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By Adamantios Th. Polyzoides
REECE neutral -- why? Is not
Between the average Greek, however, and the regular Venizelist this difference exists: the former does not push his affection for the Entente to the extent of going to war for it; and this attitude is due to fear that Greece, by entering the European war, would be destroyed, as Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, and Rumania were destroyed. In other words, we of Greece love the Entente, but not to the extent of committing suicide, especially when it is apparent that our sacrifice would not in the least affect the fortunes of the European war.
The Venizelist Greek, on the other hand, is loud in his sympathies for the Entente, and, besides that, he wants rather to commit suicide at the side of Great Britain and France than emerge living and disgraced from the great struggle.
Error of the Venizelists Since the beginning of the war Venizelos has aligned himself with the Entente Powers and assumed the leadership of the so-called war party. He thought at that time—and in his opinion he had a large majority of people agreeing with him-that the European war would end shortly in an overwhelming victory of the Entente, and insisted that Greece ought to enter the struggle and secure those advantages which would be denied her if she stood out of the fray; contrary to this view, all the Greek military factors, including King Constantine and the Hellenic General Staff, were vinced that the war would last longer than any politician imagined; that the bloody game was being played on too large a scale to allow small participants any chance of success. Events subsequently justified this latter view against the Venizelos idealism. One after the other, all the little nationalities entering the war
Turkey fighting, and Bulgaria,
these two traditional enemies a sufficient inducement for the Hellenic people to join forces with those who battle to reduce German and Austrian power, Turkish barbarism, and Bulgarian greed, to a state in which they will no more be dangerous to mankind ? What does Greece expect at the close of the war, when, in case of Entente victory, she will find herself without friends, while, should Germany win, Turkey and Bulgaria will crush every hope of a greater Hellas?
These questions and many others are persistently asked by the friends or Greece, who cannot explain an attitude condemned from every side as treacherous, faithless, cowardly, ungrateful, and generally out of keeping with the best traditions of the Greek people.
Greece has vainly tried to defend her course to the world. She has been prevented from so doing hy a number of causes, chief of which is the denial of free speech and free intercourse with the outside world. In addition to that, Greece, besides giving explanations to the world at large, is forced to defend her actions even against a turbulent minority at home, which, notwithstanding the general Greek desire for peace, has persistently labored for war while the inducements offered therefor are continually lessening.
This minority is known both in and out of Greece as the Venizelist Party; and this party is first, last, and always a one-man party, existing only by the activity and the strength of its leader, Eleutherios K. Venizelos. This leader, however, has been clever enough to tie up his followers to the fortunes of the Entente, thus monopolizing for himself and his party the sympathies and goodwill with which all Greece follows the struggle of Great Britain and France.
were knocked out in a few rounds; Greece succeeded in preserving her life despite tremendous pressure
brought to bear by Venizelos and the Entente Governments, and it is on that account that she has had to suffer, in addition to other indignities, an internal revolution in Saloniki and a rigorous blockade, which has continued since Dec. 1 of last year.
And yet the sufferings of Greece are the result of circumstances rather than of her mistakes. Could a little country like Greece do anything to affect the final result of the European war? The question is one to be answered with a smile by those who have an intimate knowledge of what the European conflict means. Yet the belligerent coalitions actually seem to have assumed that the side which had the assistance of Greece would be the victor in the gigantic conflict. Only under this assumption can we justify the intensity of the activity of both the Entente and the Teuton allies in Athens, which activity is responsible for all the troubles of Greece in the last months.
To go back over the history of the elapsed twelvemonth would be to repeat those things which are known to almost every reader of the daily press. The period may be recapitulated by saying that Greece was united in a policy of neutrality up to March, 1915, when Venizelos came out as the champion of immediate participation in the Dardanelles campaign. King Constantine and the Greek General Staff rejected his advice on grounds of military inexpediency, and subsequent events justified them. Venizelos resigned, but at the same time declared that should Greece enter the war at that time she was to secure important territorial concessions in Asia Minor; provided, however, she offered Greek Eastern Macedonia to Bulgaria.
