle), arrested and executed him outside the village. Before executing, however, they tortured him unmercifully: “After a few days of ignominious torture, more horrific than what one with the most vivid imagination could conceive, he was slaughtered … by OPLA.”116

Some cleric opponents took the additional step of joining an anticommunist movement, including EDES and various branches of the Security Battalions. One such cleric was Father Spyridon Zafeires of Artes. According to the report sent by the metropolitan of Sparta, the priest was a “fanatical and ardent nationalist who joined the band of General Zervas.” As the leader of his local band he died in a clash with EAM in January 1944. Father Spyridon Karabias lost his life while “fighting heroically” with the Agrinion Security Battalion on September 14, 1944.117 A similar fate befell Archimandrite Christoforos Kokkines of Argolis. On October 23, 1943, while serving in an anticommunist resistance unit under the leadership of Telemachos Vrettakos, he was wounded in a skirmish with ELAS near Messenia. While escaping capture initially, he was later handed over to (p.229) EAM. His captors tortured him to death on November 3, 1943.118 A final example comes from Thessaloniki, where Father Athanasios Pharmakopoulos died while fighting with a right-wing resistance movement in a skirmish with EAM in November 1944. His death, according to the post-war record, was extremely painful and drawn out: “They cut off his nose, his ears, and his hands. Finally, they killed him in a tobacco factory in Kilkis, in November 1944.”119

EAM viewed the lower clergy as different from the upper clergy. While Spyridon of Ioannina and Ioakeim of Demetrias opposed the movement in their region and, in the case of Spyridon, criticized the movement in public, neither cleric faced execution. The public relations nightmare for EAM likely discouraged the movement from taking such drastic actions against them, though, according to Spyridon, the organization did threaten his life. The same did not hold true for the lower clergy, who EAM felt were expendable if they refused to cooperate with the movement. As mentioned above, at least one hundred clerics lost their lives between 1942 and 1944 for their opposition to EAM according to the church’s postwar records.120 The regions of Macedonia and the Peloponnese lost the most clerics to EAM. Unsurprisingly, in both regions anticommunist bands emerged to challenge the movement, accounting for at least some of these casualties.

As liberation approached in the late summer and early fall of 1944, the position of the hierarchy began to change. With the December events,121 many within the church, led by Damaskinos, became outspoken critics of EAM/ELAS policies. The removal of Ioakeim of Kozane and Antonios of Ilia from the hierarchy in 1945, and Gregory of Chios a year later, reflected the change within the church leadership toward EAM. Damaskinos and the church fell into line with the larger anti-EAM policy pursued by successive Greek governments in postwar Greece, as will be discussed in the epilogue.

In conclusion, as long as EAM fought against the Axis, it enjoyed considerable support among the lower clergy and the neutrality of much of the hierarchy, though only a minority within the upper echelons of the church worked closely with the movement. Although fear of a communist revolution in post-occupation Greece influenced some within the hierarchy to ally themselves with the Axis and, on occasion, to make anticommunist speeches in the German-controlled press, the majority, for political reasons, avoided making negative statements about the movement. For many, such as Abbot Germanos Demakos, the movement was created to fight the Axis and not to seize power at the end of the war. However, after the December events, the civil strife that existed during the occupation (p.230) grew in intensity. Despite enjoying considerable support within the ranks of the clergy, the execution of at least one hundred clerics, roughly a third of those who lost their lives during the occupation and early days of liberation, demonstrated that EAM did not enjoy the wholehearted support of all clerics. Most of their enemies came from the Peloponnese region and Macedonia, two areas well-known for their anticommunist bands, including the German-established Security Battalions. The church leadership, with British prompting, took an open stance against the resistance by dethroning hierarchs that joined the movement and by punishing many sympathizers and activists within the lower ranks of the clergy, as will be discussed in the epilogue.

