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Grivas, Georgios (1898–1974)

Cypriot freedom fighter and Greek Army general. Born in Trikomo, Cyprus, on 23 May 1898, Georgios Grivas enrolled in the Royal Hellenic Military Academy in Athens in 1916 and participated in the Greco-Turkish War following World War I. In 1925 he won a scholarship to the École de Tir and École d'Infanterie at Versailles, France.

Prior to World War II, Grivas served in various Greek Army units and lectured on tactics at the War School. He fought in the defense of Greece following the 1940 Italian invasion, and during the German occupation established his own guerrilla group ("X"). After the end of the occupation in 1944, the group was disbanded. Grivas rejoined the regular army, seeing duty during the civil war against the communists from 1946 to 1949.

Following the victory over the communists in the civil war, Grivas had several meetings with Archbishop Makarios III to advance the cause of the union (enosis) of Cyprus and Greece. In November 1954 Grivas moved back to Cyprus and fomented a violent campaign against the British occupation of the island. He also took the name "Dighenis," a legendary Byzantine hero, and organized the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) with direct military support from Greece. The EOKA terrorist campaign commenced on 1 April 1955 and reached its climax during Makarios's exile in 1956. Grivas eluded capture on several occasions between December 1955 and May 1956. During the EOKA campaign, 504 people died, including 142 Britons and 84 Turks. After the 8 February 1959 Greco-Turkish agreement on Cypriot independence, Grivas ordered a cease-fire. But his dream of enosis had yet to be realized.

Grivas returned to Greece in March 1959, welcomed as a national hero and decorated with the highest honors. Shortly thereafter, he formed a political party, the Movement of National Regeneration. In 1964 he went to Cyprus as commander of the Greek Cypriot National Guard. He was recalled to Athens in November 1967. In 1971 he created the armed underground movement EOKA B against the ruling Greek military junta but also his former ally, Makarios III, who opposed a Greco-Cypriot union. Grivas was forced underground as he waged yet another guerrilla war but died on 27 January 1974 in Limassol, Cyprus. His supporters continued his efforts, staging a coup against Makarios in 1974 that brought not enosis but a Turkish invasion and partition of the island.

Lucian N. Leustean


Further Reading
Gibbons, Harry Scott. The Genocide Files. London: Charles Bravos, 1997.; Grivas, Georgios. The Memoirs of General Grivas. Edited by Charley Foley. London: Longmans, 1964.
 

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