Andrews, Kevin. 1980. Greece in the Dark Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert.
Chapter 7. 1967–1974: Dictatorship
A mistake! One word for the terrible reality of the present. And not for the present moment only, but of all the betrayals leading up to it over the last half-century, all the years the poet was writing: from the reckless venture of the Turkish War , with the Greek troops encouraged by the British and French until the destruction of the whole Greek world of Asia Minor , and up to World War II and the bloodbath and the famine of the German Occupation; and the tremendous achievements of the resistance rewarded only with the re-establishment of British colonialism and a police state, with a civil war where tens of thousands on both sides perished, and a new American military machine with its secret services the only winner (the foretaste of Vietnam), and now finally the nightmare insult of a dictatorship just when the Civil War was beginning to be forgotten, and another generation had grown up without a memory of it. Mistake, mistake!—and our lives have changed. (Andrews 1980: 55; at the end, Andrews cites George Seferis, “Arnese” [“Denial”])
Kevin Andrews correctly outlines the damage that the junta did in assessing that the junta managed to produce yet another generation, the generation born in the years 1955 to 1960, that has as its point of reference the civil war. And Andrews gives yet another view of Yiannis Philis's enoteta, this cogent unit that articulates itself on the spine of the asphalites and that forms the Greek experience of history.
Although, as dictatorships go, the Greek one was not particularly brutal, never achieved the levels of terror that Pinochet's did in Chile or Franco's in Spain, and certainly did not last as long as other dictatorships, just a scant seven years, this could not have been known to the people who faced the gun barrels of the military in the first few days of the junta.
“We were never afraid for our lives during the junta,” I was told by Hara, a woman who was picked up in 1969 by the junta at age twenty for belonging to one of the underground Leftist resistance organizations; “it never gave us the impression that our lives were in jeopardy.”
“Despite the torture?” I asked.
“Despite the torture,” she responded.
I asked the same thing of an older friend, who had been exiled on Makrónisos, then on Ai-Stratis, then released and right before the junta fled to Paris. Since the end of the junta, he has held a number of positions in the public sector, and he is a revered poet, hence not an abject subject of the polity any longer. He looked puzzled as he said, “I am not sure what she means. I am still afraid; every time I go out of the house and see a policeman, I always check myself and walk quickly past him.”
The junta proceeded in the midst of a rapidly growing youth movement, a movement that pushed the boundaries of the notion of generations. Once again the meaning of age and generation loomed, condensed amid an angry sexual revolution that came to index political involvement, in dancing parties, miniskirts, and long hair. Tasos Darveris, one of the students arrested by the Special Security for belonging to an antijunta organization, notes a comment made by one of the Special Security officers who was interrogating him at the Special Security Headquarters in Thessaloniki: “In previous times, the EPONitēs [a male member of EPON] would sleep right next to the EPONitissa [a female member of EPON], and he wouldn't dare think that he could touch her. Now, in 1972, if there is no fucking the organization is not moving forward” (2002: 155). The movement of resistance to the junta, although not massive, was sizable, despite the fact that it rarely resorted to armed violence and despite the fact that the only assassination that was ever attempted, twice, was that of Papadopoulos by Alekos Panagoulis (who, being a conscripted soldier, was tried by military tribunal, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and spent the rest of the junta in prison, under torture, three of those years in solitary confinement).
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.
This particular man, Sotiris, had studied geology in Italy, where he met an old high-school student of my mother, Katerina. That is how we met him, through her. While they were studying in Italy, they would come and visit us in Athens, bringing all sorts of gifts: news of the Red Brigades, fishnet stockings, the music of Lucio Dalla, prosciutto, posters of Antonioni's films, glittery eye shadow. They were older than me and my sister, and much younger than my parents. But there was a closeness to our family, and they would spend days with us. They were almost the adopted older children of my parents.
