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Security Battalions

Security Battalions
Τάγματα Ασφαλείας
Participant in the Axis occupation of Greece
Men of the Security Battalions resting during an anti-partisan sweep in 1943. They are wearing the service uniform of the pre-war Evzones regiments.
Active 1943–1944
Ideology Anti-communism,
Fascism,
Germanophilia
Leaders Ioannis Rallis
Ioannis Plytzanopoulos
Headquarters Athens
Strength 22,000 (1944)
Part of Hellenic State (1941–44)
Allies Poulos Verband
Opponents EOK, Greek government-in-exile, Special Operations Executive

The Security Battalions (Greek: Τάγματα Ασφαλείας, Tágmata Asfalías, derisively known as Germanotsoliades or Tagmatasfalites) were Greek collaborationist military groups, formed during the Axis occupation of Greece during World War II in order to support the German occupation troops.

Contents

  • History 1
  • Oath of the Security Battalions 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6

History

A member of the Security Battalions stands near an executed man.
Local cemetery in Meligalas for members of the Security Battalions executed by Greek People's Liberation Army.

The Battalions were founded in 1943 by the Greek puppet government of Ioannis Rallis upon the initiative of SS Lieutenant General Walter Schimana, who was the High Commander of the SS and the police in occupied Greece.[1] They were supported by the extreme right and Nazi sympathisers, who were concerned about the dominance of ELAS (the military arm of the communist-dominated National Liberation Front EAM) as the main body of the Greek resistance. Among the members of the Security Battalions one could find ex-army officers, forcefully conscripted soldiers, criminals, conservatives, landowners, extreme-right radicals and social outcasts, as well as opportunists who believed the Axis would win the war.[2]

The main role of the Security Battalions was to fight against ELAS. In addition, together with the Greek police the Security Battalions cooperated fully with the Germans in the deportation of the Jews, in Salonika alone out of 77,000 Jews only 6,500 survived by hiding in the regions controlled by the Communist partisans.[3]

List of Security Battalions: Freiwillige Bataillon "Agrinion"; Freiwillige Bataillon "Amfissa"; Freiwillige Polizei Bataillon "Saloniki"; Freiwillige Polizei Bataillon "Euböa II" (Chalkis); Freiwillige Polizei Bataillon "Euböa III" (Chalkis); Freiwillige Polizei Bataillon "Leonidas" (Sparta); Freiwillige Polizei Halb-Bataillon "Larissa; Freiwillige Bataillon "Megalopolis"; Freiwillige Polizei Bataillon "Euböa I"; Freiwillige Bataillon "Karditsa'; Freiwillige Bataillon I (Veria) ; Freiwillige Bataillon II (Veria); Freiwillige Bataillon III (Serwia-Kozani) ; Freiwillige Bataillon IV (Jannitsa); Freiwillige Bataillon V (Kozani, Ptolemaida); Freiwillige Bataillon VI (Kozani); Freiwillige Bataillon VII (Sochos-Langadas, Kilkis); Freiwillige Bataillon VIII (Sochos-Langadas); Freiwillige Bataillon IX (Krya Vrissi); Freiwillige Bataillon X (Vichos i Eubea). The first Security Battalion was 'Leonidas' formed in September 1943 in Sparta. Its leaders were: 1)Leonidas Vrettakos Geoponos 2) Leonidas B. Papadakos 3) Georgios Kargakos 4) Takis B. Papadakos 5) Leonidas G. Papadakos 6) G. TSETSIKAS 7) Efstratios Papadakos 8) Dim. Ikonomopulos 9) K. Asimakopulos 10) D.S Kritikos 11) Temistoklis Gutos 12) Nikolaos Kurakis 13) Georgios Menutis 14) Nikolaos Kutsulis 15) Ilias Nikolopulos.In 1944 it was transformed into a battalion called 'Laconia' (Syntagma Asfalies Lakonia) with Lieutenant Dionysos Papadongonas as its leader.

The Security Battalions' aggregate force was at most 22,000 men, divided into 9 'evzonic' and 22 'voluntary' battalions, under the commands of SS Lieutenant-General Walter Schimana. Although the plan was to expand them all over the occupied Greek territories, their main theater of action was in eastern Central Greece and Peloponnese. At that time, ELAS had already gained control over 1/3 of continental Greece. They remained faithful to the Germans even when the occupation was crumbling. The Battalions were formed soon after 5,000 Italian soldiers were massacred by the Germans in Cephalonia in September 1943 (on 3 September 1943 Italy signed armistice between the Kingdom of Italy and the Allies). The Battalions' last mission was to engage in combat against ELAS and keep them away from the main routes, in order to secure the safe exit of the German troops from Greece.

