The Greek Uprising on 17 November 1973 Against the Junta Militar

Greece 1973

monument for the polytechnic uprising

Every November, our hearts and minds are there, at the Athens Polytechnic, at the heroic uprising of students, young people and the whole of Greece against the Junta, in November 1973.

Culture

The Polytechnic uprising (Politechneio, Πολυτεχνείο in greek) symbolises not only the heroic struggle but also the unity of all democrats.

The November struggles are the highest expression of the seven-year fight against the dictatorship, and one of the most important moments in the fight for freedom of the Greek people and especially Greek youth.


The ideals of freedom, independence, peace, love of life and mankind, remain alive and will stay current and unalterable, no matter how many years pass from that rising.

The Events of the Polytechnic Uprising

Despite the harsh repressive measures of the military Junta during the seven-year dictatorship of 1967-1973 in Greece - the imprisonments, displacements, mass trials in emergency courts-martial, torture, mock executions and murders - popular demonstrations against the regime continued throughout the dictatorship, with young people always playing a leading part.

Popular indignation against the Junta began to be forcefully expressed from early 1973, with the sit-ins at the Law School in Athens in February, the demonstration on 4 November on the occasion of the memorial service for George Papandreou, at which there were arrests, and the demonstration by 3,000 students the next day in support of those arrested. Demonstrations also continued at the universities.

students outside polytechnic

The political upheaval which broke out in Athens lasted from 14 to 17 November 1973. The upheaval began with the sit-in at the Polytechnic by students, peaked with the pan-Athenian mobilisation against the regime, and concluded with military intervention.

The Polytechnic Uprising begins with the general meetings of the students’ unions on the morning of Wednesday 14 November, which result in the rejection of government measures concerning the planning of student elections. On the same afternoon, the students, who have gathered at the Polytechnic in the meantime, decide to occupy the building under the control of a Coordinating Committee. By the evening, the slogans have become clearly political.

The Cretan singer and fighter against the regime Nikos Xylouris enters the Polytechnic to encourage the students. Despite the large police presence, more and more people enter the Polytechnic to stand by the students.

The slogans shouted and painted on banners in the Polytechnic are no longer concerned with education alone but turn against the regime: “Papadopoulos, you fascist, take your washerwoman wife, take Despina and go, the people don’t want you”, “Bread, Education, Freedom”, “People break your chains”, “US Out” and “Down with the Junta”, “FREEDOM”, “Today Fascism dies”, “This’ll be another Thailand” (a reference to the student uprising in Thailand in July 1973, which had contributed to the fall of a forth-year military dictatorship in October of the same year).

The students gathered inside the Polytechnic set up an occupation committee. The doors are shut and the first meeting of the Coordinating Committee takes place at 8:30 that evening. The first manifestos were scattered in Patision Avenue, which is blocked by crowds of people.

people outside polytechnic
Χαρά στον Έλληνα που ελληνοξεχνά
και στο Σικάγο μέσα ζει στη λευτεριά
εκείνος που δεν ξέρει και δεν αγαπά
σάμπως φταις κι εσύ καημένη
και στην Αθήνα μέσα ζει στη ξενιτιά

Thursday 15 November 1973. The sit-in draws the people of Athens, who start to flock to the Polytechnic. By 9:30 p.m. the sit-in is packed, while the crowds in the surrounding streets shout anti-American and anti-Junta slogans. The crowds remain there all night to express their support of the Polytechnic students.

Friday 16 November. The Polytechnic radio station starts broadcasting the message of the struggle to the whole of Athens, which is watching events with bated breath. “Polytechnic here! Polytechnic here! This is the Radio Station of the free fighting students, the free fighting Greeks. Down with the Junta, down with Papadopoulos, Americans out, down with fascism, the Junta will fall to the people. People of Greece, come out on the streets, come and stand by us, in order to see freedom. The struggle is a universal anti-dictatorial, anti-Junta struggle! Only you can fight in this struggle. Greece is governed by foreign interests! The dictator Papadopoulos is trying to hide behind a mask of democracy with the fake government of Markezinis and the fake elections it is proclaiming.”

