Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Plundered Loyalties by John S. Koliopoulos

Hardcover: 315 pages
Publisher: C. Hurst & Co (Publishers) Ltd (Jul 27 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 185065381X
ISBN-13: 978-1850653813

One from the most accurate books that ever written as about the Macedonian history is from Professor John Koliopoulos with the title

“Plundered Loyalities”

This academaic book is a rare example of a reasonably unbiased account of the occupation and subsequent civil war in Greek West Macedonia. It describes the politics of communal violence amongst an incredibly disparate number of ethnic groups. In addition to the native Greeks the area was home to Vlachs and Slavs as well as refugees displaced from Turkey in the 1920's.
For the story the book is a soft translation of the Greek edition (Leilasia Fronimaton) that publish in 1995 . This two volume Greek edition was awarded from the Greek Academy of Athens.

Below is a review from John O.Iatrides as publish in the Journal of Military History, Vol. 64, No. 3. (Jul., 2000), pp. 894-895.
[ With rare exceptions, histories of the Greek civil war (1943-49) fall into two broad categories. According to the first, the victors were saviors who rescued the nation from an international conspiracy in which domestic communists joined Stalin's agents in the Balkans in a vain attempt to impose a Soviet-style dictatorship on Greece. According to the second, the defeated leftists were freedom-loving populist reformers who were crushed by reactionary elements aided by aggressive Anglo-American imperialism. John S. Koliopoulos's Plundered Loyalties is one of the rare exceptions. It recounts the inequities of the Greek state, which drove some of its citizens (including many of the Slav Macedonian minority) into the ranks of the Communist Party (KKE) and, ultimately, to armed insurrection. But it also chronicles the devious and brutal ways in which the KKE took advantage of the harsh Axis occupation (1941-44) to establish control over most of the countryside and prepare to take over the government at the moment of liberation, only to be thwarted by British military intervention in December 1944. This is not to suggest that the author's analysis of the causes of the civil war apportions blame equally between the left and the right. Carefully calibrated judgments throughout the book leave little doubt as to his own verdict.

One example:
"Communism and nationalism were invoked with the same relentless ferocity; and notwithstanding the patriotic rhetoric, both sides-the communists first and the nationalists afterwards-were vitiated by men who were frantically self-seeking and oblivious to all the laws of civilized human society, who debased their creeds to suit debased natures" (p. 169).

The book's primary purpose is to examine the "changes and mutations" that the ethnically divided population of (Greek West Macedonia underwent during World War II, when Greece was under German, Italian, and Bulgarian occupation, and during the ensuing bloody civil war.
This is a record of the politics of communal violence on a grand scale, involving native Greeks, Slavs, Vlachs, and refugees from Asia Minor who had settled in Greek Macedonia in the early 1920s: Greeks, Pontians, and Caucasians. Thrown together against their will, these marginal ethnic fragments struggled to survive in remote, crowded, and poverty-stricken rural areas ostensibly undcr the authority of the government in far-away Athens and of the nearest for eign occupation satrap. In addition to the foreign occupiers, the main antagonists are Greeks trying to preserve the territorial integrity of their homeland while fighting among themselves to determine its political future, and secessionist Slav Macedonians who align themselves first with Bulgaria and then communist Yugoslavia.
One of the book's most valuable contributions is its detailed treatment of the shifting political aspirations of the Slav Macedonians and the threat they represented to the ability of Greece to retain control of its share of Macedonia. It helps explain the sensitivity of Greeks over the old Macedonian "question" and its recent reincarnation in the form of an independent Slav Macedonian state. In the civil war, Slav Macedonians represented a major portion of the KKE7s fighting force, lending credence to the anti-Communists' charge that the ultimate purpose of the insurrection\ was to incorporate Greek Macedonia into Tito's communist Republic of Macedonia. This charge cost the KKE much domestic support and contributed to its defeat.

Plundered Loyalties is history from the bottom up. The author's spotlight is on ordinary people that circumstances have turned into combatants. If national identities are artificially constructed, the process is very often a violent affair, its agents as well as its victims are almost entirely common folk, and what is now called "ethnic cleansing" is a major part of it. This is one of the most important books on Greece during the turbulent decade of the 1940s. Its author, a prominent historian at the University of Thessaloniki with first-hand knowledge of the region and the issues he discusses, has captured well the human dimension and the grass-roots dynamics of the events he chronicles. His monumental research, meticulous documentation, and judicious analysis, which is often based on little-known facts, will benefit greatly all those interested in modern Greece, Macedonia, and the Balkans. His humane disposition toward the individuals and factions he has studied will satisfy all but the most partisan among his readers. ]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commentators have the exclusive responsibility of their writings, the material that they mention, as well as and the opinions that they express.