A few days after the military coup on April 21st 1967 when a fascist regime of colonels took power in Greece, Fatios Gouras, a CSU-member [1] and personal friend of CSU-leader Franz-Josef Strauß set up the “National Movement of Greeks in the Federal Republic of Germany – E.K.E.” This organisation adorned itself with the fascist emblem, a phoenix with a soldier bearing a bayonet. E.K.E cadres spied on Greek migrant workers in western Germany and terrorised Greek students in Germany who protested against the junta. Strauß declared shortly after the coup: “The Drachma now is the most stable currency in the world.” The colonels used this statement to lure investors into their country.

Soon after the coup, Marcell Hepp, personal adviser to Strauß, travelled to Greece for “political consultations” with the fascist rulers. Shortly after, Franz Stackmann, state secretary in the Bavarian Ministry of Economy and Traffic turned up and promised economic help. In 1968 Gouras went to Athens as an adviser for Vice-Prime Minister Nikolaos Maskarezos. From then on he developed a tight network between Athens and Munich. Shortly after, Franz-Josef Strauß himself came for a state visit to Athens.

Increasingly positive reports about the torture regime in Athens began to appear in the German media. Articles to that effect appeared in the Nürnberger Zeitung, Regensburger Bistumsblatt, in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Die Welt and of course in the CSU organ Bayern-Kurier. The TV-Programme Report broadcast documentaries in rosy colours.

After the fall of the Junta the following became clear: The Athens regime certainly splashed out the cash to bribe German newspapers and those responsible in TV. In the mid-1970s the Greek audit court published invoices documenting payments to German media or rather media people from the newspapers and the TV-magazine mentioned above. Money was paid out by the press attaché at the Greek embassy in Bonn. Every date for each invoice was painstakingly noted, mentioning title, media and concrete details about published pro-Junta articles and programmes. Prominent German journalists were among those who received payment.

Contacts between the CSU and the Greek fascists did not stop at all after the fall of the regime in 1974. As soon as early summer 1975 Strauß was in Athens again. He demanded from the new government under Konstatin Karamanlis that former Junta members were “not to be prosecuted in the interest of peace”. CSU-man Gouras set up a “Christian Democratic Party of Greece” (Chrike) with which the CSU tried to influence Greek politics. As late as March 13th 1976 Strauß hurried to Athens to meet ex-ministers of the former fascist regime. The Karamalis government protested against this “interference in the internal affairs of our country”.

All quotes from: Der Spiegel 39/1976.

[1]   Translators note: The term CSU is short for Christian Socialist Union. This is the Bavarian sister party of the CDU, the Christian Democratic Union, which is Angela Merkels party and currently in power and in coalition with the German Social Democrats. Concerning the time when in Athens the fascists ruled: Between 1966 and 1969 CDU/SCU and SPD had been in power (Chancellor K.G. Kiesinger; Vice: Willy Brandt) and in coalition too. Between 1969 and 1982 SPD and FDG (German Liberal Party) had been in power and in coalition (Chancellor: Helmut Schmidt, Vice mostly: Dietrich Genscher).