The hitherto unsolved murder of the longest-lived king of the country

Dossier Political Assassinations: The Strange Fire on the Ship and the Scenarios for the Real Assassins of King George I

weekendmegamar 1312x819 VASILIAS, murder, Eleftherios Venizelos, THESSALONIKI, FIRE


Archive of George Sarris

If one visits the Forensic Museum of Athens even today, one will be surprised to find that in two transparent jars with formula, a severed ear and the dark hand of a man who died… 106 years ago are kept in excellent condition.

The accompanying labels immediately solve the question for their owner: "Us and hand of the king-killer Schina"; that is, the man who in 1913 assassinated the most popular king of Greece, George I, founder of the domestic dynasty of the Glyxmians.

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King George I

He sat on the throne for a whole fifty years! But how and why did we get to the point of exposing two mutilated members of his killer in the specially designed space of a non-profit institution that is under the auspices of the Medical School of the capital's university? The answer is in… co-capital.

The chronicle of the murder

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The last photo of King George

Thessaloniki, late at noon on March 5, 1913. Anax has just finished his meal at Villa Hatzilazarou who has been staying for the last few months. He has left the Palace of Athens and has risen to the nymph of Thermaikos in order to consolidate with his personal presence the sovereignty of Greece in the capital of Macedonia that has been liberated from the Ottoman yoke for about 5 months. After dinner he decides to take the usual afternoon walk along the cobbled boulevard of the Exochs (of today's Queen Olga).

The security measures against his face are minimal as he considers that he is not in any real danger. On the leisurely walk, he is accompanied only by his Cypriot loyal supporter, Lieutenant Colonel Ioannis Frangoudis, and only two Cretan short-sighted gendarmes who could not imagine what would follow in the next minutes.

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King George with Queen Olga

Ο king he would walk and chat to the White Tower, where the military band was playing. He stands short to listen to her, converses with the gathered people who rush to greet him and takes the road back to his home from Agia Triada Avenue.

The hands of the clocks showed 16:20 in the afternoon when he had arrived in Kerim Afenti, an area usually frequented by Turkalvans. At the junction of Agia Triada Street and Exochon Avenue, right in front of the Pasan Liman cafe, a ragged man who had been on guard for so long, is threateningly heading towards him.

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The cover of the Patrice newspaper on Sunday, March 17th

He manages to reach a distance of one meter from King George and before the bodyguards can react, he shoots him in the back with a Montenegrin bullet. At the rattling of the gun trigger, those present freeze.

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Sketch depicting the moment of the murder
He was shot in the back by a raccoon during a walk in Thessaloniki

The head of state collapses in the arms of a Jewish grocer who rushes to help, without being able to whisper a word.

Instead of trying to escape, the perpetrator now turns the barrel towards Lieutenant Frangoudis. Luckily for him, however, he escapes as the weapon catches fire and so, with the help of the gendarmes, the perpetrator is immobilized until reinforcements arrive. The blood-soaked George I suffers. He is rushed to the Papafeio institution, but calmly on the way.

Shops are closed for fear of unrest

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The spot where the king was assassinated

At five-thirty in the afternoon, the director of the hospital officially announces his death to Prince Nicholas, who has returned to the institution. He will convey the evil manta with the phrase: "The king is dead, long live the king"! Fortunately, the prince, who also holds the position of military commander of the city, works coolly.

"The fear that this horrible crime would serve as a slogan for a national uprising against the Bulgarians […] made me and I was able to restrain myself somewhat," the deceased's son would later write in his diary. It has already been informed that the killer is Greek, so he instructs the director of the Police to announce it officially, noting that any attempt to disrupt the order would be punished by example. Immediately the city is put on alert.

The shops are closed, the bells are ringing mournfully, and the street lights are not on when the sun goes down.

The prince also sends a telegram to the prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos and to his eldest brother and heir to the throne Constantine, whom he informs about the events. The body of the deceased king is embalmed, exposed for days in a popular pilgrimage to Thessaloniki and immediately afterwards transported by the royal yacht "Amfitritis" to Piraeus to be buried in March with all the prescribed prices in the royal palace of Tatoi.

The identity of the killer and his fate

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The murder
The racketeer, although arrested, jumped from the police window under unclear circumstances

But what happened to the king's killer? Let's go back to the facts again. As soon as the perpetrator is arrested by the gendarmes, the gathered crowd tries to lynch him. It took a lot of effort from the uniformed men to save him and take him to the local police station in the Faliro area of ​​the co-capital.

There they will learn the principles and his identity. His name is Alexandros Schinas. According to the associate professor of Modern and Contemporary History at AUTh. Iakovos Michailidis, "the biographical data of the murderer were meager. […] He studied medicine in Athens and for a while worked at his brother's pharmacy. He was an alcoholic and suffered from tuberculosis.

