While wondering along some of the most popular commercial avenues of Thessaloniki like Venizelou and Ermou you’ll meet one of the less known monuments of the city a monument that reminds us of the tragic events that took place during one of the most politically intense periods of the city’s history.
It is the assasination monument of Grigoris Lamprakis, member of the parliament and EDA party that took place in the exact spot in May 22 1963. Lamprakis had already participated in the Peace Marathon a month earlier while he had arrived to the city in order to take part to the first convention of Peace and Nuclear disarmament. He was aware of numerous potential dangers.
Unfortunately, in May 22 1963 during an “anti-demostration” consisted by extreme right wing groups and individuals Lamprakis was attacked by people that were on board a three-wheeled vehicle. One of them, (Spyros Gotzamanis and Manolis Emmanouilidis were on board) hit Lamprakis on the head using an iron bar thus causing serious injuries that proved to be fatal a few days later.
After the attack he was immediately transfered to AXEPA hospital while several persons of his escort were also wounded. Four days later and despite the great efforts of the doctors (with great delay though…) Lamprakis deceased. His death caused a huge political shock throughout Greece.
Hundreds of thousands were gathered on his funeral that actually turned into a huge political demonstration.
The people behind the murder and the cover up
These tragic events revealed in the worst possible way the relations between the Greek political class and several illegal parastatal teams and groups. Post-war Greece was a country that was never actually able to clear the right wing shadow organizations and traitorous individuals that were created during the WWII Occupation period.
(In terms of ideology, politics, and organization many of the secret groups that were active during the 60’s are directly decended to the Nazi Occupation period and the persons involved to them without getting any form of punishment…)
In its initial form the memorial plate of the monument was informing us that the place was “In memoriam of Grigoris Lamprakis long distance runner for peace, that fell in Apri 23rd 1963”. This reference was considered to be inaccurate at best and was replaced by another one saying that “In memory of Grigoris Lamprakis independent parliament member of the Left, murdered by the parastatal groups” a description based on facts that are much closer to the truth.
After his assasination Lamprakis became a symbol of peace against the state arbitrariness of that period and the parastatal groups that were used to fight him.