Voglis, Polymeris. 2002. Becoming a Subject: Political Prisoners During the Greek Civil War. New York: Berghan Books.
Chapter 5. 1946–1949: Emphýlios
On February 5, 1946, the Sofoulis government issued Emergency Law 890, abolishing the concentration camps of the Metaxas period. A year later, on February 19, 1947, General Ventêrēs suggested to the minister of defense, G. Stratos, the organization of three concentration camps: Makrónisos for those drafted into the Greek armed forces, Trikeri for “suspicious” men and women of the areas cleared out by the government army, and Yioúra for those convicted under criminal law. The last were members of the Resistance against the Germans, members of OPLA, and low-ranking members of the Communist Party, all accused under criminal law of murder, espionage, and “having broken the peace and quiet of law-abiding citizens.” Children fourteen to eighteen years old whose parents were either fighting with the Democratic Army or were imprisoned for being Communists were also held in Yioúra. These children had originally been placed in “rehabilitation” centers, primarily in the Rehabilitation Center for Juvenile Delinquents in Kephessia, a notorious place where organized torture, including systematic beatings, rape, and terrorization, sought to extract dēlôseis metanoias (“declarations of repentance”) from them. (See Margaris 1966: 43.)
In order to put this plan into effect, General Ventêrēs asked Colonel Bairaktáres to be in charge of the organization Anamorphotikos Organismos Makronisou (Makrónisos Reformative Organization; I have used the translation in Voglis 2002: 107), which would eventually establish the camp of Makrónisos. The stated purpose of the organization, as developed by General Ventêrēs, was: (1) to concentrate all battalions of sappers (i.e., noncombatant conscripted soldiers) in one place, where they could be used “in fruitful occupations with an eye toward redirecting them to the Fatherland”; and (2) to come into contact with the directors of the prisons throughout Greece and discuss the alleviation of the problem of overcrowding. In actuality the interned included: the leadership of the Communist Party and the captured leaders of the Democratic Army; members of the Communist Party; uncommitted Leftists, suspected Leftists, and their families, at some point including women and children aged two to eighty; and countless people who had participated in the Resistance against the Germans yet were merely antifascist in their political convictions. Characteristically, an old man who was the president of a mountainous village and who gave food and shelter to the andártes as they passed by his village one night was court-martialed and sent to Yioúra with a life sentence.
The status of Makrónisos and the methods applied there were legalized on October 14, 1949, by Resolution 73, a Special Constitutional Resolution brought to Parliament by the democratic Diomidis government a month after the end of the actual hostilities of the civil war and after the majority of the fighters of the Democratic Army had been killed or captured, or had escaped to Albania and from there to the People's Republics and the USSR. That was also the time when the island of Vidos, off the coast of Corfu, was opened to intern children aged thirteen to twenty-one whose parents had been either killed during the hostilities or imprisoned by the government. Those two prisons had been preceded on January 4, 1948, by the decree that established the civilian concentration camp on Makrónisos, terming it A Criminal Prison, and, on July 6, 1949, by a royal decree published in the Government Gazette on July 11 that relocated the Sophronestikon Katastema Anelikon (Juvenile Reformatory) of Kephessia to Makrónisos.
The islands existed in a space where, as Begoña Aretxaga has noted, “the State was both the law and its transgression” (2000: 60). They were set up to receive the Left as the wake, the refuse, the dregs of humanity, as undesirable and “superfluous.” This refuse of humanity, the undesirables and the superfluous, was managed and manhandled by those who had repented. On Makrónisos, the Military Police, the infamous AM, was almost entirely composed of repentant Leftists who had already signed declarations of repentance. The original group of AM, who escorted the first group of soldiers there on May 28, 1947, must have been old members of the TA, or AM from other military prisons. It is not entirely clear, and every attempt I have made to elicit this information through interviews has been ineffectual. On the camp in Yáros, which was not a camp for the military but was nevertheless under the jurisdiction of the army, the torturers and wardens were primarily convicts under the common criminal law, not under the Idiônymon. As one of my interlocutors said, “They were all kinds of social sediment: rapists, pederasts, embezzlers, murderers.” (This also appears in the memorandum sent to the minister of justice in 1950 by the detainees.) Over the years, the operation of the Makrónisos camp constantly produced new AMs, for an ability and willingness to engage in the torture and terrorism of fellow detainees was required as proof of their own redemption into nationally minded soldiers.