Notes:

(1.) Early scholarship on the church during the period, while providing invaluable data about individual clerics and local churches, offers little substantive analysis of the response of the church to the crisis of enemy occupation. No issue reflects this more than the literature on the relationship between the Church of Greece and EAM. During the immediate postwar period, reference to the resistance and its achievements and relationship to traditional Greek institutions was taboo. Konstantinos Vovolines’s He Ekklesia eis ton Agona tes Eleutherias (The Church During the Struggle for Liberation), published in 1953, represents the first attempt to deal with the church’s response to the occupation and exemplifies this approach to the topic. The author omits any reference to cooperation between EAM and the church, as he viewed both communism and fascism as equally dangerous to the institution and the nation. For him, the church fought against both ideologies during the period. Vovolines includes a list of “ethnomartyrs” in the form of an appendix at the end of his study. However, it provides little concrete information about the circumstances of the death of many of those killed by EAM. In 1959, Metropolitan Dionysios Charalampous of Lemnos edited a volume titled Pistoi achri Thanatou (Faithful Until Death) (Athens: n.p., 1959) that identified Greek clerics that lost their lives during World War II and the Greek Civil War. The volume is largely based on a series of responses from various regional churches to a series of encyclicals published the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece between 1945 and 1950 requesting information about cleric victims of the period. Though it provides invaluable quantitative information regarding the number of clerics that lost their lives during the period, the entries are largely short, imprecise, and biased against EAM and the left. For instance, the volume fails to mention any clerics that died at the hands of rightwing resistance bands during or immediately after the occupation. These bands are identified as nationalist groups and cleric members of these organizations who perished are labeled patriots. No reference, in contrast, is made to EAM cleric members.

(2.) Only with the collapse of the colonels’ government in 1974 and the election of the PASOK government of Andreas Papandreou in 1981 did the topic begin to receive the attention of both scholars and popular historians in Greece. Demetres Kailas’s 1981 popular historical account, Ho Kleros sten Antistase, (p.311) represents the first book-length attempt to explore the relationship between the church and EAM. However, it provides a rather simplistic picture of the response of the church by lionizing the contributions of clerics who either sympathized or joined the movement and demonizing those who opposed it.

(3.) The church’s official account of the occupation, Mnemes kai Martyries, which for the first time acknowledged the church’s involvement in the resistance movement, tended to explain away the complex nature of the relationship between clerics and the resistance and spent little time discussing the methods pursued by the resistance to court the church. To be fair, the church intended this handsomely illustrated volume to provide a general picture of the church’s response to the years of enemy occupation.

(4.) For instance, Hagen Fleischer, in his seminal study of the occupation, refers to efforts by EAM to establish a nationwide organization that anticipated the participation of traditional institutions such as the church: “The communists insisted on the establishment of a pure patriotic movement, with the single criterion of possessing a spirit of resistance, and accordingly was open [to all].” Specific leaders went beyond just paying lip service to this message and demonstrated their respect for the church through their actions. Aris Velouchiotis, the architect of ELAS, was well-known for such actions: “Aris kisses the hand of the priest and the local village elder [upon entering the village].” Mark Mazower in his study of the occupation explains the logic behind EAM policy: “Attitudes to religion confirmed how far traditional Greek values outweighed Marxist dogma within ELAS.” Fleischer, Stemma kai Svastika, 1:147; Mazower, Inside Hitler’s Greece, 314.

(5.) For a discussion of organized religion and the Partisans in Yugoslavia see Pavlowitch, Hitler’s New Disorder; Tomasevich, Chetniks; and War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 511–79; Kranjc, To Walk with the Devil; Alexander, Triple Myth; Paul Ivan Jukic, “Uncommon Cause: The Soviet Union and the Rise of Tito’s Yugoslavia, 1941–1945” (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1997); Peter Palmer, “The Communists and the Roman Catholic Church in Yugoslavia, 1941–1946” (Ph.D. diss., Oxford University, 2000).

(7.) For more on organized religion and the Partisans in the Soviet Union see Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair, 232–52; and “Was There a Religious Revival in Soviet Ukraine Under the Nazi Regime?” For Belorussia see Rein, The Kings and the Pawns, 191–226; and “The Orthodox Church in Byelorussia Under Nazi Occupation.”

(10.) Between 1945 and 1950 local bishops and metropolitans sent reports with information regarding clerics who lost their lives during the occupation and the civil war. Only a few of these reports survived in the archive. Despite the immense value of the reports, they are extremely problematic. By the time the Holy Synod requested a record of these “ethnomartyrs” the country was embroiled in a bitter civil war. In this struggle, the Church of Greece found itself, at least officially, firmly in support of the anticommunist Greek government. Evidence of this is the lack of details about cleric members of EAM murdered by paramilitary bands roaming the country in the immediate post-occupation period. In cases where such members were identified as ethnomartyrs, their association with EAM/ELAS is omitted. In contrast, if a cleric lost his life as part of another band, the author decided to include those details. Despite these problems, the reports provide interesting details about the movement’s approach to the clergy, especially when clerics refused to support the movement.

