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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Lesser Known Greek-New Zealand-French Connection : New Zealand's RMS Mataroa



On December 22, 1945, the New Zealand R.M.S. Mataroa set out on
an odyssey from Piraeus, carrying more than 130 young Greek scientists
and artists, all French Government scholars.
The initiative was taken by the serving director of the French
Institute,  Octave Merlier, in an effort to ensure the safety of
many promising Greek intellectuals from the ravages of the
impending civil war which would devastate Greece.

The passenger list reads like a who's who of Greece's intelligentsia,
some of her most well-known Global Greeks -  philosopher,
economist and psychoanalyst Cornelius Castoriades, first woman
president of the Sorbonne and  eminent Byzantinologist,
Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, and philosopher Kostas Axelos,
were just a few of the passengers.
 
Tomorrow, December 22 - 65 years later -  the French 
Embassy in Athens along with the French Institute
will be commemorating the NZRMS Mataroa’s historic
journey at the French Institute Library, in Athens - hopefully in
the presence of as many of its remaining passengers as possible! 

During the ceremony, French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud
will also unveil a commemorative plaque listing the names of the
passengers and announce the establishment of an Octave Merlier 
Scholarship.

Source: Greek News Agenda

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