Athens Polytechnic Uprising Remembrance Day in Greece Date in the current year: November 17, 2022

Athens Polytechnic Uprising Remembrance Day in Greece Athens Polytechnic Uprising Remembrance Day is observed in Greece on November 17 every year. It commemorates a massive student protest that eventually led to the end of the Greek junta, also known as Regime of the Colonels.

The political climate of post-WWII Greece was characterized by turbulence, which eventually resulted in a military coup. In 1965, King Constantine II dismissed centrist Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, appointed an interim government, and scheduled new elections for May 28, 1967.

A little more than a month before the scheduled election, a group of right-wing army officers staged a coup and seized power. The king refused to act against the coup and instead recognized the colonels as the legitimate government. He did attempt a counter-coup several months later, but his attempt failed, and Constantine was sent into exile.

The Regime of the Colonels ruled Greece for seven years. This period in the country’s history was characterized by restriction of civil liberties, oppression of political opponents, anti-communism, and right-wing policies.

In 1973, politically active students began to protest against the junta. The first massive student strike took place in February, when law students in Athens protested against the law imposing forcible conscription.

Several months later, the military junta held a referendum where almost 80% of voters supported the abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a republic. People were promised a gradual transition to democracy, but members of the anti-dictatorial student movement were not satisfied with empty promises.

On November 14, 1973, students at the Athens Polytechnic started protesting against the Regime of the Colonels. As the spontaneous demonstration grew, thousands of people from Athens joined in to support the students. Protesters barricaded themselves at the Athens Polytechnic and started to broadcast a radio message encouraging the people of Greece to join the struggle against the dictatorship.

On November 17, the transitional government led by Georgios Papadopoulos sent a tank crashing through the gates of the university. According to the official investigation held after the fall of the junta, none of the students were killed during the accident, but at least two dozen civilians were killed outside the campus. In addition, over a thousand civilians were injured in the uprising.

Although the Athens Polytechnic uprising was quelled, it was the final push needed to end the junta. The uprising discredited the military government, exposed its internal contradictions, and triggered the ideological collapse of the junta.

The anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising is commemorated with wreath laying ceremonies and a march through Athens that usually starts at the Athens Polytechnic and ends outside the United States embassy as a reminder that the United States supported the junta. Over the years, the march has become a focal point for various protesters, so clashes with the police and arrests are a common occurrence. The Greek government has tried to ban commemorative gatherings several times, but they still take place every year in Athens and other Greek cities.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Greece

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Athens Polytechnic Uprising Remembrance Day, observances in Greece, remembrance days in Greece, 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising