TO NOUMERO 31328: The book of slavery by Elias Venezis and film

To Noumero 31328: The book of Slavery, is an autobiographical testimony written by Elias Venezis detailing the author’s experience as a prisoner enslaved in a work battalion during the Greek Genocide. 

In 1978, the story line of the book was adapted into a film titled ‘1922’ directed by Nikos Koundouros. The film was controversially banned in Greece until 1982 by the Greek Government due to pressure from the Turkish Foreign Ministry who complained that the film would ruin Greek-Turkish relations.

Elias Venezis (born Elias Mellos) was born in 1904 in Ayvalık (Κυδωνίες) in Asia Minor and died in Athens in 1973. 

In September 1922 at the age of 18, Venezis was arrested, taken prisoner and enslaved in a labor battalion. The prisoners were marched into the interior, but few arrived at the destination since most of them were either killed on the way or died of the hardships. 

Of the 3,000 conscripted into his labor brigade only 23 survived. Each prisoner was assigned an identifying number and 31328 was the number assigned to Venezis.

In chapter 18, Venezis recounts when a group of prisoners were taken to a ravine just out of Magnesia (today Manisa) where they were ordered to hide the remains of tens of thousands of Christians who had been slaughtered during the final phase of the genocide. Having endured the depths of human suffering themselves, the prisoners made light of the situation. Venezis wrote:

One morning they took about 60 prisoners out to do a job at a place just outside of Magnesia (today Manisa). Opposite the railroad tracks near Sipilos is the end point of a large ravine. They call it Kirtik-Dere.

Inside this ravine it was estimated that they’d killed about forty thousand Christians from Smyrna (Izmir) and Magnesia during the early days of the Smyrna Holocaust; males and females. The bodies had melted over winter and the water of the gorge which descended from above pushed the corpses further down. Our job all day was to push the corpses back in so that they couldn’t be seen. 

-What are you holding? a prisoner asked.

The other prisoner looked at what was in his fellow prisoner’s arms, and as he walked began counting:

-Two heads, five tibias, six jawbones.

-Male or female?

-They look male.

-Comrade, you haven’t caught much today!


The other man boastfully showed him what was in his own arms.

-Look here! One, two, three pelvic bones! And they all appear to be female…

Nikos Koundouros

Greek film and television director Nikos Koundouros passed away on Wednesday, at the age of 90. Koundouros had been admitted to hospital with respiratory complaints in recent weeks.

Born in Athens in December 1926, to a family originally hailing from Crete, Koundouros was counted among the most notable modern Greek directors, while his 1956 film “The Ogre of Athens” is considered by many to be the best Greek film of that decade.

He represented Greek cinema at a number of foreign film festivals in the 50s and 60s, winning the the Silver Bear for his film “Young Aprodites” in the 13th Berlin film festival, as well as top prize in the Thessaloniki Film Festival, in 1963. His work has been repeatedly broadcast on British and French television and there are copies of his films in many important film museums around the world.


Enchanted City (1954)

Dracon (1956)

The outlaws (1958)

The river (1960)

Young Aphrodites (1963)

Vortex (1967)

The song of fire (1975)

1922 (1978)

Brothel (1984)

Byron, Ballad for a possessed (1992)

The photographers (1998)

The Ship (2011)/IBNA

Nine Evzones are coming to Australia scheduled from 12 to 23 April in Adelaide and from 23 April to 2 May 2017 in Sydney

 Evzone guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens wearing the full dress uniform.

9 Evzones, soldiers of the Greek Presidential Guard, arrive in Adelaide and Sydney to participate in ceremonies marking Anzac Day and the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.


The Evzones, or Evzoni (Greek: Εύζωνες, Εύζωνοι, pronounced [evˈzones, evˈzoni]), is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. 