When Sotiris finished his studies and came back to Greece, it was time for him to fulfill his military obligations. “Not to worry,” my mother's friend Eucharis told her, “we will arrange it so that he will be kept in Athens, close to Adam.” Adam was Eucharis's husband and the military director of the EAT/ESA. How can one go against the grace of power, especially when power holds the torture of torture in its hand? This was not the manufacture of consent, because there was no consent, there was sheer terror. Sotiris went to KESA, and for forty days he was tortured so that he would learn how to torture others. He came to our house on his leave, and I remember that man, over six feet tall, being unable to sit on a chair from the pain.
When time came for his release, Adam bestowed his grace again, and Sotiris was stationed at EAT/ESA, but at the moving violations office, where he had to investigate moving violations by soldiers. He kept a low profile, not revealing to anyone the particulars of how he had come to that place. Every so often, however, Theophiloyiannakos and Hatzizisis, the two chiefs of the interrogation unit of ESA, would ask him to name the names of democratic students whom he knew in Italy. He refused. He said he did not know any; he came from a poor family; he had to work in order to support himself and his brother, who was also studying there; and he had no time for socializing.
The pressure was stepped up until at one point, Katerina told me in the summer of 2005, “It became unbearable. I went to your mother and was crying, because they had become so hostile toward him that we had no idea what steps they would take next. As I was crying, Eucharis came for coffee. She saw me like this, asked why I was crying, and I hesitated to tell her. Your mother did not hesitate at all. 'They are asking Sotiris for names,' your mother said. Eucharis called Adam [Katerina started imitating Eucharis on the telephone], 'Loule [that was his diminutive], I am at Demetra's and Katerina is here and she is crying because they are asking Sotiris to give them some names from Italy.' We were looking at her, as Adam was talking to her. She took the telephone from her ear. 'Can't he give a few?' she said—apparently that was what Adam told her to ask. I motioned that no, he could not. She told Adam, 'No, he can't.' Adam said something to her. Again, she took the telephone from her ear. 'One or two? So that they'll leave him alone.' I motioned again no, he did not know any. Eucharis turned to Adam, again. 'He doesn't know any,' she said. He said something to her; she hung up and said, 'Tell Sotiris to go to see Theophiloyiannakos tomorrow to take his leave.' He went the next morning, and Theophiloyiannakos was beside himself. He started yelling at him, saying 'You thought that you were being smart? You know the Major so well and you had not said anything all this time? Then he took his revolver out, put it on his [Sotiris's] temple and ordered him out of his office. He signed his leave of absence.”
What's in the act of naming, indeed, and of the admission that one knows the person who resides within that name? That the Leftist knows the Leftist, that the soldier knows the major? What is the act of acknowledging the gesture of naming? Leftists had been asked to produce the names of other Leftists, of their comrades, their contacts, by the Special Security of Metaxas and Maniadákis, by the Gestapo, by the SS, by the torturers on Yáros and Makrónisos, by the CIA collaborators of the Greek Special Security, even by the most menial officer at the most menial police or gendarme station, for forty years, unendingly. It was common practice. Some gave names, some did not, but the act of naming a name has not come easily, and it has, certainly, indexed the relationship and the texture of the contact between citizens and the state. How can, then, the question “Not even one or two?” be articulated, except by a power that is so blinded by its hubris that it refuses to acknowledge that there is a plane of existence that exists in total opposition to its own, that there are other forms of life for whom the genealogy of naming names forecloses any possibility of engaging in it. This encounter is not an encounter of enemies, in the sense that Gil Anidjar (2003) has given that phrase, where the enemy is an enemy only when he has the potential of being a friend, where even if the zone of enmity always exists it is not always occupied by the same enemy. This is an encounter of radically different subjectivities, subjectivities that refuse to recognize the possibility of intersubjectivity. They are subjectivities radically incomprehensible to each other. The refusal to name names comes to Adam as an alien act. The refusal to disclose the acquaintance of Sotiris with Adam comes to Theophiloyiannakos as the same. The only recognition is that of radical méconnaissance.
