Friday, April 11, 2008

Nikos Zakhariadis, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece: First Open Letter to the People of Greece on the Greek-Italian War, 31 October 1940; Second Open Letter on the Greek-Italian War, 26 November 1940; Third Open Letter on the Greek-Italian War, 15 January 1941

A. Papapanagiotou, ed., To Kommounistiko Komma Elladas ston polemo kai stin antistasi, Episima Keimena V 1940-1945 (Rome 1973) 16, 22-23, 31-35 First Open letter

[Printed in the Athenian daily papers 2 November 1940]

Mussolini's Fascism has murderously and impudently stabbed Greece in the back so as to enslave and subjugate her. Today all we Greeks fight for freedom, for honour, for our national independence. The struggle will be very difficult and very hard. But a nation that wants to live must fight, disregarding dangers and sacrifices. The people of Greece are today waging a war of national liberation against Mussolini's fascism. Alongside the main front EVERY ROCK, EVERY RAVINE, EVERY VILLAGE, COTTAGE BY COTTAGE, EVERY CITY, HOUSE BY HOUSE, MUST BE A STRONGHOLD OF THE NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE.

Every agent of fascism must be destroyed without mercy. We must give all our strength, without reservation, to this war directed by the Metaxas government. The reward and crown in the present war for working people must be, and will be, a new Greece of work, of freedom, liberated from all foreign imperialist dependence. With a truly popular culture.

All to the struggle, everyone in his place and victory will be the victory of Greece and of its people. The workers of the entire world stand at our side.

Athens 31 October 1940

Nikos Zakhariadis Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE

[Letter 2 was sent by Nikos Zakhariadis to the 'Provisional Administration' of the KKE, which, unknown to him, was under the control of Konstantinos Mani­adakis, the deputy minister of Public Order. The letter was not published until after the war.]

26 November 1940

Second Open Letter

The entire people of Greece rose as one and wrecked the designs of fascism. The people ensured their freedom and independence with their blood. Beyond this, Greece has no place in the imperialist war between England and Italy-Germany. Since our people are decisively defending their independence and national freedom, today they want one thing only: peace and neutrality under the following conditions: 1) the situation to revert to what it was on 28 October 1940 without any territorial, economic or political damage at the expense of Greece: 2) all British forces to leave the soil and waters of Greece. On the basis of these two conditions we seek the immediate mediation of the USSR to bring about peace between Greece and Italy. Today this is the only national and popular interest. Events have shown that today only the USSR has protected the peace and neutrality of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Nikos Zakhariadis

PS We are obliged to seek an honourable peace without sanctions and once more to make clear the national, defensive, liberating character of the war which we are undertaking and that we are foreign to the imperialist war being fought by the plutocratic Great Powers. If today we do not work for an honourable peace, the war will lose its national-defensive character for us, it will become expansionist and the people will be against it.

Nikos Zakhariadis Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE

[Letter 3 fell into the hands of the Security Police and was suppressed, despite Zakhariadis' plea that it be drmlated. It was first published after the war.]

Third Open Letter Dear Comrades,

I have a request for you: print, distribute, post on walls in Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, if possible throughout the country and at the front, my letter below. Hold high the banner of the Communist Party of Greece and continue with the greatest spirit your political and organisational work. Long live the Communist Party of Greece and the Communist International.

N. Zakhariadis


15 January 1941

To all the members and cadres of the organisations of the Communist Party of Greece and of the Organisation of Communist Youth of Greece

I am writing this letter because a basic, radical difference has arisen between me and the 'Provisional Administration' which since September 1940 claims to represent the KKE. I had accepted political cooperation alone with the 'Provisional Administration' (despite my serious reservations) because I had entrusted an old comrade to purge the KKE of the wasps' nest of police informers of Mathesis and Papayiannis.

From the outset I had noted serious mistakes in the political line of the 'Provisional Administration', which it refused to correct despite my proposals, just as it did not accept other of my recommendations. My basic disagreement, however, which I mention below, requires me to speak out openly.

