A short, instructive story

In August 1947, Greece’s civil war was raging. The government-controlled National Army faced troops of the Democratic Army across mainland Greece, Crete and other islands. The death toll was rising. The British were about to leave the country and the weight of supporting the constitutional, political and social regime shifted to the US (following the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine). Rebel activity near the urban centers suggested that the bloodiest days were still to come. The Athens government was in crisis. In Strasbourg, Miltiadis Porfyrogenis had already announced, in June 1947, the creation of a KKE provisional government. As the killing raged, some of the more well-off in Athens applied for passports so that they (or their children) could flee the country, leaving the defense of the regime (of which they were privileged citizens) with others. Some levelheaded generals and politicians were worried about the implications that draft dodgers would have on the troops’ morale (given that communist newspapers were still circulating). At the intervention of PM Dimitrios Maximos, some 200 passports and permits, mostly belonging to merchants and industrialists, were revoked. Costas Karagiorgis sought to capitalize on the issue, writing an article in Rizospastis with the headline: «Petty nationalists, where will you go?» The article caused a fuss, but the wealthy (and not so patriotic) had already found ways to dodge military service. Doctors were willing to issue exemption forms in exchange for money. It was then that the necessary scapegoat was found: The son of a merchant family was arrested and executed so that the system could continue to function profitably. In more peaceful times, a TV star could suffice as a scapegoat. It’s the system that matters – not duty to one’s country or other pompous stuff.

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