Theodorakis - Chronology (III)

 Civil War 1944-1949

 by Guy Wagner and Asteris Koutoulas

 Based on Ole Wahl Olsen

 Structure and pictures: Guy Wagner


 

1944

 

Summer The Greek partisans control over three quarters of the country: In the liberated zones, peace is being prepared. A democratic structure and a new system of education are established. But Greece's English allies, the Greek government in exile formed by Yorgos Papandreou and the collaborationist regime have other views.

12.10. An agreement is signed between Churchill and Stalin that Greece should belong to the British »sphere of interest«. The same day the Germans leave Athens and Piraeus. Theodorakis meets Vasilis Zannos, the head of a department in the EAM, at Paleo Faliro; and together they disarm the staff of the »Luftwaffe« and hand the arms over to the Lord Byron' student group, to which belonged also the now famous composer Yannis Xenakis.

14.10. The British so called »liberation army« lands at Piraeus. The British commander and the old politicians demand that the partisans obey their orders, but the partisans refuse to return to the conditions which prevailed before the war.

On their knees: women protest 

 03.12. Huge demonstration against the British army considered as a new occupation force. Theodorakis takes part. The British troops open fire on the unarmed crowd: there are 30 dead and 124 wounded. Theodorakis soaks a Greek flag in the blood of a dead comrade and walks forward to the barricades. He is wounded by the butt of a British rifle.

04.12. General strike. Papandreou resigns. ELAS sends its forces to Athens. Six hard weeks of struggle for the Greek capital follow ; 7,500 members of the resistance are arrested by the British and sent to the E1 Daba camp in Libya. The troubles continue.

12.12. The commanders of the ELAS declare to be ready to meat the British commander Scobie and to withdraw their troops from Athens under certain conditions.

1945

 

11.01. Armistice. The ELAS troops move to Thessalia, followed by thousands of left winged people who fear for their lives.

13.02.
In the town of Varkiza, the Greek government and the EAM sign an agreement to disarm of all the resistance groups and to try those who betrayed the country during the occupation.

 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "aris velouchiotis"Aris Velokhiotis, a true »kapetanios«

 
Very soon it becomes clear that the agreement is a unilateral attempt to put aside the popular army's political demands. The National Army is built up, but recruits no ELAS soldiers, instead of that former collaborators and monarchist officers.

June The trials against collaborators come to an end. Yannis Rallis, the head of the Greek government during the German occupation and as such directly responsible for the deaths of dozens of Greeks, does not receive the death sentence. Nationalists take over the political life. For them the partisans are »Communists«, and the Greek security battalions, organised by the Germans during the war to fight against the resistance, are now considered by the government as allies in the struggle against these »enemies of the nation«. »After all Hitler, too, was an anti-communist.« (Olsen)

1946

 
January Theodorakis expounds his ideas on a cultural resistance policy at a congress of EPON.

 26.03. EAM has called for a boycott of the forthcoming parliamentary elections (31.03), which will be followed by at least 38% of the population. Demonstration in Athens connected with these elections. Theodorakis is at the head of a huge crowd which sings »The Song of Captain Zacharias«... Before they reach Syntagma (Constitution) Square the demonstrators are arrested by a large detachment of police. Theodorakis is surrounded by soldiers; they beat him up. He faints, falls to the ground and is the taken away in an ambulance. When he comes round, he is lying on a marble slab in a hospital morgue, surrounded by corpses.

27.03. A newspaper prints a brief report that there is one dead in the demonstrations Theodorakis' friends get him transferred to a secure clinic, where he is operated on for a fractured skull. He is in hospital for two months, and when he leaves, he has reduced vision in the right eye.

01.09. A plebiscite is organised by the Royalists for the return of King George II. In spite of great pressure, only a slender majority vote for his return.

27.09. The king returns to Greece, and the hunt for the »Reds« continues.

28. 10. The Communist Party and its allies found the Democratic Army to react against the »White terror«. This is the official beginning of the Civil War.

1947

 

12.03. Great Britain has to give up her interest in the internal struggle in Greece. Declaration of the Truman Doctrine: From this date on the United States has determined the development of Greece's domestic politics. After King George's death Paul I. and his wife Friderike come to the throne.

 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "king paul I and queen frederica of greece"King Paul of Greece and Queen Frederica


July
Ten thousand members of the Resistance are arrested in Athens: Theodorakis is one of them. After two weeks, the internees are transported to Psitalia, an island in the Aegean between Athens and Corinth. Two weeks later they are taken to Ikaria, an island near the Turkish coast. There Theodorakis meets up again with Vasilis Zannos. Having some freedom, he composes, discovers rebetiko, copies popular songs and teaches them to his comrades.

 First exile at Ikaria. On the right: Mikis Theodorakis

 

September A coalition government is formed under Themistokles Sofoulis. It adopts a conciliatory attitude, and Theodorakis and Zannos benefit from an amnesty decree. They return to Athens in the same boat.

 December A partisan government is set up in the mountains under the leadership of Markos Vafiadis.

1948

 

Shortly after this event, the manhunt, the assassinations and executions continue. Theodorakis has to spend the winter in Athens, because the roads round the capital are blocked. He is a wanted man, therefore he cannot go to see his parents or his friends. He spends nights among the rocks and at building sites with his friend Pavlos Papamerkouriou. He contracts a lung disease; then finds work in the theatre at Piraeus; the leading role is being played by Melina Mercouri. He makes secret trips to the Conservatoire to play the piano and for choir rehearsals. Every Wednesday he meets his fiancée Myrto in a café and they go out to the cinema, where Theodorakis changes his clothes in the toilet.

 June Theodorakis can no longer resist and visits his parents at Nea Smyrni. A few hours later the police are knocking at the door and arrest him. His friend Pavlos is also arrested. He is awfully tortured (they fracture his vertebra) and condemned to death. He has to be carried to the firing squad. Theodorakis later writes »Song of the Dead Brother« in his memory.

After being interrogated by the police at Nea Smyrni, he is taken on a »Liberty ship« back to Ikaria, where he learns of the death of Vasilis Zannos. He also learns of the death of Makis Karlis, his friend from Tripolis, a soldier on the government side, who had fallen victim to the partisans. Theodorakis dedicates his First Symphony to these two victims of the fratricidal war.

December Those deported to Ikaria who have not signed a »declaration of contrition« and who have not to have done their military service are taken to the island of Makronissos, south-east of Attica, opposite to Cape Sounion, where the government has set up a »re-education centre« for those who have been contaminated by the »red virus«.

Macronissos: The camp and the prisoners

1949

 

End of January it's Theodorakis' turn to be moved to this »re-education centre«. The defeat of the Partisans is imminent. In October the Civil War ends.
 


 

 © Guy Wagner & Asteris Koutoulas, 1996-2002. All rights reserved