Monday, December 8, 2014
Anniversary of a Greek Tragedy
One of the problems that arises in judging just how true a reflection of the popular will the referendum was has its roots in determining how effective all of the anti-monarchy propaganda was that was fed to the Greek public. The leader of the military junta, George Papadopoulos, had accused King Constantine of being the worst sort of character imaginable, going to plainly absurd lengths to link him to every sort of crime and every sort of criminal any decent person would naturally despise. If the public believed any of what Papadopoulos told them, they would have thought King Constantine was in league with malevolent foreign powers looking to exploit them, all the way down to plain murderers, traffickers and other criminals. Did anyone actually believe this? It seems impossible to think so, certainly for anyone who had any knowledge of the King and Queen at all.
Queen Frederika of Brunswick had first earned a fearsome reputation during the civil war because of her strident anti-communism. Funded generously by wealthy American friends she established the Royal Welfare Institute to care for orphans being created and victimized by the communists. Not content to sit idle, she went out to the front lines herself to rescue these children whose parents had been killed or who had abandoned them to join the communists. Originally, she was quite popular, but by 1967 she had become the female version of the bogey man of the Greek Royal Family. Being from Germany and a fierce anti-communist she was, of course, accused of secretly being a Nazi as well as a tool of exploitation by greedy American capitalists because of her many friendships with people in the United States. She was blamed for anything unpopular with an ill-advised trip by King Paul and herself to Constantinople in 1952 being one well-known example. Again, she had once been very popular but by the late 60’s it was no longer fashionable to be anti-communist or pro-American and Queen Frederika was seen as both as well as having a reputation for being domineering and independent that made those with power suspicious of her. Needless to say, she featured heavily in the campaign propaganda for the republicans, “warning” Greeks that a return of the monarchy would also mean the return of the now vilified Queen Frederika.
The referendum held on this day in 1974 was unjust in a variety of ways. It should be overturned without delay. My friendly, unsolicited, advice to Greece today would be this: toss out the lot of the political establishment in Athens, restore the monarchy, leave the European Union, restore the drachma and start to make investment in Greece attractive again. You might also want to keep an eye on that rather unsavory Erdogan fellow too…