George Grivas (Γεώργιος Γρίβας in Greek), also known as Digenis by Greeks, which he adopted while in EOKA, (1898 - 1974) was a Cyprus born Colonel in the Greek army.
He was born in the village of Trikomo that is now occupied by Turkish troops. He studied in the Hellenic Army Academy and worked as an officer in the Greek army. During the German-Italian-Bulgarian occupation of Greece in World War II he created the Organisation X. In his memoirs he describes it as a resistance organisation however the main aim of X was to fight the Communist EAM and ELAS. Grivas attempted to collaborate with the Nazis against EAM and ELAS but the Nazis were not interested in arming yet another band of Greeks. Organisation X was armed with British weapons supplied directly by the British and not acquired in an indirect way (e.g. from dead soldiers).
During the Nazi occupation, Organisation X was not big and its influence was limited in certain neighbourhoods of Athens. After the British arrived, Organisation X played an important role during the armed conflict for Athens between communists and royalists in December 1944 (see Greek Civil War) and its size and influence increased greatly.
After the end of the Greek Civil War, Grivas founded a political party and attempted to start a political career, but failed. He came back to Cyprus in the 1950s as the leader of the underground organisation EOKA aiming to force Britain to give Cyprus to Greece. 'Digenis' was the codename Grivas chose to use as leader of EOKA. It referred to Digenis Akritas, the legendary hero of folk songs who was a member of the elite Akrites, the border guards of the Byzantine Empire. The cause of enosis (union of Cyprus and Greece) was very popular in Cyprus and Greece. Action by EOKA began with bomb attacks on April 1st 1955. Grivas' anticommunism is considered to be the main reason for killings of members of the labour party of Cyprus, AKEL, by EOKA. Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot reaction to EOKA and enosis was expressed by the foundation of the underground organisation TMT and the rallying cry of taksim (division of the island into two separate Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot parts).
Negotiations initially between Greece, US and Turkey, and later including the UK and the Greek and Turkish-Cypriots, lead to the creation of an independent state in 1960, the Republic of Cyprus, the constitution of which was based on political equality between two communities, Greek and Turkish-Cypriot, and ruled out forever the possibility of enosis. Part of the agreement was that Grivas would leave Cyprus and go back to Greece. On his return to Greece, Grivas once again attempted to become active in politics, and failed.
In December 1963 fighting broke out in Cyprus between Greek and Turkish-Cypriots. Grivas used the popularity he gained in the EOKA era to coerce Cyprus president Archbishop Makarios III and the Greek government into allowing him to return to Cyprus, and eventually into allowing him to become Supreme Military Commander of Cyprus. His attack in August 1964 against TMT forces in the Kokkina enclave resulted in the collapse of negotiations between the Americans, Greeks and Turks to solve the Cyprus issue on the basis of the Acheson plan, in attacks by the Turkish Air Force in the Tylliria area and in the resignation of the first commander of the Cypriot National Guard, Georgios Karayiannis. Grivas left Cyprus in 1967 after a crisis which was seriously escalated when the Cypriot National Guard under Grivas attacked TMT forces in the Turkish Cypriot village of Kofinou.
He once more returned to Cyprus from Greece secretly in August 1971 to form and lead underground organisation EOKA B, again with the rallying cry of Enosis. He secretly met with Makarios but they did not reach an agreement to co-operate. Grivas started plotting to overthrow Makarios with the support of the US-backed Junta of the Colonels which was ruling Greece at the time. He died on January 27th 1974 while in hiding in a house in the city of Limassol. Though he was supposed to be in hiding, his whereabouts were known to the government of Makarios and the phone in the house he was living in was tapped. The announced cause of his death was heart failure, but some of his supporters still claim that he was murdered. Grivas' supporters insisted that the pro-Grivas Gennadios, Bishop of Paphos, who was then active in the ecclesiastical coup against Makarios, officiate at Grivas' funeral. Makarios would not have the Bishop of Paphos officiate at Limassol Cathedral, therefore Grivas' supporters held the funeral and burial, which was attended by hundreds of people, in the garden of the house that had been Grivas' last hideout, and where his tomb still is.
The Junta of the Colonels eventually overthrew Makarios just six months after Grivas' death. The military coup of July 20th 1974 which overthrew Makarios was executed by forces of the Cypriot National Guard under direct instructions from Greece. The initial intention was to include EOKA B in the planning, but that was abandoned when, by a series of coincidences, on June 18th 1974 police discovered the hideout of EOKA B leader Lefteris Papadopoulos and a large amount of documents and other evidence. This threw EOKA B into disarray and put paid to plans of its being used to overthrow Makarios, but most of the EOKA B plotters took active part in the military coup after it began. Coupist leader Nikos Sampson was an EOKA B-members, as were many of his 'ministers'. The coup was swiftly followed by the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus.