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Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist?

Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 1

Spyros Marchetos

A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis

Spyros Marchetos, «A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of


Sotirios Gotzamanis», στο Alexandra Ioannidou, Christian Voss (eds.), Slavic Studies after the EU-
Enlargement: Challenges and Prospects. Proceedings of the First Interdisciplinary Slavic Studies
Conference. University of Macedonia, Salonica, 29/9-1/10/2006, Berliner Slawistische Arbeiten
(Peter Lang Verlag), Βερολίνο 2009.

Contents

Contents .....................................................................................................................................................1
1. Fascist or Conservative? ........................................................................................................................2
2. A Radical of the Right ...........................................................................................................................5
3. The Right Unites..................................................................................................................................11
4. Ethnicophrosyne ..................................................................................................................................15
5. The Spectre of Alexander ....................................................................................................................18
6. The Heritage of Fascism......................................................................................................................24
Bibliography ............................................................................................................................................28
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 2

1. Fascist or Conservative?

In the evening of 14th of March, 1957, Salonica witnessed a bizarre scene that would be considered
scandalous, if not outright national treason, had it happened in any other place of the war-ravaged
Europe. The local social and political elite, including all important state functionaries, from the bishop,
the military governor and the prefect downwards, gathered in the grand hall of the semi-official Society
for Macedonian Studies to honour a white-haired politician. They received enthusiastically his speech,
on a subject hardly appropriate for these postwar times (‘The conquest of Asia by the Greeks under the
leadership of Alexander the Great’), amid applause that would scarcely let anyone imagine that very
recently this same old man had been condemned to death by a Greek high court, for nothing less than
collaboration with the enemy. He was Sotirios Gotzamanis, the powerful Finance Minister during the
Nazi occupation of Greece, infamous for presiding over the worst economic catastrophe in the
country’s history, that included a colossal transfer of wealth from poor to rich, caused untold misery
and left tens of thousands dead from hunger. The people had blamed exactly this politician for the
hyperinflation of those years, calling «Gotzamanakia» -the little children of Gotzamanis- the worthless
banknotes that bore his signature. Nationalists had hated bim for his perceived support to plans for the
bulgarian domination of Macedonia. And yet, while all over Europe lesser collaborators of the Nazis
had been hunted, imprisoned and often executed, here he was in postwar Salonica -free, prosperous,
respected, lionized by everyone who counted, and even continuing to preach to the local elites
trademark nazi notions -vital space, race, «Hindoeuropean warriors», and the providential Leader of the
nation. His slav macedonian ethnicity, not hidden but flaunted during his long career, made the
conundrum even greater.

The ambiguity surrounding this man’s politics has not lessened since. “Who was, finally,
Sotirios Gotzamanis? A visionary, a reformer or perhaps a rabble-rouser?”, asks his biographer. “Here
is a characteristic case”, he concludes sotto voce, “of a charismatic politician who, because of his love
for power, and of a tragic destiny of choices [sic] finally not vindicated, was scornfully driven to the
margins of collective history. He was no innocent himself, but no one can deny that he served faithfully
his ideology; an ideology which, notwithstanding its temporary maeanderings, made him always a
stout defender of the interests of Macedonian Hellenism. And this is, for [Gotzamanis], a posthumus
vindication”.1

An ideologist, indeed... What was this ideology so faithfully served by the honorable
Gotzamanis? The biographer gives an approximative answer: «many Greeks who collaborated with the
Axis powers in the 1940s were not necessarily deserters or turncoats, but conscious followers of certain
ideological currents, mainly of fascist tendencies that had emanated from Germany and Italy in the
interwar years. One of them was Gotzamanis».2

1
Ιάκωβος Δ. Μιχαηλίδης, Σωτήριος Γκοτζαµάνης: Ο άνθρωπος, ο πολιτικός, ο µύθος, Βάνιας,
Thessaloniki 2001, p. 111-112. All translations from greek into english are mine.
2
Ibid, p. 111.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 3

Could it really be so? Was fascism that «ideology» that safeguarded «the interests of
Macedonian Hellenism»? Gotzamanis had indeed been among the systematic promoters and servants
of nazism in Greece. His fascist pedigree was long, extending to the period before Mussolini’s rise to
power. In the early 1920s he had envisaged the creation of a protofascist party; in the 1930s he
advocated an alliance with the Axis and tried to turn the Metaxas dictatorship towards national
socialism, while from 1941 to 1943 he participated in the Quisling governments. But again, his appeal
extended far beyond the fascist camp. He had acted in the interwar years as champion of the oppressed
slavophones, and later, after the Civil War, he was endorsed by the conservative Prime Minister, the
legendary Marshall Papagos, as candidate mayor for Thessaloniki, garnering almost half of the popular
vote in this city. His memory today is claimed by people who are not really fascists themselves.3

Close as Gotzamanis might have been to fascism for a good part of his career, he could also
pass as a conservative too; and conservatives did not reject, but mostly embraced him. Till his death in
1958 he straddled both the fascist and the conservative regions of the Right, moving with equal ease in
both, at times accepted and at times loathed by this side or the other, and permanently quarrelling
within both. The fact that such ambiguous behaviour was possible, and even proved successful, a
skillful adaptation to changing political junctures, illuminates wider issues pertaining to fascism:
Gotzamanis’ exploits indicate that there were no fixed ideological or political boundaries between
fascism and conservatism in mid twentieth century Greece. On the contrary, these two currents were
symbiotic, even on occasions intermingling, both invoking the ideological tenets of ethnicophrosyne
and forming a continuum on which their activists moved freely and often changed places; if certain
intellectuals or politicians could safely be placed at the one or the other extreme of this spectrum, most
occupied its crowded middle space and almost all tried to stay united against the Left.

Certainly the case of Gotzamanis strenghtens the general point of scholars like Robert O. Paxton
and Robert Soucy, who emphasize the complicities, affinities and continuities between conservatism
and fascism.4 It also illuminates three salient facts about mid twentieth-century Greece: first, that the

3
In fact, his history is still living history, especially in Macedonia: the author of the biography cited
above was encouraged, helped and funded in the 1990s by local politicians and notables, and explicitly
directed «to rehabilitate Sotirios Gotzamanis, as he actually deserves» (Introduction of Georgios Tanos,
elected prefect of Pella, to Ι. Δ. Μιχαηλίδης, Σωτήριος Γκοτζαµάνης..., op.cit., p. 4). Somewhat
incongruently the same author assures us a little later on, while explaining his methodology, that «the
historian is not a judge, and [the writing of] history cannot be political. Its exclusive object must be the
comprehension of the past and of the human actions» (ibid, p. 12). Might detached hermeneutics be
used to cover some traces of political partisanship here?
4
See mainly Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, Penguin Books, London 2005 [2004];
Robert Soucy, French Fascism: The First Wave, 1924-1933, Yale University Press, Νew Haven and
London 1986; Robert Soucy, French Fascism: The Second Wave, 1933-1939, Yale University Press,
Νew Haven and London 1986. The first of these books (p. 218) contains the most cogent available
definition of fascism, approached not as an ideology, but rather as «a form of political behaviour
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 4

high-tide moment of fascism came here not in the Twenties nor in the Thirties, when it was ascendant
in most of Europe, but in the Forties -that is, only after the Left had posed a real challenge to the
regime; second, that ethnicity, even when construed as «race», could be of secondary importance for
fascists and conservatives alike; and third, that the Greek Right, contrary to the mainstream European
Right, from the Gaullists to the Italian and German Christian Democrats, was rebuilt during and after
the Second World War not in opposition to fascism, but in collaboration and collusion, and
occasionally in fusion with it. This Greek Right incorporated the fascists and fought side by side with
them against the Left, from the days of the German Occupation, through the December 1944 Uprising
of Athens and till the end of the Civil War;5 their ways parted, really, only in 1974.

In the pages that follow we will trace the political activity and ideas of Gotzamanis before and
during the Second World War; in the next part of this essay we will specify the context of the
incorporation, in the 1940s, of the fascists into the mainstream Right; then we will present
ethnicophrosyne, the ideological form through which this incorporation was effected, as well as its
reasons and objectives. After this we will discuss some aspects of Gotzamanis’ version of

marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood, and by


compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist
militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic
liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal
cleansing and external expansion». The political behaviour of Gotzamanis during most of his long
career was well covered by this definition, even if he failed to build the mass party of committed
militants that he envisaged since the early 1920s. The same holds, most clearly in the 1940s, for the
colonel Georgios Grivas and the organisations that he actually managed to create («X», National Party
of Chites and later EOKA and EOKA B), as well as, in most cases, for the infamous Security
Battallions created by the extreme Right government of Ioannis Rallis with the support of the German
occupation forces. If we take all these actors into account, and view fascism primarily as a form of
political behaviour and not as an ideology requiring a cohesive system of thought and extensive
intellectual elaborations, we will have to disagree with the claim that fascism had limited appeal in
1940s Greece –an assertion made, for example, by David Close in The Origins of the Greek Civil War
(London 1995; in Greek, Ντέιβιντ Κλόουζ, Οι ρίζες του εµφύλιου πολέµου στην Ελλάδα, translated by
Rena Chrysochoou, Φιλίστωρ, Αthens 2003, p. 110).
5
This stance might well be rooted in the refusal of all important Greek politicians to cooperate with
EAM during the Occupation, despite the very advantageous terms offered to them. Thus, no De Gaulle
appeared in Greece. I would tend to agree with Hagen Fleischer’s remark, that this was mainly due to a
lack of leadership (Hagen Fleischer, “The National Liberation Front (EAM), 1941-1947. A
Reassessment”, in John O. Iatrides, Linda Wrigley, Greece at the Crossroads. The Civil War and its
Legacy, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park 1995, p. 63); perhaps it was equally
connected to the reactionary habitus, excluding any project of social reform, that had developed since
the 1930s among the greek bourgeoisie.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 5

ethnicophrosyne, while in the conclusion of this paper we will review and develop the points outlined
above.

