It’s been 45 years since the morning of April 21, 1967, when a group of former officers decided to “save” Greece by enforcing a dictatorship lasting seven whole years.
During the military junta, four governments were formed. The last one, under Androutsopoulos, unable to cope with Cyprus’ betrayal, delivered his office to politicians that formed a National Salvation Government under Konstantinos Karamanlis.
The military coup took place in the early hours of April 21, just a few hours after the ministers’ council of Kanellopoulos’ government, that was literally caught by surprise.
The success of the three men (Papadopoulos, Pattakos and Makarezos) was the result of a planned conspiracy that was followed in detail, step by step, and was facilitated by “planted” officers in key-positions of the Greek Army. The fact that military camps were located in central areas of Athens at that period also posed a significant factor in enforcing the “Regime of the Colonels.”
At 3:30am on April 21, the military coup had already succeeded in taking over power. Tanks were parading in the center of the capital city, marches were broadcast on the radio, along with Papadopoulos’ first public “order” which began: “We decide and we order…”
At the same time, a large number of small mobile units were dispatched to arrest leading politicians and authority figures, as well as many citizens suspected of left-wing sympathies, according to lists prepared in advance. One of the first to be arrested was Lieutenant General Grigorios Spandidakis, Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army.
Right after sunset on the same day, the junta members visited Tatoi, the house of King Constantine, asking him to declare them as the legitimate government of Greece. The King initially refused, but in the end compromised to prevent “Greek blood to be spilled.” District attorney Konstantinos Kollias was appointed first Prime Minister, who had a rather decorative role, as Papadopoulos was ruling the country.
Greece then faced a seven year dictatorship. Later, the Cyprus tragedy with the unfair, criminal Turkish invasion, marked the end of the “salvation” of Greece’s people by the junta. The country exhibited a financial progress in those years, but the dismissed rights of the people as a result of the Colonels’ constitutional amendment, the imprisonment, expatriation and torture of hundreds, the political assassinations and the resulting Turkish occupation prove that the “Regime of the Colonels” was one of the darkest aspects of Greece’s modern history.