Greek military junta of 1967-1974

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The Phoenix and the silhouette of the soldier bearing a rifle with fixed bayonet was the emblem of the Junta. On the header the word Greece and on the footer the words 21 April can be seen in Greek.

The Greek military junta of 1967-1974 or alternatively called "The Regime of the Colonels" (το καθεστώς των Συνταγματαρχών) or in Greece "The Junta" (η Χούντα) is a collective term to refer to a series of right-wing military governments that ruled Greece from 1967-1974.

The rule by the military started in the morning of April 21, 1967 with a coup d'état led by a group of colonels of the military of Greece, and ended in August, 1974.


[edit] History of the Junta

[edit] Background

The 1967 coup and the following seven years of military rule were the epitome of 30 years of national division between the forces of the Left and the Right that can be traced to the time of the resistance against Axis occupation of Greece during WWII. After the liberation in 1945 Greece was plunged into a civil war between the forces of the Communist-led Greek resistance and the now returned government-in-exile.

[edit] American influence in Greece

The civil war ended with the military defeat of the Left in 1949. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was outlawed and many Communists had to either flee the country or face persecution. The CIA and the Greek military reconfirmed their mutual cooperation, especially after Greece joined NATO in 1952. In particular, the newly-founded KYP (the Greek Central Intelligence Service) and the LOK Special Forces (later actively involved in the 1967 coup) maintained a very close liaison with their American counterparts. In addition to preparing for a Soviet invasion, they agreed to guard against a leftist coup. The LOK in particular were integrated into the Gladio European stay-behind network.

The junta principals. Left to right: Pattakos, Papadopoulos and Makarezos

During the Cold War, Greece was a vital link in the NATO defense arc which extended from the eastern border of Iran to the northmost point in Norway. In 1947, the United States formulated the Truman Doctrine, and began to actively support a series of authoritarian governments in Greece, Turkey and Iran in order to ensure that these states did not fall under Soviet influence. Greece in particular was seen as being in risk, having experienced a Communist insurgency.

[edit] The Apostasia and Political Instability

Main article: Apostasia of 1965

By the early 1960s, the government was still at the hands of conservatives, but there were signs of liberalization. In 1963, the assassination of EDA MP Gregoris Lambrakis, the resignation of Constantine Karamanlis, and the election of centrist George Papandreou, Sr. as Prime Minister were signs of rapid change. In a bid to gain more control over the country's government than what his limited constitutional powers allowed, the young and inexperienced King Constantine II clashed with liberal reformers, dismissing Papandreou in 1965, causing a constitutional crisis.

The term Apostasia of 1965 (Αποστασία του 1965) or Iouliana (Ιουλιανά) refers to the group of George Papandreou's dissidents, led by the politician Konstantinos Mitsotakis, then also member of the Center Union, who crossed the floor to bring about the fall of his legally elected government in favour of the formerly King. Constantine II made several attempts to form governments - ghosts, but none of them lasted for long. He appointed President of the Parliament Georgios Athanasiadis-Novas as Prime Minister. Athanasiadis-Novas was followed by many Center Union's dissidents and conservative ERE MPs, but not enough to gain a vote of confidence in parliament. He was replaced on August 20 of the same year by Ilias Tsirimokos with similar effects. Failing to gain a vote of confidence, Tsirimokos was dismissed on September 17.

Constantine II next induced some of Papandreou's dissidents, led by Stephanos Stephanopoulos, to form a government of "King's men," which lasted until December 22, 1966, amid mounting strikes and protests by Papandreou's supporters, the Greek democrats and the left-wing. When Stephanopoulos resigned in frustration, Constantine appointed an interim government under Ioannis Paraskevopoulos, which called elections for May 1967. This government did not even last until the scheduled elections. Replaced on April 3, 1967, by another interim government under Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Kanellopoulos being the active leader of the National Radical Union and still supposed to organize a fair election in May.

New elections were scheduled (for May 28, 1967), and there were many indications that Papandreou's Center Union Party (EK) would not be able to form a working government by itself. There was a strong possibility that the EK party (or even the conservative ERE party) would be forced into an alliance with socialist EDA (EΔΑ) party, which was suspected by conservatives to be a proxy for the banned Communist Party of Greece (and not totally without cause; while EDA was by no means Communist, the Communist Party had decided to support EDA in the election in hopes for further reforms).

