Georgios Grivas

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Georgios Grivas
Γεώργιος Γρίβας
Georgios Grivas 1967.jpg
Born 6 July 1897[1]
Chrysaliniotissa Nicosia, Nicosia District, British Cyprus
Died 27 January 1974(1974-01-27) (aged 75)[2]
Limassol, Cyprus
Organization Organization X

Georgios Grivas (George Grivas; Greek: Γεώργιος Γρίβας) (6 July 1897[1]– 27 January 1974), also known by his nom de guerre Digenis (Διγενής), which he adopted while in EOKA, was a Cyprus-born general in the Greek Army, leader of the EOKA guerrilla organisation and EOKA B paramilitary organisation.

Early life

Georgios Grivas (aka Digenis) was born on 6 July 1897 in Chrysaliniotissa, Nicosia, Cyprus, to a Greek Cypriot family, the fourth child of Theodoros Grivas and Kalomira Hadjimichael. He grew up in his family home at Trikomo. After attending his village school he studied at the Pancyprian Gymnasium in Nicosia (1909–1915) where he stayed with his grandmother.

Early military career

In 1916, Grivas moved to Greece; according to his obituary in The Times of London, he had left the family home after learning that his father intended him to become a physician. He took Greek citizenship and enrolled at the Athens Military Academy. He completed his military studies at the École Militaire in Paris.[2] He graduated in 1919, and joined the Greek Army with the rank of Sub-Lieutenant and was immediately posted on the Asia Minor front of the Greco-Turkish War. He served in the Greek Army's 10th Division and participated in its advance from İzmir to Panormos (today Bandirma) and Eskişehir, past Bursa and the Battle of Sakarya. With the subsequent rout and defeat of the Greek Army and its complete withdrawal from Asia Minor in 1922 he was placed at Redestos, Thrace. He was decorated for his bravery and promoted to Lieutenant. He was later selected to study at the French Military Academy and upon his return to Greece he served in a number of posts, including that of a lecturer at the Military School of Greece. He was promoted to Captain in 1925 and to Major in 1935. Two years later he married Vasiliki Deka, the daughter of an Athens pharmacist.

World War II and German occupation

With the beginning of World War II, Grivas was transferred to the operations department of the central headquarters of the Greek Army, working on the northern Greece's strategic defensive plans. When the Greco-Italian War broke out, Grivas was deployed to the Albanian front in December 1940, and served as Chief of Staff of the 2nd Division.

Following the German-Italian-Bulgarian occupation of Greece during World War II, Grivas founded and led the Organisation X, a minor nationalist guerrilla organisation made up of officers of the Greek Army whose influence was limited to certain neighbourhoods of Athens. It played a minor role in the Greek Resistance to the Axis occupation of Greece. Its activities included spying for the Allied powers and launching minor attacks and sabotage operations against the occupiers[citation needed]. During the events of December 1944, members of Organisation X, using weapons recovered from the retreating Germans, fought at the Theseon alongside British and Greek monarchist forces to take control of Athens from EAM/ELAS fighters.[3][4][5]

In 1946, he retired from the Greek Army on his own request but his subsequent attempts to enter politics were unsuccessful.

The EOKA guerrilla campaign

Following his retirement, Grivas focused on the idea of ridding Cyprus of British colonial rule and annexing it to Greece (Enosis). As a member of the secret Committee for the Cyprus Struggle he took the oath of Enosis together with the newly elected Archbishop Makarios III, with whom he collaborated for preparing the armed struggle. He arrived secretly in Cyprus in November 1954 and began immediately the formation of his guerrilla organisation EOKA. On 1 April 1955 with a declaration that he signed as DIGENIS and a number of bombings against various targets in the four major cities and military installations, he announced the beginning of his campaign for Self Determination – Union with Greece.

"One does not use a tank to catch field mice—a cat will do the job better."