The Gounaris Ministry, assuming power after Venizelos resigned, offered to cooperate with the Entente forces, but he asked, as a sine qua non condition, a written guarantee from the Entente to the effect that Greek territorial integrity on the Balkan Peninsula would be safeguarded against any covetous attack from Bulgaria at the time when the Greek troops would be fighting overseas in Asia Minor. This guarantee the En
tente could not give, as it was trying to secure Bulgarian intervention also at the expense of Greece.
Following the dissolution of the Greek Chamber, an election was held on May 31, (June 13,) 1915, in which Venizelos won 180 seats out of a total of 316. The Entente hailed that result as a victory of the Greek war party; but Venizelos had avoided the issue in his campaign, and the people, although expressing their confidence in him, did not vote for war.
The Treaty with Serbia In the first days of October, 1915, ihe great Teuton drive against Serbia began, and almost simultaneously Bulgaria attacked the Serbs from the rear; Venizelos, working on the assumption that the treaty with Serbia obliged Greece to attack Bulgaria, ordered a general mobilization of the Greek forces, a measure approved by the King, who wanted to forestall a possible attack from Bulgaria. King Constantine and the majority of the Greek people knew that the Serbian treaty was Balkan in its character, and was contracted at a time when the possibility of a European conflict did not enter the minds of at least the Greek delegates who signed it.
Greece was willing to stand by Serbia had she been attacked by a Balkan State; but Serbia was attacked by Germany, Austria, and Turkey, as well as Bulgaria; and meantime she was assisted in her struggle by such powerful allies as Russia, Great Britain, France, and Italy. Nevertheless, the Greek military command had good reason to expect an irresistible Teuton avalanche in the Balkans; it knew beforehand that the Serbian campaign was doomed, and also knew that if Greece attacked the Central Empires a small addition to the Teuton and Bulgar forces would crush her as surely and as effectively as they did Belgium and Serbia.
That King Constantine and the Greek military chiefs were right in their calculations is shown from this simple fact: In October, 1915, Germany had not suffered the losses of the Verdun campaign, which started in February, 1916; she had not suffered the losses of the Galician
campaign under General Brusiloff, which When one takes into account that in Destarted later in May of the same year, cember, 1915, the German and Bulgar and she had not suffered the losses inci armies had cleared Serbia of the Serbian dental to the Anglo-French offensive on troops, one can easily infer the actual the Somme, which took place late in the extent of the alleged Greek belligerency Summer of last year. Now, the German on which the Venizelist program was losses in the Verdun, Galicia, and Somme based. campaigns must have been above one From October, 1915, to June, 1916, million men, if we take the lowest esti Greece, although neutral and benevolent mate of both sides. Yet, notwithstanding to the Entente, suffered all the trials of these losses, Germany was able to crush a belligerent country. Rumania in three months. Does any one Venizelos just before his first resigimagine that had Greece entered the war nation in March, 1915, had offered the before Germany lost that million men, Entente the islands of Lemnos and Teneshe could have saved herself from de
dos to be used as naval bases against the struction ?
Dardanelles; following the landing of the But when we speak of Greek destruc Anglo-French troops in Saloniki, which tion we also have to face this naïve was effected through an invitation by objection: Greece is an island kingdom, Venizelos, and in violation of Article 99 and Great Britain rules the seas. Un of the Hellenic Constitution, General Sardoubtedly this is true to a certain extent; rail took over the Greek forts of Karabut Greece has two million Greek popu bournou in Saloniki, and about the same lation in Asia Minor, and has another time a French fleet secured possession of three million Greeks in the lands which Corfu, where the broken and sick Serbian would have been invaded, not by the Ger Army gathered to reorganize. Railway mans and Austrians, but by the Bulgars communication between Saloniki and and the Turks, who would have made a Eastern Macedonia was severed following short job of the extermination of Hellen the blowing up of the great Demir Hissar ism in the peninsula and in Asia Minor. Bridge by the Allies, and the Dova Tepé The fate of the Armenians points clearly fort on the Bulgarian border passed unenough to what the Greeks in Asia Minor der allied control shortly afterward; then could expect at the hands of the Turk; naval bases were established by the Enand as for Bulgarian sympathy toward tente in the islands of Milo and Castelthe Greek, the less said the better.
lorizo, and the Teuton Consuls in SalonAll this goes to show that Greece was
iki, instead of being ordered away, were right when she followed the advice of her arrested by the French forces. SubseKing to stay out of the war, and to adopt quently the allied control was extended to
the islands of Chios, Mitylene, Zante, a program of “ safety first." Venizelos Evaded Issue
Cefallonia, Crete, and Thassos.