Some politicians adhering to the ERE party feared the prospect of a constitutional deviation to be instigated by leftist members of the Center Union such as Andreas Papandreou and Spyros Katsotas. One such politician, George Rallis, has recounted he had proposed that, in case of such an "anomaly", the King waged martial law, as the monarchist constitution afforded him. According to Rallis, Constantine was receptive to the idea.<ref name="Rallis">Alexis Papachelas, 'Everything George Rallis recounted to me", TO BHMA, March 19, 2006</ref>.

Greek historiography and the press[1] also hypothesize about a "Generals' Coup", i.e. a coup that would have been deployed at the behest of the palace[2] under the pretext of communist subversion.<ref name="C. L. Sulzberger">C.L. Sulzberger, "An Age of Mediocrity", 1973, p. 575.</ref> As it turned out, the constitutional deviation originated neither amongst the political parties, nor from the Palace, but from middle-rank army putschists. When tanks rolled into Athens, on April 21, the legitimate ERE government, of which Rallis was a member, asked king Constantine to immediately mobilise the state against the coup; he declined to do so, and swore in the Dictators as legitimate government of Greece, while asserting that he was "certain they had acted in order to save the country". Eight months later, Constantine took part in a failed counter-coup, and fled the country to Italy. He never attempted to set-up a political government-in-exile of any sort while residing in Rome, thus leaving the Dictatorship as the sole rulers of Greece.

In 1966 Constantine II of Greece sent his envoy Demetrios Bitsios to Paris on mission to convince Constantine Karamanlis to return to Greece and resume a role in Greek politics. According to uncorroborated claims made by the former monarch only in 2006, after both men had died, Karamanlis replied to Bitsios that he would return under the condition that the King were to wage martial law, as was his constitutional prerogative. <ref name="Konstantinos speaks">Alexis Papachelas, "Constantine Speaks", TO BHMA, January 29, 2006.</ref>

U.S. journalist Cyrus L. Sulzberger has separately claimed that Karamanlis flew to New York to lobby U.S. support from Lauris Norstad for a coup d'état in Greece that would establish a strong conservative regime under himself; Sulzberger alleges that Norstad declined to involve himself in such affairs. <ref name="C. L. Sulzberger">C.L. Sulzberger, "Postscript with a Chinese Accent," Publisher MACMILLAN PUBLISHING CO, 1974, p. 277.</ref> Sulzberger's account, which unlike that of the former King was delivered during the lifetime of those implicated (Karamanlis and Norstad), rested solely on the authority of his and Norstad's word. When in 1997 the former King reiterated Sulzberger's allegations, Karamanlis stated that he "will not deal with the former king's statements because both their content and attitude are unworthy of commentation." [3] The deposed King's adoption of Sulzberger's claims against Karamanlis was castigated by left-leaning media, typically critical of Karamanlis, as "shameless" and "brazen" [4]. It bears noting that, at the time, the former King referred exclusively to Sulzberger's account, to support the theory of a planned coup by Karamanlis, and made no mention of the alleged 1966 meeting with Bitsios, which he would refer to only after both participants had died and could not respond.

[edit] The coup d'état of April 21

The junta members.

On April 21, 1967, (just weeks before the scheduled elections), a group of right-wing army officers led by Brigadier Stylianos Pattakos (Στυλιανός Παττακός) and Colonels George Papadopoulos (Γεώργιος Παπαδόπουλος) and Nikolaos Makarezos (Νικόλαος Μακαρέζος) seized power in a coup d'etat (πραξικόπημα). The colonels were able to quickly seize power by using surprise and confusion. Pattakos was commander of the Armour Training Centre (Κέντρο Εκπαίδευσης Τεθωρακισμένων - ΚΕΤΘ/ Kentro Ekpaideusis Tethorakismenon -KETTH), based in Athens. The confederates placed tanks in strategic positions of Athens, effectively gaining complete control of the city. At the same time, a large number of small mobile units were dispatched to arrest leading politicians and authority figures, as well as many ordinary citizens suspected of left-wing sympathies. One of the first to be arrested was Lieutenant General George Spantidakis, Commander in Chief of the Greek Army.