2. A Radical of the Right

Holding for a while our judgement on these matters, let us first visit the topoi of our subject’s life.
Sotirios Gotzamanis was born in 1884, in a powerful family of notables of Yannitsa, then Yenidje, an
important town of Ottoman Macedonia. They were slav-speakers, but sided with the Greek and not the
Bulgarian church in the bitter struggle between Patriarchists and Exarchists. After finishing the Greek
secondary school of Salonica, Sotirios left for Italy, where he studied medicine thanks to a grant from
the Greek state – a clever bid to tie his powerful family to the national cause. Soon his articles in greek
dailies of Thessaloniki showed his political ambition. Combining a virulent nationalism with blatant
hypocrisy, he developed motifs that would also resonate in his interwar rhetoric: the exploitation of
local macedonians by unscrupulous governments protecting the interests of their far-off capitals, the
need for fiscal prudence, and the defense of small owners from the encroachment of big capital.6
Juggling of national identities – at that time, the Greek and the Ottoman – was also practised with
gusto. His prose already showed the hallmarks of his later political discourse: opaqueness, bombast,
grandiose rhetorical sweeps, and efforts to include fashionable slogans rather than be coherent. If the
contents of his discourse were not yet fascist, its style was recognizably influenced by that of the
politicians and public intellectuals who gravitated towards the Italian Nationalist Association and were
soon to participate in the building of fascism. 7

After the Young Turk revolution, which he supported but not for long, Sotirios got his Ph.D.
from the medical faculty of the University of Padua in 1909 and started work at the gynaecological
department there. In 1912 he reached Greece, and during the Balkan Wars he seems to have joined an
irregular band led by a nationalist army officer and comprising many picturesque brigands of
Olympus.8 After demobilization he participated in the founding, in 1914, of a conservative and

6
See, for example, Sotirios Gotzamanis, articles in Nea Aletheia (Thessaloniki) of the 22nd and the
27th of April, 1910, as reprinted in Ι. Δ. Μιχαηλίδης, Σωτήριος Γκοτζαµάνης..., op.cit., p. 117-124;
ibid, p. 13-23.
7
On this influential political organisation, that was to open the road to fascism, and its luminaries, see
briefly R. J. B. Bosworth, The Italian Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives in the Interpretation of
Mussolini and Fascism, Arnold, London 1998; in more detail, Walter L. Adamson, Avant-garde
Florence: From Modernism to Fascism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA – London 1993;
Alexander J. DeGrand, The Italian Nationalist Association and the Rise of Fascism in Italy, University
of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London 1978.
8
According to Philippos Dragoumis, a knowledgeable observer who was then officer of the Greek
Army and politically close to Gotzamanis, these irregular bands «behaved shamefully, advancing only
where and when they could pillage, and not even distinguishing between Christian and Moslem
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 6

nationalist party of local notables supported by the Greek Trade Guilds of Salonica, the Popular Party.
This, showing some affinities to what was soon to be called fascism, wanted to harness mass
mobilization against the powerful socialist and multinational Federation Socialiste Ouvriere.9 At the
elections of 1915 it opposed the Liberal Prime Minister Veniselos and elected three deputies, all of
them scions of important families. Gotzamanis was one of them. 10

In the National Schism Sotirios sided with the antiveniselist camp, which attracted most
macedonian notables and minorities, and drifted towards the radical Right. Sent to exile by the
authoritarian Veniselos Government of 1917-1920, he developed a plan of using mass mobilization to
overturn violently the ruling Liberals: he would manipulate the resurgent labour movement through “an
ultra secret military organisation, that will rein in the workers without letting them know it […] Labour
must become a faithful instrument in our hands; however, the workers themselves must never feel that
this is the case”11. These schemes came to nothing since the Liberals were thrown out of office in less
dramatic fashion, through next year’s elections. The antiveniselists installed themselves in government,
and Gotzamanis formed a parliamentary group of slav speaking deputies who vowed to protect the
particularist macedonian interests. In time he distanced himself from the unwise government, that
forgot its electoral promises of peace and led the army to a quagmire in the Anatolian hinterland.
Greece was then defeated, and a military revolution overturned the monarchist rule.

In these years, while the fascist movement crystallized in neighbouring Italy, many Greek
politicians and intellectuals, from the Prime Minister Dimitrios Gounaris downwards, searched for
fascist-type solutions to the National Schism.12 Gotzamanis’ ideas too evolved through contact with

villages» (Φίλιππος Στεφάνου Δραγούµης, Hµερολόγιο. Βαλκανικοί Πόλεµοι 1912-1913, introduced


and edited by Ι.Κ. Μαζαράκης-Αινιάν, Δωδώνη, Athens - Yannina 1988, p. 210).
9
It was short-lived, and not to be confused with the more important Popular Party created a little later
by Dimitrios Gounaris. The latter, a loose network of notables, had no specific ideological references
beyond nationalism and soon became the main organisation of antiveniselist politicians.
10
The other two were Philippos Dragoumis and George Boussios.
11
Record of February 27th, 1919, in Φίλιππος Στεφάνου Δραγούµης, Hµερολόγιο. Διχασµός 1916-
1919, introduction and comments by Χριστίνα Βάρδα, edited by Μάρκος Δραγούµης, Δωδώνη, Athens
- Yannina 1995, σ. 334.
12
The prominent public intellectuals Ion Dragoumis, Georgios Vlachos and Aristos Campanis were
among them, as well as the future dictator Ioannis Metaxas. However, their crucial difference from
Italian fascists was that they did not unite, nor could they unite the bourgeois, a substantial part of
whom continued to support the Liberals. Of course, the lack of any real threat from the Left contributed
to this. On Greek fascism in this period see my study, Σπύρος Μαρκέτος, Πώς φίλησα τον Μουσσολίνι.
Τα πρώτα βήµατα του ελληνικού φασισµού, Βιβλιόραµα, Athens 2006. A contrary opinion, which
marginalizes the fascist tendencies in interwar Greece, perhaps because it is unfamiliar with the notions
and the debates of fascist studies, see in Δέσποινα Ι. Παπαδηµητρίου, Από τον λαό των νοµιµοφρόνων
στο έθνος των εθνικοφρόνων. Η συντηρητική σκέψη στην Ελλάδα 1922-1967, Σαββάλας, Athens 2006.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 7

italian fascism. In his study Social Classes and Political Parties he articulated his thoughts, that
involved a sustained attack on parliamentarism and democracy.13 Here Gotzamanis discarded
conservative notions of social harmony and proposed something resembling an ideological system.
Declaring struggle in general as the motor of history, he was careful to stress that class struggle was a
bad thing. Again unlike conservatives, he emphasized the need for mass mobilisation and based his
ambitions on concrete social demands, planning an authoritarian political party that would express the
interests of peasants, proletarians and intellectuals, but squarely oppose socialism. This “radical party”
would unite the “popular classes” behind its programme, and would then grasp power, abolish
parliamentarism, “this sick and corrupt institution”, and replace the multiparty system with a
corporative state.14

Gotzamanis’ book was much discussed among Greek intellectuals and politicians, but could not
lead to immediate practical results. The parliamentarians who dominated the Popular Party of Gounaris
had little use for mass organisation, while by 1923 -after the military defeat in Asia Minor, the
succesful coup of veniselist army officers and an abortive counter-revolution- antiveniselist fascism
was already discredited and the whole monarchist camp in disarray. The sweeping agrarian reform
defused social tensions in the countryside and destroyed the great landowners, who in other countries
proved instrumental in promoting fascism. The radical Left, that had never presented a real challenge
anyway, was crushed. Then the abolition of the monarchy, in 1924, at once removed the most powerful
bastion of authoritarian conservatism and ensured the bitter division of the bourgeois in a republican
and a royalist faction. In such conditions, fascist movements and regimes were both redundant and
impossible to create.

In the decade of veniselist domination that followed 1922 Gotzamanis reacted to his political
marginalisation by returning to Salonica and building anew his power base. Keeping away from the
central political scene, he patiently created a network of clientelist support in Central and Western
Macedonia, basing his appeal on the grievances and the political sentiments of victimisation that
understandably arose among the “natives”, who suffered from the influx of refugees from Asia Minor
and Thrace as well as from the arbitrary actions of an administrative mechanism consisting mainly of
“southerners”. Focussing on the protection of the locals’ particularist interests was a logical choice
from his point of view, given that he had inherited a leading position in this group, to which he
belonged by birth, while the available political space on the left was by then being occupied by the

On the fascist tendencies of the antiveniselist mass organisation of Epistrati see mainly Γιώργος Θ.
Mαυρογορδάτος, Eθνικός Διχασµός και µαζική οργάνωση, Aλεξάνδρεια, Athens 1996; on the general
context, George B. Leontaritis, Greece and the First World War: From Neutrality to Intervention,
1917-1918, Boulder 1990.
13
Σωτήριος Γκοτζαµάνης, Κοινωνικαί τάξεις και πολιτικά κόµµατα, Τριανταφύλλου, Thessaloniki
1923. The text was completed in 1922, after the successful military coup in Greece and while
Mussolini grasped power in Italy.
14
Ibid, p. 13, 33ff, 146.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 8

socialists, and the refugees invariably followed Veniselos. He did not really champion macedonian
autonomy –contrary to accusations voiced by veniselists and antiveniselists alike-15 but he tried to ease
the locals’ incorporation into the Greek state. The conservative Popular Party – a loose federation of
notables, without distinct ideology or central mechanism- was prepared to accept this position.16
However, the choice to cultivate macedonian nativism also imposed clear limits on his activity. In the
authoritarian post-1922 climate, in which the territorial integrity of Greece was all but guaranteed, the
creation of combative mass organisations or fascist style attack groups among any minority was
beyond contemplation. If Southern Greece had developed, a few years earlier, a reactionary mass
movement like the Epistrati, the macedonian slavophones could not aspire to create anything similar.

