Stories of bravery and loss in Thessaloniki of the 20th century (Part 1)

Coming to the 20th century Thessaloniki never stopped having interesting stories to tell. The first one will of course be the one of its liberation. Thessaloniki gained her independence during the first Balkan wars in the%ce%b1%cf%81%cf%87%ce%b5%ce%af%ce%bf-%ce%bb%ce%ae%cf%88%ce%b7%cf%82-1
26th (actually 27) of October, 1912, the day that its patron saint, St. Demetrius is celebrated (and the day that all Thessalonians have free to leave to city). Thessaloniki was a highly contested city, since apart from greeks and ottomans, bulgarians were very interested in making it a part of them. Throughout the years Austria and then the communist parties of the balkan countries (including greece) suggested either neutrality or for the city to become even a country of its own.


The second story involves a dispute between crown and prime minister with WW I as the background. The story begins when the then prime minister Elefterios Venizelos disagreed with the then king Constantine I. The first wanted participation in the side of Entente while the later, as he was friendly towards Germany, wanted neutrality. That led to a severe dispute and eventually what was called National-Schism. In 1916 as eastern Macedonia was not properly protected from Bulgarian invasions officers of the hellenic army that were also Venizelists participated in an coup in Thessaloniki that was Entente friendly. Soon Venizelos followed moving his power to Thessaloniki and establishing what is known as the Provisional Government of National Defense. This lasted until June 1917 when Entente forced the king to step back and Greece entered the war on their side.


The third inspired a poem. The poem is called Epitafios written by Giannis Ritsos and it was inspired by the haunting image of a mother mourning the loss of her son. In 6th of May 1936 angry tobacco-workers flood the streets of Thessaloniki in a strike fighting the reduction of their salaries. The police soon intervenes and by the 8th of May things are out of hands, since 70 strikers are injured. When the morning of the 9th rises people of every%ce%b1%cf%81%cf%87%ce%b5%ce%af%ce%bf-%ce%bb%ce%ae%cf%88%ce%b7%cf%82-2 profession are on the street fighting for their rights. At 10: 30 in the crossroad of Egnatia and Venizelou you can hear a deafening sound, we have our first victim. His name is Tasos Tousis, after a while you can see a figure over him, in a scene you wish you could forget, in a state no mother should ever experience for her children. And he is not the only one that ended dead that day. The following day on the funerals of all the victims, everyone is outranged, everyone is there, and despite all the horror, everyone wants to continue fighting, continue with the strikes.


To be continued…..

E.V

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