Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 12, No. 10. September 20th, 1949
The Glory that was Greece
The Glory that was Greece
Building bulwarks against bolshevism has proved an expensive business. Remember the Reparations remissions, the American-German loans, the British-Nazi Naval Treaty, and the Munich Sellout? Yes? Well those, if you remember, were links in the chain of building up a "strong" Germany to hold the red Russians in check. Strong in what? Its fruits will be painfully fresh in our memories—war against reason and free thought, war against minorities, war against workers and intellectuals, and World War.
But we have not learned our lesson. Again, we are building up bulwarks—against the same bolsheviks, the bolsheviks who, we tend to forget, fought in the Don Basin, and around Leningrad and Stalingrad.
At the Paris Peace Congress in April, Ilya Ehrenburg, the Bolshevik writer, asked "Who waxed so indignant at the intervention of 'the Reds' in Greek affairs, and is himself now lord and master in Athens?" For in Greece, in an effort to contain the contagion of a socialism growingly attractive to peoples for so long the pawns in a game of oil and power, first the British Foreign Office, and now the U.S. State Department, have built a new fascism.
Who led the resistance to the Nazi invader in Greece? Australian Colonel Sheppard, M.C., and New Zealand Lieut. John Denvir, D.C.M., who fought there, could answer that question. With the liberation, the democratic resistance elements—members of the guerilla armies and of the underground motley of industrial workers, peasant farmers, liberal professional men and students—were ready to assume the powers of government in a land that had known no sort of democracy since classical days. But what happened? Enter the British troops of General Scobic and Mr. Churchill. The Foreign Office, with its pre-war mind, hud decided that oil came before freedom, and that the life-line of Empire was mora Important than the life-blood of men. 1944-45: the popular elements were expelled from the government, and it was packed with those who had fled the occupation, and those who had been prewar dictator Metaxas' right-hand men. British troops were paid to make the Greek people agree—with machine-guns.
Said John Denvir: "It is a crime that British soldiers who have gone buck to Greece should be ordered to shoot down people who have assist-ed New Zealanders to escape" (The Truth About Greece, 1945), and Colonel Sheppard. "Fifty per cent. of the Foreign Office staff should be locked up for their responsibility in the spilling of Greek Wood" Cat Caxton Hall, 16/6/47). And again, the present Greek government "has all the elements of Fascism" (Auckland. Dec. 1947).
The New Invader
That is what has happened in Greece. Those who had fought the German invader, found their national freedom was menaced by another invader—this time from across the Atlantic. Many of them look to the mountains to join an armed resistance to the puppet government. Those that stayed, found legal security an intangible myth. The net result was the continuance of what British Labour M.P. Seymour Cocks described as "a national movement, and its purpose is the freeing of Greece from the domination of any foreign power whatsoever and the reconstruction of their country."
What foreign power, for instance? Colonel Sheppard (Greece's Struggle for Freedom, Sydney, Dec., 1948), lists the more notable footholds of American finance in Greece. They cover all Greece's main industries—lead, lignite and magnesium mining, hydro-electric and cotton ginning works.
In addition, only two quotations are needed to realise the extent of American intervention and the reason for it. The Greek correspondent of the New York Post wrote, 26/6/47, "The Athens government has granted the American missions very wide powers. News from Athens leads one to the conclusion that it is in reality the American mission which will govern Greece from now on," And Walter Lippman, writing in the Herold-Tribune in April of the same year, when Truman's Graeco-Turkish aid plan was announced, said: "We have chosen Turkey and Greece, not because they are actually in need of aid, but because they constitute for us the strategic door leading to the Black Sea and the heart of the U.S.S.R."
As for political inquisition in American Greece, a small book in French, entitled "Macronlssos—le Dachau americaln en Grece" (Feb., 1949) has been received by this Students' Association. This describes conditions in Greece's worst political concentration camp. The accuracy of the account is vouched for by over 50 former prisoners whose names are listed. In the words of the author, "this is a blot which soils our land, and an offence against the post-war world." After reading the gruesome description, you realize how mild these words are.
Colonel Sheppard describes cases within his own experience, of the brutality of the new gestapo—nearly all former employees of the quisling "security police"—chiefly against labour leaders and students.
"The Blue Book of the Greek Provisional Democratic Government" (August, 1948) list 1,289 known executions by the royalist government between February, 1945, and March, 1946.
But a case much closer to us as students is that recounted in the French bi-monthly intellectual organ "La Pensee" for Jan.-Feb., 1949. It concerns the summary execution of two of Greece's finest intellects, on the unsubstantiated charge that they were "implicated in plotting an act of sabotage."
The "trial" took place by court-martial In Athens on June 25 last year. The covering letter to "La Pensee" from Greece says, "We believe we can safely say that there was no such plot, and that most of the accused were known only for their republican and anti-fascist sentiments."
Remember the Nazi Johst's saying, "When I hear the word 'culture' I cock my revolver"? Remember Hitler's expulsion of Einstein and Mann, his screening of the Universities, his arrest and torture of Boenheim and Scheller? His massacre of Czech students? Fascism has always hated human beings who used their brains for the [unclear: etterment] of Mankind. Hon. John Strachey once wrote: "It is necessary for the Fascists, whose object it is to perpetuate our more and more irrational capitalist system, to assail in every conceivable way the supremacy of human reason."
Well, in the course of these proceedings in Athens, three years after the "defeat of fascism," the President of the Tribunal remarked, "We Must do away with these intellectuals—lfs them who threaten the established order." For two of the twenty accused were Dmitri Lagos, poet, and Christos Carambelas, economist.
You have never heard of them? The chances are there are many, poets and economists of great promise in your own college of whom you have never heard. They were 38 and 29 respectively. Lagos occupied in the Greek resistance movement the place of Aragon or Eluard in the French. His books of clandestine verse, notably The Fruitful Melancholy and Between the Yes and the No, were the marching songs of the underground. He had also translated much of Baudelaire and other French poets into Greek.
Carambelas had studied economics, and worked in a group of sociology students in the Anti-Nazi underground. He had written not only on economics, but on ethnology and even a paper on "The Music of the Ancients and the Phrygian Flue!" He could speak English, French. Russian, German and Italian, and had a fine resistance record.
Both men, without any trial beyond this militarist farce, were condemned to be shot. Lagos, from the dock, said, "In all my life, I have loved only the truth, and I have sung it together with my native land. ... I know how to die like a Greek."
Carambelas left a letter to his friends, written on the eve of his murder.
The Darkest Hour
"Man differs from the beasts in that be is endowed with reason. The Greeks ft was who first understood its power, who first used it to explain the world, That to why I am proud to be a Greek.
"Man in his relations with nature, made immense progress, and ended, through the sole instrumentality of bis reason, by mastering it in large measure. In his relations with society, man has not achieved these heights. This latter causes him, nevertheless, far greater evil than those caused him by nature.
"Let us understand this apparent weakness of man. Forward, all of us, to a science of society that is just and Justly applied. That is what I hold to. Judge my mistakes, find what was true in my ideas. That is what I ask of you.
"Greetings to you all,
"C. Carambelas, 24/6/48."
"Through the sunset of hope,
Like the shapes of a dream,
What Paradise islands of glory gleam!
Beneath heaven's cope.
"Their shadows more clear float by—
The sound of ther oceans, the light of their sky,
The music and fragrance their solitudes breathe
Burst, like morning on dream or like heaven on death,
Through the waits of our prison;
And Greece, which was dead, is arisen!!'