Gotzamanis returned to the limelight through electoral politics, after the veniselist project was
derailed by the economic crisis in 1932. Having headed the Salonica list of the Populars, he was
rewarded after their victory with the ministry of Social Provision, responsible for public health and, of
all things, the integration of the refugees. Immediately he became embroiled in scandals and was
torpedoed by other politicians of his own camp, who regretted his ambition to become the regional
chief of antiveniselism. The same people conveniently accused him for his macedonian nativism,
though not for his overt sympathy to fascism, which was not considered a liability then, and helped
unseat him at the next general elections of March 1933. In these elections the Popular Party, victorious
again, received significantly more votes from the refugees, who had turned by now into an integral part
of the body politic and stopped voting en block for the veniselists. Its national leadership turned
towards wider constituencies who were disappointed by Veniselos, and would no longer risk its appeal
among the refugees or among the nationalist majority by promoting macedonian nativism.

But at the same time, electoral politics had started to seem passé. Extreme Right authoritarian
and fascist ideas had progressed in strides among the bourgeois and the petty bourgeois strata after the
onset of the economic crisis in Greece, and even more after Hitler’s accession to power in Germany, in
1933. In the Thirties propaganda for fascism had become a staple of the mainstream press, veniselist
and antiveniselist alike; practically all national newspapers, except those of the Left, contributed to it.
The powerful Church of Greece, a staunch supporter of the Populars at that time, did not hide its

15
These accusations, however, were based on the fact that Gotzamanis’ political discourse was adapted
to this eventuality, which seemed possible in the international climate of that time. Case studies
illustrating the bitter quarrels that led to the rise of macedonian nativism in interwar Greece see in
Ραϋµόνδος Αλβανός, Κοινωνικές συγκρούσεις και πολιτικές συµπεριφορές στην περιοχή της Καστοριάς
(1922-1949), unpublished doctoral dissertation, Thessaloniki 2005, pp. 108 ff.
16
On the context of the greek political life in these years the basic source in english remains George
Th. Mavrogordatos, Stillborn Republic. Social Coalitions and Party Strategies in Greece, 1922-1936,
University of California Press, Berkeley 1983. On the gravitation of slavophone macedonian notables
towards the Popular Party see Anastasia N. Karakasidou, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to
Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870-1990, Chicago University Press, Chicago 1997.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 9

admiration for Hitler and Mussolini, and presented them as models for the Greek politicians.17
Together with Gotzamanis, many other cadres of both dominant camps gravitated towards the violent
and crude solutions of fascism; ex military officers taking their cue from it, like Plasteras,
Hadjikyriakou, Metaxas, and Kondylis, gained ground daily, marginalising the supporters of
parliamentarism. Compounded by the issue of monarchy versus republic, the conflict between
veniselists and antiveniselists moved gradually from the electoral towards the military arena. However,
fascist ideas gained mass support only in the city of Thessaloniki, where a popular antisemitism
developed by denouncing the presence of the numerous sepharadic community.

By the mid-1930s the antiveniselist fascists, led by the competing generals Kondylis and
Metaxas, were on the ascendant, while the conservative antiveniselists, under the parliamentary leader
Panayis Tsaldaris, declined. A failed military coup of the veniselists, in March 1935, finally threw the
state in the hands of an unstable alliance between these two factions of the antiveniselist Right.
Veniselos and his deputies were excluded from the political process, political liberties were severely
curtailed, and the Liberals, together with most of the Left, boycotted the elections of next June. These
conditions facilitated the break up of the Populars, and Gotzamanis, who lost the battle for their
leadership in Macedonia, left them in order to create a nativist rival. His new party, the Macedonian
Union, received almost thirty thousand votes in the three Central Macedonian districts in which it
appeared – many of them, it seems, being protest votes of veniselists. By the next elections, of January
1936, it had been transformed into the National Reform Party and contested seats in five districts,
gaining about 10% of the vote in Salonica and even higher percentages elsewhere. Gotzamanis had by
then established a serious and autonomous political presence in Northern Greece, but failed to create
the fascist-type party that he wanted.

All political associations were abolished by the Metaxas Dictatorship (1936-1941), that
endeavoured to copy Mussolini’s regime but proved unable to develop a mass party similar to the
italian Fascists. Gotzamanis was ideologically close to the new regime, but disagreed on two important
accounts: first, on its systematic oppression of the slavophones and, second, on its pro-British stance in
international affairs. He tried unsuccessfully to land some ministry or other, and also schemed in
favour of the Axis, so actively that he was duly sent to exile: even from there, he regularly sent pro-
Axis memoranda to the king and Metaxas. A few weeks before Italy’s attack on Greece (October
1940), he invited them again to ditch the alliance with Britain, approach the Axis, and install a real

17
See, for example, «Clearly and Frankly», Ecclesia, Official Bulletin of the Church of Greece,
February 18th, 1933 (‘Καθαρά και απροκαλύπτως’, Εκκλησία, επίσηµον δελτίον της Εκκλησίας της
Ελλάδος, έτος ΙΑ’, αριθ. 7, Σάββατον 18 Φεβρουαρίου 1933). Many articles published in this and other
press organs of the Church in these years convey the same idea. Ecclesia’s support to Hitler did not
cease after the imposition of his dictatorship, and the official mouthpiece of the Greek Church even
expressly refused to condemn the antisemitic pogroms.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 10

totalitarian regime.18 Did he actually believe that they would heed his advice? it is more probable that
he simply positioned himself for participation in the pro-Axis regime that he saw coming: “You don’t
need to be a military genius in order to see the final outcome of the war”, he admonished the half-
boiled fascists then in government.19

Freed after the capture of Greece by Hitler, Gotzamanis was immediately appointed Minister of
Finance in the puppet government of General Tsolakoglou, whose authoritarian conservative regime
ultimately allowed the development of fascist bands. From this post he wholeheartedly cooperated with
the occupation authorities, advertising their benevolent intentions towards Greece, fulminating against
‘international capitalism, anglo-jewish propaganda, greek plutocracy and snobbery”,20 and presiding
over the tragic spoliation of the country by the occupiers and their collaborators. After the winter
famine of 1941-1942 he was elevated to the position of a super-minister, directing four more ministries
together (those of National Economy, Agriculture, Food Provisioning and Labour), but of course the
situation in the country did not grow any better. When his plans to become premier, supported by the
Italians, failed, he was finally obliged to quit his ministerial positions in March, 1943.21 While the

18
Aide-memoire of S. Gotzamanis to I. Metaxas, Salonica, Jule 20th, 1940, as reprinted in Μακεδονία,
issue of 17th November, 1954.
19
Aide-memoire of S. Gotzamanis to I. Metaxas, Salonica, Jule 20th, 1940, as reprinted in the
Thessaloniki daily Μακεδονία, issue of 17th November, 1954.
20
S. Gotzamanis, «How Greece was seduced by England and entered the war» («Πώς παρεσύρθη η
Ελλάς υπό της Αγγλίας εις τον πόλεµον. Άρθρον του κ. Γκοτζαµάνη»), leader in the nazi propagandist
daily of Salonica Νέα Ευρώπη. Ηµερησία πρωινή εφηµερίς εν Θεσσαλονίκη Das Neue Europa, issue of
November 10th, 1941.
21
In greek, an overview of the economic effects of the Occupation see in Γιώργος Μαργαρίτης, Ιστορία
του Εµφυλίου Πολέµου, Βιβλιόραµα, Athens 2001, vol. I, which also contains the most consistent
explanation of the developments of these tragic years. For the most recent approaches, see now
Χρήστος Χατζηιωσήφ (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελλάδας τον 20ό αιώνα, vol. Γ1-Γ2, Βιβλιόραµα, Athens
2007, especially the chapter by Chadjiiossif himself, “Η ελληνική οικονοµία πεδίο µάχης και
αντίστασης”, in vol. Γ2, pp. 181-217. In english, see the accessible Mark Mazower, Inside Hitler’s
Greece. The Experience of Occupation 1941-44, Yale University Press 1995. For further information
and analyses, see John O. Iatrides, Linda Wrigley, Greece at the Crossroads. The Civil War and its
Legacy, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park 1995; John O. Iatrides (ed.), Greece
in the 1940s: A Bibliographic Companion, University Press of New England, Hanover, NH, and
London 1981; John O. Iatrides (ed.), Greece in the 1940s: a Nation in Crisis, University Press of New
England, Hanover, NH, and London 1981. Specifically on the issue of the famine see analytically
Violetta Hionidou, Famine and Death in Occupied Greece, 1941-1944, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge 2006. In less detail, the older articles by Angheliki Laiou-Thomadakis, “The Politics of
Hunger: Economic Aid to Greece, 1943- 1945”, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 7.2 [1980], pp. 27-
42; Stavros Thomadakis, «Black Markets, Inflation, and Force in the Economy of Occupied Greece»,
in J. Iatrides (ed.), Greece in the 1940s: a Nation in Crisis, op.cit., pp. 61-80; and an excellent
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 11

Germans proceeded with the slaughter of the Greek Jews, and his local friends were busy pocketing the
“semitic” properties, he sensed that the war was taking an unfortunate turn and escaped to Italy.22 He
stayed there for some years, keeping well away from Greece, since he was one of the very few who
were condemned to death for their collaboration with the Nazis.23 Knowing what outcome to expect
from the trial, he did not even bother to appear in court.

In any other European country, his political career would by now be well and truly over.
However, Greece was perhaps the one country of Europe in which the Resistance lost and the fascist
collaborators finally won the war, by fighting together with Britain against the resurgent Left. At the
same time they created together the new official ideology of ethnicophrosyne, to which Gotzamanis
contributed too. But how did events take this so happy turn for our hero?

