Fifty years after the uprising of the Polytechnic University, “To Vima” seeks a new look at the events that shaped the Postcolonization, through the book “Polytechnic University, 1973. The student uprising”, which is released on November 12 exclusively with “To Vima tis Kyriaki” . The important edition, with the signature of leading academics, writers and journalists and the scientific editing of three distinguished scientists and academics (V. Panagiotopoulou, G. Voulgari and S. Riza), explores the unknown aspects of the student uprising, captures the events of the dramatic three days and publishes rare testimonies of people who starred in the developments. One of them is Christoforos Argyropoulos, advocate of the civil action in the Polytechnic trial, who shares his memories and findings from what happened in the courtrooms.
Read an excerpt of his testimony:
The “POLYTECHNIC EVENTS”, the four glorious days of student protest against the dictatorial regime, who remained “free besieged” in the premises of Metsovio from the 14th to the dawn of the 17th of November 1973, ended dramatically not with their Exit, but with the tank invasion that leveled the gate of the historic building and what followed. This invasion was a “military operation” by the armed forces of the state against its own citizens. Against unarmed civilians.
The dead and injured in the area of the Polytechnic, but also in other areas of the capital in the following days, were “retaliation” for the student uprising, for the help given to them by the citizens and of course to prevent the looming generalization of the protest against the regime of violence.
The “songs of the military units”, after the completion of this operation, cannot be understood with any understanding of relations between a state and its protesting citizens in a civilized country, but refer to celebrations of an occupying army for its invasion of a country of unarmed citizens.
The damaged large iron door through which the Polytechnic was destroyed is today a monument. On the one hand, that night marked the end of the short “spring in the winter” of six years of unfreedom and oppression, which had begun with the occupation of Nomiki in March 1973. On the other hand, it defined the cultural difference between the brutality of the raw violence and in the “perpetual struggle for freedom”.
“THE STEP”, 16.10.1975, Historical Archive “THE STEP” | “THE NEWS”
The TRIAL for the Polytechnic began on 15.10.1975 and ended on 30.12.1975 before the Five-Member Court of Appeal of Athens, which was sitting in the courtroom that had been set up in the Korydallos prison area. During it, many witnesses, relatives of the dead and victims of the junta’s organs were examined.
The procedural behavior of the defendants was characterized, according to the publications of the time, for their disrespect to the mourning and the trial of those who appeared at the trial as civil plaintiffs. they called the students and citizens who encountered them a “mob” and in their apologies there was no trace of accountability, much less remorse.
The court decision for the defendants in the Polytechnic trial declared the defendants guilty, acquitted twelve of them and imposed life sentences on D. Ioannidis, S. Varnavas and N. Dertilis, a 25-year sentence on G. Papadopoulos and lesser sentences on others. The trial received wide publicity and its proceedings were published in the multi-volume edition “The trials of the junta”, published in 1976 under the direction of Pericles Rodakis and are an important source of knowledge for the modern political history of our country.
Three obvious findings
Three obvious conclusions can be drawn from the minutes of the Polytechnic trial:
THE FIRST is the political inadequacy of the dictators: they had the narcissistic illusion that social, political and cultural issues are first-order equations, which they solved like “good students” (or proxies). they ignored reality. The apology of the two successive “leaders” of the violent overthrow of democracy, G. Papadopoulos and D. Ioannidis, highlighted the emptiness, the banality and the illusion of grandeur that defined their insignificant political “ideology”. they did not even hesitate to conduct “politics lessons for beginners” during the trial.
“THE STEP”, 12.12.1975, Historical Archive “THE STEP” | “THE NEWS”
THE SECOND finding of the trial, noted above, is the absence of guilt. The personality of the man who commits a crime has a deep and tragic background, because the demands of forbidden impulses realized in the commission of the crime are condemned by the opposing elements of his personality. even trying to rationalize the guilt is an agonizing effort.
This observation is made instead of another evaluation of the incredible claim of Mr. Ioannidis during his apology, according to which “the platoon leader and the captain in the tank or personnel carrier are afraid that when (different) sections of demonstrators come into contact” it is difficult to their dissolution. “That’s why, trying to carry out their mission, they are being fired with intimidation. What is the consequence of fires? We are in an Athens now that is different from the Athens of 1923 and 1943. The streets are narrow, they have become apartment buildings, and he is driving his vehicle on an axis down a narrow street. He puts up, many bullets, as he moves and the tank or the personnel transport vehicle on the axle hits the walls of the apartment buildings, at an obtuse angle and wherever they fall, wherever there are people they kill.”
This is an expression of absolute moral indifference.
A THIRD finding from the Polytechnic trial is the fear of legitimizing the regime of violence. The establishment of the dictatorship was made by invoking the provision of the 1952 Constitution to declare the country in a “state of emergency”. without, of course, complying with the constitutional requirements. The original royal decree of 21.4.1967 appears to have never been signed. The beginning of the end of the tyranny was again made with the implementation of the provision of the Junt pseudo-constitutional texts for the implementation of the state of siege law.
This is a “normative” farce: it is impossible to logically explain the phenomenon of a violent regime resorting to “law of a state of siege”, as if it did not last continuously from 21.4.1967 until the collapse of the dictatorship. it is proven, however, that the junta “constitutions” were created solely to make the coup plotters look and feel “legitimated” and even “justified”.
“THE STEP”, 17.10.1975, Historical Archive “THE STEP” | “THE NEWS”
Throughout its duration, the dictatorship characterized itself as a “Revolution” and in fact in the trials against its organs in the Post-colonial period they used the argument that “revolution that prevails creates justice”. It is unthinkable for a violent regime, which catalyzes the existing legal order, to resort to invoking a “legal reason” to suspend civil liberties.
The explanation can be sought in the “nouveau riche” perception of the coup plotters, that a “state of violence” is, however, a “state” and since the “jewel” of the state is “justice”, legitimacy gives arbitrariness the value it has the democratic State. In reality, however, the coup was and remained a regime of violence, it never became a “legitimate” power. The junta overturned the existing legal regime. It was useless and provocative to invoke the “deon” of law. The regime of violence was imposed with tanks and with them he ended his life.
You will find the entire text of Christoforos Argyropoulos in the collected edition of “STEP”, Polytechnic University, 1973. The uprising