The British Embassy to the Department of State

Text of Message From Mr. Bevin to the Greek Prime Minister, Dated March 7th, 194652

I have received through the Greek Embassy your message of March 2nd on the subject of the elections.

I have noted with regret the decision of Left Wing elements in Greece to abstain from the elections. Abstention from the elections [Page 118] in these circumstances can only imply a belief by the Parties concerned that they do not enjoy popular support, and I do not think that such an abstention can be any reason for refusing to the people of Greece a chance of electing their Government in accordance with their own free will. Until elections have been held there can be no possibility of knowing what the real sentiments of the Greek people are, and it is for this reason that His Majesty’s Government for their part have always advised that elections should be held as soon as possible. I am much surprised by your statement that the armed X organisations53 will be reinforced by almost the whole of the police and gendarmerie. Such a statement is not borne out by reports which I have received, and I feel sure that you as Minister of Public Security can, with the help of Sir Charles Wickham,54 see that no such cooperation between the organs under your control and illegal armed bands takes place. In any case I cannot see how the X organisations can compel the electors in the countryside to vote in a manner contrary to their convictions provided a reasonably secret ballot is secured. It seems to me that the right course for Greece would have been that all Parties should participate in the elections in a peaceful manner, so that the Greek people on March 31st may be assured of the opportunity of expressing its will in conditions of tranquillity and order. If Greece is to win respect of her Allies and particularly United States and public opinion here, it is essential for the Greek Government to show determination to deal with this matter effectively. It will establish her in the credit of her friends more than anything else.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Secretary of State by the British Ambassador (Halifax) in a letter of March 12, 1946. The message was sent to Mr. Byrnes at the request of Mr. Bevin, with an expression of regret that he had been obliged to dispatch it to the Greek Prime Minister without prior consultation with Mr. Byrnes.
  2. Royalist terrorist groups in Greece; known also as Xites.
  3. Sir Charles Wickham, Head of the British Police and Prisons Mission in Greece.