London: British Official Photograph, Crown Copyright Reserved, supplied by BIPPA, 16 February 1945. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden arriving in Athens on 14 February 1945, just after the final conference with Roosevelt and Stalin and the signing of the Treaty of Varkiza. The gelatin silver print on glossy photo paper measures 6 x 8.125 inches (15.2 x 20.7 cm). Condition is very good minus. The paper is clean and crisp with some light wear to the edges and corners and some scuffing and horizontal cracking to the photo surface visible only under raking light.
The verso bears a copyright stamp reading “Crown Copyright Reserved supplied by Bippa”, a received stamp dated 16 FEB 1945, and a typed caption indicating that this is a British Official Photograph. The typed caption stipulates “FOR FIRST PUBLICATION EVENING PAPRSFRIDAY. [sic] FEBRUARY 15th”. The caption reads, “Mr. Churchill, accompanied by his daughter Sarah (Mrs Oliver) (in felt hat) Field Marshal Alexander, Mr. Eden and Foreign Office officials, landed at an airport near Athens recently. The party was met at the airfield by Lt. General Scobie, Major Churchill, the Rt. Hon H. Macmillan, Mr. Leeper, and others. Mr Churchill was driven straight to the Regency and then he and the Regent drove to the Old Palace in Constitution Square, where the Regent, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden spoke to the assembled crowd through loudspeakers. The crowd was enthusiastic and gave the visitors a tremendous welcome. PPicture [sic] shows. The Prime Minister being greeted on arrival at the Old Palace.”
When Churchill and Eden arrived in Athens on 14 February 1945 the Three Powers Yalta Conference (7-11 February) had just ended. The Yalta Conference, also known as The Crimea Conference, was held at the Livadia Palace near Yalta in the Crimea. This conference proved to be one of the geopolitically defining events of the 20th Century, fundamentally shaping the postwar world and drawing the battle lines of the long Cold War to come. The conference was marked by fundamentally different attitudes toward Stalin on the part of Churchill and Roosevelt. Roosevelt - terminally ill and trusting - viewed massive concessions to Stalin as a hopeful path to lasting peace. By contrast, Churchill deeply distrusted Stalin's character and motivations, but had little power to resist the tide of Roosevelt's accommodations and optimism.
This conference substantially determined postwar organization of Europe. Greece would occupy the early front lines of the struggle for postwar control. On 12 February the Treaty of Varkiza was signed in Greece, disarming communist-backed guerrilla forces and bringing a temporary end to warfare in recently liberated Greece. This consequently ended the violent skirmishes in Greece between the British army who backed the Greek government-in-exile and the communist bands that had gained majority control of the government following the German evacuation. After Yalta, Churchill journeyed to Greece, arriving in Athens on 14 February to rapturous approbation – perhaps owing in part to his aggressive advocacy for disastrously unsuccessful British military support for Greece during the war. On the day this image was captured, Churchill addressed an enormous crowd; Harold Macmillan estimated 40,000, and Churchill wrote to Clementine that he had never seen a crowd of that size. His speech was one of characteristic Churchillian exhortation to courage and perseverance, “Let right prevail. Let party hatreds die. Let there be unity, let there be resolute comradeship.” (Gilbert, Vol. VII, p.1221) Churchill’s plea went unheeded. Echoing the broader failures of the postwar peace, the Treaty of Varkiza did not hold. The Greek Civil War that followed (1946-1949) is widely regarded as the first proxy conflict of the Cold War. Item #005211