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Georgios Tsolakoglou (Greek: Γεώργιος Τσολάκογλου; April 1886 – 22 May 1948) was a Greek military officer who became the first Prime Minister of the Greek collaborationist government during the Axis occupation in 1941–1942.
|Prime Minister of the Hellenic State|
30 April 1941 – 2 December 1942
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Konstantinos Logothetopoulos|
|Died||22 May 1948 (aged 62)|
|Allegiance||Kingdom of Greece(until 1924) Second Hellenic Republic(1924–1935) Kingdom of Greece(1935–1941)|
|Battles/wars||First Balkan WarSecond Balkan WarWorld War IAsia Minor CampaignGreco-Italian WarBattle of Greece|
As an officer in the Hellenic Army, Tsolakoglou participated in the Balkan Wars, the First World War, the 1919 Allied expedition to the Ukraine and the Asia Minor Campaign. With the rank of Lieutenant General, he led the Western Macedonia Army Section in the Greco-Italian War. After the German invasion and capture of Thessaloniki on 9 April 1941, the withdrawal of WMAS from Northern Epirus was belatedly ordered on 12 April. The German motorized units, however, succeeded in reaching the vital Metsovon Pass on 18 April, overcame local Greek resistance and captured Ioannina on the following day, thereby effectively cutting off the Hellenic Army.
When the hopelessness of resistance became apparent, Tsolakoglou, along with several other senior generals began considering surrendering to the Germans. Thus, on 20 April, with the cooperation of the commanders of I Corps, Lt. Gen. Panagiotis Demestichas and II Corps, Lt. Gen. Georgios Bakos, and the metropolitan of Ioannina, Spyridon, he relieved and replaced Lt. Gen. Ioannis Pitsikas, the commander of the Epirus Army Section. He immediately sent messengers to the Germans proposing surrender, and on the same day signed a surrender protocol with the commander of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler brigade, SS-Obergruppenführer Sepp Dietrich.
Despite urgent orders by Greek Commander-in-chief Alexandros Papagos, that he be relieved and resistance continued to the last, the next day, at Larissa, the surrender was formalized, with Tsolakolglou signing the unconditional surrender of the Hellenic Army to the Germans. The protocol made – deliberately – no reference to the other invading Axis partner, Italy, whom the Greeks considered to have defeated and wished to, in the words of John Keegan, "...deny the Italians the satisfaction of a victory they had not earned...". However, at Benito Mussolini's insistence, the surrender ceremony was repeated a third time to include Italian representatives on 23 April.
Tsolakoglou himself wrote in his memoirs: "I found myself before a historic dilemma: To allow the fight to continue and have a holocaust or, obeying the pleas of the Army's commanders, to assume the initiative of surrendering.... Having made my decision to dare, I did not consider responsibilities.... Until today I have not regretted my actions. On the contrary, I feel proud."
Prime Minister in the collaborationist governmentEdit
On 30 April 1941, Tsolakoglou was appointed Prime Minister of a collaborationist government by the Axis occupation authorities. Several other generals who had served in the Greco-Italian War became members of the Tsolakoglou government, such as Generals Panagiotis Demestichas and Georgios Bakos. Tsolakoglou remained as head of the government until 2 December 1942, when he was dismissed and replaced by Konstantinos Logothetopoulos.
After Greece was liberated, Tsolakoglou was arrested, tried by a Special Collaborators Court in 1945 and sentenced to death. His death penalty was ultimately commuted to life imprisonment, and he died of leukaemia in prison in 1948.
- Keegan, John, The Second World War, Penguin (Non-Classics) 2005 Reprint edition, p. 157
- Tsolakoglou, G.K.S, Memoirs, Akropolis Editions, Athens 1959. The quote used here comes from the Rizospastis newspaper, 8 April 2001
- This article is based on a translation of the corresponding article in the Greek Wikipedia, as of October 14, 2006.
as legitimate Prime Minister leading government-in-exile
| Prime Minister of Greece
30 April 1941 – 2 December 1942