Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs (McGhee) to the Secretary of State 1


Subject: Activities of Ambassador Grady in connection with the Formation of new Greek Government

The returns of the Greek elections, held on March 5, resulted in an almost even division between the Right and the Left. The Conservative Populist Party of Tsaldaris obtained a plurality with approximately 25 percent of the votes. Five other political groups received a substantial vote ranging down to 10 percent. In this situation the Centrist Liberal Party headed by Sophocles Venizelos, with approximately 20 percent of the vote, became the pivotal element. The early returns of the election coming from the metropolitan areas gave the impression that Centrist and Left elements had won the election. As a result an agreement was signed between Venizelos, [Page 366] Papandreou and the moderate Left party of General Plastiras to form a coalition Government.

The King had strong objections to Plastiras becoming Prime. Minister, since Plastiras had been responsible for abolishing the monarchy in 1923 and exiling members of his family. The Rightist elements strongly objected to Plastiras because they believed his party to have been infiltrated by “fellow travellers” and that Plastiras himself was dangerously to the Left. When the Populist Party failed to find a majority the King offered the mandate to Venizelos. In the meantime pressure had been brought to bear on Venizelos by both the King and the Right to form a Government. The plan was for the Venizelos Government to be drawn only from his party, thus not having a Rightist stigma, but receiving the support from all Rightist elements. Venizelos, a weak and wavering character, repudiated the agreement with Plastiras and Papandreou and formed a Government on March 23.

Ambassador Grady and Paul Porter, head of the ECA mission, after a complete exchange of views with the leaders of the previously proposed Centrist coalition and giving mature consideration to the matter, in no way shared the King’s apprehensions concerning the coalition. On the contrary they felt that the proposed coalition represented more closely the expression of the people’s will, that of reaction from the previous Rightist Governments (The 1946 elections had given the Right 70 percent of the vote and the Left 30 percent). Furthermore, Ambassador Grady felt that the King’s action in bringing about an artificial Government with no firm support in Parliament and subject to the wiles of three other parties, endangered both the Greek state and the monarchy. The Venizelos Government was subject to great criticism and seemed incapable of maintaining itself in power. The logical sequence should the Venizelos Government fall would have been the formation of the orginally planned Centrist coalition or possibly an ecumenical Government. In order to catalyze the almost imminent fall of the Venizelos Government, Ambassador Grady wrote a letter2 to the Prime Minister in which he pointed out the objectives to be accomplished by the American Aid Program in Greece and what would be required of a Greek Government in order to carry the program out. This letter caused much discussion and speculation in the Greek press. Venizelos reopened negotiations with his erstwhile collaborators and then resigned. The originally planned Centrist coalition was formed under General Plastiras on April 15.

In writing the letter to the Prime Minister, Ambassador Grady did not exceed the Department’s policy of technical “non interference” in Greek internal political affairs, although he did go to the limit in this direction. The Department has approved Ambassador Grady’s [Page 367] stand and has left matters largely in his hands because of the swiftly changing political picture in Greece. Just as the King’s action in putting in the Venizelos Government was “correct” in accordance with constitutional practices, so was Ambassador Grady’s letter “correct”, though somewhat leading, in stating the objectives of the American program in Greece and what was required to effect it.

According to our reports, public opinion in Greece has generally accepted the American “intervention” in good spirit, and the majority has welcomed the formation of the Plastiras Government. Ambassador Grady considers that the Plastiras Government contains excellent men, should have the necessary stability and be able to carry out the Aid Program successfully. However, it is expected that the Palace and the Right will take every opportunity to hamper the work of the Government.


That we continue to back up Ambassador Grady in the policy line he has taken in the present Greek political difficulties.
That we see that he continues to pursue a technically “correct” approach.
That we ignore criticisms and direct appeals from the monarchy or rightest elements to force Ambassador Grady to alter his present policy line.

  1. This paper bears the notation: “I agree. D[ean] A[cheson].”
  2. See editorial note, p. 356.