Greece – Spiral Of Ruin 1948 – Past Daily Reference Room

Greece in 1948

At war for over 7 years with no letup in sight.

Greece in chaos – Talk by Eugene Clay Special Envoy to Greece – February 4, 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Greece was in a state of uproar and chaos, and had been for several years. Fighting both the Germans and Italians during World War 2. Going through an occupation by Germany until liberation in September of 1944. Immediately plunged into a Civil War – a brief peace before more civil war. And between all that, a country trying to rebuild; a financial situation in turmoil, citizens starving, a communist led insurgency, a loyalist government trying to maintain power, a country whose currency, owing to inflation, was rendered worthless – a country spiraling into despair.

That was what it looked like on February of 1948, when Special Envoy Eugene Clay, Economic Adviser to the U.S. mission on Aid To Greece, assessing the situation to the State Department and in an address broadcast nationwide on February 4th.

As Clay explained it – the situation in Greece wasn’t good even before the war, with the standard of living second only to neighboring Albania as the worst in Europe. With the war devastating what little was left, and the country now turned into a hotbed of rebel militias fighting with government forces, it made a bad situation only worse.

Clay went on to describe the on-going guerrilla war, which he attributed to Communist inspired groups wanting an intervention from the Soviet Union and stretching the chaotic situation even further. He claimed that some of the rebels were equipped with weapons and supplies obtained from the Soviets via Yugoslavia. To compound matters, the civil war was now creating an army of refugees, escaping the fighting. The numbers of displaced were said to be in excess of 400,000, with more each day.

All this by way of saying, some monies allocated by the U.S. to support Greece’s reconstruction had been sidetracked to pay for military supplies and training of government troops to fight the guerrillas. But even at that, reconstruction was going on and some signs of stability were being seen. Roads were being rebuilt and ports, which had been badly damaged from the war, were being rehabilitated. But the point Clay was getting at was; if Greece was to succeed in preventing a Communist takeover, the U.S needed to increase its military presence and offer more military aid. And that’s what it was all about.

Cold War diplomacy and fear of Communist takeovers, as they were expressed on February 4th 1948.

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