Polytechnic uprising: Appeal to the foreign press

At 9 a.m. the first barricades are raised and two mass demonstrations form in Panepistimiou and Stadiou Avenues. At midday a farmers’ committee from Megara, protesting against the expropriation of their land, visits the Coordinating Committee and the radio broadcasts: “The people of Megara promise to stand and fight at the side pf the students and workers... This is a common struggle... It is not just for the town of Megara or the Polytechnic... It is for Greece. For the people of Greece who want to determine their own lives. To walk on the path to progress. The basic requirement is the overthrow of the dictatorship and the restoration of democracy.”

The people gathered outside the Polytechnic singing the traditional Cretan revolutionary song “Pote Tha Kanei Xasteria” (When Will the Sky Be Clear Again).

Nikos Xylouris, "Pote tha kanei xasteria"

By the afternoon thousands of demonstrators have gathered, including many workers. At 6 p.m. clashes between police and demonstrators begin, with many injuries. At 7 p.m. a mass march heads for the Polytechnic and the police choose this moment to strike. Police armoured cars appear and the first shots are fired. There are running fights all along Solonos, Kaningos, Vathi, Aristotelous and Alexandras Avenues and Amerikis Square.

At 9:30 the police declare a curfew in the centre of Athens until further notice. At 11 p.m. the radio station and loudspeakers ask people not to leave. The area around the Polytechnic is shrouded in choking teargas.

tank front of the gate of Polytechnic

Saturday 17 November 1973. The first tanks appear shortly after midnight, while more and more dead and injured are taken to the makeshift hospital in the Polytechnic. By 1 a.m. the Polytechnic has been surrounded by tanks. The radio station and loudspeakers call, “Don’t be afraid of the tanks”, “Down with fascism”, “Soldiers, we are your brothers. Don’t become murderers”. At 1:30 the tanks set off with their headlamps on. The students cling to the gates, singing the national anthem and calling to the solders, “We are brothers”.

The army gives the people inside 20 minutes’ notice to get out, while a tank takes up position near the main gate. The Coordinating Committee tries to negotiate the students’ safe exit.

polytechnic after the tanks invasion

2:50 a.m. Saturday 17 November: The commanding officer waves the tank forward. The gates fall and the tank continues up to the steps of the “Averoff” building. It is followed by men of the security forces and the LOK Special Forces. Shots are fired. Some soldiers help the students escape, but plain-clothes policemen are waiting at the exits. By 3:20 there is no-one left in the Polytechnic...

The 17th of November 1973 was the turning-point of the 1967 dictatorship. Although the students did not actually overthrow the regime, the intense and persistent reaction, the new voice heard from the Polytechnic and the earlier Law School sit-in, shook the Junta to its rotten core.\

Greece 2012

AFP - Thousands of people marched in Athens on Wednesday to commemorate a 1973 student revolt against a US-backed junta, but brandishing banners protesting the financial crisis gripping Greece.

Violence flares at Greek marches

Πότε θα κάμει ξαστεριά,
πότε θα φλεβαρίσει,

να πάρω το ντουφέκι μου,
την έμορφη πατρόνα,

να κατεβώ στον Ομαλό,
στη στράτα του Μουσούρου,

να κάμω μάνες δίχως γιους,
γυναίκες δίχως άντρες,

να κάμω και μωρά παιδιά,
να κλαιν' δίχως μανάδες,

να κλαιν' τη νύχτα για νερό,
και την αυγή για γάλα,

και τ' αποδιαφωτίσματα
τη δόλια τους τη μάνα...

Greek police fired tear gas and detained more than 200 people as clashes broke out with stone-throwing protesters at a march to honour a 1973 anti-junta student revolt in Athens on Tuesday.Three police officers were injured as violence flared at the end of the demonstration.Tens of thousands of demonstrators including students and adolescents marched through Athens city centre, chanting slogans against capitalism and NATO and in favour of migrants' legalisation.
Clashes in Greece at anti-austerity demo

Police fired tear gas near the Greek parliament on Wednesday as clashes broke out with protesters throwing stones and firebombs during a demonstration against austerity measures, an AFP reporter said.The confrontation occurred near the finance ministry on central Syntagma Square with police seeking to block protesters from approaching the building as thousands marched in Athens and other major cities in this year's first general strike against wage and pension cuts.The police operation split the demonstration and the square was covered in clouds of tear gas.
Clashes in Greece at anti-austerity demo

