From bloody conflicts and war to the world of intrigue and glamour, the history of Greece and Greeks has been literally covered by TIME – the world’s largest-circulation weekly news magazine – since the publication’s historic launch in 1923.
Widely regarded as one of the most popular magazines in history, the front covers of TIME offer a unique glimpse into Greece’s tumultuous history. The Pappas Post presents a selection of 13 covers that form an amazing lens for the history of Greece and Greeks.
Note: The numbers in the list below correspond to the magazine covers in left-to-right order.
1. Eleutherios Venizelos (Feb. 18, 1924)
From Cretan rebel to admired statesman, Eleutherios Venizelos was Greece’s first independent prime minister.TIME ran this cover story on Venizelos shortly after he resigned from office (just one month after returning to power for the fourth time in his 14-year-long career in politics). The new cabinet was formed by Georges Kafandaris and was composed of so-called Venizelists – those who supported Venizelos in his power struggle against the king. According to TIME, this was “proof that the power of Venizelos still dominates the political situation”. When Venizelos was elected prime minister again in 1929, he embarked on a remarkable period of growth for Greece, which included the founding of the Bank of Greece and the National Theatre as well as over 3,000 schools.
2. King George II (Nov. 4, 1940)
A portrait of King George II graced the cover of TIME’s first issue reporting on Italy’s invasion of Greece on October 28, 1940 – a bloody turn of events that precipitated Greece’s entry into World War II. “This week war came at last to the Balkans, to the weakest country, but to the one country determined enough to stand,” TIME wrote in its opening paragraph. King George II, as supreme Commander, stayed in Athens presiding over meetings of the War Council held in the Hotel Grand Bretagne. But when the Germans invaded in April 1941, he sought refuge on Crete where he undertook a grueling trek (on mules) through mountainous terrain to the south coast of Greece. The British destroyer, HMS Decoy, was waiting to take the king to Egypt – a stepping stone to London where he established offices for the government-in-exile.
3. Alexander Papagos (Dec. 16, 1940)
Alexander Papagos was Greece’s Commander in Chief of the Greek Army during the Greco-Italian War – one of the many conflicts of Europe that were part of the Second World War. The Italians invaded on October 28, 1940 when Greece’s Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Italian leader Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum to let Italian troops pass through Greece or face war. The Italian army invaded Greece almost immediately. But Papagos was waiting for them. He successfully led the resistance by launching a counteroffensive along the entire front in November. He forced the Italians to retreat, pushing them back to the Albanian border.
4. Archbishop Damaskinos (Oct. 1, 1945)
Archbishop Damaskinos served as the Regent of Greece between 1944 (immediately after the Germans pulled, ending four years of occupation) and 1946 when Greece’s king returned from exile. TIME described Damaskinos, who was elected archbishop of Athens and all of Greece in 1938, as a man of action who “restrained the multitudes while respecting their liberties”. During the war, Damaskinos (born Dimitrios Papandreou) protested against the German persecution of Greek Jews. He sent a strongly-worded letter to German officials saying he was “deeply concerned with the fate of 60,000 of our fellow citizens who are Jews”.
5. King George II (Feb. 24, 1947)
Exhausted and powerless, King George II had little to smile about. He was pictured on the cover of this issue of TIME, which described Greece (and him) as Aghelastos (“unsmiling” in Greek). King George II had returned to Greece five months earlier to find the Royal Palace looted and a country facing economic collapse and civil war. According to TIME, Athens did not celebrate its annual carnival. “The people did not, in the fashion of happier years, cavort through the streets behind the gaitanaki. Greece was one of Europe’s unhappiest nations.” The magazine reported on a statement from U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall that called on Greece to put its chaotic house in order. But since the British government could no longer afford to support Greece, the U.S. announced a huge financial aid program to rescue Greece and the whole of western Europe.
6. Markos Vafiades (Apr. 5, 1948)
TIME described Markos Vafiades as the “Captain of Crags”. He was the commander of the Communist Party forces in the 1946-1949 Civil War. During the fascist occupation of Greece (1941-1944) he was the chief of ELAS, the Greek Popular Liberation Army in the north of Greece. He was commander of the Democratic Army of Greece and president of the Provisional Democratic Government, the ‘government of the mountains’, set up to fight for Greek independence after the war. At the beginning of the Greek Civil War, Vafiades had an efficient guerrilla strategy, and controlled territories from Florina to Athens, as well as territories in the Peloponnese (but only for a short period).
