Friday, August 14, 2015

Nicos Ploumbides: The letter, the body, the life

Ploumbides' letter, 14 March 1952
14 March, 1952. Nicos Belloyannis, Dimitris Batsis, Nicos Kaloumenos and Elias Argyriades have been sentenced to death as enemies of the state and Soviet spies. A letter arrives in the offices of the newspaper "Proodeftiki Allagi" [Progressive Change]. It is signed by member of the KKE CC and PB and director of the party's organizational structure in Athens and Piraeus, Nicos Ploumbides. He is in hiding from the revanchist post civil war Greek state. It is published two days later. The letter reads (transcription follows original notation):

Dear General Editor,
I am sending you a copy (handwritten) of a letter I have sent to the lawyers of my comrade, Nicos Belloyannis, and I beg you to publish it. I give you and the GREEK PEOPLE my promise to present myself and stand trial if the death sentence on Belloyannis is repealed.
Nicos A. Ploumbides
Member of the CC of the KKE
Athens, 14 March 1952 

To Mssrs Tsoukalas and Galeos
Belloyannis' Attorneys in Law 
Honorable gentlemen, 
It is known that the masterfully plotted trial of my comrade, Nicos Belloyannis, has been imposed by the American colonialists of our country. 
It is also known that Belloyannis has been convicted NOT because he was guilty of a specific act but because he is a brave and committed militant of the people, a member of the CC of the KKE, a communist. 
The plotters of the trial did not dare openly state that they are condemning Belloyannis for his ideas, but FORMALLY justified their decision by appealing to fake evidence and by evoking the testimony of the Police Security, to the effect that Belloyannis was the leader of the illegal apparatus of the KKE. 
To prove whether Belloyannis's condemnation had been planned or not by the Americans and the government, to save the HERO of the Greek people Belloyannis, to give the government and the Council of Reprieve the possibility to maintain an honest and dignified stance as individuals and as members of a nation, and to eliminate the formal aspect of the condemnation of Belloyannis,  
1) The leader of the illegal apparatus of the KKE was me, NOT Belloyannis. I take ALL responsibility for this position and for my actions. After this statement, any insistence on executing Belloyannis is UNJUSTIFIABLE, UNJUST and blatantly MURDEROUS. 
2) As I don't want anyone to think that I am playing tough guy from a safe position, I PROMISE to present myself to authorities and to stand trial if the death sentence of my friend and comrade N. Belloyannis is repealed. 
Use the present as you see fit (Council of Reprieve, Press, etc).  
Nicos Ploumbides,
Member of the CC of the KKE 
P.S. Regarding the authenticity of my signature, beyond my writing hand, which many know, I am also adding my fingerprint. 
12 March 1952
The letter did not save Beloyannis and the other three, who were executed on 30 March, 1952. A few months later, on 25 November of the same year, Ploumbides, who chronically suffered from consumption, was arrested, tried, and condemned to death by execution. He waited for his death in the sanatorium "Sotiria" [Salvation]. Before the execution, he refused to cover his eyes, sang the Internationale, and shouted "Hail Greece, Hail KKE." He fell to the bullets of the execution squad on 14 of August, 1954, 61 years ago today.
He was a teacher by profession.

"Nicos Ploumbides"
Music: Thanos Mikroutsikos
Lyrics: Manos Eleftheriou
Vocals: Maria Demetriade
From the album Hymns for Murderers, 1977.

What am I doing in this country
with mercenaries and Praetorians
begging for your glory on my knees
knocking on your door in the heavens?

These small rhymes are like breadcrumbs
from poets' symposia and late night gatherings
they are whispered by snitches in the street corners,
where I am going to get caught like a fish

We started on a long journey
and the night is poisoning our kisses
What world is propping us up? What theater stage?
Tonight, when they are putting Ploumbides to trial,
The wolves and the dogs entwined?

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