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This Week in History: October 8th to 14th

OCTOBER 8TH:

On this day in 1987, Konstantinos Tsatsos, the Greek politician and second President of the Third Hellenic Republic (1975-1980) died at the age of 88. Born in Athens, he graduated from law school before joining the diplomatic corps. He completed his doctoral studies in Germany and returned to Greece where he became a professor of law in 1932. He was exiled for opposing the dictatorial 4th of August Regime under Prime Minister of Greece Ioannis Metaxas in 1940. Later, during the Axis Occupation of Greece, he participated in the Greek Resistance and eventually fled to the Middle East where the exiled Greek government was seated. After the end of the War, he returned to Greece where he became a minister for the first time – serving as Minister of the Interior. After the formation of the National Radical Union by Constantine Karamanlis, he became a member of that party and one of the closest colleagues of Karamanlis – even though, ideologically, he was a left-centrist and not a conservative. He worked alongside Karamanlis for many years and was eventually elected President of the Republic by the parliament. Tsatsos retired after serving his five-year term. He died less than a decade later and was survived by his wife, Ioanna nee Seferiadou, the sister of the Nobel Laureate poet George Seferis.

OCTOBER 9TH:

On this day in 1962, Theo Sarapo (ne Theophanis Lamboukas), the Greek-French singer and actor, married French singer Edith Piaf. Sarapo was born in Paris to Greek parents. Formerly a hairdresser, he was 26-years-old when he married the 46-year-old Piaf after being introduced to her by her secretary. Their marriage was a short one – Piaf died exactly one year and one day after their wedding day. After Piaf's death, French law transferred her seven million francs worth of debts to Sarapo, leading to his eviction on Christmas Day 1963 from the apartment they shared on Boulevard Lannes. Sarapo also passed away at a young age – he was 34. He died on the side of the road in Limoges following an automobile accident in August of 1970. Fun fact: Lamboukas’ stage name ‘Sarapo’, as pronounced in French, is Greek for ‘I Love You’ and was chosen by Piaf herself.

OCTOBER 13TH:

On this day in 1993, Andreas Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASKOK) won the general elections of Greece, making Papandreou the prime minister of Greece for the second time. He served the country for about three years until his health forced him to retire in January of 1996. Papandreou attended the American College in Athens and studied law at the University of Athens. A Trotskyite, he was imprisoned briefly by the dictator Ioannis Metaxas and, when freed, fled to the United States where he received his PhD from Harvard University and obtained U.S. citizenship a year later. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he taught at Harvard, the University of Minnesota, and the University of California, Berkeley. When his father became Prime Minister of Greece in 1963, Papandreou gave up his U.S. citizenship, returned to his native country and won election to the Greek parliament – thereby jump-starting his political career.

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