868.01/483: Telegram

The Ambassador to the Greek Government in Exile (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

Greek 102. I have just had a long conversation with Mr. Tsouderos who told me that at noon today he sent his resignation to King George together with strong recommendations that he call Mr. Venizelos to form a new government.

Mr. Tsouderos said that while he was fairly confident 2 days ago that what he called the “revolutionary movement” was limited and scattered so that it could be handled without great difficulty it became [Page 91] clear to him yesterday that it was getting out of control and this morning he learned of trouble in the Merchant Marine and the Navy and even in the refugee camp at Moses Wells where the few soldiers and officers present took the lead in organizing demonstration. This morning the officers arrested Saturday (see my telegram Greek 99, April 1, 8 p.m.) were liberated by their guards, a new commander of the garrison took over and he himself was called on by two colonels from among his personal friends who advised him that the situation was beyond cure. No trouble has occurred in the 1st Brigade as yet but Mr. Tsouderos is informed that “revolutionary committees” have issued instructions to remain quiet lest any outbreak lose the Brigade its opportunity of participating in the active operations for which it has been training. A revolt of the Brigade is held for use, Mr. Tsouderos said, as a last card by the “revolutionaries”.

Before noon today Cabinet meeting was held at which Mr. Tsouderos unexpectedly found all his colleagues united against him personally. They urged him either to go to Palestine for his health or to fly to England to see the King, leaving them to carry on in his absence but he preferred a constitutional resignation to an informal disappearance from the scene. This meeting which was attended by Venizelos, Karapaniotis, Voulgaris and Sophoulis,24 gave Tsouderos the feeling that if the dissidence in the forces was not actually started by his colleagues they have encouraged and exploited it. At their insistence he has given the fact of his resignation to the press before the King has been able to learn of it and make his decision. In conclusion Mr. Tsouderos pointed out the difficulties which lie ahead for the new government. Venizelos, he said, is inexperienced and prone to adopt easy solutions. But most of all he fears King’s reaction. He said that during the past month the King has either said no or returned no answer to every proposal made to him and he believes it very possible he will refuse to accept the present change which might lead to anti-Royalist outbursts or even to a declaration of a republic.

While I was waiting to see Tsouderos his secretary expressed view that today’s work makes Colonel Bakirdjis the premier and EAM real government of Greece. This extreme view but much more will certainly depend on what wisdom the King and Venizelos can show at this juncture.

I have not been able see British colleague who is ill in bed but his Embassy which has been completely surprised by the above events believes with Tsouderos that political intrigue probably long antedating formation of “Political Committee of National Liberation” [Page 92] has been cause and not recently developed Committee enthusiam which under this view was simply exploited for its own end.

  1. Sophocles Venizelos, Minister of Marine; Byron Karapaniotis, Minister of War; Pierre Voulgaris, Minister of Air; Themistocles Sophoulis, Minister of Social Welfare.