Stylianos Pattakos is the number two man in Greece. A member of the original triumvirate which took power in the coup d'etat of April 21, 1967, Pattakos is now Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.
I met with Pattakos in Samarina, a small village in the north of Greece, when he made a surprise visit on a tour of the northern provinces. He descended on the village from the sky in a helicopter like a profane god seeking disciples. Few in this remote village had ever seen a helicopter, so most of the people ran to meet this awesome, whirring machine.
When I saw the helicopter from my tent overlooking Samarina, I was afraid that it could only mean more trouble. I was one of a group of people who were living in Samarina for several weeks to make a documentary film about the Vlachs, a transient group of shepherds who make their summer homes in Samarina and a number of neighboring villages.
After we had been filming for a week, military authorities from near-by towns ordered the village policemen to confiscate our film until we acquired a permit. We gave him a fraction of the film we had taken, and I went off on a Kafkaesque tour in search of a permit for the film.
This was a touchy task, since Samarina and other Vlach villages are within a few miles of the Albanian border. Greece and Albania never signed a peace treaty after World War II and are still technically at war. Of course, every official I went to denied he had any power in the matter and sent me along to other officials who they said
could surely arrange a permit. The last resort was the Bureau of Foreign Correspondence in Athens which rejected the request on the grounds that our effort was non-professional, i.e., we weren't NBC. The real reason was most probably that official opinion opposes the idea that minorities such as the Vlachs exist in Greece. Only Greeks could live in Greece.
So when the helicopter arrived the day after I returned to Samarina, I thought it had come on our business to take the film we had shot, and to prevent us from continuing. Coincidentally, as I discovered later, a communique had been sent up from Athens that same day ordering the local policemen to do just those things. In any case, I was ironically relieved on learning it was Pattakos.
STYLIANOS Pattakos resembles a Bavarian butcher-balding, with arching, bushy eyebrows and a well-fed physique. He comes from Crete and possesses the unassuming generosity and vengeful temper which is characteristic of his fellow islanders. So great is his pride that the night before the coup, he gave a pistol to his eldest daughter and told her that if she did not hear from him before 3 a.m. the following morning, she must shoot her mother, her younger sister, and herself.
Before the coup, Pattakos had been a lieutenant colonel for ten years and was impatient for a promotion. He was made Commander of the Tank Training School in Athens and promoted to brigadier general about two months before the coup. The fact that his tanks were the ones used to take over Athens was instrumental in gaining him a high position among the scheming military leaders. Like his colleagues and former colonels, George Papadopoulos, the Prime Minister, and Nicholas Makarezos, Minister of Coordination, Pattakos was at various times involved with the KYP, the Greek intelligence agency which was started and directly funded by the American CIA. In fact, his fellow conspirator Papadopoulos was the chief liaison between the KYP and the CIA.
The first thing Pattakos did on arriving in Samarina was to greet the local policemen and the village priest. He went straight to the church to pay his respects. The Orthodox Church plays an essential role in the junta's image. The prayer books used by school children in Greece have a picture of Christ on the first page and the official emblem-the phoenix rising out of the flame-on the opposite page.
Pattakos stood in the village square and heard the requests of the people-electricity; a better road from Samarina to the district capital, Ghrevena; a town hall. Pattakos asked his aide to write down all the needs of the town.
A story circulating in Greece: Papadopoulos and Pattakos took a tour to a number of towns in Northern Greece. When they arrived at the first town, the mayor came up and asked the Prime Minister for government funds to improve the local school. Papadopoulos apologized and explained that the government could not afford to help. They drove off in their black limousine, and when they arrived at the second town, the mayor requested money to improve the conditions in the local prisons. "Of course," replied the Prime Minister as he wrote out a check for a handsome sum. As they cruised off, Pattakos turned to his boss and asked, "Why did you give money for the prison and not for the school?" The Prime Minister answered, "Stylianos, do you think we will ever go back to school in the future?"
Ade Pollard, an English journalist who was working on the film, asked Pattakos why we were prohibited from taking film, explaining that the film was about what a great job the government is doing in Greece. Pattakos turned to the police chief of Ghrevena, who had been giving us a hard time about the film, and scolded him for interfering with our work. Then he signed a piece of paper stating that we could film "at liberty."
That evening, we taped an interview with Pattakos after he finished his dinner in a tavern. Ade and I had thought up some questions and Ade posed them in the most flattering way possible. The result was a near parody of the B.B.C., but it yielded some insights into the colonels' way of thinking. Pattakos was obviously sensitive to the hostile attitude of the foreign press, so many of his answers were what he thought would be favorable to foreign readers. Hence, the frequent lies. It is as unlikely that Greece is ready to recognize Albania as it is that the government can multiply the number of sheep tenfold. Greece is not a full but an associate member of the Common Market, and its status has been frozen since the coup.
IT IS interesting to see that Pattakos believes that Greece will "once again" serve as an example of civilization to the entire world. This reflects the official view that Greece is returning to the glory of the Age of Pericles. Therefore, school children are taught to speak Katherevousa, which is a mixture of ancient and modern Greek, until recently used only in official circles. In the meantime, the Greeks with cultural genius, such as Theodorak is and Sephefis, are barred from publishing their works inside Greece.