Venizelos, Eleutherios

One of Greece’s greatest 20th century statesmen

Price: $65.00

Description:
(1864-1936) Regarded as greatest modern Greek statesman. The 1st half of his life and career was spent in Crete, where he was born. After studying law in Athens, led the Liberal Party in Crete where, in 1896, he played a prominent role in the Cretan independence movement against Turkish rule, became Crete's 1st independent Prime Minister 1905 (Crete's union with Greece formalized 1913). Moved to Athens 1909 at invitation of royalist army officers who sought political reform, becoming Prime Minister 1910 on wave of popular enthusiasm. Early years of his 1st ministry saw revisions to the constitution (1911), military and financial reforms, and participation in the 1912-13 Balkan Wars, which saw Greece's population more than double, with similar growth in land mass. His relations with King Constantine were warm, but rapidly deteriorated with onset of war in Aug. 1914. Despite official Greek neutrality at start of WW I, Venizelos favored alliance with Britain, France and Russia against Germany and Austria-Hungary, based on assessment of Allied domination of the Mediterranean and consideration of Greek interests; King Constantine, brother-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II, opposed co-operation with the Allies. Venizelos strongly favored military assistance to the Allies during the disastrous Dardanelles campaign; continued disagreement with Constantine resulted in his March 1915 resignation. Re-elected by landslide in June 1915 general election (belatedly confirmed by the King 2 months later), he ordered mobilization of the Greek army, simultaneously requesting Allied assistance in defense of Serbia. By the time Allied forces reached Salonika, the King had dismissed Venizelos (ostensibly for endangering Greece's neutrality) and replaced him with a succession of puppets. In Crete from Sept.1916, Venizelos was the focus for anti-monarchist sentiment. Established a provisional revolutionary government in Thessalonika in Oct. recognized by the Allied governments. Skirmishes broke out between government forces and Venizelos’ (funded by the Allies) in Nov. With Venizelos preparing to march on Athens, the King abdicated June 1917. Venizelos oversaw remainder of Greece’s war effort, now openly with the Allies. Following the Armistice, Greece's territorial gains materialized chiefly at expense of Bulgaria & Turkey. In spite of British support, unsuccessful in bid to establish Greek administration of Turkish Smyrna; army subsequently occupied the region 1919. His popularity dwindled and he was defeated in Dec. 1920 election. New pro-royalist government invited King Constantine to return from exile but Greece's defeat in 1922 war with Turkey led to his renewed exile. Venizelos returned to power 1924, 1928-32, and 1933; between 1928-32, oversaw modernization of Greek economy and education system. In later years of his ministries, made peace with Italy (1928), Yugoslavia (1929) & Turkey (1930). Increased royalist sentiment brought his final 1933 resignation. In 1935 he supported another anti-royalist revolt in Crete but its failure obliged him to seek exile in France where he died. Athens international airport named for him. SP, 3 ½ x 5 ¼ sepia French postcard photograph of Venizelos seated at his desk, no date. Image #452 by Cliché Boucas of Paris, captioned in French at top left: “Venizelos/Great Greek Statesman/ Friend of France”; small “bug” lower right. Note on verso (message side) in English requests Venizelos sign image side (recto).

Condition: Very good, signature slightly light but legible, fair contrast; left corner bends; slight mount remnants verso
Type:Photograph






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