3. The Right Unites

overview in Greek, Χρήστος Λούκος, «Η πείνα στην Κατοχή», in Χρήστος Χατζηιωσήφ (ed.), Ιστορία
της Ελλάδας τον 20ό αιώνα, vol. Γ2, op.cit., pp. 219-261. On the hyperinflation, one of the worst cases
recorded globally (which however peaked after the departure of Gotzamanis), see Gail E. Makinen,
«The Greek Hyperinflation and Stabilization of 1943-1946», Journal of Economic History 46 [1986],
pp. 795-805.
22
On the sepharad inhabitants of Salonica and their horrible suffering during the Holocaust see, in
brief, Anthony Molho, “The Jewish Community of Salonika: The End of a Long History”, Diaspora. A
Journal of Transnational Studies 1.1 [1991]. On the behaviour of the Greek authorities towards them,
Andrew Apostolou, "The Exception of Salonika": Bystanders and collaborators in Northern Greece”,
Holocaust and Genocide Studies 14 [2000], pp. 165-196.
23
Other members of the governments installed by the Germans were treated much more leniently, and
most of them were not punished at all. In Gotzamanis’ case, the deciding factor seems to have been his
ambiguous national position and not his actions in support of the Axis or his participation in the
destruction of the Greek economy. On the legal framework and punishment (or rather lack of it) of the
collaborators in the Forties, as well as the focussing of prosecution on the pro-bulgarian contingent, see
briefly Mark Mazower, «Three Forms of Political Justice: Greece 1944-1945», and Eleni Chaidia,
«The Punishment of Collaborators in Northern Greece, 1945-1946», in Mark Mazower (ed.), After the
War was Over. Resonstructing the Family, Nation, and State in Greece, 1943-1960, Princeton
University Press, Princeton-Oxford 2000. None of these articles, however, tries to connect the judicial
laxity that they describe with the legitimation of fascism in post-1945 Greece.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 12

While the war ended in Europe, the political boundaries were being redrawn in Greece. Almost
everywhere else, opposition to fascism formed the basis of the new political consensus.24 Here,
however, a great part of the dominant elites had “either collaborated directly with the occupation
forces, or were professionally or personally dependent on collaborators”.25 Expressing this group, the
conservatives and the fascists presented a common front against the Left, and to this most ex-liberal
politicians adhered in time too, fearful not of any communist dictatorship, which was not a realistic
prospect, but of the democratic developments promised by EAM.26

This alliance was helped by the predominant imperial power. London’s influence on Greek
affairs became paramount after the withdrawal of the Germans in the summer of 1944.27 It worked to
install a client regime that would secure the strategically important Greek sea lanes against the Soviet

24
Αντώνης Λιάκος, “Αντάρτες και συµµορίτες στα ακαδηµαϊκά αµφιθέατρα”, in Hagen Fleischer
(ed.), H Ελλάδα ’36-’49. Από τη Δικτατορία στον Εµφύλιο. Τοµές και συνέχειες, Καστανιώτης, Αθήνα
2003, p. 27.
25
Nίκος Παπαναστασίου, Χάγκεν Φλάισερ, «Το ‘οργανωµένο χάος’. Η γερµανική κατοχική διοίκηση
στην Ελλάδα», in Χρήστος Χατζηιωσήφ (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελλάδας τον 20ό αιώνα, vol. Γ2, op.cit., p.
142.
26
As correctly noted John Petropulos in his article referred to below, in n. 29.
27
There is a huge bibliography on the influence of London on Greek affairs in this period; see, among
others, Heinz Richter, British Intervention in Greece – From Varkiza to Civil War. February 1945-
August 1946, London 1986; George M. Alexander. The Prelude to the Truman Doctrine: British Policy
in Greece 1944-1947, Oxford 1982. Strategic factors predominated here; actually, Foreign Office
officials saw in Greece one of the two most important countries on the Continent for British interests at
the time (Χάγκεν Φλάισερ, «Στρατηγικές πολιτισµικής διείσδυσης των µεγάλων δυνάµεων και
ελληνικές αντιδράσεις, 1930-1960», ibid, p. 107). A conservative nationalist historian notes that Greek
dependence on Britain and, later, on the United States, was probably at its peak between 1936 and 1949
-ironically, we should add, the years in which the extreme ethnocentric ideology of ethnicophrosyne
was born (Κωνσταντίνος Σβολόπουλος, «Καθοριστικές παράµετροι στη διαµόρφωση της ελληνικής
εξωτερικής πολιτικής, 1936-1949 – Γενικές διαπιστώσεις και υποθέσεις», in Χ. Φλάισερ (ed.), Η
Ελλάδα ’36-49…, op.cit., p. 39).
This british and, later, american influence on local affairs was direct and not covert. In
February, 1945, London decided that its ambassador to Athens should control the choices of the Greek
government: in fact, his took powers pertaining to colonial governors (Θανάσης Σφήκας, «Από τις
‘κυβερνήσεις ανδρεικέλων’ στην ‘αντι-ιµπεριαλιστική, µη επεµβατική ευπρέπεια’ – Η ελληνική
πολιτική της Βρετανίας, 1936-1949», in Χ. Φλάισερ (ed.), Η Ελλάδα ’36-49…, op.cit., p. 79). When
the British wanted something, they gave orders and supervised their execution. Tellingly, Mark
Mazower ascribes their policy in Greece, that resurrected the antidemocratic Right, mainly to “the
extremely sentimental committment of Churchill for the return of King George to Athens” («*», in M.
Mazower (ed.), After the War was Over..., op.cit., p. *). Surely, no independent country could have
somebody else’s whim impose on it a generally despised head of state.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 13

Union. Given that the bulk of the population supported by now the Left-wing National Liberation Front
(EAM), which could not be a reliable partner, the British chose to derail the democratic process
envisaged by the Left and bolster, besides their proven ally, the king, the groups that had previously
supported the Nazis. The latter, still powerful and knowing that they were giving a life-or-death
struggle, were saved by EAM’s indecision.

Actually, the Left’s bid for power helped the conservatives and the fascists close ranks. In
interwar Greece the Left had been weak, and did not scare the bourgeois or the political elite; however,
it more than scared them during the Occupation, when the state, unable to provide security or support
to most, abandoned its functions, and some of them were taken over by the National Liberation Front
(EAM). This newly formed umbrella organisation of the Left eventually built a formidable resistance
army and dominated most of the country, creating in many places parallel forms of state power. Its
growth was underpinned by the social factors that caused political polarisation. A massive
redistribution of property was taking place at the time, enriching groups who collaborated with the
occupation forces. The bulk of the people, on the other hand, were spoliated; the sixty thousand
Salonica Jews who perished in the Holocaust, their properties snatched by the local supporters of the
Nazis, were just an extreme case of this process.

The EAM attracted the hopes of the impoverished popular classes and even of a good part of the
provincial elites, while the strata that had profited from the Occupation and the conservative part of the
old propertied classes approached the British when the Germans withdrew.28 The fear of the Left united
them, while EAM’s proposals for the establishment of a Republic helped close the rift between the
royalists who had fought for the Albion and the pro-Nazi armed cohorts. Their interests also coincided
with those of London. Both the Greek Right and the British had to smash the Left, the first in order to
safeguard its dominance while the second for their own strategic reasons. The leadership of EAM
failed to understand the strength of their alliance, and was unprepared to counter the British moves.29 In
the months after Liberation, when it wielded real power, instead of consolidating its position and
destroying quickly its local opponents it opted for an unrealistic policy of attracting the enemies of
democracy towards a democratic consensus. Thus it stopped people who tried to avenge their

28
This analysis is developed in Γιώργος Μαργαρίτης, Ιστορία του Εµφυλίου Πολέµου, Βιβλιόραµα,
Athens 2001.
29
On the interaction among the policies of the British, the EAM and the older parties see John
Petropulos, “The Traditional Political Parties of Greece during the Axis Occupation”, in J. Iatrides
(ed.), Greece in the 1940s..., op.cit., pp. 27-36. As a conservative historian noted, the Greek
communists, in contrast to the Yugoslavs, «made no concerted effort to exploit their popularity and
military superiority in order to impose their own regime before the Papandreou Government and
British troops returned» (John Iatrides, “Greece at the Crossroads, 1944-1950”, in John O. Iatrides,
Linda Wrigley, Greece at the Crossroads. The Civil War and its Legacy, The Pennsylvania State
University Press, University Park 1995, p. 8). EAM’s unguarded attachment to democracy cost to it,
and to Greece, dear.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 14

sufferings, and did not push with the necessary zeal for the immediate punishment of the collaborators
and the liquidation of their social and economic power. In short, it allowed its enemies to regroup and
prepare their offensive.

