868.00/1–1945: Telegram

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

70. Reliable reports indicate that the insurgents have evacuated both Salonika and Patras without serious incident and are withdrawing to the lines laid down in the armistice terms (see my 46, January 1232) while defections from their ranks are occurring in many parts of Greece (see my 67, January 18, 5 p.m., section 1). According to … observers opposition to Plastiras and the British remains strongest in eastern Macedonia and Thrace. An … observer also says that the ELAS central committee has met at Trikkala in Thessaly and passed a proclamation declaring that all hostages will be released but there is so far no confirmation of this here. Efforts in this connection on the part of the IRC33 and UNRRA34 to secure such release have so far had only minimum results. According to escapees reaching Athens the sufferings of the Greek hostages of whom the number is variously placed at between ten and twenty thousand have been extreme both from exposure and maltreatment. There are also witnesses to many “executions” having taken place among them while prisoners as well as hostages of British nationality have likewise received atrocious handling on the basis of propaganda charging similar action by British forces. The picture of this situation as painted by Mr. Churchill in his speech to the Commons yesterday35 does not appear to be exaggerated.

  1. See footnote 25, p. 103.
  2. International Red Cross.
  3. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration; for documentation regarding UNRRA activities in Greece, see pp. 193 ff., passim.
  4. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 407, cols. 399–415. For White Paper issued by the British Government on the subject at this time, see British Cmd. 6592, Greece No. 1 (1945): Documents regarding the Situation in Greece, January 1945.