By George Koumoullis
As expected, my article, “The truths the hagiographies don’t tell”, that was published in the Sunday Mail on June 18 was not well received by some extreme right-wingers.
Andreas Maimarides, president of Eoka’s Council of Historical Remembrance (SIMAE) responded with a letter, published in Politis, which made the following four points about General Grivas:
1) He was a wanted man and had a price on his head by the Germans during World War II
2) He was anti-junta
3) Had he not died in January 1974 he would have prevented the July 1974 coup and
4) My conclusion that Eoka B was a criminal organisation was “arbitrary”.
Let me start with the claim that the Nazis had placed Grivas on wanted list. Nothing could be further from the truth for two reasons.
First, if he had been on a ‘wanted list’, everyone would have known about it, and there would have been no need for it to be revealed by some literature teacher who calls himself a ‘historical analyst,’ 75 years later.
Second, how could the Nazis put a price on the head of a collaborator?
I will refer to just one reliable source, and if required I will cite more. Mark Mazower, a renowned professor of history at New York’s prestigious Columbia University, wrote on page 378 of his book ‘In Greece’: “The armed men of ‘X’ (the group led by Grivas) exchanged fire with the patrols of ELAS (resistance group) and took part in important operations by the side of the Security Battalions of the Germans.” These battalions were as feared in Greece as the SS were in Germany.
Bearing this in mind and using common sense, no prudent person would be convinced that Grivas was a declared wanted man by his partners. Mr Maimarides would have been convincing if he had cited documents, the authenticity of which was certified by the German government.
But even if Grivas were outlawed by the Germans for creating an illegal organization, the course of events negated such a decision since ‘X’ never fought the Germans but only the Greek freedom fighters in collaboration with the notorious security battalions
As for the claim that Grivas was against the Greek junta, you can only laugh at it. Being an extreme rightist himself, he fully shared the junta’s fascist ideology which was why he expressed his satisfaction when the colonels staged the coup and overthrew Greece’s lawful government in April 1967. As there were always rival junta cliques, not all right-wing extremists were always on the same side – some supported the colonels while others labelled themselves anti-junta, depending on the period and intrigues within the regime.
Brigadier Demetris Ioannides, Eoka B’s main backer after January 1974 and subsequently the executioner of the Cypriots, was anti-junta from 1970 until November 1973 when he overthrew Colonel Papadopoulos and his clique. Therefore, to claim Grivas was against the junta, in the sense that he resisted and fought to restore legality and democracy in Greece, is beyond a joke.
Another absurd claim was that if Grivas had been alive in July 1974 he would have averted the coup. Was it not Grivas, according to the findings of the Cyprus Report by the Greek parliament, who had formulated several coup plans that were not pursued, such as Operation Sfendoni, Apollon and Niki? His record does not support Maimarides’ claim. Grivas would not have averted the coup but encouraged it.
Particularly infuriating was Mr Maimarides’ reference to my “arbitrary conclusions about Eoka B”, which I had described as a criminal organisation. According to Mr Maimarides some people persuaded Grivas to lead Eoka B, but he does not identify who persuaded Grivas to assume the leadership of this Camorra.
Mr Maimarides, indirectly but clearly, justified the actions of Eoka B and its leader Grivas. For the sake of accuracy, Mr Maimarides should add to his title President of the Council of Historical Remembrance of the Eoka struggle 1955-59 ‘and Eoka B struggle 1971-74’.
I would have expected Mr Maimarides to exercise some self-criticism for the share of the responsibility he and his faction bear. Did he and his fellow nationalists have no role in the slaughter and ripping apart of our country? Or perhaps deep inside they recognise their mistake, but on the surface remain unrepentant?
Writing these lines, I cannot help thinking about the unforgiveable mistake by Makarios in offering an olive branch to Eoka B and the coupists. The “uber-Hellenes” and “national saviours” deserve neither forgiveness nor clemency. I say this not out of malice or vindictiveness, but out of a sense of justice and self-defence. People who forget and forgive are doomed to fall prey to opportunists and be humiliated just like their forefathers.
Unfortunately, with the Enosis slogan, Eoka B led astray many who believed they would end up in the Promised Land. How tragic. Instead of Eoka B leading them to the Land of Canaan, it led them to the land of Hassan.
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist