Although a pseudonym here, Eucharis is a real name for women in Greece, meaning full of joy and grace. In antiquity it was one of the attributes of Artemis.
Every time Truman's statue was blown off its pedestal, my parents would say, “We are going to miss Takis again.” Takis was an old friend of my parents, one of the defendants at the ASPIDA trial, who had been living in a semilegal state of existence—in a state of nonexistence, it would be more accurate to say—ever since the end of that trial, and certainly ever since the junta happened. Once he was describing how he had found himself in the midst of a forest fire, to which many people from the area had rushed, trying to put it out. He said that, despite all the efforts that he made to help, people, along with the firemen, would pass him by, not giving him water or letting him help put out the fire. “At some point,” he said, “I saw that whatever they were doing was having no effect on the fire. I told them to cut branches from the trees and hit the fire with them, and to cut a clearing so that the fire would have no place to go. I knew all this from the army,” he said, the last almost whispered.
That description was given many years ago, during the junta, at a dinner party that my parents were hosting. Takis would always appear unannounced, after midnight, so as not to be noticed by anyone, so that he would avoid putting our family in jeopardy by his presence, and, finally, so that he would not have to face two particular friends of my parents, Adam and Eucharis, husband and wife. Eucharis was a co-worker of my mother's, Adam the military director of the Special Interrogation Unit of the Greek Military Police, the infamous EAT/ESA.
We never knew where Takis had been taken. He never said; neither did he speak of the tortures he had undergone, except once, when his then lover was picked up along with him. After they were both released, they came to our house on one of those name-day celebrations, appearing, as usual, after midnight. Takis started narrating this latest imprisonment with Kaity present. It was the first time that he had been arrested along with a girlfriend. They went back and forth telling the story: how they had been found, who made the arrest, how they were taken first to the Special Security and then to ESA, how the interrogation had started. They were placed in separate cells, and Kaity, being arrested for the first time, could hear the screams of those being tortured. Takis managed to send her a little note, saying not to pay attention to the screams. “This is a deranged person,” he wrote. Kaity did not last long as a girlfriend, or as a prisoner—she was released unharmed.
If, in the first two-thirds of the century, the state unwittingly managed to produce scores of Leftists by placing unsuspecting citizens in the category of the suspect and the dangerous, with the junta it embarked on a new project: the creation of engineered torturers. Scientific, systematic, and methodical means were employed in an attempt to produce ranks of mindless, loyal, devoted, low-ranking, temporary torturers. The Center of Training of Military Police, the notorious KESA, was established in the military camp at Goudi. Military service was, and is, obligatory in Greece. After initial basic training at various camps, soldiers were carefully selected to be sent for further training. The selection was both psychological and physical. Tall, handsome, well-built young men would be set aside for the special training, provided that they came from families with no prior political involvement, with a “clean” certificat de civisme. Mika Haritos-Fatouros, in her study of five torturers who were convicted after the junta, has argued that no special circumstances played a significant role in the successful training of these young men and their temporary transformation from clueless to torturers. She further argues that anyone, given the right training, can be transformed into a torturer. She mentions that, when she presented her findings at a meeting attended by Amnesty International, someone asked her if her argument was that even he, someone who worked for Amnesty International, could, given special training, be transformed into a torturer. She replied in the affirmative . But the state, even the most totalitarian one, can never be as successful as it wants. As one of those young men picked by the army to be trained as a torturer said (then, and again in the summer of 2005, when I interviewed him): “I entered the army in this way, and came out that way,” turning over his right hand, showing first the palm, then the top, to indicate the radical change that he had undergone during the training. He went in Right-wing, and he came out Left.
A number of memoirs state this process in detail, and it kept coming up over and over again in the interviews that I conducted. See Katsaros 2000 and Darveris 2002. The case of Michalis Petrou is an interesting one, as Mika Haritos-Fatouros (2003) notes, not only because he was infamous for his brutality, sending a shiver down the spine of everyone who heard about him, but because of the incongruity of his social existence. Haritos-Fatouros describes how he became romantically involved with a young university student, who frequented clubs and cafés where forbidden music was played. Elaine Scarry, working with the transcripts of the trial of the junta torturers compiled by Amnesty International, pays particular attention to Petrou (whom she does not name) as she talks about the “self-conscious display of agency” that transforms the “conversion of absolute pain into the fiction of absolute power” (Scarry 1985: 27). Petrou was famous for a ring that he wore, which every one of his torture victims mentions. The tortured would enter the torture chamber, where they would be shown the instruments of torture; then Petrou would remove his ring, stroke their hair, and start the torture. During the trial, Petrou disputed the story of the ring, maintaining that the ring was a present from his girlfriend after he had been released from the army. See also the account given by Petrou to Haritos-Fatouros of the process that resulted in his being selected to become a special interrogator.
Haritos-Fatouros 2003. Her work on the psychological parameters that make the production of a torturer possible remains unique and ground breaking, primarily because it is based on a methodological and systematic study of the torturers, reverberating with Fanon 1963 and the theory of torture in Vidal-Naquet 1998. She interviewed five of the main torturers brought to trial by the Greek state after the fall of the junta. Thirty-six torturers, officers and soldiers of the armed forces, were brought to trial, including Odysseas Angelis (the vice-president of the republic under the junta), Anastasios Spanos, Nikolaos Hatzizeses, Theodoros Theophiloyiannakos, and Michalis Petrou. Many more escaped trial. The parameters she takes into account are almost exhaustive: the socioeconomic background of the family, educational status, whether the torturers had been mistreated as children, whether they had particularly strict or harsh fathers, whether they had been orphaned early. There was nothing remarkable about their backgrounds, she concludes. They came from reasonably stable families; their parents had not been unreasonably strict; none of them had been abused or even mistreated as a child; they were not affluent, but they were not below the poverty line; no family was particularly involved with extreme political parties; and none of the five men could be classified as “authoritarian personalities.” In short they exhibited none of the psychosocial pathologies that are usually associated with such cruelty. What Haritos-Fatouros does not note, however, is that none of them came from a Left-wing family. One could argue that the sample was biased, since men from Left-wing families would never have been able to produce a “clean” certificat du civism, but one has to wonder if a torturer from a Left-wing family could have been created within the specific environment in Greece.
There are some accounts of torture during the junta, primarily in the form of memoirs. There are also a couple of reports addressed to the international community, one being Dreyfus 1969, on the trial of members of the youth organization of KKE (Es.). Another documentation of the tortures is Becket 1970. Becket gives a partial list of people tortured by the junta to date, a list of some of the persons killed and where, and the names of torturers and places of torture. He also documents the methods of torture applied.