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Perceptions et représentations

‘Nothing and no one has been forgotten’: commemorating those who did not give in during the Greek civil war (1946-1949)

Kostantinos Charamis
p. 173-193


Cet article présente certaines réflexions initiales faites dans le cadre d’une recherche qui porte sur la mémoire officielle et la mémoire collective de la guerre civile grecque, 1946-49. L’objet du dit article consiste en l’étude de quatre monuments construits par l’Union des Combattants de la résistance Nationale et son objectif est de mettre en lumière ce qu’ils représentent et de quelle façon ils sont liés à la mémoire collective des vétérans de la guerre civile grecque.

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1The initial findings of the research presented here are part of a larger research for my PhD which aims to look at the production and dissemination of official and group memory of the Greek civil war, especially after 1982 when the Left had the opportunity to contest the official memory of the war and voice its own version of events. 1982 was a turning point for the Left as that was the time when the National Resistance was recognised legally and morally, and opened the way for the recognition that the civil war was in fact a civil war and not one between the state and agents of Moscow who sought to dismember the country and make it a satellite of the U.S.S.R.

2My interest is how Left-wing memory managed to gain some legitimacy and rival (after 1982) the official (right-wing) memory of the war that dominated public life for more than 40 years, and the ways through which, this legitimacy and rivalry might have been achieved. In this paper I will be looking at some monuments and what kind of memory they perpetuate. Although they were built long after 1982 and were not the means through which the official right wing version was challenged, I think they can produce some evidence as to what kind of memory ex-guerrillas choose to perpetuate.

3The monuments are only a part of the data I m going to be using, which include autobiographies of ex-guerrillas, official history books, legislation concerning the recognition of the National Resistance and the civil war and proceedings on discussions of the Parliament on this legislation, the magazine published by the P.E.A.E.A. and possibly a observation of selected commemorations of the Left.

4In this way I hope to understand how the official memory of the war changed after the recognition, how influential was the contestation of the right-wing official memory by the left and to what extent the guerrillas’ version of events managed to achieve hegemony and become the dominant version of events. In order to give the reader a better understanding of the historical background, I will start this paper with a simplified historical overview. The history of the Greek civil war is too complicated and still contested by many sides, but I hope this overview will provide basic background knowledge of the time.

I - The historical background

5When Greece was occupied by the Germans in April 1941 and a collaborationist regime was set up, most of the politicians and prominent political figures left for London and eventually in 1943 found refuge in Cairo as a government-in-exile. The occupation was tripartite: the Germans, the Italians and the Bulgarians, with the Germans controlling the strategically important areas. The only group which had the experience and the resources to organise a resistance network was the illegal Communist Party. So in September 1941 EAM (Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo/National Liberation Front) was set up in order to resist the occupation and liberate Greece and ensure a free choice of government when this happened. EAM established its military wing ELAS (Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos/National Popular Liberation Army) and a youth organisation called EPON. EAM promised national liberation and social reforms that were particularly appealing to groups like the youth and women and during the occupation grew in numbers. There were many smaller resistance groups like EAM’s rival EDES (Ethnikos Dimokratikos Ellinikos Sindesmos/National Republican Greek League) which never achieved the influence or power that EAM did.

6During the occupation, the civil war had unofficially started because ELAS and EDES fought pitched battles in the countryside and also fought against the German-organised Security Battalions and other Greek security forces. The potential of the dynamic of the resistance was shown through the destruction of the Gorgopotamos viaduct in November 1942 by the British Special Operations Executive, ELAS and EDES.

7Nevertheless this was one of the few times these three groups managed to overcome their differences and work together. The British regarded ELAS as a threat and wanted to diminish its influence on the population. They provided EDES with arms and Churchill himself sought to restore the King after Liberation. The communists were receiving help from neighbouring countries like Yugoslavia, which were sympathetic to the cause, and were also counting on Stalin to help them after the Liberation. They engaged twice in agreements with the government-in-exile but always the agreements collapsed due to conflicting interests. EAM had managed to ‘free’ a large part of Greece mainly the northern mountainous part and part of the south. They waged a guerrilla war against the Nazis by killing officers or through sabotage, and the Nazis declared that for every officer killed there would be fifty Greeks executed. Nazi reprisals were very harsh and usually inflicted on villages near where guerrilla operations took place.