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Alexandros Schinas from a New York Times article

A lonely man, he had cut off all contact with his family. It seems that for some time he worked as a teacher in Macedonia ". His financial situation was very bad, while in his attempt to find a job he had also addressed the Palace, but the king's supporter had expelled him.

In the initial interrogation that took place at the police station, Schinas will not say much. On the night of March 7, he was transferred to the prisons of the Commander-in-Chief, where he was re-interrogated by the first-instance reserve second lieutenant, Vassilios Kadare. "If I had not killed him, he would have been killed by others," the killer was quoted as saying, declaring his socialist ideology without expressing any remorse for the act. He is then transferred to a cell of the Thessaloniki Police Directorate.

The queen learns the moral perpetrators

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Snapshot from the official reception of King George I and Queen Olga in Thessaloniki. Right behind them walks the successor Constantine

The widow Queen Olga, eagerly wanted to know why she killed her husband and for this reason she visited the perpetrator two or three times in the detention center. According to eyewitnesses, after the last visit she came out of the cell devastated.

Many believe that Schinas had revealed to her the moral perpetrators of the murder. On April 22, they take the killer back to the office of the first instance judge Kadare, on the second floor of the Command for a new testimony. However, by a diabolical coincidence, the investigator was absent and his escort, the murderer, went down to pay for the carriage that had taken them there. Schinas found himself alone in an office, which was guarded from the outside by two gendarmes.

What happened at this point in time is not entirely clear. If we believe the official version, he took shape and jumped out of the window, as a result of which he was killed instantly, falling into the paved courtyard. But did he really fall or did someone push him? In any case, the body was transported to the Evangelistria cemetery and buried safely without a religious ceremony. According to the newspaper "Macedonia" of the time, "Schina's marrow was extracted, as he underwent a phrenological examination.

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The body of the king in the house of Hatzilazaros

At the same time, his right ear was cut off, as it was sent to the museum in Athens for safekeeping ". Together with the ear that was used as an identification element (as its shape is inherited as it is from one of the two parents), it reached the capital and the hand to take fingerprints. The specific members, as mentioned above, are still on display at the Criminology Museum.

The strange fire that charred the investigative material

The year after the assassination of King George I, in 1914, there is news in the newspapers that leads many to second thoughts about the real perpetrators of the assassination. The steamer "Eleftheria" which is preparing to set sail from the port of Thessaloniki to Piraeus, is manifested fire.

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The arrival of the body of the king in Piraeus with the yacht Amphitrite

The flames primarily destroy the cabin where the pre-investigation files of the assassination of the supreme lord were kept. It is worth mentioning the fact that in these files, however, there was no testimony of the royal supporter Ioannis Frangoudis, the main eyewitness. And this is because he was never (!) Called by the judicial authorities to testify.

"Foreign finger" behind the heinous act?

We never found out if Schinas was an anarchist psychopath who actually acted alone, as the authorities claimed from the outset, or was ultimately the executive body of others. What is certain is that the geostrategic conditions in the wider region at that time were very sensitive. The First Balkan War was in full swing, while World War I was just around the corner.

The Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary allied themselves to claim new territories, while the Austrians themselves almost openly claimed Thessaloniki to turn it into a safe naval base.

As mentioned in the book "The Forbidden History of Greece" (Archetype publications), the existence of an English-loving king on the throne of Greece was an obstacle in their plans, while his replacement by the successor Constantine I, who was declared a Germanophile, would favor shots. From the first days after the murder, the evidence leading to this direction began to increase. "Foreign finger" armed his killer hand!

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The funeral of the late king in lithography

The same view is expressed by both General Theodoros Pangalos in his Memoirs and General Leonidas Paraskevopoulos in his Memoirs.

A second version, which is difficult to substantiate, although not without historical basis, claims that Schinas acted as an instrument of the Bulgarians, which is reinforced by the fact that the killer had previously had regular contacts with the Bulgarian colonel and komitatzis Tsiligiros. .

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Three days after the assassination, his son Constantine I is sworn in as the new king in the hall of the Old Parliament

A third theory wants the real killer to be an Austrian officer serving on a warship of his country that was in Thessaloniki in those days. After his act, he hurried to disappear and in his place, Schinas was arrested who was passing by by chance and due to his peculiar character, he took responsibility.

The fourth scenario brings the killer to revenge because when he went to look for a job in the palace, he was thrown out. Whatever it is, it is likely that we will never know.

* Georgios Sarris is a journalist - member of ESIEA, honored with the Ath. Botsis Award for the objective and complete presentation of historical political issues.