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BBC Radio 4

Greece: An Unquiet History

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Maria Margaronis asks if the spectre of Greece's unstable past is haunting its current nightmares. Culturally at Europe's heart, geographically at its edge, Greece has always been pulled and pushed by the contradictory needs of the big powers.

Maria looks back through the turbulent 20th Century that saw Greece suffer multiple national schisms. Beginning with the 1922 crisis of defeat against Turkey and the subsequent mass refugee influx that swelled Greece's population by around a fifth. War brought Nazi occupation that would last from 1941 to 1944 and led to compromise, collaboration and resistance that brought terrible reprisals, the virtual extermination of Greece's ancient Jewish communities & destruction for many villages. Those years would lead directly to the enduring trauma of Civil War. The central event for Margaronis that divided and still divides Greek society and memory. It saw Greek's fighting their former British allies in the streets of Athens in December 1944 and led to atrocities on both Left and Right and finally wholesale repression and exile of the Left after their defeat. Silence and then dictatorship and Junta from 1967 to 1974 would continue to divide society. The return of democracy and the rise of the PASOC party led to a different sort of memory, the unquestioning heroization of the wartime resistance and the celebration of Left wing memory that obscured painful questions of what Greeks had done to Greeks. Entry into Europe was potentially both a celebration of progress and a safe haven for Greek identity.

The recent financial crisis has made Greeks once again deeply divided about both Europe and their own history. The divisions remain and consciously or unconsciously, history is informing that debate.

Producer: Mark Burman.

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58 minutes

Last on

Sat 31 Mar 2012 20:00
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