Another former prison/exile island in the Aegean Sea in Greece
– cf. the better known Yaros
. Makronisos gained its particular notoriety in an earlier period of Greece's dark chapters during its post-WWII
history. Immediately after the end of the war Greece slid into a brutal Civil War from 1946 to 1949. During that time, and for a few years after that, political prisoners, i.e. mostly communists
, were interned and tortured here.
In particular, they were subjected to an especially perfidious "experiment" in indoctrination and brainwashing. Inmates were "re-educated" to the tune of the superiority of classical ancient Greek greatness being inherently incompatible with communism – and those who repented and were "redeemed" had to build replicas of classical Greek monuments.
Probably the most well-known name amongst the surviving victims of Makronisos is that of the famous musician/composer Mikis Theodorakis.
Commemoration and commodification of the dark sides of national history in Greece is, however, severely underdeveloped – and so Makronisos, even though declared a historical monument, is undeveloped for (dark) tourism (just like Yaros
). The remains of the prison centre are little more than ruins, often just bare foundations. Survivors and (communist) historians have had little success in making the island a proper memorial site …
Still, if you have a boat you can get there and have a look around – but you'll need your imagination to picture the horrors that took place here …
Oblong Makronisos, just a mile wide but several miles long, is the north-western-most of the Cyclades islands and lies just two miles south of the Attica mainland, some 25 miles (40 km) south-west of Athens. Levrio is the nearest mainland village with boat facilities.