Konstantinos Ventiris

Konstantinos Ventiris (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Βεντήρης, 1892–1960) was a Greek Army officer who rose to the rank of lieutenant general. He served twice as Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff and was one of the senior government commanders during the Greek Civil War. He is also one of the few recipients the country's highest wartime decoration, the Commander's Cross of the Cross of Valour.

Konstantinos Ventiris
Konstantinos Ventiris.jpg
Ventiris during the Greek Civil War
Native name
Κωνσταντίνος Βεντήρης
Kalamata, Greece
Died1960 (aged 67–68)
Athens, Greece
Allegiance Greece
Service/branchHellenic Army
Years of service1910–1935, 1943–1951
RankGR-Army-OF8-1937.svg Lieutenant General
Commands heldChief of the Hellenic Army General Staff
WarsBalkan Wars, Macedonian Front, Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, Greek Civil War
AwardsCommander's Cross of the Cross of Valour


He was born in Kalamata in 1892, the second of seven children. His brothers became journalists, and the eldest, Georgios, was an associate of the Liberal leader Eleftherios Venizelos.[2] After completing his school studies, he joined the Hellenic Army as a volunteer on 1 April 1910, and fought in the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913. He entered the NCO Academy and graduated in March 1914 as an Infantry Second Lieutenant.[3] During World War I, he served in the Macedonian front, being promoted to lieutenant in 1917 and acting as a company commander during the 1918 Allied offensive. In 1919 he was promoted to major, and fought as battalion commander and CO of the 23rd Regiment in the Asia Minor Campaign of 1919–1922.[3]

In late 1922 he was appointed as chief of staff of the 7th Infantry Division, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1923. He then served as CO of the 1st and 41st Infantry Regiments. In 1930 he was promoted to full colonel, serving as military attaché to Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, Director of the General Staff's Second Bureau (Intelligence) and as Deputy Commandant of the War College.[3] As a confirmed Venizelist and Republican, he was dismissed from the army in the aftermath of the failed Republican March 1935 coup attempt.[4]

During the Axis Occupation of Greece, he founded the RAN resistance group,[2] but in 1943 he fled to the Middle East and rejoined the Armed Forces of the Greek government in exile.[3] He also participated in the spring 1944 Lebanon conference of all Greek resistance and political factions. With the rise of the Communist-controlled National Liberation Front to a dominant position in the Greek Resistance, Ventiris, like many other Venizelist officers, increasingly moved to right-wing and pro-monarchical views. In the Middle East and later in Greece, he became the leader of the anti-communist "Officers' League", one of the three major political groupings within the Army.[4] Despite his ardent anti-communism, as an ex-Liberal he was a rare figure among the royalist army leadership, and was often the target of right-wing newspapers for his former Republican views.[5]

In June 1944 he was appointed as Chief of the Army General Staff for the Greek Armed Forces in the Middle East, being promoted to Major General (backdated to 1943) at the same time. He organized the repatriation of the Army, returning to Athens on 12 November.[3] Thereafter he served as Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and with the outbreak of the Greek Civil War he was appointed CO of III Army Corps. Promoted to lieutenant general in 1946, he became again Chief of the Army General Staff in 1947, then served as CO of the First Army, as Inspector-General of the Army and as CO of the Epirus-West Macedonia Headquarters until his retirement on 24 March 1951.[3] His role in the final victory of the National Army in the Greek Civil War was considerable; according to US general James Van Fleet, who commanded the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group to Greece, he was "often rated the best military commander in Greece".[5]

In the same year, he was awarded with the Commander's Cross of the Cross of Valour, one of only three career Army officers to receive it alongside Anastasios Papoulas and Alexandros Papagos.[6] In August 1951, he was also named General Adjutant to King Paul.[3]

Ventiris was unmarried, and died in 1960 in Athens.[3]


  1. ^ Note: Greece officially adopted the Gregorian calendar on 16 February 1923 (which became 1 March). All dates prior to that, unless specifically denoted, are Old Style.
  2. ^ a b Kontothanasis, Kostas (22 November 2008). "Τίμησαν τον στρατηγό Κων. Βεντήρη" (in Greek). Tharros Newspaper. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Συνοπτική Ιστορία του ΓΕΣ, 2001, p. 165.
  4. ^ a b Demertzis, Dimitris (2010). Ιερός Δεσμός Ελλήνων Αξιωματικών: Ιδέες και Πρακτικές 1944–1952 (M.A. thesis). Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. p. 56. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  5. ^ a b Close & Veremis 1993, p. 117.
  6. ^ Zotiadis, Orthodoxos (July–August 2003). "Αριστείο Ανδρείας" (PDF). Στρατιωτική Επιθεώρηση (in Greek). General Staff of National Defense: 148–163. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-27.


  • Συνοπτική Ιστορία του Γενικού Επιτελείου Στρατού 1901–2001 [A Concise History of the Hellenic Army General Staff 1901–2001] (in Greek). Athens: Hellenic Army History Directorate. 2001. ISBN 960-7897-44-7.
  • Close, David H.; Veremis, Thanos (1993). "The Military Struggle, 1945–9". In Close, David H. (ed.). The Greek Civil War, 1943-1950: Studies of Polarization. London: Routledge. pp. 97–128. ISBN 9780415021128.
Military offices
Preceded by
Major General Efstathios Liosis
as Deputy and Interim Chief of the General Staff
Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff
1 June – 27 November 1944
Succeeded by
Major General Efstathios Liosis
as Interim Chief of the General Staff
Preceded by
Lt General Panagiotis Spiliotopoulos
Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff
19 February – 1 November 1947
Succeeded by
Lt General Dimitrios Giatzis