The conspirators were known to Spantidakis. Indeed, he was instrumental in bringing some of them to Athens, to use in a coup he and other leading Army generals had been planning, in an attempt to prevent George Papandreou's victory in the upcoming election and the Communist takeover that would, supposedly, follow it. The colonels succeeded in persuading Spantidakis to join them and he issued orders activating an action plan (the "Prometheus" plan) that had been previously drafted as a response for a hypothetical Communist uprising (see Operation Gladio). Under the command of paratrooper Lieutenant Colonel Costas Aslanides, the LOK (see above) took control of the Greek Defence Ministry while Brigadier General Stylianos Pattakos gained control over communication centers, the parliament, the royal palace, and according to detailed lists, arrested over 10,000 people. Since orders came from a legal source, commanders and units not involved in the conspiracy automatically obeyed them. Many of the arrested were held during the first days in "Ippodromos" (a stadium for horse racing by the sea) and some of them (Panayotis Elis one of them) were executed in cold blood by young army officers.

By the early morning hours the whole of Greece was in the hands of the colonels. All leading politicians, including acting Prime Minister Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, had been arrested and were held incommunicado by the conspirators. Phillips Talbot, the US ambassador in Athens, disapproved of the military coup, complaining that it represented "A rape of democracy" - to which Jack Maury, the CIA chief of station in Athens, answered, "How can you rape a whore?" [5] The Papadopoulos junta attempted to re-engineer the Greek political landscape by coup.

[edit] The role of the King

The three plot leaders visited King Constantine II in his residence in Tatoi, also surrounded by tanks effectively preventing any form of resistance. The King wrangled with the colonels and initially dismissed them, ordering them to return with Spantidakis. Later in the day he took it upon himself to go the Ministry of National Defence, North of Athens city centre, where all plotters were gathered. The King had a discussion with Kanellopoulos, held there, and with leading generals. None could be of much help, since Kanellopoulos was a prisoner whilst the generals had no real power, as was evident from the shouting of lower and middle-ranking officers, refusing to obey orders and clamouring for a new government under Spantidakis. [citation needed] The King finally relented and decided to co-operate, claiming to this day that he was isolated and did not know what else to do.

King Konstantinos II surrounded by the junta Government at the swearing-in Ceremony of the Dictators.

His excuse has been that he was trying to gain time to organise a counter-coup and oust the junta. He did organise such a counter-coup; however, the fact that the new government had a legal origin, in that it had been appointed by the legitimate head of state, played an important role in the coup's success. The King was later to regret bitterly his decision. For many Greeks, it served to identify him indelibly with the coup and certainly played an important role in the final decision to abolish the monarchy, sanctioned by the 1974 referendum.

The only concession the King could achieve was to appoint a civilian as Premier rather than Spantidakis. Constantine Kollias a former Attorney General of the Areios Pagos, the highest court in Greece, was chosen. He was a well-known royalist and had even been disciplined under the Papandreou government for meddling in the investigation on the murder of Gregoris Lambrakis. Kollias was little more than a figurehead and real power rested with the army, and especially Papadopoulos, who was emerging as the coup's strong man and became Minister of Defence and Minister of the Government's Presidency. Other coup members occupied key posts. Up until then constitutional legitimacy had been prevented, since under the then-Greek Constitution the King could appoint whomever he wanted as Premier, as long as Parliament granted a vote of confidence or a general election was called.

It was this government, sworn-in in the early evening hours of April 21, that formalised the coup, by adopting a "Constituent Act", an amendment tantamount to a revolution, cancelling the elections and effectively abolishing the constitution, to be replaced by one to be drawn up later. In the meantime, the government was to rule by decree. Since traditionally such Constituent Acts did not need to be signed by the Crown, the King never signed it, permitting him to claim, years later, that he had never signed any document instituting the junta. Critics claim that Constantine II did nothing to prevent the government (and especially his chosen Premier Kollias) from legally instituting the authoritarian government to come.

