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GREECE: No Telltale Tongue

3 minute read
TIME

An ex-housepainter named John Politis, 34, was doing all right until he met a girl named Toga. Now he would never walk again without crutches. He would never talk again, either.

Politis joined the Athens Communist Party several years ago and was given a job guarding the premises of the party newspaper. A Year ago he was promoted to the post of district leader in the Lake Koumoundourou area just ten kilometers from Athens.

In his new district was the Cave of Tzeverdeli, where Politis’ comrades stored medical supplies and where, sick or wounded guerrillas were brought from the fighting around Mt. Parnassus. Politis’ job was to shuttle battle-ready Communists northward to the mountains, and bring the wounded back for medical attention.

Some months ago he brought back a girl guerrilla named Asimo Kostopoulou, who fought under the nom de guerre of Toga.

Toga recovered, left the cave and returned to Athens, where she was picked up by the police. She blabbed the cave’s location and police raided it just as Politis, a short distance away in his truck, was signaling to guerillas there with a flashlight. Arrested, Politis threw himself beneath the wheels of a police car and was packed off to the hospital with a mangled left leg. This was in May.

During all the months that followed, Communist Politis was kept in solitary confinemen, permitted to speak to no one, even while he was hospitalzed. Recently he was brought into the office of the Security Police and confronted with toga. He took one look at her and said, “Remove her from the room. I’ll talk.”

Then, as Toga was led out, Politis grabbed his tongue with his left hand, pulled it out as far as he could and came up hard under his jaw with his right fist. His teeth bit right through his tongue.

A large piece of tongue fell into his hand, and while the flabbergasted police interrogator stared, Politics calmly wrapped it in his handerchief and settled back in his chair. Doctors tried fruitlessly to stitch the tongue back together.

Explained Nicholas Tsaousis, Security Police director: “this is a measure of how fanatically Communist he is. I’ve noticed that some men begin to talk after only five days’ solitary confinement. Politis was solitary for a long time, and when he found he could contain himself no longer, he bit his tongue off.”

Greek Rebel General markos Vafiades, through his own Politburo, last week made the following charge over the clandestine “Free Greece Radio”:

“The armed struggle in Athens is lagging behind. The mass movement there is sluggish. This is due to Athens Communist leadership.”

General Markos’ remarks, obviously, were not directed at Comrade Politis.

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