There has been a general notion that Georgios Papadopoulos, the leader of the colonels' coup in 1967, had been a member of the Tágmata Asphaleias during the occupation. Leonidas Kalivretakis, by meticulously tracing the literature on Papadopoulos's involvement with any organization (including “X” and the Tágmata) during the occupation has shown conclusively that Papadopoulos was never involved in any organization, not out of a sense of patriotism or resistance against the Germans but because of cowardice. Even though Papadopoulos himself had not been a member of the TA, other members of the junta had such compromised lineages. Dimitrios Ioannides, the general who overthrew the colonels' junta in 1973 and brought on the most brutal phase of the dictatorship, had been a torturer on Makrónisos. Even more intriguing, the fathers of other actors of the junta had served either in the TA or in “X” during the war. Vassileios Dertiles, who had participated in the mutiny of the interwar period, was the main inspiration, organizer, and first general director of the TA. His son, Nikolaos Dertiles, became a lieutenant colonel in the junta and one of its most fierce and feared torturers. He was the officer who gave the order to the tank driver outside of the Polytechnic on November 17, 1973, to drive through the main gate, thereby running over a number of students. Kalivretakis also mentions, with some reservation, the case of another torturer and collaborator of Ioannides, Lieutenant Colonel M. Pelihos, whose father, Lieutenant K. Pelihos, had also been a member of the TA (Kalivretakis 2006: 109–47).
Chapter 7. 1967–1974: Dictatorship
The Red Housecoat
On April 21, 1967, a group of colonels from the far Right, some of whom had been trained at the War College in the United States, some of whom had participated in the Tágmata Asphaleias, some of whom had been members of “X,” and others of whom had been torturers in Makrónisos and Yáros, seized power from the government, using as an excuse the political instability and tension of the time, and established a dictatorship. The leader of the coup, Georgios Papadopoulos, was a member of the paramilitary organization IDEA (Ierós Desmos Ellênōn Axiōmatikôn, “Sacred Bond of Greek Officers”). He was flanked by Nikolaos Makarezos and Stylianos Pattakos. Many more participated, but the three came to be the public faces of the first months of the dictatorship. James Becket made the connection between the Truman Doctrine and the junta when he wrote at the height of the latter, in 1970, “twenty years [after the Doctrine] America would find itself with an empire and Greece would find itself with a military dictatorship. The Greeks, a free people, would be subjugated by a minority armed by the United States, and the outside pressures would be American” (1970: 12).
That Friday morning of April 21, 1967, my mother did not wake us up to go to school. We woke up at our leisure, and I walked outside, where my mother, dressed in her bright-red, ankle-length woolen housecoat, was standing at the crossroads in front of our house with my grandfather, looking up and down the streets. There were almost no cars about; a deafening silence reigned save for the occasional military truck going by.
I reached my mother and grandfather just in time to hear my mother joke with her father-in-law: “Do you think they would pick me up because of my red housecoat?”
“Why didn't you wake us up?” I asked her.
“There is no school today,” she said, “There is a dictatorship [egine diktatoria, literally, “a dictatorship happened”].” My sister and I started cheering about not having school. We wouldn't understand what this meant until that evening.
I cannot remember my father at all on that day; he is completely absent from my memory. In the summer of 2006 I asked him how he found out that a junta had happened. “I was in the car with Spyros,” he said. Spyros was an old friend and neighbor and the two of them worked at jobs very close to each other. “We left the house at 4:30 a.m., and I was driving down Vassileos Konstantinou [the main avenue that connects the area where we lived with Syngrou Avenue, off which their respective jobs were located]. Everything was very quiet, abandoned, there were no cars, no people, no buses; there were military vehicles everywhere, tanks, hardly any police. I turned on the radio. There was only classical and military music on, no news, no human voice to say anything. And from that day on we knew, every time there was classical music on the radio, that something serious had happened.” He laughed at this point; everyone in the room laughed, because it was true, at that time classical music was not played on the radio except in specific programs in the evening and as accompaniment to broadcasts about serious events (a dictatorship, the death of an important political person, things of that sort).