(11.) The efforts of Archimandrite Germanos will receive more attention later in the chapter. For information about Metropolitan Antonios’s negotiations with the occupation authorities see Kailas, Ho Kleros sten Antistase, 35.

(12.) Despite the fact that most clerics did not join ELAS, especially as active combatants, they established special ranks for clerics who joined the organization. It is important to note, however, that such distinctions were not apparent. For instance, Germanos worked closely with the EA even though he spent much of his time as a member of ELAS. For more information about this system and members of the movement who joined ELAS see Historiko Tmema tes Kentrikes Epitropes tou Kommounistikou Kommatos Helladas (Historical Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece), Keimena tes Ethnikes Antistases (EAM, EEAM, ELAS, EA, EPON, Kinema Meses Anatoles) (Documents of the National Resistance [EAM, EEAM, ELAS, EPON, the Middle East Movement]) (Athens: Synchrone Epoche, 1981), 104, 192. Cited in Karagiannes, He Ekklesia apo ten Katoche ston Emphylio, 38–40; Kailas, Ho Kleros sten Antistase, 53–70.

(13.) For information about his treatment by the postwar resistance literature see Foivos Gregoriades, To Antartiko: ELAS–EDES–EKKA (5/42) (The Resistance, ELAS–EDES–EKKA [5/42]), 5 vols. (Athens: Kh. Kamarinopoulos, 1964), 3:244–45; Ioannes Zapheires, He Katoche kai he Ethnike Antistase ste Samo: 1941–1944, Chroniko (The Occupation and National Resistance in Samos: 1940–1944, a Chronicle) (Athens: K. Ch. Kamarinopoulou, 1962), 87–91.

(14.) For more on his involvement in the temporary government in Samos in the fall of 1943 see Carabott, “A British Military Occupation”; Papamichael, He Dynamis tou Hellenochristianikou Pneumatos, 3:77–117.

(16.) From May 20 to June 1, 1941, the German army launched an invasion of Crete to remove the final stronghold of Allied forces in Greece. After a hardfought struggle the island fell to the Germans. The losses the Germans suffered played a critical role in German policy on the island during the occupation.

(19.) At least six hierarchs (roughly 10 percent) either tacitly or actively supported the movement.

(20.) Even Archbishop Damaskinos, head of the Greek Church and the most popular individual hierarch, was approached by way of his secretary Ioanna Tsatsou. Ioanna Tsatsou, Phylla Katoches (Pages from the Occupation), 8th ed. (Athens: Vivliopoleion tes “Hestias,” 2002), 37–38.

(21.) A couple things worked to EAM’s advantage. Despite the continuous barrage of anticommunist propaganda perpetuated by successive interwar governments, most of the countryside had little exposure to communism, as the KKE remained a relative small party. Thus it was easy for EAM leaders to overcome local suspicions by tailoring their message around themes receptive to the organization such as the Greek War of Independence.

(22.) Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens established an organization with the same name in 1918. The two organizations had no connection with each other. The discussion of the organization here relies on two sources: Kailas’s work and the memoir of Germanos Demakos. Despite the paucity of sources on the organization, EAM encouragement of its creation and expansion seems in line with the organization’s general policy toward the clergy during the period.

(23.) F.O. 371/43677/R1861, February 5, 1944, letter to Prime Minister Tsouderos from an unnamed author.

(26.) Open letter of the Panclerical Union to all associations and Christians, June 27, 1944. Cited in ibid., 145–49.

(30.) For a text of the document see ibid., 128–29.

(p.314) (31.) It is interesting to note that during the negotiations between EAM, the Tsouderos government, and the British, Metropolitan Ioakeim of Kozane asked that either he or Metropolitan Antonios of Eleias serve as minister of religion in the new government of national unity. His request was turned down for legal and political reasons. A minister of the former PEEA informed the metropolitan that the constitution of 1911, which the government-in-exile abided by, did not permit clerics to serve in the government. Karagiannes, He Ekklesia apo ten Katoche ston Emphylio, 37.