The detainees at Makrónisos and Yáros (and to a lesser extent at Trikeri) lived in tents for the duration of their confinement, roughly from 1947 to 1963. These were tents sometimes placed on the hard ground, sometimes affixed to low stone walls, which the detainees not only had to build themselves but for which they also had to procure the needed stones, an endeavor that became part of the torture. In the technologies of punishment and rehabilitation, there seems to have been a preoccupation with the handling of stone (already well known in the chain gangs of nineteenth-century prisons). On Makrónisos and Yáros, on the Andaman Islands, on Goli Otok , and in Dachau, the mindless, useless, and repetitive handling of stone became the syntagmatic modality of punishment and of resistance at once. The constant repetition of the Sisyphean act, of needlessly and mindlessly carrying stone, seeks to obliterate the political consciousness of the prisoner, emptying his conscience, as if time did not exist, as if time were endless, as if the carrying of stone were the syntax of the prisoner's life. The order was always very clear: take those rocks from up there and bring them down here. When the transport was done, the order was reversed: take the stones from down here and move them up there. This would take place all day long, in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, always under a relentless wind, without water, without rest, without shoes, in tattered clothes on tattered bodies . At some point the torture acquired a target: make embankments for the tents. The tents were large enough for ten people but were occupied by thirty, forty, or sometimes fifty. Some had cots, most had nothing, as if the lack of objects would teach the Leftists the value of property, would infuse in them the merits of our “Western, democratic values” (to echo President George W. Bush, himself eerily echoing the torturers of Makrónisos and Yáros a lifetime earlier). Despite all proclamations to the contrary, Makrónisos and Yáros amounted to pure punishment in contradistinction to Metaxas's and Maniadákis's concept of discipline.
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.
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,”.
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.
Gilles Deleuze, in “Desert Islands” (2004) engages in a radical deconstruction of the notion of the “desert” island by invoking the lack of recognition by the European traveler/settler of the humanity already existing there. He is primarily thinking of the European travel literature of the Enlightenment and emphatically not referring to actually desert islands—places where only the most tenuous life can be sustained, given scant rainfall, for only a couple of months a year, places that have no aquifer or have only an aquifer that holds contaminated or undrinkable water. Deleuze is speaking of the construction of the desert as part of a discourse that has sustained colonialism. I am speaking of actually desert (not deserted, even metaphorically) islands.Michael Taussig (2004) has captured not only the horror of actually desert islands as colonies for undesirables (Poulantzas's “antinationals”) but also the complicity between the management of undesirable life and capitalist ventures, especially in the way in which he erects the problem of offshore operations not as simply an economic but a political one. The only one of the islands of exile not truly a desert island is Trikeri, which in 1947, and still today, is sparsely populated and desolate, but not desert.
An eerily similar environment is found in Goli Otok (meaning “Naked Island”) and Sveti Grgur, two uninhabited islands, really “two rocky reefs” (as Banac calls them) in the northern Adriatic near the island of Rab, off the coast of Croatia. After his break with Stalin and the Cominform, Tito decided that the new country needed to purge itself of Stalinist elements (the very Stalinist elements that had made the Resistance possible, had exacted heavy losses from the German army, and had brought Tito's dream of socialism to fruition). Tito's containment discourses made Goli Otok into the iconic and exemplary space of re-education. The methods used there were similar to the ones used on Makrónisos and Yáros: torture, the handling of stone, psychological warfare, the creation of a paternalistic relationship between authority and detainees. (On Makrónisos, this took actual verbal form when the detainees were made to cry out to the visiting King Paul, “You are our father.”) As the Serbian philosopher Svetozan Stojanovic, a member of the Praxis group, pointed out in 1972: “Although the struggle against domestic Stalinists was and still is justified, explicitly Stalinist methods of struggle against them offer ample testimony” to the fact that Yugoslav resistance to Moscow had for a long time the contours of Stalinist anti-Stalinism (Banac 1989: 244).
