Controversial book has poor historical memory

The title of an article in Kathimerini by Apostolos Lakassas on May 5, about the Athens Academy report on a controversial history textbook, was «A book with a poor historical memory.» Education Minister Marietta Giannakou has promised that the authors will take the report into account when they revise the book for the next school year. The report was written by Academy members and professors of history Michalis Sakellarios and Constantinos Svolopoulos. They do not recommend withdrawing the book, as a majority of the public would like, but they do make mention of «a casual approach to events of major importance.» A growing number of people have objected to this sentence in the reference to the Asia Minor disaster: «The Greeks crowded into the port [of Smyrna] trying to get onto the boats and reach Greece,» which has become a joke, and not only among those with Asia Minor roots. As the report notes: «There is no mention of the fact that the Greeks were forcibly ejected from their homes. Nor is it mentioned that the Greeks of the Pontus and Eastern Thrace were either forcibly removed or compelled to repatriate.» The report goes on to say that the text «mentions that around 1.2 million Orthodox Greeks were transported from Asia Minor, but it does not mention that this exodus put an end to a centuries-old creative presence.» And, this column notes, they were «transported» by American, French, and Italian ships as refugees, with only the clothes they wore; families were separated, women gave birth on deck, and at the various ports where they disembarked, the only luggage they had was that they were Greeks and had come to the motherland, which took care of them. The report concludes: «The Academy finds the book’s mention of the Greeks’ struggle against the Axis in WWII to be absolutely and provocatively inadequate.» The extract from the textbook is as follows: «Greece entered the war on October 28, 1940, when it replied in the negative to Mussolini’s ultimatum. The Greeks, in 1940-1941, repelled the Italian forces from the Greek-Albanian border, achieving significant victories.» For this year at least, pupils in the fifth year of primary school will study and learn from a book «which contains a considerable number of inaccuracies, errors and omissions, often of substantial importance.» So says the Athens Academy.