Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | August 16, 2010

The Seven Years

The nuclear disarmament movement in Greece developed slightly later than in Britain and northern Europe.  The variously named Committee of 100 or Bertrand Russell Youth Committee for Nuclear Disarmament was formed on the initiative of Grigoris Lambrakis.  Its first action was to plan a peace march from Marathon to Athens for 21 April 1963; this was banned and Lambrakis walked the route alone, protected by his immunity as a member of parliament.

Marathon March 1964

Demonstrator on the Marathon to Athens March, 1964

The Peace News photograph collection documents how the movement developed from 1963 until the military coup in April 1967.  There is coverage of the Marathon marches 1963-1966; the funeral of Lambrakis following his assassination in Salonika; the convoy to Greece organised by the British Committee of 100, summer 1963 (supplemented by progress reports sent by convoy members as they travelled through Europe); political meetings organised by the Bertrand Russell YCND, including to mark Hiroshima Day in 1963; the release of political prisoners in 1964; and demonstrations against the new government in summer 1965, including the funeral of Sotirios Petroulas.  Several members of the British Committee of 100 and journalists from Peace News succeeded in entering Greece, and feature in the photographs, including Pat Pottle, Adam Roberts, and Stan Banks (seen here leaving for Greece).

Mike Kane and Stan Banks departing for Greece

Mike Kane and Stan Banks, April 1963

The papers of Mary Ringsleben, Derry Hannam and Michael Randle also contain evidence of how the Committee of 100 campaigned in Britain under the ‘Save Greece Now’ banner from 1963 onwards.  Several of its members were arrested and imprisoned for their role in the protests against the Greek royal visit in July 1963 and the occupation of the Greek Embassy in London after the junta seized power in April 1967.  Seven years of military dictatorship followed the coup.

Writing in ‘Left, left, left’ (1971), Peggy Duff, CND’s organising secretary, described the Greek peace movement as ‘something more than an organisation seeking peace and disarmament.  It was also a campaign for human rights, for the right to demonstrate, to dissent, to speak freely, to vote freely, a campaign for the liberation of hundreds of prisoners in Greek prison camps…’.  The murder of Lambrakis symbolised this.

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Responses

  1. My good friend Stan Banks in the picture who sadly passed away about 4 years ago.Much missed, I used to make all the cnd badges in the eighties for Stan, and still have some contact with Peace Groups requiiring badges.Stan was a real inspiration.

    • Stan Banks was my teachers husband at Twickenham Road school in Birmingham, in the 1950s her maiden name was Massey I think they married in 1955, I wonder if she is still alive. whiteaj10@aol
      Alan White.

    • Is Stans wife still alive, she was my teacher at Twickenham road school in Birmingham,

      • Hello Alan, thanks for your comment. I’m afraid we don’t know! Will post here if any information does come to light.


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