Police fired tear gas near the Greek parliament on Wednesday as clashes broke out with protesters throwing stones and firebombs during a demonstration against austerity measures, an AFP reporter said.The confrontation occurred near the finance ministry on central Syntagma Square with police seeking to block protesters from approaching the building as thousands marched in Athens and other major cities in this year's first general strike against wage and pension cuts.The police operation split the demonstration and the square was covered in clouds of tear gas.
3 die in Athens riot over cutbacks, debt crisis (AP)

Κάθε ένας είναι ένας
που σύνορο πονά
κι εγώ είμαι ένας κανένας
που σας σεργιανά

Greek riots, Spanish marches shatter market calm

Greek, Spanish riots shatter European market calm

Retiree's suicide jolts Greece, triggers violence

Greek Citizens Storm Defense Ministry; Prime Minister Warns of Societal Collapse Like Weimar Germany; Merkel Takes Gamble on Visiting Greece

Greece is politically and economically bankrupt. Unemployment is 25% and destined to get much worse with the latest round of austerity measures. Worse yet, Greece is still encumbered by massive layers of bureaucracy that makes it difficult to get anything done. Yesterday, in a massive breach of security, Greek citizens stormed the defense ministry. This has German chancellor Angela Merkel willing to take a chance on a trip to Greece next week.
Greek minister urges national unity amid strikes

Greece's finance minister on Friday urged trade unions not to "play with fire" as hundreds of angry taxi owners marched in Athens where strikes crippled transport and piled uncollected garbage in the streets.Some 2,000 cab owners who oppose deregulation demonstrated in the city centre, brandishing Greek flags and shouting slogans against the government.The protesters passed in front of the finance ministry, where civil servants occupying the building also waved Greek flags and shouted anti-austerity slogans.
General strike in debt-ridden Greece over new cuts (AP)

And the tombstone
GREECE WELCOMES US REMARKS ON JUNTA

ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 21 (UPI) - Greece's foreign minister said President Clinton's apparent apology for U.S. support of a military junta in Athens is likely to help overcome three decades of anti- American resentment that boiled over into violent protests during his visit.

"That turns a page," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told United Press International on Saturday. "It was certainly a gesture toward history in terms of our Greek-American relations."

The potential change in attitude was reflected only hours after the speech on Saturday, when a motorcyclist stopped U.S. Ambassador Nick Burns as he walked outside to his car after dinner at a traditional Greek bouzouki restaurant. Less than a day after police had to use thick clouds of tear gas to disperse anti-American rioters, the leather jacket-clad motorcyclist told Burns "thank you" for Clinton's remarks.

Many Greeks carry bitter memories of U.S. support for the 1967-74 ruling junta. In a nod to those feelings, Clinton offered what sounded like an apology to Greek government, business and community leaders in talking about a "painful" aspect of their recent history. "When the junta took over in 1967 here, the United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the cold war to prevail over its obligation to support democracy," Clinton said. "It's important that we acknowledge that."

Although Ambassador Burns has regularly offered similar regrets, Foreign Minister Papandreou noted it was the first time that a U.S. president has made such conciliatory remark "and that give it great importance."

"It will definitely be appreciated by a wide spectrum of the Greek political world and Greek citizens who endured seven years of the junta, some of them even in prison, and had wanted very much to see American at that point help democracy."

Despite the generally cooperative U.S.-Greek diplomatic relationship, many Greeks are still rankled over the close U.S. relationship with the military junta during the cold war battle against communism.

"This is an area which people still feel some question or bewilderment," Papandreou said, with Greeks asking "why was a democratic America supporting a totalitarian regime?"

Αχ Ελλάδα θα στο πω
πριν λαλήσεις πετεινό
δεκατρείς φορές μ' αρνιέσαι
μ' εκβιάζεις μου κολλάς
σαν το νόθο με πετάς
Anti-American feelings may have been stirred up during the brief Clinton visit because of its closeness to an annual anniversary date marking the struggle against the U.S. backed military junta. Clinton arrived in Greece on Friday only two days after the 17th of November, a date that is significant to Greek resentment against the United States. It marks a 1973 student rebellion against the Greek military junta that was backed by the United States.

"The 17th of November has a special meaning," another Greek official said. "Many people died getting rid of a dictator whose longevity is attributed to the support of the United States-and that cuts deep."

