HE.S.T.A.F.T.A. - Scientific Society of Mental Health Professionals


  • Gregory AmanatidesCardiac Surgeon, former Deputy Director of 2nd Cardiac Surgery Department, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center

It is the second time in my life since… BACK THEN that I agree to talk about these three days that are a bright landmark in modern history. It was difficult for me to overcome my inhibitions as a matter of principle. The first time I did, was after I was urged by my classmate and friend Stelios Logothetis, for the purposes of Iasonas Chandrinos’ book “Here for the entire night”, that was an answer to the historically inaccurate, provocative and vulgar opinions that had been expressed in public that there were no CASUALTIES at the Polytechnic uprising. This second one is my response to the invitation I received for the tribute to the uprising from the “Systemic Thinking & Psychotherapy” Journal.

I realise once more, that the impression of these memories is still fresh, not so much because one can accurately recall faces and events, but because the entirety of emotional charges and processes that comprise parts of one’s psyche, is indelibly marked by these THREE DAYS. Memories, narrations, and experiences from the immediate and extended family, had been preparing ways of understanding and reacting to the socio-political developments of the time. We begin fighting for free student unionism in 1972, with longing, anticipation and the sense of fighting for what is RIGHT. We didn’t miss any of the meetings, we saw who were with us, and who else we could persuade to participate!!... The fear of the secret police must be overcome. The auditoriums are progressively fuller with every meeting. You can see HOPE, INTEREST, COURAGE on our faces. We experience never-before seen conditions of police and parastatal violence in the Medical School and the Law School. We face difficulties in collective decision-making between schools, but we move forward… with sacrifices, injustices, illegal conscriptions, constant intimidation.

Then came a WEDNESDAY that was to be different, decisive for the next few days. The emotions following every conversation and confrontation regarding what was the right thing to dowere mixed!

THURSDAY, the justification of what was the right thing to do came inevitably on its own. The crowd was growing bigger, hope was becoming stronger. We had found our pulse. I could feel that something big was coming. Hope was already spreading into other student cities, the rights of the people were awakened, and demands outgrew student petitions. Workers, farmers, private sector employees were mobilised for resistance against (or even overthrowing?) the dictatorship, for democracy for the people, and for national independence. This Thursday hardened us, and forced the dictatorship to confront the true dimensions of what we had achieved, THE UPRISING OF THE POLYTECHNIC.

A sleepless night, full of tension, chants, encouragement that led to the 17th of November. A day full of violence, beatings, teargas, bullets and people being KILLLED!!! A situation you cannot imagine if you have not experienced it yourself! Two people died in my arms… The psyche becomes an assortment of violent and sensitive emotions. At the same time, you seek to find the reasonable emotion for moments such as these, fear. I am not certain it existed (surely, it must have). There was definitely a large amount of youthful courage and overcoming – a failure to perceive danger. I exited the infirmary when I “lost” a PERSON from profuse bleeding from a bullet hole in the carotid artery. My hands were drenched in blood. I wonder what mental powers can prevent REVENGE. How can one resort to HUMAN reason, in times like that???

Outside, there is a cacophony of voices, smoke, teargas, gunshots in bursts. Injured people were transported inside the Polytechnic, passing through the heroic chain of school students who were constantly singing in front of the fence. A MASSACRE!!!

Two blinding spotlights stand before the gate. Deafening silence, almost everywhere! Darkness! Only the spotlights! The horrible roaring of the tank! The sound of the gate that is being torn down, along with the students that had climbed on it!!! Many people were wounded! Worst of all was a girl with amputated tibiae, she had been crushed by the gate! She had almost collapsed when we took her to the infirmary. We did all we could with makeshift splints and decided to get her out as soon as possible. I was at her head and another person at her feet, as we carried the stretcher across of rabid dog that a sick mind could come up with, were on top of us with nightsticks, clubs, sticks and iron bars before we could even walk this short distance. The girl was racking with pain with every movement of the stretcher, and we were unable to fight back, but also determined, and managed to reach the door of the Red Cross Emergency Department…

Read the next article:

ARTICLE 5/ ISSUE 23, October 2023

The Memory of Reality and the Reality of Memory

Nadia Valavani
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