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Elefterios Venizelos

Elefterios Venizelos was born on the 11th of August 1864 in the prefecture of Chania on the island of Crete.  He was by far one of the greatest politicians in modern Greek history.  He dominated Greek politics from the year 1910 to 1935.  He governed Greece six times intermittently as prime minister, bringing sweeping and much needed reforms to Greece, bringing Greece into modern Europe.  Under his administration he managed to convince the Greek people to establish a Republic.

Elefterios Venizelos championed the idea of Greek expansion to include all the territories where there were Greek speaking populations.  Under him the Megali Idea "Great Idea", almost came into fruition. He was a brilliant politician managing to create a foreign policy which resulted in the support of many nations in the liberation of "Greek speaking" territories.


Picture of Elefterios Venizelos.

Under his administration he managed to unite Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria against Turkey in the First Balkan War, and Serbia and Greece against Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War. The result of the Balkan Wars was the doubling in size of Greece in both population and area. 

His government supported the allies in the First World War resulting in a  further massive increase in territory to Greece. He signed the treaty of Sevres at the end of the first world war, creating a Great Greece containing virtually all Greeks.  As a result of this treaty Greece became much larger then what it is today.  Greece received western and eastern Thrace up to the outskirts of Constantinople, and jurisdiction of the Smyrna Region for five years. After five years there was to be a vote in the Smyrna Region for union with Greece.   The union was assured as a result of the size of the Greek community in the region.

This treaty was rejected by the new nationalist government in Ankara, Turkey which resulted in a war with Greece.  Under Venizelos, Greece was victorious against the Turks managing to liberate all Greek lands in Turkey. 

The people of Greece grew weary of over 8 years of continual war.  In the elections that followed in Greece Venizelos was defeated by the opposition.  The opposition told the people of Greece what they wanted to hear, namely that if  they were brought into power they would stop the war with Turkey. A vote by the Greek people was then carried out which called on the return of   the King Constantine to Greece.  

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Directly Related:

Article on the Asia Minor Disaster (by the New York Times) A great disaster for Hellenism, the forced expulsion and murder of millions of Greeks in Turkey in the early 20th century.
The Balkan Wars During these wars that occurred in the early 20th century Greece managed to double its' territory and population.

 

Other Modern Greeks:

  • Rigas Feraios A national Greek hero and poet during the Ottoman occupation. He is considered the first martyr in the war for Greek independence!
  • Alexandros Ypsilantis A national Greek hero who died fighting for Greece's freedom far from Greece, but whose sacrifice helped to liberate it.
  • Paulos Melas A national Greek hero who fought for the preservation of Hellenism in Macedonia in the early 20th century.
  • Ioannes Capodistrias First Prime Minister and hero of modern Greece.  He managed to do the impossible by bringing a devastated country back into modern Europe in the shortest possible time!  
  • Dimitrios Ypsilantis Hero of the war of Independence, he was the brother of Alexandros Ypsilantis and was chosen by him to lead the uprising in the Greek mainland against the Ottoman Empire.  
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