The long-standing anti-American terrorist organization that worried U.S. officials enough to reschedule and cut short Clinton's two-day visit is named the November 17 group.

The long-simmering resentment combined with the immediate spark of overwhelming Greek opposition to the U.S. bombing of their ethnic Christian Orthodox kin in Serbia are seen here as reasons why the anti- American demonstrations erupted.

Clinton found himself spending a great deal of time the day after the violence on Saturday, passionately defending his decision to bomb Serbia to save "thousands of lives" in Kosovo. Still, "almost all of the people of Greece disagree with our policy in Kosovo," Clinton acknowledged.

White House officials insisted after Clinton spoke that the comment about the much-hated junta was not a presidential apology. "This was not intended to be an apology," said chief White House foreign policy spokesman David Leavy. "He was making the point that in his view, the United States should speak out for democracy."

Instead of an apology, Leavy said Clinton's comments were designed as a means to "forward" in the Greek-American relationship.


Clinton has made highly publicized apologies before on subjects that ranged from the pre-Civil War slavery of African-Americans in the United States to the failure of the West to halt the genocide in Rwanda during his term.

In 2 days theLiberation from the Junta Militar is to be celebrated. With what and with whom?For What And for whom?
My children are pefectly taught all the resistance songs and poems but nobody can expect a 6 years old to raise la bandera roja,right?

by Allan Wilson
Greece remembers bloody '73 revolt against colonels

Οδυσσέα γύρνα κοντά μου
που τ' άγια χώματα της
πόνος και χαρά

GREEKS today remember an uprising by students of the Athens Polytechnic -
brutally smashed by the tanks of the ruling junta - as the decisive event in
the countdown to the collapse of the seven-year dictatorship a few months
later. Twenty-seven years on, a generation then unborn relives the historic
revolt against tyranny as part of the school curriculum, while demonstrators
will today wend their way on the now-traditional march on the American
embassy. The annual protest recalls popular anger over what everyone still
perceives as US support for the colonels who usurped power in a coup d'etat on
April 21, 1967.
When the capital awoke on Friday, November 16, 1973, no one could have
foreseen the traumatic events destined to be played out before the day was
over. But the news of popular resistance spread like wildfire as a third day
of mounting tension dawned, centred on student protesters who had barricaded
themselves behind the gates of the Athens Polytechnic (today the National
Technical University). Supporters in their thousands began to gather from all
over Athens, massing outside the school in downtown Patission Street.
Not even the presence of strong detachments of police - the visible arm of the
hated dictatorship - could deter the crowds from chanting slogans excoriating
the junta. Witnesses later described a scene pregnant with a sense of
anticipation that the dictatorial authorities would act at any moment to end
the open defiance. The year had already seen two precedents when rebellious
citizenry were violently dispersed by the armed organs of state authority for
daring to provoke confrontation.


When the junta overturned the routine military service deferments of 88
students and forcefully inducted them into the army, enraged fellow students,
academic staff and supporters - in a move of unprecedented daring at the time
- occupied the premises of the Athens University law school to register their
protest. The two-day occupation on February 21-22, 1973 provided an
intoxicating taste of revolt for thousands of Athenians who signalled their
solidarity with the students by massing outside the law school and supplying
the protesters with food and drink.
A witness of the subsequent police intervention to end the demonstration
described the violence as "less to do with the restoration of law and order
than with a state-sanctioned campaign of terror to punish and cow unruly
citizens" as police chased the protesters along the lengths of Solonos,
Massalias, Sina and Akadimias streets.
The "unruly citizens" of Athens seized yet another opportunity to brandish the
fist of defiance in the face of the junta only a fortnight before the
Polytechnic uprising altered the junta-vs-people equation decisively in favour
of the wind of freedom already blowing in Greece. On the third anniversary of
the death of George Papandreou, father of future prime minister and Pasok
founder Andreas Papandreou, so vast were the crowds who congregated at the
city's First Cemetery to honour the memory of the "Old man of the republic"
that the political character of the occasion took manifest precedence over the
formal fact of the religious memorial service.
That the junta viewed the assembly in the same light was apparent from the
intervention of thousands of armed riot police, called in to scatter the
popular demonstration. The accompanying violent scenes and the "trial of 17
ringleaders" that followed were a sort of dress rehearsal for the events of
November 16.

