Eleftherios Venizelos Car is exhibited in Chalepa, Chania
The car of Eleftherios Venizelos, the one he was riding during one of the most serious assassination attempts against him in 1933, is exhibited at his house in Chalepa, in Chania Prefecture.
Eleftherios Venizelos was a prominent and charismatic political leader of the early 20th century; his name is associated with some of the most illustrious pages of the Greek History and also with some of the darkest moments of the political scene, due to his opposition to the King and his support of a free and democratic country.
Venizelos was a protagonist in the events that lead to the autonomy of the Cretan State and its union with Greece; he contributed to the liberation of Macedonia, and to the political planning of Greece to a modern, urban country.
Eleftherios Venizelos was born in Crete and after studying law, he went back to Crete and became member and later leader of the liberal Party in Crete.
In 1905 Venizelos becoming the island’s first independent prime minister. He became prime minister of Greece several times, but despite his popularity, he lost the critical elections of 1920 – under auspicious circumstances – a fact that lead to the known events of the Hellenic Genocide in Minor Asia. Later on, in 1930, Venizelos was the politician chosen to represent Greece to the signing of the Lausanne Treaty and the Signing of a memorandum of friendship and collaboration between Greece and Turkey. Venizelos was victim of several homicide attempts and attacks, but he survived them all, dying in 1936 from stroke. He is considered the Ethnarch of Greece.
Signs of the attacks against Venizelos’ life on his car
On the car used by El. Venizelos you can still see the marks from the first homicide attack against the Ethnarch Venizelos.
The General Director of the National Institute of Research “Eleftherios Venizelos” Mr. Nikos Papadakis, shows the marks on the Packard model of the Great Cretan Politician, which is exhibited from August 18th in Venizelos House in Chalepa of Chania, in a specially formed room.
The northwestern side of Venizelos Mansion was reconstructed and refurbished in order to house both the Packard that Venizelos was riding on the day of the attempt, as well as a similar one, given to the Institute by Greeks in the USA. The same room also hosts an exhibition of rare photographic material with important details on the attempt against his life.
N. Papadakis suggests that the Institute tried to maintain the car, with the help of experts, removing stains and anything that could damage the car, preserving though all evidence of the attempt, as the vehicle is one of the most important items of study and research. The two vehicles are exhibited in the same room, so that the visitors can see how the original car used to be, without the decay and detriment caused by the attack.
According to the director of the Institute, the Packard given by the Greeks of Diaspora was the only Packard in the US except for Franklin Roosevelt’s model that is exhibited in his museum.
The 2nd attempt against Venizelos
On June 6th 1933, just three months after the Greek Elections, there is a second assassination attempt against Venizelos in Athens, after the one at Lyon, and some non successful or cancelled attempts in Crete, Thessaly and Athens again.
Allegedly, the attempt was organized by Lina Tsaldaris, wife of Tsaldaris leader of the Popular Party, although later evidence indicated the personal participation of Metaxas to this attempt. Metaxas and the anti-Venizelian party were infuriated by the support shown by the great politician to Nikolaos Plastiras, who wanted to prevent the Popular party from forming a government.
On the night of the 6th June, after long days of political arguments and disagreements in the Parliament, Venizelos and his wife were at the house of Penelope Delta, an important liberal author of the time. Leaving her house, Venizelos and his wife were attacked while driving, at the northern suburbs of Athens in Amarousion, by the passengers of another car that was waiting for them.
The assassins opened fire against the car and Venizelos, but they managed to hit only Elena, his wife who was seriously injured at her hand. Venizelos decided to take Elena to the hospital and luckily he goes to Hospital Evangelismos, close to the city centre, rather than the “Red Cross Hospital”, which was the obvious choice being closer to the place of the incident. His enemies were waiting for him at Red Cross Hospital, in a second ambush that failed too.
On June 10th of 1933 several officials and para-political individuals are arrested for the assassination attempt -18 in total. Their trial never reached the time of the verdict due to political events that had the trial suspended. Two and a half years after the attempt, the accused were released.