In his essay on politics and the English language written in 1946, Orwell argued that fascism became a meaningless word. Orwell knew what he was doing. Very likely, he was told to assert the sudden meaningless of the term fascism and Nazism as one of the alleged abuses of language and reason.
The use of Nazism in today's Ukraine has a very important precedent, one that happened exactly 70 years ago in Greece, and the Guardian, for some good reason, brought it back from oblivion (although it was never forgotten in Greece). The precedent also shows and confirms the strange, criminal, and deliberate symbiosis between Western imperialism and Nazism--even when the British Empire was still officially at war with Nazism.
Here is a greater portion of the Guardian article:
70 years ago, on December 3, 1944, this is what the British did in Greece:
"[On the morning of 3 December 1944 ... 70 years ago, the British army, still at war with Germany, opened fire upon – and gave locals who had collaborated with the Nazis the guns to fire upon – a civilian crowd demonstrating in support of the partisans with whom Britain had been allied for three years.
The crowd carried Greek, American, British and Soviet flags, and chanted: “Viva Churchill, Viva Roosevelt, Viva Stalin’” in endorsement of the wartime alliance.
Twenty-eight civilians, mostly young boys and girls, were killed and hundreds injured. ... Britain’s logic was brutal and perfidious: Prime minister Winston Churchill considered the influence of the Communist Party within the resistance movement he had backed throughout the war – the National Liberation Front, EAM – to have grown stronger than he had calculated .... So he switched allegiances to back the supporters of Hitler against his own erstwhile allies.
... Within days, RAF Spitfires and Beaufighters were strafing leftist strongholds as the Battle of Athens – known in Greece as the Dekemvriana – began, fought not between the British and the Nazis, but the British alongside supporters of the Nazis against the partisans. .... [This] remains curiously untold in Britain, perhaps out of shame, maybe the arrogance of a lack of interest. ...In France or Italy, if you fought the Nazis, you were respected in society after the war, regardless of ideology. In Greece, you found yourself fighting – or imprisoned and tortured by – the people who had collaborated with the Nazis, on British orders. There has never been a reckoning with that crime, and much of what is happening in Greece now is the result of not coming to terms with the past.
... the British started releasing Security Battalion officers… and soon some of them were freely walking the streets of Athens wearing new uniforms... The British army continued to provide protection to assist the gradual rehabilitation of the former quisling units in the Greek army and police forces.... and now some senior officers of the Security Battalions and Special Security Branch [collaborationist units which had been integrated into the SS] were seen walking freely in the streets. ... By recruiting the collaborators, the British changed the paradigm, signalling that the old order was back. ....
It is illuminating to read the dispatches by British soldiers themselves, as extracted by the head censor, Capt JB Gibson, now stored at the Public Record Office. They give no indication that the enemy they fight was once a partisan ally, indeed many troops think they are fighting a German-backed force. A warrant officer writes: “Mr Churchill and his speech bucked us no end, we know now what we are fighting for and against, it is obviously a Hun element behind all this trouble.” From “An Officer”: “You may ask: why should our boys give their lives to settle Greek political differences, but they are only Greek political differences? I say: no, it is all part of the war against the Hun, and we must go on and exterminate this rebellious element.”
... And so began a chapter known in Greek history as the “White Terror”, as anyone suspected of helping ELAS during the Dekemvriana or even Nazi occupation was rounded up and sent to a gulag of camps established for their internment, torture, often murder – or else repentance, as under the Metaxas dictatorship.
Patríkios was among the relatively fortunate; thousands of others were executed, usually in public, their severed heads or hanging bodies routinely displayed in public squares. His Majesty’s embassy in Athens commented by saying the exhibition of severed heads “is a regular custom in this country which cannot be judged by western European standards”.
The name of the man in command of the “British Police Mission” to Greece is little known. Sir Charles Wickham had been assigned by Churchill to oversee the new Greek security forces – in effect, to recruit the collaborators. Anthropologist Neni Panourgia describes Wickham as “one of the persons who traversed the empire establishing the infrastructure needed for its survival,” and credits him with the establishment of one of the most vicious camps in which prisoners were tortured and murdered, at Giaros.
From Yorkshire, Wickham was a military man who served in the Boer War, during which concentration camps in the modern sense were invented by the British. He then fought in Russia, as part of the allied Expeditionary Force sent in 1918 to aid White Russian Czarist forces in opposition to the Bolshevik revolution. After Greece, he moved on in 1948 to Palestine. But his qualification for Greece was this: Sir Charles was the first Inspector General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, from 1922 to 1945.
The RUC was founded in 1922, following what became known as the Belfast pogroms of 1920-22, when Catholic streets were attacked and burned. It was, writes the historian Tim Pat Coogan, “conceived not as a regular police body, but as a counter-insurgency one… The new force contained many recruits who joined up wishing to be ordinary policemen, but it also contained murder gangs headed by men like a head constable who used bayonets on his victims because it prolonged their agonies.”
Coogan, Ireland’s greatest and veteran historian, stakes no claim to neutrality over matters concerning the Republic and Union, but historical facts are objective and he has a command of those that none can match. We talk at his home outside Dublin over a glass of whiskey appositely called “Writer’s Tears”.
