Welcome! “The Miracle” is here!

“The Miracle” is an open workshop. We want to create a narrative and share our venture with you. Or rather we wish to take this journey with you.

Μiracle is the course of the Greek society through the ruins of the Second World War up to our days.

That era is very rich in events and upturns. Despair and hope were always nearby-in the streets, in songs, in people’s minds. Every wave seems to fall, tumbling down and erasing every preceding memory, throwing it all in the relics of a bygone era.

The starting point of this project is the famous “Porter Report” (1947). A text written by an American technocrat bearing in mind the necessary reforms to be realized in this country in view of the upcoming American aid to Greece (Marshall Plan). His description takes us far away back in the preceding and followed facts, then and now. Then a decisive turn takes place worldwide and Greece is, by chance, in the first row. That is why our subject has rather understated global dimensions.

War, Occupation and Civil War, the Marshall Plan, the new post-war world, united Europe, new cities and the culture of new Greece, all these and much more are intertwined and extend to the present. In all these the leading role belongs to (the average) man, the insignificant who is behind the great names and important dates and asks that we give him some space, that we  remember.

We want to see how this story can be told, without losing its fascinating complexity. We want to see if it can finally be shared so as to enrich the public debate.

We want to study the hypothesis how theater, radio, network, video and podcast can create a web of stories and connections which inspire, sensitize, support.

We want finally to have you all with us throughout this process, we count on your help in the collection of data, images, testimonies, in the implementation and finally in the presentation of the upcoming project.

From now on, all that we will share on various online platforms, you can find them gathered here.

