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States who was robbed and ill-treated by the soldiers of Constantine, without any justifiable cause, and would probably have been shot had it not been for the timely intervention of the minister.22
In the eyes of Constantine the perpetrators of these dastardly acts were heroes worthy of reward and high distinction. The Minister of War (General Yanakitsas) issued on behalf of his royal master to the troops at Athens who took part in the events of December 1st and 2nd an order of the day congratulating and thanking them for their “exemplary behavior during the memorable days of December 1st and 2nd." It should be noted that the notorious Reservists'
were still flourishing, notwithstanding the promise of Constantine and the official note of his government to the Allies that they would be dissolved. They were proclaimed the pillars of the throne and in two circulars addressed to them by their Central Council were secretly complimented for their nefarious acts at the time of the December massacre.28
The royal press was profuse in its eulogy of the “Great King.” The court organ, Nea Hemera, referred to the first and second days of December as “two of the greatest, the most sacred, splendid and glorious days in all the recorded days of Greek history."'24
While the King, through his tools, was thus extolling the treacherous attack on the Allied contingents, the Greek Government, on the other hand, on December 1st, through its representative at Paris ‘was expressing its sincere regret and that of King Constantine for the recent events in Athens, which they deplored." 25
Great Britain and France, humiliated by the treacherous acts of Constantine of December 1st and 2nd, and baffled by his intrigues, at last found themselves forced to take drastic measures against a country which was, so to speak, their own creation and which had enjoyed their protection for nearly a century. On December 7, 1916, their fleets instituted a blockade of the coasts of the Hellenic Kingdom, except the territories under the control of the Provisional Gov. ernment of Salonika.
22 See details in London Daily Telegraph, January 6, 1917, and in New York Times, of same date.
23 Le Temps, December 26, 1916, and Journal des Débats, January 10, 1917. 24 London Times, December 26, 1916.
25 Reuter's dispatch of December 13, 1916, quoted by London Times and other English papers of that date.
On the 14th of December, 1916, the ministers of France, Great Britain, Russia and Italy addressed an ultimatum to the Greek Government peremptorily demanding the transportation of the Greek troops stationed in Thessaly and the war material to Peloponnesus, and the stopping of the movement of Greek troops and war material to the north. The ultimatum stated that the non-acceptance of these demands within twenty-four hours would be considered a hostile act, and furthermore that "the blockade of the Greek coast would be maintained until the Greek Government had made full reparation for the recent unprovoked attacks of the Greek forces against the Allied troops in Athens and until sufficient guarantees have been given." 26
In reply the Greek Government promised to comply with the demands of the Allied Powers, and expressed the hope that they would raise the blockade of the coasts of Greece.27
The ministers of France, Great Britain and Russia, who had now taken their residence in men-of-war lying near the harbor of Piræus, perceiving that Constantine was undermining their work in various ways, particularly through the so-called Reservists and generally through German spies, demanded in a new note, dated December 21, 1916, the prohibition of the meetings of the Reservists, the control again of the telegraph and post-office services,-of which they had been dispossessed during the events of December 1st and 2nd, -the release from jail of all the adherents of Venizelos, and the creation of a mixed commission to inquire into the events of December 1st and 2nd.28
But Constantine still tried to evade the demands of the Allies by dilatory methods and particularly to avoid releasing the Venizelists and the payment to them of compensation for the damages inflicted upon their properties during the December troubles. Another note, dated December 31, 1916, was therefore transmitted to the Greek Government, signed by the three Protecting Powers of Greece, Italy associating herself by a separate note,-in which the Allies demanded: (1) The withdrawal to the Peloponnesus of all Greek troops, except those necessary for police and the maintenance of order, with all their arms and munitions of war, the period of execution to be settled in common with the delegates of the Allies; (2) the prohibition of all meetings by the Reservists, except in the Peloponnesus, and the “rigorous enforcement of the measures prohibiting all civilians from carrying arms”'; (3) the restoration of the various Allied controls which were in existence before the 1st of December, 1916; (4) the release of all persons detained for political reasons, and indemnification to persons who unjustly suffered as a result of the events of December 1st and 2nd and the following days; (5) the removal of the general of the army who was in command during the December troubles; (6) and last, a formal apology to the ministers of the Allies by the Greek Government. The note concluded by informing the Royal Government that "military necessity may compel them shortly to land troops at Itea (on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth) and take them to Salonika by the Larissa railway.” 29
