Theodorakis - Chronology (IV)

 Makronissos - Crete 1949-1953

 by Guy Wagner and Asteris Koutoulas

 Based on Ole Wahl Olsen


Structure and pictures: Guy Wagner



Wintertime  Mikis Theodorakis is prisoner on the island of Makronissos, in camp D, e5. One of the numerous prisoners on the island is the poet Yannis Ritsos, and his tuberculosis, like Theodorakis's, goes back to this period.

The »re-education« is radical. The thirty thousand internees on the island are government hostages from the anti-partisan struggle and at the slightest opportunity hatred unleashes massacres of prisoners. Nevertheless, one evening, after a day of arduous forced labour on roads which will never be used, Theodorakis gives the first performance of excerpt of what will later become his First Symphony.

»Reeducation« at Macronissos

January - February Some five thousand prisoners are assembled in a gorge which opens out into the sea. The reeducation can begin: they are fired on and hundreds are killed. The survivors are invited to sign a declaration of citizen's allegiance to the government-a formality which is required for entry into the Royal Army. This continues until there are only thirty-five left. Fifteen are later executed. Among the survivors is the future editor of the Left-wing daily Avgi, Potis Paraskevopoulos (deported to Leros in 1967). Each day Theodorakis bears witness to what being »called to active military service« means.

25.03. On the anniversary of the outbreak of the war of independence, Queen Frederica (a former member of the Hitler Youth!) visits Makronissos.

26.03. The following day the authorities come to »enrol« Theodorakis. He and other prisoners have decided not to sign on. They are gathered together and maltreated for ten hours, with baton blows; Theodorakis collapses, exhausted. A soldier dances on his chest until he loses consciousness. That same evening Theodorakis is taken in hand by the notorious executioner, Loris, who specialises in torturing his victims' bones. Theodorakis is bound to a table and Loris begins twisting his leg with great professional dexterity. He breaks Theodorakis's right leg.


Theodorakis at Military Hospital 401 with his father and Myrto

A doctor orders that Theodorakis should be transferred immediately to Military Hospital 401 in Athens, where dying prisoners are usually taken (Makronissos is only rarely a place of death).

Theodorakis's father learns that his son is in hospital and goes to see him; each time he passes his son's stretcher without recognising him, and Theodorakis sees him but cannot speak because of his dislocated jaw.

But even here, Theodorakis is beaten, because he complained when General Pattakos visited the hospital on Easter. Theodorakis leaves Military Hospital 401 two months later.

 End of May Theodorakis is sentenced to return to Makronissos.

 July - August Theodorakis, back to Makronissos, suffers awfully. One evening, he is buried alive and rescued only by chance.

Theodorakis: a wounded man!

Again he is tortured and left for dead. Again Yorgos Theodorakis succeeds to obtain a transfer of his son to the continent and to set him free as an invalid. For the first time in his life, Mikis visits Crete. But even there he must suffer the »falanga«-torture by the gendarmes of Chania. After that, his mother has a nervous breakdown.

15.10. Official end of the civil war. The government is victorious.


Spring Despite all his sufferings, Theodorakis passes his finals and graduates »cum laude« from the Athens Conservatoire.

05.05. »The Feast of Asi-Gonia« is first performed at the Athens Conservatoire.

Summer Theodorakis continues his »military service«. He is sent with a group of musicians to Alexandropoulis .

Theodorakis in Alexandropoulis

Fifteen days later, when his captain finds out about his list of crimes he orders him to be cropped and put in a cell; he threatens to send him back to Makronissos. In desperation Theodorakis tries to commit suicide by eating gun powder. He is transferred to a hospital in Thessalonika, where he is put in the mental patient's ward. It is almost worse than Makronissos. They hit even the mental patients to keep them quiet. Theodorakis's father comes to his aid. He is transferred first to Athens and then to Crete, where he continues his military service in charge of a depot.


August  EDA, the United Democratic Left, is formed.



 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Beloyannis" Nikos Beloyannis; drawing by Pablo Picasso

30.03. Execution of the patriot Nikos Beloyannis, the »Man with the Carnation«.

 Summer Theodorakis leaves the Army. He is poor and stays in Crete. Later he becomes a music critic in Athens for »Avghi«. He works together with Elliniko Chorodrama« and composes the music for two ballets »Orpheus and Eurydice« and »Greek Carnival«.


Theodorakis writes his first film scores for »The Barefoot Batallion« and for »Eva«.

Mikis and Myrto

19.03. Armed with eighteen thousand drachmas, he marries Myrto Altinoglou, who has meanwhile finished her medical studies. Theodorakis becomes her first patient.

Ten years of suffering have left their mark; the »Makronissos fever« is the worst of them. and for several years the mere memory of his stay in the concentration camp is enough to start a palsy which confines him to his sick bed.



© Guy Wagner & Asteris Koutoulas. All rights reserved