Metaxas’ speech on the EON
Excerpts of a speech by Ioannis Metaxas at the First Congress of the Regional Commanders of the EON.
Concering the organization’s objectives:
“What are the aims of the organization? King! (Tempest of applause, acclamations and manifesations of all types) King! Country! Religion! Family! Rebirth of Greece and the Fourth of August Regime! (Prolonged applause and acclamations) This latter point, the Fourth of August regime, I underline, because it is the security, the vigilant safeguard of the others. When we did not have it, when we did not have the Fourth of August Regime, you saw tp what depths fell monarchy, religion, country, family, and all”
And concerning the reception to the EON by the schools:
“The schools, at the outset were hesitant. Only the primary schools joined with a great, a magnificent enthusiasm. The secondary schools hesitated at first to aid us… The reason for this is that at the national ministry of education there was originally a defiance which gradually disappeared, but the tone was set. But the youth [on the EON], little by little, without threats or violence, and only by persuasion, managed to win over and conquer the secondary schools almost entirely, teachers and pupils alike… In the Universities we encountered at the outset much resistance… as much from students as from a large proportion of the teaching personnel. Did you know this? Of all those who fought and who gave us our liberty in 1821, not one was an intellectual leader. i do not wish by this to belittle the value of intellectual work. But allow me to say that i consider it a secondary question in comparison withthe importance of character. (Applause) As for the teaching personnel, i admist that i found a certain resistance, not on the part of all, but of some. But since i assumed the portfolio of public instruction, i have foudn a greater comperhension and conviction, and even enthusiasm, so that i am certain all will go well”.
“It is important to us here in Greece, and we are not particularly interested what other societies and foreign countries think of it. Here it is simply linked to the very existence and survival of Greek society.
For many centuries, having suffered so many catastrophes and enslavements, the Greek national identity was not really encompassed in a territorial state, so that all the cultural heritage of the Greek Nation was concentrated in and transmitted from generation to generation by the family.
Then, we Greeks are mainly Orthodox in religion, so that of 8 million Greeks in the modern state, barely 250,000 belong to other religious rites or sects. And the Church emphasizes the two sacraments of marriage and baptism! The family therefore is the cell of Greek society. And the Nation for Greece is the same as society. So the family must participate in the education of the children; the major forces of the society other than the Nation are the Polity or the State and the Church.
In the West there is a total separation between Church and State, and the Church is denied a role in education. Here in Greece, Church and Nation constitute one whole. The Greek Nation and the Greek Church share the same history since the rise of Christianity. Thus the state in Greece never dared seek anti-religious aims; even the parliament of 1927, when and where there was such an inclination, did not dare undermine the special position of the Orthodox Church. So that one of the conditions that gave rise to the 4th August Regime was the period of irreligion preceding it.
But now Family, Nation and Church are the new pillars of the Greek society, nation and the state. State and Church work each in its own way towards the same national goals. In these circumstances, the State has the right to interfere in the education of children for national purposes. School, parents, EON and the State are involved in this important national endeavour.
It is the duty and role of the State and the new national structures (institutions, such as EON) to ensure that no teacher or professor promotes ideas for the overthrow of our society, our state, and our nationalism: no intellectual has the right to do that, and EON in particular has a special role of vigilance against such threat.”
19 October 1939