World War II in Athens
Greece and wars is a famous historical theme, especially for Athens, since it was destroyed several times during its long history. The famous pic of 1944 showing British troops was taken at Kydathineon.
Athens world war II crisis
Athens was initially attacked by Italy (October 1940) before Germany did in April 1941. Athens Nazi occupation officially started in April 27 1941. The economic situation in Athens was more than bad. Black market was growing, prices were rising, and people trying to provide themselves with olive oil, grain or flour and cheese. Food was even bought from nearby Turkey, but boat Curtulus that was carrying the supplies was sunk on January 1942. On March 1942 the first international aid arrived in Greece from Sweden and Canada.
German government provided itself with the famous loan in 1943 and in 1944. Nazis managed to destroy Greek economy since they printed their own money and Greek periphery didn’t sell products to Athens, since the Greek currency completely lost its value. Greek economy completely collapsed making the British pound the only trusted currency.
During that black market period, more that 60.000 private titles of land changed hands. Germans were realizing they would lose the war and the became more violent. In March 1943 Jews were gathered to Synagogue and sent to Auschwitz. During 1944 also civil fights started with those that had helped Germans and those who resisted. Everything was prepared for the Greek civil War that followed 1944-1949 and started from Athens.
A special building related to Nazi’s tortures to Greek civilians is located at Korai 4 street in Athens that you can visit online here or call here +302103243581.
Start of Greek Civil War and the battle of Athens
While the summer of 1944 was over, the Germans were preparing to leave Athens, but Greek internal tension was raising and no one could succeed in dealing with it. The British allies wanted to establish a Greek government in Athens but ELAS wanted a communist one, even though probably knew that Stalin would not support a communist regime in Greece, and this brought a stalemate.
So ELAS forces came down to Pagrati and made the center of its activities. Germans had put explosives to main points, like Marathon dam, railway stations, and Piraeus port so as to explode them while retreating. But British General Felmy, the Athens commander, afraid for his troops came into contact with Greeks (archbishop Damaskinos, English and ELAS) and asked to leave without assault and not exploding the infrastructure.
While leaving the city, ELAS attacked in Iera Odos and decided to bomb Pagrati area but later he decided not to do it. In October 12th the Germans had evacuated Athens and in 14th the English army arrived to the city.
The battle of Athens took place in December in the area where modern Panathenaic stadium is, actually in the hill next to it (Ardittos Hill). The English line was around the Parliament, Grande Bretannia Hotel, Omonia, Acropolis, Lycabettos, Zappeion, Thisseio and Plaka- Makrygianni area where a tagma was there.
ELAS forces were controlling rest of Athens. The strategic location between Pagrati and Athens center is Ardettos Hill and also Syggrou Avenue, that was not that expanded as today, that connected Faliro to Athens. Losses were heavy from both sides.
ELAS forces drew back from Ardettos Hill and moved to Byronas area. British final attach was launched at the end of December and in 29th the British tanks parade in Pagrati and ELAS decides to evacuate Athens. Three days later Athens battle was over. The British had managed to free Athens and the civil war was about to start. The modern period of Athens history begins, leaving behind the neoclassical Athens (and Plaka) for good. The period of military junta is yet to come.