8In May 1944 Churchill and Stalin divided Europe and Greece fell in the British sphere of influence and plans for the new government after the Liberation started to be drawn up. When Georgios Papandreou1 returned to set up the government in liberated Greece, EAM took up three insignificant ministries. By December 1944 no reforms were being implemented and popular demands like the punishment of collaborators were overlooked.

9There was a mass demonstration organised by EAM which turned into a battle between police, the British military and ELAS forces throughout Athens. “British troops gradually won the upper hand on the Battle of Athens but only with difficulty, and only after being heavily reinforced from Italy.2 This lead to the agreement of Varkiza in January 1945, an agreement which was seen as treason by the base of EAM-ELAS, although its leadership had accepted the terms. After a right-wing government came into power and some of the promises of the Varkiza agreement were not honoured (like a plebiscite on whether to have a King), in October 1946 the establishment of the Democratic Army was announced and officially the civil war started. In 1948, the USA took over as patrons of Greece from the British and helped the National Army fight the guerrillas, as part of the Marshal Plan. Eventually the National Army managed to defeat the Democratic one in Vitsi (in north-western Greece) in 1949. The bitter defeat signalled the advent of almost three decades of persecution and repression for the fighters, supporters of the DA and their families. During these three decades, the Right and the army were in control of the state apparatus and they consistently propagated their own version of the history of the civil war.

II - The P.E.A.E.A.

10During the decades of the fifties and sixties there were several right-wing governments, always covered behind the façade of a liberal regime, but the legislation of the civil war continued to be in enforced. Between 1964 and 1967 a military dictatorship was established, called the Colonel’s Junta, under the pretence that the country was under threat by communists. Up until 1975 the veterans of the civil war were not allowed to come back into Greece and so they set up in 1964 the Pan-Hellenic Union of Fighters of the National Resistance (P.E.A.E.A.) in exile in the ex-Soviet Bloc.

11Only after the collapse of the Colonel’s regime, did they start to slowly come back to Greece and their union became active in propagating their version of the war. Between 1975 and 2003, there were 345 monuments built for the national resistance and the civil war in Greece. The P.E.A.E.A.’s aim was to find:

“a solution for the problems of the fighters of the resistance and especially the recognition of the National Resistance of EAM by the state and the restoration of the true history of its struggles for freedom, national independence, democracy and popular rule, for peace and the struggle against the resurgence of fascism.”3

12The union grew in numbers and dealt with a wide range of problems the veterans faced, from legal to pension ones, but was also concerned with the propagation of the memory of the veterans. In 1975 it managed to achieve the issuing of a ministerial decision, which instructed the building of monuments for the National Resistance by the local government, in co-operation with the veterans’ unions. This was not an easy victory since the state mechanism was controlled by the Right up until the fall of the Colonels’ dictatorship in 1974 and the official history of the Occupation and the of the civil war was the version of the winners. Since that decision there have been monuments built on almost every site where there was a battle or which was an execution ground because:

“we owe worthy honour to all the heroes who gave their lives for the realisation of the ideals of freedom and national independence during the Occupation and the civil war which was the continuation of the struggle for the independence of the country from the Anglo-American occupation.”4

13These monuments were built in co-operation with the local government of each area and they were funded through collections the P.E.A.E.A. run, either on a local or a national level, depending on the historical significance of the monument in question.

14The effort for the erection of the monuments was co-ordinated with the actions of other organisations like the Pan-Hellenic Unions of Victims of the Occupation and the Disabled Officers’ organisation. In their own words:

“It is as if a voice from the depths of the centuries, has called upon the surviving members of EAM, ELAS and EPON, but also upon the new generation of our country, to fulfil their national duty and not let the examples of mass and individual heroism which our people showed, to be erased and forgotten. They should be handed down, as an inheritance to our descendants and to history. This is why our country is flooded by monuments, both humble and grand, whose common objective is to restore the truth about the heroic attempt of our people to inspire and teach the Greek nation, especially its youth, about how the resistance valiantly fought the tyrants and how many sacrifices it made for its precious liberty.”5

15Out of these 345 monuments, I found 20 of them refer directly (through some inscription) or indirectly (the date on the monument also covers the period of the civil war) to the events of the civil war. They were built in the middle and north of Greece where most of the fighting took place and where the guerrillas found the most support (in men and equipment) for their cause. Most of monuments were situated in the most central place of the town/village/suburb, which is the main square. The central square is often the central point around which social and official life revolves. Cafes and commercial shops are usually situated there, but also official buildings like the town hall. In smaller towns and villages the central square is where all the roads from and to the specific place, end up to. Monuments built on these squares are given a central place in social and official life since the everyday life of the people living there is intertwined with them.