George Grivas-Dighenis, referring to British Military strategies, in his book Guerrilla warfare and Eoka's struggle: A politicomilitary study[6]

He directed the first EOKA operations from his hideout in Nicosia but soon after he moved to the Troodos mountains to lead his guerrilla teams. He recruited Grigoris Afxentiou as one of the team leaders, initially of the Famagusta district.[5] Grivas escaped capture twice after he was surrounded by British forces at Spilia in December 1955, leading to the Battle of Spilia, and at Kykkos in May 1956. A month later, chased by the British forces, he was secretly transferred from the mountains by the car of a passionate EOKA fighter, Kostis Efstathiou, widely known as Pachykostis, and found refuge in a hideout at Limassol from where he directed not only the military activities but also the political campaign, since Archbishop Makarios in March 1956 was exiled by the authorities.

During the struggle, the British colonial administration had offered a reward of 10,000 British pounds plus passage to anywhere in the world for information leading to the arrest of Colonel Grivas.[7]

Return to Greece

With the signing of the Zurich-London agreements in early 1959 and the declaration of Cyprus as an independent state Grivas reluctantly ordered cease-fire, since the struggle's main objective of Enosis was not achieved. His views were at odds with those of Makarios who had accepted the above agreements on behalf of the Greek Cypriot population. In March 1959, Grivas came out of his hideout and departed (in exile, requested by the UK as part of the cease fire agreement) for Athens where he received a hero's welcome as the liberator of the Greek Cypriots and was subsequently decorated with the highest honours by the Greek Parliament and the Athens Academy and promoted to the rank of General. Not long after his return, Grivas was persuaded to enter politics as head of a coalition party but soon abandoned this route after the disappointing percentage his party obtained in the general election of 1963.

Return to Cyprus in 1964

He returned to Cyprus in 1964 after the outbreak of intercommunal violence between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to take over the Supreme Command of the Greek Cypriot forces organised under Makarios's National Guard as well as the Greek military division sent to Cyprus by the government of George Papandreou to assist in the island's defence against a possible Turkish attack. He directed the construction of defence forts and complexes aiming at withstanding a Turkish invasion. On 15 November 1967, Greek Cypriot National Guard under his direct command overran two small villages on the critical Larnaca, Limassol, Nicosia intersection, resulting in the deaths of 27 people, mostly unarmed Turkish Cypriot civilians as well as Turkish Cypriot paramilitaries at Kofinou and Agios Theodoros. The immediate result of this event was Turkey's ultimatum, which prompted the Greek military government to recall both the Greek Division and General Grivas to Athens.

Recall to Greece in 1968

From 1968 to 1969 and while under strict surveillance he participated in a resistance movement aiming at deposing the ruling military Junta and restoring democracy in Greece, along with a number of Greek Army officers including Colonel Dimitrios Opropoulos and Majors Spyros Moustaklis, Nikolaos Lytras and George Karousos as well as Greek Cypriot students and professionals many of them former EOKA fighters. Grivas began the formation of armed resistance cells in a number of neighbourhoods in Athens which were armed with guns and explosives that were brought in secretly from Cyprus. The organisation, however, was discovered by the authorities and many of its members were arrested.[8][9][10][11][12]

Final return to Cyprus

After the discovery of Grivas' plans by the authorities he secretly returned to Cyprus where he formed the armed organisation EOKA B which he used as leverage in his attempts to persuade or force President Makarios to change his policy and adopt the line of "Self Determination – Union" with Greece.[13] EOKA B failed to overthrow Makarios but the armed struggle led to a vicious circle of violence and anti-violence which amounted to civil war among the Greek-Cypriot Community from 1971–1974.[14]

He died of heart failure at the age of 75 on 27 January 1974 while in hiding at a house in the city of Limassol. The post-Grivas EOKA B then signed a secret agreement with Brigadier Ioannides, the "invisible dictator" of Greece and was controlled directly from Athens. Grivas' funeral and burial was held on 29 January 1974, in the garden of the house that had been Grivas' last hideout during the EOKA struggle (1955–1959) and was attended by tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots. Upon his death, the Cypriot Government declared a three-day official mourning and three days later, the Cypriot Parliament declared General Grivas "A worthy son of the motherland".[15] The government of Archbishop Makarios, the target of Grivas' campaign for enosis, formally boycotted the event.[16]

