Ares Velouchiotis

Ares Velouchiotis, aka Thanasis Klaras was born in 1905 in Lamia. Arrested by the Metaxas dictatorship he was forced to sign a declaration rennouncing communism. Taking his name from Ares, the god of war, and Velouchiotis for Mount Velouchi, he fought against the Italians in the Second World War and formed the first resistance group under ELAS, the military arm of EAM (National Liberation Front) to fight the Nazis during the occupation. In one of the most spectacular acts of resistance he teamed up with Napolean Zervas and his EDES group, and a handful of British soldiers and blew up the Gorgopotamos railroad bridge. It was the last time he and Zervas would work together. By the end of the war his group was spending more time fighting the Greek anti-communist security battalians, collaborators than he did fighting the Germans. When the war ended Aris believed that communist victory in Greece could only be achieved by continuing the armed struggle and with a small group of followers left for the mountains. Surrounded by government troops near the village of Mesounda he apparently committed suicide and his severed head was put on display in his home town of Lamia. Though he has been labelled a Communist by history and the right certainly considered him a red, there are those who argue that he was more of a Nationalist and that he distrusted the communist party and the Soviet Union.

The photo is taken on the balcony of the Grande Bretagne by Dmitri Kessel in 1944.

Return to History of Greece: Biography