III - Remembering those who died

16Out of all the monuments the P.E.A.E.A. built I decided to concentrate on those of a more general nature. This means I ignored the monuments, which are refer to some specific aspect of the civil war like commemorating the death or the actions of one single individual. My interest is to study the ways through which the history of the civil war is remembered and transmitted to other generations publicly. Thus the particular ways, through which individuals are commemorated, are beyond the scope of this research because they refer to very specific events during the period I am studying and are commemorated through private templates. The study of the monuments commemorating either all the dead fighters of one city/village or the historical event of the civil war in general, is concerned with monuments that are more impersonal and provide more evidence on the more general platforms of remembrance and commemoration of the civil war, than the particular ways one person is remembered and commemorated. Thus it is more connected to local and national identity than the specific modes of remembrance that deal with one person.

17In this paper I wanted to start developing some initial observations on four specific monuments that I came across during my research, three that were built on execution grounds and one that was built on Makronisos, an island just off Athens, which has a long history of being used as a place of exile. During the civil war it was used as part of a plan to ‘cleanse’ society from the ‘sickness’ of communism and cure the ‘patients’6. Although no official executions were planned as part of the ‘re-education’ in Makronisos, people died from abuse and torture, and there was an incident, were more than three hundred unarmed prisoners were shot by guards and killed on the 29th of February and on the 1st of March 19487. What links these four places together is that in the social imaginary they have been inscribed as places of mass abuse, cruelty, death and suffering.

18This suffering and death were not arbitrary but were orchestrated officially and centrally, as part of official policies either to punish people for their actions and beliefs (in the execution grounds) or so they can ‘recover’ by signing a form renouncing their political beliefs and be part of healthy society again. Although most execution grounds have achieved only local infamy, Makronisos has achieved a national reputation as a place of physical and mental torture and suffering.

1 - The monuments

19During the civil war, the government of the time introduced emergency legal measures against the guerrillas and their followers. The penalties differed according to the seriousness of the ‘crime’ from displacement, imprisonment to death. All around Greece, military courts were established and dealt especially with persons accused of being connected directly or indirectly to the ‘mutiny’ of the guerrillas. It is still not clear how many people were executed by these courts, as there are no available official records.

20The four monuments I m will be looking at, are situated in Volos, Serres and Larissa, in the north and the centre of Greece and Makronisos, outside the coast of Athens8. The monument in Volos was built between 2000 and 2001, after years of demands from the local veterans. Before 2000, a simple plaque stood there, reminding people what this place was. The monument was funded by the local branch of the P.E.A.E.A, through collection of funds from the veterans.

21It is a very imposing structure, nothing like the plaque that used to exist in its place and unusually large for a monument. It consists of a huge grey semi-circle, a large black cross in the middle of the structure, three white marble plaques on either side of the cross and a small one at the base of the cross. The plaques on either sides of the cross have carved on them, the names of the known dead in black and the one at the base of the cross has an explanatory inscription which reads:

“In the years of the Occupation 1941-1944 and of the civil war 46-49, the number of strugglers and of innocent patriots who were executed was large. To all those who gave their life for the freedom of our country, we pay a minimum tribute of honour.”

22It also informs us of the date when it was built and who built it. On the far right of the structure there is another marble plaque which is not pinned to the grey semi-circle and which carries only one name, probably added later or because it didn’t fit in the previous plaques.