After crushing EAM in Athens (December 1944), the British and the Right-wing took the upper
hand. The victors included even the fascist groups of the German-backed Security Battallions and the
infamous Organisation “X”.30 Their Occupation-era exploits were forgiven and, under British
supervision, they were hastily reintegrated in the nationalist camp in order to unleash the murderous
White Terror and help defeat the Left in the Civil War.31 Very few were condemned for their
collaboration with the Nazis (among them, as we saw, Gotzamanis) and fewer were ever punished.
Many of them were conspicuous in the regimes that administered the Civil War, as well as in the ones
that followed the conservative victory, and they never had to hide their extreme Right tenets. Even the
conservative members of the minorities, who might have sympathised with Romania, Bulgaria or
Albania before and during the war, but were then horrified by the communist successes north of the

30
The latter, led by the fascist Colonel Grivas, was considered even by the German occupation
authorities as too extremist to be accepted as collaborator: see See Hagen Fleischer, “Eπαφές µεταξύ
των γερµανικών αρχών κατοχής και των κυριότερων οργανώσεων της ελληνικής αντίστασης. Ελιγµός
ή συνεργασία;”, in J. Iatrides (ed.), Greece in the 1940s..., op.cit.. Its ideological profile and activities
in the Forties are explored in a study that I am currently preparing. After the war «X» incorporated lots
of tagmatasfalites (members of the Security Battalions) and other collaborators of the Nazis, and
spearheaded the struggle against the Left. By 1945 it had become an umbrella organisation of the
extreme Right, and in 1946 it numbered around fifty thousand members, half of them armed; it often
functioned with all the immunity of the official state, since most of its members belonged also to the
army, the militia, the gendarmerie or the police. For its wider context, see Μακάριος Δρουσιώτης,
ΕΟΚΑ. Η σκοτεινή όψη, Στάχυ, Athens 1998, p. 34.
31
On the Security Battalions see now in greek Στράτος Δορδανάς, *; in english, John Louis Hondros,
“‘Too Weighty a Weapon’: Britain and the Greek Security Battalions, 1943-1944”, Journal of the
Hellenic Diaspora 15 [1988], pp. 33-47; Andre Gerolymatos, “The Security Battalions and the Civil
War”, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 12 [1985], pp. 17-27. London’s support to the use of fascist
groups for implementing the White Terror is admitted even by authors who consistently minimize
British responsibilities for the Civil War, e.g. David Close (Ντ. Κλόουζ, Οι ρίζες του εµφύλιου πολέµου
στην Ελλάδα, op.cit., pp. 256 ff.). On the reintegration of the extreme Right in the armed forces and the
public services, and the expulsion from them of all those who had sympathised with the Resistance, see
Procopis Papastratis, “The Purge of the Greek Civil Service on the Eve of the Civil War”, in L.
Baerentzen, J. Iatrides & O. Smith (eds.), Studies in the History of the Greek Civil War 1945-1949,
Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 1987, pp. 41-53; Κωνσταντίνος Λούλος, «Διαρθρωτικές
τοµές και συνέχειες σε βασικούς µηχανισµούς εξουσίας δια µέσου των ‘εκκαθαρίσεων’, 1936-1946»,
in X. Φλάισερ (επιµ.), Η Ελλάδα ’36-49…, op.cit., pp. 291-307. On the authoritarianism of these years
see Nicos C. Alivizatos, “The ‘Emergency Regime’ and Civil Liberties, 1946- 1949”, in J. Iatrides
(ed.), Greece in the 1940s: A Nation in Crisis, op.cit., pp. 220-228.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 15

border, preferred now to remain on Greek soil and be accepted as Greeks; as for the rest of the
conservative Greeks, from the king downwards, they rushed to readmit into the nation these
strategically placed enemies of the Left.

This rapprochement, necessary for all sides of the Right -conservative and fascist, ethnically
Greek and minority- and seen as such by all, had to be mediated by some ideological construct if it was
to last. Ultimately, both conservatives and fascists drew on an extensive body of common symbolic
references, also infused with strong political emotions, that crystallized at about the same time in the so
called ethnicophrosyne or “national-mindedness”. This doctrine decided who of the citizens formed
part of the Greek nation and who did not, and therefore would be deprived of all rights.32 Despite its
centrality in the political discourse from the 1940s to the 1970s, ethnicophrosyne has yet to be properly
analysed.33 The remarks that follow do not pretend to cover this gap, but simply trace this notion in
order to put into context the latest phase of Gotzamanis’ discourse. As we will see in a while, he used
exactly this idea when trying to regain his political influence.

4. Ethnicophrosyne

32
On the dual state that developed in these years in Greece see Nίκος Aλιβιζάτος, Oι πολιτικοί θεσµοί
2
σε κρίση, 1922-1974. Oψεις της ελληνικής εµπειρίας, Θεµέλιο, Athens 1986, pp. 135-271. On the
social context of ethnicophrosyne and on some of its aspects, without use of the term itself, see
Constantine Tsoucalas, “The Ideological Impact of the Civil War”, in J. Iatrides (ed.), Greece in the
1940s..., op.cit., pp. 319-341. Tsoucalas notes in this article the ascendancy of the extreme Right in the
ruling block, but makes no reference to its fascist component.
33
Some confusion is caused by this lacuna, and by the restricted scholarly interest in the greek Right-
wing in general. To take just one example, an author has been argued that this Right existed simply as a
«sensibility» in the Thirties, and acquired institutional representation only in the Forties (Δέσποινα
Παπαδηµητρίου, «Το ακροδεξιό κίνηµα στην Ελλάδα, 1936-1949 – Καταβολές, συνέχειες και
ασυνέχειες», in Χ. Φλάισερ (ed.), Η Ελλάδα ’36-49…, ibid, p. 140). On the next page, however, the
dictatorship of Metaxas (1936-1941) is endowed with an ideology bearing «all the characteristics of an
extreme Right ideology»; having inherited «the elements that defined the ideological content of
ethnicophrosyne», it was based «on the traditional values, like motherland, religion, family, work,
public order, discipline, security, and also on anticommunism, royalism, and conservative nationalism»
(ibid, pp. 141-142). Contradicting herself again, a few pages later the same author defines
ethnicophrosyne as an ideology formed only after 1944, that was not simply anticommunist but
excluded communists from the nation (ibid, p. 145). Surely, the official ideology of the greek state for
many decades merits more rigorous examination.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 16

Ethnicophrosyne was created in the Forties,34 even though most of its tenets existed before. It took
shape during the Occupation, when the invocation of nation and patriotism, in conjunction with an
extreme anticommunism that ejected from the national body the Left, dominated the discourse of the
collaborators.35 On the most official level, the prime minister Ioannis Rallis expelled discursively from
the nation all citizens who would not be “obedient” in supporting the war effort of the Axis, an effort
that he defined as an anticommunist crusade for the salvation of civilisation.36 Fully developed by the
extreme Right after the war, when it became evident that any democratic outcome of the political crisis
would empower the Left or at least entail significant social reforms, ethnicophrosyne was also
supported by the traditional Right and not resisted by the liberal intellectuals, who preferred to keep
silent or endorse it.37 Soon it became the official ideology of the greek state, and was spread through
systematic government efforts, via the controlled radio, the press, the educational system and the
preacher’s pulpit. A local version of the Gulag, designed to break the morale of real or imaginary
opponents through mass torture and terror, complemented this institutional apparatus that enforced
indoctrination and cultivated ideological conformity. Eventually ethnicophrosyne also developed its
own symbolic representations and after the mid-Forties, under close state supervision, its tenets were
reenacted symbolically many times a year in all cities, towns and villages of Greece, through
ceremonies and pageants marking the “national holidays” and other occasions.38

This new official ideology clearly excluded the Left, and even the allegiance of the liberals to it
was permanently doubted, notwithstanding their protestations. On the other hand, it equally clearly
included the fascist Right. Its implantation into the official discourse and mass propaganda in the 1940s
reflected on the ideological plane the defeat of the Left, the eclipse of the liberals and the triumph of
the extreme Right. To be precise, ethnicophrosyne was congenial to the extreme and even the fascist
Right, in Paxton’s sense, since it was obsessively preoccupied with community decline, humiliation,
and victimhood, and clearly nurtured compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity. In fact, it had

34
As underlined by George Mavrogordatos, «The 1940s Between Past and Future», in John O. Iatrides,
Linda Wrigley, Greece at the Crossroads. The Civil War and its Legacy, The Pennsylvania State
University Press, University Park 1995, p. 46. Perhaps Mavrogordatos is right in ascribing to
ethnicophrosyne an antiveniselist genealogy, issuing from the Thirties campaign against
“Veniselocommunism”, but we should note that its links to the authoritarianism of the Liberals must be
made clear too.
35
On this period see the very good study of Κώστας Φραδέλλος, «Κατοχικές κυβερνήσεις και έθνος.
Άξονες και µεταβολές του κυβερνητικού λόγου κατά τη διάρκεια της Κατοχής», in Χρήστος
Χατζηιωσήφ (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελλάδας τον 20ό αιώνα, vol. Γ2, op.cit., pp. 153-154.
36
Ibid, p. 175.
37
Constantine Tsoucalas, “The Ideological Impact of the Civil War”, in J. Iatrides (ed.), Greece in the
1940s: A Nation in Crisis, op.cit.. However the liberal intellectuals’ allegiance to ethnicophrosyne was
permanently doubted, notwithstanding their protestations.
38
See on this issue the enlightening contribution of Anastasia Karakasidou in M. Mazower (ed.), After
the War was Over..., op.cit.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 17

appropriated all the mobilizing passions of fascism.39 These passions formed its hard core and,
combining with strong doses of a masculinist cultural conservatism and a spurious religiosity, were
further developed into colourful mixtures of authoritarianism, racism and nationalism. In this context
the so called “national interests” were regularly invoked to trump democratic rights, and political
legitimation was sought in grandiose designs for the territorial expansion of the Greek state and the
acquisition of colonies, if not in Asia, then at least in north Africa.40

Ethnicophrosyne was, like fascism, used for mass mobilisation. It was seen by its proponents as
not just a political position but a “phronema”, a heartfelt and active militant nationalism, stemming
from a mystical union with the national substance of «hellenism», another strongly sentimentalized
notion. Conservatives often tempered their practical politics in order to secure foreign aid, but
nevertheless the mobilizing passions of ethnicophrosyne logically could lead to fascism, and actually
gave strong rallying points to the extreme Right. These would later create unforeseen complications for
the dominant conservatives, who tried in the 1940s to use the fascists for breaking up the Left and then
discard them. Having become co-proprietors of ethnicophrosyne, imagining themselves as its real
guardians, and being recognised as such by many, the fascists would not easily go away. After 1947,
when their assault troops were gradually put aside in favour of the newly organised regular army, they
were kept as minor partners of the regime; and this not only because they formed a fall-back option, in
case foreign aid became at some point unavailable, but also because they could and did pose as the
authentic champions of ethnicophrosyne. Perhaps for the same reason official circles and nationalist
historians are reluctant even today to discuss their activity in the Forties or recognise them as fascists.