Date of listing: 13.03.21 Title: UNRA Food rally. Bread for the family. Photograph by Voula Papaioannou. The distribution of humanitarian aid by the Americans begins with UNRA as early as 1945. UNRA is the abbreviation for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, an organization which operated from 1943 until 1947 (when the Marshall Plan was launched). Based in New York and with the US already in the leading role. But who was this sweet little girl? Did she even remember being photographed by a lady years later? Did she ever see this picture? And if she saw it, did she not recognize herself in that “historical evidence/presumption”? #americanpolitics #occupation #sources #thepeople #marshallplan
Title: “The staff of Saint George’s Mills wishes…” Public thanks of the workers in Patra to the American ambassador’s wife (March 1949). Consider that today is the arrival not of the American ambassador but of his wife, plus the rain. Who would go and thank her? Times have changed and it is hard to comprehend what was happening during that era… Source: From Jenny Lialiouti’s article entitled: “The Nebraska Savior'', 22.01.2017.
Title: December 21, 1949. Procession after music on a main street in Athens of the arrival of the millions ton of flour of the Marshall Plan to Athens.
Title: UNRA corn “Any failure of the US mission in Greece would require a review of the US foreign policy. It would change history.” Dwight Griswold, chief of the American Aid in Greece, 1948. Photo by Voula Papaioannou. Benaki Museum Photo Archives.
Title: New Movies! There is an irony in the image caption, the writer seems to be commenting ironically on the peasants who themselves comment on the new methods adopted by the child. After all these years we come and smile anew with his certainty. Source: Zenobia Lialiouti, the “other” Cold War, The American cultural diplomacy in Greece, 1953-1973, PEK, 2019.
Date of listing: 17.03.21 Title: GREECE AND KOREA Greece is the first country upon which America applies colonial methods. This is a view supported by various American sources. The term “colonialism” is not always referred to evaluativelly. Many Americans feel almost taken aback by the role they are asked to play. America is the only one that can save capitalism which at the time was believed to bring itself democracy and its values. We know what came next. Unfortunately, history is inexorable. Greece is just the beginning. Source: Polymeris Voglis, article entitled: new forms of sovereignty, state reconstruction and American politics in Greece, 1945-1952 In the volume: "The Temptation Of The Empire", Metaixmio, Athens, 2005.
Date of listing: 12.03.21 Title: PEOPLE AND KOLONAKI In 1959 came the film “People and Kolonaki” written and directed by Yiannis Dalianidis. The title is already known by the homonymous song by Manolis Chiotis. Radios constantly remind us that this distinction of “people” on one hand and “Kolonaki” on the other appears in many documents of that time. This is how Greek society is described, so simply/simplistically. And while the song says “we ‘re all the same and we all have hearts”, the film seems to say that…. Yes, we are all the same, but some almost have no heart, and all they recognize is money. In any case, however, both “people” and “Kolonaki” are caricatures (or rather precisely because they are caricatures), it is worth our while to try to understand what they represent. #thepeople #themiracle #greekcivilwar #coldwar #bourgeoisie
Date of listing: 14.03.21 Title: MANUAL ON GREECE / FOR USE OF THE MISSION OF THE GREEK ELECTIONS (February 1946) We see here how the American Services describe the Greeks. Let us not forget that these observations are empirical and partly true. They are influenced however by interests and cultural stereotypes of that time. What is the “Greek society”? Today we feel deep embarrassment when talking about this peculiarity. Perhaps because in countries such as Greece, Spain, Germany or Italy there has been an exploitation of collective virtues by dictatorial regimes. It looks as if this collective self-esteem has been assigned exclusively to the tourism industry. It has now become a product that over time turns into an automatic representation isolated from its source. Source: Paul A. Porter, WANTED: A MIRACLE FOR GREECE, Midnight Publications, Athens, 2008. #USA #greekcivilwar #sources #books #Greece
Date of listing: 15.03.21 Title: “WANTED: A MIRACLE FOR GREECE” In 2008, Midnight Publications published a book that would be worth studying and discussing again today. It is entitled: “WANTED: A MIRACLE FOR GREECE”, with the subtitle “Diary of a Presidential Envoy, January 20-February 27 1947”. Paul Porter is listed as the author. But that is half the truth. This book is not simply the publication of a diary but a small “synthesis” of documents of the time, texts comments providing different perspectives and animating the sources, and finally an appendix with a timeline, information about the people mentioned and other useful clarifications. It is an important and handy book. The idea, primary research and introduction of the book-as seen in its presentation-belong to Michael Psalidopoulos. Spyros Vrettos is responsible for the documentation and epimeter. This book played a decisive role in our decision to focus on the Porter case, so as to unravel a multitude of questions which despite their significance, remain invisible. It helps the facts gain a face and re-acquire the elasticity and actuality they deserve. This is the first book we recommend. #sources #books #200years #occupation #marshallplan
Date of listing: 16.03.21 Title: THE SMILE OF LIFE All we know for this photo is that it was taken in Preveza in 1945 (we welcome any further information). These are honest smiles, filled with joy. Their clothes reveal a lot. As their faces. They are unloading humanitarian aid. For who? Probably for themselves. War seems to have shredded everything, what remains is life only. #Greece #UNRA #thepeople #occupation #themiracle #thereception
Date of listing: 17.03.21 Title: FOREVER KIDS! “How amazing are these Greek people, oversensitive, self-centered and adorable, all this in one, just like kids!” Lincoln MacVeagh, American ambassador (1943-1947) Workers peering at an American excavation machine used to improve telecommunications in Greece, as part of the Marshall Plan. #MacVeagh #themiracle #Greece #MarshallPlan #thereception
