November 17: the Polytechnic uprising

November 10, 2023

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It's April 1967, Greece. A group of colonels overthrows the government.

The USA were also interested in suppressing Socialists and supported the Junta Leaders. American Vice President Spiro Agnew (born to a Greek immigrant father) even praised the junta as 'the best thing to happen to Greece since Pericles ruled in ancient Athens' (!).

Τhe emblem of the Junta

Six years have passed. It's 1973 now, and a massive student demonstration against the military junta takes place. Its main centre is the Athens Polytechnic (Πολυτεχνείο in Greek). An uprising has began...

On November 17th, a tank eventually crashes through the university's gates, ending the uprising in bloodshed and leaving several dead and injured.

A few months later, on 24 July 1974, and under the pressure of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the dictatorship ends leading to democracy and the establishment of the Third Hellenic Republic.

Photos and headlines from the invasion in Cyprus

'17 November' also became the name of a Greek far-left urban guerrilla organization (designated a terrorist group) formed in 1975, which attacked the Greek state, banks, and businesses, as well as American, Turkish, and British targets (their first attack was against the U.S. CIA's station chief in Athens, Richard Welch), and was disbanded in 2002.

The flag of the 17 November organization

Until now, November 17 is marked as a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments, and marches usually take place in the centre of major cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 the public commemoration and gatherings were prohibited. Nevertheless, several people, including political parties, defied the orders of the police leading to riots in Athens and other cities.

Protesters in the centre of Athens
wearing Covid masks