The resistance movement of Greece played a relatively small part in the whole scheme of events in the eastern Mediterranean during World War Two. However, the impact of these secret armies on the political make-up of Greece was marked. The two main resistance groups were the communist EAM (National Liberation Front) with its military organisation ELAS and EDES, the Greek Democratic National Army led by General Napoleon Zervas.
These two groups agreed on just two issues:
To fight the occupying armies of GreeceTo oppose the royal government of Greece exiled in Cairo and supported by Great Britain.
The two groups were political opposites and it was on political issues that they clashed. It took an input by SOE to actually get any form of military action against the Germans out of the two groups, and this occurred in early 1942.
In October 1942, Britain was in the final stages of planning a big offensive in Egypt. To upset the flow of equipment to the Afrika Korps, SOE needed both EAM and EDES to work together and it sent operatives to Greece to facilitate this. To start with SOE was successful in this. A joint mission by both EDES and ELAS blew up an important bridge on the Thessaloniki to Athens rail line along which a great deal of equipment for the Afrika Korps was transported. However, the relationship was short-lived. EDES, armed by the British, fought off all attempts by ELAS to defeat them. In the summer of 1943, ELAS/EAM made an agreement with the British that it would stop its attacks on EDES in return for financial and military help. The situation improved to such a degree that false intelligence could be fed to the Germans about an Allied landing in Greece as opposed to Sicily. The success of this was such that the Germans moved a whole Panzer division to Greece, leaving Sicily less well guarded.
In August 1943, ELAS found itself in possession of a large amount of military equipment that the Italians had left in Greece. Once again, ELAS went on the offensive against all the resistance groups in Greece that opposed it. They were all defeated except EDES.
Greece remained an unstable nation right up to the end of the war. The promise of King George not to return unless asked to do so, did little to restore calm. The problems first seen in Greece during World War Two, continued in a bloody feud after the war.