Peter Stavrakis, Moscow and Greek Communism, 1944-1949, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1989
Transliteration and Documentation
1. Introduction: The Greek Civil War and Soviet Foreign Policy
2. Consolidating Wartime Gains, 1944-1945
3. Postwar Soviet Objectives and Greek Communist Gradualism, 1945-1946
4. From Dualism to Defeat, 1946-1949: The Soviet Impact on the Third Round of the Civil War
5. Elite Conflict and Soviet Policy in Greece
6. The Impact of Soviet Policy on Postwar Balkan Politics
Appendix: Historical Narrative and Path Analysis
Few postwar events have had as profound an effect on Western perceptions of Soviet international behavior as the Greek Civil War. The political instability and Communist insurgency in Greece, coinciding with Soviet pressure on the fragile Turkish and Iranian governments, convinced the West it was confronted by an ideologically militant Soviet Union pursuing a policy of global revolutionary expansionism. With the Truman Doctrine, the United States served notice that Greece was to be America’s first test of a policy of containment of Soviet expansionism. Although victory in the Greek Civil War was important to the United States at the time, the conflict’s long-term importance lies in the American Inceptions it created about the means and motives of Soviet foreign policy. More than four decades later, that legacy of the Greek Civil War continues to affect U.S. calculations of Soviet behavior.
Greece’s strategic location and the occurrence of civil war there during a historic transformation of the international system naturally assured the examination of the Communist insurgency. What is surprising is the extent to which assumptions about Soviet conduct in the Balkans have remained unexamined. No investigation has ever determined actual Soviet involvement in Greece; no persuasive explanation of Soviet policy during the years 1944-49 has ever emerged. In this book, using a variety of sources (Greek Communist, in particular), I have tried to determine as precisely as possible the extent and impact of .Soviet activity in Greece. Beyond this, I have integrated the historical evidence into an interpretation that, without sacrifice of complexity, adequately explains Soviet policy. The result, I hope, provides the basis for a more careful evaluation of Soviet conduct in the first years of the Cold War.
The study of the Greek Civil War, because it draws in virtually every factor important in the explanation of Soviet foreign policy generally, can illuminate the extent to which the Soviet Union was driven by ideological rather than pragmatic considerations; Soviet willingness to pursue objectives within the existing state system; the relative importance to the Soviets of subordinating all Communist parties to the Soviet state; and the extent to which Stalin would risk Soviet gains to take advantage of an adversary’s weakness. Case-study limitations aside, studying the Greek Civil War also makes it possible to test assumptions about Soviet conduct because the war coincided with the evolution of a new strategic relationship among the major powers in the international system. Postwar Stalinist foreign policy derived part of its character and style from this crucial episode; for those early postwar events established the limits and patterns of foreign policy that have affected succeeding generations of Soviet leaders down to the present.
The scarcity of information on Soviet behavior always tests the creativity of scholars. My extensive use of Greek Communist, British, and American sources means my analysis is based largely on perceptions of Soviet conduct rather than on the conduct itself. No analysis of foreign policy is ever, of course, free of perceptual problems. Perhaps mine is not the sole defensible interpretation of events in postwar Greece; the information I have used may yield alternative ones. Mine is shaped by my focus on the Soviet contribution to developments in postwar Greece; I hope its coherence and scope enables it to stand up to comparison with the alternatives.
As in all historical research, the validity of some information, as well as the meaning of certain documents, is open to question; some documents reflect opinions, rather than the facts; and there is the possibility of deliberate falsehoods. Yet, converging lines of evidence from a variety of sources do allow for an intersubjective evaluation of the data. Where possible, I have treated information that appears in both Western and Greek Communist archives as possessing higher-order validity than data found in only one of these sources. Furthermore, whatever doubts there may be about the validity of Communist sources, the Greek Communists were in much closer contact with the Soviets than Western officials were. And there is simply no other currently available source of information on the Soviet role in the Greek Civil War.
I cannot begin here to acknowledge all those who have contributed to this book or describe the ways my life has been enriched in the process. I trust that all will understand that it is not from ingratitude that I restrict myself to the major contributors. I owe a special debt to John Armstrong for the time he has taken to comment upon early drafts. Because he was my major adviser, his understanding and encouragement were important to me; his straightforward manner, honesty, and devotion to serious scholarship have been my model. I am grateful to my undergraduate adviser, Yaroslav Bilinsky, because his courses sparked my interest in Soviet politics. Patrick Riley has always inspired my intellectual endeavors; through his example, I have come to appreciate the pursuit of knowledge for its intrinsic rewards. I also thank Michael Petrovich and Melvin Croan for providing useful comments and criticisms early in my project.
John Iatrides and Ole Smith encouraged and supported my work in its initial phases and then took the time to read a draft of the completed manuscript. Ivo Banac reviewed a later version. Their comments were especially valuable in the long task of revision; I hope that I have done justice to their criticisms and observations. Prokopis Papastratis generously assisted me while I was doing my research in Greece. The kindness and patience of those who helped me remain a source of great satisfaction.
Of course no project of this kind is possible without financial assistance. The Russian Area Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison generously awarded me three Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, which permitted me to carry out research in Greece and to write up the findings on my return. In addition, the University of Wisconsin Graduate School provided me with foreign and domestic travel grants to complete basic research at the Public Records Office in London and at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I was also fortunate to receive assistance in order to carry out the supplementary research essential for revision. A research grant provided by the American Philosophical Society and the University of Vermont’s Summer Research Fellowship made possible my return to Greece and Britain to acquire further materials. Terry Walsh of the University of London kindly provided housing for me and my wife, making our stay in Britain as pleasant as it was productive. Finally, John Iatrides, Nikiforos Diamandouros, Nicholas Rizopoulos, and Lars Baerentzen were kind enough to invite me to a conference on the Greek Civil War, sponsored by the Lehrman Institute, where I received valuable comments on my work, along with intellectual stimulation.
Perhaps the greatest benefit, however, has been the personal support of those close to me and the new friendships I formed in my travels. These alone were worth the effort. My “family in Greece” was a source of great support to me. Dimitris and Aliki Georgalas, Elly Triandafillidou, and Olga Miltiadovna went out of their way to make my stay in Greece as pleasant as possible. I was also fortunate to have the generous hospitality of Julie My Iona, Christina Antzoulatou, and Dionysios and Paraskevoula Antzoulatou. Finally, my travels while researching this book provided my happiest experience, meeting Regina Romanos, who later became my wife. Regina’s subsequent patience and endurance were vital to my own success, since intellectual investigation takes its toll on more than just one person. I am grateful that she put up with me through such trying times.
Of course, not even the first few steps would have been possible without the moral and financial support of my parents, Peter and Helen Stavrakis. Because they value a good education, I have been able to receive one. In a sense, my work is an extension of their lives; for having survived the excesses of Stalinism, as displaced persons in Greece after the war they were plunged into four more years of chaos and bloodshed. They never had the chance (or the desire) to go back over that painful terrain in order to examine the larger forces that dominated their lives during those years; that is something I hope my study achieves to some small degree.
Peter J. Stavrakis