Becoming a Subject: Political Prisoners in the Greek Civil War

By Polymeris Voglis | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Emblems of the Civil War
Declarations of Repentance

The undersigned Eftychia K. … I state that during the December rebellion I was
misguided into the EAM organization by deceptive words without knowing of
its antinational activities and its treasonous and destructive actions against my
Motherland. I renounce the organization as the enemy of my Motherland, by
whose side I stand. Moreover, I pledge the quick extermination of the bandits.1

This declaration of repentance (dilosi metanoias) was one of hundreds published in newspapers during the Civil War. After arrests, at trials, and during imprisonment, the authorities repeatedly asked detainees to recant their political views and to sign a declaration of repentance. It was almost the sine qua non for the release of a political prisoner. Declarations of repentance were tokens of political exclusion: those who did not sign one were excluded. More to the point, for the authorities the renunciation of leftist ideas through conversion was a way to construct a passive consensus in support of the regime, to deconstruct the individual, and to liquidate political prisoners’ community. For the political prisoners, the declaration of repentance was experienced as self-negation associated with their condemnation by the Communist Party. Declarations of repentance occupy an emblematic position in the study of the Greek Civil War: then, they represented the only alternative to the political exclusion undergone by political detainees, and now they provide us with the opportunity to scrutinize the articulation between, on the one hand, the declaration of repentance as a technology of conversion and, on the other, its implications for subjectivity.

Declarations of repentance —that is, the renunciation of the political beliefs under prohibition—and their consequences for political prisoners (release from exile or a lighter sentence, for instance) demonstrated that political ideas rather than acts were under persecution and revealed an often neglected side of political exclusion. Political exclusion was in force, and could

Notes for this section begin on page 87.

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