Film info

Creator / Collector

The Athens Polytechnic uprising occurred in November 1973 as a massive student demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, which had imposed a dictatorship in Greece on April 21, 1967.
The uprising began on November 14 with the occupation by students of The National (Metsovian) Technical University of Athens, which escalated into an anti-dictatorship protest, as thousands of citizens gathered there. The occupation ended in the early hours of November 17 when a tank invaded the university’s main entrance followed by the police and the army. The uprising triggered a series of events that caused the injury and the death of many civilians and led many others to imprisonment and torture.

The filmmaker Nicolas A. Vernicos is in a room of the "Acropol" hotel, across the university. He records the events secretly.

Our first shot of the film is the cover of the newspaper “To Vima” which refers to the mobilizations, dated November 16.
Afterwards, we watch the fence of the Polytechnic University where we see placards, signs and banners with one them saying "Freedom", the Greek flag, people inside and outside the university and with a camera’s zoom out, the filmmaker gives us general views of the students who climb over the railings and citizens who start to gather. We understand from the lighting that it is morning.

Police have blocked the access to Patision Street and deviate the citizens who head to that area. The traffic movement shuts off as the car drivers are told to go from the Marni Street across the Archaeological Museum. More and more young people gather up and the university’s area is now crowded.
We watch shots from the roofs and buildings of the University, the "Averoff" building stands out and students are there. The students with mirrors blind the camera to prevent the filming as they think it might be used against them.
The sidewalk on Tositsa Street has been occupied by a large number of citizens who support the students' struggle, but they, also, take the opportunity to join the anti-dictatorship movement.

At 4:44 timecode of the film we watch Nicolas A. Vernicos himself down on the street making the sign of victory with his fingers.

As the afternoon comes, Patision Street is full of people up to the city’s center. It’s getting dark and according to the chronicle of events, around 7 o’clock in the afternoon the police intervened and dissolved the crowd of the protesters outside the University.

We see the fires inside and outside the University that the students started so as to deal with the tear gas which the police had thrown earlier. The fires continue in Patision Street towards Omonoia square. An ambulance departs from Tositsa while police cars with spotlights scan the area towards the main gate.

As the footage is -due to the conditions- very dark, we describe here in detail:

At 7:03 of the film, we see for the first time the gun barrel of the tank that was standing under the window of the filmmaker. A little later, at 7:12 as the tank moves, it pushes a bus in the middle of the road. The spotlight scans the corner of Tositsa and Patision Street to end up at the university’s railings and gate.

At 7:45, the armoured vehicles arrive, carrying armed soldiers and go up on Patision Street.

In the next shot, at 7:50, a group of doctors-nurses in white coats cross the street as they carry a stretcher with a man covered with a sheet while they are followed by the police.

At 8:59, the tank's driver who was under the “Acropol" hotel climbs up and takes his position. Groups of soldiers line up while the negotiations continue at the railings of the gate.

We see a close up shot of the gate with the flag. The feed of the camera is lost in the dark and comes back with a close up shot to the gate and the negotiations that take place, while the armoured vehicle (tank) comes closer to the gate and takes a small turn towards the side of Polytechneiou Street.

We see a zoom in shot of a bus’s roof that is lighted by the spotlight.
The filmmaker does not record the moment when the tank crashes down the door, but just after that we see the gate already fallen as the tank enters a little bit further and soldiers are invading (11:03 minute).

Soon afterwards, the students start coming out from the fallen gate.




Film Information

Vernicos A. Nicolas




Duration (seconds)

Super 8mm

Creator's description

These films were shot from the window of a corner room on the 1st floor of the “Acropol” Hotel which is across the National (Metsovian) Polytechnical University of Athens, by Nicolas A. Vernicos (NAV) between November 14 to 17, 1973. In a nearby room was the Dutch crew led by Albert Coerant (awarded for the film for the Polytechneio), who, at the same time, was filming the events!

I had rented the room for the support of the student members of the Hellenic European Youth Movement (EKIN). It was an organization for the mobilization of the student movement against the dictatorship. My brother George A. Vernicos, who had a leading position in EKIN, was also a member of the takeover committee of Law School in February 1973 and wasi in constant contact and coordination with the Polytechnic’s takeover committee.

From this room, except for supplying the students within the University, information was provided through telephone (by Demi Vezyrouli and NAV) to the European media, especially to BBC, Le Monde and Deutsche Welle in which the late Pavlos Bakoyannis was a collaborator for Greek affairs as well as the journalists Vassos Mathiopoulos and Angelos Maropoulos.

The filming of those incidents around the Polytechneio took place through the lowered wooden blinds with the windows open and with bated breath. At midnight of Friday 16 to Saturday 17 November at the corner of the Acropol hotel was parked a tank which was waiting to intervene. The helmet of the standing driver almost reached the bottom of the corner window.

Shortly before the intervention at the Polytechneio and while there was complete silence, a small noise was made in the room by the attending friends, fellow students and the telephone.

The soldier turned the armoured vehicle’s spotlight on the facade of the hotel, trying to locate the source of the noise. He paused for a moment on the window behind him and a little above, it was the dark, with lowered blinds, window of our room. The headlight’s rays entered through the blinds. The soldier was trying to figure out where the noise, that was different from the sound of gunfire, was coming from. As it moved, it lighted the walls and especially the ceiling of the room in all directions. The breathing of those who were present in the room, stopped. They lay like the Chalepas “Sleeping woman” marble statue on the beds and the floor. We breathed when the beam of light left.
The armoured vehicle moved a little and covered the similar tank near it, across the door of the Polytechneio.

Shots, fired by snipers, were heard from the vertical streets in Patission Street. Around 02.30, after the besieged refused to leave, the tank crashed into the University gate’s entrance, entered in the yard, passing over parked cars and the military forces entered. The students cried "Bread, Education, Freedom. We are brothers" and rushed out to Patission street chased by the police and the army, while bullets were whistling all around us.

Many, among the first people who were injured by the bullets earlier, found a refuge on the ground floor of the Acropol hotel. A few of them, who were severely injured, were taken to our hotel room. Torill Engleland Magreth, a 22-year-old student from Molde, Norway, did not make it. Mortally wounded by the shots, she died of bleeding in the carotid artery in my hands and in the hands of George Lazaridis, a dentist who transported her dead body to the nearby First Aid Station on the 3rd Septemvriou Street.

Moments when the time shrinks and seconds seem like centuries, and stay forever in our memories.

Nicolas A. Vernicos was arrested in the noon of Saturday November 17 1973 by the Special Interrogation Department of the Greek Military Police (EAT-ESA). He remained in prison (where now is located the Freedom Square) until new year's eve 31 December, where he was interrogated and tortured.
Vernicos A. Nicolas