Of course, nothing is as monolingual, monosemantic, or monolithic as it appears, not even terror. Maybe because the terror in Greece had run from the sublime usurpations of democracy of the civil-war and post–civil-war governments to the utterly ridiculous derision of parliamentarism during the junta, a common joke went: “We laughed a lot during the junta; there was pain, but there was mirth, also.” The colonels who were responsible for the junta were very badly educated (at a time when education was deemed to be of paramount importance and the only worthwhile pursuit) and inadequately socialized, with the result that they mangled the language and appeared clumsy and awkward in public. The junta had nothing of the glamour of the Peron, Salazar, Pahlavi, or Pinochet terrors. The mangled sentences uttered by Papadopoulos, the ridiculous hats sported by his wife, the repulsive appearance of Patakos, the pimpish look of Makarezos, the clichés produced by Ladas—all provided material for side-splitting laughter and deep contempt. All that changed, however, on November 17, 1973. Starting on November 13, a group of students, joined quickly by thousands of Athenian residents, occupied the Polytechnic building demanding freedom. The events at the Polytechnic brought about a change in the leadership of the junta when, on the night of Sunday, November 25, 1973, Demetrios Ioannides, an officer who had cut his teeth on detention, militarism, and the fine art of torture on Makrónisos in 1947, overthrew the Papadopoulos, Patakos, and Makarezos troika and established himself as dictator.
Events had been escalating rapidly since the first day of the student uprising. University and Polytechnic students first, with thousands of high school students quickly joining them, chanting and asking the residents of Athens to join in, occupied the building of the Polytechnic on Patession Street. On Friday November 16, a bit before nine o'clock at night was the last chance to get out of the Polytechnic. The information had circulated inside and outside the Polytechnic that, after negotiating with the police, the gates to the school would be locked so that no one would be able to come in or leave. I had to go because my parents thought that I had gone to my folk-dance lesson at the Lycée of Greek Women. They would kill me if I did not come home on time. Being fifteen years old, I was too young, they thought, to participate in political acts. They did not forget that at my age they had done just the same. Quite the opposite—they were fully conscious that at my age they had done so. Every day since the beginning of the uprising I had lied through my teeth so that I could be at the Polytechnic. I would take the bus from our house to the end of the line on Academy Street, then I would walk toward Solonos Street, which was full of the “cram schools” that prepared thousands of us each year for the entrance examinations for the university, a system riddled by years of corruption, which had destroyed the educational system. At Botasi Street I would walk right to get to the Polytechnic, each time with more police around, still mildly polite, trying to turn us away. The crowd felt homogeneous—thousands of high-school students who moved and acted not under the direction of their teachers but almost knowing of themselves what to do, despite disagreements as to how to proceed (offered by the Troskyists), or whether this should be happening at all (offered by the official Communist Party). Out on the streets, inside the Polytechnic, at middle-class and working-class homes, this was the moment.
The slogans were not symbolic; nothing was hidden there: “Down with the Junta”; “People Move—They Are Eating Your Bread”; “Greece of Torturer Greeks”; “Greece of Imprisoned Greeks”; “Greece of Tortured Greeks”; “Bread—Education—Freedom”; “General Strike.” Everybody's throat hurt, voices would disappear, our parents would ask why, we would lie, we would say that we had to sing at dance class, that the weather was getting strange. On Friday November 16, as the situation started becoming more precarious, I lied even more, saying that there was an extra session at my dance class, and I got there fairly early. Hundreds of thousands of people had come and gone, yet tens of thousands lingered there. University and Polytechnic students had not only put together a public broadcast system to give information to the crowd outside the architecture building, where the committee coordinating the occupation of the Polytechnic was, but also an illegal radio station that the whole of Athens could hear but no one in the police or the army could shut down. “Edo Polytechnio, Edo Polytechnio; This is the Polytechnic, This is the Polytechnic,” the voices of the students would repeat, announcing items that were needed (sutures, bandages, milk, clean water, specific medications, antiseptics); demands that the students had (freedom of assembly, of the press, of expression, academic freedom; freedom in general; down with the junta); what was happening within the school at the meetings of the coordinating committee; supplications for more people to join. Medical students were on the ready for an emergency, and economics and political theory students explained the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the meaning of surplus value, and Poulantzas's analysis of fascism and the meaning of the state in Marx.