Κάθε ένας είναι ένας
που σύνορο πονά
κι εγώ είμαι ένας κανένας
που σας σεργιανά

Except for one significant difference which distinguished dictatorial action
that night from the previous demonstrations of popular anger at the law school
and at the Papandreou memorial: for, instead of dispatching the usual
detachments of police, this time the junta sent in the army.
Neither I nor any other witness I have ever spoken to, will forget the
unwonted sound of tank treads as an armoured column first hove into sight high
up on Alexandras Avenue, heading for a Patission Street thronged with
Athenians in a high pitch of excitement but expecting riot police, not tanks.
The sight was greeted with a mixture of amazement, fear and sheer disbelief.
The tumult was deafening, as the scream of steel tank treads scraping asphalt
and torturing concrete kerbs competed with the sound of people shouting and
the sound of shooting as pockets of snipers took aim at the armour from the
terraces of buildings adjacent to the route taken by the tanks - Mavromateon
Street below Pedion tou Areos park, then Scholi Evelpidon Street, then a
by-now fast-emptying Patission Street as the column headed for the
Polytechnic.
Friday, November 16, was merging into Saturday, November 17, when the lead
tank crashed into the locked gates of the college, smashing them asunder and
grinding on into the enclosure beyond, trampling on what was left of the
concept of academic asylum and providing what has become the uncontested
photographic icon of the Polytechnic uprising.

Στίχοι: Μανώλης Ρασούλης
Μουσική: Βάσω Αλαγιάννη
Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Νίκος Παπάζογλου
Δίσκος: "Επιτόπιος Ηχογράφησις στο Θέατρο του Λυκαβηττού" (1991)
Άλλες ερμηνείες: Λαυρέντης Μαχαιρίτσας

Χαρά στον Έλληνα που ελληνοξεχνά
και στο Σικάγο μέσα ζει στη λευτεριά
εκείνος που δεν ξέρει και δεν αγαπά
σάμπως φταις κι εσύ καημένη
και στην Αθήνα μέσα ζει στη ξενιτιά

Αχ Ελλάδα σ' αγαπώ
και βαθιά σ' ευχαριστώ
γιατί μ' έμαθες και ξέρω
ν' ανασαίνω όπου βρεθώ
να πεθαίνω όπου πατώ
και να μην σε υποφέρω

Αχ Ελλάδα θα στο πω
πριν λαλήσεις πετεινό
δεκατρείς φορές μ' αρνιέσαι
μ' εκβιάζεις μου κολλάς
σαν το νόθο με πετάς
μα κι απάνω μου κρεμιέσαι

Η πιο γλυκιά πατρίδα
είναι η καρδιά
Οδυσσέα γύρνα κοντά μου
που τ' άγια χώματα της
πόνος και χαρά

Κάθε ένας είναι ένας
που σύνορο πονά
κι εγώ είμαι ένας κανένας
που σας σεργιανά

Αχ Ελλάδα σ' αγαπώ
και βαθιά σ' ευχαριστώ
γιατί μ' έμαθες και ξέρω
ν' ανασαίνω όπου βρεθώ
να πεθαίνω όπου πατώ
και να μην σε υποφέρω

Αχ Ελλάδα θα στο πω
πριν λαλήσεις πετεινό
δεκατρείς φορές μ' αρνιέσαι
μ' εκβιάζεις μου κολλάς
σαν το νόθο με πετάς
μα κι απάνω μου κρεμιέσαι

5 thoughts on “The Greek Uprising on 17 November 1973 Against the Junta Militar

  1. Reblogged this on Insomniacs II and commented:

    Αχ Ελαδα σε αγαπω πρν λαλησεις πετεινο δεκατρεις φορες με αρνιεσαι, με εκβιαζεις μου κολλας σαν το νοθο με πετας μα κι απ’πανω μου κρεμιεσαι

  2. Pingback: The Greek Uprising on 17 November 1973 Against the Junta Militar « Ώρα Κοινής Ανησυχίας

  3. Pingback: Greeks remember dictatorship’s bloodshed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Greek singer Maria Farantouri and jazz | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Κώστας Γεωργάκης (1948 – 1970) | dimitriseleas [cells/ideas]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s