'November 17'

The most historic anniversary in modern Greek history, November 17 is remembered as the day when military tanks burst through the main gate of the Athens Polytechnic University when student protests against the Greek military dictatorship had reached their peak.  Since 21st April 1967, Greece had been under the dictatorial rule of the military, a regime which abolished civil rights, dissolved political parties and exiled, imprisoned and tortured politicians and citizens based on their political beliefs.  The uprising began on 14th November 1973 and escalated to an open anti-junta revolt, ending in bloodshed in the early morning of 17th November after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the university gates where numerous anti-junta student protestors had occupied the premises.

24 people were killed during the bloody violence between the military forces and protestors that night.  These historic events would lead to the eventual overthrow of the dictatorship in Greece and the restoration of democracy.

Many of the demonstrators who were in the yard were crushed by the falling gate and some were killed by the tank.  Those killed included 19-year-old Michael Mirogiannis, reportedly shot to death by an officer and a five-year-old boy caught in the crossfire in the suburb of Zografou.  The army and police allowed the protestors inside the Polytechneio to leave unharmed by another gate.

A march of remembrance takes place every year to the United States Embassy in Athens.  America supported the military dictatorship and turned a blind eye to much of the anti-democratic activity of Greece's leaders, the infamous three Colonels.  U.S. Vice-President Spiro Agnew had praised the junta as "the best thing to happen to Greece since Pericles ruled in Ancient Athens".

Just days after the Athens Polytechnic Uprising, on 25th November 1973, brigadier Dimitrios Ioannis staged a coup, overthrowing Papadopoulos and Markenzinis.  The new dictator established an even more harsh regime, but it all ended several months later upon a failed coup attempt in Cyprus, which brought about the Turkish 'Operation Attila' invasion of the island on 20th July 1974.