This same government formally published and enforced a decree instituting military law already proclaimed by radio during the coup's development. Constantine claimed he never signed that decree either.

[edit] The King's Counter-Coup

From the outset, the relationship between King Constantine II and the Colonels was an uneasy one. The colonels were not willing to share power with anyone, whereas the young King, like his father before him, was used to playing an active role in politics and would never consent to being a mere figurehead, especially in a military administration. Although the colonels' strong anti-communist, pro-NATO and pro-Western views appealed to the United States, fearful of domestic and international public opinion, President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson told Constantine, in a visit to Washington, D.C. in early autumn of 1967, that it would be best to replace that government with another one. [citation needed] Constantine took that as an encouragement to organise a counter-coup and it was probably meant as one, although no direct help or involvement of the US was forthcoming.

The former King Constantine of Greece shaking the hand of George Papadopoulos. On the left a smiling Pattakos.

The King finally decided to launch his counter-coup on December 13, 1967. Since Athens was effectively in the hands of the junta militarily, Constantine decided to fly to the small northern city of Kavala, East of Thessaloniki. There he hoped to be among troops loyal only to him. The vague plan he and his advisors had conceived was to form a unit that would advance to Thessaloniki (Greece's second biggest city and unofficial capital of northern Greece) and take it. Constantine planned to install an alternative administration there. International recognition, which he believed to be forthcoming, as well as internal pressure from the fact that Greece would have been split in two governments would, the King hoped, force the junta to resign, leaving the field clear for him to return triumphant to Athens.

In the early morning hours of December 13 the King boarded the royal plane together with Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, their two baby children Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, his mother Frederika of Hanover and his sister, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark. Constantine also took with him Premier Kollias. At first things seemed to be going according to plan. Constantine was well received in Kavala which, militarily, was under the command of a general loyal to him. The air force and navy, both strongly royalist and not involved in the 1967 coup, immediately declared for him and mobilised. Another of Constantine's generals effectively cut all communication between Athens and the North.

However, the King's plans were overly bureaucratic, naïvely supposing that orders from a commanding General would automatically be followed. Further, the King was obsessive about avoiding "bloodshed" even where the junta would be the attacker. Instead of attempting to drum up the widest popular support, hoping for spontaneous pro-democracy risings in most towns, the King preferred to let his Generals put together the necessary force for advancing on Thessaloniki in strict compliance with military bureaucracy [citation needed]. The King made no attempt to contact politicians, even local ones, and even took care to include in his proclamation a paragraph condemning communism, lest anyone should get the wrong idea.

In the circumstances, rather than the King managing to put together a force and advancing on Thessaloniki, middle-ranking pro-junta officers neutralised and arrested his royalist generals and took command of their units, which subsequently put together a force advancing on Kavala to arrest the King. The junta, not at all shaken by the loss of their figurehead premier, ridiculed the King by announcing the he was hiding "from village to village". Realising that the counter coup had failed, Constantine fled Greece on board the royal plane, taking his family and hapless Premier with him. They landed in Rome early in the morning of December 14. Constantine remained in exile all through the rest of military rule (although nominally he continued as King until June 1, 1973) and was never to return to Greece as King.

[edit] The Regency

When the King flew out of Athens to begin his counter-coup, on December 13, 1967, he took Prime Minister Kollias with him. Thus, legally, there was no government and no Head of State in Athens. This did not concern the military junta. Instead the Revolutionary Council of Pattakos, Papadopoulos and Makarezos made a brief appearance to cause a Resolution to be published in the Government Gazette, appointing another member to the military administration, Major General Georgios Zoitakis, as Regent. Zoitakis then appointed Papadopoulos Prime Minister. This became the only government of Greece after the failure of the King's attempted coup, as the King was unwilling to set up an alternative administration in exile. The Regent's position was later confirmed under the 1968 Constitution, although the exiled King never officially recognised, nor acknowledge, the Regency.

