August 4, 1936. General Ioannis Metaxas, appointed by the Greek king as interim prime minister a few months earlier, declares a state of emergency and dissolves parliament, effectively giving himself dictatorial powers. The Greek parliament had been paralysed by the inability of political factions to agree and Greece faced widespread rural industrial unrest. Metaxas created an authoritarian regime that borrowed policies from other fascist regimes in Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy. Known as the 4th of August Regime, its central tenets were fierce Greek nationalism and devotion to the Greek Orthodox Church and one of the priorities for Metaxas was to restore public order, a challenge that was dealt with effectively. Like in other European regimes of the time, a secret police was formed, the media was heavily censored, political parties and strikes were banned and ethnic minorities were persecuted. However unlike in other regimes such as Nazi Germany, there is little evidence of political murders or planned mass killings. The regime ended with Metaxas’ death in 1941, whereupon Germany invaded and installed a puppet government in its place.
Also on August 4: Turkey and Greece fight the Battle of Kos (1824); Anne Frank and her family are arrested in Amsterdam by the Gestapo (1944); The Republic of Upper Volta is renamed Burkino Faso (1984).
Born on August 4: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792), Louis Vuitton (1821), Louis Armstrong (1901), Barack Obama (1961).