Elefterios Venizelos

Greek: Ελευθεριος Βενιζελος
Who: Prime Minister of Greece from 1910 to 1920 and again from 1928 to 1932.
Born: 1864
What: 1936 (72 years old)
Place of birth: Crete

Elefterios Venizelos.

Elefterios Venizelos.

Eleftherios Venizelos is one of the greatest figures of modern Greece and is considered to be the “maker of Modern Greece”. He was elected several times as the Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and again from 1928 to 1932. He was a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader who shaped Modern Greece into what it is today. He first entered the international scene in the early 20th century when he played a significant role in the union of Crete with Greece in 1913.

He initiated the constitutional and economic reforms that set out for the modernization of Greek society while reorganizing both army and navy in preparation of future conflicts. He helped Greece enter the Balkan League, an alliance with the Christian Balkan states, against Ottoman Turkey. Through this alliance Greece was able to double their area, liberatingMacedonia, Epirus and the rest of the Aegean islandsin the aftermath of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

During World War I (1914�1918) he brought Greece on the side of the Allies, further expanding the Greek borders. However, this alliance brought conflict between Venizelos and the Monarchy in Greece and caused the National Schism. This Schism polarized the population of Greece between the royalists and Venizelists and this struggle for power afflicted the political and social life of Greece for decades. Following the victory of the Allies in World War I Venizelos captured new territory in Turkey aiming to reach his goal of the Megali Idea (uniting all Greek speaking territories). However, in 1920 he was defeated in the General Electionswhich contributed to the Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922).

He later regained power in 1928 and successfully strengthened the relationships with Greece and its’ neighbours, such as Yugoslavia, Italy and Turkey. He was able to sign a treaty of friendship with Turkey in 1930 which was seen by the German Chancellor Hermann M�ller as the “greatest achievement seen in Europe since the end of the Great War”. Venizelos legacy will never be forgotten and has the Airport of Athens named after him.

Athens Airport.

Athens Airport.

Quotes by Venizelos:

  • A party should be founded not merely on numbers, but on moral principles, without which it can neither accomplish useful work nor inspire confidence.
  • Greece expects you not merely to die for her, for that is little, indeed; she expects you to conquer. That is why each one of you, even in dying, should be possessed by one thought alone � how to conserve your strength to the last so that those who survive may conquer. And you will conquer, I am more than sure of this.
    (Venizelos speaking to sailers before the first Balkan War)
  • Of course the King is mistaken. But is natural that he should be frighten of taking the plunge. We have lost a great opportunity by not intervening at once. But later the King may change his mind, and it may be not too late.
    (Venizelos attempting to persuade King Constantine that Greece should join the Allies in the WWI)
  • All my life with all my heart I wanted the union of Crete and Greece. I wanted it to be sustained by profound mutual affection. I swear that was my only desire. . . . Greece will never see me again. 
    (Venizelos during the final years of his life)

Eleftherios Venizelos documentary:

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