HC Deb 22 July 1946 vol 425 cc1662-3
41. Mr. Wilkes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that General Spiliotopoulos, recently appointed chief of staff to the Greek Army, on 28th September, 1941, wrote to the high command of the gendarmerie and police administration of Salonika ordering them to search out and surrender all British soldiers hiding in Greece to the German authorities; that General Spiliotopoulos was appointed military governor of Athens in October, 1944, but was dismissed by M. Papandriou on publication of this document; whether the appointment of this officer was approved by the British Military Mission to Greece; and what representations have been made in regard to this matter.

The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

General Spiliotopoulos was promoted during the Albanian campaign to the rank of major-general for an act of bravery. I am informed that, at the beginning of the occupation, he decided that he might be able to do useful work against the enemy by accepting the post of chief of the Gendarmerie. The order to which my hon. Friend refers was an enemy order which Spiliotopoulos, in his official capacity, was forced to sign. He gave secret orders, however, that it should not be observed. The General was, at the same time, head of various Greek secret information services; was a member of the organisation which assisted British troops left behind in Greece with false papers and in other ways; and he did good work for the Allied Intelligence Services. He was secretly appointed military governor of Attica by the Greek Government in Cairo, and on the return of the Government to Greece was transferred to an important position in the Ministry of War. In view of this record, the British Military Mission did not oppose the appointment of General Spiliotopoulos as Chief of Staff.

Mr. Wilkes

Is it not obvious that, first of all, whatever were the secret affiliations of this officer, the Germans had no complaint at all to make of him, and retained him in his position of influence throughout the occupation; and, secondly, that this letter and the file number, photostatic copies of which appeared throughout the Greek Press, and other evidence, were quite sufficient in November, 1944, to induce Mr. Papandriou to dismiss this officer? Is it not a great pity that, since we are so deeply involved in the recreation of the Greek Army, appointments such as this are made?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I would say, first, that the information which I have given to my hon. Friend was information which could not be published in October, 1944, because the war was not yet over. In the second place, I am sure he will agree that that information makes a great difference. In the third place, this is not His Majesty's Government's appointment. The question for us is, whether we ought to have opposed what the Greek Government wanted to do.

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