WWII Greece: Women with guns (or guts)

The following article is non-political.

Hello everyone!

In today’s post I’ll be talking about the young women of Greece during WWII, and how they started being part of the Greek resistance during that period.

Photo by Spyros Meletzis 1944

It all started with the national liberation organization, “Ελεύθερη Νέα” (Eleftheri Nea meaning Free Young Lady) which was founded on June 1942. It was an organization created to motivate the young women of Greece to start taking part in the Greek resistance.

The “Ελεύθερη Νέα” had also created an illegal newspaper, “Η φωνή της νέας” (which means “the voice of the young lady”) which was calling every young lady to get in the organization, to fight together with the “ΕΑΜ Νέων” (EAM of the youth = National Liberation Front) against the enemy.

On February 1943, EAM created “ΕΠΟΝ” (EPON which stands for United Panhellenic Organization of Youth) which was its young wing and around 7.000 women had joined.

However, around 1942, another group of resistance was founded. The so called “Π.Ε.Α.Ν.” (PEAN = Panhellenic Union of Fighting Youths) which had one female representative at each region of Athens.

The women of PEAN, who were many at that time, were responsible for writing illegally on walls, for the illegal newspaper “ΔΟΞΑ” (DOXA which meant glory), for bringing the BBC news to the people, for demonstrating against the enemy as well as offering food and money to the families of those who had died while fighting. Many women had lost their lives while trying all the things mentioned above.

Women of Greece. Source:https://www.google.gr/amp/s/culturacolectiva.com/history/women-greek-resistance-in-ww2/amp/?source=images

Later on, they started helping the partisans of the resistance by carrying ammunition to the battlefields. Furthermore, they were by the side of the women of the Greek Red Cross, as they were trying to help the injured soldiers.

Since their help was significant during that time, they continued by getting themselves into the battlefield with the rest of the men.

Source: https://www.google.gr/amp/s/culturacolectiva.com/history/women-greek-resistance-in-ww2/amp/?source=images

Partisan Anneta. Location: Arcadia.

In fact, what the Germans were noting in one of their reports was that “for the first time Greek young women between the ages of 20-30 years old, were fighting along with the male partisans. They were using rifles and machine guns.”

Let’s move on to May of 1944. It was when separated partisans units were created by women (before that, women were fighting in the men’s units) and at that time, they joined ΕΛΑΣ (ELAS which stands for Greek People’s Liberation Army).

Maria Beikou on the right.

Partisans singing at Macedonia.

In order for women to join ELAS, they needed the permission of their parents which was making it difficult for most of them. Moreover, during that period, the first women joined the school of officers of ELAS and at the beginning, the graduates were around 350 men and only 2 women!

Even more women were joining afterwards. Their education included military exercises, politics and many more while they were being trained under the rules of the Greek army.

An interesting fact is that there was a rule that women and men from the same units couldn’t have a love relationship before the end of the war. That’s why most of the women were making their hair into braids so that they couldn’t attract any man around. In case of disobedience, the lady responsible would have to quit the army.

A famous female partisan was Meni Papailiou the so called “Thiela” (which means Heavy Storm). She had won her gun and trousers from a German soldier she had killed.


Finally, “ΕΔΕΣ” (EDES = National Republican Greek League), another group of resistance, didn’t have many separated units, but there were women who had joined that group as well.

So that was my article about women of Greece during WWII and the Greek Occupation. I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if you want to add something or have any questions, let me know!

Thank you very much for reading! I’ll see you all on my next article!

A Vintage Athenian💋

Many thanks to ERT and their documentary “To Chroniko Tis Ethnikis Antistasis” (Chronicle of the National resistance) from 1985, for helping me with the references.


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