The coup d'etat was followed by a wave of arrests and heavy-handed repression. The number of exiles and prison inmates soared to unprecedented heights. The population of the "islands of exile" spiralled: Anafi, Ikaria, Gavdos, Antikythira, Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Ios, Sikinos, Santorini, Amorgos, Naxos, Paros, Sifnos, Skyros, Alonnisos and Ayios Efstratios each had hundreds of deportees.
RecantationThe Metaxas regime enacted a mass of legislation directed against "enemies of the regime". These laws provided the legal foundations for measures that would have a far-reaching impact on Greece's social and political life right down to the fall of the military junta and the abolition of the monarchy in 1974: measures such as formal recantations of Communism ("declarations of repentance") and official certificates of "healthy social views", not to mention the legislative provisions for the opening of the first concentration camps for political prisoners. And so there came into being an interlocking package of laws and other measures designed primarily to punish intentions and ideas, and only secondarily to punish deeds.
Whereas a prisoner convicted of a criminal offence was released at the end of his term, the only way for a political prisoner to win release was by signing a recantation. The security forces applied extreme psychological pressure and brutal physical torture to extract recantations.
Political Exiles Coexistence GroupsIn the places of exile, as in the prisons, the deportees took steps to organize their life collectively. To deal with the problems of undernourishment, illness, despondency and depression, as well as the most unlikely restrictions imposed on them at the whim of the local police chief, they formed "Political Exiles' Coexistence Groups" (known in Greek by the acronym OSPE).
Solidarity was the bond that kept these groups together, and their raison d'etre was to meet the bare minimum of the exiles' basic needs. The OSPE also organized cultural events and classes.
April 1941: The "last crime of the Metaxas Regime"
Manolis Glezos, Ethniki Antistasi 1940-1945 (National Resistance 1940-1945), II, Athens, 147.
Although political prisoners and political exiles pleaded to be allowed to go and fight on the Albanian front and, later, to resist the Nazi invasion, the security forces not only prevented them from defending themselves and their country but handed them over as hostages to the army of occupation.
The victims of starvation on Ai-Stratis in the winter of 1941-1942The "last crime of the Metaxas regime" was particularly atrocious in the case of the exiles on Ai-Stratis. Before the arrival of the German garrison in May 1941 the exiles requested to be released so that they could fight against the Occupation forces; but the Gendarmerie attacked them and killed three of them. Following the surrender of the island to a detachment of the German garrison on Limnos, the gendarmes kept all the exiles confined in the Infirmary (the building that is now the Museum of Democracy). Here 33 exiles died of starvation during the terrible winter of 1941-1942. Those who survived were rescued in July 1943 by a caique in the service of the Greek Popular Liberation Navy (ELAN), the naval arm of the well-known resistance group ELAS (National Popular Liberation Army).
Agathopoulos, Alekos, a tuberculosis sufferer from Piraeus
Alexiadis, Haralambos, shoemaker, from Kokkinia
Yiasimakis, Kostas, labourer, from Kavala
Yiouvekas, Vassilis, labourer, from Mytilini
Grivas, Anastasis, waiter, from the Peloponnese
Grintakis, Manolis, shoemaker, from Crete
Dimitriou, Vassilis, student, from Doris
Doxakis, Christos, labourer, from Kavala
Zonos, Iraklis, businessman, from Rethymno
Theodoridis, Thodoros, builder, from Athens
Kali, Sido, a Jewish bronzesmith from Thessaloniki
Kambeli, Minas, a Jewish labourer from Trikala
Kandilas, Yannis, a young labourer from Kavala
Keramaris, Dimitris, a young labourer from Alexandroupoli
Kiourtsis, Yannis, labourer, from E. Macedonia
Koutalakidis, Stathis, student, from Langadas
Lefkaditis, Kostas, tailor, from Lamia
Mitsis, Kostas, labourer, from Ipiros
Molidis, Kostas, labourer, from Thessaloniki
Barakis, Haralambos, labourer, from Alexandroupoli
Nikolaidis, Vangelis, a tobacco worker suffering from tuberculosis
Ikonomou, Antonis, driver, from Thessaloniki
Pantazis, Yorgos, labourer, from Lamia
Raftopoulos, Yannis, student, from Parga
Sarakatsianos or Fezos, Dimitris, farm worker, from Thessaly
Spandonis, Thanassis, tobacco worker, from Nigrita
Stamatiadis, Georgios, tailor, from Athens
Stavrianopoulos, Panayiotis, labourer
Traianos, Tassos, barber, from Edessa
Tsonos, Serafim, labourer, from Karditsa
Havanis, Christos, farm worker, from Preveza
Hadzidis, A., farm worker, from Macedonia