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21 April 1967

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I was 13, a student, looking forward to my 2-week Easter holiday. There were only two days of school left to go: Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22. Traditionally in Greece, these were the two days your teachers would dump a truckload of homework on you to make sure you didn't enjoy your holidays too much.


I was awake but still in bed and determined to stay there until my mother called. Instead of hearing her call to get up, I heard her steps as she ran from the living room - with our radio placed strategically on a table against the wall - to her bedroom, screaming to my father "

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Wow thanks for that personal insight Irlandos on an important event, which to be honest I know little about.


I think my granddad had already been chucked out of Greece before the coup happened in 67. That was probably fortunate because I doubt the right-wing military would have been to kind on him if he was still there.

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Thanks for the memories Irlande! Very interesting read


The people who I've spoken to regarding those days were my grandparents and father. My grandparents gave me the city perspective (Kalithea and Pirea in Athens) and my father gave me the xorio perspective (Verdikousa , Ellasonas, Larissa) .



My father told me that there were heavy leftist influences in the mountainous regions of Greece, left behind from the civil war and carrying into the 60's. A lot of people were forced to proclaim their affiliations and many people were kidnapped by both communist rebels and royalists (my grandfather was kidnapped by the communists, escaped, and was then forced to serve the royalists, only to escape them as well)  and to some the Junta brought a period of stability. His experience of the xounta was more positive than my grandparents but in general most people I spoke to will sing a different tune based on where their political affiliations lie. My father told me that those years there was actually economic prosperity, that the strato helped the xoria a lot , and that in those years the xoria in his area actually had electricity, roads, and better sewage systems. My father however never had any affiliations, the last party he voted for was pasok before he left for the US. 



My grandfather tells me that those years weren't as bad as most make them out to be. He told me that during that time there was a lot of construction in Athens and that those years the Junta was helping a lot of people add floors to their homes. As far as staying in after certain times and not being able to assemble, my grandfather tells me that for the most part it wasn't like that. Bouzoukia were still full and people still went out, they just knew to be a little more reserved if they saw officers on the streets. That's something that he emphasizes, that during those years there was a lot of respect between people, respect for authority, and a great feeling of safety. You could leave your door open and sleep in your yard and wouldn't fear a thing. The only thing he told me is that if you drew attention to your self you'd get questioned but usually it didn't lead to much. For example if you had long hair and skoularikia and went around listening to rock music, you might get questions by officers. Certain rempetika like "enas magkas sto votaniko" or "oi mastouriotes" that included lyrics about drugs were banned. One experience he always shares was this young kid giannaki who worked at the gas station with him. He was always loud mouthed and would say stuff like "F*** papadopoulo, F*** papadopoulo etc." until one day an officer heard him and took him to the station. They merely scared him a bit and told him "re m#$%! mh les tetia stous dromous" and that was it. 



My grandmother came from a leftist family in Nikaia, Peraia. Her experience was different. Officers would come to her home often looking for certain family members and questioning her mom , who had leftist affiliations. For the most part if you were politically active in ways that went against the junta, things were a little tougher during those times. My grandmothers friends who used to come over were part of the polytechnic uprisings, so they too shared similar stories. Seeing how things have unfolded , its a shame to say that I look back at the stories of the polytexnio with a grain of salt. 

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Great perspectives so far everyone.


Were there still communist guerrillas in the mountains in the 60's ?


From my fathers perspective, his family background was communist.  Specifically, his father (my grandfather) was a communist.  Most of his uncles and other extended family not so sure, but if they were, they weren't militant.


My grandfather, for his participation (and this is the risk you take) paid with his life.  I don't know the exact details of why he was a communist and why/how he was killed.  It happened when my father was 7 years old and he doesn't like to talk about it, which is fair enough.


For his part, my father was harassed around this time (1967).  He would be working somewhere for a while, and then someone would come over and say "you're a communist".  He'd correct them and say "My father was a communist.  I'm not, and don't care for politics".  Not that it helped much.  He would be out the door.


Seeing as this wasn't working out, his last venture was to work for himself.  He had a business in Thessaloniki making coffees.  One day a police officer came over and commented how it was busy and doing well.  He visited again and offered to buy the business.  My father declined.  A few weeks after that he visited again, and sat in the corner for a while.  My father came over and the officer said "we need to have a chat".  Basically he said, sell me the business at such a price, or I'll make your life a living hell you communist scum.


And so, that's how my father came to be in Australia.  He'd had enough.

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Ha, it wasn't all bad.  I'm sure there were thousands in a similar position and his day to day life was just fine.  It was not being able to plan ahead and being scared of what tomorrow would bring that did his head in.  All he wanted was a "fair go", and he wasn't getting that.