In a legally controversial move, even under the junta's own Constitution, the Cabinet voted on March 21, 1972 to oust Zoitakis and replace him with Papadopoulos who thus combined the offices of Regent and Prime Minister. It was thought Zoitakis was problematic and interfered too much with the military. The King's portrait remained on coins, in public buildings etc. but slowly, the military was chipping away at the institution of the monarchy: The royal family's tax immunity was abolished, the complex network of royally managed charities was brought under direct state control, the royal arms were removed from coins, the Navy and Air Force were no longer "Royal" and the newspapers were usually banned from publishing the King's photo or any interviews.

During this period, resistance against the colonels' rule became better organized among exiles in Europe and the United States. In addition to the expected opposition from the left, the colonels found themselves under attack by constituencies that had traditionally supported past right-wing regimes: pro-monarchists supporting Constantine; businessmen concerned over international isolation; the middle class facing an economic downturn after 1971 [citation needed]. There was also considerable political infighting within the junta. Still, up until 1973 the junta appeared in firm control of Greece, and not likely to be ousted by violent means.

[edit] The Republic

By 1973 the military dictators had grown deeply unpopular, and in May officers of the largely royalist Navy staged an abortive coup, although King Constantine II of Greece himself was not involved. On June 1, Papadopoulos retaliated by declaring Greece a republic and declared himself President of Greece, a decision which was confirmed by a plebiscite on July 29 by an "almost unanimous" vote, thanks to widespread election fraud [citation needed]. The political parties did not recognize the result.

[edit] The Ioannidis Regime

Image:Tank during 17 November 1973.jpg
Military tank standing in front of the Athens Polytechnic. Eventually, this vehicle would crush the gates of the Polytechnic in November 17, 1973, putting a violent end to the student uprising.

On November 25, 1973, following the bloody suppression of the Athens Polytechnic uprising on November 17, General Dimitrios Ioannides ousted Papadopoulos and tried to continue to rule despite the popular unrest the uprising had triggered. Ioannides' attempt in July 1974 to overthrow Archbishop Makarios III, the President of Cyprus, brought Greece to the brink of war with Turkey, which invaded Cyprus and occupied part of the island.

[edit] Restoration of Democracy

The EOKA-B organisation, took power on the island of Cyprus by a military coup on July 15, 1974. Turkey replied to this coup after 5 days and invaded Cyprus. There was well founded fear that an all out war with Turkey was imminent. Senior Greek military officers withdrew their support of Junta strongman Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides. Junta-appointed President Phaedon Gizikis called a meeting of old politicians, including Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Spiros Markezinis, Stephanos Stephanopoulos, Evangelos Averoff and others. The agenda was to appoint a national unity government that would lead to country to elections. Although former Prime Minister Panagiotis Kanellopoulos was originally backed, Gizikis finally invited former Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, who resided in Paris since 1963, to assume that role. Karamanlis returned to Athens on a French Presidency Lear Jet made available to him by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a close personal friend, and was sworn-in as Prime Minister under President Phaedon Gizikis. Karamanlis' newly organized party, New Democracy (ND), won elections held in November 1974, and he became prime minister. The collapse of the junta was triggered by the Cyprus debacle; some argue that the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 (Greek: Η εξέγερση του Πολυτεχνείου) was the event that most discredited the military government and acted as a key catalyst for its eventual collapse.

[edit] Characteristics of the Junta

[edit] Ideology

The colonels preferred to call the coup d'état of April 21 a "revolution to Save the Nation" ("Ethnosotirios Epanastasis"). Their official justification for the coup was that a "communist conspiracy" had infiltrated the bureaucracy, the academia, the press, and even the military, to such an extent that drastic action was needed to protect the country from a takeover. Thus, the defining characteristic of the Junta was its staunch anti-Communism.
A tank in the streets of Athens on November 17, 1973.
The term "αναρχοκομμουνιστές" transliterated as "anarchokommounistes" (anarcho-communists) was frequently used to describe all leftists. In a similar vein the junta attempted to steer Greek public opinion not only by propaganda but also by inventing new words and slogans such as: palaiokommatismos (translated as old-partyism), Ellas Ellinon Christianon translated as: Greece for Christian Greeks, etc.

Fabrication of evidence and fictional enemies of the state was a common practice [citation needed]. Atheism and pop culture (such as rock music and the hippies) were also seen as parts of this conspiracy. Nationalism and Christianity were widely promoted.

