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Dimitra Papanastasopoulou
14 Jun, 2024



Part A.


You will read a fictionalized account of the king's backstory and assassination, leading up to the "suicide" of his assassin, as my imagination made it, having read all that happened then…



Thessaloniki, March 5, 1913


George I takes his usual afternoon walk. He is accompanied by the aide-de-camp of the colonel Frangoudis who walks beside him, while two Cretan gendarmes in trousers follow them a few meters behind. The king was very fond of walking the streets, stopping and talking with the common people, and this had made him very popular in Thessaloniki. The inhabitants felt proud because he lived there, with them, as if he was shouting to all the skeptics that Thessaloniki is Greek.

   He walks on the sidewalk, his back to the White Tower. A little earlier he was on a German ship, where he had a meeting with the hated German ambassador Von Wagenheim. George I preferred the English, he thought he could get along better with them, but his position required him to be kind to everyone. After all, his eldest son, Crown Prince Constantine, had married a German princess, Sophia.

   George was tired of these games and had made his decision, which he had announced to the children and his beloved wife Olga. The following October, on the day of Saint Demetrius, after the celebration of the fiftieth year of his reign, he would hand over the scepter to Constantine. Enough. The Crown Prince was of a suitable age and had already become beloved by a large portion of the Greeks, while many of his friends were anxious to see him on the throne, in his place.

A thin man with unkempt hair was seen running after the king holding a pistol. He took a position and shot him from behind, once and only. Frangoudis turned in surprise not knowing what to do: help the king who was falling to the ground or run after the man who shot him?

   Anaudos looked up at the man running towards the sea and the two gendarmes in their escort running after him, catching up with him and catching him. No one noticed another man disappearing behind the houses. The people in alarm gathered around the wounded king. The Jewish grocer of the neighborhood took the wounded man in his arms and put him in a carriage, which started immediately and went up Agia Triados Street, bound for the Papafeio Orphanage, which at that time served as a military hospital.

   The people stood there chatting loudly, distressed by the incident and praying that the good monarch would be saved. After a while the sad news of his death broke their hearts. The men took off their hats, the women crossed themselves. "God rest him," "God forgive him," "Death to the traitor," were heard among the first scenarios for the reason for this unjust death.

   In a city like Thessaloniki, it never took more than an hour to learn great news. Only this time it sounded like a bomb. Some early rumors that wanted the perpetrator to be a Jew, resulted in the soldiers rushing into the Jewish neighborhoods and making them glasses-nails. They were looking for an opportunity, they kept it for them, because a portion of them argued that Thessaloniki should be declared a free port, under the protection of Austria and not remain in the hands of the Greeks.

   The next day, when the name and nationality of the assailant were widely reported in the newspapers, the soldiers were forced to stop "the unacceptable energy of». The perpetrator was a Greek anarchist, Alexandros Schinas. They immediately locked him up in the Command Hall and severely beat him.

   The Crown Prince was in Ioannina, happy with the capture of the city by the Greek army, when he learned the unpleasant news in the afternoon of the same day. He left the next morning for Athens, as requested in the telegram. His loyal officers gave him a lively salute before he departed "Long live King Constantine!"

In Thessaloniki, Judge Kandares is leading the investigations. The first news in the newspapers state that Schinas is an anarchist, alcoholic and schizophrenic. As a motive a robbery that never happened, while the killer keeps his mouth shut. In the harsh interrogation they ask him to tell them the names of his associates, but he remains silent.

   Queen Olga visits him, asks to be taken to his narrow and sunless cell. When they are alone she asks him like a simple woman, who made him kill her husband, the love of her life. Schinas remains stubbornly silent. The queen leaving him leaves the Holy Bible. She visits him the next day again. She stays with him for a full hour. In vain. Schinas doesn't even look at her. But the widow persists and visits him a third time.

   The calendar shows March 7 and it's a cold morning. The black-robed queen asks to be led back to the murderer of her beloved husband. When the door closes behind her leaving her alone with him, she breathes in the filth and stench of the small space, but she doesn't care.

   “Hello Mr. Shina. As you can see, you are not the only one who is stubborn. I have too. And I inform you that today I will not leave unless you speak to me. Tomorrow the Crown Prince will be sworn in and I must be present. If, however, it is necessary for me not to go, because you will not have spoken to me yet, I tell you so that you may know it. Will not go. I won't go anywhere, I won't eat or drink unless you tell me who made you kill my husband. Neither shall you eat nor drink. All the past days I do nothing but think. And I came to the conclusion that you, alone, did not intend to do such an act. You have no benefit. You're not crazy either. You are a sick, suffering and gifted person. Except that you are stubborn, like all Greeks."

   The queen paused to catch her breath. She had said it all at once and hastily, losing the air her lungs needed. Schinas raised his head and looked at her. The two previous times the queen spoke sweetly to him, begged him to tell her what the king had done to him and killed him. Today it's as if there was another in her place. Today he was dealing with a woman tough and demanding, determined to get what came her way. Her eyes were burning. Her chest rose and fell panting. She was tall and imposing, a real queen.

   "Well," he heard her say. “The sooner you speak, the better for you. I'll sit here," she pulled out the only chair in the room, which was set up exclusively for her, and sat down. “And I will wait for you to speak. I said everything I had to tell you."

   Even seated she lost none of her majesty. Schinas looked at her again. He met two eyes full of fire from hell. Two eyes capable of blowing you up, extinguishing every breath of life from within you. He couldn't take his eyes off hers. He felt as if hypnotized, compelled to do what was asked of him.

   "Okay, I'll talk to you."




Goes on

photo https://ethnos.gr 

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