23The monument in Serres is a more typical monument intended for mourning situated in the cemetery of Evagelistria. It is smaller and less imposing than the one in Volos, but more sentimentally charged. It is a thick rectangular grey marble structure, which stands on a white marble base and is surrounded by an iron bar fence. On the four corners of the marble base, there are pot plants. There is an abstract engraving of a face on the main structure in the form of a traditional mourning Greek woman and one inscription above and two below the woman. The inscription above it reads: “Nothing and no one has been forgotten” and the two below read: “Executed during the civil war 1947-1949” and “May the blood that soaked this earth, nurture only flowers of peace”. On top of the structure there is also another poem dedicated to the executed dead, the name of the local branch of the P.E.A.E.A and an engraved rose.

24In Larissa, the monument is by far the simplest of the four, in form and size. It is a white marble plaque, which reads in golden letters: “Glory and Honour to the fighters of the National Resistance and of the Democratic Army of Greece who were executed here from 1946 till 1949”. It is situated on the outskirts of the city where the execution grounds were and was built by the local branch of the P.E.A.E.A in 1995 as one of the first actions of this branch, after strong demands from the local veterans.

25In 1989 Makronisos was declared officially a historic place and a site of memory9, ending a controversy between the government and ex-prisoners’ unions about the fate of the island. The government had planned to lease it to a Canadian firm because of its subsoil, whereas the ex-prisoners wanted to build a monument there and preserve its historical character so everyone remembers what had taken place on that island. After years of collecting money through their unions and the P.E.A.E.A., the monument was erected and unveiled in 23/05/2004, the day the unions make their yearly pilgrimage to the island. The monument was intended to honour the “tormented life and the memory of those who sacrificed themselves on the altar of duty and pride”.

26It was erected 130 meters above and right of the only docking place on the island, where one of the prisoners’ camps was. The site was selected by a committee of specialists from the Ministry of Environment, City planning and Public works and the local government of Kea and the design was made by Grigoris Rizopoulos, who was also a captive on the island. The monument was built inside an enclosed space of 800 square meters and consists of a 1.80 meters high, red/grey stone base and a 5,40 meters high statue on top. On the base there is the inscription: “To the strugglers-prisoners on this island 1947-1958” and the name of the union of the ex-prisoners (P.E.K.A.M.).

27The statue is made out of bronze and represents a man whose legs are bound with barbed wire, which is beginning to break, while holding a big stone on his left shoulder and raising his right fist in the air. On the stone the man is carrying there are the names of all nine prisoner camps that used to exist on the island. According to the people who built it, it symbolises a:

“prisoner carrying a stone (a common activity on the island). He is bound, but from his resistance the bonds are breaking and hope is set free. He doesn’t show pain, saluting the mother across on Lavrio (monument of the mother erected on the shore of the city that is across Makronisos). He is saluting whoever turns his eyes on the monument, with the characteristic salute of his ideology.”10

2 - Commemorating death and duty

28The first thing one can notice about the monuments is that they are very different in form and size although they were built to commemorate the similar events. It is obvious that they were built to mourn the death of someone and to perpetuate the memory of it. They vary in size, from the one in Volos, which is very big, to the ones in Larissa and Serres, which are very small. The simplest is by far the one in Larissa which carries just the inscription explaining what it is and the more complicated is the one in Makronisos, which is the only one which is not in the form of a plaque. Two (in Larissa and Serres) are in the form of a heroon. This structure, in Ancient Greece:

“was originally a monument erected on the tombs of heroes. In the beginning was made of soil and on top had a symbol, a pillar symbolising the suffering of the dead. The tombs were later substituted with a structure with engraved or sculpted forms. It was meant not only for kings but also for ordinary citizens who had performed heroic deeds. It was also meant as a common tomb for dead soldiers like the one in Marathon. In modern Greece these are common, commemorating the death of many people or soldiers. Every city or village has its own which is a pillar with symbolic sculptures and on its sides has engraved lists with the names of the dead. They are not sites of worship but were erected for the honour of the dead and in recognition of their offer and sacrifice”11.

29I would argue that the three monuments in the execution grounds, although different in size and shape, are conveying similar feelings. The choice of colour and the symbolisms are all intended to stimulate the person watching them in the same way. Grey, black and white are all colours, which are traditionally used, in burial structures and monuments in Greece, and convey humility and mourning for the loss of the dead.

