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Dimitrios Ioannidis

Dimitrios Ioannidis
Native name
Δημήτριος Ιωαννίδης
Nickname(s)The invisible dictator (ο αόρατος δικτάτωρ, ο aóratos diktátōr)
Born(1923-03-13)13 March 1923
Athens, Greece
Died16 August 2010(2010-08-16) (aged 87)
Athens, Greece
Allegiance Greece
Service/branchHellenic Army
RankGR-Army-OF5-1937.svg Brigadier
WarsWorld War II
Greek Civil War

Dimitrios Ioannidis (Greek: Δημήτριος Ιωαννίδης [ðiˈmitri.os i.oaˈniðis]; 13 March 1923 – 16 August 2010),[1] also known as Dimitris Ioannidis, was a Greek military officer and one of the leading figures in the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. Ioannidis was considered a "purist and a moralist, a type of Greek Gaddafi".[2]

Early life and education

Ioannidis was born in Athens to a wealthy, upper middle-class business family with roots in Epirus.[3]

During the Axis occupation of Greece he was a member of the National Republican Greek League (EDES) resistance group. After the war he studied at the Hellenic Military Academy and complemented his military education by studying at the Infantry School, the War School, and the School of Atomic-Chemical-Biological Warfare.[4][full citation needed] As an army officer he took part also in the Greek civil war.


Ioannidis took an active part in planning and executing the coup d'état of 21 April 1967 (he was Director of the Hellenic Military Academy), but despite his great power he preferred to stay in the shadows, allowing George Papadopoulos to take the limelight. Ioannidis became chief of the Greek Military Police (ESA) which he developed into a feared paramilitary force of more than 20,000 men. The ESA men brutally hunted down and tortured political dissidents. They also became notorious for insulting their nominal superiors, the Generals of the Greek Army, who were generally royalist or republican and opposed to the junta leadership.[5] His Daily Telegraph obituary described Ioannidis as "the brutal head of military security during the Greek colonels’ dictatorship" who "oversaw the creation of EAT/ESA, the special interrogation section of the military police, at whose headquarters opponents of the regime, both civilian and military, were systematically tortured."[6]

After the Athens Polytechnic uprising of November 1973, Ioannidis, the most hardline of hardliners, became enraged with the "liberalizing" tendencies of the Papadopoulos leadership and hatched a plot to overthrow him using his loyal ESA forces. Indeed, on the night of 25 November 1973, Ioannidis overthrew Papadopoulos in a successful and bloodless coup. Papadopoulos was arrested by the loyalists of Ioannidis in his opulent seaside villa at Lagonissi. This was the second successful coup d'etat by Ioannidis, following the original of April 1967 which had abolished democracy. Ioannidis proceeded to install his friend and fellow Epirote Phaedon Gizikis as figurehead President of Greece, although total power belonged to him. He did not control the higher military hierarchy completely, but he could impose his will on them with the support of the lower ranks nicknamed "the small junta" (Ta Paraskinia tis Allagis-Stavros Psicharis-1975).[full citation needed]

Ioannidis pursued a crackdown internally and an aggressive expansionism externally. He was determined to annex Cyprus to Greece and achieve Enosis. He also felt a bitter personal antipathy towards the President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, considering him opportunistic and communistic. He called him the "Red Priest".[7] To that end, he organised the 15 July 1974 coup d'état in Cyprus (his last chance to do so since Makarios decided to expel all Greek officers from Cyprus by July 20 (from The Tragic Duel and the Treason of Cyprus, M. Adamides, 2011) which overthrew the government of Archbishop Makarios III. This was the third successful coup organized by Ioannidis, and at first things seemed to go along according to plan. Ioannidis put in power Nikos Sampson, a controversial figure.

When he did not manage to appoint the President of the Supreme Court and an ex-minister Zenon Severis, he tried to show to the outside world that the coup was merely an internal affair, but this effort went without any success. However, the coup provided the pretext for the Turkish invasion of the island on 20 July, which ultimately restored Makarios to the presidency (and was the prelude to the island's current, divided state). Ioannidis could not survive such a humiliation, and was pushed out by the "coup of the generals" in August, ending seven years of military rule.[8]

Trial and imprisonment

On 14 January 1975, Ioannidis was detained and tried on charges of high treason, rebellion, and of being an accessory to the manslaughters perpetrated during the Athens Polytechnic uprising. He was given a death sentence, later commuted to life imprisonment, which he served at Korydallos Prison.

On 21 July 2007, the 84-year-old Ioannidis filed a request to be discharged for health reasons, which was subsequently denied. Imprisoned until his death, he got married in prison, and died on 16 August 2010 at the age of 87 from respiratory problems, having been taken to hospital the previous night. Thus, he spent 35 years in prison (1975-2010).[9]


  1. ^ "Former dictator Ioannidis dies at 87". Kathimerini. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  2. ^ Marios Nikolinakos (1974). Widerstand und Opposition in Griechenland: vom Militärputsch 1967 zur neuen Demokratie. Luchterhand. p. 237. ISBN 978-3-472-88003-5. Ioannidis gilt als Purist und Moralist, eine Art griechischer Khadafi
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (16 August 2010). "Dimitrios Ioannidis, Greek Coup Leader, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  4. ^ To Vima, 3/2/2002
  5. ^ Theodoracopoulos, the Greek Upheaval, 1978
  6. ^ "Obituary: Dimitrios Ioannidis". The Daily Telegraph. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  7. ^ Reader's Digest, vol. 107, 1975
  8. ^ Petros Arapakis "To Telos tis Siopis", To Porisma tis Ellinikis Voulis, 1988.
  9. ^ "Πέθανε σε ηλικία 87 ετών ο δικτάτορας Δ.Ιωαννίδης" (in Greek), 16 August 2010.

External reference

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