Spyros Asdrahas has developed an interesting, even if ultimately unconvincing, theory that the island complex of the Aegean is an aggregate city. Taking as his starting point the medieval and Renaissance cities of Western (i.e., non-Ottoman) Europe, Asdrahas explores the “individualized organizational forms of the Archipelago” that were produced by its “fragmentary nature” and that allowed it to “survive throughout the long years of Turkish rule. Those forms—each a retreat into the self of the archipelago—were typical of urban structuring” (Asdrahas 1985: 236). Asdrahas locates this “urban complex” of the archipelago not in the fact that the routes between the two poles of the east-west axis of the Mediterranean went through the islands of the archipelago, but rather “in the constant to-ing and fro-ing of people, goods and ships from one island to another, in an economic osmosis” (ibid.: 238). Asdrahas mentions the “islands' obligation to maintain vigilance over the seas and to keep in touch with fires by night and pillars of smoke by day” (ibid.: 239).
As seductive as this proposition is, life on the ground bespeaks a different reality. Asdrahas bases his argument primarily on the economic and intellectual exchanges that were afforded to the islanders through the merchant marine. However, the retention of local identities by the islanders themselves (the Kalymnian, for instance, being distinct from the Lerian, to the extent that as late as 1981 a woman from the island of Leros married to a Kalymnian man was known in the Kalymnian capital, Pothia, as “the Lerian [he Leriá]”) or the distinctiveness accorded to each island in folk songs invite a different reading: if we play along with Asdrahas's notion of the archipelago as a “unifying sea or plain-like expanse,” then the distinctiveness of each island would point to the metaphor of villages in a plain and not a city (should one wish to preserve a metaphor, though Asdrahas does not metaphorize but concretizes the image of the archipelago as city).
Nowhere does this question of the archipelago become more painfully complicated than in the testimonials of prisoners on Yáros. Some of the few instances of literature on Yáros come from Andreas Nenedakis, in his 1964 book Apagoreuetai (It Is Forbidden) and scattered in various of his short stories. Nenedakis was a lawyer and writer who participated in the Mutiny of the Middle East (when Greek soldiers and officers demanded that the government in exile include representatives of the Resistance and were arrested and imprisoned in British military prisons across the Middle East and North Africa). After the end of the war, Nenedakis returned to Greece, where he was arrested as a Communist and sent first to Yáros and later to Makrónisos. Michael Herzfeld published an ethnographic critical biography of Nenedakis in 1997, in which he brings to the fore the immense complexities that made up Nenedakis as a political and literary figure who had become a legend among people who had served in the Middle East, on Yáros, and on Makrónisos. In 1977, for instance, when Nenedakis's niece Eirene and I were asked to help establish a cultural association in our neighborhood that would be named after Kostis Palamas (the major Greek poet whose funeral during the occupation was followed by hundreds of thousand of Athenians as an act of resistance against the Germans, who had prohibited large congregations of people), I told my grandfather, who had fought in the Middle East from 1942 to 1944, that the two of us were working together. I remember the awe in my grandfather's eyes when he said to me: “She's Nenedakis's niece.”
Writing of Yáros, Nenedakis emphasizes the deep alienation that the prisoners on the island felt at knowing that they were in the midst of an archipelago. He relates how the prisoners would see, far away, commercial liners sailing from island to island, twice a week, “to other worlds. Farther away from you are other islands. …Other humans, just like you, live there. Humans who wake up without being cursed, without being beaten with whips. Humans who board a ship, travel, speak with each other, sleep, wake up, walk. …And when they sail past Yioúra they might even ask about this island. They might have heard about the prisoners. They must have heard something, it's impossible not to…” (Nenedakis 1964: 165).