By the early evening things had escalated. Civilian and military police were everywhere, both in uniform and in plain clothes; students were being chased and clobbered; heads were bashed open; tear gas was being thrown by the police in all directions. The loudspeakers gave advice: Don't rub your eyes, use Vaseline, suck on a cut lemon, put a wet kerchief on your mouth, light fires on the street, light fires on the street. The crowd was bunching tighter and tighter, inside the school and out. There were no buses going by, no cars on the street. Traffic had completely stopped in front of the Polytechnic school. Only people were there—thousands and thousands of unarmed high-school and university students, lawyers, actors, farmers, construction workers, retirees, teachers.
The smells of the tear gas and the burning fires blend. Everything is acrid, burning your throat and your lungs. More doctors are needed, more medical supplies are needed, I wonder if I should leave and find my friends who are in medical school to see if I can find some supplies through them. I ask someone; he says that if I leave now I might not be able to come back. Everyone is afraid of provokatores, agents provocateurs; everyone needs to secure the school from infiltrators. There are already warnings that some of the slogans heard (such as the one for Laokratia: “Power to the People”) are not slogans endorsed by the students. The students are careful not to reproduce party lines.
More tear gas is thrown, more students are hurt. There is no way I can find my friends now, and no way of knowing that at least two of them I will never see again. People outside the school are stoking the fires on the streets, but snipers have been firing from the balconies of the Acropol Palace Hotel right across from the school, which has been taken over by the army. I look at my watch; it's almost ten o' clock. I decide to leave. I don't have to climb over the fence; I'm thin enough to slip through it. I can hear bullets being fired, people screaming. I can't see what is happening on Patesion Street, so I start running up toward the square. About a block from the school I hear the bullet; it grazes my hair and lands on the pavement. I pick it up. I run faster until I feel a thud on my back. I fall down, as tear gas billows around me. I get up, pick up the now deflated canister. It burns my hand, but I keep it. I put it in my jeans pocket, and it warms my leg.
I am lucky, because right about this time my friend Diomedes is being killed at close range by two bullets. He is a few months older than I am, almost sixteen. I don't know about Diomedes yet, that he has been shot by members of the personal guard of the minister of public safety as he was transporting wounded demonstrators . I run into Bótase Street. Halfway up the block is a contingent of policemen. I turn back to Stournára Street again; I am shorter, younger, and faster than they are, and I am wearing the right shoes. I keep hearing shots. I find the door to my godfather's building open. I go in, but can't go upstairs; I know better than that. If I can only make it to the square, I can pretend I am just going home from the cram school. I go outside again, walk along the wall, make a right on Zaimi Street, and it's empty. I am moving away from the Polytechnic but not far enough. At the corner another group of young students, about my age, appears. We don't speak to one another. I join them, and we walk toward the square. There we disperse. I walk up an alley, still not sure when and where the police might appear. I keep on walking; the geography I traverse is the history of this section of Athens. The entire area around the Polytechnic and the Exarcheia is where some of the fiercest battles of the Dekemvrianá took place. Most of the streets in the area have been given names of events and figures of the War of 1821, the Greek Enlightenment, the new state: Koraes, Zaimes, Loggos, Valtetsi, Arahova, Benakis, Didotos—they are here. Moving up the hill, closer to upper-class Kolonaki, most street names turn toward antiquity: Hippocrates, Homer, Pleiades, Delphoi. I know the area. I walk all the way up to Didótou Street and keep going up the hill to where my dance school is.
