A new study on resistance and terror groups in Greece from 1967 to 1974 will be launched at noon on Wednesday 3 December at Ianos bookstore (24 Stadiou) in Athens.
Published by Lycabettus Press, Greek Urban Warriors: Resistance & Terrorism, 1967–2014 is the work of eight years of research by Athens resident and former US diplomat Brady Kiesling, who in 2003 resigned from his position as chief of the political section of the US embassy in Athens in protest at Iraq invasion.
While its focus is on Revolutionary Organisation November 17 (17N), the deadliest armed group in Greece in the period that killed 23 people before being dismantled in 2002, the book also looks at the myriad of other groups active in the country over the last four decades.
Kiesling began working on the project in 2007, when he produced a short handbook on Greek terrorism based on official accounts. It turned into a multiyear research project to to disentangle the lies and wishful thinking of Greek urban guerrillas and the people pursuing them.
Fluent in ancient and modern Greek, Kiesling watched the 17N appeals trial, interviewed key participants, waded through masses of archival material, and used computer software and painstaking deduction to reconstruct the secret history of the Greek armed revolutionary movement.
Kiesling is the author of Diplomacy Lessons: Realism for an Unloved Superpower (Potomac 2006) and numerous articles. He lives in Athens, where he writes on history, archaeology, ancient religion, and politics.
Extract from Greek Urban Warriors: Resistance & Terrorism, 1967–2014
Chapter 13 CATHARSIS BY BLOOD AND BALLOT—1989
The mood in Greece at the beginning of 1989 was foul. The scale and brazenness of the Koskotás embezzlement/bribery scandal humiliated the state. In early January, ex-president Karamanlís broke his silence to pronounce Greece “a boundless mental institution.” The demoralized government offered a pathetic “no comment.”
In a boundless mental institution few thought it strange that radical leftist urban guerrillas insisted on the same right as other inmates to comment on social policy. However, 17 November was torn by conflicting aspirations. On the one hand, its members wanted the guilty punished. On the other hand, “catharsis” implied redemption, while revolutionary dogma clearly stated that capitalism was unredeemable. 17N could not bear the thought of the hated Right being wafted back into power on the strength of these scandals. It hated SYN and its constituent communist parties as a contemptible crutch for the capitalist system, but was realistic in dismissing the small revolutionary parties as too weak to be relevant in a bourgeois election where votes were counted.
Ultimately, 17N members hated PASOK less than they hated PASOK’s rivals. Without wanting to, 17N became part of the mechanism for PASOK’s redemption. Its first step was an attempt to strengthen the spine of the judiciary to pursue and punish scandals.
On January 10, prosecutor Kóstas Androulidákis left his house in Zográfou at 8:10 in the morning and walked 50 meters to his parked car. …