George Averoff (George Avgeros Apostolakas) was born on August 15, 1815 in Metsovo. His father was Michael Avgeros Apostolakas and his mother was Evdokia Fafali. Voskopoulos and student lived and grew up in Metsovo in a traditional family consisting of seven brothers. As a student of the Greek school of Metsovo he received his elementary education. He decided to give up his livestock until then and follow the migratory flow to Egypt that had begun to develop especially after the Greek revolution. It is said that the moment he left Metsovo, he knelt down to say goodbye to his mother and took her wish. In 1837 he went from Metsovo to Cairo. He took the road of exile to find his fortune in Egypt, which at that time was the main place of dispersal of the Greeks (19th century), since the favorable policy of Muhammad Ali ensured the monoculture of cotton, the production of industrial products and dealing with banking services. In Cairo, he worked with his brother in the commercial store of their uncle Nikos Stournara. Through his business activity and the courage that distinguished him in 1866, having already become the director of this family business, he went to Alexandria where he was engaged in trade (import-export). It started with very simple steps. At first it traded fabrics (Sudan, England, America) and then exported dates to Russia. But what elevated him as a businessman was when he traded gold coins for the wedding of an Egyptian Pasha, at whose wedding all the guests had to wear gold-embroidered costumes. This move of Averoff completely pleased the Egyptian Pasha and thus quickly gained a huge reputation. George was closely associated with the hedib of Egypt Teufik and supplied the palaces with all kinds of valuables that he imported from Odessa, while he was paid in Egyptian raw materials that he exported and sold there through the mediation of his representative. He then engaged in banks, buying and renting estates, riverboats and the cotton trade. By 1870 he had become the largest merchant in Egypt. When in 1882 the English fleet bombed Alexandria to suppress it Arabi Pasha leaves for Vienna. He returned to Egypt in 1895 where he became President of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria (EKA). He died on July 15, 1899 and a grand funeral was held in his memory Alexandria.
In order to prove the title that makes George Averoff a great national benefactor, we must, along with the study of his life, study his will. The will shows Averoff’s desire for the future of his family, for the future of the parish, of his particular homeland and of the national center. The ambitions of the exponents and his desires to be recognized by their descendants meet. Their national ideology can also be easily identified in relation to their cosmopolitanism and the fact that the actions of the benefactors function in return for their country of origin and their host country.
George Averoff’s will was written in 1898 in Alexandria, a year before his death. Before we begin, we must point out that, as in the other wills, the statement of national conscience, the element of Greekness, does not disappear. Also, there is no lack of forgiveness that man asks from his relatives for any mistakes and sins he has committed and at the end of the will the signature of man to make the validity of the will valid. Specifically, in the will of George Averoff is noted the request for verification of the inheritance left by the multi-member committee that appoints for the execution and control of bequests. In the will of George Averoff, like all the wills of the benefactors, we see that the property is divided for national and public purposes, charities and educational infrastructure. They indicate the needs of societies and intervention on the part of the benefactor. Specifically for the benefits that we will see below, we will try to prove that they are products of tradition or modernity, as long as the benefits solve specific social needs..
Thus, the property of George Averoff is divided into four zones.
Settling family matters:
George Averoff makes his nephew George Mikhail Averoff the general heir of his property and in case of his death his heirs. So he transfers estates to Egypt to his nephew (real estate) on the condition that he will not encumber this land with debts nor expropriate it and it will belong exclusively to him. It confirms the tradition that wants the property to be transferred to the family for maintenance and continuation of the name. He continues the division, offering his estates in Egypt to Augerinos. M. Averoff and Constantine. M. Pichton. In addition, he distributes pieces of his property to the friendly families of Tzoanopoulou, Sergiou, Papagou, to nieces, christeners, to the children of the blessed relative (provision for
financially) and to N. Ioannidis, his longtime secretary who grants him an estate in Egypt.