Today, it refers to the members of the Presidential Guard (Greek: Προεδρική Φρουρά; Proedrikí Frourá), an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Greek: Μνημείο του Άγνωστου Στρατιώτη; Mnimeío tou Άgnostou Stratiόti), the Presidential Mansion and the gate of Evzones camp in Athens. An Evzone (Greek: Εύζωνας) is also known, colloquially, as a Tsoliás (Greek: Τσολιάς, Τσολιάδες; pl. Tsoliádes).

Though the Presidential Guard is a primarily ceremonial unit, all Evzones are volunteers drawn from the Hellenic Army’s Infantry Corps. Prospective Evzones are initially identified at the Infantry Recruit Training Centres during Basic Training; there is a minimum height requirement of 1.87 m (6′ 1.3″) to join.

The unit is known for its uniform, which has evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts who fought the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The most visible item of this uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment. Their distinctive dress turned them into a popular image for the Greek soldier, especially among foreigners.


In 1833, after the arrival of King Otto, the Greek Army was organized along new lines. The Bavarian soldiers that had come with Otto formed the majority of the “European” Line Infantry battalions (Greek: Τάγματα Γραμμής; Tágmata Grammís). 

Each of these units included one rifle company, designated as “Skirmishers” (Greek: Λόχος Ακροβολιστών; Lókhos Akrovolistón) or “Evzone” (Greek: Λόχος Ευζώνων; Lókhos Evzónon). In addition, ten light “Skirmisher” battalions (Greek: Τάγματα Ακροβολιστών; Tágmata Akrovolistón) were formed from Greeks, dressed in a uniform based on the garb of the klephts of the War of Independence (1821–1829). 

In 1836 these battalions were reduced to four, and eight “Mountain Guard” battalions (Greek: Τάγματα Οροφυλακής; Tágmata Orofylakís) were formed in their stead; they were grouped into four regiments in 1843. These units were primarily engaged in patrolling the frontier, combating insurgents and hunting down the many brigands that infested the countryside. 

The Mountain Guard was incorporated in the strengthened “Skirmisher” battalions in 1854.

In December 1867, the first four elite “Evzone” light battalions were formed, of four companies each (soon expanded to five), with the task of guarding the frontier. 

On 12 December 1868, the Royal Guard detachment, initially named Agema (Άγημα), later the Palace Guard (Ανακτορική Φρουρά; Anaktorikí Frourá), composed of two Evzone infantry companies and a cavalry troop, was formed. 

In 1880-1881, the Evzone units were expanded to nine battalions. They participated in the disastrous 1897 war with Turkey as elements of the regular infantry divisions. In the aftermath of the war, through various reorganizations, the number of Evzone battalions varied from eight to six, operating either independently or divided between the infantry divisions, and were among the first units to be equipped with machine guns. 

At the time of the Balkan Wars, eight Evzone battalions were in existence. They operated independently on the vanguard or the flanks of the army. They distinguished themselves for their fighting spirit suffering high casualties, especially among officers. 

Subsequently the Evzone units were increased to five regiments, which fought with distinction as elite shock troops in the First World War, the Asia Minor Campaign and the Greco-Italian War.

During the German invasion in 1941, a memorable event is said to have occurred: on April 27, as the German Army was entering Athens, the Germans ascended to the Acropolis of Athens and ordered the young Evzone who was guarding the flag post, Konstantinos Koukidis (q.v.), to haul the Greek flag down and replace it with the swastika flag. The young soldier did so, but refused to hand over the Greek flag to the Germans, and instead wrapped himself in it and fell off the Acropolis to his death.

After the occupation of the country, in 1943, the collaborationist government raised a number of “Security Battalions” (Τάγματα Ασφαλείας), which were dressed in the Evzone uniform and participated in operations against the EAM-ELAS partisans.

They were derisively known as Germanotsoliades (“German Evzones”) or Tagmatasfalites (“Security Battalionists”), and were disbanded after liberation in 1944.

