Politics of Recognition

The Afterlife of Greek Resistance in Law History and Memory (1944-2006)

Politics of Recognition

The “Politics of Recognition: The Afterlife of Greek Resistance in Law, History and Memory (1944-2006)” research programanalyzed the course of the state’s recognition of the national liberation activity of Greek movements, groups, and individuals during World War II and the Occupation (1941–1944). The Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) and the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation (GSRI), under the HFRI Post-doc Fellowship grant (GA. No 15179), supported this research, which was conducted at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA).

The 1982 recognition of the National Resistance through Law 1285 is well known and considered to be one of the Third Hellenic Republic’s most important and positive events. However, the adventure of recognizing the National Resistance neither began nor ended in 1982.  At two earlier key moments in post-war history, the state recognized the national liberation activities of groups and individuals who had acted during the Occupation. In the last year of the Civil War, the Sofoulis government attempted to fulfil the promises it made in the early days of the 1944 Liberation with Emergency Law 971/1949. Subsequently, the Colonels’ dictatorship tried to incorporate the National Resistance into its anti-communist reconstruction of the state and exploit the Resistance’s moral and political capital with Decree-Law 179/1969.

Why did it take 62 years to honor all those who had fought against the occupying forces? This research project attempted to answer this question by analyzing two distinct but intertwined processes: the process of recognition, i.e., a constellation of state practices, and the demand for recognition, i.e., the demands of the Resistance world, a dynamic social subject that changed over time.

The axes of our research were the three basic recognition laws—Emergency Law 971/1949 during the Civil War, the dictatorship’s Decree-Law 179/1969, and Law 1285/1982—through which three cycles of recognition occurred,representing nodes of the broader process of political and social competition.

In this project, we examined the relationship between politics and history.We paid close attention to the political process as a generator of historical narrativesand to politics as a multitude of interconnected processes (legal processes, public discourse, the organizations’activities, the state’s institutional activities, etc.). We also focused on how historical subjects participated in this process and the ways in which their actions took place by recreating a social and political mosaic that narrated the experience and memory of war and resistance.

Ultimately, documenting and analyzingthe National Resistance’s recognition allowed us to revisit postwar Greek history’s intertemporality;reflect on its crucial transitions, continuities, discontinuities and ruptures;and explain recognition’s pivotal role in the symbolic hierarchy of Greek politics and society throughout the post-war period. That process was shaped by, but also shaped, key events in Greek post-war history, such as the Civil War, the Dictatorship and theMetapolitefsi. At the same time, this approach let us connect the Greek case to the international history of the legacy and memory of World War II.

Our analysis draws on a variety of sources:

i.) The National Resistance Archive of the Directorate of Reservists, Soldiers, Victims, and Disabled (DEPATHA), where we examined the military Recognition Committees’ decisions; the documentation that Resistance organizations and individuals provided for recognition; the Resistance organizations that were recognized or rejected (537 in total); and the memoranda and queries that Resistance veterans, their social associations and parliament members from across the political spectrum sent to DEPATHA;

ii.) the Attica Prefecture Archive in Aspropyrgos, where we examined the individual recognition applications, Prefectural Recognition Committee decisions, memorandafrom individuals and social associations, and their correspondence with the DEPATHA and the Ministry of the Interior;

iii.) the General State Archives (GAK) of South Cyclades, where we reviewed the archives of the Panhellenic Union of National Resistance Fighters (PEAEA) of Syros, one of the EAM’s most important former Resistance combatant groups;

iv.) the Contemporary Social History Archives (ASKI), where we documented the material on the Left’s constant demand for recognition through associations, committees, etc. under the EDA’s auspices, and the Archive of the “United National Resistance 1941–1944” Movement.

v.) the Geannadius Library, Georgios N. Papaioannou Archive, where we researched data on recognition legislation and the process of recognizing the EDES department in Trichonida;

vi.) the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive (ELIA), where we analyzed EthinikiAntistasi (National Resistance), the official newspaperof the Panhellenic Union of Resistance Organizations Association (PESEA), one of the biggest former EDES combatant organizations; and

vii.) the National Parliamentary Library, where we studied the parliamentary debate records pertaining to the National Resistance from 1946–2006 (185 records).

viii.) Finally, we thoroughly reviewed the press from the entire 1944–2006 period (793 articles);

ix.) and we examined the overall legislation that stemmed from implementing the basic recognition laws (65) as well as the benefits that former combatants were awarded through legislative acts (102).

The project’s deliverables are:

  1. A database that includes:
    • the resistance organizations that were either recognized or rejected
    • public discourse (parliamentary records and the press)
    • legislation
    • benefits awarded to former resistance combatants
  2. an article in a scientific journal
  3. an edited volume
  4. an interactive bilingual web documentary

A Long Adventure