My letter [Le. Zakhariadis' first letter of 31 October], which was published in the newspapers of 2 November, had the following objectives: 1) to give reliable, uniform guidance to communists throughout the country; 2) to mobilise the people in an anti-fascist crusade for national independence and freedom; 3) to re-establish popular freedoms, a popular anti-plutocratic policy domestically; 4) to make the war national, anti-fascist and anti­imperialist with the basic and sole objective of ensuring our national independ­ence, peace and our neutrality, apart from the general imperialist war. This we could achieve only with a wholehearted orientation towards the USSR and true Balkan co-operation.

From the outset, Metaxas did the opposite. He conducted a fascist and expansionist war. Mter we had thrown the Italians out of Greece, our basic objective should have been to make a separate, honourable peace, without concessions, between Greece and Italy. This could have been achieved with the mediation of the USSR. But the monarcho-fascist dictatorship continued the war on account not of the people of Greece but of plutocracy and British imperialism.

After the expulsion of the Italians from Greece, the blood of our soldiers is being unjustly shed. Today British imperialism expends the blood of the children of Greece, as the interest on the capital that it expended in 1935-36 for the restoration of [King] George [11] and the establishment of the monarcho-fascist dictatorship of Metaxas. Since Metaxas refuses to restore the freedoms of the people, to ensure peace for Greece and wages a war of imperialist conquest, the whole burden of which falls on the people, he remains the main enemy of the people and of the country. His overthrow is the most immediate and pressing interest of our people. The people and the army should take the government of the country and the conduct of the war into their hands with the objective of peace, national independence, of an anti-fascist, anti-plutocratic popular domestic regime, of total alignment with the USSR and Balkan co-operation on the basis of the peaceful solution of intra-Balkan disputes.

I have developed these views in an open letter and a draft resolution which I sent to the 'Provisional Administration' on 26 November 1940. The latter refused to accept and publish this, and developed a clearly social-patriotic argument along these lines: Greece's war against Italy in Albania is similar to the war between the USSR and Finland, and Metaxas is a protagonist in the world-wide anti-fascist struggle. The 'Provisional Administration' seeks utterly to subordinate the KKE to the monarcho­fascist dictatorship instead of organising its overthrow. Thus the 'Provisional Administration' reduces my open letter of 2 November 1940 [written on 31 October] (full responsibility for which I bear before the KKE and Communist International) to a clearly social-patriotic document and besmirches the honour of the KKE. This is my dispute with the stand of the 'Provisional Administration'. From this stand it is abundantly clear that the 'Provisional Administration' is the creation and organ of Maniadakis and that Yannis Mikhailidis, Psilos, Katsanevis, Kamos have' betrayed their mission of purging the KKE of the Mathesis gang, which is sold out to the monarcho-fascist dictatorship.

In the light of all this, the stance of all members, cadres and organisations of the KKE and of the Organisation of Communist Youth of Greece in the country and at the front should be this: the people of Greece in this war are solely defending their national independence. They are foreign to the imperialistic war between England and Germany and co. They want a separate, honourable, immediate peace through the mediation of the USSR. They recognise the principle of self-determination as far as secession for all. They want freedom, work, and their will to prevail, which is being denied by Metaxas. They want an external alliance with the USSR and true Balkan understanding. The peoples and soldiers of Greece and Italy are not enemies but brothers, and their fraternisation at the front will put an end to the war being waged by their capitalist exploiters.

To bring all this about, the people and the army must overthrow the monarch-fascist dictatorship of Metaxas, which is their principal and fundamental enemy, and establish a popular anti-fascist government. If a people are to preserve national freedom they must enjoy domestic freedom. A domestically enslaved people is not worthy to preserve its national inde­pendence and every victory of its domestic tyrant will strengthen its slavery.

Today this must be the path of the KKE. Every member and cadre of the organisation should instil this line in the masses and organise them around it, ensuring that it prevails. And do not forget for a moment those of us in prison or in exile. In Corfu[prison] the life of our best comrades is minute by minute in imminent danger from the knife of Metaxas and the bombs of Mussolini. I am healthy and well. All my thoughts and my heart are with the Party, just as my life is dedicated to it.

Long live the Communist Party of Greece! Long live the Communist International!


15 January 1941

Prison of the General Security Health and happiness Nikos Zakhariadis

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