Journalism best exemplifies nobility when the journalist writes the truth, consequences be damned. Truth can be found at the end of a long, lonely crusade. Elias Demetracopoulos was a journalist who waged such a journey.
Demetracopoulos hailed from Greece, where he was born in 1928. His home country was unsettled as revolution and coups had ripped at the heartstrings of the land since the 1800s. The effects of the Great Depression were intense on the populace, the divisions amongst the upper and lower classes distinct in ideals as well as wealth ownership. Elias had a rebellious streak running through his veins, World War II and the Axis forces occupation of Greece exacerbated this. Elias and his Mother would hide Allied Soldiers from capture and grave harm. Soon Elias was on the inside of the resistance, working to upend the occupiers. Elias would summarily be captured, imprisoned and tortured. His fate was precarious throughout his captivity, an execution hanging over his head. His connections and past deeds soon got him sprung, but the persecution he endured would forever mark Elias.
Elias heard the calling of journalism and he embraced it. Greece was a battleground for US-Soviet Cold War tensions, the country was divided in allegiances. Elias covered the ever changing developments in his country. He was anti-communist, but was not a far right reactionary enthusiast. Elias fit more in the moderate category. Authoritarianism in any form brought out hints of danger. Elias’ work soon caught the attention of the nascent CIA. They attempted to recruit Elias, but he turned them down. By spurning their entreaties, he had earned their enmity. Elias’ future had taken a dark turn.
Elias’ work spanned many publications, his talent unquestioned. However, his scoops and interviews rubbed certain people the wrong way. His interview of Admiral Arleigh Burke irked the Kennedy administration, as they thought Burke revealed too much. The timing of the Burke interview was questioned, but Elias backed his subject and his reputation. As the 1960s wore on, Greece deteriorated into a military junta, repression of dissent omnipresent. Elias became a man without country, while his host country of the United States kept a wary eye on him.
The Nixon administration shared similar distrust of Elias as the Kennedy Administration. Elias focused his investigative eye on the largesse and influence of Tom Pappas. Pappas was a fellow countryman of Elias, Pappas made his money in the oil sector. Pappas was an unabashed supporter of the current ruling regime in Greece. Elias gathered intel that showed a large contribution to the Nixon campaign which cemented their support for the Junta. The specter of Pappas and his influence cast a shadow which may have led to certain intelligence gathering in and around the Watergate break-in. Elias would face scrutiny, job loss and looming deportation proceedings. Yet his voice would not be rendered silent. The resistance within his heart beat louder.
“The Greek Connection” is a fascinating biography of an intriguing personality. Author James H. Barron covers a lot of ground in recounting Demetracopoulos’ long life and work. No stone is left unturned, his subject unveiled for all to see. The reader is consumed by the subject’s love of his country and his desire for truth. This is a book that matters in our current state of affairs….Journalism and Government wise.