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Terrorism in Cyprus--the Grivas diaries.

Following the start of the Ethniki Organosis Agoniston/the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, EOKA, activities on 1 April 1955, Field-Marshal Sir John Harding was appointed as Governor of Cyprus in order to (a) suppress the revolt militarily and (b) engage in negotiations with Makarios to defuse the crisis politically. During the negotiations--which were later joined by the Colonial Secretary Alan Lennox-Boyd--the British Government offered democratic self-government: a Cypriot Government with a Prime Minister and a Parliament. The Prime Minister would be elected by majority vote but had to be acknowledged by the Governor. Foreign Affairs, Defence and Internal Security would remain the domain of the Governor. In the beginning Makarios appeared to be prepared to accept the principle of self-government, provided this would include a clear Greek-Cypriot majority and not exclude the possibility of later enosis. (1) The talks formally collapsed on 29 February since the British were not prepared to guarantee a Greek majority control of the legislature and would not agree to an unconditional amnesty for those EOKA members who were responsible for murder or attempted murder.

On 5 March the Archbishop explained his withdrawal from the talks, saying: "We are sincerely sorry to have found no understanding whatsoever in our talks with the British Government (...). In no case we should have the standard of self-determination. We shall fight to the end, by passively resisting the illegal sovereignty of our despot in the island." (2) He claimed that while he agreed that in most serious cases it could not be granted immediately, the total refusal of an amnesty prevented the return to peaceful conditions.

Lennox-Boyd accused Makarios for the breakdown and indicated the new line the British Government would take towards him by calling him "a man who refuses to use his influence to condemn violence." Thus, Makarios was "as guilty of violence as someone who promotes it." (3)

Harding was now convinced that Makarios's continued presence in Cyprus would be harmful and that he should be deported and kept "incommunicado" until Cyprus was pacified. (4) After approval by the cabinet Makarios was arrested on 9 March 1956 and deported to the Seychelles [See Appendix V for the official declaration]. The justification that the "Archbishop [had] himself been deeply implicated in the campaign of terrorism launched by the organisation known as EOKA" and that it was established "beyond all reasonable doubt that the Archbishop [had] not merely countenanced but (...) actively fostered, terrorism in order to promote his political aims" was not shared by all observes, let alone by the Greek Government. (5) Greece accused Britain of having failed to abide by its promise to solve the problem through peaceful negotiations. Instead, one party would now end the talks by arresting and deporting the other party.6 In Britain the government was fiercely attacked by Labour MPs, who demanded the immediate release of Makarios. (7) What the British Government need was clear proof that Makarios was actually connected to EOKA.

This proof seemed to be forthcoming during the summer 1956. On the morning of the 7 June 1956 the EOKA leader Georgios [George] Grivas (8) was alerted in his hide-out in the Kykko area by the barking of a search dog belonging to the British Army. Fleeing in direction of the Paphos Forest Grivas managed to escape, but left behind some of his personal belongings, including a part of his diary. (9) On 21 August 1956 a second chunk of his diary and other documents written by or addressed to the EOKA leader were found buried in a number of glass jars close to the village of Lyssi. After the documents were authenticated (10) the British Colonial Secretary, Allan Lennox-Boyd, presented the Parliament with some selected quotations of the material intended to prove the involvement of Makarios in EOKA's activities from its foundation, including operational planning and the selection of victims.11 Even though many observers and notably even conservative MPs pressed for the full and unexpurgated publication of the diaries, this request was never met. (12) Out of 250,000 words only 10,000 words were ever published. (13)

Instead, the British Government decided to publish the selection of documents reproduced here under the heading "Terrorism in Cyprus: The Captured Documents." The intention of the publication was clearly to implicate Makarios with the activities of EOKA, thus justifying the deportation of the Archbishop to the Seychelles. This argumentation had three major weaknesses. Firstly, the deportation of Makarios took place on 9 March 1956 before the first part of Grivas documents was captured. Secondly, the captured sections of the diary only concerned Grivas's relations with Makarios up to the beginning of hostilities in Cyprus (1 April 1955) but not beyond. Finally, nothing written in the diaries was considered by the Crown's legal officers as strong enough evidence against Makarios to stand in court. (14) Despite these weaknesses, the publication of material from the diary, however selective, was something of a propaganda coup for the British Government and allowed it to regain the political initiative. (15)

