Names and history

Following through on a recommendation in a recent linguistic study, the army general staff decided to change the spelling of «Goudi» on road signs. This correct decision will restore the spelling of a location that derives its name from a renowned naval family from the island of Spetses. Apart from the spelling concerns, Goudi has its own dramatic history which led to the bitter division of Greece’s bourgeois class before it reunited against the communist threat after WW II. It was here that an extraordinary court ordered the execution of Greece’s conservative leaders. But the victims of partisan hatred were to be forgotten by their enemies and peers alike. There would be no objection if all the tragic events in our nation’s history were doomed to disappear into oblivion. The problem is that the cultivation of Greek historical memory has been extremely eclectic. Conservative leaders recently crammed together in attendance at the civic remembrance service for late Greek leader Eleftherios Venizelos. Karamanlis personally admires the founder of the Liberal party. At the same time, the late premier Dimitrios Gounaris and his aides, who represented half the Greek population, have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Only a few of their relatives gather once every year for a humble memorial in the absence of conservative officials. No one wishes any return to the time of ideological conflict. But the one-sided reading of history brings dangerous distortions that impact on current political ideas. Parties are constantly evolving so as to adapt to the changing environment. But should they turn their back on the core of their founding principles, they will loose their raison d’etre. Fixing the name of Goudi is good. But a well-rounded and balanced reading of the events that culminated on November 15, 1922 in Goudi would be far more useful.

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