A Slav Macedonian Greek Fascist? Deciphering the Ethnicophrosyne of Sotirios Gotzamanis by Spyros Marchetos

1. Fascist or Conservative?

In the evening of 14th of March, 1957, Salonica witnessed a bizarre scene that would be considered scandalous, if not outright national treason, had it happened in any other place of the war-ravaged Europe. The local social and political elite, including all important state functionaries, from the bishop,the military governor and the prefect downwards, gathered in the grand hall of the semi-official Society for Macedonian Studies to honour a white-haired politician. They received enthusiastically his speech, on a subject hardly appropriate for these postwar times (‘The conquest of Asia by the Greeks under the leadership of Alexander the Great’), amid applause that would scarcely let anyone imagine that very recently this same old man had been condemned to death by a Greek high court, for nothing less than collaboration with the enemy. He was Sotirios Gotzamanis, the powerful Finance Minister during the Nazi occupation of Greece, infamous for presiding over the worst economic catastrophe in the country’s history, that included a colossal transfer of wealth from poor to rich, caused untold miseryand left tens of thousands dead from hunger. The people had blamed exactly this politician for thehyperinflation of those years, calling «Gotzamanakia» -the little children of Gotzamanis- the worthless banknotes that bore his signature. Nationalists had hated him for his perceived support to plans for the bulgarian domination of Macedonia. And yet, while all over Europe lesser collaborators of the Nazis had been hunted, imprisoned and often executed, here he was in postwar Salonica -free, prosperous,respected, lionized by everyone who counted, and even continuing to preach to the local elites trademark nazi notions -vital space, race, «Hindoeuropean warriors», and the providential Leader of the nation. His slav macedonian ethnicity, not hidden but flaunted during his long career, made the conundrum even greater.