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The Minister in Greece (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

59. Greek morale has recovered quickly from the shock of General Metaxas’ death, the spirit of united and determined patriotism to which he gave expression being still very much alive. He was buried last Friday to the accompaniment of huge crowds but with few signs of grief, honored as a great man who deserved well of his country but in his capacity as dictator unregretted. Dismay over the loss of his military talents has been replaced with a curious confidence that the Greek troops who are still achieving successes will not lack for leadership, the King and General Papagos being at present the chief beneficiaries of this feeling.

In keeping with the prevailing psychology the unexpected appointment of Mr. Korizis15 has been loyally accepted by the political leaders for the time being and thus the King has been spared certain difficulties previously foreseen as inevitable. His selection of a man without political ambitions or partisan backing may help further to postpone contention. But the most important aspect of the appointment would seem to be that it marks the passing of the dictatorship into the hands of the monarch who in this instance has no use for it or for its Fascist trappings. If the war permits, this new situation may later develop in the direction of a restoration of parliamentary government such as the King personally prefers. Meanwhile much of the recent regime’s illiberality, if also perhaps some of its efficiency, may be expected to go by the board, though early changes in government personnel and policy will doubtless be avoided.

In regard to Mr. Korizis, the King has stated privately that the appointment was his own idea, Mr. Metaxas having always refused to discuss the question of a successor and that it took considerable persuasion on his part to secure acceptance. In addition he assured my informant that the new Premier will not be swayed by any German [Page 643] influences which may attempt to exploit the present situation. In this connection the past reputation of Mr. Korizis as Germanophile is no more than on a par with that of Mr. Metaxas and the Royal Family itself. In regard to such matters as the youth movement, education in general and philanthropy, both foreign and domestic, I already know that his ideas are far closer to the King’s than were those of his predecessor. Following recent precedent he has assumed the portfolios of War, Navy and Aviation as well as those of Foreign Affairs and Education but this may be only temporary as he has no pretensions to being a soldier. On the other hand, he is a prodigious worker and an able and respected administrator. He numbers friends among both the Venizelists and the Royalists. Businessmen trust him. His knowledge of social and economic conditions in Greece is unrivaled. Finally, it may be significant of his attitude toward the premiership that he has appointed no one to fill his previous post of Governor of the National Bank. Zavitsianos, ex-Minister of Finance, has been made governing director but the post of governor remains open for Mr. Korizis to return to in due time.

  1. Alexander Korizis, newly appointed Greek Prime Minister.