Athens was the birthplace of democracy. “Demos” refers to the common people, or populace, of Ancient Greece. But in 1973, after nine years of there being no free elections in Greece, students at Athens Polytechnic revolted against the military government, changing the course of the nation’s history.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: November 17, 1973--
Since 1967, Greece had been ruled by a far-right military junta. Called the “Regime of the Colonels,” it overthrew the government and seized control just before the scheduled elections in which a centrist party was favored to win. For the next seven years, things sucked in Greece, as is always the case when living under fascism. The country had one of the most powerful resistance movements to the fucking Nazis in World War II, and that “fuck fascism” attitude would rear its head again.
The military junta was like many others of its ilk: suppressing civil liberties, and jailing, torturing, and imprisoning political opponents. Its roots were in the Cold War battles of the superpowers, with a civil war immediately following WWII between Soviet-supported left and American-sponsored right-wing forces. When the junta seized control in 1967, the U.S. was all well they’re not communist so that’s cool with us. On November 14, 1973, the student uprising began in Athens to protest the military dictatorship ruling their nation. By the second day many thousands of other Athenian civilians joined in the occupation of the school. Calls to overthrow the junta grew and in the early morning of November 17 the army was sent in to suppress the uprising. A tank crashed through the gate of the school. Dozens of people were killed, hundreds more injured. Continues below …
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A week later there was a countercoup by another hardline military cockblanket that was some out-of-the-frying-pan bullshit. It was that typical restoring law and order or we’ll fucking kill you assfuckery. But the days of military dictatorship in Greece were numbered. The final blow came from an external source. The dumbfuck military leader of Greece sponsored a coup on the nearby island nation of Cyprus for some stupid reason. Then Turkey, which is geographically much closer to Cyprus, said no fucking way and invaded the island, doing battle with the Greek forces there. There was a real fear of all-out war between Turkey and Greece, and internal support for the junta collapsed and the military regime imploded.
But it was the student uprising that was the catalyst for the dictatorship’s demise, exposing it as ideologically weak and lacking in cohesion and ability to rule Greece. On the one-year anniversary of the bloody suppression of the Athens Polytechnic uprising, the first free elections in a decade were held in Greece. November 17 is now an educational holiday in Greece.
Thanks, Elsa, for the suggestion of today’s topic.
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