30Grey is the dominant colour in two of them, representing neutrality, lament, depression, ash, humility and repentance. In Christian imagery it also represents the death of the body and immortality of the soul. The white colour of the monument in Larissa symbolises permanence, simplicity, light, purity, innocence, sanctity, redemption and spiritual authority. It was the colour of mourning in Ancient Greece and Rome. In Christianity it is the purified soul, purity, innocence, sacred life, honesty. Black symbolises the darkness of death, shame, despair, destruction, sadness, humiliation, rejection, seriousness and stability. It also symbolises time, cruel and merciless and the spiritual darkness, used in Christian rituals of burial. There is nothing celebratory in these monuments, just a sense of reflection on why these people died and a sense of owed honour for their sacrifice.

31The monuments are very Christian, although only one carries an obviously Christian symbol, because they are conveying a sense of martyrdom, of suffering for a just cause and a redemption which comes with but also after death. The rose of the monument in Serres symbolises heavenly perfection as much as earthly passions, represents Time and Timelessness, life and death, fertility and virginity. It is the accomplishment, the passing, the whole, the mystery of life, the centre of the heart of life, the unknown, beauty, grace and happiness.

32Its fleetingness symbolises death, mortality and grief. Its thorns represent pain, blood and suffering. As a burial symbol it stands for eternal life, resurrection. It was cultivated in Roman burial places as a symbol of eternal life, resurrection and eternal spring. In Christianity it is the flower of paradise. A red rose stands for compassion and the suffering of Christ because it grew where Jesus’ blood fell on Golgotha. This evident religiousness in monuments that were built to commemorate people who died for an ideology, which is notoriously secular, is surprising in the beginning.

33But one could argue that maybe the use of these monuments is not a sign of religiousness but more of deeper culturally engraved modes of thought and behaviour. Although people believed in a system of thought that denied anything spiritual, death seems to be as much spiritual as political. In order to explain and commemorate such an event, as the execution of their comrades, they had to draw upon older and deeper cultural modes of thinking, one of which is Christian symbolism and discourse.

34From the primary reading of my research into the reports of commemorations on the sites of the monuments (in the P.E.A.E.A.’s magazine National Resistance), most of the commemorations were in the form of in memoriam services. Local priests were present to conduct the mass and religiously commemorate the dead. Especially in the case of Greece, orthodox Christianity was always a dominant cultural discourse, one that was deeply intertwined with local and national identity. This relationship between the national and the religious identity goes back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. Officially the Orthodox Church was the only institution which manage to preserve the ‘true’ Greek identity during the four hundred years of occupation by the Ottomans. Official history has it that ‘secret schools’ were operating in monasteries and caves, with the priests teaching the younger generations who they are and where they come from.

35Although all this has never been proven, and the privileged relationship of the Orthodox Church with the Ottoman regime has been well documented by historians, the national myth of how the Orthodox Church is the guardian of ‘true’ Greekness ever since the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, is still very powerful and influential in Modern Greek society. Still today to be Greek is to be an orthodox Christian12, and vice versa. Also it is likely that Greek communists of the time did not really accept the line that religion is the opium of the people, since there were cases of priests fighting in the National Resistance and the civil war, and the Greek Communist party never openly attacked religion.

36Gender is not really apparent in the monuments of Volos and Larissa, but is very evident in the one in Serres. The typical image of the mourning woman, head covered with a scarf and with characteristics obviously mournful, is intended to convey a sense of respect for those who were killed but also for those who lost their loved ones in front of an execution squad. Referring to the stereotypical image of the woman as passive and only reacting to the events that take place in the lives of the men in her family, it sympathises with the mother who gave her sons away for a just cause, lost them and now goes on with her life remembering and mourning them.

37It is worth noticing that although the occupation and the civil war brought about important changes (women were actively fighting alongside men, participating in decision making in their villages/towns and generally escaping the closed space of the house) in the ways women were seen in the traditional Greek society, the traditional imagery of the passive mourning mother is still used. It can be argued that the imagery of the mourning mother might also represent the motherland mourning for her sons who died trying to free her. Framing the relationship of citizen-motherland in biological terms (son-mothers) has always been dominant in nationalist discourse and especially when used to justify human sacrifices in times of war.