(33.) Demetrios I. Zepos, Laike Dikaiosyne: Eis tas Eleutheras Periochas tis hypo Katochen Hellados (Popular Justice: In the Free Territories of Occupied Greece), 2nd ed. (Athens: Morphotiko Hidryma Ethnikes Trapezes, 1986), 124, 126.

(34.) It is important to note that many of these stories were either fabricated or exaggerated. They were propaganda, not objective journalism, as was the case with many of the newspaper accounts of the German-controlled press.

(35.) Ho Agonistes, EAM’s newspaper for Epirus, constituted the main source of criticism of the cleric and his activities.

(36.) The EAM newspapers cited in this chapter, excluding Hellenika Niata, are part of the Hellenic and Historical Archive’s Press Archive. The edition of Hellenika Niata cited in this chapter was quoted in a report by Burton Berry to the Secretary of State in November 1943. US 868.00/1309, Istanbul, November 6,1943, report from Burton Berry to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. All EAM newspapers published articles solely in Greek. However, in order to make the sentences where article titles are referenced less cumbersome, I have decided to list all article titles in English.

(37.) The edition of Hellenika Niata cited in this chapter was quoted in a report by Burton Berry to the Secretary of State in November 1943. US 868.00/1309, Istanbul, November 6,1943, report from Burton Berry to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. All EAM newspapers published articles solely in Greek. However, in order to make the sentences where article titles are referenced less cumbersome, I have decided to list all article titles in English.

(38.) These individuals played important roles in Greece’s independence struggle.

(39.) The allegations in this article proved to be false. The Germans and their allies did not execute the metropolitan, but they did force him to flee to Athens. The propagandistic value of such an execution was too great for EAM’s opponents to take such a risk. The metropolitan returned to his ecclesiastical see soon after liberation. Karagiannes, He Ekklesia apo ten Katoche ston Emphylio, 36; Soteres Papastrates, Meres tou, 1943–1944 sten Euboea: Katoche, Antistase, Apeleutherose (Days of 1943–1944 in Euboea: Occupation, Resistance, Liberation) (Athens: Chatzenikole, 1995), 153–56.

(p.315) (40.) Of course, the paper does not mention that the new modus vivendi between the church and state in the Soviet Union was a political move by Stalin in his struggle against the Nazis.

(41.) F.O. 371/37206/R10454, October 2, 1943, Memorandum of Metropolitan of Ioannina to Prime Minister of Greece Emmanouil Tsouderos. The memorandum was Scooter House to D. S. Lasky.

(43.) In his memorandum to Prime Minister Tsouderos, Spyridon criticized the organization for making false claims about his involvement with this fictitious pro-Axis organization: “These agitators, who claimed to be enlighteners of the people, publicly accused the Metropolitan of being the director of a pro-Axis organization called Sphinx, which is really nonexistent, in Epirus at any rate.” F.O. 371/37206/R10454.

(46.) Aris’s family named him after the former patriarch of Alexandria Athanasios the Great, and Orthodox Christians celebrate his life on January 18. Thus the fact that Aris decided to attend church service on that particular day had added symbolic value to both his men and the village. His attendance challenged the notion that all EAM members opposed Christianity and burned churches. Whether he believed in church doctrine is irrelevant in this context. His mere presence was enough to impress the faithful attending the service.

(47.) Both contemporaries in Greece and historians of the period use the term andarte for members of the resistance, especially members of EAM.

(49.) It must be noted that this story was only mentioned in Germanos’s biography and is therefore impossible to corroborate with other sources. When taken with the other source material, however, it seems such an episode could have easily taken place. Ibid.

(51.) RG 59, Numbered Intelligence Reports, OSS, R&A, N. 2500.4.

(52.) Record Group 226, Office of Strategic Services Records, National Archives and Records Administration (Washington D.C.), Entry 190, Box 73, Folder 27.

(54.) However, Damaskinos met with Demetrios Psarros’s organization EKKA (Ethnike kai Koinonike Apeleutherosi—National and Social Liberation) and provided them funds. Ibid., 106. Once, Herakles Petimezas approached the archbishop with a letter from Napoleon Zervas, the leader of the National Republican Greek League (EDES). Based on Petimezas’s account, the archbishop appeared terrified, likely for fear of the Germans becoming aware of the meeting. For more general information about EDES see Hondros, (p.316) Occupation and Resistance, 105–7; Mazower, Inside Hitler’s Greece, 106–7, 133–43. For the meeting between Damaskinos and Petimezas see Koukounas, Ho Archiepiskopos Damaskinos, 197–99; Herakles Petimezas, Ethnike Antistase kai Koinonike Epanastase, Zervas kai EAM (National Resistance and Social Revolution, Zervas and EAM) (Athens: Metron, 1991), 207, 415.

