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Author N.J. Slabbert says that Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens to honour WW2 dead

In a new book, The Sword Of Zeus: The Hidden Story Of How Greece Shaped World War II [1], author N. J. Slabbert argues that the Elgin Marbles ought to be returned to Athens, to honour the efforts made by Greece during the Second World War.

For further information about this release or to request an interview with author N.J. Slabbert, please e-mail Em at infomontagu@gmail.com ; also visit www.theswordofzeus.info/ .
February 1 2011

Writer N.J. Slabbert, creator of the Sword Of Zeus Project on Greece’s role in WWII, has urged Britain to return the Elgin Marbles to Athens without further delay to honor Greece’s World War II dead.

While the Marbles’ return on general ethical and cultural grounds has been supported by other public intellectuals including Nobel Prizewinning author Nadine Gordimer and journalist Christopher Hitchens, N.J. Slabbert says Greece’s critical role in WWII provides a very specific historical reason to return the Marbles now. He sets this position out in a forthcoming book, The Sword Of Zeus: The Hidden Story Of How Greece Shaped World War II.

The book argues that strong preoccupations with Greece’s cultural legacy existed among the leaders of both Germany and Britain, and that the story of the Elgin Marbles can be properly understood only in the context of this cultural psychology, which shaped British and German attitudes and policies toward Greece in ways that continue to have repercussions today.

The Elgin Marbles are a collection of ancient sculptures and related artifacts removed from the Acropolis of Athens to Britain by a British diplomat, Lord Elgin, in the early nineteenth century. The Marbles are still held in London’s British Museum.

Mr. Slabbert, a former Reader’s Digest senior editor,says: “Greece’s contribution as a crucial ally, who helped Britain turn the tide in a war of national survival against Hitler, is an issue that is quite separate from the other arguments that can be made for the return of the Marbles. Imagine if the British Museum had, for whatever reason, come into possession of a chunk of the Statue of Liberty. Can there be any doubt that at the end of WWII, it would have been sent back to New York post haste to mark Britain’s gratitude for the help it had received in coming through the war? Regardless of the legal and academic arguments of the museum holding on to it?

“The only reason that explains why this didn’t happen with the Elgin Marbles is that Greece wasn’t able to wield the power that postwar America commanded. This is a sad and dim reflection on Britain’s relationships with its allies. It’s not worthy of the moral stature that Britons like to associate with their country.”

Mr. Slabbert’s WWII research and education initiative, based in Washington DC, is chaired by Greek-American industrialist Aris Melissaratos, who heads the commercialization of new technologies and research discoveries at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. Mr. Melissaratos and Mr. Slabbert are co-authors of Innovation, the Key to Prosperity, a 2009 book on the role of science and technology in re-energizing America’s economy.

Mr. Melissaratos says the call for Britain to return the Marbles to Athens to express Britain’s war debt to Greece is “a timely and thoughtful perspective” on the fate of the Marbles. “While this issue has been the subject of scholarly discussions from many perspectives, Mr. Slabbert has related it to the question of what Britain owes Greece for the massive Greek contribution to the war against the Axis. His argument to return the Marbles as a gesture of thanks to Greece for its fallen sons and daughters is very compelling,” he commented. “I hope the British authorities will look at this argument carefully and agree that the time has come to return the Marbles to Athens where they rightfully belong.”

The multimedia Zeus initiative encompasses a web site, several forthcoming books, and film projects about the Western world’s psychological, cultural and other relationships with Greece prior to WWII, during the war and in its aftermath. The Zeus Project web site began publishing a series of book previews late last year to mark the 70th anniversary of Greece’s historic defiance of the Hitler-Mussolini Axis, an event that helped turn the tide of the war in favor of Britain and her allies.

More information can be found at www.theswordofzeus.info/ .