This Week in History: February 7th to 13th

Photo from the Varkiza Peace Agreement. (Photo via flickr@Joanna)

February 8th:

On this day in 1980, Nikos Xilouris, the famous Greek singer and composer, passed away at the young age of 43 from a brain tumor. Xilouris was born in the village of Anogeia in Crete. He acquired his first lyre at the age of twelve and displayed great potential in performing local Cretan music. As the years went on, his songs and music were said to capture the Cretan psyche and demeanor, earning him the nickname of “Archangel of Crete.” He first performed outside of Greece in 1966 and won the first prize in the San Remo Folk Music Festival. The following year, he established the first Cretan Music Hall in the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete.

February 11th:

On this day in 1978, EOKA-B, the Greek-Cypriot paramilitary organization formed in 1971 by General George Grivas, disbanded in Cyprus. (Unlike the original organization EOKA which was seen by the majority of Greek Cypriots as an anti-colonialist freedom-fighter group, EOKA-B did not have the same support). The organization followed an ultra-right wing nationalistic ideology and had the ultimate goal of achieving the Enosis (union) of Cyprus with Greece. Due to its attacks on civilians, it was considered a terrorist organization and was outlawed by the Republic of Cyprus, led by Makarios III (who the organization wanted to overthrow and eventually did). Among the attacks EOKA-B was responsible for is the Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda massacre, the kidnapping of the son of President Spyros Kyprianou, and for being involved in the assassination of U.S. Ambassador Rodger Paul Davis (the homicide charges were eventually dropped). According to the Washington Post’s 1970s Cyprus correspondent, Joseph Fitchett, the EOKA-B members were “motivated by a mixture of patriotism, money and macho.”

February 12th:

On this day in 1945, the Varkiza Peace Agreement was signed by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time and the Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for EAM-ELAS (the military arm of the left-wing National Liberation Front during the period of the Greek Resistance) following the latter’s defeat during the Dekemvriana clashes. One of the aspects of the accord promised that members of the EAM-ELAS would be permitted to participate in political activities if they surrendered their weapons. EAM-ELAS surrendered their weapons over the next few weeks which included almost 50,000 rifles, over 1500 submachine guns, as well as many other types of heavy artillery. Ultimately, however, the promises enshrined in the Treaty were not upheld. The main problem was that the treaty gave amnesty only for political reasons, but many actions by the communists during the Dekemvriana were viewed as nonpolitical. And thus, the events that followed entailed widespread killings of communists. Even though the Treaty was not ultimately enforced, it was nevertheless a diplomatic attempt towards officially ending the civil war.

 

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