The Second World War
The outbreak of World War II in 1939 found Greece under an authoritative regime headed by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, whose intention was to keep Greece out of the hostilities. Mussolini, however, seeking what he considered an easy victory to impress his Axis partner, Hilter, picked Greece as his target. On October 28, 1940 he sent an ultimatum to Metaxas, which was immediately rejected. A few hours later strong Italian forces invaded Greece from Albania, occupied by Italy since April 1939. Out numbered Greek troops soon counter-attacked and pushed the invaders deep into Albanian territory. It was only when Hitler came to his humiliated ally's assistance with massive land-and-air military force that the Greek army was overcome. A last-ditch resistance by Greek and British forces in Crete failed and by June 1941 the whole of Greece was under the Axis yoke.
Greece's fight against the enemy continued both at home (mainly by the communist controlled ELAS "liberation army" and by the nationalist EDES resistance group) and abroad -in the Middle East, where a government-in-exile was formed and Greek army and navy contingents joined British forces. In November1942 ELAS and EDES guerrillas, working together with saboteurs parachuted in Greece, destroyed the Gorgopotamos bridge in Central Greece in what is considered one of the most spectacular resistance achievements anywhere in Axis occupied Europe.
Greece was liberated in the fall of 1944 having paid an extremely high war-and-occupation price in human lives, destroyed homes, plundered economic and natural resources.
Recovery -which started immediately after the end of world War II in West Europe- was delayed in Greece as a result of a devastating civil war between the elected government and the Communist-dominated "Democratic Army". The insurgents, assisted by neighboring countries under communist regimes, were finally defeated in 1949 by the loyalist forces supported initially by Britain and subsequently by the United States through the so-called "Truman Doctrine" which granted substantial emergency aid to countries threatened by internal subsersion.
The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were key factors in Greece's post-war reconstruction.
The Turbulent Reign of King Otto The First Greek Constitution
National Revival and Expansion From the Brink of Catastrophe
After Kapodistrias' assassination, the three "Protecting Powers", Great Britain, France and Russia, selected 17-year old prince Otto, second son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, as king of Greece.
World War I The Catastrophe in Asia Minor
King George's reign began with a good omen: as a kind of dowry, Great Britain yielded the Ionian islands to Greece- the first addition of territory since independence.
Greece and the European Union
Immediately after the start of World War I a fundamental dispute between King Constantine and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos erupted over the question of Greece's participation in it.
Greece is a full-fledged member of the European Economic & Monetary Union within the broader European Union. It took 40 years of hard efforts to achieve this goal.