Elli Lemonidou

University of Patras

Heritage and Memory of the First World War in Greece during the Interwar Period

A Historical Perspective

Abstract: The memory of the First World War in Greece has suffered throughout the years a gradual decline, which is comparable to the case of many other countries, mostly in areas of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The Great War mattered somehow for politicians, the press and public opinion in Greece only in the interwar years. During that period, discourse about the First World War included the echo of traumatic events related to Greek involvement in the war (such as the surrender of Fort Roupel to Central Powers forces and the bloody clashes of December 1916 in Athens after the landing of Entente troops) and the efforts to erect war memorials as a tribute to the sacrifice of fallen soldiers, both Greeks and foreigners. At the same time, the Greek people had the opportunity to learn a lot about the international dimension of the war through newspapers, where translated memoirs of leading wartime figures (of both alliances) were published. After the outbreak of the Second World War, interest in the previous major conflict (including the Greek role in the hostilities) significantly diminished in the country. Taking into consideration the ongoing experience of the centenary manifestations, the author proposes a codification of the main types (existing or potential) of WWI memory in Greece and suggests new ways of approaching this major historical event. The final chapter addresses some possible causes of the troublesome relation of Greeks with the First World War, which is mainly due to the very particular circumstances of Greek involvement in the war and the determining role of later historical events that overshadowed memories of the earlier conflict.

Key words: First World War memory, Greece and the First World War, National Schism, Eleftherios Venizelos, Ioannis Metaxas, Constantine, King of Greece