[edit] Sources of Support

To gain support for his rule, Papadopoulos was able to project an image that appealed to some segments of Greek society. The son of a poor family from a rural area, he had no education other than that of the military academy. He publicly stated contempt for the urban, western-educated "elite" in Athens. Modern western music was banned from the airwaves, and folk music and arts were promoted. The poor, conservative, religious farmers widely supported him, seeing in his rough mannerisms, simplistic speeches, even in his name ("Georgios Papadopoulos" is one of the most common names in Greece) a "friend of the common man". Further, the regime promoted a policy of economic development in rural areas, which were mostly neglected by the previous governments, that had focused largely in urban industrial development.

Papadopoulos mannerisms were less likely to appeal to the middle class, but the political crisis of 1965-1967 let many ordinary citizens to believe that any stable government, even a military one, was better than the preceding chaos. Overall, the regime had little trouble establishing its control over the land.

The military government was given at least tacit support by the United States as a Cold War ally, due to its proximity to the Eastern European Soviet bloc, and the fact that the previous Truman administration had given the country millions of dollars in economic aid to discourage Communism. U.S. support for the junta is claimed to be the cause of rising anti-Americanism in Greece during and following the junta's harsh rule.[citation needed]

[edit] Economic Policies

The 1967 - 1973 period was marked by high rates of economic growth coupled with low inflation and low unemployment. GDP growth was driven by investment in the tourism industry, public spending, and pro-business incentives that fostered both domestic and foreign capital spending. Several international companies invested in Greece at the time, including the Coca-Cola Corporation. Economic growth started losing steam by 1972.<ref name="Metapolitefsi that never was"> The Metapolitefsi that never was: Ioannis Tzortzis, University of Birmingham]</ref> Some attibute Papadopoulos' ill-fated attempt at liberalization in 1973 to the looming threat of stagnation.<ref name="Metapolitefsi that never was"/> The 1973 oil crisis finally dealt a real financial shock to the Greek economy, as it did to all non-oil producing countries, and marked the end of inflation-free growth in Greece for more than two decades.

[edit] Financial scandals

Cases of non-transparent public deals and corruption allegedly occurred at the time, given the lack of democratic checks and balances and the absence of a free press. One such event is associated with the regime's tourism minister, Ioannis Ladas (Ιωάννης Λαδάς). During his administration, several low-interest loans, amortized over a twenty year period, were issued for tourist development. This fostered the erection of a multitude of hotels, sometimes in non-tourist areas, and with no underlying business rationale. Several such hotels were abandoned unfinished as soon as the loans were secured, and their remains still dot the Greek countryside. These questionable loans are referred to as Thalassodaneia (θαλασσοδάνεια), i.e., "Loans of the sea," to indicate the loose terms under which they were granted.

Another contested policy of the regime was the writing-off of agricultural loans to farmers up to 100,000 drachmas, a large sum for that era. This has been attributed to an attempt by Papadopoulos to gain public support for his regime.

[edit] Civil Rights

A tank in the streets of Athens on April 21, 1967.

Civil liberties were suppressed, special military courts were established, and political parties were dissolved. Several thousand suspected communists and political opponents were imprisoned or exiled to remote Greek islands. [citation needed] Amnesty International sent observers to Greece at the time and reported that under Papadopoulos' regime torture was a deliberate practice carried out by both Security Police and the Military Police. [citation needed]James Becket, an American attorney sent to Greece by Amnesty International, wrote In December 1969 that "a conservative estimate would place at not less than two thousand" the number of people tortured. [citation needed]

[edit] Anti-Junta Movement

The democratic elements of the Greek society organized their activity early on. As early as 1968 many militant groups promoting democratic rule were formed, both in exile and in Greece. These included, among others, PAK, Democratic Defense, the Socialist Democratic Union, as well as groups from the entire left wing of the Greek political spectrum, large parts of which (such as the KKE) had been outlawed even before the junta. The first hands-on action against the junta was the failed assassination attempt against Papadopoulos by Alexandros Panagoulis, on August 13, 1968.