This coincided with a surprise move by Grivas, who on 16 August announced a cease-fire to allow for diplomatic solutions. Grivas described this move later as follows: "I decided that it was my duty as a soldier to make a generous gesture. By creating an atmosphere of peace I would leave the field clear for diplomacy to find a political solution to our troubles." (16) The British side interpreted this as a sign of weakness. The Economist commented: "The determined efforts of the British security forces and the apparently greater willingness of the Greek Cypriots to come forward with information have thrown EOKA forces and organisation into disarray. The cease-fire may well be designed to make the best of a bad situation." (17) Governor Harding shared this view. On the 22 August he called on the "Terrorists" to put down their weapons. They would be allowed either to leave Cyprus for Greece or to face trial in Cyprus. Later there might be an amnesty. This offer would stand for three weeks. (18) Grivas reacted with the issue of a pamphlet titled "Victors do not surrender!" (19) In another rather interesting gesture of defiance, a donkey was paraded through the streets of Nicosia carrying a placard with the inscription: "My Marshall, I Surrender." (20) Grivas subsequently changed his orders to the slogan: "Freedom or Death." (21) The cease-fire collapsed in late August and the fighting continued more brutally than ever, culminating in the so called "Bloody November 1956," in which forty people were killed including twenty-one British. (22) The struggle for Cyprus had reached a new stage.

The documents reproduced here have to be read in connection with other works on the Cyprus Emergency. (23) Notwithstanding the propagandistic intent the Grivas diaries [Part I] as such are a vital source for the understanding of the EOKA movement, in general, and the mindset of its leader Georgios Grivas, in particular. The collection of orders and communications [Part II] provide a unique insight into the command structures of EOKA. Finally, the appendices are a good example how British propaganda skilfully contextualised the above documents with the aim of not only underlining the criminal character of EOKA (24) but to link Archbishop Makarios with its activities. Thus, this valuable document is beyond doubt a vital source for any scholar working on the Cyprus Emergency 1955-59.


(1)_Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Cyprus. Correspondence exchanged between the Governor and Archbishop Makarios, Cmd. 9708 (London, 1956).

(2) [Greek] Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, The Cyprus Question, Negotiations, 4 October 1955 to 5 March 1956 (Athens, 1956), 35-36.

(3) The Times, 06.03.1956.

(4) PREM11/1248 Harding to Lennox-Boyd, 1 March 1956; Minutes of Cabinet discussion, 6 March 1956.

(5) Daily Mirror, 10.03.1956: "How to lose Friends".

(6) Royal Ministry, Negotiations, 1.

(7) The Times, 15.05.1956.

(8) Grivas used the nom de guerre Dighenis Akritas. His true identity became first known to the British Government by autumn 1955 through "East European sources"; CO929/455 Minute by Ward, 4 November 1955.

(9) Georgios Grivas, The Memoirs of General Grivas, edited by Charles Foley (Longmans, London 1964), 66-67.

(10) See FO371/123921, RG 1081/1901.

(11) Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 1955-56, vol. 558, 14 September 1956, 383.

(12) Robert Holland, Britain and the Revolt in Cyprus, 1954-1959 (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1998), 152.

(13) Ibid, 151.

(14) FO371/132936, RG1081/1932 Minute by Ward, 5 September 1956.

(15) Holland, Revolt in Cyprus, 150.

(16) Grivas, Memoirs, 87.

(17) The Economist, 25.08.1956.

(18) CO926/427 Harding to Lennox-Boyd, 21 August 1956; The Times, 23.08.1956.

(19) Grivas, Memoirs, 86.

(20) Nationales Komitee fur die Selbstbestimmung von Zypern, Aus den Ereignissen in Zypern (Athens, 1957), 64.

(21) Charles Foley and W.I. Scobie, The Struggle for Cyprus (Stanford University Press, Stanford 1975), 102.

(22) Ibid., 112.

(23) Apart from Grivas own memoirs, Foley and Scobie's work and Holland's excellent afore mentioned account see Doros Alostos, Cyprus Guerrilla. Grivas, Makarios and the British, Heineman, London 1960; Nancy Crawshaw, The Cyprus Revolt. An Account of the Struggle for Union with Greece (George Allen & Unwin, London 1978); Francois Crouzet, Le Conflit de Cypre, 1946-1959, 2 vols (Emile Bruylant, Brussels 1973).

(24) The original document contains a number of rather distasteful photographs displaying victims murdered by the organisation, which we choose not to reproduce.
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Author:Asmussen, Jan
Publication:Journal of Cyprus Studies
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Previous Article:Editorial.
Next Article:Terrorism in Cyprus: the captured documents.

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