restricted access Making History (Disappear): Greece's Junta Trials and the Staging of Political Legitimation


The cycle of transitional trials that followed the fall of the military junta in 1974 provided a public platform on which to organize a past that had not yet acquired definitive meaning in the collective imaginary. The trials of the dictators serviced the new regime's interests in concatenating the history of authoritarianism in Greece around the figures of the junta's leaders while calling on the spectating public to participate in their vanquishing. This staging of history alleged a definitive break with the past and presented the new democratic regime as radically novel. The synchronous trials of the junta's torturers, however, undercut those claims to rupture and purification; the prosecution's efforts to erase inconvenient histories suggests that the postjunta state was anxious to absorb rather than expel remnants of the authoritarian past, facilitating continuities rather than ruptures with the previous establishment.