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National Youth Organization (Greece, 1936-1941)

Ethniki Organosis Neolaeas - EON

Last modified: 2012-02-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: metaxas | ethniki organosis neolaeas | national youth organzation | eon |
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History of National Youth Organization

Ethniki Organosis Neolaeas (EON) was not a fascist political grouping. The name means National Youth Organisation and it was set up by the Greek government under General Ioannis Metaxas (1871-1941). Metaxas was voted to the premiership by a Greek parliament in 1936 but dissolved that same parliament on 4 August 1936 with the King's consent and from then on ruled by decree. His regime followed a pro-British foreign policy and eventually resisted the Italian attack of 1940.

The government set up by the Germans after they occupied Greece in April 1941, took some controversial measures aimed at boosting its popularity. One was abolishing the monarchy (the King and the royal family had fled abroad anyway). Another was dissolving the EON which had grown a very nasty reputation for swindles etc. since a lot of money had been poured into it by the previous regime. EON's flag died with it.

Yannis Natsinas, 12 November 2000

Free elections in January 1936 produced a deadlock: 15 Communists held the balance between 143 Monarchists and 142 Liberals, Republicans and Agrarians. On the death of prime minister Demertzig in April 1936, General John Metaxas obtained the consent of the Chamber to an adjournment for five months, governing meanwhile by decree. He met with obstruction from the political parties, and the Communist Party became stronger, and threatened a national strike, which was an excuse to convince the King that constitutional monarchy was impossible in Greece and to get his consent to decrees dissolving the Chamber and declaring martial law (4 August 1936). No date for new elections was fixed, and constitutional guarantees of liberty of the subject were suspended.

Source: W. H. Heurtley et al. (1965) A short history of Greece.

Jarig Bakker, 21 September 2000

Flag of National Youth Organization

Before the war an extreme right-wing and 'patriotic' movement, the EON (Ethniki Organosis Neolaeas - National Youth Organization) had been formed by Alexandro Kanellopoulos. It was subdivided into two age groups:

  • Scaponfs (Pioneers): young people of 10 to 13 years
  • Phalangites (Falangists): young people of 14 to 25 years.

The EON wore a blue uniform of forage cap, blouse-type shirt, and ski trousers with a white tie, white spats, and a white belt. The shoulder straps and the flaps of the brest pockets were piped in blue/white.
The EON emblem was a Greek double headed axe not unlike the francisque of Pétain in France within a wreath of laurel leaves surmounted by a crown. Oddly enough, this crown did not disappear with the supposed 'abdication' of the king as id did from army insignia [but see below].

The EON flag was a white cross on blue (like the upper left quarter of the Greek national flag) with, in the center, the axe head within a wreath of green laurels.

Source: David Littlejohn. Forgotten Legions of the Third Reich, vol. III.

The cross on the EON flag is wider than the one on the jack and is centered on the flag.

Markus Wendel, 21 September 2000

In outlook, EON was often pro-fascist and that is why it set up a youth organisation on the Italian or German model. Hence the choice of the axe as emblem I suppose, although it is also an ancient Greek emblem.
EON originally came in conflict with the Greek Scouts whose leader was Crown Prince Paul (later King Paul I). Eventually, the scouts were dissolved and Paul become nominal head of the EON. Perhaps that is one reason for the crown over the axe, although I think that was there before Paul became head of EON. EON did not survive the German occupation, so the question of why the crown was not removed after 1941 is mistaken. There was no flag to remove the crown from, after 1941.

Yannis Natsinas, 12 November 2000

The flag of National Youth Organization - that is, its replica made at present time - was recently added to the offer of Lonhi, the webshop of Greek extreme-right. There are other items charged with the emblem of this organization (like caps or T-shirts) offered for sale there, so it looks like a campaign of popularization of national (not imported) extreme-right symbols.

Tomislav Todorović, 15 March 2008