This talk will seek to explain Italian wartime policies in the Aegean islands, and the impact on the population of the occupation of Syros and the Cyclades. The famine which decimated Greece from early 1941 was particularly severe on Syros, leaving its mark on public memory. In official Greek discourse the occupation can only be seen as negative. Famine and fascist brutality cannot be forgotten. In addition, complex local religious, political and social factors have been a source of controversy, while the extent to which shadows of the past remain serves as a trigger to examine the lingering ghosts of postwar history. The political clamp-down in postwar Greece distorted historical analysis, and gave rise to myths which have not been questioned fully. Italians themselves also struggle with different interpretations of the occupiers' policies and behaviour. Conflicting memories of their own self-image have yet to be unravelled.
Dr Lecouer will illustrate the talk with episodes from her film The forgotten Greek famine, in which moving testimonies of survivors bring this period to life.
Dr Sheila Lecoeur, BA Hons (University of Westminster), MA (LSE), PhD (Birkbeck College, London University), has been Co-ordinator of Italian at Imperial College, London since 1990. She teaches 20th Century post-war European history.
Book: Mussolini’s Greek Island. Publisher IB Tauris 2009. Second edition in paperback 2015. Greek translation: Alexandria Publications 2013.
Documentary film: The Forgotten Greek Famine. Licenced to Fox TV Australia.
Current Projects: Research for publication of articles on Italian Occupation of Greece.
The preparation of a documentary film about the current economic crisis in Greece.
Future Project: A documentary film on ‘Acts of Reconciliation’ in World War 2.
Drinks will follow the talk