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Brother Joseph F. Rutherford speaks with responsible brothers at the Parthenon during a visit to Greece in 1920. The branch office has been housed at numerous sites over the years, including the first office in Athens (top), an office in Maroussi (middle), and the current office in Drapetsona

SEPTEMBER 29, 2022

Branch Office in Greece Established 100 Years Ago

Branch Office in Greece Established 100 Years Ago

October 6, 2022, marks 100 years since the first branch office was established in Greece.

Brother Rutherford’s October 6, 1922, letter establishing a branch office in Greece

The preaching of the good news in modern Greece began in 1905. The Bible’s message was zealously spread in the country, and in 1922, Brother Joseph F. Rutherford established the first branch office in Athens. Brother Athanassios Karanassios was appointed as the first branch representative. The branch began printing publications in Greek in 1936. Two years later, the government enacted a law against proselytism. As a result, Brother Karanassios was arrested in 1939. The printery was shut down, and the organization’s property was confiscated for a few months. Later, after Greece was drawn into World War II, martial law was declared, which resulted in a ban on our publications and the closure of the Bethel facilities.

Following the war, in 1945, the brothers taking the lead were able to reorganize the preaching work once the ban was lifted. Two years later, Brother Nathan H. Knorr visited the brothers in Greece and arranged for new branch facilities on Tenedou Street in Athens. Jehovah clearly blessed these efforts. By 1951, there were 3,368 publishers in the country, a 26 percent increase from the previous year.

In October 1954, the brothers dedicated a new Bethel home on Kartali Street in Athens. The preaching work flourished despite persecution. In 1967, a military faction took control of Greece, and congregation meetings and the preaching work were again put under ban.

Brother Michalis Kaminaris and his wife, Eleftheria, served at Bethel during the ban. Brother Kaminaris relates: “During the ban, our printing operations at Bethel were closed, so the house in which Eleftheria and I lived in the suburbs of Athens became a kind of printery. Eleftheria typed copies of Watchtower articles using a heavy typewriter. So that the letters would print, she put ten sheets of paper at a time into the typewriter and had to press very hard. I then collected the pages and stitched them together. Every evening, this went on until midnight. A policeman lived on the floor below, and we still wonder why he never became suspicious.”

The number of publishers continued to increase despite the ban. In 1974, when the ban was lifted, a larger branch facility was needed yet again. In the following decades, the number of publishers in Greece continued to grow and subsequently the branch office continued to expand. The current branch facility, located in Drapetsona, Piraeus, was dedicated on November 18, 2018. There are currently 27,752 publishers serving in Greece.

The continuous growth in Greece over the last 100 years despite multiple bans, wars, and persecution, proves that nothing can prevent Jehovah from ‘speeding up the work in its own time.’—Isaiah 60:22.