While the overriding consideration of ethnicophrosyne was the preservation of the domestic
status quo,41 its dominant themes -beyond its focus on the nation, evident in the etymology of the word
itself-42 were national unity,43 exaltation of a mystical motherland abstracted from all historical

39
On them, see the work by Paxton referred to above.
40
See examples below, in the works referred to in n. 47.
41
As has been stressed by G. Mavrogordatos, «The 1940s Between Past and Future», in J. Iatrides, L.
Wrigley, Greece at the Crossroads…, op.cit, p. 46). Mavrogordatos argues that ethnicophrosyne
prioritised the preservation of the domestic status quo, overriding all considerations of national
independence and sovereignty, and on this account it contrasted with the nationalism of the Liberals.
However, contingency played some role here too. If the Liberals enacted social reforms till the early
Thirties, they did not greatly challenge the domestic status quo after 1935 or during the Forties and the
Fifties. In these decades, as we will see in a while, it was the extreme Right that posed, by pressing for
territorial expansion, as the staunch defender of national independence and sovereignty in the camp of
the ethnicophrones.
42
Literally, in greek, ethnicophrosyne meant national-mindedness; by extension, an endeavour to
identify with the nation and actively support it, excluding other phronemas or reasonable beliefs.
43
Νάση Μπάλτα, «Διαστάσεις και όψεις του εθνικού και αντεθνικού στην κοµµουνιστική και
αντικοµµουνιστική προπαγάνδα της περιόδου 1936-1949 – η έννοια της εθνικής ενότητας», in Χ.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 18

context,44 an anticommunism confounded with antislav racism,45 and a reactionary version of Orthodox
christianity; on top of these, ethnicophrosyne entailed patriarchy presented as protection of the
family,46 territorial expansionism,47 the sanctity of private property, even of wealth acquired criminally
during the Occupation, and public order translated as wholesale suppression of dissent.48 Subservience
to the notional «West» was equally a staple, until the extreme Right revolted over London’s refusal to
cede Cyprus.49 Royalism, the work ethic, and also a depreciation of democracy and political liberty
bordering often on antiparliamentarism, and occassionally venturing beyond it, were also important,
but expendable, elements of this ideological formation. No ethnicophron criticised the slogan «Πατρίς,
Θρησκεία, Οικογένεια» («Motherland, Religion, Family») that was proposed by the fascists in the
Forties and enjoyed long days of glory till the fall of the dicatorship of the colonels (1967-1974).

5. The Spectre of Alexander

Φλάισερ (ed.), Η Ελλάδα ’36-49…, op.cit., pp. 133ff. We should note, however, that the author of this
paper, like most other commentators on the period, takes the notion of ethnicophrosyne as something
given (pp. 133, 136), and does not try to analyse it.
44
Γιώργος Μαργαρίτης, «Από τον Μεταξά στον Εµφύλιο – τα σύµβολα της πατρίδας», in Χ. Φλάισερ
(ed.), Η Ελλάδα ’36-49…, op.cit., p. 129.
45
A card also played by the Quisling government: see Κ. Φραδέλλος, «Κατοχικές κυβερνήσεις και
έθνος...», in Χρήστος Χατζηιωσήφ (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελλάδας τον 20ό αιώνα, vol. Γ2, op.cit., pp. 177.
46
And seen as endangered by the mass participation of women in the public sphere during the
Occupation, something that happened for the first time in greek history.
47
Strong in the «conservative» as well as the «progressive» versions of ethnicophrosyne: for an
example of the first see Περικλής Ιακώβου Αργυρόπουλος, Αι αξιώσεις της Ελλάδος. Εσωτερικαί και
εξωτερικαί κατευθύνσεις, Ν. Σιδέρης, Athens 1945 (the author was a vice-admiral, as well as ex
minister, deputy and ambassador); even EAM itself had acceded to similar demands by 1943: see
Hagen Fleischer, “The National Liberation Front (EAM), 1941-1947. A Reassessment”, in J. Iatrides,
L. Wrigley, Greece at the Crossroads…, op.cit., p. 73. See also, Οι εθνικές µας διεκδικήσεις σύµφωνα
µε τις απόψεις της «Δηµοκρατικής Οµάδας», Δηµοκράτης, Athens 1944 (published October 1st, 1944).
48
See its definition as a basic value by the Rallis Government in Κ. Φραδέλλος, «Κατοχικές
κυβερνήσεις και έθνος...», in Χρήστος Χατζηιωσήφ (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελλάδας τον 20ό αιώνα, vol. Γ2,
op.cit., pp. 176.
49
Georgios Vlachos, perhaps the most prominent public intellectual of the Right, explained in an
editorial of his influential daily: «[National] integrity! Independence! All this is but barracks talk!
There is no question of independence actually. There is only one question: who will be the Boss. Our
Boss is one, or rather two: The USA and Britain» (Kαθηµερινή, issue of March 16th, 1947, as quoted in
Θανάσης Σφήκας, «Από τις ‘κυβερνήσεις ανδρεικέλων’...», in Χ. Φλάισερ (ed.), Η Ελλάδα ’36-49…,
op.cit., p. 85).
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 19

Nevertheless, ethnicophrosyne was an inherently unstable construct, and its fortunes reflected, among
other things, the successive outcomes of the internal power struggles of the Right. The conservatives
placed ever greater emphasis on stabilisation and economic growth, objectives that tended to
marginalise the extremists. The latter answered, as they would do again in the early 1990s, by invoking
aspects of the dominant ideology that could not be easily appropriated by the moderates. In the political
climate of the Fifties, spawned by the nationalist agitation for Cyprus and the subsequent tensions with
London, whose colonialist vices were belatedly discovered by the Greek Right, the extreme Right and
even the fascists could pose as the real ethnicophrones. They were the staunchest guardians of the
national interests, which were supposedly sold cheap by the liberal appeasers and the anglophile
conservatives. Instead of fighting back, the ruling monarchists and the marginally more liberal Centre
succumbed to the pressure of the extreme Right on these issues. Trying to keep it happy, they annuled
most condemnations for collaboration with the enemy, and by 1952 Gotzamanis was free to return
home.50 He would do so in style.

By 1954 the conservative regime felt secure enough to allow a limited liberalisation, and called
elections for the local authorities, that promised to be relatively free. These provided a new opening not
only to the Left, still reeling after its military defeat, but also to the previously marginalised extreme
Right. Gotzamanis presented himself as candidate mayor for Salonica, exploiting adroitly the disarray
of Ellinikos Synagermos, the ruling conservative party whose leader, Marshall Papagos, an
authoritarian army officer in the mould of General Franco, had huge parliamentary support but little
popular approval. In the heated journalistic battle that ensued among the nationalists, Gotzamanis’
Occupation-era exploits were scarcely brought against him, still less his fascist ideas. Attention was
focussed instead on his national deficiencies: his refusal to condemn the dismemberment of Greece by
Italy and Bulgaria during the war, his disrespect towards the person of the previous king, and his so-
called autonomism. However all these accusations proved irrelevant, and Sotirios overcame the
predictable revolt of his competitors in the Right, as well as the outcry of the Liberals. Receiving
initially 25% of the popular vote and uniting in the second round of the elections the Right against a
candidate of the Left, he managed finally to get almost 45%. His support was concentrated among the
“native” macedonians and the voters of Synagermos, and certainly included the significant percentage
of the city’s population who had assisted the Holocaust or stolen Jewish properties.51 They did not heed

50
Instrumental in the quashing of Gotzamanis’ death penalty would be Constantinos Mitsotakis, a
young Liberal deputy who would later rise to become prime minister.
51
Contemporary experts asserted that Gotzamanis collected in the first round of the elections the votes
of about two thousand «native Liberals» besides the four fifths of the votes of people who had voted
for Papagos’ party before. In the second round the candidate of the Left received 41.307 votes
(56,62%) while Gotzamanis 31.655 (43,38%). See Μακεδονία, issues of 23rd, 24th, and 30th
November, 1954.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 20

the warning that “if there is one man in Greece who has no right today to seek the vote, this is
52
Gotzamanis”.

His rehabilitation by the mainstream Right duly followed, and ethnicophrosyne proved its
crucible. This was facilitated by the prevailing Cold War tensions that dictated the strengthening of the
regime’s support in the northern frontier provinces, in which the slavophones remained an important
factor. Gotzamanis, still their foremost public intellectual and political leader, could not only help bring
them back to the national fold but also articulate a discourse of ethnicophrosyne that would justify their
return.

This was the context of Gotzamanis’ lecture mentioned in the beginning of this paper, on the
glorious conquest of the East by the Greeks. Given in the splendid hall of the Society for Macedonian
Studies, after a discreet but not understated panegyric to Gotzamanis delivered by its Secretary,53 this
lecture recapitulated ancient history as seen through the prism of recent events, arriving to the
unsurprising conclusion that the macedonian monarchy had resuscitated Greece from the civil wars
initiated by the Left of that time, through the correct mix of political oppression, ethnic tolerance, and
militarism.54

Gotzamanis’ discourse registered a particular form of ethnicophrosyne that dominated Salonica


by the mid Fifties. It owed its success to the fact that it utilized what were considered as the most
authentic elements of Greek identity, and based its legitimacy in them.55 This ideological construction

