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General Pangalos (1920)

Theodoros Pangalos (Greek: Θεόδωρος Πάγκαλος) (11 January 1878 – 26 February 1952) was a Greek general who briefly served as the second President of the Second Hellenic Republic in 1926.


Early career

Pangalos was born on the island of Salamis.His mother was descendant of the local Arvanitis fighter of the Revolution Giannakis Meletis[Hatzimeletis], while his paternal side came from an aristocratic family of Kea island. He graduated first in his class from the Hellenic Army Officer Cadet Academy (Scholi Evelpidon) in 1900 and continued his studies in Paris, France. In 1916 he supported Eleftherios Venizelos in his struggle against King Constantine I, and was rewarded with a senior position in the War Ministry. He participated in the Asia Minor Campaign in senior staff positions, but was demoted after Constantine returned to power in 1920. In 1922, Pangalos supported the coup d'etat by Nikolaos Plastiras which abolished the monarchy and declared the Second Hellenic Republic, and was made War Minister. His first job was to prosecute a number of prominent pro-monarchist government leaders by military court in what became known as the Trial of the Six, which resulted in six executions; he then rushed to Thessaloniki, from where he successfully reorganized the Greek army in Macedonia and Thrace, as the war with Turkey was not over, and an attack in the region was feared to be imminent. The reorganization was so successful that the Greek High Command prepared for a possible advance into Eastern Thrace in the face of the Turkish demands in the Lausanne peace talks. A sudden reversal of the Turks in April preempted the new war, and the Treaty of Lausanne was signed.

A staunch nationalist, Pangalos objected to the terms of the treaty, and declared that his troops would attack Turkey nonetheless in order to block the deal. He was forced to resign, but his stance made him popular with the many segments of Greek society that objected to the treaty. During the period of political instability that followed, Pangalos jumped into the fray, gaining and losing a number of ministerial positions as governments came and went.

In power

On June 24, 1925, officers loyal to Pangalos, fearing that the political instability was putting the country at risk, overthrew the government in a coup. Pangalos immediately abolished the young republic and began to prosecute anyone who could possibly challenge his authority, including his old chief, Plastiras. Freedom of the press was abolished, and a number of repressive laws were enacted (including a law dictating the length of women's skirts - no more than 30 cm above the ground), while Pangalos awarded himself the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer. Pangalos declared himself dictator on 3 January 1926 and had himself elected president in April 1926. On the economic front Pangalos attempted to devalue the currency by ordering paper notes cut in half. His political and diplomatic inability however became soon apparent. He conceded too many rights to Yugoslav commerce in Thessaloniki, but worst of all, he embroiled Greece in the so-called War of the Stray Dog, harming Greece's already strained international relations.

Soon, many of the officers that had helped him come to power decided that he had to be removed. On 24 August 1926, a counter-coup deposed him, and Pavlos Kountouriotis returned as president.

After his rule

In 1930, Pangalos was sent to prison for a building scandal. He remained in prison for two years and was released during a period when a number of amnesties were given by Venizélos. He never regained the popular support he had before the coup, and never again played a role in Greek politics. He was accused of collaboration with the Germans and Italians in World War II, but these claims were never substantiated. He unsuccessfully ran for parliament in 1950 and died in Kifissia two years later.

His grandson, also named Theodoros Pangalos, is currently the Deputy Prime Minister of Greece. He is a member of the PASOK socialist party.

In popular culture

Theodoros Pangalos is mentioned in the song Stin epohi tou Pangalou (In the times of Pangalos, Greek: Στην εποχή του Πάγκαλου) by Giorgos Mitsakis, originally sung by George Dalaras.

Preceded by
Andreas Michalakopoulos
Prime Minister of Greece
June 25, 1925 - July 19, 1926
Succeeded by
Athanasios Eftaxias
Preceded by
Pavlos Kountouriotis
President of Greece
March 15, 1926 - August 24, 1926
Succeeded by
Pavlos Kountouriotis


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