Hamilakis, Yiannis. 2002. “ 'The Other Parthenon': Antiquity and National Memory on Makrónisos.” Journal of Modern Greek Studies, ed. Gonda Van Steen, 20, no. 2: 307-39. In special issue “Greek Worlds, Ancient and Modern,”.
The torture of stone on Makrónisos became an exercise in a nationalist history lesson: make replicas of ancient structures, build and sculpt as if you were ancient Greeks. The segments of the camp where repentant soldiers stayed, those who had signed the dēlôseis, became an open-air exhibit of small-scale replicas of the Parthenon and other classical buildings. As Yannis Hamilakis (2002) notes, on Makrónisos the project of rehabilitating the Communists into nationally minded Christians passed through the archaeolatry of the national state as its only point of reference. Over the years, Makrónisos as the “New Parthenon” has been attributed (probably erroneously) to Panayiotis Kanellopoulos, minister of reconstruction in 1945 and a legal scholar educated in Athens, Munich, and Heidelberg . But even if the New Parthenon cannot be claimed by Kanellopoulos, the ideas that “Makrónisos is a sample of Greek civilization,” as he announced in Parliament on July 14, 1950, or that “on this dry island Greece has sprouted today more beautiful than ever” (as he mentioned in an interview with Skapaneus) are certainly his (Bournazos 2000: 129). Perfectly rational intellectuals and scholars, educated in Germany and France, who had held prestigious positions at many prestigious universities, went through Makrónisos and pronounced it “a great educational institution that seeks to rest on pure reason, since it has managed, in a very short time, to put some order to concepts and consciences. …All of us ought to live a Makrónisos. …On Makrónisos training, habit, and treatment have been substituted for persecution.” This is the opinion of the neo-Kantian philosopher Constantine Tsatsos, later president of the Hellenic Republic (ibid.: 121). The New York Times correspondent to Greece, M. I. F. Stone, went many steps further when he announced to the readers of the newspaper on May 25, 1949, that Greece constituted a U.S. political laboratory, whose results could later be utilized elsewhere (quoted in de Villefosse 1950: 1288).
In the assessment of scholars, Makrónisos appears again and again as an intimate and integral part of modern Greek Bildung. The archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, the excavator of Akrotiri, at Thera (among many other very important excavations) wrote in the guest book of the island, during a visit that he paid on October 21, 1949, “There is no school with a greater educational effect than the great National School of Makrónisos” (ibid.: 120). He was supported by the celebrated antiwar novelist Stratis Myrivilis, who termed Makrónisos “the island of Divine Knowledge [Theognosia] of wayward minds, the infirmary of tortured consciences… the island of a new Circe, the island of an Anticirce, who took the transformed victims of the bad witch, pulled them out of the mud and the hay of her stables, and gave them back their human dignity and Christian heart” (ibid.: 120).
Yáros left few literary traces, and it certainly had no replicas of classical buildings. The torture of stone on Yáros was even more ambitious: to level the mountain to build your own prison. The prisoners did. They leveled the mountain with axes and shovels, and they built the prison—a labyrinthine structure with long, wide corridors that ended in steep, wide staircases—with cement and seawater. The building was uninhabitable. Bitter cold in winter, scorching hot in summer, its walls started crumbling as soon as they were built because of the seawater. The prisoners mutinied and refused to move inside. So they stayed in the tents.
Bournazos, Stratis. 2000. “To 'Mega Ethnikon Scholeion Makronisou' 1947–1950” (The “Great National School of Makrónisos,” 1947–1950]. In Historiko Topio kai Historike Mneme: To Paradeigma tes Makronisou (Historical Place and Historical Memory: The Paradigm of Makrónisos), ed. Stratis Bournazos, and Tassos Sakellaropoulos, 115-47. Athens: Philistor.
Villefosse, Louis de. 1950. “Makronissos, laboratoire politique.” Les Tempes Modernes, 1287-99.
Photograph of detainees on Makrónisos, June 1950. Note the low tents in rows and the mainland and Lavrion beyond the strait. The man in the gray shirt in the middle of the photograph is Kostas Papaioannou, whose archive is kept at the General State Archives in Kavala. Reproduced with permission.
The architect Tasos Daniel, who had been interned at Makrónisos and held in the military prison there, spoke during the first conference on Makrónisos, in 1988, about the handling of stone. He stated that the little theater they built on the island “open, classical,… was endearing… for three reasons. First, because it was a faithful copy of the ancient theaters. Second, because mortar had been used for its construction. Mortar is a strange medium to be used for the construction of bleachers and an open classical theater. But we had an allergic reaction to stone. We saw stone as the most violent form of hard labor, the most bestial hard labor, when we saw our fellow soldiers on the Battalions be made to transport it” (Bournazos and Sakellaropoulos 2000: 264–65).
Stratis Bournazos is correctly hesitant about the accuracy of this attribution, since it is found only in the circular Skapaneus, published by repentant soldiers on Makrónisos. Kanellopoulos himself did not dispute that he had anointed Makrónisos as the New Parthenon until after the fall of the junta, in 1973. Bournazos mentions that, when Kanellopoulos was asked by the newspaper To Vema in 1983 what was the gravest mistake of his life, Kanellopoulos responded that it would have been to call Makrónisos the New Parthenon, had he actually done so (Bournazos 2000: 128–29).
The philosopher of law and member of the Academy of Athens Konstantinos Despotopoulos, a friend of Kanellopoulos and later teacher of Cornelius Castoriadis, was sent to Makrónisos because in 1945 he had accepted an invitation from the minister of finance, George Kartalis, to head the Youth Association for Greek-Soviet Friendship, despite the fact that Despotopoulos had no Left leanings. The association caused him to be accused of Communism, and he was sent to Makrónisos in 1947. He remained there for three years, until 1950, and he was known as the Associate Professor (Hyfegetes). While Despotopoulos was on Makrónisos, Kanellopoulos and the royal couple of Greece, Paul and Frederika, accompanied by (or accompanying) General Van Fleet visited the island, and Kanellopoulos gave the disputed interview to Skapaneus. A few weeks later Cyrus Leo Sulzberger, the foreign correspondent for The New York Times visited Makrónisos and interviewed Despotopoulos about the conditions on the island. (See the Appendixes for the full article by Sulzberger). Many years later, in 2006, Despotopoulos mentioned in a short prepublication piece from his autobiography that when, a few days after the visit, he read the interview with Kanellopoulos in Skapaneus, he found it to be an apology for Makrónisos. According to Despotopoulos, Kanellopoulos's statement “embellished with the fine language of the Minister and charismatic writer” was nothing more than the official position on Makrónisos. He started by referring to the history of Greece—“Greece, who at other times has given to humanity the Parthenon and Saint Sophia, Plato and Aristotle, Aeschylus and Sophocles”—to underline the present situation, where “she has found herself, over the past two years and more, in the tragic position where her children have taken up arms against her. She was obligated, then, to establish this camp in order to return her wayward children to her bosom.” Thus, Despotopoulos claims, happened the confusion, when “a ruthless eavesdropping [echotheras] journalist extracted the word Parthenon from its context and presented it as if it had been uttered to characterize Makrónisos” (Despotopoulos, 2006a: 37). In this way, Despotopoulos relieves Kanellopoulos (posthumously) of the accusation of having coined the term “New Parthenon.”