52
Issued by another conservative native macedonian, the ambitious Minister for Public Works
Constantinos Karamanlis, who was soon to be anointed prime minister: «Διάψευσις ανακριβειών – Ο
υπουργός κ. Καραµανλής δια τον Σ. Γκοτζαµάνην», Ελληνικός Βορράς, issue of 17th November,
1954.
53
The Society for Macedonian Studies, founded during the Metaxas Dictatorship, aimed to
propagandize the nationalist project in Greece and abroad. Uniting the economic and intellectual elite
of Salonica (Jews excluded) it was amply funded by the state and, thanks to Gotzamanis and others,
fared particularly well during the Occupation. Gotzamanis, who still figures among its great
benefactors and is regularly honoured in its functions and publications, while minister of Finance
endowed it lavishly with state assets, including the best plot of land in Salonica, opposite the White
Tower, on which its luxurious palace was then built. This society, together with the Institute for Balkan
Studies created by it, proved instrumental in cultivating the xenophobic and reactionary version of
ethnicophrosyne that dominates Macedonia in the last decades.
54
Σωτήριος Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις της Ασίας υπό την ηγεσίαν του Μεγάλου
Αλεξάνδρου. Διάλεξις γενοµένη εν τη αιθούση της Εταιρείας Μακεδονικών Σπουδών την 14ην Μαρτίου
1957, Thessaloniki 1957, pp. 9-20.
55 Which is, of course, as Paxton noted, the hallmark of all serious national versions of fascism, in
contrast to those that mimic the external forms employed by Hitler’s or Mussolini’s parties: Robert O.
Paxton, «The Five Stages of Fascism», The Journal of Modern History 70 [1998], p. 3.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 21

combined leitmotifs that have been a staple of Greek politics since then, bridging the fascist era with
the nationalist agitation of the 1990s, and even with the utterings of successful local politicians of our
day. Part of a wider political and ideological campaign, it served a double function. On the one hand, it
cemented the inclusion in the nationalist camp of the conservative slavophones who had sided with the
regime during the Civil War. On the other, it strengthened the extreme fraction of the Right in the post-
Civil War environment by stressing the theme of territorial expansion, a so-called «national goal»
which the fascists exploited better than the conservatives. In the Fifties the former countered the latter,
who had marginalised them in the previous decade, by posing as the authentic guardians of the
irredentist flame, the self-sacrificing idealists, the uncompromising warriors who would conquer by
might what was Greece’s by right. This meant by then primarily Cyprus -a British colony at the time-
whose union with Greece the conservatives, anxious not to alienate Britain, did not demand loudly
enough.56

As noted above, the insecurities and ambiguities of the early Cold War formed the wider
political context here. The local elites needed Britain and the USA in order to fund and stabilise their
regime, while NATO needed the strategically placed Greek territory for the installation of military
bases and the deployment of nuclear arms, and also wanted the Greek army for cannon-fodder -it had
just used it as such in Corea. The West and most Greek conservatives pretended that the price for the
Greek soil and blood had already been paid: it was the support given to the regime during the Civil
War, and the cornucopia of the Marshall Plan. The nationalist opposition, on the other hand, sticking to
the expansionism that had been cultivated in the 1940s against the Left, and after the hopes for
territorial gains in Albania and Bulgaria, and even for colonies in Africa, had been thwarted, expected a
reward in Cyprus. Speaking for this side, but at the same time also expressing the predominant logic of
the ethnicophrones, Gotzamanis closed his speech to the notables of Salonica, amid «long applause»,
demanding a clean deal: «Tell us what do you want from us!», he asked bluntly the Anglosaxon
protectors, «what will be the quid pro quo for our blood that will have to be shed? because we do not
want to cry again like the silly virgins who were deceived and led to bed».57

The implication was that the extreme Right would secure the national rights of Greece better
than the slavish conservatives who were then on power. Thus Gotzamanis insisted that Greeks, united
behind their leaders, should loudly demand their dues, instead of bowing to the powerful of this earth:
«This we know well from our history, that our ancestors thrived only when they acted in unity and
concord under their own leaders, only when they closed their ears, their doors and their pockets to the
foreign propaganda and intrigue, only when they acted not as Graeculi lobbying in the Roman Senate

56
On the diplomatic context of the Cyprus Question in these years see the account of Αλέξης
Ηρακλείδης, Το Κυπριακό. Σύγκρουση και επίλυση, Ι.Σιδέρης, Athens 2002; in english, Ioannis D.
Stefanides, Isle of Discord. Nationalism, Imperialism and the Making of the Cyprus Problem, C. Hurst
& Co., London 1999.
57
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 20.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 22

or the Persian palaces but as real Greeks, full of faith and self-confidence, as a proud nation with a long
history, powerful in itself and independent».58

This species of national unity, achieved through the eradication of dissent and bolstered by
xenophobia, was another powerful motif of this version of ethnicophrosyne. Its invocation in this
context, after the restoration of the throne, was also strengthened by exploiting the fame of an ancient
monarch who served as a symbolic figure of Greek expansionism as well as of the identification of
macedonians with Greece. Alexander of Macedon could be seen in many ways; fascists presented him
as more or less a precursor of Hitler, a providential leader who secured by conquest vital space for the
nation. Gotzamanis proposed the same notions, embellished with some cosmetic touches in the
aftermath of Axis’ defeat, by explaining that Alexander’s conquest of the East was a «defensive war in
the widest possible sense [...] and also a liberatory war, to liberate the Greeks who were subject to the
Persians, and even a war to create the necessary vital space, so that the Greek Race would not die of
hunger».59

Alexander’s exploits were all the more remarkable since he had vanquished «peoples who were
neither Caffirs nor Hottentotes, but had old history and ancient civilisation, being of Hindoeuropean
stock, warriors».60 Like a more recent conqueror, Alexander «believed in an invisible Power that
guided his hand. Those who don’t comprehend these things, and want to judge Alexander on the basis
of a pseudoscientific positivism, will never understand his personality and achievement».61 After
finishing with the destructive part of his heavenly ordained work, that included the rasing to the ground
of Persepolis, the world metropolis of that time, the macedonian king had created a benevolent world
empire: «Then he lays down his armour and takes in hand, as we would say today, the Holy Bible and
the Cross, and he preaches to the peoples: befriend and love each other under Alexander’s crown, all
you peoples, without distinctions of race, religion or language, all equal in front of Law and King».62

Fate cut short Alexander’s work –like Hitler’s, as everybody knew at the time- but nevertheless
the Greek Nation reaped the fruits of empire. «The rebirth of the Nation through the Empire was fully
fledged and radical [...] the Greeks stopped being the beggars of the Mediterranean. They became
masters of immense wealth, merchants, industrialists, artists, enterpreneurs. Never again in history did
Hellenism enjoy so much wealth and affluence. From Marseille to the Indian Ocean, the self-made
Greeks enriched themselves».63 From rags to riches through authoritarianism and conquest: this was
the moral of the story.

58
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 39-40.
59
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 31.
60
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 6.
61
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 33.
62
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 35.
63
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 37-38.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 23

Laudations for this benevolent transformation, however, risked legitimizing another imperialism
with which the national idea was currently at odds. So it had to be emphasized that Alexander’s
dominion, notwithstanding its tangible rewards for the Greeks and unlike the materialistic British
Empire, was spiritual, and enjoyed a transubstantiated kind of freedom:

Don’t misinterprete nor falsify our history! The freedom and the civilisation for which our
ancestors gave their lives have nothing to do with your freedom and your civilisation. Greek
freedom is whole and indivisible. Greeks never exploited other peoples. Our civilisation is Plato
and Aristotle, Eurypides and Aeschylus, Pheidias and Praxiteles, while yours is oil and coal and
dollars. Your empire is egoistic; it benefits only you, while it is slavery for the others [...] you
fear any comparison with that [Greek] empire; you are afraid lest we remind you that this
[Greek] empire bore the graecoroman civilisation, thanks to which you eventually managed to
leave your caves.64

One might attribute the strident tones employed above to political exigencies of the moment, such as
Gotzamanis’ need to be nationally rehabilitated and the excitement over Cyprus. However, they also
pointed to deeper currents at work. The notions of ungrateful Westerners trying to debase Greek
history, and of Greeks securing vital space and civilizing other peoples without ever enslaving or
exploiting them, took hold in Macedonia at about that time and for a long time. The persistence of the
political sentiments defining this complex of cultural superiority and material weakness, and even of
certain rhetorical topoi, between Gotzamanis’ discourse and the dominant discourses of the 1990s
nationalistic Right of Salonica65 highlights the threads linking interwar fascism, the collaborationism of
the 1940s and the Cold War ethnicophrosyne that informs local political life ever since. These political
sentiments and rhetorical devices, first articulated by fascists eager to legitimize their Occupation-era
exploits, appealed also to the rank and file of the conservative camp and were not actively resisted by
the liberals or the Left; eventually they defined, together with another pet idea of Gotzamanis, that of
macedonians being exploited by the southern greeks, the common sense of a great part of the locals.
After the defeat of the Left and the eclipse of hopes of social reform, people needed such visions,
spectres and rationalisations in order to account for their experiences and, ultimately, to make their life
livable.

Gotzamanis’ rhetoric might be dismissed as inconsequential bravado for internal consumption


only, cheap psychological compensation for the cruel fact that Greece was by then dependent on the
accused barbarians, unable even to feed itself and hardly counting as an independent state. Its rulers
could cultivate aggressive variants of ethnicophrosyne but had little freedom of action and did not even
dream of challenging the geopolitical status quo of the Cold War. On the other hand, ideas have
consequences, and fascist discourse creates its own dynamic. Ominously the macedonian elite, instead

64
Σ. Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις..., op.cit., p. 39.
65
As documented, for example, on a scholarly level, in the official declarations and publications of the
Society for Macedonian Studies and the Institute for Balkan Studies.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 24

of repudiating the credo of the providential leader, racism, vital space, and expansion by conquest,
openly applauded it, even in the wake of its Second World War debacle. While other conservatives put
national dreams aside and helped build the European Economic Community, these «real Greeks, full of
faith and self-confidence» put their notions into practice by rendering their support to Colonel Grivas’
fatal adventures in Cyprus.

