Dimitrios Gounaris ( )
(January 5, 1866 in Patras - November
15, 1922 in Athens) was the
Prime Minister of
Greece from March 10, 1915 to August 23, 1915 and April 8, 1921
to May 16, 1922.
Leader of the People's Party
, he was the main
opponent of his
law in Athens University and
continued his studies in Germany, France and England, before
returning to his native Patras.
elected deputy for Achaea in 1902 and
distinguished himself as an orator and a member of the so-called
"Japanese Group" that opposed the
Georgios Theotokis government in
1906 - 1908.
Gounaris himself, however, joined the
government in 1908 as Finance Minister, hoping to implement a
reformist program, thereby causing the dissolution of the group,
although he was soon forced to resign. Despite his progressive
views (he was an admirer of the Bismarck
German social laws), his
conservative political thinking turned him into a leading opponent
of Eleftherios Venizelos
was appointed Prime
after Venizelos' first resignation in 1915 by King Constantine I
. For his
anti-Venizelist role he was exiled with other prominent
anti-Venizelists to Corsica in 1917
after Venizelos' return to power in Athens.
to escape to Italy in 1918, but
was able to return to Greece only in 1920, as to partake in the
crucial November elections as the de facto leader of the
"United Opposition", amidst the ongoing Asia Minor
After Venizelos' defeat, he controlled most deputies in the
parliament, and was the main driving force of the following
royalist governments, but himself only assumed the office of Prime
Minister in April 1921. Despite his pre-electoral promises over a
withdrawal from Asia
Minor, unable to find a way for an 'honourable'
extrication, he continued the war against Turkey.
Although he was willing to compromise with the Turks, as he showed
in the London talks in early 1921, in order to step up pressure on
Turks, he agreed to the launch
of the Greek offensive of March 1921. The Greek Army was not
prepared, and the attack was repulsed in the Second Battle of
, resulting in the first Greek defeat in the Asia Minor Campaign
successful Greek advance towards Eskişehir and Afyon in July, he
urged the continuation of the advance towards Ankara, which was
however stopped in the Battle of
Sakarya. After the Greeks retreated to form a new
front, he appealed to the Allies, and especially Great Britain, for assistance and mediation.
threatened the British with unilateral withdrawal, his government
maintained the Greek Army's positions, not being able to shoulder
the political cost of abandoning Asia Minor and the many Greeks
living there to Turkish reprisals. The deepening political crisis
caused the fall of Gounaris' government in May 1922, after
marginally surviving a vote of confidence, but the predominance of
his followers in the National Assembly meant that he only exchanged
the post of Prime Minister with that of Justice Minister in the
government of Petros
After the disaster of August 1922 and the rout of the Greeks by
's forces, the
remnants of the Greek Army revolted in September, and the
government was deposed. The predominantly Venizelist
rebels, under the leadership of
Colonel Nikolaos Plastiras
formed a military tribunal to try those that were considered as
responsible for the catastrophe. The so-called "Trial of the Six
", convened in November
1922, found the defendants, Gounaris among them, guilty of treason.
executed along with the others at Goudi on the same
day of the verdict, on November 28.
Although he undoubtedly
bears a measure of responsibility for the military and diplomatic
actions that led to the Asia Minor
, his trial and execution are widely perceived to be
more an act of scapegoating
in order to
vent the anger of the people, as well as being mostly motivated by
the hatred of the Venizelist faction towards him.