After the war, the reconstituted Hellenic Army did not re-establish the Evzone regiments, their elite status and role being assumed by the newly established Mountain Raiding Companies. The traditions and distinctions of the Evzones are, however, maintained by a special ceremonial unit, which has served under several names: Palace Guard (Greek: Ανακτορική Φρουρά), Flag Guard (Greek: Φρουρά Σημαίας), Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard (Greek: Φρουρά Μνημείου Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη), Royal Guard (Greek: Βασιλική Φρουρά) and after 1974, with the abolition of the monarchy, the Presidential Guard (Greek: Προεδρική Φρουρά). Several regular Army Infantry units have been given the numbers and names of the post-1913 Evzone Regiments, however, these names are only honorific.


Today the Evzones form the Presidential Guard, a battalion composed of 2 Evzone companies and 1 command company. They operate out of the Georgios Tzavelas barracks (named to honor Georgios Tzavelas, a chieftain and hero of the Greek Revolution of 1821) on Herodou Attikou Street, just behind the Parliament building.

The Guard takes precedence in all military parades. Their march style consists of normal march time, and at intervals, for several paces, striking the ground forcefully with the right foot.

Their standard marching music is the “Evzonaki” (“little Evzone”) (Greek: Ευζωνάκι) march, played at 48 beats/min. They guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier round the clock. Guards on duty perform their movements in a very slow and highly stylized manner. 

They switch positions with each other every fifteen minutes and remain completely motionless and at attention in the meantime. Since the Guards are required to be totally still at all times, there is one Evzone in normal fatigues uniform and police surveillance to ensure that no one approaches or harasses the Guards while on duty. 

The “little changes” take place every hour on the hour, and involve the two incoming and two outgoing sentries, and a supervising “Corporal of the Change”.

The Grand Change takes place at 11 am on Sunday mornings, and involves the whole Guard with its officers and a military band, all marching from the Guard Barracks to the Tomb for the Change, and back. 

The Grand Change is a popular Sunday morning spectacle for Athenians and tourists alike.

During a demonstration in front of the Parliament in 2001, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at one of the guardhouses. The wooden construction was engulfed in flames. 

The Evzone on guard next to it remained in place until an officer gave him the order to move. With a scorched and partly smoking uniform on one side, the Evzone did so.

In January 2010, a makeshift bomb was placed 20 meters from where the Evzones guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at Syntagma Square. Although the police informed the Evzones of the imminent threat, the Guards refused to leave their posts and remained on guard while the bomb exploded.

Former units

The historical units were numbered and known as Τάγμα Ευζώνων (“Evzone Battalion”) or Σύνταγμα Ευζώνων (“Evzone Regiment”). The first Evzone Regiment was formed in 1912, shortly before the outbreak of the Balkan Wars. The “traditional” and well-known Evzone regiments, which fought in World War I, the Asia Minor Campaign, and World War II, were formed after the Balkan Wars by the Royal Decree of 23 December 1913. Since the regiments were distinctive, elite units, they had dual numbers—the first, numbering them in the Evzones order of seniority, the second, in the overall infantry hierarchy. Thus the 5/42 Evzone Regiment was the 5th Evzone regiment, but also the 42nd infantry regiment.

1/38 Evzone Regiment, the former 1st Evzone Regiment, based in Karditsa and recruited in Thessaly

2/39 Evzone Regiment, based in Missolonghi and recruited in Aetolia-Acarnania

3/40 Evzone Regiment, based in Arta and recruited in Epirus

4/41 Evzone Regiment, based in Veroia and recruited in western Macedonia

5/42 Evzone Regiment, based in Lamia and recruited in Central Greece

Uniform Edit

In 1833, the uniform of the Evzones (as in all infantry companies of the line battalions) was in the unpopular Bavarian style of blue trousers, tailcoats and shako. As light infantry the Evzones were distinguished only by green braid and plumes. 

In 1837, a new uniform was created based on the traditional fustanella style worn by the klephts, armatoli, and many of the famous fighters of the Greek War of Independence. At first, it was only issued to the native light infantry battalions, but its popularity led to its adoption as the official uniform of the Evzones in 1867. After a few minor changes over the years, it became the familiar uniform seen today.

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