Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Alexandros Papagos, (1883–1955)

Greek minister of war and chief of staff
Born in Athens, Alexandros Papagos was commissioned an officer in the Greek army in 1906 and fought in the Balkan Wars during 1912–13, then against Turkey during 1919–22. Promoted to major general in 1927, he rose to become minister of war in 1935 and chief of staff in 1936.

In response to the Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940, Papagos led an uninspired, highly conventional defense. Despite this pedestrian approach, his forces drove the Italians back into Albania, from which they had launched the invasion. Against the Germans, however, who invaded in April 1941, Papagos did not stand a chance. Greece was quickly overrun and occupied. Papagos himself was interned in Germany as a hostage.

Papagos was liberated by the Allies in 1945 and assumed leadership of Greek government forces operating against communist guerrillas and insurgents. In 1949, he was promoted to field marshal. He retired from the army in May 1951 to found a new political party, the Greek Rally, which rapidly became a powerful force in Greek politics. Papagos was elected Greek premier in November 1952 and died in office three years later.

Further reading: Papagos, Alexandros. The Battle of Greece, 1940–1941. Athens: J.M. Scazikis “Alpha” Editions, 1949.

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