868.00/1–2045: Telegram

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

73. See my 70, January 19, 11 a.m. According to General Plastiras with whom I have just talked word has been received from [Page 108] Insurgent Hqs. that the hostages will be released and the IRC, ML36 and UNRRA are sending trucks immediately to bring them in. Their total number gathered in such places in north central Greece as Lamia and Lavadia is said to total 12,000 and it is estimated that 1,000 per day can be brought back by transport now available.

This development should facilitate considerably the coming peace talks which the Prime Minister confirmed to me are tentatively set to start January 25.37 He added that the great question now remaining to be settled is the laying down of arms by the ELAS and in this connection he again expressed the belief that the insurgent movement is collapsing (see my 67, January 18, 5 p.m., (section 1). He regards Mr. Churchill’s recent speech in the Commons as a great contribution to the decision to give up the hostages and also spoke enthusiastically of President Roosevelt’s message to him not only in general but in this connection as well. It is his perhaps optimistic belief that all Greece will be speedily pacified once ELAS agrees to lay down its arms since the people, he said, are tired of fighting and want peace above all things. However, for the resumption of anything like normal conditions here he emphasized that Greece needs immediate financial as well as material assistance.38 He said no more about raising an army of 300,000 to fight by the side of the Allies in the Far East (see my 67 above referred to) possibly because as he told me Field Marshal Alexander has explained to him within the last few days that the sending of sufficient Allied equipment even for the moderate army necessary for Greece’s home security must necessarily take some time. Doubtless also his talk about helping the Allies militarily has been due to a feeling on his part that he might make a favorable effect and his remark that what the Greeks want most is peace represents his real view of the situation.

Repeated to Caserta as 13.

  1. Military Liaison (Greece); this was the Anglo-American military establishment charged with functions regarding civil administration, jurisdiction, and relief arising out of military operations in Greek territory, in association with the Greek Government. For documentation regarding the interest of the United States in the establishment of Military Liaison (Greece) in 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 183210, passim; adherence by the United States to this military program was carefully limited by this Government to include participation for relief and rehabilitation purposes only.
  2. The meetings between representatives of the Greek Government and EAM began on February 3 and were to last until February 12. The conferences were held at a villa outside Athens near the village of Varkiza.
  3. For documentation regarding this subject, see pp. 193 ff.