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November 17: the student uprising

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In November 1973, students at Athens Polytekhnío launched a protest against the repressive regime of the colonels, occupying the building and broadcasting calls for mass resistance from a pirate radio transmitter. Large numbers came to demonstrate support. The colonels’ regime was determined to smash the protest and, on the night of November 17, snipers were positioned in neighbouring houses and ordered to fire into the courtyards while a tank broke down the entrance gate and the buildings were stormed. Even today nobody knows how many of the unarmed students were killed – estimates range from twenty to three hundred. The protest arguably marked the beginning of the end for the colonels; its anniversary is still commemorated by marches and sombre remembrance ceremonies and the date is an iconic one, used for example by the November 17 terrorist group, which was active in Greece from 1975 to 2002. The Neoclassical Polytekhnío itself, alongside the National Archeological Museum, is not open for visits.

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