About the Security Battalions of Greece During WWII
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Although Greece fought hard to prevent it, the country was occupied by the Axis Powers during World War II, particularly the German troops. As a result, the Security Battalions were formed as Greek collaborationist military groups. These groups were created to offer support to the German occupation troops. Here’s what you should know about the Security Battalions of Greece:
Beginning of the Security Battalions
In 1943, the Battalions were founded by the government of Ioannis Rallis. The cabinet would pass a law that raised the Security Battalions in April of the same year. General Theodoros Pangalos was one of the driving forces behind the Security Battalions as he saw it as his way to make a comeback in politics. Of all the officers who were recruited, many were Hellenic Army officers who were republicans that were associated with Pangalos in one way or another.
Theodoros Pangalos was a Greek nationalist who played an important role in the revolt of September 1922 that deposed King Constantine I. He also had a leading role in the establishment of the Second Hellenic Republic. Pangalos did not appreciate Greece’s relationship with Great Britain prior to World War II. He felt that the return of the king as a sign of subordination by Greece to Britain.
In 1941, when Greece fell to the Germans, Pangalos and other officers would show their support for the collaborationist regime. Theodoros Pangalos hoped the Security Battalions would be used against both the return of King George II and the Communist-dominated National Liberation Front. To start, the Security Battalions were a small force. But grew September 1943 when Italy signed an armistice with allies. After the signing, Germany became more generous with helping to arm the Security Battalions.
Role of the Security Battalions
The Security Battalion’s main role was to fight against the Greek People’s Liberation Party (ELAS). At most, the Security Battalion consisted of 22,000 men that were divided into 31 different battalion. The plan was to spread the battalions across the occupied Greek territories.
Their main setup point was in the Peloponnese and eastern central Greece. By this time, ELAS had control over 1/3 of continental Greece. Even when the occupation was crumbling, the Security Battalions remained loyal to the Germans. The final mission of the Security Battalions was to fight the ELAS to keep them from the main routes, allowing the German troops exit Greece safely.
Greek’s Opposition to the Security Battalions
Aside from their collaborationist nature, the Greeks were not impressed by the lack of control the members exhibited. After one particular battle, members pillaged houses of the village and left with five sewing machines, cheese, many household items, and oil. It took as many as 60 mules to help them carry away what they took. Since members of the Security Battalions were not properly disciplined, they continued on with their looting and other bad behavior.
Many people who were killed by the Security Battalions were killed at random and not part of associated with the andartes. This was possibly an attempt to create fear among the Greek people in hopes they would fear the andartes and want the security of the Security Battalions. Eventually, the battalions disbanded.
Categorized in: Modern Greek History
This post was written by GreekBoston.com