Prodromos Bodosakis-Athanasiadis [Πρόδρομος Μποδοσάκης Αθανασιάδης] was one of Metaxas’ best friends and of the most important figures in 20th century Greek industrial history. He created an immense industrial empire with weapons factories, mines and plants in diverse branches of industry in the 1930s.
Born to an ethnic Greek family in the region of Bor, Cappadocia, Asia Minor in 1890, Prodromos migrated to Greece after the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). A very smart brain, since 1934 he controlled Pyrkal, one of the oldest Greek defence industries.
Bodosakis and Metaxas were introduced in early 1934 by Emmanouel Tsouderos, then Governor of the Bank of Greece. The two met at the offices of the Greek telephone company and discussed the possibility of Bodosakis employing Metaxas’ son-in-law, Georgios Mantzoufas. Shortly thereafter, Mantzoufas was effectively employed by Bodosakis.
In 1935, Bodosakis began to back financially Metaxas’ political career. When the latter came to power on August 1936, he allegedly asked Bodosakis how he could repay him for his support, and Bodosakis in turn asked for the government’s backing to expand the GPCC.
Bodosakis requested that the government appoint him as managing director of the State-owned Greek Powder and Cartridge Company (GPCC), one of the biggest producer of ammunition, explosives and weaponry in the country. The company was also known as the “Poudrerie et Cartoucherie Hellenique” (PCH) in French. Because of Bodosakis’ business experience, Metaxas agreed.
Later that month, Bodosakis went to Paris and secured a contract to supply five million cartridges for the 7 mm calibre rifles needed by the Spanish Republic. These contracts marked the beginning of a trade relationship that played a significant role in the Spanish conflict (selling to both Republican and Nationalist factions) and resulted in arms sales becoming Greece’s largest industry and the country’s second largest export, following tobacco, in the late 1930s.
Spain was not the only market for the GPCC; in fact the company also sell in the late 1930s to Chiang Kai-shek’s forces in the Chinese Civil War, to Palestine in the Arab Revolt, and to Turkey. Bodosakis was quickly labeled as the new ‘Basil Zaharoff’ by Greek and foreign presses because of his involvement in the arms trade.
Bodosakis, the GPCC and the armamentistic industry in Greece also played a significant contribution to the Greek effort during the Greco-Italian War, which Greece eventually won.
Bodosakis died in 1979.
– Andreas Markessinis
*Sir Basil Zaharoff, also known Basileis Zacharias. Zaharoff was an independent arms dealer of Greek origin who gained his reputation by working for Vickers from 1897 to 1927. During his career he sold weapons to the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Greece, Spain, Japan, and the United States. Towards the end of his career he donated a substantial amount of money to the Greek state and was knighted in Britain. He died in Monaco in November 1936 at the age of 87.