Friday, December 3, 2010

Corruption of the Western Powers to involve Greece in WW1.

Sir Basil Zaharoff - The unknown effect of shrewd Greek Vasilis Zacharias (1849-1936)

By Sotirios C. Georgiadis
zaharof1As the recently made public archives reveal, ultra-top secret files of the British Foreign Ministry using the combined activity of British Intelligence and British Foreign Ministry period 1873-1939.
On April 1, 2005 reputable British newspapers, such as TIMES and DAILY TELEGRAPH, announced the opening in March 2005 of the ultra-top secret files of the British Foreign Ministry, the period 1873-1939. These records reveal for the first time the British Secret Service agents' bribery used by Britain during this period of 63 years.

For the purpose of gathering vital information from foreign countries and influence for British foreign policy eminent personalities of the respective States with the acquisition of important political leaders and other personalities.

In the bribery of foreign political leaders, the penetration of British intelligence services, creating unfavorable impression against the then ruler of Greece, included in the archives and Greece in the period 1914-1918. The goal was to remove the country from neutral to observe and to join the Alliance Entente (England-France-Russia) in the WWI.

The ultra-top secret files were available in many papers, which certainly deserve careful study by historians. A first impression of the general account of archival material, together with characteristic information, gives us a summary by Keith Hamilton, historian of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Below are many important and unknown statements mentioned by Keith Hamilton, for the action in Greece, of the basic agent of the British Services. An arms merchant and industrious personality of the era, Zacharias Vasileiadis in the period of WW1 1914-1918. The busy and ingenious Greek, succeeded in being awarded for services rendered to Britain the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire and became widely known as Sir Basil Zaharoff.

 In 1915 he had already a great wealth and luxury residences in Monte Carlo, Paris and elsewhere, moving with complete comfort to the high social, business and political circles of his time. Based on these records, the British historian Keith Hamilton, notes that England in WW1 having previously offered Greek territories in return to Bulgaria to attract it to its side, then noting the failure of the operation after the accession of Bulgaria allied with Germany, turned all its efforts towards the inclusion of Greece on their side.

In this context The British Secret Service were propagating lies, says Keith Hamilton, that neutral King Constantine of Greece was supposedly-German, on the basis that his wife Sophia, was the sister of the German Kaiser. According to Keith Hamilton, the Allies of the Entente have been looking to Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos with collusion, as he writes, that British and French Armed Forces had captured Thessaloniki in order to compel the Greek military to assist in Serbia, in which Germany had attacked with the Central Powers.

The versatile Greek Basil Zacharias, was born in 1849 in a town of southwestern Asia Minor. Later his family was exiled to Odessa. There he turned the name into Zaharoff. Basil grew up in slums of Istanbul. Begging in the streets, did various "odd" jobs not so decent or lawful to earn money. Later, after being trained as tradesman, he traveled to London.

There he went to court for a case of money "mismanagement". From London at the age of 24 years, he fled to Athens where he met and became friends with the then political editor and later Prime Minister (1915-1916) Stephen Skouloudis. Thanks to mediation of which 1877 Basil took the representation of the Swedish arms company Thorsten Nordenfeldt. In this position Basil has developed an outstanding performance, achieving to sell sub-marines to Greek, Ottoman and Russian Navy.

Basil quickly created other profitable businesses, and became not only highly successful arms dealer, but also a banker and an industrialist, while sought to gain control of newspapers. His star has now become known throughout Europe and Asia as Basil Zaharoff, and was continuously and rapidly called 'Mystery Man' and "Merchant of Death". He had stated to a journalist shortly before his death at age 87 in 1936, that in his career he had the potential to cause wars and sell weapons to all warring sides.

He was considered also to able to create the extension of the warfare, to increase the profits from arms sales. After the outbreak of WW1 in 1914, he was dominating the Balkans and the Middle East and with very extensive personal connections with key figures in these regions and Europe, he became necessary and valuable agent of England. In this capacity, he managed to further promote his business and to acquire not only large additional profits, but be named Sir Basil Zaharoff.

In Greece Basil Zaharoff was used by Britain from the outbreak of WW1 in 1914 for penetration and development of propaganda in favor of the accession of Greece to the Entente, led by England. To win Greece towards the Entente, he claimed in a letter found in the referenced file and addressed to senior link with the British Prime Minister, that he needed to spent on bribery in Greece a total of £  1.500.000.

From this money Zaharoff wrote that he had already spent in Greece the last 9 years £ 1,200,000 and with an additional amount of £ 300,000, he stated that would manage within 20 days, the accession of Greece to the Entente and the start of operations of the Greek Army against the adjacent  to Germany,  Bulgaria. Zaharoff also noted, that the leader of the Liberal Party, Eleftherios Venizelos was a dear friend, and also an old friend was prime minister Stephen Skouloudis who will follow his prompt.

Zaharoff continued in his letter that it was first and foremost  important, the acquisition of 45 Greek Members of the Parliament, the pro-German Greek newspaper editors and a Military Governor of the Greek border to accelerate the end of WW1.  The British Prime Minister, despite the misgivings of those responsible, he finally accepted in writing on December 11, 1915, the proposals of Zaharoff's letter, considering in particular that Germany had 3,000 of its own agents in Greece and the Greek newspaper review.

Then the British Government made available to him the amount of £ 1,407,000 depositing money in credit of Zaharoff, in an account of Barclay's Bank. Upon receipt of the money Zacharoff, says Keith Hamilton, briefed Eleftherios Venizelos. As part of the propaganda he was careful to set up in Athens in 1916 the Anglo-French News Agency, which took the form of a Broadcasting Agency.

For the further economic strengthening of Eleftherios Venizelos, records say that Britons spent one million French Francs, which were paid through the National Bank of Egypt to George Averoff, a friend and an agent, as characterizes him Keith Hamilton, of Eleftherios Venizelos. Georgios Averoff was nephew and principal heir of the National benefactor George Averoff (1818-1899) and in the Great Greek Encyclopaedia he was politician of Evia and sponsor of the movement of Eleftherios Venizelos of Thessaloniki 1917, during the WW1 that  intended to gain the support of Greece in the Entente in the war.

From his own money Zaharoff sponsored £ 37,000 according to records, for the establishment of the Liberal Publishing House. However until July 1916, he did not achieve a declaration of war by Greece against Bulgaria, so Zaharoff asked and succeeded the Franco-British financing of the Liberal Party with an additional 5,000,000 GRD for anticipated pr-electoral expenses. Despite pressure from the Entente, there were no elections in Greece, and Greece was forced on a naval blockade imposed by Britain and France and the intervention of French and English forces, to take part in the First World War alongside the Allies.

During the Government of Eleftherios Venizelos in the period 1917-1920, which formed after the naval blockade of Greece, the Athens naval bombardment, the landing of British and French troops in Salonika, the Greek islands occupied by the English and French and in their claim the dethronement of King Constantine in June 1917, Greece took the side of the Entente in WW1 and honored Basil Zaharoff with the distinction of Cross of Christ.
Following is the summary of ultra-top secret files the history of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Keith Hamilton, we will await the analysis of all these very interesting files from historians.

 * Sotirios C. Georgiades is a retired Navy Rear Admiral, Engineer-Naval Architect. Born in Kalamazoo in 1932. He entered the Naval Academy in 1950 and retired in 1985 as a Navy Inspector General. Member of the Society for the Study of Greek History. It deals mainly with the period of WWII.

Translated from Greek by Christos Mouzeviris.

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