Death of Metaxas

Death of Ioannis (John) Metaxas

By P.J. Vatikiotis

Metaxas died at the family home, the modest villa on Danglis Street, Kifissia, at 5:30 a.m. (the official bulletin of the attending physicians put the time of death at 6:00 a.m.) on the morning of Tuesday, 29 January 1941.

Cause of death, as reported in the official death certificate and the official medical bulletin, was septicemia after a streptococcus infection. Typically, his death was shrouded in mystery, including a myth of his assassination. Metaxas’s older daughter, Loukia (Loulou), however, in an undated handwritten statement states that her father suffered an intestinal or internal hemorrhage in the spring of 1940, at least a good six months before his death, possibly due to arteriosclerosis.

Mrs. Nana Foka told me in November 1996 that a soldier of the British Armed Forces from a nearby British Army depot arrived with an oxygen cylinder on Tuesday, 29 January. Metaxas was already dying when he was connected to the oxygen cylinder, and the British mechanic went to sleep on the adjoining bed. After Metaxas was pronounced dead, the British soldier took the oxygen cylinder and left.

One suspects that it is this particular action of the British which gave rise to the rumours about the killing of Metaxas by poisoning or other means. But it is all speculation.