by Werner Rügemer

After 1945 US-American and British forces destroyed the strong anti-fascist resistance: It was not allowed to form a government. The UK and the USA supported Greek Nazi-collaborators and together with them installed the monarchy in 1949. The USA developed western-Europe into an anti-communist economic and political block of states. The most important instruments for this were the Marshall-Plan and NATO. Greece became a NATO-member in 1952. It was to become a southern forward post against the new socialist states and Tito’s Yugoslavia. Marshall-Plan money (1947-1952) was only handed over to the Greek government under the provision that the party system, trade unions and the civil service was cleansed of communists, socialists and such like.

But democratic resistance could not be suppressed forever. 1967 posed the “threat” of an electoral victory for the moderate left wing alliance Centre Union. CIA and NATO (“Prometheus Plan”) supported Greek officers and generals in a military coup and the installation of a fascist regime. It acted in a Christian-nationalistic fashion as the “saviour of the Hellenic way of life”. Oppositionists were tortured and jailed on the concentration camp island of Jaros. Taxi-licences were only handed out if drivers acted as police spies.[1]

With CIA and NATO came US big business. US tycoon Tom Pappas – the Greek expatriate was originally called Papadopoulos but later americanised his family name – was friends with US-presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Johnson. At the same time he was a CIA agent. Even before the coup he built up a tax-free tanker fleet and installed big business company Standard Oil of California off the Rockefeller-Group in the Greek market. With the help of the military government he then constructed Coca-Cola bottling plants in Greece, with licences for the Middle East.[2]


After the coup the British Labour-government demanded the exclusion of Greece from NATO and the Council of Europe. British companies lost business. But the German federal government under Kiesinger/Brandt together with defence minister Strauß supported west German companies to replace the British ones: Siemens, AEG, Dornier, Demag, German shipyards and the Henninger-Bräu brewing company received contracts and were allowed to establish branches.[3] The resulting system of corruption was discovered mainly at Siemens: It regularly bribed both “socialist” PASOK and “Christian” Nea Demokratia, even when only one of both parties was in power – it was clear that the next government would and should be formed by the other party.[4]

Leading members of the military, politicians and big business set up a tight corruption network here. In 2013 defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos together with 16 relatives and members of his staff were convicted for receiving bribes worth 55 million Euro whilst buying German submarines – He had distributed parts of these bribes to hundreds of Greek officers. In 2014 Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (air defence missiles) had to pay a fine worth 37 million for paying out bribes in Greece.[5]

But only under the Syriza government is the Greek justice system really picking up speed. Old cases with several defendants are being looked into again.[6] The aim is not only to achieve convictions but to also enforce compensation payments.[7] Investigations are under way among others against Eurocopter (helicopters), STB Atlas Electronics, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Managers of some companies like Siemens or Ferrostahl have already been convicted in Germany, but Greek justice looking at these cases again regarding Greek collaborators.

Greek defence spending has nothing to do with Greek interests. It is being dictated from outside. Buying arms is expensive anyway because the market is neutralised. Bribes for Greek officials and “kickbacks” to German managers made it even more expensive: In total three times more. And it turned it into another reason for rising state owned debt levels.

In all their demands for “reforms” and “cuts programmes” the Troika of IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission never mentioned a reform of the military or cutting the defence budget!

[1]    Griechenland. Sieben Jahre Jucken, Der Spiegel 13/1974; Griechenland – Anatomie einer Diktatur, Der Spiegel 40/1968
[2]    Griechenland. Pappas: Prost auf P & P, Der Spiegel 38/1968
[3]    Griechenland. Handelsrepressalien, Rache für Rüge, Der Spiegel 32/1968
[4]    Transparency International: Der Korruptionsfall Siemens, Baden-Baden 2009
[5]    Rheinmetall zahlt 37 Millionen Euro Strafe, Handelsblatt 10.3.2015
[6]    Ex-Siemens-Manager müssen in Athen vor Gericht, Handelsblatt 10.3.2015
[7]    Griechische Regierung fordert hunderte Millionen von deutschen Rüstungsfirmen, Huffington Post 23.3.2015