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Culture History Liberation - 20th Century Larissa

The family of Lieutenant-General Ioannis Vamvatsikos (1915)
(Photo: Archive of A. Papakonstantinou)
Refugees are transfered in Greece (1924)
(Photo: Archive of Community Centre of Filippoupoli)
Couple (around 1930) in front of the bridge of Penios
(Photo: Archive of A. Galeridis)
Farmers of Thessalian Ground, many years after the solution of the Agricultural Issue ('50s)
(Photo: Archive of A. Papakonstantinou)
Photography of 1951 during the opening ceremony of works for the turnning back of the current into the river- bank at the location Alcazar. From the left, the Minister of Economic Affairs (government N. Plastiras), George Kartalis with journalist Lazaros
The annual ball of the football team Heracles in the music hall Alkazar (1958). From the left side, in this picture it is distinguished the chairman of the team P. Papakonstantinou.
(Photo: Archive of A. Papakonstantinou)
The Clock of Larissa (Frourio Hill, 1989)
(Photo: Archive of A. Papakonstantinou)
Olympion, a famous patisserie in Larissa during 60’s
(Photo: Archive of K. Gkontaroulis)

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Topics
Prehistory
Archaic Era - Roman Period
Byzantine Larissa
Ottoman Period
Liberation - 20th Century
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Larissa
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17/11/2008
Larissa from the First World War (1914-1917) till today

Dimitris Agrafiotis, Historian

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The period 1914-1917 was a critical one for Thessaly. The longly- lasting commitment of many men deprived from the agriculture the working hands and the agitations of National Division did not leave unaffected the entire Prefecture of Larissa. The «camps of partisans» of «National Defence» -party of Eleftherios Venizelos and royal- friendly party (“[Epistratoi] of Ioannis [Metaxa]”) made their appearance even in the smaller villages of prefecture. Later, in spring 1917, Thessaly was come out with the part of Government of Thessalonica (Government of Eleftherios Venizelos).

The situation became worse and worse and to this, it contributed the bitter end of the War in Asia Minor (1922), the destruction, the refugees. After 1922, the thessalian N. Plastiras forced the pace of the slow rehabilitation of the farmers that had already started since 1917.
During 1923-1925 earnest procedures were put in place to define the lands to be abalienated, the selection of those eligible for a lot, the quantitative definition of the agricultural-animal farming lot etc through the Services and the compulsory Farmers' Credit Unions.

The procedure that had started, although it was completed much later (1952-1953), provided a solution to the problem that had caused so much trouble for Thessaly and of course, the Prefecture of Larissa, which had the most and largest estates (tsiflikia), therefore crofters and landless peasants. The Sarakatsani (a tribe of nomads) were added to those, as they gradually abandoned their nomadic way of living and their animal raising activities, to become small animal farmers and agriculturalists.

Larissa, Farsalos, Elassona, Agia and Tirnavos with their districts were reinforced population-wise, although the lion's share went to Larissa.

Larissa, which from a large widespread village was gradually turning into an urban centre, seat of all kinds of State Offices, good Schools, a School which became an Academy later, Hospital, Banks, commercial centre-market and entertainment centre.

Larissa was the town with the most needs such as new town planning, electricity, water. The narrow roads had to be broadened and the dirt roads had to become sturdier and clean. The petrol or acetylene lamps had to be replaced by electrical ones. The water carriers (in Greek: sakantzides), who transported water to the houses from the Pinios, had to be replaced by a network, which would observe hygienic conditions and would bring the Pinios River to each home.

The work started in 1911, the town was energised and the work on the infrastructure for the water supply started, but was stopped short by the war and due to the indifference of the French Company Omnium was delayed until 1927-1928, when the Anonymous Company of Energy and Water was formed, which bought out Omnium and soon finished the work on the water network and perfected the electrical network. The roads became wider, many were covered with asphalt, new buildings were built, squares were created and Larissa gradually took on its new appearance, the pre-war one. At the same time, notable industrial units make their appearance (flour mills, weaving factories, ice-making factories, shoe factories, confectionery factories and liquor distilleries) and next to them, smaller but necessary small factories and shops, enough to cover the needs of the town and also the wider area.

In such a climate, social life was re-organised, gradually abandoning the old habits, with night clubs, membership clubs, a Conservatory, European instead of oriental music, theatre, cinema, bicycles, the first cars, gramophones and later, radios. The local newspapers and those of Athens and Volos, with their contents, were the daily social mirror, the economic and political (local and wider area) thermometer. The Associations (women's, athletic, musical, literary) became the venues where people came out of their houses to participate in social matters.

Last but not least, one could justly say that very little was done, compared to what could have been, in those sixty years, to make changes to the land in all dimensions. That dramatic state deteriorated further in the decade of the 40’s and was topped by the great waves of migration (1955-1965) to the urban centres or foreign countries. It wouldn't be incorrect to say that if the war hadn't broken out, followed by the famine and the Civil War (1940-1949) that migration would still have taken place.

This point is being stressed, so that it can be better understood, that for a climate to be turned around, it's important to make up for the lost time, to revitalise the countryside, to open up prospects to the locals that stayed there, so that they won't envy the urban centres and to give the urbanites that came from the provinces, enough incentives to shed their doubts about a prospective return to their roots.