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In the beginning of 1944, Papadopoulos left Greece with the help of British intelligence agents and went to Egypt, where the Greek government-in-exile was based, where he received the rank of Lieutenant.
Along with other right-wing military officers, he participated in the creation of the nationalist right-wing secret IDEA organization, in the fall of 1944, shortly after the country's liberation.
In Greece even today the words "21η Απριλίου 1967", translated as 21 April 1967, are still synonymous with the word "πραξικόπημα" that translates as coup d'état.
From the early stages Papadopoulos emerged as the strong man of the new regime.
Papadopoulos was born in Elaiohori, a small village in the Prefecture of Achaea in Peloponnese to local school teacher Christos Papadopoulos and his wife Chrysoula.
He was the eldest son and had two brothers, Konstantinos and Haralambos.
Papadopoulos attempted to re-engineer the Greek political landscape by coup.
The "Patras Food Supply Office" was run under the command of Colonel Kourkoulakos, an officer who was responsible for the formation of the "Security Battalions" in Patras.
These battalions were collaborationist military units, created by the Greek puppet government of Ioannis Rallis in 1943 in order to support the German occupation troops.
He arrested two soldiers under his command and eight leftist civilians from settlements near his military camp, under the charges that they had conspired to sabotage army vehicles by pouring sugar into the vehicles' gas tanks.
The ten people were imprisoned and tortured, but eventually it was proven that Papadopoulos himself had sabotaged the vehicles.
They were supported by the extreme right and pro-Nazis, and also by some centrist politicians who were concerned about the dominance of ELAS (the military arm of the communist-dominated National Liberation Front EAM) as the main body of the Greek resistance.