7. Queen Frederika (Oct. 26, 1953)
The daughter a Hanoverian Prince, she was Princess Frederica of Hanover, Great Britain and Ireland before marrying Prince Paul, the Crown Prince of Greece in 1938. They became the King and Queen of Greece in 1947. In its cover story, TIME reports on Queen Frederika’s preparations for her first visit to the United States. Determined to dress for the occasion, Frederika had turned to the famous Paris dressmaker Jean Desses, who was born in Egypt to Greek parents. According to TIME, Desses told Frederika to dress simple and “be like every American girl”. He designed her entire wardrobe. She ended up stealing the American spotlight with her dazzling jewels and flowing satin gowns.
8. Stavros Niarchos (Aug. 6, 1956)
Stavros Niarchos, born to Greek American parents in Athens in 1909, grew up to become the owner of the largest private tanker fleet and one of Greece’s most famous shipping magnates. TIME tells the story of Niarchos from the deck of his 190-ft, three-masted schooner Creole – the world’s biggest privately owned sailing vessel. With French impressionist paintings decorating the walls of the ship’s dinning room, the Creole was lent by Niarchos to a British crew in the 1956 race between Torbay in the UK and Lisbon in Portugal in July 1956. Some 20 vessels took part in the race – the first Tall Ships’ Race. It was a race of the world’s largest sailing ships organized by Bernard Morgan, a London lawyer.
9. Maria Callas (Oct. 29, 1956)
Greek American Maria Callas, one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century, graced the cover of TIME after her arrival in the United States to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera (the “Met”). Callas opened the Met’s 72nd season with a lead performance in Norma. The magazine described her as a “prima donna” and opera’s “indispensable lady, an unearthly creature who fed on acclaim, dressed in kudos and walked a path strewn with money, jewels and lovers.” TIME also focused on Callas’ difficult relationship with her mother and some unpleasant exchanges between the two.
10. King Constantine (Apr. 28, 1967)
King Constantine II was described as Greece’s “Besieged King” in this TIME cover story, which reported on the dramatic events of the country’s Generals’ Coup of April 21, 1967. Under the pretext of combating communist subversion, right-wing army offices led by Brigadier General Stylianos Pattakos and Colonels George Papadopoulos and Nikolaos Makarezos seized power. They used a strategy of surprise and confusion to take control of Athens. There was little King Constantine could do as tanks circled his palace. He swore in the dictators as the legitimate government of Greece and decided to cooperate. Many years later, Constantine revealed he had cooperated in order to buy time to organize a counter-coup and oust the Junta – something which he never did. Constantine was the sixth and last monarch of the Greek Royal Family.
11. Aristotle & Jackie Kennedy Onassis (Oct. 25, 1968)
From Camelot to Elysium (via Olympic Airways). This was the title of TIME’s cover story about the marriage of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy and Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Their marriage united American-style glamour with European wealth. Jackie, 39, married 62-year-old Onassis five years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The two tied the knot in Greece on Onassis’ private island of Skorpios on October 20, 1968. The American public was unforgiving of Jackie – the dutiful widow of a much-loved president who had once described the years of her husband’s presidency as an American Camelot. Her flawless image was forever tarnished when she married Onassis. One newspaper headline screamed: “Jackie, How Could You?”
12. Michael Dukakis (May 2, 1988)
“Can he unite the Democrats?” This was the question TIME asked about Michael Dukakis, the Greek American governor of Massachusetts who wanted to become the President of the United States. Dukakis almost made it to the White House. He won the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States, beating more than a half a dozen other contenders for the nomination. The son of Greek immigrants, Dukakis also managed to gain the support of the party’s left, right and center and even secured the backing of his biggest rival, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Even though Dukakis would eventually lose the elections in November 1988, he did start the campaign with the most united Democratic Party in a quarter-century.
13. Lloyd Bentsen & Michael Dukakis (July 25, 1988)
TIME described Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988, and Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen as “the odd couple.” Dukakis’ decision to make Bentsen his running mate in the U.S. Presidential Elections was described by the magazine as an “atypical gamble.” Many believed the selection was a mistake because Bentsen appeared more presidential than Dukakis. Bentsen was older (67) and had much more experience in electoral politics. Dukakis, however, believed Bentsen was his best hope for capturing Texas’ 29 electoral votes. He was wrong. Bentsen was unable to swing his home state. The Dukakis-Bentsen ticket ended up losing the election in a landslide to George H.W. Bush.
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