(55.) This statement captures Damaskinos’s public stance toward all resistance movements during the war. Privately, however, he expressed deep reservations about the movement and even maneuvered to lead an anticommunist bloc with the Athens police chief and Greek military officers. This plan came to nothing, but it gives one a sense of the attitude of Damaskinos and the official church once the occupation ended. Georgakis, “Ho Archiepiskopos Damaskinos kai he Ekklesia Kata ten Katoche,” 71. For more on the Damaskinos anti-EAM bloc see Hondros, Occupation and Resistance, 172–73, 204–5.

(58.) N. P. Delianes, Episkopika Kozanes (Episcopal Matters) (Kozane: Demotike Vivliotheke Kozanes, 1992), 25. Cited in Church of Greece, Mnemes kai Martyries, 117.

(59.) No details exist in the secondary literature regarding his dethronement under Pangalos. However, according the church, the Metaxas government dethroned him and banished him to the Karakalle Monastery on Mount Athos in 1936 after he sent a letter to the government complaining about the military installations of the “Metaxas Line’ “(a line of defense established on the Greek–Bulgarian border by the dictator). Ekklesia 14 (1936): 286. Cited in Church of Greece, Mnemes kai Martyries, 118. For more on his early life and ecclesiastical career see Kailas, Ho Kleros sten Antistase, 33–34; Karagiannes, He Ekklesia apo ten Katoche ston Emphylio, 33–34; Church of Greece, Mnemes kai Martyries, 117–18.

(60.) Three stories have emerged about his forced exile from Kozane. One story is that he and forty other EAM officers were forced to flee to the mountains because it was discovered that they had signed the “Protocol of Honor,” a document that helped establish the branch of EAM in Kozane. Karagiannes, He Ekklesia apo ten Katoche ston Emphylio, 34. A second stated that Ioakeim gave an impassioned sermon promoting the resistance, uttering the following statement: “Every tree on the mountains is a guerilla fighter. With God’s help, Greece will be liberated” Greek War Relief Association 3, no. 5 (1943). Reports of this account led the Germans to seek him out for questioning. Sto Vouno Me Ton Stavro, Konta Ston Ari, 183–86; Kailas, Ho Kleros sten Antistase, 34–35. A third story was told by his nephew and then vicar of the metropolis, Metsos Grimbas: The metropolitan (p.317) had left his ecclesiastical see for fifteen or twenty days in February 1943 to meet with EAM leaders to inform them that they had good relations with the Germans and to ask them not to act against them. On March 6, soon after his return, two German officials came to ask why he had left for so long. He informed them of his trip, at which point the Germans told him to refrain from such activities as his life would be in danger. He took that as a sign and escaped to the mountains. This meeting appears unlikely as other sources corroborate his earlier resistance sermons. For this reason, the Germans probably intended to imprison him well before this trip. Also, it appears very unlikely that he would inform the Germans that he visited EAM leaders. Finally, this does not correspond with the other sources, which indicate that the metropolitan fled for the mountains in late February or early March, and that he had plans to do so from at least late February. Papakonstantinos, To Chroniko tes Megales Nychtas, 252–63; Church of Greece, Mnemes kai Martyries, 118–19.

(61.) According to Papakonstantinos, the archimandrite gave sermons that had little spiritual content, but sounded more like a call to arms, such as, “The nation does not die, it lies in slumber for awhile, but now awake.” Papakonstantinos, To Chroniko tes Megales Nychtas, 254. For more details on his death see ibid., 263–64; Kailas, Ho Kleros sten Antistase, 38–40; Georgios Siozos, Archimandrites Ioakeim Ath. Lioulias, 1911–1943: Ho Dytikomakedonias Ethnomarytras (Archimandrite Ioakeim Ath. Lioulias, 1911–1943: The Western Macedonian National Martyr) (Kozane: Politistikos Syllogos Krokou, 2000), 117–28.

(63.) The word despote is used to refer to a bishop or metropolitan that someone knows well.

(64.) Ibid., 193.

