) (May 23, 1898 - January 27, 1974), also known by his nom de guerre Digenis
), which he adopted while in EOKA
, was a Cyprus
-born general in the Greek Army
and leader of the EOKA
Georgios Grivas aka Digenis was born on May 23, 1898 in Chrysaliniotissa, Nicosia
, the fourth child of Theodoros Grivas and Kalomira Hadjimichael. He grew up in his family home at Tricomo, in the District of Famagusta
. After attending his village school he studied at the Pancyprian Gymnasium
in Nicosia (1909-1915) where he stayed with his grandmother.
Early military career
According to his obituary in the The Times
of London, his father intended him to become a physician. On learning this, Grivas fled his home and Cyprus in 1916 to study at the Athens Military Academy
. He completed his military studies at the École Militaire
in Paris. He graduated in 1919 with the rank of sub-lieutenant and was immediately posted on the Asia Minor front. Grivas served in the 10th Division of the Greek Army
and participated in its advance from Smyrna
to Panormos and Eskişehir
, passed Bursa
and the Sakarya River
. 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 a pharmacist, in Athens.
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 defense plans. Three months after the Mussolini
attack on Greece, Georgios Grivas, following his persistent requests, was transferred to the Albanian front as chief of staff of the 2nd Division where he arrived in December 1940.
During the German-Italian-Bulgarian occupation of Greece in World War II he founded and led the Organisation X, a minor resistance organisation made up of officers of the Greek army whose influence was limited in certain neighbourhoods of Athens.
During the events of December 1944, members of Organisation X (armed by the German army in their retreat from Greece) were incorporated into the Greek security forces. They fought alongside British and Greek loyalist forces to resist the attempts of the EAM/ELAS fighters to bring Athens under their control (see Greek Civil War). 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
Thereafter Grivas focused on the idea of liberating Cyprus from the British colonial rule and its Union with 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 organization EOKA. On April 1, 1955 with a declaration that he signed as DIGENIS and a number of explosions in the four major cities and military installations, he announced the beginning of his campaign for Self Determination – Union with Greece.
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. Grivas escaped capture twice after he was surrounded by British forces at Spilia in December 1955 and at Kykkos in May 1956. A month later he left the mountains 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.
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, Digenis came out of his hideout and departed for Athens where he received a hero's welcome as the liberator of Cyprus 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 general Grivas was persuaded to head a coalition party but soon abandoned this route in disappointment.
Return to Cyprus in 1964
He returned to Cyprus in 1964 after the outbreak of intercommunal violence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to take over the Supreme Command of the Greek Cypriot forces organised under the 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 defense forts and complexes aiming at withstanding a Turkish invasion. After the November 1967 Greek Cypriot National Guard clashes with Turkish Cypriot gunmen at Kofinou and Turkey's ultimatum, the Greek military government recalled 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 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 thate were brought in secretly from Cyprus. The organisation, however, was discovered by the authorities and many of the organization's members were arrested.
Final return to Cyprus
After the discovery of his plans by the authorities he secretely returned to Cyprus where he formed the armed organization 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.
He died of heart failure at the age of 75 on January 27, 1974 while in hiding in a house in the city of Limassol. Grivas' funeral and burial was held on January 29, 1974, in the garden of the house that had been Grivas' last hideout during the EOKA struggle (1955-1959) and 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". The government of Archbishop
Makarios, the target of Grivas' campaign for enosis, formally boycotted the event.
The Junta of the Colonels overthrew Makarios just six months after Grivas' death. The military coup of July 15, 1974 which overthrew Makarios was executed by forces of the Cypriot National Guard under direct instructions from Greece. The coup was swiftly followed by the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus.
- 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., U.S.A., 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 F., Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume A, (1897-1950), [Cyprus 1995]
- Leonidas Leonidou F., Georgios Grivas Digenis, Viografia, Volume B, (1950-1959), Nicosia 1997
- Papageorgiou Spyros, O Grivas kai i "X", To Chameno Archeio, Athens 2004
- TyposOnline - EOKA