In the aftermath of the Second World War Greece was shattered and politically divided between the leftist resistance groups and the political elites of the Centre-Right, effectively backed up by the British and American allies. While most of the European countries were licking the wounds, the political and social chasm in Greece deepened. The “hidden war” compounded the devastated rural areas intensifying the migration of its population that flocked to the cities in search of a shelter and a job.
Moreover, Greek economy was in imminent danger of collapse: hyperinflation rendered the drachmae a useless currency, infrastructure and approximately three-fourths of the merchant fleet tonnage were destroyed, and Nazi looting had seized the Greek treasury. Paradoxically, after the liberation there was little hope for recovering. Being a matter of survival, the first postwar years became one of the most critical periods in the Modern Greek history.
Against this background, Constantinos A. Doxiadis undertook the efforts for the Reconstruction of the country. Initially as Undersecretary and Director-General of the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction (1945-48), and subsequently as General Director and Coordinator of the Greek Recovery Program (1948-51), Doxiadis reinvented and orchestrated the administrations that devised the economic policies for the reconstruction of the settlements of Greece, effectively collaborating with foreign agencies and the Marshall Plan aid representatives.
This paper will examine the manifold interventions promoted by the Ministry of Reconstruction as an integrated program of economic recovery and regional planning. The Ministry’s programmatic actions comprised the restoration of damaged buildings, the construction of new settlements, and the provision of building materials and technical assistance as aided self-help programs that actively engaged the future inhabitants in the reconstruction process.
Beyond any doubt, international and local politics highly conditioned the Reconstruction and the postwar development of Greece that defied every planning effort and eventually, against all odds, took off in the 1960s. Interestingly, Doxiadis’ initiatives set guidelines for the modernization of the country, while his discourse evinced the unification of Europe and emphasized the stance of Greece in the geopolitical Cold War game.
[abstract for the conference “Crisis and Innovation in Modern Greece”, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Program in Hellenic Studies – Friday, May 4, 2012 Images ©: Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation]