On June 11th 1944 the massacre of Distomo took place in Greece, one of the worst crimes perpetrated by members of the Waffen-SS during the Axis Occupation of Greece in World War II. Among the 228 people who were slaughtered, 53 were children under the age of 16. Back in the days, LIFE magazine, in its November 1944 issue, reported that the Nazi troops killed 1,000 of Distomo's 1,200 people in less than two hours whereas the International Red Cross was talking about 600 dead. Whatever the number, the massacre of Distomo is one the cruelest moments in Greek history and a crime that still haunts the country's relations with Germany. Although in 2000, Areios Pagos, the Greek High Court, awarded damages of 28 million euros to the families of the dead as reparations, the Greek government never signed the execution of the judgment.
However, the newly elected Greek government looks determined to solve this matter once and for all and demand the reparations to be given to the people as soon as possible. The Greek Minister of Justice went a step further and stated that he would even confiscate German property in Greece so as take the money. The tiny little detail in all this is that the government is referring to the massacre so as to put some pressure to the ongoing negotiations with the Germans. This tactic is not appropriate and the timing is wrong. You don't raise such a sensitive and important matter amid negotiations that have to do with the fact that the country is running out of cash. In Greece we all want justice to be served for Distomo's dead. But this effort needs a well-designed, redefined strategy, not a bunch of communication tricks and threats to the German people as if they are to blame.
Most critics in Greece blame the government for dealing more with its public image and the media, rather than actual governing. Almost two months now, PM Tsipras and his ministers seem lost in translation, or more accurately in finding new names for the Troika and the Memorandum. So even if the substance stays pretty much the same, the Troika is now called "the Brussels group" and the Memorandum "the Bridge program". After the elections, every member of SYRIZA party would proudly announce that "the Troika is dead, we are finished with them, they are not coming back".
Today, that the Troika is going back to Athens under its new name, they are trying to convince themselves and the people that it is a whole different thing. Trying to rebrand the Troika is fair and clever enough, but we also have to bear in mind that the people are also clever enough to understand what is going on. Instead of trying to invent new names, the government should invent ways to pay off its bills and not go bankrupt. The government should stop going after every journalist that makes an ironic or nasty comment. The government should stop being delusional. The government should stop being so obsessed with the media. The government should have known better how politics is being played. The government should get some tips for anger management and start governing before it's too late for the people and the country.