In the 1970s, in the balmy Aegean blue, the island of Leros was commandeered for a social experiment that was to become a secret so terrible as to rival that of the Nazi death camps or the Stalinist gulags. When the Greek psychiatric establishment reached the end of their perfunctorily useful treatment of their patients, they sent them to Leros and the asylum set up in the former political prison there. The staff were not doctors or nurses and had no medical training. They were local islanders and were used as guards or "filakes". The guards quickly degenerated into thugs, who sought to control the inmates with the only methods available to them - brute force and terror. The inmates were systematically beaten, even tortured, and crushed of whatever sensibilities they once had. They became animals, who defecated where they stood or crawled, who fought and killed themselves or each other, according to their needs, in a veritable Golgotha of despair, filth and violence. No human traits were recognizable among the inmates - even speech had become redundant.
In 1990 a team of Italian psychiatrists from Trieste, aided by volunteer care-workers, managed to break down the walls of this madhouse. What they found shocked them, as did the blank indifference of the guards. Alex Majoli is a member of the Magnum Photographic Agency. He is recognized for his work in the Balkan wars of the 1990s and his social reportage. His photographs of Leros pose a number of questions: how could such a regime have existed? How could anyone have survived it? There are also contributions by Laura Facchi, Maurizio Costantino, Franco Rotelli, Agostino Pirella, and Mario Tommasini.
Buy Leros book by Alex Majoli from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(172mm x 241mm x 20mm)
Publisher: Trolley Books
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