When I get there, at the corner stands a lone policeman. I know by now that I cannot find the medical supplies, that I need to go back home. I lie again. “Excuse me, officer, I don't want to get involved with what is happening down there. Is there a way that I can get to Zográphou from here without running into any of those?” I ask.
He sizes me up, giving me a good, long dirty look. “Are you from Zográ?phou?” he asks.
I say yes, I am, my parents and my grandparents too.
“So you must know the chief of the police station there,” he says.
Yes, of course I do—he is tall, handsome, with blue eyes, a seductive bachelor many years too old for me but a friend of my mother, who is a teacher there. “Yes, I know him,” I say.
“Name him,” he says.
“And do you know the previous Chief?” he asks.
This is a tricky question, I think to myself. But, yes, I know him. He is my uncle (who has since been demoted for having supported the king).
The policeman grabs me by the arm and whispers to me, “Quickly, over the hill, avoid the hospitals, don't run, go home.”
I start up the hill. I am too young to have an identification card yet; I must wait a few more months, if anyone stops me I can say that I am going home after my dance class. But no one stops me, no one sees me. I get to the three hospitals, I go through the garden, and from there up the main street. People are sitting inside the coffee shops here.
Now I can run home, which is exactly what I do. I get there very late and lie again. There were no buses (which is true) so I had to walk from the lycée (which is also true). They look at me, I am all in one piece. They can't ask for much more than that, and everyone goes to bed.
I share the bed with my younger sister and put my ear to the small, round red transistor that I got as a present on my name day last year. Maria Damanaki's voice alternates with that of Demetris Papachristos on Radio Polytechnic; they are student announcers for the radio. They are alone. They need more doctors, more medical supplies, more ambulances sent. They appealed to foreign embassies to send observers, but none came. Young people are being shot outside the school. Ambulances take them away, but they come too late, too few. Some people already know that most of the ambulances are driven by policemen and soldiers in disguise and that, while some of them arrive at hospitals, others go straight to the Security Police. Elsewhere, the police throw smoke bombs into ambulances carrying the wounded. The station again broadcasts advice to use lemon, to keep the fires burning—but they also give the news: the tanks are coming.
At that very moment, in another part of Zográphou, at the border of Zográphou and Goudi, my friend Yiorgos, yet another medical student, is lying on the roof of his apartment building, watching the tanks leave the Goudi compound and go down to the Polytechnic. He counts them: five. He tells Katerina the next morning, who tells us, how the building shook from their treads on the pavement, how he remained motionless so that he wouldn't be seen.
The tanks arrived at the Polytechnic at 1:00 a.m. One of them positioned itself outside the gate, which was teeming with students—seated on the rails, hanging from the pillars, inside it, outside it, everywhere. The chancellor's Mercedes Benz had been placed on the other side of the gate, inside, to prevent it from collapsing.
The radio station still broadcasts, Demetris's voice is hoarse and rasping now, he can barely be heard, but he is screaming: “Soldiers, you are our brothers, soldiers you are our brothers, you will not strike against us, you will not strike against us.” He and Maria repeat this over and over until, at some point, they start singing the national anthem and ask everyone not to move away from their radios, to keep the radios open—and then the radio goes dead. Not a signal, nothing, just white noise.
A Swedish film crew across the street from the Polytechnic was taping everything. The tank moved in, crushing the Mercedes Benz, crushing Peppi Rigopoulou's legs, as students scuttled about, incredulous. Peppi will eventually become a university professor; she will theorize the body. Demetris will become a newspaper editor; Maria will become a deputy. But right this minute no one expects any of this. Right now blood, spent bullets, hundreds of tear-gas canisters were everywhere.
