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 or reform 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 warfare 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 repentance were the result of threats, fear, physical and psychological violence – let’s not forget that the Bureaus of Moral Education 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.)