Aris Velouchiotis file photo [29761]

Aris Velouchiotis

Given NameAthanasios
Born27 Aug 1905
Died16 Jun 1945


ww2dbaseAthanasios Klaras was born in 1905 in Lamia, Greece into an upper class family. Upon graduating from the Geoponic School of Larissa, he was exposed to leftist and anti-militarist politics, leading to his joining of the Communist Party of Greece in the 1920s. In the late 1920s, he became an editor in the communist newspaper Rizospastis. In 1931, an article he had penned for Rizospastis was deemed so dangerous by the government that the newspaper was shut down and several of its editors were arrested; the newspaper was later re-launched as Neos Rizospastis. He was arrested for his political belief several times in the 1920s and 1930s. While in imprisonment, he was tortured, and on one occasion he was forced to sign a document renouncing the communist ideology, which was extremely humiliating to him. During WW2, he joined the Army and saw action against Italian forces in Albania. After the Greek defeat in Apr 1941, he began organizing a communist guerrilla force. It was around this time that he adopted the nom de guerre "Aris Velouchiotis", stemming from Ares, the God of War, and Velouchi, a local mountain. The first recorded instance of him appearing in public under the name Velouchiotis was at the village of Domnista in Evrytania, Greece on 7 Jun 1942, where he announced the existence of his Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) and recruited villagers. Under his leadership, ELAS eventually grew to a size of 50,000, and tied down significant German resources in Greece during the war. When the Germans evacuated from Greece in Oct 1944, ELAS had controlled most Greek cities, though not Athens. Velouchiotis continued to act aggressively during the civil war period; for example, he continued to attack the National Republican Greek League (EDES) and succeeded in driving it off the mainland onto the Ionian Islands. He publicly sided with the national communist leadership in a ceasefire between ELAS and its rivals, but soon changed his mind and continued the fighting, thus leading to his branding as a traitor by the leader of the Greek Communist Party Nikos Zachariadis. Now wanted by the Greek government, he moved to the mountains, as he had during the German occupation, and began to organize a new ELAS. He was betrayed and cornered in the mountain of Agrafa in Jun 1945. Learning that the Communists Party had denounced him, to avoid capture, he and his second-in-command Giannis Aggeletos (nom de guerre "Leon Tzavellas") committed suicide in Mesounta, Arta, Greece on 16 Jun 1945. Upon discovery of their bodies, the heads of Velouchiotis and Aggeletos were removed from their bodies and put on display on lamp posts in the town square of Trikala, Greece. Although he was soon rehabilitated, his legacy remained mixed. While he was a fervent nationalist who was willing to risk his life for the independence of Greece, he was also associated with various atrocities committed against civilians accused of supporting ELAS's rivals.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Apr 2020

Aris Velouchiotis Timeline

27 Aug 1905 Athanasios Klaras was born in Lamia, Greece.
7 Jun 1942 Aris Velouchiotis recruited villagers from Domnista in Evrytania, Greece for ELAS.
16 Jun 1945 Aris Velouchiotis committed suicide in Mesounta, Arta, Greece.


Aris Velouchiotis with ELAS officers, Greece, 1944

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Aris Velouchiotis with ELAS officers, Greece, 1944

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