Greece does not necessarily have cause to be proud of its national festival on its own. 

The Greek War of Independence, 200 Years |EUROPEANS24
[Greek War of Independence]

Every year, the Greeks commemorate the start of the liberation fight; this year commemorates the 200th year of the remembrance. Richard Schuberth, a writer, has written a comprehensive study on the "History of the Greek War of Independence." According to the author, Greece does not necessarily have cause to be proud of its national festival on its own. A little humility might be beneficial. He focuses on media propaganda, orientalism, and nationalism in his work.

The Greek War of Independence and the Promise of Nationalism, according to Richard Schuberth: 

Mr. Schuberth, why do you believe Greece should be ashamed of the date of March 25, 1821, when the War of Independence began?

—It could only be proud if it vigorously confronted this war and rejected all forms of nationalism, including false and distorted portrayals. Many Greeks still identify as Romioi, or Eastern Romans, rather than √Čllines. An Orthodox Albanian, Slav, and Aromune was a Romios in 1820, but not a Catholic Greek.

Your book is "not intended as a settlement with the state of Greece," you declare in your final remarks. What are your objectives?

—I have always been journalistically opposed to anti-Greek racism in the media, i.e. on the side of the Greek populace, notably during the extraordinary humiliation of the Greeks by the EU-German austerity policies. One of my issues with my book is that it uses the American Revolution as an example of how to deal with inconsistencies and contradictions. Making moral judgements is not something I'm interested in. Rather, I'd like to encourage people to see that the people of 1820, in both the West and the East, had very different identities and represented completely different interests than their successors. At the time, no one would have grasped the notion of an ethnic country.

What triggered the March 1821 uprising?

—On the republican model, a small ruling class sought to seize state territory from the Sultan, while the majority preferred the tsarist model. Warlords like the Kleften aspired to be pashas. The privileges of the big Christian landowners, abbots, and notables were to be preserved. And the impoverished peasants spread the crumbs that remained after the Kleften robbery.

They characterize the Greek War of Independence as a terrible massacre and complete disarray. So it's the apocalypse, with everyone vs. everyone?

—Even. At the same time, it had magnificent actions, lofty thoughts, and idealistic enthusiasm that is unfathomable today. A tiny group of educated Republicans were successful in creating one of their time's most progressive constitutions. Because the interests were too numerous and the unifying purpose looked too hazy, this revolt was sure to result in chaos and murder. The "Epanastasis tou Ikosiena," or revolt of 1821, was a series of micro-civil wars with shifting alliances from beginning to conclusion.

Your research is the first monograph about the 1821 rebellion written in German. How are you going to maintain track of this convoluted story?

—This warship is a fantastic historical learning tool. It instills in us the ability to think historically. That is to say, classifications that we take for granted today, such as Turks, Greeks, and Bulgarians, cannot simply be projected into the past. This can assist us in letting go of basic and generic thoughts.

What were the concepts that were being battled for?

—Most of them came to Greece because of their passion for ancient Hellas, a reference that was mainly looked upon by the Greek populace. Bonapartists and anti-Bonapartists, republicans and monarchists, enlighteners and counter-enlighteners fought alongside the Greeks. Furthermore, the insurgents themselves have very different intents and views. There existed organized crime on a worldwide scale. The predatory warlords on site ranged from the British Philhellenes, who earned huge commissions from a loan in Greece, to the British Philhellenes, who obtained fat commissions from a loan in Greece.

Were there any war winners at the end of the day?

Oligarchies emerged, partly from warlords who became rich during the war, to a lesser extent from the old class of large landowners, and partly from completely new actors such as Greek and Bavarian officials. Independence initially led to a refeudalization rather than a democratization of Greek society.

In this massacre with shifting fronts, who were the true victims?

—The citizens, in this case the peasants in Greece, were everywhere and everywhere. The great freedom hero Kolokotronis was not driven from the Peloponnese by Ottoman authorities in 1806 due of his patriotic resistance, it must be stated unequivocally. The Christian people, on the other hand, demanded that this bandit be released on a regular basis. The rebellion brought swarms of locusts from all sides, including Ottoman-Albanian forces, Egyptians, and the Liberation Army's constantly looting Kleft units. The plight of the peasants objectively worsened as a result of independence. A large number of people moved to Ottoman Thessaly.

This atrocity is now commemorated throughout Greece as a nationalist remembrance. Why?

Because nationalism provides an instant fairy tale of community and historical origins that is quite appealing. Nationalism appeals to the terrified, emotional, and egotistical infant in the human being, not to the rational, responsible adult. By projecting an artificial center and fixed opponents and foes, nationalism unifies societal differences.

[Disclaimer : This article first appeared on Der Tagesspiegel]

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