Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, the royalist government were reinstated by the British. However, during the occupation of Greece, by Germany, communist fighters (the KKE) led a popular resistance. Following the end of WW2, this group had major influence all over Greece. Hence, as soon as the royalists were placed back in, they were at war over the control of the country with the KKE.
However, Churchill and Stalin had already agreed that Britain would be ‘in charge’ of Greece following the war; while Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary were under Stalin’s sphere of control (this was known as the Percentage Agreement). Churchill likely wanted to limit Stalin’s power over the Mediterranean, and ensure Stalin didn’t have unlimited access to its seas. Hence, a ‘Services Government’ was set up in Athens to try and diminish the support growing for the KKE, supported and defended by British forces. To do this, they attacked the leftist groups. However, this shared with the KKE’s determination to gain power plunged Greece into civil war. It is estimated that over 80 000 people died, and 700 000 left homeless.
The Communist party was based in the northern mountains, and led by former resistance leader, Markos Vafiadis. They gained their members from local villages, forcing men and women to conscript, and sending children to communist countries to be taught Marxism (and Leninism). Markos received aid from established Communist countries- Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria. Even though Russia weren’t directly helping, the events in Greece convinced the West that the Soviet Union were expanding, and caused anxiety among Britain and America. Moreover, due to the draining impact of WW2, Britain’s economy was devastated, and they couldn’t support their forces overseas. Hence, they turned to America for help. Due to their anxiety of another country falling under the USSR’s control, America issued the Truman Doctrine.
Truman Doctrine- 1947, the policy that America would support any country being threatened by an armed minority. Specifically, targeting Communists.
America, following the Truman Doctrine gave $400 million to the royalist (Services) government, to help by resources; and they sent tacticians to aid the armed forces. Stalin saw this as an act of imperialism, which was cemented by the launching of the Marshall Plan.
Marshall Plan- 1947, America would provide financial aid to the war-torn countries of Europe (excluding those under Communist power)
Following George C. Marshall’s visit of Europe, America decided to aid European countries devastated by the war. Though humanitarian, they also wanted to ensure Communists wouldn’t take advantage of impoverished civilians, and increase their power; moreover, the American economy relied on European trade, and if that disappeared, America would be at risk of a financial recession. Despite appearing to help all others, further inspection clearly showed that the Marshall plan excluded all Communist countries. USSR stated it was an attack on Communism, and in retaliation, they opened Cominform.
Cominform- an organisation controlled by the USSR, set up in 1947 to coordinate communist parties throughout Europe
Hence, the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan only resulted in a further divide between the USSR and the West, and Europe became evermore separate, and the Iron Curtain became evermore drawn.
Paris Peace Conference (and Treaties), 1946-47
In 1946, 21 nations met in Paris to discuss the punishments Germany’s allies would have to face (Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Finland). However, its main influence was it highlighted the growing tension between America, Britain and the USSR. While the USSR wanted to allow all countries to govern themselves completely, while America and Britain wanted the right to interfere with countries in future conferences. The USSR likely wanted this, so if countries chose to be a Communist state, or likely pushed to be a Communist state, the West wouldn’t be able to object- especially countries like Bulgaria, that were in the ‘buffer zone’.
Despite a majority in favour of the USSR, and allowing countries to govern themselves, the West were able to impose a procedure that meant the decision was overruled. Hence, the Paris Peace Conference highlighted and accentuated the growing divide between the East and the West; while proving that both sides were unwilling to back down on their ideals and decisions.