Pantelis Pouliopoulos

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Pantelis Pouliopoulos (March 10, 1900-June 6, 1943) (Greek: Παντελής Πουλιόπουλος) was a Greek communist and onetime general secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). He stood for the internationalist and revolutionary character of the communist movement. He is the founder of the trotskyist movement in Greece.

Born in Thebes, Boeotia prefecture, Pouliopoulos enrolled at Athens University in 1919 to study law. In 1919, he joined the Socialist Labour Party of Greece (SEKE), the forerunner of the Communist Party of Greece.

In 1920, he was conscripted to fight in the Greek-Turkish war of 1919-1922. He was arrested in 1922 for anti-war activity, but was freed with the end of the war.

From 1923 to 1925, was prominent in war veterans movement and, in 1924, was elected president of the Panhellenic Federation of Veterans. [1]

In 1924, he became general secretary of the KKE and was party delegate to the fifth congress of the Comintern in 1924. On August 24, 1925, Pouliopoulos, along with 23 others, was placed on trial in Athens on charges of promoting the autonomy of Macedonia and Thrace [2]. He gave a five hour speech in his defence and the trial was adjourned. On February 22, 1926, the trial of the "autonomists" resumed. The charges were dropped, but instead of being released, the men were exiled to Anafi, Amorgos and Folegandros islands.

Pouliopoulos was taken to Folegandros island. He was freed in 1926 with the fall of the Pangalos dictatorship. Although he resigned in September 1926 after his leadership was blamed for the poor performance of the party, he was reinstated by the Comintern.

At the party's congress in March 1927, Pouliopoulos (along with Pastias Giatsopoulos) was removed from the Central Committee. Later that year, they were formarly expelled from the party after publishing and circulating the New Beginning (Greek: Neo Ksekinima) pamphlet [3]. They subsequently formed an oppositional group which aligned itself with the International Left Opposition. They began to publish a journal called Spartacus from December 1928 onwards. They refused to join Archeiomarxists group which split the KKE, regarding it as having a sectarian attitude towards the party.

When the Archeiomarxists were accepted as the representatives of the International Left Opposition in Greece, Leon Trotsky condemned the Pouliopoulos' group, which was excluded from the Trotskyist movement along with the 'Fractionalists' who had just split from the Archeiomarxists led by Michel Pablo.

In 1934, the two groups joined together to set up the Organisation of Internationalist Communists of Greece (OKDE) in 1934, and for a while Pouliopoulos maintained links with other oppositional groups around Landau and Molinier, opposing the movement to create a new International from 1933 onwards, but took the initiative in the move to unite the Greek Trotskyists in 1938 to form the Unified Organisation of Communist Internationalists of Greece (EOKDE). In September 1938, the EOKDE was present at the founding of the Fourth International in Paris.

In 1938, after going into hiding, he was eventually arrested by the Metaxas dictatorship and imprisoned in Akronafplia, where he continued his work. In 1943, along with over a hundred other militants, he was executed by the Italian occupation forces in Nezero, near Larisa, in retaliation for the destruction by partisans of the Gorgopotamos bridge. Addressing himself in Italian to the squad of soldiers given the job of executing him, he exhorted them not to commit such a crime against the anti-fascist resisters and their adversaries in the war. When the soldiers refused to be executioners, it was the Carabinieri who were given the task.

Pouliopoulos translated into Greek Marx's Das Kapital and Critique of Political Economy, L. Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed, K. Kautsky’s "Economic Theories of Karl Marx" and "Kant" as well as N. Bukharin’s "History of Historical Materialism".


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