Who’s afraid of history?

It’s been 40 years since the day former King Constantine fled his home in Tatoi but the ghosts he left behind still haunt us. The controversy surrounding the auction of royal property has exposed the hypocrisy of the political and media establishment. We lament our lost legacy and, at the same time, we overlook the destruction of the Tatoi estate. We focus on the Faberge eggs and other details of the sale but we fail to protect our heritage. History is what really happened, not what we would have like to have happened. It matters little if the famous «No» to the Italian ultimatum in 1940 came from the lips of Ioannis Metaxas or the people. That should be left to historians to decide. That doesn’t change the fact that Metaxas’s home in Kifissia is of great historical importance or that is where the declaration took place. It goes without saying that the state ought to have renovated the building and used it as a monument. There is no good and bad history. No one can rewrite it, leaving big gaps or omissions for that would not be real history but a Stalinist or fascist construct. Blanket political correctness has often backfired as repeated attempts to rename main streets in Athens demonstrates. Scrapping the name Vassilissis Sofias (Queen Sofia) does not change anything. It only makes one look foolish. Monarchy is no longer an issue in Greece, but we still treat our past with a good deal of insecurity. A modern, confident state would turn the Tatoi estate into a museum, all with signs indicating where Pavlos died, where Constantine met with the architects of the coup. Claims that a museum would become a site for royalist groups are groundless as these are harmless, if not colorful people. The best way to exorcise past demons is not by deleting chunks of history or allowing sinful buildings to crumble. It’s best to respect them for what they are.

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