What the Greek people hated about the Battalions, even more than their collaborationist nature, was the total lack of control over their members. They were mostly remembered for their violence against civil population, the murder of thousands without any trial 1944 .[4] The Security Battalions were also in charge of providing food supplies to the German Army from the local population- this forceful collection of food occurred during Greek famine when about 300,000 Greeks died from famine .[5] For example, after a battle in the hamlet of Attali in Evvia the collaborationists pillaged the houses of the village, taking away 1,000 oka of oil, five sewing machines, 200 ok of cheese and 30 complete trousseaus. 60 mules were needed to carry away the loot. By the end of the occupation their name was synonymous with arbitrary violence and frightful cruelty.[6]

Also in Athens, in the spring and summer of 1944 the Security Battalions executed massively civilians suspected of leftist orientation. This was accomplished through the round up of locals in entire districts of Athens: via megaphones all inhabitants were ordered to leave their homes and stand on the street, those who did not obey were murdered in their homes. Hooded informants would then point to the victims who were immediately hang or shot without any investigation.[7] Therefore, many Security Battalions soldiers were often attacked by the partisans, volunteers and by angry civilians. During the war, the Allied-oriented government in exile decried the Security Battalions for treason. After the liberation, the groups were disbanded; many of their members were tried and were convicted of collaborationism. Their creator, Rallis, was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. He died in prison in 1946 after months of abuse by his guards.

When the first conflicts of the Greek Civil War broke out in December 1944, however, many of them were recruited into the Gendarmerie, National Guards, police and army to fight alongside the British and government forces against the ELAS partisans. The former Security Battalions soldiers famed themselves in that period with exceptional cruelty and the use of torture towards the 80,000 of Greeks persecuted for leftist orientation. According to a report from 10.05.1946, protocol number 863 prepared by the Supreme Civic Council ‘ National Greek Solidarity’ established in Athens on 28.05.1941, which was in charge of monitoring cases of lawlessness in Greece - reported that violence against the communists only in the period between 12.02.1945 and 31.03.1946 amounted to 1,289 cases of murders, 6,671 cases of injuries, 31,632 cases of torture, 84,931 arrests, 165 rapes, 18,767 robberies –.[8]

The Left has accused the governments of the period of utilizing the Security Battalions against the Communists, while others suggest the Security Battalions joined the anti-communist forces hoping to redeem themselves in the eyes of the public. It was, among others, right wing government prime minister Nikolas Plastiras (in office for 3 months) who opposed the employment of former Nazi collaborators in the new post war security forces . Similarly C.M. Woodhouse, former chief British Military Mission liaising with the partisans opposed such acceptance of Nazi criminals by providing the Greek government with a list of collaborators, who should never be employed.[9] In 1967 former officers of the Security Battalions were the animators and leaders of the Junta dictatorship in Greece which lasted between 1967 until 1974.[10][citation needed]

1) Greek Volunteer Gendarmerie, Ethelontiki Chorofilaki formed in April 1941 based on pre-war Greek gendarmerie. They were under the supervision of the SS and police (Ordnungspolizei). They were in charge of policing the Nazi state of oppression and protect the collaborators. One of their main responsibilities was to help in deporting the Jewish population, assist the Germans in anti-partisan actions, as well as collect food stuff from the local population for the German Army. Two of them were stationed in Athens, the rest in Corynth, Kalamata, Argos. They totalled 1,600 recruits. They wore German police and or military uniforms with a Greek flag on right or left arm. From the end of 1943 the Security Battalions took over their role in the fight against the partisans.

2) Greek Volunteer Army, Ellinikos Ethnikos Stratos (EES) which also collaborated with the Nazis.

Oath of the Security Battalions

According to uncertain references, recruits to the Security battalion were under the following oath:

I swear by God this sacred oath, that I will obey absolutely the orders of the Supreme Commander of the German Army, Adolf Hitler. I will with loyal dedication perform my duties and obey without condition the orders of my superiors. I fully acknowledge that any objection to the obligations hereby accepted will lead to my punishment by the German Military Authorities.

However, it is reported that Rallis, the PM installed by the occupation forces, in the negotiations for the founding of such militia unit on the side of the Nazi occupation forces, refused to accept this oath as "... Greek military forces can't put their legions to a foreign government... ." It is unknown whether Rallis' views were taken into account by German officials. The recruits had to honour the oath in order to receive full financial and military support from the German authorities.

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ (The Two Greek-Jewish Holocausts 1821 and 1943-1944 by Dr. Michael Matsas)
  4. ^ (as described in: M.Mazower, ‘Hitler’s Greece’, pg. 375-376)
  5. ^ (see Emeis oi Ellines, Published by Skai Biblio 2008).
  6. ^ Mazower, Inside Hitler's Greece, quoted in Dionysis Charitopoulos, Άρης ο αρχηγός των ατάκτων (=Ares, Leader of the Irregulars) (Athens, Topos, 2009), p. 545 (back-translated by contributor).
  7. ^ (M.Mazower, ‘Hitler’s Greece’ pg. 370-372)
  8. ^ ( a table with this data, split by provinces, is quoted in "History of the Civil War 1945-49" Fivos N. Grigoriadis, Vol 2, pg. 630)
  9. ^ ( see Heinz Richter pg 284)
  10. ^ ( see M.Mazower ‘Hitler’s Greece’ pg. 407)

Sources

  • Vasileios Stavrogiannopoulos, Η Ζωή της Κατοχής και τα Τάγματα Ασφαλείας
  • Nikolaos D. Christodoulou, Pro-Axis Security Battalions in Southern Greece, 1943-1944
  • Antonio J. Munoz, Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the German Army, Police & SS, 1943-1945

External links

  • The Greek Volunteer Battalions from the Axis History Forum
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