The issue of women prisoners is multiply complicated, and I cannot address it here adequately. Women were imprisoned for a variety of reasons: as members of the (eventually) outlawed Communist Party; as aiding and abetting Communists; as conspiring with Communists; and, based on the old 1871 law against brigandage, for their kinship ties to the partisans. Women's bodies, undisciplined and unruly, lacking the kind of order and discipline that could be recognized by the military, presented a particular challenge to the wardens, the military police, and torturers. With the exception of those who were captured as members of the DSE and had been trained as active soldiers, women had not encountered military discipline and training in their civilian lives. Military commands were not easily understood, and acts of resistance by women prisoners took a form completely different from those of men. They included singing, the sharing of child rearing, and caring for each other. As Tasoula Vervenioti has noted, even the most simple of military commands, such as “Attention!” could be impossible to follow, since some of the prisoners were carrying their infant children or were wearing traditional clothing (with long full skirts or long wide trousers), which prevented them from moving freely (Vervenioti, 2000: 103). On the position of women in the Resistance see Hart 1996; on women in exile prior to the Second World War, see Kenna 1991 and 2001; the most comprehensive work on women in the concentration camps, and on Makrónisos in particular, remains Vervenioti 2000. A number of memoirs have been published over the past five years by women who were interned as young adults on Chios, Trikeri, and Makrónisos. No women were sent to Yioúra.
As Alivizatos (1981) notes, Greek governments before and during the civil war managed not to slide into an outright dictatorship, but maintained at least the façade of democracy. Thus they could claim that the strife was between the democratically elected government and a political minority motivated and guided from abroad.
“Noxious and superfluous” is the locution used by Wolfgang Sofsky to characterize the Nazi progression of exclusionary ascriptions from “socially dangerous” to suspicious and, in the end, to superfluous. Hannah Arendt has shown how humans are construed as “superfluous” as they enter the process of tight capitalist production. Totalitarianism, she argues, received this notion of “superfluity” and applied it to different classes of people. (In early Nazi Germany those were, in order of appearance, the mentally ill and challenged, Communists, union leaders, Gypsies, homosexuals, beggars, vagrants, ruffians, the work-shy, asocials [Asoziale], prostitutes, those suffering from venereal diseases, psychopaths, “traffic offenders,” “fault finders,” and, in the end, Jews; see Sofsky 1997: 33). I find Arendt's flattening of “totalitarianism” in the contexts of Nazism and Stalinism highly problematic and restrictive, though I recognize the political significance of her critique of Soviet abuses of democracy. See Arendt 1968.
The distrust of political prisoners toward those indicted for criminal offenses is not restricted to prisoners on Yáros. Foucault says that Jean Genet once mentioned to him that when he was in prison for theft he had to be transferred to the Palais de Justice for sentencing and was to be handcuffed to another prisoner for transfer there. When the warden moved to handcuff them, the prisoner asked the warden what Genet had been brought in for. When the warden said that Genet was a thief, the political prisoner refused to be handcuffed to him. From that moment on, Genet said, he had “a certain contempt for all forms of political movements” (Foucault 1974: 159). Nenedakis mentions that the wardens and torturers on Yioúra were dosilogoi, collaborators with the Germans and some members of the Security Battalions who had been tried and convicted of collaboration. Thus on Yioúra the wardens and the torturers were themselves convicts. They were even given official ranks taken from the ancient army (hekatontarchos, hiliarchos, etc.; Nenedakis 1964: 116).
Banac reports that the first boats carrying Cominformists embarked for Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur in July 1949 and that “by February 1951 eight groups of a total of 8,250 inmates had been shipped there” (Banac 1989: 248). Matthew Mestrovic notes that Aleksander Rankovic, member of the Yugoslav Politburo starting in 1940 and minister of the interior and head of military intelligence under Tito, at a speech in 1952 claimed that 13,700 persons had been sentenced as Cominformists, of whom 7,531 had already been released (in Markovski 1984: xi). Goli Otok, now a tourist attraction, remained open until 1989, ten years after Sveti Grgur had been closed down. Goli Otok was used for men, Sveti Grgur for women. Initially Goli Otok was used during the First World War by the Austro-Hungarian Empire for Russian prisoners of war. With the Tito-Stalin schism, during the Informiro that lasted from 1948 to 1956 Stalinists or anyone who was suspected of being a Stalinist, of sympathizing with the Soviet Union, or even of reading Soviet or Russian literature was sent to the islands. After the normalization of relations between Tito and the Soviet Union, Goli Otok was used as a prison for anti-Communist nationalists, and yet later it was used as a prison for juvenile delinquents.
