About the Politician Themistoklis Sofoulis
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The birth of Sofoulis took place in the village of Vathy on the island of Samos in 1862. Samos was a free and independent island in Ottoman waters at the time. Sofoulis earned a BA in Philosophy from the University of Athens and an MA in Archaeology from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Back in 1895, he pioneered the archaeological investigation of ancient Messene. Here’s more information about him:
Entering Samian Politics
In 1900, he stopped participating in archaeological digs and became the leader of a radical movement campaigning for Samos’ political freedoms under the Treaty of Autonomy of 1832. He was subsequently elected as a deputy for the island. The Progressives, who advocated for change and unity with the Greek Kingdom, soon had their leader in Sofoulis. He became Samoa’s de facto leader after being elected parliament president in 1902.
Tensions rose because of pro-Greek activism and the reaction of the pro-autonomy faction; ultimately, in May 1908, Prince Andreas Kopasis Omoudopoulos ordered the Turkish troops to intervene. Several people were killed in the ensuing riots, and Sofoulis was ultimately compelled to seek refuge in Greece. The Ottoman garrison evacuated to Anatolia, and on 11/24 November 1912, the island’s parliament officially declared union with Greece after Sofoulis and a group of exiled Samians landed on the island.
Entering Greek Politics
Until he was appointed Governor General of Macedonia in April 1914, Sofoulis served as president of the Samos interim administration. After Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos resigned in February 1915 over a quarrel with King Constantine I, he stayed in Thessaloniki until March 1915, when he resigned.
When the Hellenic Parliament was first established in May 1915, Sofoulis was chosen as a deputy. Thessaloniki’s National Defense administration under Venizelos appointed him as Interior Minister during the National Schism. Eleftherios Venizelos and his government returned to Athens after Constantine I’s exile, and Sofoulis was elected parliament speaker. He remained in his position until 1920.
Leader of the Liberal Party
Sofoulis took over the Liberal Party of Greece after Venizelos resigned and departed. From July 25, 1924, until November 27, 1924, he led the nation as its first prime minister. Before being re-elected as Parliament Speaker in 1930, he was the Minister of Military Affairs.
King George II respected Themistoklis Sofoulis’ moderate position during the tumultuous events that led to Panagis Tsaldaris’ resignation and the restoration of the constitutional monarchy. Speaker Sofoulis was re-elected on March 16, 1936. His notorious Sofoulis-Sklavainas Pact with the KKE was signed in the same year.
Sofoulis stayed out of the way throughout the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas, but in April 1939, he sent a warning letter to King George II about the regime’s growing Fascist tendencies. Later, he was captured by the Germans on May 19 and sent to the concentration camp of Haidari, where he remained until his release in October.
Themistoklis Sofoulis led Greece from 1945 to April 4, 1946, but he lost the 1946 legislative elections to Konstantinos Tsaldaris’ People’s Party. On September 7, 1947, he became prime minister in a Liberal-Party People’s coalition.
He negotiated with KKE for a national amnesty and a prospective coalition government with the Liberals, provided EAM’s new military force, the “Democratic Army of Greece,” disarmed. He died in Kifissia on June 24, 1949, at age 88, before the civil war ended.
Sofoulis led the government and the royal army during the civil war, despite his centrist affiliation. He was adored by lawmakers from the center-left, center, and right for his clarity and fearlessness despite his advanced years. In politics, his ability to strike a balance was his defining trait. It explains why he kept his mouth shut during the King’s and the dictator’s reigns (1935–1940). He was able to govern the country during the Civil War and even persuade the right-of-center General Alexandros Papagos to rejoin the military.
Categorized in: Modern Greek History
This post was written by Greek Boston
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