[edit] Assassination Attempt By Panagoulis

Alexandros Panagoulis on trial by the junta Justice System.

The events took place in the morning of August 13, when Papadopoulos went from his summer residence in Lagonisi to Athens, escorted by his personal security motorcycles and cars. Alexandros Panagoulis (Αλέξανδρος Παναγούλης) ignited a bomb at a point of the coastal road where the limousine carrying Papadopoulos would have to slow down but the bomb failed to harm Papadopoulos. Panagoulis was captured a few hours later in a nearby sea cave as the boat that would let him escape the scene of the attack had not shown up.

Panagoulis was arrested, and transferred to the Greek Military Police (EAT-ESA) offices were he was questioned, beaten and tortured (see the proceedings of Theofiloyiannakos's trial). On November 17, 1968 he was sentenced to death, and remained for five years in prison. After the restoration of Democracy, Panagoulis was elected a member of Parliament. Panagoulis was regarded as an emblematic figure for the struggle to restore Democracy. He has often been paralleled to Harmodius and Aristogeiton (Αρμόδιος και Αριστογείτων), two ancient Athenians, known for the tyrannicide of the Athenian tyrant Hipparchus (Ιππαρχος). [citation needed]

[edit] Broadening Of The Movement

Poster of the legendary movie Z by Kostas Gavras, about the political assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis. "He is alive!" can be seen in the poster caption under the large Z, written in French, referring to the popular Greek protest slogan "Ζει" meaning "he (Lambrakis) is alive".

The funeral of George Papandreou, Sr. on November 1, 1968 was spontaneously turned into a massive demonstration against the junta. Thousands of Athenians disobeyed the military's orders and followed the casket to the cemetery. The government reacted by arresting 41 people.

On March 28, 1969, after two years marked by widespread censorship, political detentions and torture, Giorgos Seferis (who had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1963) took a stand against the junta. He made a statement on the BBC World Service [6], with copies simultaneously distributed to every newspaper in Athens. In a speech againt the colonels he passionatly stated that "This anomaly must end". Seferis did not live to see the end of the junta. His funeral, though, in September 20, 1972, was turned into a massive demonstration against the military government.

Also in 1969, Costa-Gavras released the film Z, based on a book by celebrated left-wing writer Vassilis Vassilikos. The banned film presented a (barely) fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of EDA politician Gregoris Lambrakis in 1963. The film was made to capture a sense of outrage about the junta. The soundtrack of the film was made by the junta-imprisoned Mikis Theodorakis and was smuggled into the country to be added to the other inspirational, underground Theodorakis tracks.

[edit] International protest

The junta exiled thousands, on the grounds that they were communists and/or "enemies of the country". Most of them were subjected to internal exile on Greek deserted islands like Makronisos, Gyaros, Gioura or inhabited islands like Leros, Agios Eustratios or Trikeri.
Kostas Georgakis is the only known resistance hero to have sacrificed his life as a protest against the junta
The most famous were in external exile, most of whom had substantial involvement in resistance, organising protests in European capital cities, or helping and hiding refugees from Greece. Melina Merkouri, actor, singer, and, after 1981 minister of culture; Mikis Theodorakis, composer of resistance songs; Costas Simitis, prime minister from 1996 to 2004; and Andreas Papandreou, prime minister from 1981 to 1989 and again from 1993 to 1996, were among these Greeks in external exile. Some chose exile, unable to stand life under the junta. For example Melina Merkouri was allowed to enter Greece, but stayed away on her own accord. Also in the early hours of September 19, 1970 in Matteoti square in Genoa, Italy Geology student Kostas Georgakis set himself ablaze in protest against the dictatorship Government of George Papadopoulos. The junta delayed the arrival of his remains to Corfu for four months fearing public reaction and protests. At the time his death caused a sensation in Greece and abroad as it was the first tangible manifestation of the depth of resistance against the junta. He is the only known resistance hero to the junta to have protested by ending his life and he is considered the precursor of later student protest such as the Polytechnic uprising. The Municipality of Corfu has dedicated a memorial in his honour near his home in Corfu city.

