The impact of war on cultural life

With the beginning of the Greek-Italian war in October 1940, intellectuals and artists united with the Greek people and enlisted for the front or the rear. In the first days of the invasion certain Greek intellectuals, such as Kostis Palamas, Angelos Sikelianos, Stratis Myrivilis and Grigorios Xenopoulos, submitted a written statement protesting against the 'dastard claim of Fascist violence'.
The cultural life at home and for as long as the Greek army was fighting at the front was synchronized with the course of the war.
To encourage Greek soldiers, and also to console the people who stayed behind worrying, artists of the theatre, actors, singers and script writers, focused their efforts on the events of the war. Revues with characteristic titles such as 'Koroido Mussolini', 'Polemikes Kantrilies' and 'Athina-Romi
kai fevgoume' promoted a repertory that celebrated Greek victories, parodied the abortive attempt of the Italians to occupy Greece and exhorted all Greeks to demonstrate courage and patience. The songs of Sophia Vembo that animated people at home and the soldiers on the battlefield have remained unforgettable.
Apart from revues, cartoons were also inspired by military communiques and reports from the front. Well-known cartoonists such as Phokos Dimitriadis, Antonis Vottis, G. Geivelis, Sophoklis Antoniadis, Nikos Kastanakis, St. Polenakis and many others made the best of the power of laughter in a constructive way to reinforce the morale of the population.
In the field could be found painters with the official title of war cartoonist, such as Oumvertos Argyros and Yorgos Prokopiou; others served as soldiers, like Alexandros Alexandrakis and Yannis Tsarouchis who immortalized their experiences in their work. In addition, many plastic artists (Konstantinos Parthenis, Yorgos Gounaropoulos, Periklis Vyzantios, Dimitris Yoldasis etc.) produced certain works inspired by the period 1940-41.
One of the most impressive means of popular expression as well as information were popular pictures, lithographs by well-known or unknown artists, the subjects of which during this period were exclusively devoted to the events of the war. Popular pictures were produced at an unflagging rate and before the lithographs' inks had dried, their publishers were taking them onto the streets of Athens while others were directed to the countryside.
With this latter activity is associated the creation of posters by well-known engravers, members of the engraving workshop of Yannis Kephallinos at the School of Fine Arts, whose output during the Occupation was both militant and prolific.