University of Melbourne Archives

Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Greece

by Jane Ellen, Archivist

(from the UMA Bulletin no. 12, June 2003)

In 2002 UMA received a donation of records from the defunct Melbourne organisation, the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Greece.

The Committee for the Defence of Democracy in Greece was established by members of the Melbourne Greek community in 1965 as a response to the political crisis that had seen elected Greek president, George Papandreou, ousted by King Constantine. After the military coup of 21 April 1967, it became the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Greece. It acted as a broad-based lobby group to unite all Greek-Australian opposition to the dictatorship and to engage Australian politicians and trade unions into adopting a stance of active opposition. It had contacts with other Greek resistance groups in Europe and sponsored visits by resistance leaders Tony Ambaticlos and Markos Dragoumis in 1970, Mikis Theodorakis in 1972 and Andreas Papandreou in 1974. Its earlier attempt to bring out another resistance leader, Nikos Nikolaides, in 1967 was foiled by the Liberal government of the day. The Committee's activities ceased in 1975 following the fall of the Greek dictatorship in November, 1974 and the restoration of democracy soon after.

The collection was donated by the former secretary of the Committee, Denis Sikiotis, with some additional material from Plutarch Deliyannis. It contains the Committee minutes for 1967-74; correspondence with Australian politicians and with Greek resistance organisations and individuals in Europe; internal correspondence between Committee members; transcripts of talks and speeches; press cuttings; photographs and flyers. The material is in Greek and English. The records reflect not only the workings of the Committee and its counterparts abroad but also the impact the dictatorship had on the lives of some Greek-Australians and of the divisions it opened up in the community here.

The Greek military dictatorship of 1967- 74 was the final episode in a chain of events that began with the formation of both leftist and rightist resistance armies fighting against the German occupation of Greece in the Second World War and which was followed by the savage post-war reprisals that led the country into civil war in 1948. The period of the dictatorship saw the first overt and cohesive political activity taken up by Greek-Australians.

While UMA has few records from non English-speaking organisations, the collection sits comfortably within our policy of collecting the records of community and political organisations.

The records of the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Greece would support research into what was a significant episode within the Greek-Australian community or a broader study of how political events in the homeland are played out within emigre communities.

The collection has been listed and is available for access.

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