HOUSE ARREST by Helen Vlachos


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Helen Vlachos had an international reputation as editor and publisher of the Athens newspaper Kathimerini, but it was by shutting down her presses that she really hit world headlines: in the aftermath of the colonels' coup of April 1967, she was the only Greek newspaper owner, right or left, who refused to publish under censorship. The colonels, who coveted the respectable conservative Kathimerini stamp of approval, tried friendly persuasion and official assurances, until Mrs. Vlachos in one of her many candid anti-junta interviews with foreign correspondents struck a too sensitive spot by calling Brigadier Pattakos, Minister of the Interior, a clown. Arrested the next day, she was released pending trial by a faithful Kathimerini-reading general, but a few days later the powers-that be placed her under house arrest. After two-and-a-half months of captivity she made a relatively easy escape to London, from whence issues this outspoken retrospect. Mrs. Vlachos doesn't flesh out her story and her free-press, staunchly democratic stance with substantial ideological analysis or political explication, but her intimate acquaintance with the Greek scene and its prime actors continuously informs the action. Additional weight is provided by brief reminiscences of the German occupation and the ensuing civil war and rather leisurely discourses on her past journalistic adventures, on diverse Greek phenomena like Queen Mother Frederica, the Onassis-Niarchos rivalry, and Melina Mercouri, and on universal phenomena like family, coffee, and cats. Mrs. Vlachos sends some pointed shafts America-wards: ""More problems have been created than solved"" during America's postwar ascendancy, ""either through capicious and irresponsible intervention, or through hypocritical and just as irresponsible non-intervention."" An articulate, accessible personal journal that blends the consequential with pleasant incidentals.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1970
Publisher: Gambit