(65.) F.O. 371/43685/R6178, March 31, 1944, telegram sent from Ioakeim of Kozane, through General Sarafis, to Prime Minister Tsouderos, March 31, 1944. The telegram was translated and sent to Hammond from London on April 4, 1944.

(67.) Ibid., 35–36.

(68.) Mazower argued that the organization, hoping to follow the example of Tito in Yugoslavia, wanted to take advantage of the unpopularity of the king and the government-in-exile by holding elections for a national government in Free Greece, the territory controlled by EAM/ELAS forces. The Greek communists played an important role in this government, as the party secretary, Siantos, also served as secretary of internal affairs. EAM even convinced a number of intellectual and political leaders of small stature to join the movement, such as the government’s president, the law professor Alexandros Svolos. EAM, however, (p.318) agreed to disband the government after the Lebanon Agreement in May 1944. Mazower, Inside Hitler’s Greece, 291.

(69.) For more information about his views on social justice see Andreas Michaelides, Ho Metropolites Chiou Ioakeim Stroumbes, Ho Koinonike tou Drase ste Chio kai he Dioxe tou (Metropolitan Ioakeim Stroumbes, His Social Activities and His Dethronement) (Chios: Alpha Pi, 2009), 42–50.

(70.) Letter from Metropolitan Ioakeim Stroumpes to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, December 14, 1945. The full text can be found in ibid., 90.

(72.) Ibid., 3:49–50.

(73.) Ibid., 3:50.

(74.) For instance, the bishop of Aigion told the ELAS officer Kassandra “to keep in mind the needs of the church.” The story is referenced in Mazower, Inside Hitler’s Greece, 314.

(75.) For more the struggle taking place in the region during the war see Vangeles Tzoukas, “Oploarchegoi kai Kapetanioi ste Dekaetia, 1940–1950: He Periptose Epeirou” (Armed Leaders and Captains During the Decade, 1940–1950: The Case of Epirus),” in Hoi Alloi Kapetanioi Antikomounistes Enoploi sta Chronia tes Katoches kai tou Emphyliou (The Other Captains, Armed Anticommunists During the Years of Occupation and Civil War), ed. Nikos Maranzides (Athens: Vivliopoleion tes “Hestias,” 2004), 375–421.

(76.) F.O. 371/37206/R10454.

(77.) It must be remembered that Damaskinos shared a similar concern when hearing about the movement.

(78.) Ibid.

(79.) Ibid.

(81.) Metropolitan Ioakeim is referring to the collaborationist Security Battalions and other such units established by the last occupation government of Ioannis Rallis and armed by the German occupation authorities. Referring to such units as nationalist bands is a tactic used by critics of EAM during the postwar period. While containing EAM may have motivated the formation of these units, their brutality exceeded that of EAM/ELAS, ensuring that such units enjoyed little support among the population in much of occupied Greece. He also makes an error when he states that the Rallis government established the EEE, which was actually established during the interwar period in Thessaloniki. Ibid., 139.

(82.) Ibid., 158–64.

(83.) Ibid., 144–48.

(85.) William McNeill described the position of the parish priest and his attitude toward EAM/ELAS: “In Greece the parish priests are chosen from (p.319) among the peasants of the village and share the attitudes and ideas of their parishioners to the full … They are distinguished from their fellow chiefly by a peculiar dress, and by the semi-magical power, conferred by the bishop’s ordination, to conduct services, baptisms, marriages and funerals. The priests are little educated, and some of them are only partially literate. In such circumstances there was no rift between clergy and peasants; and the priests divided as did their parishioners, some favouring, some opposing EAM.” William Hardy McNeill, The Greek Dilemma: War and Aftermath (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1947), 99–100.

(86.) Kostas Pentedekas, He Amfikleia (to Dadi) sten Ethnike Antistase, 1940–1944 (Amfikleia [Dadi] in the National Resistance) (Kaisariani: Entos, 2001), 212–13.

(87.) For more information about Ethnike Allelengye in Amfikleia, including Papaleventes’s involvement, see ibid. For details about his trip to Athens to raise funds for the resistance among prominent members of the community who lived in Athens see ibid., 213.

(88.) For a detailed account of the Battle of Dadi see ibid., 160–83.

(91.) Ibid., 215.