Mestrovic reports that Goli Otok was chosen in 1948 by “someone, it is not known who… as the place of detention for 'Cominformists'” (in Markovski 1984: ix). Milovan Djilas, Vice President of Yugoslavia in Tito's government, stated, however, that the Politburo, or the Secretariat, never made any decision about the camp. The decision was made by Tito himself and implemented by the state security under Rankovic (Djilas 1985). Djilas states, moreover, that not only did no one know about the establishment of the camps but there was no legal act on which it was based. He further notes that only later was a law passed to provide the necessary framework for this “obligatory socially useful labor” (ibid.: 235). One could be tempted to think of this gesture by Djilas as an attempt to exonerate himself, especially since his fall out of favor with Tito in 1954. Djilas's son Aleksa is equally certain that neither his father nor anyone other than Tito and Rankovic knew anything about the decision, and he thinks that the idea may have come from Rankovic (Aleksa Djilas, personal communication, April 2007).
There is no question, I think, that Djilas felt remorse about the camp, though he recognized the reasoning that made it possible. He writes, “we had to cripple the Stalinists and the Cominformists—initially, perhaps, by setting up a camp, in order to avoid the appearance of confusion and forestall outside intervention that could link up with domestic inner-party opposition” (Djilas 1985: 236). For Djilas, the existence of the camp and the program of re-education and rehabilitation was a point not only of shame but of “unimaginable humiliation” (ibid.: 245) and “defeat and disgrace” (ibid.: 237). His critique of the islands has two levels: first, the perceived need for the camps indexed the (ultimate) defeat of the Yugoslavian Communist experiment as a form of ethical living; second, and intimately related to the first, it marked the defeat of the new humanism that Yugoslavian communists wanted to produce. The sovereign decision on the islands dehumanized not only the interned but the entire Yugoslav population. As Djilas writes, “the way we dealt with those arrested and their families—that was something else again. There was no need to behave as we did. That conduct sprang from our ideological dogmatism, from our Leninist and Stalinist methods, and, of course, in part from our Balkan traditions of reprisal” (ibid.: 236). He concludes, “Goli Otok was the darkest and most shameful fact in the history of Yugoslav Communism” (ibid.: 245). See also Banac 1989; for the most comprehensive examination of Goli Otok in the Anglophone literature, see Lukic 2007.
Venko Markovsi, who was imprisoned in Goli Otok as an unrepentant Stalinist, managed to smuggle a number of letters out of the place. These were later collected and published. His Letter Eight describes the island as he first encountered it. He writes: “Until 1948 no one even knew that such a place existed. …The island is nothing but rocks, rocks that are enveloped in a spectral silence during our blood-red sunsets. …On Goli Otok human beings are reduced to things, to numbers. …From dawn to dusk a sorrowful train of people moves back and forth across the desert that is Goli Otok. Their eyes are sunken; their hands have been broken in inhuman toiling. …Each of these shadows is a loose page torn from a shattered life. …On Goli Otok it was largely the prisoners themselves—those apostates who had submitted utterly to the will of the authorities—who were used to break the others, to destroy the honor and decency that they were trying to preserve” (Markovski 1984: 30–32). Dejan Lukic, reading the account of Goli Otok by Milinko B. Stojanovic—who has called “the whole camp of Goli Otok… one big tragic theater” (quoted in Lukic 2007: 103)—has noted how “the islands are indeed spaces where utopias both begin and end” (ibid.: 105). By deploying the notion of utopia in reference to the islands, Lukic manages to capture the bipolarity inherent in any project of national re-education and rehabilitation by bringing together the promise of utopia (if the re-education project were to succeed—a success that was impossible precisely because of the conceptualization of rehabilitation as part of a project of utopia) and the destruction of any utopian possibility by the very conceptualization of the need for rehabilitation. In other words, utopia cannot exist or be achieved by employing antiutopian means.
Although Tito (or Rankovic) may have come up with the idea of these camps on his own, the parallels with Greek re-education camps for Stalinists are interesting, indeed chilling. Is it possible that Tito had heard about Makrónisos and Yáros from the fighters of the retreating Democratic Army, in 1948 and 1949? Of course, he might also have used other models, say from the Stalinist USSR or Czarist Russia.
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.”