Eleftherios Venizelos

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I had to decide whether I would be a lawyer by profession and a revolutionary at intervals, or a revolutionary by profession and a lawyer at intervals.

Elefthérios Kyriákou Venizélos (23 August 186418 March 1936) was a Greek politician. He was Prime Minister of Greece during 1910-15, 1917-20 and 1928-32.


A party should be founded not merely on numbers, but on moral principles.
Greece expects you not merely to die for her; she expects you to conquer.
I shall fight them!
When he is with me, I confess that his arguments are so convincing that I quickly begin to imagine that they are my own. ~ King Constantine I
All my life with all my heart I wanted the union of Crete and Greece.
  • A party should be founded not merely on numbers, but on moral principles, without which it can neither accomplish useful work nor inspire confidence.
  • Neutrality is not politics.
    • Eleftherios Venizelos in:. Histoire diplomatique de la Grèce de 1821 à nos jours. tome V, Edouard Driault et Michel Lheritier, éd. PUF, 1926, p. 164; Venizelos about the decision of Constantine I to keep Greece neutral during WWI.
  • Greece expects you not merely to die for her, for that is little, indeed; she expects you to conquer. That is why each one of you, even in dying, should be possessed by one thought alone – how to conserve your strength to the last so that those who survive may conquer.
    And you will conquer, I am more than sure of this.
  • The European policy is invariably the maintenance of the status quo, and you will do nothing for the subject races unless we, by taking initiative, make you realize that helping us against the Turks is the lesser of the evils.
  • England in all her wars has always gained one battle - the last!
    • The World Crisis, The Aftermath : Chapter XVIII (Greek Tragedy), Churchill, Butterworth (1929), p. 381.
  • All my life with all my heart I wanted the union of Crete and Greece. I wanted it to be sustained by profound mutual affection. I swear that was my only desire...Greece will never see me again.

Victory of Venizelos (1920)[edit]

Eleftherios Venizelos in: Seligman, V. J. (1920). Victory of Venizelos. 

  • One cannot kick against geography!
    • p. 31 ; Part of Venizelos' arguments with king Constantine why Greece should join with the Allies in the World War I.
  • Of course the King is mistaken. But is natural that he should be frighten of taking the plunge. We have lost a great opportunity by not intervening at once. But later the King may change his mind, and it may be not too late.
    • p. 176 ; After one of the many attempts of Venizelos to persuade King Constantine, that Greece should join the Allies in the World War I.
  • I shall fight them!
    • p. 178 ; In reply to the question, "What if you find German troops barring the way?" from the pro-German Greek MP Theotokis in the House. Later, Venizelos was dismissed from office.
  • I do not wish to depreciate his great gifts and attainments in a country which unfortunately, if I may say so without offense, is suffering from a temporary lack of leading men."
    • p. 165; In discussing the responsibility of Zaimis, Venizelos himself remarked in the Greek Chamber.

Quotes about[edit]

  • I am not going to talk of the grandeur of the Acropolis, nor do I intend to torment you with a lecture on archaeology. I have been to see strange and picturesque lands, among them Crete. You will never guess, though, my most interesting discovery in the island, one more interesting by far than the splendours of the excavations. I will tell you. A young advocate, a M. Venezuelos . . . Venizelos? Frankly, I cannot quite recall his name, but the whole of Europe will be speaking of him in a few years.
  • When the two of us are alone and we disagree, Venizelos never convinces me! If we are three of us, I begin to waver. The moment he address several people, at cabinet meeting for instance, it often happens that I am carried away too, along with the others!
    • Kitromilides, P. (2006). Eleftherios Venizelos: The Trials of Statesmanship. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748624783. , p. 175 ; Minister Georgios Steit describing the persuasiveness ability of Venizelos.
  • More dangerously, the past held the promise of a reborn Greek empire. Eleutherios Venizelos, the leading Greek statesman at the time of World War I, once gathered his friends around a map and drew the outlines of the ancient Greece, at the height of its influence, across the modern borders. His outline included most of modern Turkey, a good part of Albania, and most of the islands of the eastern Mediterranean. (He could have but did not also include parts of Italy.) Under the influence of that great (megali) idea, he sent Greek soldiers to Asia Minor in 1919 to stake out Greece’s claims. The result was a catastrophe for the Greek armies and for all those innocent Greeks who had lived for generations in what became modern Turkey. As 'the resurgent Turkish armies under Kemal Atattirk pressed the Greek forces back, hundreds of thousands of bewildered refugees, many ofwhom barely knew Greek, followed them. In turn, huge numbers of Turks, many distinguished from their Greek neighbours only by their religion, abandoned their homes and villages for Turkey. The events of those years have in turn become part of history and have poisoned relations between Greece and Turkey up to the present.
  • Venizelos and Lenin are the only two really great men in Europe.
  • Merely the fact that his name has been so dominant among all citizens of this country - with his supporters known as Venizelists and his opponents as anti-Venizelists - testifies to the significance of the deceased and the role he played.
    • Mathiopoulos, Basil P (28/10/2005). A fitting tribute to Venizelos. Athens News.
    • On March 1936, Ioannis Metaxas, an opponent of Venizelos, speaking at a special session of parliament convened to honour Eleftherios Venizelos' contribution.

External links[edit]

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