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The Coup d'état attempt of 1938 or coup d'état of Chania was a short-lived coup attempt in Chania, Greece, aimed at overthrowing the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas in 1938. Due to poor organization, the coup collapsed within a few hours and never seriously threatened the dictatorial regime.[1]

Events[edit | edit source]

Many Cretans, especially politicians from the Venizelist camp, were involved in the 1938 coup d'état, that aimed to overthrow the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. The uprising of 1938 was the only armed insurrection against the dictatorship of Metaxas and broke out on 28 July 1938 in Chania. Aristomenis Mitsotakis was the leader of the coup. The uprising was hoped to trigger a broader revolt and revolution that was organized in Athens. Among the people that helped to organize this plan were the governor of the Bank of Greece at the time, Emmanouil Tsouderos,[2] Ioannis Mountakis, M. Voloudakis, and Emmanouil Mantakas.[3] The banned Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was also involved.[4]

On 28 July 1938, the radio station of Chania emitted the following proclamation that asked King George II of Greece to end Metaxas’ dictatorship in order for the Greeks to be free.[5] Because of the limited timeframe and the low number of people initiated in the plans, but also due to the very poor planning, the coup was doomed to fail, and collapsed within a few hours. The government reacted fast and effectively, sending powerful military forces to Crete and seaplanes to Milos. After some minor clashes, Chania was clear of rebels.[2][6]

About a month later, on 22 August 1938, martial law was declared across the county and a Provisional Military Court was established in the city of Chania. Its chairman was Lieutenant General Konstantinos Michalopoulos, later leader of the Greek Gendarmerie, and royal prosecutor was Lieutenant Colonel Solon Gikas, later Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff and Minister. It seems however that, with the “tolerance” of Ioannis Metaxas, A. Mitsotakis, M. Voloudakis, I. Mountakis, and others from the Venizelist camp fled to Cyprus,[3] while others who participated in the coup, such as Konstantinos Rentis, Emmanouil Tsouderos et al. were arrested, convicted and deported.[7] The next year though they were amnesited. General Emmanouil Mantakas was arrested after the failure of the coup and later freed by a group of armed fellow villagers, but was sentenced to life imprisonment. No death sentences were executed.

Assessment and aftermath[edit | edit source]

The failure of the coup was because, while there had been preparations for a nationwide uprising, it broke out only in Chania and it was isolated from any other anti-dictatorship movements. According to records of the Gendarmerie, shortly before the outbreak of the coup, Markos Vafiadis had arrived in Crete for the organization of the local Communist Party. After the uprising, at the end of the same year, another coup began to be organized but it never materialized and remained known in history as the "conspiracy of the Germanophiles". Leader of the coup was Periklis Kavdas, a retired officer and cabinet minister of Ioannis Metaxas. Among the leaders of the 1938 uprising, Mantakas would later go on to serve in the Communist-dominated "Mountain Government" during the Axis occupation of Greece.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Indiana University: Chronology 1938.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Th. Detorakis [Θ. Δετοράκης], 1990, Ιστορία της Κρήτης, Ηράκλειο, p.468.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Π.Ζ. Στόκκος, Αναμνήσεις από τους σύγχρονους αγώνες της Κύπρου, Λευκωσία, 1992, σ. 25.
  4. Σύντομη Ιστορία του ΚΚΕ - Σχέδιο, έκδοση της ΚΕ του ΚΚΕ, 1988, μέρος Α', 1918 - 1949, σ. 136 - 137.
  5. «Προς την Α. Μ. τον Βασιλέα, Προς τας ενόπλους δυνάμεις, Προς τον ελληνικό λαό, Στρατός και λαός αδελφωμένοι κατέλυσαν αρχάς λαομισήτου τυραννίας εκπροσωπούμενης υπό του στρατηγού Μεταξά. Ανακτήσας ελευθερίας αυτού απευθύνεται προς την Α. Μ. τον Βασιλέα και ζητεί την άμεσον απομάκρυνσιν της τυραννικής Κυβερνήσεως Μεταξά, την αποκατάστασιν του κράτους του νόμου και των λαϊκών ελευθεριών και τον σχηματισμόν Κυβερνήσεως Εθνικής Σωτηρίας εκ των αρίστων Ελλήνων, αδιακρίτως πολιτικών παρατάξεων, προς αντιμετώπισιν των αμεσοτάτων εσωτερικών και εξωτερικών κινδύνων, τους οποίους διατρέχει η χώρα μας και διά την δημιουργίαν μιας νέας Ελλάδος, πράγματι ηνωμένης ψυχικώς και ικανής να αντιμετωπίση με σθένος και φρόνησιν τας δυσκόλους στιγμάς, που διέρχεται η ανθρωπότης. Με αδελφικόν χαιρετισμόν προς τας ενόπλους δυνάμεις και ολόκληρον τον λαόν. Ζήτω Ο Βασιλεύς, ζήτω η Ελλάς.Η Επαναστατική Επιτροπή: Μητσοτάκης, Βολουδάκης, Μουντάκης, Παΐζης, Μάντακας στρατιωτικός διοικητής» (Rizospastis: Το Κίνημα των Χανίων κατά της Μεταξικής Δικτατορίας).
  6. Newspaper: Η Εθνική, 30 Ιουλίου 1938, p.6.
  7. Ρεθυμνιώτικα Νέα: Η δικτατορία της 4ης Αυγούστου και το κίνημα του στρατηγού Μάντακα.

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