The Second Junta of Greece belonging to the "Invisible dictator" Brigadier Demetrios Ioannides overthrew Makarios just six months after Grivas' death. Ioannides was planning to overthrow Makarios from the Spring of 1974 but the final decision to act was made on 2 July 1974 after Makarios decided to oppose directly the Ioannides regime by expelling from the Cypriot National Guard 550 Greek officers. This meant the loss of military control of Cyprus for Greece as well as the humiliation of Ioannides (Secret Minutes of conversation between Makarios and British Prime Minister-London 17 July 1974). The military coup of 15 July 1974 which overthrew Makarios were executed by forces of the Cypriot National Guard under direct instructions from Greece. The National Guard was led by Greek officers and consisted of Greek-Cypriot conscripts. The EOKA B members and other pro-enosis forces joined the National Guard in the afternoon of Monday 15 July 1974 in the fight against Makarios' forces. The coup was swiftly followed by the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus on Saturday 20 July taking by surprise Ioannides who failed to prepare Cyprus for a Turkish invasion and in addition failed to coerce the Greek generals that he had appointed to apply "Plan K" and provide military assistance to Cyprus. The loss of the "War of Cyprus" marked the downfall of Ioannides.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Leonidou, Leonidas, Georgios Grivas Digenis - Viographia, vol.I, Ed.2, p.3, Birth Register". 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "L.Leonidou" defined multiple times with different content
  2. 2.0 2.1 Watson, Roland; Elliott, Francis; Coates, Sam (29 January 1974). "Gen George Grivas (Obituaries)". The Times Digital Archive. London. pp. 14, Issue 59000, col E. Retrieved 24 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Kofas, Jon (31 May 1985). Intervention and Underdevelopment: Greece During the Cold War. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-271-02647-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Ganser, Daniele (12 July 2005). Nato's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe. Routledge. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-7146-5607-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Grivas, George; Charles Foley (1964). The Memoirs of General Grivas. London: Longmans.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Grivas, George (1964). Guerrilla Warfare and Eoka's Struggle. London: Longman.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  8. Letter of General Karousos to the Greek Newspaper "To Vima". Published on 7 February 1999
  9. Speeches by General Nikolaos Lytras and Lawyer Panikos Sotiriou at the Symposium "The life and work of Georgios Grivas Digenis", Nicosia Conference Center, Sunday 4th Iouniou 1995 ISBN 9963-8210-1-4
  10. Andreas Athanasiou, O Agnostos Polemos Athinon Lefkosias, p.179
  11. Makarios Drousiotis, EOKA B & CIA, To ellinotourkiko parakratos stin Kipro, Alfadi, Nicosia 2003 pp 80–81
  12. Leonidas Leonidou, Georgios Grivas Digenis - Viograpia, vol.III, p.443-466
  13. "The Survivor". Time Magazine. 28 February 1972. Retrieved 24 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 H Tragiki Anametrisi kai i Prodosia tis Kyprou-Marios Adamides-2011, p. ?
  15. Leonidas Leonidou, Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume IV
  16. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).


  • Grivas Georgios-Digenis, Apomnimoneumata Agonos E.O.K.A. 1955–59, Athens 1961.
  • Grivas Georgios-Digenis, Crhonikon Agonos E.O.K.A. 1955059, Nicosia 1972
  • Grivas George, General Grivas on Guerrilla Warfare. Translated by A. A. Palis, New York, N.Y., USA, Praeger, 1965
  • Grivas George, Guerrilla warfare and EOKA's struggle: a politico-military study. (Translated by A. A. Pallis). London, G.B.: Longmans, Green, 1964
  • Grivas George, The Memoirs of General Grivas. Edited by Charles Foley, New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1965
  • Leonidas Leonidou, Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume I, (1897–1950), [Cyprus 1995]
  • Leonidas Leonidou, Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume II, (1950–1959), Nicosia 1997
  • Leonidas Leonidou, Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume III, (1959–1971), Nicosia 2008
  • Leonidas Leonidou, Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume IV, (1971–1974), Nicosia 2008
  • Papageorgiou Spyros, O Grivas kai i "X", To Chameno Archeio, Athens 2004
  • Woodhouse, Christopher Montague (1948). Apple of Discord: A Survey of Recent Greek Politics in their International Setting. London
  • H Tragiki Anametrisi kai i Prodosia tis Kyprou-Marios Adamides-Nicosia-2011-E-Book).