38Because the relationship between mother and son is considered almost holy, it is a very understandable and acceptable concept, one that cannot be easily questioned. This way it is very easy to justify sacrifices that need to be made by people for a supposedly higher purpose, the interests of the nation, which are always presented as being neutral. George Mosse13 has analysed the importance of the family in the emerging nationalist project of the 19th century and also the use of female symbolisms of the nation. For him images like Marianne, which were personifying the emerging nation at the time, idealised but at the same time oppressed women. They conveyed the acceptable feminine side: stability, continuity and passivity.

“Woman was the embodiment of respectability; even as defender and protector of her people she was assimilated to her traditional role as woman and mother, the custodian of tradition, who kept nostalgia alive in the world of men.”14

39His discussion of the clothing of Marianne before and after the establishment of the revolutionary regime is quite revealing about the uses of such gendered symbolisms in a project that is still regarded as gender-less and interest-free.

40Another point to be made is the apparent lack of any obviously national symbols (like a national flag or some other obvious reference to the nation) on these monuments, although the inscriptions are pointing out that the sacrifice of the dead was made for the motherland. The image of the mourning woman might be read as the mourning motherland as much as it is likely to be read as just a mourning mother. In this sense, for me, it is not a direct and obvious reference to the nation because it can be read as having two meanings.

41The absence of clearly nationalist symbols is surprising since proving their national identity and confirming it whenever possible was always central to the ex-guerrillas discourse. Bearing in mind that during the civil war right-wing propaganda was aiming at presenting the guerrillas as agents of Moscow, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, and that after the end of the war those who escaped into the ‘Iron Curtain’ lost their Greek citizenships, it is understandable that during their exile and upon their return one of their priorities was to re-establish themselves as Greek in the public sphere. In other monuments that I looked at during my fieldwork, national symbols (especially ancient Greek ones like laurel wreaths) were very visible on them.

42Nevertheless in these monuments in question this is not the case and it would be interesting to research further if this has anything to do with the places they are built in or was only based on the taste of the people who decided on their forms. The only direct reference to the motherland is made in the inscription of the monument in Volos, where it says that the monument is to remind us of the people who died to free the country. It is interesting that the memory of the civil war here is framed around the concept of national liberation and is directly connected to the national resistance on the inscription in terms of continuity in time. For the guerrillas, the civil war was a war against foreign invaders (the British and the Americans), who sought to make Greece their protectorate and establish a government that was in accordance to their interests, and their Greek subordinates. It is a theme that often comes up in ex-guerrillas’ discourse, and seems to be the general justification for why the civil war started. In order to expand more on this subject though, I will have to wait until my research on the autobiographies is finished so I can get a more spherical approach to the subject.

43Unlike the three previous ones, the monument in Makronisos is purely celebratory. Although the colour and the material it is made of are conveying a sense of mourning and loss, the form of the main sculpture is celebrating the prisoners’ survival. There is no mention of dead prisoners on the inscription and no plaque carrying the names of the dead. It conveys a feeling of passive resistance, enduring the pain until the final release comes. It was intended to commemorate not only the atrocities committed there, but also the courage, discipline and torment of the prisoners who were kept there sometimes for many years.

44In Makronisos there was no armed resistance to the guards, rather a more passive and moral one of waiting to be released, hoping that morally they would triumph against their captors. There is a sense of duty that is almost Christian. It is the duty of the prisoner (and of the communist more generally) to stay true to his/her beliefs and if needed suffer for them. This may have been reinforced by the Greek state’s policy during the civil war, to try and get communists to sign forms renouncing the Communist Party and their ideology. For the communists of the time it was a matter of pride and self-respect no to sign them and those who did were shamed and marginalized because of it. Although it is not know exactly how many people signed those forms, it is probable that they were a lot more than official communist history makes them out to be. Another interesting observation is that the statue has a male form, although there was a women’s camp on the island and they suffered as much.

45As with the form of the mourning mother, although women took part in most events of the war and their contribution is generally recognised, it is obvious that more deeply inscribed cultural modes of thought prevail in some cases. On the other hand it could be argued that the female counterpart of the male statue in Makronisos is the statue of the mother across the sea in Lavrio. This statue is symbolising the mothers and relatives of people who had loved ones on the island and were waiting and worrying for them. Nevertheless it is also confined to a stereotypically passive female role, unlike the more proud and un-compromising one of the male statue.

