November 17 commemorates a student occupation of the Athens Polytechnic University, which was brutally crushed by the military junta then ruling Greece, killing many protesters.
The National Technical University of Athens, known commonly as the Athens Polytechnic, has opened its doors to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the November 17, 1973 student uprising against Greece’s military junta.
November 17 commemorates a student occupation of the Athens Polytechnic in 1973, which was brutally crushed by the military junta then ruling Greece, killing many protesters.
Every year, thousands of Greeks gather in remembrance of the victims and the annual march is often a focal point for the public to vent anger at authorities.
Prior to the anniversary of the event, the US mission in Greece warned of possible demonstrations.
“The US Mission in Greece is aware of reports of protests planned for November 17, 2022 in Athens, as well as in Thessaloniki. Major demonstrations usually take place each year on November 17 to commemorate the Athens Polytechnic University student uprising against the ruling military junta in 1973” it said in a statement.
The United States had backed the junta that ruled Greece for seven years from 1967, which is why part of the demonstrations take place in front of US missions in Greece.
What happened in 1973?
On 14 November 1973, students at the Athens Polytechnic went on strike and started protesting against the military junta.
On the evening of November 17, 1973, the junta’s tank crashed into the gate of the Polytechnic campus.
Some grainy footage shot by a Dutch reporter shows the vehicle tearing down and crashing through the main steel gate of the university as people still clung to its railings.
From inside the building, the radio announcer was pleading with the soldiers to not carry out the orders of their superiors and hurt their “brothers,” his voice emotional as he recited the national anthem before the tank entered the yard and the transmission ended.
Many of those who were in the yard were crushed and some killed by the tank.
The records of the trials held following the collapse of the junta document the circumstances of 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 left injured during the events.
On November 25, just days after the Athens Polytechnic Uprising, brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis staged a coup, overthrowing Papadopoulos and Markezinis.
The new ruler established an even more harsh regime, but it ended several months later upon the failed coup attempt in Cyprus island thanks to Türkiye’s millitary intervention.