A legend circulated the next morning that the soldier driving the tank refused to drive through the gate, that he was killed on the spot by his commanding officer, and that the tank was driven by the career officer himself. Nothing of the sort is true. The driver of the tank, A. Skevophylax, gave an interview (his first and only one) on November 9, 2003, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Polytechnic. He mentions that he was a young soldier, twenty years old, serving in the tank division, and his tank was the first one to leave Goudi. He describes how he led the rest of the tanks down Alexandras Avenue, how he positioned his tank in front of the gate, how he hesitated just for a second twenty meters before the gate “to give them a chance to get out of the way,” and how he drove his tank through the gate with no remorse. “Had anyone said anything to me at that moment I would have killed him, right then and there. I believed in what I was doing; I had believed what the junta was telling us, that these were dirty Communists, that they wanted to take over the country, that they were burning down Athens.” After he was discharged from the army, Skevophylax got menial jobs as day laborer. “Working and living hand-to-mouth” he says, “changed my life 180 degrees. I, having been taught to hate the Communists, have voted twice for the Communist Party” Skevophylax 2003).
Early the next morning, Katerina came to our house with the news: “The Polytechnic fell [epese to Polytechneio].”
“But,” I said, “I have been listening to the radio; they assured us all that it would not, they said we should stay tuned…”
“To Polytechneio epese,” Katerina interrupted me, with tears running down her face. She looked at me: “Did they find out?” (She meant my parents.)
I said no, they had not, that I had come home relatively early and probably they hadn't suspected anything. I said that I came back home out of concern for them.
She shook her head, saying, “You were concerned about them; I was concerned about Sotiris. If none of us had been concerned about others and we all one million of us had stayed there, maybe they wouldn't have moved in, maybe the Polytechnic wouldn't have fallen.”
We went outside, where the whole city had been taken over by the army. There were tanks, soldiers, and policemen everywhere. We tried to approach the Polytechnic, but the police shooed us away. There they were, policemen in their uniforms hosing down the blood and the debris around the gate. Despite the military law that had been installed, a demonstration was taking place by the Polytechnic, this time directed at the balconies, with fists clenched and raised upward, addressing the citizens: “Last night they killed your children…” A few hours before, outside our house in Zográphou, a bullet shot by a soldier standing on a hill had missed my sister and my grandfather, speeding between their heads, and hit five-year-old Theodoris Dimitriou in the head. His mother was holding him by the hand, coming back from the fishmonger. She felt him go limp and tried to pick him up. When he fell to the street, without a cry or a sound, she started giving her fish away.
Later in the afternoon, our friends who were medical students, most of them cousins and old students of my mother, started to come to our house with the news they had received from the hospitals: the police and the army had raided the hospitals, looking for the wounded, and whoever they found they took away to the Special Security Headquarters on Mesogheion Street or executed on the spot. The physicians, some physicians, tried to shield the identity of the wounded by altering the reasons for admission, the names, the ages of the wounded. The curfew time was approaching. I had not heard before the dissonance created by the silence, the absence of human sounds save for the clanking of the tank treads and the sirens of the ambulances and police cars. Katerina could not spend the night at our house; we would have had to declare her presence to the police. She left in time to be home before sundown. My father decided to make pancakes and mountain tea.
Late Sunday afternoon, another friend, Michalis Myroyiannis, was killed by Colonel Nikolaos Dertiles as he was walking down the street at the corner of the Polytechnic, going to meet his father, who worked as a concierge at one of the apartment buildings there. Our mutual friend Pavlos came to tell us a few hours later, before the curfew. There was no mirth after the Polytechnic, and for a whole week mourning was palpable. The funerals of the dead took place, Michalis's a few graves away from Diomedes's. At the end of the week, Ioannides's counter-coup deposed Papadopoulos's junta and initiated the most brutal period of the seven-year dictatorship—which, thankfully, would last only until July 1974.
I have written extensively about the practice of classificatory kinship and the modalities that govern its rules and meanings in Athens (Panourgiá 1995). Katerina is a classificatory daughter of my parents.