(92.) There are two accounts that emerged about Papaleventes’s fate after the war: that of Archimandrite Germanos Demakos and that of Kostas Pentedekas (the chronicler of Amfikleia during the war). Demakos states that he was permanently suspended, and he had to work as a cobbler to feed himself and his wife. Pentedekas, in contrast, states that Amvrosios restored him with a ceremony in the St. Vlassi Church. Out of love and support for their priest, a large crowd emerged both within the church and in the churchyard. For the two accounts see Demakos, Sto Vouno Me Ton Stavro, Konta Ston Ari, 90; Pentedekas, He Amfikleia (to Dadi) sten Ethnike Antistase, 218–19.

(94.) Ibid., 65.

(95.) Previous presidents fled because of resis tance activity in the area the previous year. Thus the position of president remained vacant for quite some time. In late March, the local Italian military commander, Catelano, approached Germanos about serving as town president. He initially refused, but also added that he would consider it if he had a statement from the local nomarch, G. Florinis, approving this measure. He received the letter on March 22, but still refused. However, due to his concern about the state of the town and the continued insistence of the occupation authorities and the local population, he finally relented. For more information about his role as president see Demakos, Sto Vouno Me Ton Stavro, Konta Ston Ari, 109–22; Pentedekas, He Amfikleia (to (p.320) Dadi) sten Ethnike Antistase, 183. For a copy of the nomarch’s letter see Demakos, Sto Vouno Me Ton Stavro, Konta Ston Ari, 109.

(97.) Ibid., 121.

(99.) Demakos, Sto Vouno Me Ton Stavro, Konta Ston Ari, 123–24; Pentedekas, He Amfikleia (to Dadi) sten Ethnike Antistase, 205; Giorges Moraites, Anamniseis Enos Antarte (Memoirs of a Guerilla), 2 vols. (Athens: Kastaniote, 1989), 1:122–24.

(101.) Ibid., 132.

(104.) Ultimately, when the Germans learned that the president of the town and abbot of the Agathanos Monastery was involved in resistance activity, and that he had fled to the mountains, they contacted the local metropolitan, Amvrosios. In order to avoid the destruction of the monastery he assigned as abbot a residing monk, Efraim Poulios. When asked about Germanos, the metropolitan stated that the abbot was in the countryside preaching and performing other ecclesiastical duties. Obviously, the metropolitan wanted to avoid further bloodshed. For a detailed account of the incident see ibid., 133–40.

(105.) Germanos remained convinced that the task of the church, despite the circumstances, remained to be a vehicle of peace.

(106.) Ibid., 156–57.

(107.) Ibid., 219–224.

(108.) Ibid., 227–230.

(109.) Ibid., 215–16.

(110.) Ibid., 147.

(111.) Ibid., 158.

(112.) Ibid., 159.

(113.) Ibid., 346–47.

(114.) Ibid., 349.

(115.) Archeio tes Ieras Synodou, Martyres Klerikoi (Cleric Martyrs), File 2, no. 525, August 17, 1948, report of Metropolitan of Trikkas and Stagon to the Secretary of the Holy Synod.

(116.) It is interesting to note that the author of the letter prefaces the list of the fallen priests with the following statement: “Regarding our H. Metropolis, the occupation army did not execute any of its priests. The communist guerillas, however, did after horrific and unheard-of torture execute the following five priests.” Archeio tes Ieras Synodou, Martyres Klerikoi, File 4, no. 1280, December (p.321) 3, 1947, letter from the Metropolitan of Argolis to the Secretary of the Holy Synod.

(117.) The case of Father Spyridon is referenced in reports from the metropolitan of Sparta to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on August 26, 1947. Archeio tes Ieras Synodou, Martyres Klerikoi, File 1, no. 414, August 26, 1947, report from the metropolitan of Sparta to the Secretary of the Holy Synod.

(118.) Archeio tes Ieras Synodou, Martyres Klerikoi, File 4, no. 1280, December 3, 1947, report from the metropolitan of Argolis to the Secretary of the Holy Synod.

(121.) The December events (December 3, 1944–January 15, 1945) refer to the hostilities that broke out in Athens between the Greek government and their British allies on the one hand and EAM/ELAS on the other hand. The Varkiza Agreement on February 12, 1945, concluded the period. Although both sides committed atrocities, Damaskinos and others in the hierarchy utilized the acts committed by EAM/ELAS as an opportunity to express their growing opposition to the movement.