Alexander Papagos

Alexander Papagos (in Greek:, Alexandros Papagos). Born December 9, 1883 (Athens, Greece); died in October 4, 1955 (Athens, Greece), was a Greek Field Marshal who led the Greek Army in the Greco-Italian War and the later stages of the Greek Civil War and became the country's Prime Minister.

Military career

He studied in the Brussels Military Academy and the Cavalry School at Ypres, joining the Greek Army in 1906 as a Cavalry 2nd Lieutenant.

In the First Balkan War he served as a junior officer in the General Staff of King Constantine. As a captain, he held successive staff positions as well as taking part in the Siege of Yannina (Ioannina) and fighting in Macedonia from November 1912 until March 1913. He was a confirmed royalist, so in 1917, along with many other officers, he was dismissed from the Army. He was recalled after the return of King Constantine in 1920, when he successfully served as operations officer to the Cavalry Brigade in the Asia Minor Campaign.

In 1923 he was again decomissioned by the Revolution of 1922, but was recalled in 1927 with the grade of Major General. He was promoted to Lieutenant General and later Corps Commander in 1934, Papagos was eventually appointed to higher Army commands. In October 1935, as a Lieutenant General and Chief of the Army, along with the chiefs of the Navy and the Air Force, he helped topple the government of Panagis Tsaldaris and declared the restoration of the monarchy. He was appointed Minister of War in the Georgios Kondylis, Konstantinos Demertzis and Ioannis Metaxas governments. From his position, he employed the Army to support Metaxas' declaration of dictatorship in August 4, 1936.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army, General Alexander Papagos was featured on the cover of Time Magazine on December 16th, 1940

.During the next years, as Chief of the General Staff, he actively tried to reorganize and reequip the Army for the oncoming war. With the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War in September 1940, he was named Commander-in-Chief and directed Greek operations against Italy along the Albanian border. After the Italian attack on October 28, his forces managed to halt their advance by November 8 and forced them to withdraw to Albania between November 18 and December 23. The successes of the Greek Army brought him fame and applause, but his conduct of the campaign has recently been criticized. A second Italian offensive during March 9-16 1941 was repulsed. Despite this success, Papagos was forced to maintain the bulk of the Greek Army in Albania, and was unwilling to order a gradual withdrawal to reinforce the north-eastern border as German intervention came closer.

After the German invasion on April 6, 1941, Greek forces in Macedonia fiercely resisted the German offensive, but were outflanked and Papagos endorsed their surrender. Soon after the Army of Epirus capitulated and by April 23 the Greek government was forced to flee to Crete. Papagos remained behind and in July 1943, together with other generals, he was arrested and sent to concentration camps in Germany. In 1945 he was repatriated, rejoined the Army and reached the rank of full General in 1947. On January 29, 1949, he was once again appointed Commander-in-Chief, to defeat the Communists in the Greek Civil War, which he achieved, with extensive American aid, the deployment of Special Forces (LOK) and the novel use of napalm, during the Grammos-Vitsi campaign between February to October of that year. As a reward, he, alone of all Greek career officers, was promoted to Field Marshal on October 28, 1949.

He continued to serve in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief while Greece was in a state of political instability, with splinter parties and weak politicians unable to provide a firm government, and the victorious right terror reigning supreme and unchecked throughout the country.

Ioannis Metaxas with King George II of Greece, crown prince Paul of Greece and General Alexander Papagos at the successful Albanian Campaign against invading fascist Italy during World War II.

Political career

In May 1951 he resigned from the Army, as to become involved in politics. He founded the Greek Rally (Ελληνικός Συναγερμός), modelled after De Gaulle's Rassemblement du Peuple Français and won the September elections with 35% of the vote, largely due to his popularity, his image as a strong and determined leader, and extensive American support. Despite this victory, Papagos was unable to form a government, and had to wait until the November 16, 1952 elections, when, with a change in the electoral system, he gained 239 out of 300 seats in Parliament. The Field Marshal, with his popular backing and support from the Americans was an authoritative figure, leading to friction with the Royal Palace. Papagos' government successfully strived to modernize Greece (where the young and energetic Minister of Public Works, Constantine Karamanlis, first distinguished himself) and restore the economy of a country ruined by 10 years of war, but did little to restore social harmony in a country still scarred from the civil war.

One of the major issues faced by Papagos was the Cyprus problem, where the Greek majority had begun clamouring for Enosis (Union) with Greece. In response to demonstrations in the streets of Athens, Papagos reluctantly, as this would put Greece in confrontation with Great Britain, ordered Greece's UN representative in August 1954 to raise the issue of Cyprus before the UN General Assembly. When the EOKA armed struggle began in 1955, Papagos was in declining health and unwilling to act. The clashes in Cyprus, however, led to a deterioration of Greco-Turkish relations, culminating in the Istanbul Pogrom in September. By that time, Papagos was ill, and on October 4, 1955, he died.

The Athens suburb of Papagou, where the Ministry of Defence is located, is named after him.

Preceded by: Dimitrios Kiousopoulos

Prime Minister of Greece November 19, 1952 - October 4, 1955

Succeeded by: Constantine Karamanlis

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