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Published on Jul 29, 2008
The guerilla army of ELAS (National People's Army of Liberation) under the leadership of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece), led the resistance to Nazi occupation during the War. Inspired by the success of Tito's partisan army in Yugoslavia, ELAS held two-thirds of the country in February 1945, at which time a truce was negotiated with the Royalists (Monarcho-fascist Greek army). In October 1946, ELAS launched a campaign to win control of the whole country, and received support from neighboring Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria. Despite the presence of British troops and aid from the US, the Royalists were not expected to last long against the guerillas. Citing the situation in Greece, the inability of the British to cope with the situation and alleged breaches of the Yalta Agreements in Romania, Poland and Bulgaria, US President Harry Truman launched the 'Cold War', terminating aid to the USSR and pledging significant monetary aid to the Royalists in Greece under the guise of the "Marshall plan". The initial efforts of ELAS and affiliated groups were successful, although financial and materiel support from the U.S. and Britain changed the course of the war. Further, the premature tactical changes on the part of ELAS as well as internal political upheaval and the withdrawal of support by neighboring Yugoslavia hastened the demise of the campaign. The KKE leadership made numerous political errors which compounded the problems faced by ELAS on the battlefield. In October 1949, following the withdrawal of remaining ELAS forces into Albania, a treaty was negotiated with the Royalists which signaled the end of the war. After the defeat of the communists in the civil war, communists, members and supporters of the KKE were persecuted and sent into labor camps, while their children were designated as "orphans" and sent to church schools for "re-education." Although some who fled into Albania and neighboring areas were eventually allowed to return to Greece, the ethnic Macedonians (both guerillas and civilians) in Greece who were forced to flee their birthplaces to avoid the repression of the Greek government are still being denied re-entry into Greece to this day despite the fact that they are legally Greek citizens. These restrictions effectively culminate an extensive campaign of ethnic assimilation/hellenization. The ethnic Macedonians who fled Greece during the civil war period are the last ethnic-political refugees of the era, having withstood a period of exile spanning over half a century.