Head of DW’s Greek service: ‘You are listening to the show of the free smokers’ | 65 years DW | 65 years DW | DW | 21.06.2018
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65 years DW

Head of DW’s Greek service: ‘You are listening to the show of the free smokers’

DW’s presence in Greece is steeped in history. The highlight of the Greek program came in the late 1960s, when millions of Greeks sat glued to the radios every night, eager to hear what was going on in their country.

Ever since military dictatorship in the late 1960s, DW has maintained a reputation as a credible, reliable source of information. In January 2018, DW published a report on the dire situation in the Greek labor market. Although unemployment fell from 27 to 20 percent, the report said that six out of ten workers are employed only part-time. On average, these workers are waiting six months for their salary. The report came at a time when the Tsipras government was increasingly broadcasting stories about the success of its labor market policy. In response to these claims a conservative politician wrote in a Greek newspaper: "As during the time of the dictatorship, we remained silent and listened to the Deutsche Welle." Even today, the Greek politician added, his countrymen and women are depending on the German broadcaster to reveal the reality about the situation in the country.

Moskovou Spiros Kommentarbild App

Spiros Moskovou, head of DW’s Greek editorial team

During the period of the military junta, Deutsche Welle was one of just a few sources of free information in a country where there was no longer any freedom of the press. Radio was seen as enlightenment and an exercise in freedom under the watchful eyes of the dictatorship where listening to foreign broadcasters was frowned upon. DW became a collective experience, one which many Greeks still remember today.

Greek journalist: “Even today, DW is a symbol of the trust that the Greek people have in German democracy”

At the time, DW was comprehensively reporting on the activities of the resistance that was taking shape abroad. People learned about the fate of resistance fighters - arrests, torture - in Greece for the first time. Through a broad network of sources, the Greek editorial staff collected and disseminated important news that would have otherwise fallen under the censorship of the colonels. Our colleagues at the time castigated the regime in Athens with no uncertainty. Their work was a daily tightrope walk, because the editors were constantly balancing the right to free reporting and Germany’s political and economic interests in Greece.

Since the fall of the junta in 1974, DW has been considered the most important German contribution to the restoration of democracy. The author and journalist Alexander Skinas, one of the main commentators of the Greek DW broadcasts, explained the situation in an interview: "What Deutsche Welle created in these seven years of struggle against the dictatorship was a moral and political investment in Greece by Germany. To this day, DW represents the confidence that the Greeks have in German democracy." This is a challenge, considering the devastation Nazi Germany had left behind in Greece.

This historical legacy also explains the renaissance of the Greek DW program in 1989, when private broadcasting was permitted for the first time in Greece. Since then, DW’s programs and services have been picked up by dozens of local broadcasters in Athens and its premium partner SKAI. DW’s offerings today include online services and TV broadcasts. 

DW maintains its reputation of a serious and reliable broadcaster in Greece. Over all these years, even during times when the slightest noise resulted in a restriction of civil liberties, people have always counted on this well-known media brand. After the Greek government first announced a its failed smoking ban in public buildings and restaurants in 2002, a large Greek newspaper responded with a cartoon featuring a Greek man barricaded in his apartment, sitting in front of his radio and smoking in despair. Coming from the radio, he hears, with relief "This is Deutsche Welle. You are listening to the show of the free smokers."

Christoph Jumpelt

Christoph Jumpelt

Head of Corporate Communications and Spokesperson

T. +49.228.429-2041
christoph.jumpelt@dw.com