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IN THIS YEAR OF PROTESTS


A VIGNETTE OF OPPRESSION DURING THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF GREECE:

Thousands gathered at the poet Palamas’ funeral in Athens in February 1943.  Among them was Katsimbalis [George Katsimbalis, a literary figure in Greece inspired the Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller] who burst into a tirade of abuse against the German representative who was laying a wreath on Palamas’ tomb and then, though it was forbidden on pain of death, broke into the Greek national anthem.  The immense crowd of mourners stood in terrified silence as a trembling Katsimbalis finished the first verse alone.  The Germans fixed him with a glowering stare; a terrible hush hung over the crowd but still Katsimbalis sang.  Part way through the second verse, Katsimbalis was joined by a friend and they finished the verse together.  Then suddenly and with a mighty roar, the anthem was taken up by the crowd, and with tears running down their thousands of faces they buried Palamas and sang for Greece – Lawrence Durrell

[based on an account given to him by George Seferis, whose sister attended the funeral].        


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