Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis - Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη  
A citizen's rights should include
the right to know one's history.

Philippos Iliou

Life in Ai-Stratis: Outsiders

"Those Outside"

Continuance in force of the emergency Civil War legislation, and the resulting social conditions in the 1950s and 1960s

The year 1952 saw the adoption of a new constitution, which generally followed the liberal constitutions of 1864 and 1911 but with a few amendments to make slightly more autocratic. However, the defining characteristic of this period was what one might call constitutional dualism, that is the parallel enforcement of the Emergency Laws and Decrees enacted during the so-called 'guerrilla uprising' (1947-1949), whose continued validity had been confirmed by the 1952 Revisionary Assembly.

The main law that posed the greatest threat to the Left's freedom of action was Emergency Law 375/1936, which was concerned with the crime of espionage, as well as E.L.509/1947, which outlawed the Communist Party 'and its offshoots'. In most of the trials held after the end of the Civil War, and especially after the adoption of the 1952 constitution, the charge sheet was drawn up on the basis of the provisions of E.L. 375/1936 (as in the trial of N. Beloyannis, D. Batsis, and N. Kaloumenos which resulted in their execution, the trial of N. Ploumbidis which also resulted in his execution, etc.).

A great many such legislative acts remained in force even though they patently conflicted with the provisions of the constitution, the following being just a few cases in point:

  • Decree 40 of 21st June 1948 "On the confiscation of the property of participants in the bandit war"
  • Decree 37 of 7th December 1947 "On stripping those involved in anti-national activity abroad of their Greek nationality"
  • Emergency Law 516 of 8th January 1948 "On vetting the respect for the law of public servants, etc."

The implementation of law and order in the first two decades after the end of the Civil War was dominated by the concept of ethnikofrosyni, translatable as "national-mindedness" or "loyalty to the nation". The legacy of the Civil War was encapsulated in the practice of issuing "certificates of civic-mindedness". Anyone and everyone was potentially under suspicion of having committed any of the acts criminalized by the emergency measures adopted in 1947-1949, and so those measures were backed up by the introduction of universal vetting of citizens' socio-political views. At first, "certificates of civic-mindedness" were compulsory for everybody employed or seeking employment in public administration, the judiciary and so forth; but eventually they were needed even for the most straightforward dealings with the authorities.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

One of the main arguments for repealing the 'paraconstitution' of emergency legislation relied on the final provision of the constitution itself: 'Observance of the present Constitution is entrusted to the patriotism of the Greeks.'
Photo: Megalokonomou Photographic Archive.

Sentence of exile re-activated

With the new weapon of "certificates of civic-mindedness" now hanging over the heads of all Greek citizens like a sword of Damocles, the exiles who were released from the camps little by little from 1950 onwards found that their movements were under constant surveillance by the police, because their sentence of exile had not been rescinded: they were merely on indefinite parole. And their parole was often revoked, leading to their re-internment on Ai-Stratis for a shorter or longer period.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

"Theodorou, Victoria, ... is under sentence of exile and is living here on parole. Her parole has been extended indefinitely by order of the Ministry of the Interior...."
The poet Victoria Theodorou had to report to the Security Police every time she intended to travel (only within Greece, of course) to have her travel permit signed and affixed to this Departmental Memorandum of the Athens Security Police. Then she had to get signatures from the Gendarmerie on arrival at her destination and again before leaving to return home. From this Memorandum, with all its attachments and endorsements, we can follow her movements in the years 1954, 1955 and 1956.
Donated by Victoria Theodorou.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Twenty-three "political exiles transferred from Ayios Efstratios to Athens" protest against being forced to live in Athens, where they have no family or friends (as they are all from other parts of the country) and are unable to work because of bad health (which was the reason for their release from the camp).
Iordanis Christodoulou papers.

The end of Ai-Stratis camp

In 1962, following a Decision of the Greek Council of State, the few remaining exiles in Ai-Stratis finally leave the island.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

"The fairwell letter to the inhabitants of Ai-Stratis, written by the committee of the exiles.
Dοnation: Vyron Manikakis.