The Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 was a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967-1974. The uprising began on November 14, 1973, escalated to an open anti-junta, anti-US and anti-imperialist revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic.
Prior to the crackdown, the city lights had been shut down, and the area was only lit by the campus lights, powered by the university generators. An AMX 30 Tank (still kept in a small armored unit museum in a military camp in Avlonas, not open to the public) crashed the rail gate of the Athens Polytechnic at around 03:00am. In unclear footage clandestinely filmed by a Dutch journalist, the tank is shown bringing down the main steel entrance to the campus to which people were clinging.
Documentary evidence also survives, in recordings of the “Athens Polytechnic” radio transmissions from the occupied premises. In these a young man’s voice is heard desperately asking the soldiers (whom he calls ‘brothers in arms’) surrounding the building complex to disobey the military orders and not to fight ‘brothers protesting’. The voice carries on to an emotional outbreak, reciting the lyrics of the Greek National Anthem, until the tank enters the yard, at which time transmission ceases.
According to an official investigation undertaken after the fall of the Junta, no students of Athens Polytechnic were killed during the incident. Total recorded casualties amount to 24 civilians killed outside Athens Polytechnic campus. These include 19-year old Michael Mirogiannis, reportedly shot to death by officer G. Dertilis, high-school students Diomedes Komnenos and Alexandros Spartidis of Lycee Leonin, and a five-year-old boy caught in the crossfire in the suburb of Zografou.
The records of the trials held following the collapse of the Junta document the circumstances of the deaths of many civilians during the uprising, and although the number of dead has not been contested by historical research, it remains a subject of political controversy. In addition, hundreds of civilians were left injured during the events.
I truly hope our leaders, especially today’s PASOK party comes to tune with tomorrow’s holiday. Almost 40 years ago some of its members such as PASOK EU Parliamentarian Maria Damani was one of the voices we heard saying:”Polytechnic here, Polytechnic here”. These students stood proud, much in the way many other protestors have stood since then to fight against fascism, they opposed a military Junta, (regime) much in the way young people are opposing it today only in this case it is of an economic nature.
This was the generation that ruled our country for the next four decades, and brought it to the point it is today, or total collapse.
They went from freedom fighters to greedy, and corrupt citizens.
What a shame….
Nonetheless, people still respect and honor November 17 and it is still observed as a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments; commemorative services are held and students attend school only for these, while some schools and all universities stay closed during the day.
The central location for the commemoration is the campus of the Polytechneio in central Athens. The campus is closed on the 15th (the day the students first occupied the campus on 1973).
Students and politicians lay wreaths on a monument within the Polytechneio on which the names of Polytechneio students killed during the Greek Resistance in the 1940s are inscribed. The commemoration day ends traditionally with a demonstration that begins from the campus of the Polytechneio and ends at the United States embassy. (Source Wikipedia)