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This Week in History: October 15th to 21st

October 15, 2021

OCTOBER 15TH:

On this day in 1980, Apostolos Nikolaidis, the Greek footballer, passed away at the age of 84. Born in Bulgaria, Nikolaidis was a member of the Greek community, he first moved to Thessaloniki and then to Athens where he joined the ‘family’ of Panathinaikos. He was a member of the team for more than 10 years and he eventually became the manager of Greece’s national football team, was elected president of the Hellenic Football Federation, and served as a board member of Panathinaikos AC before becoming president of the club in 1974. Many say his contribution was significant in the transformation of Panathinaikos and its becoming a successful multi-sports club. As an honor upon his death, his coffin was carried on the shoulders of eight athletes from different PAO departments. Panathinaikos’ stadium on Alexandras Avenue in Athens was named after him in 1981 at a ceremony presided by the then-Prime Minister Georgios Rallis.

OCTOBER 18TH:

On this day in 1918, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, the former Prime Minister of Greece, was born in Chalepa, Crete. Throughout his upbringing, and for the rest of his adult life, Mitsotakis was at the epicenter of Greek political life. When the Axis occupation commenced in 1941, Mitsotakis immediately signed up to be in the resistance. He joined the National Organization of Crete (EOK) to be part of a more concerted effort to combat the Nazis. Mitsotakis was a part of an intelligence network known as the ‘quintuplets’, where he was responsible for opening channels of communication between Allied commanders and anti-Nazi Greek revolutionary forces. For these actions, Mitsotakis was sentenced to death (twice) and imprisoned by the Nazi occupiers. Because of his knowledge of German and his moral standing, his life was spared. For his bravery and courage in the resistance against the Nazis, Mitsotakis was awarded numerous medals from the Greek and British governments. As the nephew of statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, Mitsotakis was first elected to Parliament as a member of the Liberal Party in 1946. In 1977, Mitsotakis re-entered Parliament as the head of the small Neoliberal Party and the following year joined the governing New Democracy party, serving first as Finance Minister and later as Foreign Minister. He became the party’s leader in 1984 while the conservatives were in opposition. Mitsotakis narrowly won the elections in 1990 and as Prime Minister. He reined in the more far right elements of New Democracy and infused liberalism into the party. He sought to simplify the tax code, overhaul the constitution, encourage privatization of state assets, reduce the deficit, and improve relations with the U.S. He accomplished all of these goals. After his resignation as party leader, Mitsotakis often made public statements urging governments to take bolder steps in their market reforms. Mitsotakis and his wife, Marika Giannoukou (who passed away in 2012), had four children: Dora, Katerina, Alexandra, and Kyriakos. He enjoyed good health until late in life and lived long enough to meet several great-grandchildren as well as to see his youngest child and only son, Kyriakos, elected as leader of New Democracy in January of 2016.

OCTOBER 20TH:

On this day in 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis on Onassis’ private island of Skorpios. With the marriage, Jacqueline Kennedy became Jackie ‘O’ to the mainstream public. The marriage was a watershed moment for Onassis as he sought to cement his prestige internationally. For part, following the assassination of her husband and her husband’s brother, Jackie no longer felt safe in the United States and considered her children to be the next logical targets for any potential future Kennedy killing. By marrying Onassis, Jackie acquired financial security, privacy on his secluded private island of Skorpios.

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