The uprising of the Polytechnic in 1973, was the raging outburst of all the rebels and the fighting spirits, who once more overthrew every stereotype and characteristic attributed to them by the Dominant ideology. It was neither an isolated nor a random incident. It was prepared and pre-announced by organized student demonstrations, labor protests and social strugglers during the years of the military junta.
A record of some major events until the 17th of November, 1973:
1972. The student elections are rigged by the military government, causing even more tension. The government tries to suppress it by revoking the army deferment against students.
21/2/1973. Assembly at the Law School with more than 5,000 students from various universities of Athens, who occupy the Law School after protesting in the city center. The junta sends fascists to break the assembly. They are repelled by the students, among whom there are many anarchists. The “occupation committee” concedes with the Rector to end the occupation and decides on a 10-day suspension of the rallies without the Assembly Council’s decision, which hadn’t any knowledge at all. More than 30,000 people demonstrate in the centre of Athens and clash with the police. Some days later, there will be more efforts to assemble and occupy buildings, but they meet harsh repression by the Junta.
20/3/1973. Attempted occupation of the Law School by 2,000 people. Invasion by police and fascists, savage beatings, dozens of injured people and more than 100 arrests. All this took place after another attempt to seize the Law School building four days earlier.
21/2/1973. Assembly at the Law School of more than 5,000 students from various universities of Athens, protesting in the city center and occupying the Law School. The junta sends fascists to break the assembly. They are repelled by the students, among who there are many anarchists. The “occupation committee” concedes with the Rector to end the occupation and decides on a 10-day suspension of the rallies without the Assembly Council having decided this or having any knowledge. Then more than 30,000 people demonstrate in the centre of Athens and clash with the police. Some days later, there will be more efforts to assemble and occupy buildings, but they face harsh repression by the Junta.
20/3/1973. Attempted occupation of the Law School by 2,000 people. Invasion of police and fascists, savage beatings with dozens injured people and more than 100 arrests. This happened after another attempt to seize the building of the Law School four days earlier.
1/11/1973. The junta announces its decisions on student requests, digging an even deeper grave for itself
14/11/1973. A large number of people occupy the Polytechnic University, despite the massive policing and the opposition showed by party organizations. Among them a large part of the rally of about 1,500 people who came down from the Law School at Solonos street and were beaten by the police. The newspaper of the Communist Youth writes about the occupation, “We condemn the premeditated invasion at the University of Athens, on Wednesday, November 14, by 350 organized provocateurs of the Greek Central Intelligence … with commands originating from the head of the junta, Papadopoulos, and the American CIA, with the intention to dominate through bullying and provocation, ridiculous anarchist slogans, and slogans that do not represent the moment and the specific forces”, giving us in the clearest and most outrageous way the position of the Communist Party through the postwar history of Greece until today. The junta, in the same vein, is talking about “mob and anarchist minority activities.”
Outside the University citizens are fighting with the cops. Members of the students belonging to the Communist Youth and part of the other Communist Party ask the assembled students to leave the site of the University.
In the crowded auditorium of the Gini Hall, assembled workers convene under a clear anti-capitalist context. Two statements are offered to workers, one leftist and one anti-authoritarian, referring to the creation of factory strike committees and workers councils in the long term. The assembly is not completed because of the controversy and partisan intervention of a small group of students. There is an effort by student party headquarters to give the occupation the facade of a student protest. The guards attempted, for reasons of “security” to prohibit the entry of non-students at the Technical University without any particular effect. With the same pretext, they destroyed the tape recording the meeting.
15/11/1973. The previous day’s meeting is repeated, but this time as a farce. The building is nearly empty of workers. The traffic in Patission Street has stopped, the drivers of the trolley buses have left the vehicles outside the Polytechnic, with slogans written on homemade paper and notices stuck on them. Many school students come to the Polytechnic and enter after breaking the police cordon. The party people meet and decide to cause the evacuation of the Polytechnic, just as they had done at the Law School : by spreading alarm, claiming that the army will intervene, by showing fear and finally opening the gates at the right moment. These are the same people that boast about their involvement in the rebellion up to now…
16/11/1973. An ”industrial action committee” is elected in order to prompt workers to strike. This committee will never come out of the University. Accompanied by the Steering Committee they issued notices with slogans against high prices … During the night the first tear gas canisters fall in the Polytechnic and the General Assembly of the occupation is dissolved. Just before that, a large protest march had forced the police to retreat. Barricades made of vehicles are placed on Alexandras’ Avenue, which will be in front of the tanks of the army that are heading to the University a short time later.
17/11/1973, dawn. The tanks of the army invade the Polytechnic, dropping to the ground the main gate and those who are on it at the moment. The invasion by the army Special Forces and policemen takes place immediately after, and the actual slaughter with hundreds dead and even more injured inside and outside the Polytechnic begins. For two days the city center becomes the scene of the most brutal and blooded repression since the Civil War. After a few months, the junta will hand over power to her twin sister, the parliamentary democracy.