Propaganda and torture: an inextricable web

Σκαπανεύς Μακρονήσου, τχ. 7 (11/1949)

Σκαπανεύς Μακρονήσου, τχ. 7 (11/1949)

There was one basic goal in the operation of Makronissos camp from the very beginning: the rehabilitation“Rehabilitation”
The term used to describe Makronissos activities targeting troops and civilians. Essentially, the term bore no relation to reality as there was no “national” or “moral rehabilitation” of detainees on Makronissos. Rather, terror was used with the aim of altering detainees’ political ideas.
or reform“Reformed” / “Rehabilitated”
Chosen for its medical implications, this term implied that the rehabilitated had returned to “national reality” upon signing the declaration of repentance.
of soldiers and citizens in order to be returned as “healthy” elements to the national body. In this framework, the role of propaganda, which was methodically applied in tandem with torture as part of a plan of psychological warfarePsychological Warfare
In military terminology, this refers to the targeted use of propaganda to influence the opinions, sentiments and behaviour of enemy groups.
against communists, was crucial.
The content of the “reformatory” propaganda was aligned with the basic directions of the broader anticommunist discourse of the period (communism as deceit, illness and foreign threat), with emphasis on Makronissos as the great “school” and “healing center”.

Propaganda is inextricable from the web of threats, fear, violence and torture. This was the case not only because the speeches, letters, and declarations of repentanceDeclaration of repentance
Tangible proof of a signatory’s condemnation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), National Liberation Front (EAM), Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS) or United Panhellenic Youth Organisation (EPON) and the signatory’s activity within those organisations. Essentially, the declaration marked the political annulment and elimination of the signatory as, once signed, it was publicised in the signatory’s home community and village, including in local media. The declaration of repentance was a set tactic of Greek authorities to invalidate the left’s moral foundations. Up until 1974, the KKE did not admit anyone to its ranks who had signed a repentance declaration.
were the result of threats, fear, physical and psychological violence – let’s not forget that the Bureaus of Moral EducationBureau of Moral Education
Special section within the Makronissos battalions that was response for the “national rehabilitation” of soldiers. Through a combination of moral pressure, blackmail and threats, it created the requisite climate of fear and uncertainty to complement the violence and torture, leading troops to sign declarations of repentance.
applied beatings, threats and re-“education” in succession. But because, chiefly, the propaganda agents themselves were “rehabilitated”: the fact that erstwhile comrades and brothers-in-arms were publicly humiliated, denounced communism and urged others to do the same, put unbearable pressure on those who had not yet signed a repentance declaration. One prisoner quite aptly likened the pressure on new arrivals to a “psychological chipping hammer”, as all manner of acquaintances piled up on them like Sirens, urging them to “settle” (in other words, to sign a declaration.)

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