Athens Polytechnic uprising

Coordinates: 37°59′16″N 23°43′54″E / 37.98778°N 23.73167°E / 37.98778; 23.73167
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Athens Polytechnic uprising
Εξέγερση του Πολυτεχνείου
Part of the Greek junta and the Cold War
Protesters outside the Athens Polytechnic on Patission Street
Date14–17 November 1973
37°59′16″N 23°43′54″E / 37.98778°N 23.73167°E / 37.98778; 23.73167
Caused byJunta's Authoritarianism
GoalsFall of the Junta
MethodsStudent protest
Resulted inUprising suppressed:
  • Junta is preserved
  • Many students murdered
  • Attempts at liberalization by Georgios Papadopoulos, which results in another coup launched by hardliner Dimitrios Ioannidis
Lead figures
Death(s)40 (24 identified, 16 unidentified)[1]
Injuries2,000+ (1,103 verified)[1]
The old gate

The Athens Polytechnic uprising occurred in November 1973 as a massive student demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. It began on 14 November 1973, escalated to an open anti-junta revolt, and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of 17 November after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Athens Polytechnic.


The first massive public action against the Greek junta came from students on 21 February 1973, when law students went on strike and barricaded themselves inside the buildings of the Law School of the University of Athens in the centre of Athens, demanding repeal of the law that imposed forcible conscription.[2]

An anti-dictatorial student movement was growing among the youth, and the police utilised brutal methods and torture towards them, in order to confront the threat.[3]

November events[edit]

The entrance of the National Technical University of Athens

On 14 November 1973, students at the Athens Polytechnic (Polytechneion) went on strike and started protesting against the military junta (Regime of the Colonels). As the authorities stood by, the students were calling themselves the "Free Besieged" (Greek: Ελεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι, a reference to the poem by Greek poet Dionysios Solomos inspired by the Ottoman siege of Mesolonghi).[4][5][6] Their main rallying cry was:


An assembly formed spontaneously and decided to occupy the Polytechnic. The two main student parties, the Marxist pro-Soviet A-AFEE and Rigas, did not endorse the movement.[7] A Coordination Commission of the Occupation (CCO) was formed but had loose control over the uprising.[8] Police had gathered outside but did not manage to break into the premises.[9]

During the second day of the occupation (often called "celebration day"), thousands of people from Athens poured in to support the students.[9] A radio transmitter was set up and Maria Damanaki, then a student and member of A-EFEE, popularized the slogan "Bread-Education-Freedom". The demands of the occupation were anti-imperialistic and anti-NATO.[10] Third parties that allied themselves with the student protests were the construction workers (who set up a parallel committee next to CCO) and some farmers from Megara, who coincidentally protested on the same days in Athens.[11]

On Friday, 16 November, the CCO proclaimed that the students were aiming to bring down the junta. During the afternoon, demonstrations and attacks against neighbouring ministries took place. Central roads closed, fires erupted and Molotov cocktails were thrown for the first time in Athens.[12] Students barricaded themselves in and constructed a radio station (using laboratory equipment) that repeatedly broadcast across Athens:

Polytechneion here! Polytechneion here! People of Greece, the Polytechneion is the flag bearer of our struggle and your struggle, our common struggle against the dictatorship and for democracy![13][14]"

In the early hours of November 17, 1973, the transitional government sent a tank crashing through the gates of the Athens Polytechnic.[15] Soon after that, Spyros Markezinis had the task of requesting Georgios Papadopoulos to reimpose martial law.[15]

An official investigation undertaken after the fall of the junta declared that no students of the Athens Polytechnic were killed during the incident. However, 24 civilians were killed outside the campus. These include 19-year-old Michael Mirogiannis, reportedly shot to death by officer Nikolaos Dertilis, high-school students Diomedes Komnenos and Alexandros Spartidis of Lycée Léonin, and a five-year-old boy caught in the crossfire in the suburb of Zografou. The records of the trials held following the collapse of the junta document the deaths of many civilians during the uprising, and although the number of dead has not been contested by historical research, it remains a subject of political controversy. In addition, hundreds of civilians were injured during the events.[16]