26 English text of ultimatum in London Times, December 16, 1916.
27 Ibid., December 18, 1916. See also supplementary note in ibid., December 26, 1916, and other London papers.
28 Ibid., December 22, 1916.
After warning the Greek Government that the three Protecting Powers reserved to themselves full liberty of action in case the attitude of that government subsequently gave them cause for complaint, they formally pledged themselves to the Hellenic Government “not to permit armed forces of the Government of National Defense to profit by the retirement of the royal troops from Thessaly and Epirus to cross the neutral zone established in agreement with the Greek Government.” 30 The Allies did not, however, omit again to inform the Greek Government that the blockade of the coasts of
29 London Daily Telegraph, January 2, 1917.
30 This pledge to Constantine was the source of much trouble. It practically insured immunity to Constantine without any benefit to the Allies, for that crafty sovereign while deriving all the advantages accruing to himself, evaded the obligations imposed upon him. It was therefore bitterly criticized by Mr. Venizelos.
Greece would be maintained until satisfaction had been accorded on all the points contained in the note.31
On January 6, 1917, Constantine's Minister for Foreign Affairs transmitted to the Allies the answer of the Greek Government to their note of December 31, 1916, but as this answer was considered evasive and unsatisfactory, the three Protecting Powers and Italy, on January 9, 1917, presented an ultimatum.32
The following day the Greek Government acquiesced in the demands of the Allies with some reservations and requested that the blockade of the coasts of Greece be raised, to which the Allies replied on January 13, 1917, refusing to raise the blockade until after the unequivocal acceptance and carrying out of all their demands. 3
On January 16, 1917, the Greek Government accepted the ultimatum in its entirety and promised to carry out the demands of the Allies. On January 24, 1917, it apologized for “the regrettable occurrences” of December 1, 1916, when the international contingents were attacked by the royal troops at Athens, stated that General Callaris, the commander of the said troops, had been deprived of his command, and promised to dissolve all societies prejudicial to the state. On January 29, 1917, the ceremony of the salute to the flags of the four Allied Powers took place at Athens in the presence of the Allied ministers.34
Notwithstanding all these diplomatic notes and the promise of the Greek Royal Government faithfully to comply with the Allied demands, all kinds of subterfuges were used in order to delay, hamper, and, if possible, evade, the fulfillment of the promises given. The mot d'ordre given secretly to the military commanders, as well as to the civil authorities, was that the son of the Eagle," as Constantine was called by his admirers, resented the pressure of the Powers, and that he was only seeking to gain time, and that therefore every artifice should be used to deceive the Allies. In consequence of these machinations, many officers and soldiers who had
31 London Daily Telegraph, January 2, 1917. 32 Ibid., January 12, 1917. 33 Ibid., January 18, 1917. 34 Ibid., January 31, 1917.
been transported to the Peloponnesus were secretly returned in civilian clothes or on leave to the northern part of Greece. Arms, munitions and a large part of the war material were hidden in different parts of the country instead of being transported to the Peloponnesus as promised to the Allies. Irregular bands were formed under the command of royalist officers, who infested the so-called neutral zone and on more than one occasion attacked the Allied soldiers and officers.35 General Sarrail was obliged to take drastic measures against these royal marauders and ordered the Allied troops to pursue them relentlessly. German officers crossed into Greece for purposes of espionage and propaganda and it was well known to the Allied Legations that they were frequent visitors at the Royal Palace and held secret conferences with the adherents of the King 3
In the beginning of May, 1917, the cabinet of Lambros resigned and Mr. A. Zaimis again agreed to head a Ministry. This easy-going person had the reputation of being pro-Ally, but lacked volition. By this time the Entente statesmen were tired of half-measures and decided to carry out the resolution which they had already formed, namely, the dethronement of Constantine. Accordingly in June, 1917, a distinguished French statesman, namely, Charles C. A. Jonnart, Member of the Senate and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, was appointed by the three Protecting Powers of Greece, namely, France, Great Britain and Russia, as High Commissioner to Greece, entrusted with the delicate task of giving a final solution to the Hellenic crisis.
Mr. Jonnart was to carry out the decision of the three Powers without bloodshed, if possible. While he was on the way to Greece, the army under General Sarrail in Macedonia was marching to occupy Thessaly. A French detachment occupied both sides of the Canal of Corinth and seized the bridge connecting the two mainlands, thus blocking all communications between the mainland of Greece
35 The guilt of Constantine on this point is established beyond doubt in the deciphered telegrams. Documents Diplomatiques, Supplément, Nos. 61, 67 and 69.
36 London Times, May 1, 1917. See Documents Diplomatiques, Supplément, No. 79, in which ex-Queen Sophie speaks of her conversation by telephone with Falkenhausen who had then gone to Larissa by aeroplane.