6. The Heritage of Fascism

So was our white haired warrior a conservative or fascist? On the one hand, the career of this particular
Quisling clearly fitted into Paxton’s definition of fascism, and even his sympathetic biographer, no
fascist himself, did not try to refute that Gotzamanis’ ideas and political behaviour must be described
as fascist. On the other hand, the conservatives almost always accepted him as one of their bona fide
leaders, and even welcomed him back with open arms after his disgraceful conduct in the Forties. His
ideas enjoyed for a long time wide circulation in their camp, and continued to influence it even after his
death. Thanks to its ambiguities, his case illuminates interesting aspects of the Greek Right and perhaps
can even prove useful in evaluating the various theoretical approaches to the fascist phenomenon. My
opinion is that any theory of fascism that cannot adequately explain this case –simply the most
prominent in Greece among many others- and fails to account for Gotzamanis’ ability to straddle so
easily both conservative and fascist camps for half a century, cannot really be useful in historical
research. Can really the «bestiary approach», that presents endless specimens of fascism selected
according to dubious criteria, or the theories that create ideotypes of fascism, capture the nuances of
this case? Can the approaches to fascism that focus on cultural or ideological factors give proper
explanations of Gotzamanis’ contradictions? Arguably, his career can be best dealt with by
approaching fascism comparatively and historically; by distinguishing the interrelated processes that
constitute it as they develop in time, with their subjects adapting (or failing to adapt) to the changing
political and social circumstances; and last but not least, by dissecting their links with conservatism.66

Such an approach would recognize that the answer to the Gotzamanis question partly lies in the
particularities of postwar Greek conservatism. The conservatives’ openness towards fascism had been
the rule in interwar Europe but very much the exception after Hitler’s defeat -beyond, that is, the
countries left out of the war. The postwar Greek Right, on the other hand, undaunted by the visible
effects of fascism in the country itself and abroad, incorporated the extreme Right instead of excluding
it. It not only kept its gates open to Gotzamanis, Grivas, and other fascists, but also consistently tended,
notwithstanding the facade of restricted parliamentarism in the Fifties and early Sixties, to promote
authoritarian regimes that culminated in the dictatorship of 1967-1974.

66
Such as those of George Mosse, Roger Griffin, Roger Eatwell and Stanley Payne. Cf. Robert Paxton,
«The Five Stages of Fascism», The Journal of Modern History 70 [1998], p. 10.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 25

Which were, then, the reasons for this behaviour of the Greek Right, so atypical in Europe after
the Second World War? Some of them were historical; for a start, there had been little opposition to
fascism per se among the bourgeois class and even less among the politicians of the two powerful
prewar camps, the Liberals and the Antiveniselists. On the contrary, important cadres of both camps
constantly praised the fascists and strived to imitate their methods, the powerful church regularly
expressed its admiration for the regimes of Rome and Berlin, while the mainstream press, influential in
Greece, during the Thirties acted as a mouthpiece for Hitler and Mussolini.67 And even the Metaxas
dictatorship, that openly imitated them, did not encounter any serious bourgeois opposition in the five
years of its existence.

One can also cite here the general factors detailed by Paxton, who explains why the
conservatives often gave a helping hand to the fascists in times of political crisis68 -and the Greek
Left’s bid for power in the 1940s created such a crisis of the first magnitude. The conservatives as well
as the fascists needed each other to roll back EAM, and they knew it, even if they were divided on how
exactly to do that. The years after the Liberation, from 1944 to 1947, may be seen as corresponding to
what Robert Paxton calls the “third stage” in the development of fascism: traditional parties unable to
manage a severe crisis of the system, opening of political space to fascism, and cooperation of
established elites with the fascist project.69 All posibilities were open then, and the outcome did not
depend only on internal factors.

Finally the fascists’ bid for power came to nothing. Among the elements that undermined it we
may count, first, the limited political skill of their leaders, who proved unable to unite or secure the
necessary alliances, and, second, the British deus ex machina, who promised all kinds of help for the
restoration of the conservative monarchy and the social status quo. Relying on the British, however,
had its own disadvantages: frustration of the irredentist claims on Cyprus, restrictions on the conduct of
the war against the Left reflecting the global policy needs of London, and, ultimately, various kinds of
insecurity entailed by dependence. These pressures facilitated the rise of strong political passions (to
borrow a metaphor from the so-called hydraulic model of emotions): resentment born out of the
traumas hurting the national pride and the realisation that Greece could no more be imagined as the hub
of an empire but had inexorably become, in the postwar scheme of things, a third rate power;
repression of the said traumas; anger against the sporadic limitation, by the foreign patrons, of
anticommunist excesses; fearful contemplation of the limits of the anglosaxon benevolence and of the
further designs of the perfidious Albion. Exactly these same sentiments we find in very many, if not all,
of the Right-wing politicians and writers of that period, fascists and conservatives, from the

67
See extensively on these matters, for the period from 1920 to 1932, my study, Σπ. Μαρκέτος, Πώς
φίλησα τον Μουσσολίνι…, op.cit..
68
R. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, op.cit., p. *.
69
Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 2005, p. 75.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 26

grandiloquent public intellectuals to the venial hacks and illiterate politicians.70 Among their
beneficiaries in the Fifties would be the fascists, not only directly but also indirectly, in the sense that
the conservative Right had to remain open to them if it wanted to keep in contact with these sentiments
of the mass of its supporters.

How was this incorporation of the extreme Right and fascism effected? On the ideological level
it was accomplished through the shared doctrine of ethnicophrosyne -that made its own all the
mobilizing passions of fascism- and its concomitant symbolisms. Thanks to ethnicophrosyne the Greek
Right crystallized into an emotional community that started to dissolve only after the excesses of the
Colonels’ dictatorship and their Cyprus folly of 1974. On the practical level, this incorporation
included concrete measures, from the financing and arming of fascist mass organisations in the 1940s,
like the «X» of Colonel Grivas, to the recycling in the army and security forces of the Occupation-era
fascist movements such as the Security Battallions. Reinstating in the state apparatus the collaborators
of the Nazis and almost all servants of the Metaxas dictatorship was another side of the same effort. A
comparison with the choices of Western European conservatives at that time might be instructive here.
For example, Gaullism in France and Christian Democracy in Italy and Germany, notwithstanding their
own authoritarian tendencies, systematically excluded politicians and lesser cadres tainted by
collaboration with the previous fascist regimes, had no use for extremist mass movements, and they
even developed new versions of conservatism stressing opposition to fascism.

Which were, now, the objectives of this incorporation? First of all, there were pressing matters
of political contingency. In the Forties, and even in the Fifties, keeping the fascists relatively strong
and happy was a kind of insurance policy for the conservative regime, that had just managed to defeat
the Left thanks to the massive British and American help that it received, but did not know to what
extent, nor for how long, this help would be available, and therefore needed also internal mass support,
of the kind being promised by the fascists. The fact that certain leaders of the latter, Gotzamanis and
Grivas prominent among them, managed also, by cultivating an irresponsible and finally self-
destructive irredentism, to appear as the authentic exponents of ethnicophrosyne, only secured their
position even better, notwithstanding the ire of their more mainstream competitors who consequently
tried to appear even more intransigeant. «Let’s crush under our boot this nauseating serpent, that
pollutes the earth with the dirty slime of Localism –and perhaps with something even worse- and let us
all turn our sights, united in thought and in aspiration, towards the North, where we are being called by
the Fate of our Race, by the spears of Alexandre and the eagles of the Emperor Basil the Bulgar-
slayer»,71 implored its readers the main conservative newspaper of Thessaloniki, that had initially

70
As the browsing of any newspaper or journal of that period can testify. A concrete example of them
can be seen in Περικλής Ιακ. Αργυρόπουλος, Αι αξιώσεις της Ελλάδος. Εσωτερικαί και εξωτερικαί
κατευθύνσεις, Ιωάννης Σιδέρης, Αθήναι 1945 (the author was a vice-admiral, as well as ex minister,
deputy and ambassador).
71
«Ένα έθνος – µια σκέψις», leader in Ελληνικός Βορράς, issue of 18th November, 1954.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 27

opposed Gotzamanis at the municipal elections of Thessaloniki in 1954. «The ethnicophrones of our
city are right to celebrate», retorted the accused after the elections,

because the healthy and ethnicophron part of the Thessalonicans, defeating the furious, hideous
and antinational reaction that revelled in all kinds of lies and false accusations, and also
overcoming the coalition around communism of assorted fellow-travellers, rallied around my
person, fought hard and proved that the ethnicophrones citizens, conscious of their national
duties, know how to ignore the dictates and warnings of all false leaders, native or newly
arrived here, who want to influence our city’s affairs. The thirty two thousand votes cast for us,
against the forty one thousand votes of the communists and their fellow-travellers, are the
hardest blow against the conspirators who tried to destroy the national idea and the national
will of the Thessalonicans».72

«Localism» versus «fellow-travellers», storming the North versus conquering the East; the terms in
which the internal quarrels of the ethnicophrones were conducted had a rather tenuous relationship to
the realities on the ground, but even so, it is not Gotzamanis the one who strikes us today as the most
outlandish. Naturally he won that battle, and a little later the secretary of the Society for Macedonian
Studies marked the official reinstatement of the ex-traitor with an unmeasured panygeric.73 His former
detractor Karamanlis, prime minister by then, validated his national rehabilitation by remaining silent.
A few months later Gotzamanis, unlike many victims of his policies, died in freedom and peace. And
even after his demise he won battles of ideas in the realm of ethnicophrosyne, until he was hailed, in
our own days, as the «stout defender of the interests of Macedonian Hellenism». But hasn’t this been
the greatest of all his victories, that, fifty years after his death, and while the extreme Right rises again,
his fascism either goes unmentioned or is trivialised?

72
S. Gotzamanis, in Μακεδονία, issue of 30th November, 1954.
73
«Παρουσίασις του οµιλητού υπό του Γενικού Γραµµατέως της Εταιρείας Μακεδονικών Σπουδών κ.
ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ ΛΕΤΣΑ», in Σωτήριος Γκοτζαµάνης, Η παρά των Ελλήνων κατάκτησις της Ασίας υπό
την ηγεσίαν του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου. Διάλεξις γενοµένη εν τη αιθούση της Εταιρείας Μακεδονικών
Σπουδών την 14ην Μαρτίου 1957, Thessaloniki 1957, p. 3.
Spyros Marchetos, “A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis” 28

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