A sculpture commemorating the uprising
Gate of the Polytechnic, 17 November 2011

An annual march commemorates the uprising.[17] In 1980, after the government prevented marchers from passing by the American embassy in Athens, police killed two protesters.[18]

The students' struggle also had a lasting effect on Greek anarchism. Despite the anarchists' relatively minor influence in the uprising itself, their unfulfilled vision became a rallying cry for Greek anarchists internally. The now-defunct far-left organization Revolutionary Organization 17 November is named after the last day of the Polytechnic uprising.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Καλλιβρετάκης 2004, pp. 44–45.
  2. ^ Brown, Kenneth (1974). "Greece". The World Book Year Book 1974. Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation. p. 340. ISBN 0-7166-0474-4. LCCN 62-4818.
  3. ^ Kornetis 2013, pp. 225–226.
  4. ^ ΑΡΗΣ ΔΗΜΟΚΙΔΗΣ (16 November 2014). "11 ενδιαφέροντα πράγματα για την εξέγερση του Πολυτεχνείου". Lifo Magazine. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Πολυτεχνείο – 45 χρόνια μετά: Πολύτιμη πηγή γνώσης, έμπνευσης και παραδειγματισμού". Nea Selida. 17 November 2018. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Πολυτεχνείο: 40 χρόνια μετά". Greek Reporter. 16 November 2013. Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  7. ^ Kornetis 2013, p. 255.
  8. ^ Kornetis 2013, p. 256.
  9. ^ a b Kornetis 2013, p. 257.
  10. ^ Kornetis 2013, pp. 257–59.
  11. ^ Kornetis 2013, pp. 263.
  12. ^ Kornetis 2013, pp. 270–272.
  13. ^ Etho Polytechneio through Internet archive Text in Greek: Εδώ Πολυτεχνείο! Λαέ της Ελλάδας το Πολυτεχνείο είναι σημαιοφόρος του αγώνα μας, του αγώνα σας, του κοινού αγώνα μας ενάντια στη δικτατορία και για την Δημοκρατία, transliterated as: Etho Polytechneio! Lae tis Elladas to Polytechneio einai simaioforos tou agona mas, tou agona sas, tou koinou agona mas enantia sti diktatoria kai gia tin Dimokratia)
  14. ^ Παύλος Μεθενίτης (17 November 2018). "17 Νοέμβρη 1973: Πολυτεχνείο". News247. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Past present" and quote:Markezinis had humiliated himself by 'requesting' Papadopoulos to reimpose martial law in the wake of the November 17 uprising at the Athens Polytechnic , Athens News, 4 October 2002 through Internet Archive
  16. ^ BBC: On this day Archived 2017-04-27 at the Wayback Machine quote: It follows growing unrest in Greece, and comes eight days after student uprisings in which 13 people died and hundreds were injured..
  17. ^ "Greece marks '73 student uprising". Athens News. November 17, 1999. p. A01. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008.
  18. ^ Papadogiannis, Nikolaos (2015). Militant Around the Clock?: Left-Wing Youth Politics, Leisure, and Sexuality in Post-Dictatorship Greece, 1974-1981. Berghahn Books. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-78238-645-2. Archived from the original on 2020-01-07. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  19. ^ Lekea 2014, p. 10.


Further reading[edit]

  • Καλλιβρετάκης, Λεωνίδας (2004). "Πολυτεχνείο '73: Το ζήτημα των θυμάτων: Νεκροί και τραυματίες" [Polytechnic School '73: The question of the victims: dead and injured]. Πολυτεχνείο '73: ρεπορτάζ με την Ιστορία (in Greek). Vol. 2. pp. 38–55. hdl:10442/8782.

External links[edit]