46Thus the two statues do not have equal emotional weight, as the female prisoners suffering and perseverance are not recognised officially by the statue on the island. They are framed on a conservative maleactive – femalepassive dualism that denies any agency on the part of the women (either prisoners or relatives) and only celebrates the uncompromising attitude of the male prisoners. On of the directions of further research on the monuments will be to explore why in this case there was no female statue as well.


47This paper is developing some initial observations on my fieldwork. Because it refers to a work in progress there cannot be some definite conclusions drawn out of it at this point in time. It is dealing with some monuments I came across during my fieldwork and which are connected in my mind through a common thread. I looked mainly at the reasons these monuments were built, meaning what they were commemorating and how they were doing it.

48The next step for me is to explore why these ways of commemoration were chosen, through these particular symbols and engravings and what purpose they serve. Another point I intend to look at is what there monuments do not commemorate, as with the monument in Makronisos being obviously only male, and why. Whether these symbols that were chosen correspond to a communist, a Greek or a mixed identity and if one of them prevails at times, according to the general political situation inside Greece. Nevertheless these initial observations provide a good starting point from which to ground my observations to a more theoretical framework, compare these four monuments to the rest I have seen and also to the work I am going to be doing with the autobiographies of the veterans of the civil war.

49Combining monuments and autobiographies is going to give me a more clear idea about the general remembrance patterns of the war, through which the veterans articulate their stories. In their turn the more general patterns will give me a chance to see whether they have been incorporated into the body of official history and the degree to which they might have managed to achieve hegemony over the earlier versions of history.

50My work also needs to be situated in the wider field of memory studies, in relation to non-Greek literature about war and commemoration and the Greek studies about the memory of the Greek civil war.

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Alivizatos,Nikos: The Political Institutions in Crisis, (1922-1974), Themelio, Athens, 1995

Clogg,Richard: A Concise History Of Greece, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,1992

Cooper, J.C: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, Pirinos Kosmos, Athens, 1992

Gazette of the Government, 430, 5th June 1989,vol.2

Idria encyclopedia, V.22, Eteria Ellinikon Ekdoseon, Athens, 1983

Istoriko Topio kai Istoriki Mnimi, to Paradeigma tis Makronisou (Historical Landscape and Historical Memory, the example of Makronisos) (edited volume), Filistor, Athens, 2000

Mosse, George,L.: Nationalism And Sexuality, University of Wisconsin Press, Wisonsin, 1985

National Resistance, issues 85 & 123, P.E.A.E.A., Athens

P.E.A.E.A., The National Resistance Through Monuments, KMIEA editions, Athens, 2000.

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1 - Prominent politician of the Centre at the time
2 - Clogg, 1994, p.137
3 - National Resistance, issue 85, p.11-12 (The translation from the original Greek documents is the author’s, unless otherwise stated.)
4 - National Resistance, issue 85, p. 14
5 - Album of the Monuments for the Greek National Resistance, 2000, p.9
6 - These processes were institutionalised through the law ‘About National Re-education’ in October 1949
7 - Istoriko topio kai Istoriki mnimi, 2000,p.57
8 - See appendix for pictures of the monuments.
9 - Gazette of Government, 430, 5th June 1989,vol.2
10 - National Resistance, issue 123, p.110
11 - Idria Encyclopaedia, V.22, p.450,
12 - This was also demonstrated when in 2001 the government tried to introduce new identity cards, which would not include any mention of the holder’s religious beliefs. There was strong opposition from the Church and from part of the public. It also sparked off a debate about national identity and religion, and whether the state should be separated from the Church or not.
13 - Mosse, 1985
14 - Mosse,1985,p.97
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Kostantinos Charamis, « ‘Nothing and no one has been forgotten’: commemorating those who did not give in during the Greek civil war (1946-1949) »Cahiers de la Méditerranée, 70 | 2005, 173-193.

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Kostantinos Charamis, « ‘Nothing and no one has been forgotten’: commemorating those who did not give in during the Greek civil war (1946-1949) »Cahiers de la Méditerranée [En ligne], 70 | 2005, mis en ligne le 12 mai 2006, consulté le 17 avril 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Kostantinos Charamis

PhD student University of Essex

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