Greece suffered greatly during World War II. After fending off a bungled Italian invasion in October 1940, Greece was overrun by the Wehrmacht in April 1941, beginning a brutal occupation. The country was divided into German, Albanian and Bulgarian zones of control, although the Nazis ran the show. The occupation regime was sadistically repressive, starving the people, resulting in a horrendous famine that killed over 300,000 Greeks, while the Nazis systematically murdered almost all the country’s ancient Jewish community.
Fortunately, the Greek Resistance, an unlikely coalition of Royalists and Communists, had fought the occupation throughout, and managed to hasten the Nazis’ withdraw from much of Greece in November 1944, although the entire country would not be liberated until the end the war, the following spring.
The war left Greece as something akin to a burnt-out shell, and while 400,00o Greek deaths can be directly attributed to the occupation, as many of 1.1 million people died due to indirect causes.
However, Greece’s troubles were not over. The country’s two main factions, the Communists and Royalists, came to blows, resulting in the Greek Civil War (1946-9). It was in this context that the intelligentsia in Royalist-controlled Athens appealed for financial and military assistance from the West, to fend off the Red Menace and to rebuild their ravaged nation. Greece also appealed to the international community for compensation in the form of territories ceded by Albania, Bulgaria and Italy.
The Present Work in Focus
Seeking to create a monumental work that would express the suffering and grievances of Greece in powerful, yet academic terms, a team of professional architects led by Konstantinos A. Doxiadis, working for various Greek governmental agencies, including the Office of Spatial and Urban Studies and Research of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Reconstruction, produced the text in four languages (Greek , French, English and Russian) and drafted or designed 90 full page plates, most being resplendently coloured and of a fabulous mid-century artistic style. The plates include thematic maps (on the economy, demographics, military operations, human rights violations, and urban plans), charts and photographic images. The quality of the work, in terms of its artistic virtue and academic merit, is absolutely world class, and is by far and away the finest work of thematic cartography and data visualization created in Greece in the postwar era.
The work is divided into six sections: I. Greece before the War; II. Greece at War; III. Economic War; IV. The Destruction of Public Works; V. Destruction to Towns and Villages; and VI. Suffering of the Inhabitants. The table of Contents at the end provides the official source of the data used for each chart, supporting its academic rigour.
Mock-ups of the present work were exhibited at the San Francisco Conference (April 25 – June 26, 1945) that resulted in the creation of the United Nations. The book was properly published in Athens in June 1946 by the venerable printing firm of Aspioti-Elka (which itself suffered during the war, as its former headquarters in Corfu was bombed by the Germans) to a very high standard of colour printing, doing justice the fabulous design of the images.
The Royalist side in Greece succeed in winning Western support for its cause, resulting in their victory in the Civil War. While Greece only gained the Dodacanese Islands (from Italy) as the their only territorial compensation for the country’s war experience, the West provided financial assistance that helped Greece to rebuild.
References: Oxford University Libraries: DF849 THY 2014.
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