On December 3, 1944, the first Dekemvriana (Δεκεμβριανά) shots were fired in Athens, beginning one of the saddest and bloodiest periods in Greece’s history.
This incident in Athens started the bloody period of atrocities following the Nazi departure from occupied Greece.
The Dekemvriana (December events) refers to a series of clashes fought during WWII in Athens from December 3rd 1944 to 11th of January 1945, between Greek left-wing Resistance forces (EAM-ELAS, the KKE) and the British Army, supported by the Greek Government, the cities police and the far-right organisation ‘X’ of Georgios Grivas.
On this day, during a left-wing demonstration by around 250,000 people in Athens, shooting broke out. Tragic violence erupted and demonstrators were taken down in gunfire from the X and LOK (Lochos Oreinon Katadromon,) forces, British troops, and police forces.
The police were manning machine guns positioned on the rooftops of Syntagma Square. The tragedy resulted in a total of 28 deaths (including that of a six-year-old boy) and 148 wounded.
The conflict was the culmination of months of tension between the communist EAM-ELAS, the country’s largest resistance movement, which controlled most of Greece, and the British-backed government, which had returned from exile upon the Germans’ withdrawal in October 1944.
Although EAM had initially participated in the government, mounting differences with the traditional bourgeois parties led to the resignation of its ministers. On 3 December, a huge pro-EAM rally in central Athens was shot upon by the police on orders from Angelos Evert, leaving 28 protesters dead and 148 wounded.
The killings ushered a full-blown armed confrontation between EAM and the British, under General Ronald Scoble. The clashes were in Athens, and elsewhere in Greece, the situation remained tense but peaceful.
The Dekemvriana ended with the defeat of EAM-ELAS, leading to its disarmament in the ‘Varkiza Agreement’.
This first defeat broke the power of EAM and was followed by a period of ‘White Terror,’ which contributed to the outbreak of the Greek Civil War in 1946.
The conflict continued throughout the month of December, with the government forces slowly gaining power.