The Memoirs and Reports of The British Liaison Officers in Greece, 1942-1944: Problems of Source Value

by OLE L. SMITH[i]

The memoirs and reports of the British liaison officers (BLOs) with the Greek resistance, 1942-1944, are generally regarded as among the best sources for Greek history during the German occupation. The material has been used extensively but, as far as I am aware, singularly little

has been done so far forward a critical evaluation of the material, either as a definite body of sources in itself, or in comparison with other similar groups of material[1]. In the present paper, I intend to examine certain types of prejudices and sources of errors in the BLO material in order to

ascertain the existence and effects of distortions in the material and the degree to which such distortions may have changed the general perspectives of the accounts. The present discussion will show, I hope, that there is a serious need for reevaluation of our sources.

I do not think anyone would deny that there are, and must be, some elementary distorting factors in the BLO material. For instance, lack of experience or lack of proper briefing are examples of what I propose to call objective distorting factors. Much more difficult to handle are the subjective factors, e.g., the indisputable anticommunist attitude and the memoirs' retrospectivity.

The material selected for discussion should represent the basic types and categories of sources. The five memoirs used here differ very much in reliability from the outset. In the case of E. C. W. Myers, we know that his account is based on his very full diary. [2]

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[1] There are good remarks on most of the memoirs in the bibliography of Hagen Fleischer (companion volume to J. 0. Iatrides red.), Greece in the 1940s: A Nation in Crisis, Hanover & London, 1981, enlarged Greek ed. Athens, 1984).

[2] E. C. W. Myers, Greek Entanglement, London, 1955. It appears both fromthe book and from his paper in Ph. Auty-R. Clogg (British Policy Towards Wartime Resistance in Yugoslavia and Greece, London, 1975, pp. 147ff) that he kept a very full diary.



[i] I wish to thank my friends and colleagues, Hagen Fleischer and Lars Baerentzen, for their helpful discussions of various points. They must not be held responsible for any views expressed in this paper. I also owe them a great debt for their willing assistance in procuring documentary evidence.