After distributing the amount of property that belongs to his family and friends, George Averoff proceeds to the benefits. First, the benefits concern the parish. Thus, it grants the amount of 20,000 English pounds to repay half the expenses of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria (EKA), it gives 400 pounds for the Averofio High School. The Averofio High School of Alexandria is a Greek educational institution which belongs to the Greek Community of Alexandria, and was established in the 19th century. Averofio Gymnasium was initially established as a classical gymnasium and over time and in combination with the needs of the parish for a more specialized and pluralistic education, Secondary Education acquired other departments: the commercial one at the beginning of the 20th century and the positive department. after World War II. The Greek community sought to provide those supplies to students so that it would be easy to find work or to continue their studies at university smoothly. However, in addition to the Averofio High School, it provides 12,000 francs for the Averofio Girl’s School and 10,000 Egyptian groschen for the maintenance, development and refinement of the community schools. Benefits for the community are mainly benefits for schools, for educational institutions such as the Girl’s School which are western institutions and creations of modernity.
Then follow the benefits for the particular homeland. George Averoff never forgets his place of origin where he spent the first years of his life. However, it is not absurd and so his fantasies and aspirations for his village are subordinated to the objective conditions that prevail in Metsovo. For this reason he takes care through his will for the construction of an aqueduct, the maintenance of the village church and the construction of a road (road construction) that will connect Metsovo with Ioannina. These benefits operate in a modernizing way as they aim at the development of the particular homeland and to meet the needs of the inhabitants.
The most important part of the will is undoubtedly the benefits for the National Center. It should be noted that the benefits for the national center had preceded years ago when George Averoff gave 5,000 pounds for the Cretan Revolution of 1866. George Averoff gives the necessary money for the establishment of the Agricultural School in Larissa. A movement that will open paths for Greeks to be educated and trained.
He then takes care of the construction of the Battleship Averoff and the establishment of a school of Guards, a project that will be implemented by the Trikoupi government. For this work Averoff offered the inconceivable sum of 2,500,000 gold francs (an amount sufficient for the construction of the Battleship as well as for the maintenance and construction of an additional warship). This move should be interpreted in the context of the security of the Greek State, and through the suitability of the military potential for a recognition of Greece as a military power. However, before proceeding below, let us point out the term that Averoff puts, on the basis of which he names the battleship. Here we meet the effort of the benefactor to be recognized through this act and to remain his prestige known to future generations.
Τhe Battleship Averoff
Ο Γεώργιος Αβέρωφ επιπροσθέτως δίνει χρήματα για την αποπεράτωση του Πολυτεχνείου Αθηνών , την παροχή βραβείων και υποτροφιών που θα φέρουν το όνομα του και την προσφορά των ελαιογραφιών του στο Πολυτεχνείο. Ένα βήμα προς την ανάπτυξη του πνεύματος , προς την εκπαίδευση και την πρόοδο του ανθρώπων. Και τέλος προνοεί μέσω της διαθήκης του για μία ιδιαίτερη ευεργεσία για παροχή βραβείων και υποτροφιών για το Ωδείο Αθηνών. Χαρακτηριστικά, ο Αβέρωφ αναφέρει στην διαθήκη του ότι η μουσική εξευγενίζει το πνεύμα και διαπλάθει το ήθος των ανθρώπων και πως η από σκηνής διδασκαλία (το θέατρο) μόρφωνε τους Αρχαίους Έλληνες και το ίδιο εξακολουθεί να κάνει ακόμα και σήμερα. (Τι αντίληψη για ένα άνθρωπο που ξεκίνησε ως ένα φτωχό βοσκόπουλο σε ένα ορεινό χωριό της Ηπείρου!). Εδώ καλούμαστε τώρα να ερμηνεύσουμε αυτήν του την ευεργεσία ως πράξη επιρροής από την Δύση και τις Ευρωπαϊκές Ιδέες και ιδού πως η διασπορά και η επαφή των ανθρώπων με άλλους πολιτισμούς τους επηρεάζει και έχει ως αποτέλεσμα την δημιουργία ταυτοτήτων.
Τhe Athens Conservatory