Under suspicion that Greece was sendVenizelos resigned a second time in the
ing food to Bulgaria, the whole country same year, when his advice for interven
was put under a rigid control as far as tion was rejected. And as no Govern
imports of foodstuffs were concerned, ment in Greece is constitutional without
and the people experienced the first taste a Parliamentary majority behind it, the
of a blockade when the wheat and coal King ordered a new election to be held on
ships from America to Piraeus began to Dec. 6-19, 1916, in order to have the peo
be detained for days and weeks in the ple decide for war or peace. Venizelos
allied ports of Gibraltar, Algiers, and in this instance not only dodged the issue
Malta. put squarely before him, but in addition stayed away from the polls with his
Surrender of Fort Rupel whole party, and gave proof of an un In the first days of June, 1916, a timely weakness when he clamored that mixed German-Bulgarian force appeared the entire population was with him in a before the Greek fort of Rupel in Eastprogram of immediate entrance into war. ern Macedonia and demanded immediate
possession. Had Greece decided to attack the invaders she would have proved, first, that her neutrality was one-sided, and in the second place she would have had to enter the war, not only against Bulgaria, but against the entire combination of the Teuton Powers. In the face of such a contingency Greece, wishing above all to remain neutral, turned over the fort and withdrew her troops.
The Allies, once more disappointed in their hopes to see Greece enter the war, immediately declared martial law all over Macedonia, placed an embargo on Greek shippingand presented the ultimatum of June 21 with the following demands:
1. Immediate resignation of the Skouloudis Government, which,
Zaimis, Venizelos's place following the latter's resignation in October, 1915.
2. Appointment of a new Government of a nonpolitical and nonpartisan character. 3. Immediate demobilization of the army. 4. Dissolution of the Chamber, and the holding of a general election, immediately following general demobilization.
5. Substitution of certain polie officials suspected of anti-Entente leanings.
King Constantine forthwith complied with the demands of the Entente. Thus the Skouloudis Ministry resigned, Zaïmis again came to power, the army was demobilized in record time, and the police officials were succeeded by others who were acceptable to the Entente.
Greece was getting ready to hold the general election, in accordance with the last demand of the ultimatum, when Venizelos, apprehending disaster at the polls, induced the Entente to hold back its ultimate demand.
This happened because the Greek Army, when demobilized, became the strongest anti-Venizelist factor, and through the organization known as the Reservist League threatened to make any Venizelos victory in the election impossible.
In their eagerness to shift Greek attention to other matters, and with the assurance that Rumania and Italy were to declare war on Germany, the Allies started on their great Balkan offensive in the last days of August, 1916; in order to try once more to get Greece on their side the troops of General Sarrail left the en
tire East Macedonian frontier unprotected, and when the few Greek troops stationed there attacked the Bulgarian invader, and a number of sanguinary clashes ensued, it was affirmed positively in every Entente capital that Greece was getting in. In order to make Greek participation sure, the Entente dispatched a fleet to Piraeus, had the Teuton Ministers arrested, and took over the Greek fleet in order " to protect it.”
The Venizelos Revolt Greece once more refused to enter the war of destruction. And it was thus that Venizelos, despairing of coming into power as a war leader, or as chief of the Parliamentary majority, left Athens, and after a short cruise in the Aegean, touching Crete and Mitylene, settled down at Saloniki and established his so-called “ Provisional Government." His assumed to be a patriotic movement directed against the Bulgar invader, and for that reason succeeded in having immediately the support of a large number of patriotic Greeks, eager to fight the Bulgar; when, however, these people assembled in Saloniki, they received the impression that the Provisional Government was nothing else than an organized plot of Venizelos to drive King Constantine out of Greece and become himself the dictator of the country. This accomplished, Venizelos thought, there would be no difficulty in having the entire Greek people thrown into the war on the side of the Entente.
