Language, Trauma, and Silence

Old Boat

In the years after World War II, a Civil War raged in Greece until 1949 which proved to be one of the worst disasters that befell Greece. Greek against Greek, the Right fought with the Left a war of the utmost cruelty.

This war left many wounds in Greek society. Memories of it still scar the Greek psyche, even across several generations, influencing the current social and political climate.

An important aspect of this war, and the horrendous atrocities inflicted during it, often by members of the same family fighting each other, has been the silence it generated. The trauma robbed people of the words to describe what happened to them, or what they did to others. Whole families stopped communicating; individuals refrained from speaking about the period of the war; history books omitted important events that took place as if they never had happened.

Over the years, the situation slowly changed, especially after the fall of the military Junta and the opening up of the political system in Greece – though even now sections of Greek society insist that there are still many unspoken matters that need to be talked about and worked through.

In my story Postcards, I allude to the period of the Greek Civil War, and to this silence, symbolized by the fighter/husband: he stops using words/language when writing to his wife and instead communicates through drawings in his postcards.

You can read the short story “Postcards” here 

2 thoughts on “Language, Trauma, and Silence”

  1. thanks for the background story of “Postcards”. it made me get back to the book i read about the wartime in Greece: “The Cretan Runner” by George Psychoundakis, but his story ends with WorldWar II. i wasn’t aware that those years were followed by a civil war.


    1. I am glad to hear you were reminded of the Cretan Runner, Dorothee – a true account of the Cretan Resistance during World War II.
      The Civil War that followed was more centered on the mainland and especially Northern Greece. Sadly, though, it is hardly talked about even by Greeks today!
      Interestingly, in recent years, the Greek community in Munich has often confronted the issue through films shown during the Griechische Filmwoche events.


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