Nikos Zahariadis

Nikos Zahariadis was probably the most controversial figure of the Greek communist party. He was born in Adrianople in 1903 and studied at the Communist University of the People in Moscow. He was sent to Greece to organize the youth wing of the Greek communist party(KKE) in 1923 but was arrested and forced to flee back to Russia. He returned in 1931 and became party secretary of the KKE until he was arrested by Metaxas. When Greece was invaded by Italy he urged the communists to forget theit differences with the Metaxas regime and defend the country. When the Germans invaded he was sent to Dachau, the German concentration camp where he spent the entire war. He returned to Greece in 1945 and regained his role as leader of the KKE. His nickname was “Little Stalin”. He was responsible for making two decisions which were disasterous for the Greek communists. The first was to boycott the elections of 1946 which allowed the right-wing to take power in Greece, systematically persecuting the left and actually causing the war. The second mistake was to take on the Greek Army with their endless supply of US weapons and advisors, toe to toe, conventional style, instead of guerilla style as his predecessor and rival Markos Vafiades  had been doing with some success. So not only did he start the war through a diplomatic blunder, he lost it by a military blunder. After the defeat of the Greek communists, he went to Eastern Union with the remnants of the Democratic Army of Greece to wait for their opportunity to return and continue the struggle. He actually remained secretary of the party for many years until he was deposed by Nikita Kruschev. In 1957 he was expelled from the party. The rest of his life was spent in exile in Siberia.

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