VIDEO Scenes from Greece's liberation from the Nazis, 1944

Recently released British Pathé newsreels capture joy of Greeks at liberation

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Recordings from the British Pathé archive show reactions in Kythira, Corinth and Patras to liberation from Nazi occupation by British and ELAS partisan troops in 1944

Women wave from the offices of the National Liberation Front (EAM) in Corinth during the city's liberation in October 1944 (Screengrab: British Pathé) Women wave from the offices of the National Liberation Front (EAM) in Corinth during the city's liberation in October 1944 (Screengrab: British Pathé) The joy of Greeks at the ending of Nazi occupation in October 1944 is captured in a number of British Pathé newsreels which are among the 400 or so Greece-related videos released on YouTube last week.

One of the clips, entitled "Return to Greece", was broadcast in cinemas on 16 October 1944, two days after the Germans evacuated Athens after a three-and-a-half year occupation. It opens with a British destroyer at sea dropping anchor near the island of Kythira, off the Peleponnese, before the first British troops landed, unopposed, on September 16, to the cheers of locals. It also shows a parade of the leftwing-dominated Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS).

The purpose of the video was to emphasise the role of the British in liberating Greece, although it does acknowledge that ELAS also played a part. "These men have done valuable work by speeding the evacuating Germans on their way," the commentator says, in received pronunciation.

The clip also shows locals helping repair an airstrip at Araxos that had been started by the British before their evacuation in 1940 and subsequently damaged by the Germans.

It also shows a triumphant victory parade and celebration in Patras, with the commentator observing that there were divisions below the surface: "Beneath all this outward happiness lays the real tragedy of tortured Greece. A tragedy which has been fully exploited by the Germans. For the Greeks, though unanimously pro-British and anti-Nazi, are rent by bitter warfare by the opposing political factions. Their economy has collapsed. Disease and hunger stalk the land … Yet on this day of liberation, their sorrows are forgotten."

As we all know, unfortunately the country was quickly to descend into civil war, but that's a subject for future articles. 

Other footage that was never used by Pathe shows British troops being cheered by crowds in towns and villages. Although the video description states that the location and date of the recording is unknown, it is clear that it was filmed in Corinthia, as British and ELAS troops made their way to Corinth.

At one point, they pass a gallows displaying a sign stating "Here is the civilisation state of the Germans". A placard stating "EPON [United Panhellenic Organization of Youth] Lecheo" reveals the location.

In Corinth, the billboard with a photograph stating "World's Greatest Criminal" can be seen hanging from the local office of the leftwing National Liberation Front (EAM).

A third video shows the day of liberation in Athens, when on 18 October 1944 the government, which had been in exile in Egypt, returned to the capital. It depicts Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou (the grandfather of George Papandreou) being greeted by crowds, as he arrives by car, accompanied by dignitaries, military and religious figures.

On the Acropolis, a large Greek flag, carried by figures in traditional customers, was hoisted in the same spot where the Nazi swastika had flown during the occupation.

On Syntagma square, girls in national costumes can be seen, before Papandreou laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown solider, with British general Ronald Scobie among those lined up behind him.

* British Pathé's archive of 3,500 hours of footage was digitised in 2002 thanks in part to a grant from the British National Lottery, and is now freely accessible to anyone around the world for free. About 400 videos relating to Greece are among the clips made available. EnetEnglish will feature one of these Greece-related videos every day, providing the historical context to each. Stay tuned!

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