“It’s the narrative of empire,” says Coogan, “and, of course, they applied it to Greece. That same combination of concentration camps, putting the murder gangs in uniform, and calling it the police. That’s colonialism, that’s how it works. You use whatever means are necessary, one of which is terror and collusion with terrorists. It works.
The head of MI5 reported in 1940 that “in the personality and experience of Sir Charles Wickham, the fighting services have at their elbow a most valuable friend and counsellor”. When the intelligence services needed to integrate the Greek Security Battalions – the Third Reich’s “Special Constabulary” – into a new police force, they had found their man.
Gerolymatos adds: “The British – and that means Wickham – knew who these people were. And that’s what makes it so frightening. They were the people who had been in the torture chambers during occupation, pulling out the fingernails and applying thumbscrews.” By September 1947, the year the Communist Party was outlawed, 19,620 leftists were held in Greek camps and prisons, 12,000 of them in Makronissos, with a further 39,948 exiled internally or in British camps across the Middle East. There exist many terrifying accounts of torture, murder and sadism in the Greek concentration camps – one of the outrageous atrocities in postwar Europe. Polymeris Volgis of New York University describes how a system of repentance was introduced as though by a “latter-day secular Inquisition”, with confessions extracted through “endless and violent degradation”.
Women detainees would have their children taken away until they confessed to being “Bulgarians” and “whores”. The repentance system led Makronissos to be seen as a “school” and “National University” for those now convinced that “Our life belongs to Mother Greece,’ in which converts were visited by the king and queen, ministers and foreign officials. “The idea”, says Patríkios, who never repented, “was to reform and create patriots who would serve the homeland.”
Minors in the Kifissa prison were beaten with wires and socks filled with concrete. “On the boys’ chests, they sewed name tags”, writes Voglis, “with Slavic endings added to the names; many boys were raped”. A female prisoner was forced, after a severe beating, to stand in the square of Kastoria holding the severed heads of her uncle and brother-in-law. One detainee at Patras prison in May 1945 writes simply this: “They beat me furiously on the soles of my feet until I lost my sight. I lost the world.”
Nowhere else in newly liberated Europe were Nazi sympathisers enabled to penetrate the state structure – the army, security forces, judiciary – so effectively. The resurgence of neo-fascism in the form of present-day far-right party Golden Dawn has direct links to the failure to purge the state of right-wing extremists; many of Golden Dawn’s supporters are descendants of Battalionists, as were the “The Colonels” who seized power in 1967.
Glezos says: “I know exactly who executed my brother and I guarantee they all got off scot-free. I know that the people who did it are in government, and no one was ever punished.” Glezos has dedicated years to creating a library in his brother’s honour. In Brussels, he unabashedly asks interlocutors to contribute to the fund by popping a “frango” (a euro) into a silk purse. It is, along with the issue of war reparations, his other great campaign, his last wish: to erect a building worthy of the library that will honour Nikos. “The story of my brother is the story of Greece,” he says....
Back in the rebel-held quarter of Exarcheia, a young woman called Marina pulls off her balaclava and draws air. Over coffee, she answers the question: why Greece? Why is it so different from the rest of Europe in this regard – the especially bitter war between left and right? “Because,” she replies, “of what was done to us in 1944. The persecution of the partisans who fought the Nazis, for which they were honoured in France, Italy, Belgium or the Netherlands – but for which, here, they were tortured and killed on orders from your government.”
She continues: “I come from a family that has been detained and tortured for two generations before me: my grandfather after the Second World War, my father under the Junta of the colonels – and now it could be me, any day now. We are the grandchildren of the andartes, and our enemies are Churchill’s Greek grandchildren.”
“The whole thing”, spits Dr Gerolymatos, “was for nothing. None of this need have happened, and the British crime was to legitimise people whose record under occupation by the Third Reich put them beyond legitimacy. It happened because Churchill believed he had to bring back the Greek king. And the last thing the Greek people wanted or needed was the return of a de-frocked monarchy backed by Nazi collaborators. But that is what the British imposed, and it has scarred Greece ever since.”
“All those collaborators went into the system,” says Manilos Glezos. “Into the government mechanism – during and after the civil war, and their sons went into the military junta. The deposits remain, like malignant cells in the system. Although we liberated Greece, the Nazi collaborators won the war, thanks to the British. And the deposits remain, like bacilli in the system.”
But there is one last thing Glezos would like to make clear. “You haven’t asked: ‘Why do I go on? Why I am doing this when I am 92 years and two months old?’ he says, fixing us with his eyes. “I could, after all, be sitting on a sofa in slippers with my feet up,” he jests. “So why do I do this?”
He answers himself: “You think the man sitting opposite you is Manolis but you are wrong. I am not him. And I am not him because I have not forgotten that every time someone was about to be executed, they said: ‘Don’t forget me. When you say good morning, think of me. When you raise a glass, say my name.’ And that is what I am doing talking to you, or doing any of this. The man you see before you is all those people. And all this is about not forgetting them.”