That was one of the problems in Greece.  I don't know if it's better now, but back then being "left" or "right" just meant it was an opportunity for one group of people to benefit at the expense of others.  What's the greek word for meritocracy ?

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I suppose what we need to ask is why did the generals feel the need to form the dictatorship ?  Was Greece really under threat of becoming communist or did the generals just do it because they could ?  Could they have achieved what they wanted through democratic means ?  Who backed them ?  And why ?


Maybe their intentions were honorable initially, but having good intentions and keeping them once in power are two very very different beasts.


Either way, it was a black period for Greece.

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No, my grandfather was kidnapped during the Civil war, and there were probably no gorilla fighters as late as the 60's but there was definitely strong communist influence left over after the civil war in the xoria. They definitely dealt with their share of discrimination. 


To answer your other question, things have changed very little in Greece. It is extremely difficult going to a university in Greece and not align your self with some sort of political youth group. Every party has their own youth group and teachers, who align themselves with certain parties and push their own or in many cases hold back other students of opposing groups or students who aren't involved at all. The left groups like KNE are probably the most influential but ND has the same groups as well. I have so many stories from friends in Greece who were just fed up trying to deal with this corrupt system, including some stories about Tsipra from a friend who went to Metsobio. The system in many cases extends passed college as the cream of their political crop get public sector jobs and political positions when they get out. Even on the streets, there is gang style war going on between left wing groups and right wing groups, and one of the biggest casualties of the leftist superiority on Greek streets were the Aganaktismenoi Ellhnes protesters in 2010-2011, who were gaining momentum and averaging over 100,000 protesters until the left wing sects such as the Anarchists and Pame had their way. Its as if you have to align with their protesting monopoly to protest in Greece unless you intend on getting beaten up by a group of club wielding fanatics in red gear, mat police, or illegal immigrants paid by some political group to cause chaos  lol.


As far as the Junta goes. I agree that it was definitely tough to be of leftist descent during that time and that is probably the blackest page of this chapter because in all honesty the left has a lot to offer as far as creativity, culture, and the arts go. Most creative thinkers and artists have some sort of leftist influence as leftist ideologies are definitely much warmer , less realistic, and more romantic. Other than that I have to admit that when I was younger on the GS.com site and Reaper would mention how much better off Greece would be under a junta, i considered the word Junta alone blasphemous and shocking. But the older someone gets and the more their political ideologies shift from the theoretical to the practical I started to realize thing aren't so black and white.


In my opinion the Junta were just more honest in what they did than the Generation of the Polytechnic Uprising (GPU). The Junta basically said we don't like the direction the country is going in and we will use our military power to both bring Greece closer to the West and bring economic prosperity. Which they really did do. Many argue that they could of probably won an election too, but let me raise another question; what is the difference between the Greek Dictatorship and the "democratically" elected politicians and parties of the GPU? You can (and they have) simply bribe people into voting for you through public sector jobs, bribe students with easy grades, through subsidies, through handouts, through giving illegal immigrants ballots, deceased people voting, and shipping in diaspora Greeks (pasok tactic) to vote. Has the election process in Greece really been "Democratic" the last 30 years? Or what about Papadimo? I'm not even going to go into the flaws of Parliament and how seats are decided or the need for these "coalition governments". I personally think Papadopoulo was much more honest in what he did than what any of the GPU did for Greece in 30+ years. 

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As long as Greeks believe in this left right crap, the country will get nowhere.  Maybe that meant something during the civil war, maybe then meant something in the 60's and during the Junta days, but now it should all be forgotten.  It's just not productive.  It's vindictive and just another way to scam the system and by inference the nation and the people.


People in Greece will know for example that a mayor is corrupt, and instead of seeking to have him brought to justice, will think of ways to benefit from his corruption!  I realise this is a generalization, but as a general rule, it's truer in Greece than in other nations.  Every country has it, that when a certain party gets elected, they pick their favourites as judges, diplomats, cushy jobs etc, but it can and should only go so far.  In Greece, it's always been extreme.  And hence the hate continues.


In Australia if you're hard core political, people look at you like you're a fruit loop.  Which isn't a bad thing.


Q) What's the greek word for meritocracy ?

A) Fakelo.

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As far as staying in after certain times and not being able to assemble, my grandfather tells me that for the most part it wasn't like that. Bouzoukia were still full and people still went out, they just knew to be a little more reserved if they saw officers on the streets.

We had to stay indoors on the 21st of April itself. Eventually, things were relaxed.

Football matches were cancelled that weekend, including our NT's game against Austria for the Cup of Nations (the "Euro" as it's called nowadays) qualifiers.

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On youtube there are some items about that period.


Just a few weeks ago I read a book from Natalie Bakopoulos that tells the story of a family during the junta-time: The green shore.

The plot is nothing special but it gives you a insight how it was in those days. 

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