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Apostoloy, Electra (1911–1944)

Apostoloy, Electra (1911–1944)

Greek Communist militant and anti-Nazi resistance leader during World War II. Name variations: Ilektra Apostolou. Born in 1911 in Iraklion-Attikis, a suburb of Athens; executed on July 26, 1944; received secondary education in a German-language school in Athens; married briefly to a doctor; children: daughter Agni.

A Communist, she was arrested by the political police and sentenced to two years' imprisonment for disseminating subversive "anti-Greek" literature (1936); founded EPON (1943), a communist youth group; during final months of the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II, was arrested for her resistance activities; after being tortured, she was executed (1944).

Electra Apostoloy was born in 1911 in Irak-lion-Attikis, a suburb of Athens. She received her secondary education in a German-language school in Athens. At age 13, she became a passionate Communist and joined the Greek Communist Youth League, a decision thta shocked her middle-class parents. Revolutionary sentiments were strong in her generation, and her brother Lefteris Apostoloy (1903–1981) became an important Communist leader at the same time. Electra Apostoloy formed a small group that sent financial assistance to exiled Communists and their families.

From 1931 to 1933, she gained organizational experience as director of a factory workers' club. Remaining a Communist, she devoted virtually all her time to revolutionary political activity. Apostoloy taught classes on Marxism as well as revolutionary history and theory to working-class men and women. She also served as editor of the Young Communist League journal Youth. In 1935, she represented the Greek Communist movement as a delegate for Greek women at the International Conference against Fascism held in Paris. She traveled to several European countries to meet with Communists and other anti-Fascist youth leaders. Back in Greece, she spread the message that the growing threat of Fascism was an enemy all working men and women must fight.

In 1936, General Metaxas established a Fascist dictatorship in Greece, promising its conservative supporters to crack down hard on the Marxist menace. The anti-Communist intelligence office in Athens regarded Electra Apostoloy as one of the most potentially dangerous leaders of the younger generation of Communists. Shortly after Metaxas came to power, she was arrested and sentenced to two years' imprisonment for disseminating subversive "anti-Greek" literature. Unbroken in captivity, she gave lectures to her fellow inmates. Apostoloy had newspapers smuggled into her cell so that she could remain informed of the worsening political situation in Greece and the world at large.

After a short period of freedom, she was arrested again in 1939 and sent to the distant town of Anaphi. She had been married briefly to a doctor who renounced his Communist beliefs after arrest, ending their marriage. Her daughter Agni was born in Anaphi during the end of that relationship. The harsh conditions of her imprisonment exacerbated her deteriorating health, and Electra was eventually transported to a prison hospital in Athens. In 1941, she effected a bold escape from this hospital.

By this time, German forces occupied Greece, and it was difficult for Apostoloy to evade capture. In the spring of 1941, patriotic Greeks—incensed by their harsh treatment at the Nazis' hands—began to actively resist. From June 1942 to February 1943, Apostoloy led a resistance organization of young Greek anti-Fascists who called themselves the "New Freedom" group. A militant Marxist revolutionary, one of her tasks was to weed out individuals likely to succumb to Fascist blandishments or torture. In 1943, Apostoloy was instrumental in founding EPON, the youth movement of EAM or National Liberation Front. The Communist Party created this liberation organization to lead Greeks of all political colorations in a broad-based struggle against Nazi occupiers and their Greek stooges.

In 1944, Apostoloy's luck ran out, and she was arrested by the Greek version of the Gestapo. Despite horrendous torture, she revealed nothing about her organization or its members. When it became obvious that she would never provide intelligence of any value, Apostoloy was executed on July 26, 1944. Her brother Lefteris, himself a leader in the Communist resistance movement, was also arrested by the Germans. He escaped and was never recaptured, living until his death in Athens in November 1981 at the age of 78. In honor of his martyred sister, Lefteris Apostoloy named his daughter Electra.

sources:

Chiclet, Christophe. Les Communistes Grecs dans la Guerre. Paris: Editions L'Harmattan, 1987.

Eudes, Dominique. The Kapetanios: Partisans and Civil War in Greece, 1943–1949. NY: Monthly Review, 1972.

Fourtouni, Eleni. Greek Women in Resistance: Journals, Oral Histories. New Haven, CT: Thelphini Press, 1986.

Hondros, John Louis. Occupation and Resistance: The Greek Agony, 1941–44. NY: Pella Publishing, 1983.

Judt, Tony, ed. Resistance and Revolution in Mediterranean Europe, 1939–1948. London: Routledge, 1989.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

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