Modern Greek History

What You Need to Know About Ioannis Metaxas

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MetaxasIoannis Metaxas was the Prime Minister of Greece from 1936 to 1941. History looks at him as a general and dictator, but that may not necessarily give the whole picture. Sure, for the first four months of his stint as prime minister he did govern Greece with the constitution in mind. Yes, he eventually abandoned the constitution and formed the 4th of August Regime, but just looking at these events only gives part of the story. Here’s more detail into the life and career Ioannis Metaxas, one of the most recognizable names in modern Greek history.

Military Career of Ioannis Metaxa

Before Ioannis Metaxas was a politician, he had a successful career in the military. In fact, he made a career of the military and quickly became an officer. The Greco-Turkish War in 1897 was his the first time he was part of a major conflict, and it wouldn’t be the last. As part of the General Staff, he did much to help modernize the Greek Army. Shortly after that, Greece fought in the Balkan Wars from 1912 to 1913. In 1916, he became a Lieutenant General. Throughout his military career, he always supported the monarchy over the republic and was a big supporter of King Constantine I. He was also against Greek involvement in World War II. In 1916, the same year Metaxas became Lieutenant General, King Constantine was deposed and he followed the king into exile.

Politcal Career of Ioannis Metaxa

Initially, Metaxas’ political career didn’t start out very well. As a politician with royalist leanings, it took him several years to gain momentum. He eventually worked his way into the Minister of War position for the Greek government. In 1935, however, he received his real political break. King George II appointed him as the Interim Prime Minister of Greece and the Greek Parliament approved it. His term began on April 13, 1936. After he became Prime Minister, he began to act on the king’s approval to disband parliament.

On August 4, 1936, Metaxas was faced with a political challenge because the industrial workforce was in a state of extreme unrest. In response to this, Metaxas formed his 4th of August Regime, also known as the August Regime or Metaxas Regime, which was essentially a dictatorship. However, at the time, Metaxas thought that this regime was necessary to bring stability back to Greece. As part of his regime, he banned all political parties, made workforce strikes illegal, and enforced censorship of the media. The Metaxas Regime was in power until May of 1941, which is when he died.

To say that Ioannis Metaxas is a controversial figure in Greek history is an understatement. Some people only focus on the fact that he was a dictator. However, to others, he was also a patriot, had many popular public policies, and was also responsible for the Greek military victory against Italy during the Greco-Italian War. The only thing that people are really sure of is that he is also one of the most recognizable figures in Greek history.

Sources:

Wikipedia – Ioannis Metaxas

Wikipedia – 4th of August Regime

Wikipedia – Greco-Italian War

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com

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