See also the accounts published in Haritos-Fatouros 2003.
Anidjar, Gil. 2003. The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
Skevophylax, A. 2003. “Mila o Odigos tou Tanks” (The Driver of the Tank Speaks). Interview for the Sunday magazine of To Vema, special issue “Reportage,” November 9..
I have described this incident in greater detail in Panourgiá 1995.
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.
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.
The actress Kitty Arseni pointed this out in an interview given to Stelios Kouloglou for Greek public television, ERT, on a special program on resistance to the junta. Arseni was one of the most brutally tortured prisoners during the junta. She had been arrested for trying to smuggle an audio tape with Mikis Theodorakis's latest music out of Greece. Tales of her torture circulated throughout Athens not only during the junta but for years afterward.
Or so we thought then, having no premonition that the national educational system would be destroyed after the junta, through the populism of the (nominally socialist) PASOK government and the blatant disregard for education of the Right-wing New Democracy.
A play on the junta's slogan “Greece of Christian Greeks.”
As Diomédes's father said at the one-year memorial of Diomédes's death: “he was hit by two bullets, one through the heart, the other straight through the body, by bullets fired at close range, face to face, between 9:45 and 10:00 o'clock Friday night, November 16th, 1973, and was carried dead to the First Aid Station and then to the Morgue, where I eventually laid eyes on him chopped up for autopsy in the refrigerator. It was over the radio and then the television that I first learned my son was dead. …Several employees led me into the refrigeration chamber and drew out a shelf. On it lay Diomedes, dead. I found him handsome. …Here, I thought, is the thoroughbred offspring of my family, my only begotten son. One of those boys who exist in many, many families and are the backbones of nations—here, with a hole through his heart and the coroner's gash from neck to groin. I controlled my reflexes. Most of all I felt the need to speak to him. 'Diomedes, help me to be worthy of you'—the words came out on their own accord. Because it was not our habit to embrace each other, I kissed his hair. …Diomedes's funeral was arranged for Monday, November 19th. At the Cemetery many young people came up to me and slipped pieces of paper into my pockets… : 'I was with him…' 'Killed at this spot…' I was afraid of arrests, of the danger to these young. I found an excuse—the boy's mother in a state of collapse—and postponed the funeral at the last minute. …The day he was buried my anxiety was correct; three of his schoolmates were arrested and carried off first to Doirani Prison, then to the Security Police in Mesogheion Street.” The eulogy would not have been published had it not been for the persistence of Kevin Andrews, who got it from Yiannis Komninos, Diomedes's father (Andrews 1980 : 300–301).
The question of foreign observation and documentation of torture and atrocities in Greece is neither new nor restricted to this particular instance at the Polytechnic. Becket mentions that the International Committee of the Red Cross “had a presence in Greece and had permission to visit political detainees, but they were skeptical and unresponsive on the issue of torture” (1970: xi). When cases of torture started becoming more widely known abroad and the junta started becoming anxious about this knowledge, they responded to the accusations “through Red Cross reports” (ibid.: xii). The detainees on Yioúra have also reported that the Red Cross would not only visit the island to report on its exemplary operations, but on certain occasions would participate in some forms of torture themselves. More typically, they would falsify evidence of severe disabilities caused by torture on the island, such as haemoptysis, haematemesis, fractured bones, and seizures. See Petris 1984 and Anonymous [September 1950].
Andrews, in the most intense narrative of the Polytechnic that I have read, relates that when he heard the students on the street calling the soldiers their brothers he yelled out at them: “Idiots!… They are not your brothers! Do you think they care for truth or justice! Six years they've been trained to kill. Run!” (Andrews 1980 : 85).
This sheltering practice by physicians created a problem for the wounded who, years later, tried to get compensation from the state for their mistreatment during the Polytechnic. They were unable to produce documentation that they had, indeed, been transferred to the hospital and had been treated there. See the special issue of To Vema, Sunday, November 18, 2003.