Vintage Audio - Eleutherios Venizelos on the British Empire

Eleutherios Venizelos Click to download as MP3

Available here is a sound clip featuring the voice of the controversial Greek wartime Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos.

Recorded on 16 November 1917 Venizelos spoke (in English) on the inevitable victory of the might of the British Empire when pitted against the Central Powers as led by Germany.  The Germans, he said, were doomed to lose the war.

Venizelos' wartime experience was itself eventful.  Regarded today as perhaps the greatest Greek statesman of modern times Venizelos was Prime Minister when war broke out in Europe in August 1914.  Whereas Greek King Constantine's sympathies lay with Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II - he was Wilhelm's brother-in-law - Venizelos foresaw that Greek interests were best served by an Allied victory given the latter's dominance of the Mediterranean.

Officially a neutral country Venizelos favoured a Greek declaration in favour of the Allies specifically with regard to the (ultimately disastrous) Allied Dardanelles campaign.  Finding Constantine unmoveable Venizelos resigned in March 1915 and was promptly re-elected by a landslide three months later (although Constantine effectively sat on the result for two months before confirming it).

Venizelos was nevertheless forced from office by the King in short order, prompting Venizelos to provocatively establish a provisional government based in Thessalonica.  Constantine was outraged by Venizelos' actions - particularly as his provisional government gained recognition from the Allies; but the popular tide was in Venizelos' favour.  With the latter actively preparing to march upon Athens in the summer of 1917 Constantine reluctantly abdicated.

With the King out of the way Venizelos returned to office and formally abandoned Greece's policy of neutrality and declared for the Allies.

Use the player above to listen to Venizelos' 16 November 1917 speech.

"Eggs-a-cook" were boiled eggs sold by Arab street vendors. It was later used by Anzac soldiers when going over the top.

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