[edit] The Velos Mutiny

On May 23, 1973, HNS Velos, under the command of Commander Nicholaos Pappas, while participating in a NATO exercise and in order to protest against the junta, anchored at Fiumicino, Italy, refusing to return to Greece. When in patrol with other NATO vessels between Italy and Sardinia the captain and the officers heard from a radio station that naval officers had been arrested in Greece. Cdr Pappas was involved in a group of democratic officers, loyal to their oath to obey the Constitution, and planning to act against the junta.
Image:Velos D16 21JAN2006.jpg
VELOS D16 (Greek ΒΕΛΟΣ, "ARROW") as museum in the Gulf of Faliron in Athens, January 21, 2006.

Pappas believed that since his fellow anti-junta officers had been arrested, there was no more hope for a movement inside Greece. He decided to act alone in order to motivate global public opinion. He mustered all the crew to the stern and announced his decision, which was received with enthusiasm by the crew. Pappas signaled the commander of the squadron and NATO Headquarters of his intentions, quoting the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty (founding treaty for NATO) which declares that "all governments ...are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law", and, leaving formation, sailed for Rome. There when anchored about 3.5 nautical miles away from the coast of Fiumicino three ensigns went ashore with a whaleboat and went to the Fiumicino Airport and telephoned to international press agencies notifying them of the situation in Greece, the presence of the destroyer, and that the captain would hold a press conference the next day.

This action caused international interest in the situation in Greece. The captain, six officers, and twenty five petty officers requested and remained abroad as political refugees. Indeed, the whole crew wished to follow their captain but was advised by its officers to remain onboard and return to Greece to inform families and friends about what happened. Velos returned to Greece after a month with a replacement crew. After the fall of junta all officers and petty officers returned to the Navy.

Evangelos Averoff also participated in the Velos mutiny, for which he was arrested as an "instigator".

[edit] The uprising at the Polytechnic

Students demonstrating during the uprising.

On November 14, 1973 students at the National Technical University of Athens (also known as "Athens Polytechnic" or Polytechnion) went on strike and started protesting against the junta. There was no response by the military government, so the students barricaded themselves in and built a radio station (using materials from the laboratories) that broadcast across Athens. Soon thousands of workers and youngsters joined them protesting inside and outside of the "Athens Polytechnic".

On first hours of November 17, 1973 Papadopoulos sent the army to crush the demonstration. An AMX 30 Tank crashed through the rail gate of the Athens Polytechnic after 03:00 am and under almost complete darkness caused by the forced shutdown of the city lights (by that time only the lights in the National Technical University yard were turned on, powered by the electricity generators of the laboratories of the electrical engineers). Evidence of the events taken place have been captured by a hidden Dutch journalist in a film footage. The film is quite dark but clear enough to show that the tank crashed down the main steel entrance of the "Athens Polytechnic" along with students still climbed on it.

According to a contested official investigation undertaken after the fall of the junta, no students of the Athens Polytechnic were killed during the incident.
Junta members on trial. Front row (from left): Papadopoulos, Makarezos, Pattakos. Ioannides can be seen on the second row, just behind Pattakos
However a few of them have been left severely injured by the tank for the rest of their lives. Total recorded casualties amount to 24 civilians killed outside Athens Polytechnic campus. These include 19-year old Michael Mirogiannis, reportedly shot in cold blood by officer G. Dertilis, high-school student Diomedes Komnenos, and a five-year old boy caught in the crossfire in the suburb of Zografou. The records of the trials held following followed the collapse of the junta document the circumstances of the deaths of many civilians during the uprising, and it is possible that the official numbers are too modest. The matter however is highly politicized, so there is no real agreement on it to this date.

[edit] Notes

  1.  ETH Zurich chronology
  2.   full text by newspaper TA NEA (in Greek)

[edit] References

  • Woodhouse, C.M. (1998). Modern Greece a Short History. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-19794-9.

[edit] Cited References


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

et:Kolonelide diktatuur el:Χούντα των Συνταγματαρχών es:Junta Militar Griega (1967-1974) fr:Dictature des colonels it:Dittatura dei colonnelli pl:Junta czarnych półkowników ru:Чёрные полковники

Greek military junta of 1967-1974

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