Date of listing: 18.03.21 Title: PORTER SAYS #1 “If the American Mission is to put an end to this deep sense of national despair, it will have to find solutions for two crucial issues-the Civil War and the present government.” This is what Paul Porter says in his famous article. What does it mean that the government is a problem of even equal importance with the Civil War? Why? The statement is so strong, that we are forced to assume the government is destroying this place the same. We must therefore ask WHO and much more how they govern this land. Paul A. Porter, Collier’s Magazine, September 20, 1947 Source: Paul A. Porter “WANTED: A MIRACLE FOR GREECE”, Midnight Publications, Athens, 2008 #Porter #themiracle #greekcivilwar #sources #books #Greece #America #americanpolitics #200years #thereception
Date of listing: 18.03.21 Title: THE SPEECH AT HARVARD / JUNE 5, 1945 General George C. Marshall gave that day a speech of historical significance. The Marshall Plan Speech. Since then, the name “Marshall Plan” has prevailed. The project was known up until then as EPR (European Recovery Plan). It has been more than two months since the president declared support for other countries in view of the fight against communism. This repositioning has its significance. President Truman considers the “Truman Doctrine” and the reconstruction plan to be two sides of the same coin. But that doesn’t apply though to General Marshall and his team. The president’s office agreed to describe the support as logistics rather than ideological in the speech. This negotiation continues later. It differentiates the proposals and proposed measures. We also see it in Athens, opposing Paul Porter and the American ambassador in Athens, Lincoln MacVeagh. There are many voices and ideological mania often drifts into solutions which aren’t actually the most appropriate. When this happens, “American reinforcement” forces the country deeper into the vortex of division. You will find here the recording of that day along with two written versions, the original text distributed to journalists and the transcript which George C. Marshall finally gave as his speech.
Date of listing: 20.03.21 Title: AN AWKWARD MOMENT (1946) A group of young people in a park, impeccably dressed, playing guitar, singing and of course posing. These are the days of 1946. The Occupation is a fresh wound, the civil war is raging, the reconstruction hasn’t begun, Porter says all this too. This scene is rather strange. The pictures of that era are justly pictures of ruin and misery. But there is a part of the population that has not experienced extreme hardship, has not starved. The story usually told is that everyone starved apart a few associates of the Germans. But what does “associate” mean exactly? Discussing with a fellow historian we became aware that there is another book we need to find, by Michalis Lymberatos, (On the verge of Civil War/Bibliorama Publications) which estimates the associates of the Germans in a percentage of 20-25% of the population. And we return to this picture, this youthful company. Old photos can easily trap you. Age is not erased the same way on everyone. What neighborhood are they in? What is happening around them at that moment? Who are their parents? Who are these people? Photograph: Dimitris Charisiades, Benaki Museum #themiracle #greekcivilwar #books #Greece #200years #thereception #thepeople
Date of listing: 22.03.21 Title: HAPPY SUNDAY On October 15, 1944 this photo is taken in Piraeus. It is the day of disembarkation of the first British troops. The crowd celebrates. Its’ joy is dazzling, contagious, even today. At the same time, however, there are clashes in Omonia Square between “nationalists'' and “partisans” leaving behind dead and injured. And this joy, the joy of deliverance will soon be forgotten. In Greece, liberation is not celebrated. Probably because this liberation didn’t really happen, it was just a dream. Photo source: #themiracle #greekcivilwar #Greece #liberation #200years #thereception #thepeople
Date of listing: 23.03.21 Title: THEY AREN’T STRONG ENOUGH TO UNLOAD SUPPLIES Although the first supplies had begun unloading at the port of Piraeus, the lack of proper means of transportation delayed the distribution of aid. At the same time, groups of unemployed people, along with port workers, stole as much food as they could and sold it on the black market. In post-war Athens even unloading supplies from the holds of ships was a very difficult task. British agencies were forced to give the dockers common meals in the middle of their shift, as their physical weakness, due to malnutrition, was causing serious delays. In their official reports they noted: “men appear willing, but lack sufficient strength to work several hours”. Text source: Menelaus Charalambidis, December 1944, The battle of Athens, Alexandria, 2014. Photo: Boats unloading British soldiers at the port of Piraeus. October 15th 1944 Photo source: #themiracle #Greece #liberation #200years #thereception #thepeople #sources #1944
Date of listing: 23.03.21 Title: FOR A BETTER LIFE? The Marshall Plan is accompanied with an “update” program or else propaganda and cultural policy. The narrative (promoted by films, posters, literature) has a particularity: It doesn’t talk about common values, it doesn’t defend freedom and culture, but rather focuses on the “quality of life”! Europeans are asked to live better. Some analysts see how this American proposal ends up replacing the citizen (causing trouble) with the consumer. Promotion Poster for the European Recovery Program by Gottfried Honneger-Lavater entitled “La coopération européenne pour en niveau de vie plus plus élevé” (The European cooperation for a higher life level) Publisher: European Recovery Program Competition, Vault 1950. #Marshallplan #themiracle #Europe #America #americanpolitics #thereception #USA
Date of listing: 24.03.21 Title: PORTER SAYS #2 (The need for faith in the future) “Across the country from one end to the other, prevails a grim, defenceless, profound lack of faith in the future-a lack of faith leading to complete inaction in the present. From the owners of large textile industries in Athens to small shopkeepers at the northernmost end of Macedonia, people have been paralysed by uncertainty and fear. Businessmen don’t invest. Shopkeepers don’t store supplies. Farmers don’t repair their damaged homes. An official informed me that in Greece 150.000 houses have been completely destroyed and in 1946 only 1.300 were repaired. “ Paul. A. Porter, Collier’s Magazine, September 20th, 1947. Source: Paul A. Porter WANTED: A MIRACLE FOR GREECE, Midnight Publications, Athens, 2008. PORTER SAYS #1 #Porter #themiracle #greekcivilwar #sources #books #Greece #America #americanpolitics #200years #thereception