Venizelos claimed that he had the Greek people with him, and that the moment he became master in Athens Greece would take the field against the Teutons. The Entente believed the Cretan politician, and gave him every assistance in order that he might succeed in his effort. The Ionian Bank was ordered to place at the disposal of the “ Provisional Government" an amount of funds approximating $5,000,000; a number of officers were assigned to train the Venizelist volunteers, and numerous emissaries to the Entente capitals and other cities were sent to preach the gospel of Venizelism against Constantine, the neutralist King. Venizelos counted on fifty thousand
Greeks leaving the United States to place themselves in his army, and on substantial financial support from those who would not volunteer to serve with the troops.
In order to arm his troops Venizelos suggested that the Entente force the Athens Government to turn over its artillery and ammunition to the revolutionists; of course the arms would be used apparently against the Bulgar foe, and as Greece was not willing to fight, the Entente ought to secure those guns and hand them to the Venizelos men.
The Clash in Athens The Entente with the usual eagerness acceded to the Venizelos demand, and through Admiral Fournet, commanding the allied fleet in Greek waters, demanded peremptorily that the Hellenic Government hand over its arms to the allied forces. The Royal Government, having information that the arms thus demanded were to be used against the established Hellenic régime, refused to comply with the Admiral's ultimatum, and when on Dec. 1 an allied force landed in Athens to take possession of the arms by force, the Greek troops in the capital offered a most stubborn resistance, succeeded in isolating Admiral Fournet, and almost made him a prisoner. They finally drove the invader out, after inflicting and suffering serious losses in the encounter.
It then became apparent that the Veni. zelist element in Athens had everything ready for a revolution to overthrow the Government and the King, and to establish the rule of the “ Provisional Government” in the capital of Greece. The Venizelists were well armed for this purpose, and counted chiefly on the support that the allied troops would afford them in engaging the Greek troops. When Admiral du Fournet became aware that the entire population of Athens was for the King and against Venizelos, he immediately withdrew, and subsequently was punished by his Government.
It was following this “treacherous assault” on the Entente troops by the Greek Army that a new ultimatum was presented to Greece, asking reparation and the transfer of the Greek military
forces to the Peloponnesus; in addition the demand for the handing over of the weapons was again repeated. Greece complied with all the other desires of the Entente, but refused to hand over the guns. Thereupon the Entente established a new blockade, which is continuing still.
During well-nigh four months not a single ship was allowed to take any food to Greece; immense misery, starvation, sickness, and a diversity of epidemics have ensued; in vain the Royal Government protested against this inhuman treatment, which is costing scores of lives daily. Every Greek steamer has suspended sailings, and Greece is completely cut off from communication with the outside world.
Venizelos Movement a Failure Venizelos at the same time is unable to go ahead with his movement. After having spent the $5,000,000 given him by the Entente he has scarcely succeeded in assembling in Saloniki more than 5,000 volunteers; he is today despised by the majority of the Greek people; he is considered as the man who has split his country in two at a time when Hellas ought to present a united front. The Venizelos movement is a failure, and is maintained simply because it has behind it the prestige and the support of the Entente. Tomorrow, should the Entente abandon Saloniki, Venizelos would have to flee for his life.
What profit, therefore, do the Allies expect from a man and a party which cannot count on the sympathy of the majority of the Greek people ?
This blockade, this misery, this suffering, of the Greek nation were expected to strengthen the Venizelist movement; but Greece starving and dying will not follow him. The Venizelos movement has ceased to thrill the nation. The Venizelist emissaries in Europe and America may continue their efforts, but neither a volunteer nor a dollar will be lured to Saloniki,
Greece has ceased to be a factor in the European war. Venizelos has ceased to be the powerful leader who could wrest his country from the King of the Hellenes. The Entente were deceived, and