Helen Zotos Papers, 1947-1967


Helen Zotos is a news correspondent and writer best known for her coverage, 1946-1949, of the Greek civil war. She was born Helen Mamas on 19 November 1923 to Mr. and Mrs. Gus Mamas in Springfield, Massachusetts, and served her newspaper apprenticeship on her home-town newspapers. Starting at age seven, she was a weekly contributor of stories and poetry to the children's pages of both the Springfield Republican and the Springfield Daily News. For the Daily News she reported high school news at age fourteen, was the children's page editor at fifteen, and proofreader at sixteen. Before she was seventeen, she was a staff news reporter covering all beats for the Daily News and a byline feature writer for the Republican.

In 1945 she received a B.S. in journalism cum laude and in 1946 an M.A. in English from Boston University.

After graduation, the Christian Science Monitor sent her to Greece on a special assignment, after which she landed an assignment with the Associated Press. For the next three years she covered the Greek civil war between the royalists and the communist guerrilla forces. During this time Zotos was the only woman accredited to the Greek General Staff and was the youngest U. S. correspondent overseas. Her investigation of the 1948 murder of CBS news correspondent George Polk uncovered a communist plot to create friction between the U.S. and the Greek royal government. Among her scoops were the story of the communist abduction of 28,000 Greek children for “re-education” behind the Iron Curtain, and the story of the purge of Markos, commander of the communist guerrilla forces, which preceded the final defeat of communism in Greece.

While covering the story of UN commissions to the Balkans, which took her into Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, she met Stephano Zotos, a prominent Greek author and journalist related to Greek and Roumanian nobility. They were married in 1948, but the marriage was subsequently annulled. Since that time, however, she has used the professional name of Miss Helen Zotos.

Between 1950 and 1954 Zotos served as United Nations correspondent and New York City reporter for Mademoiselle magazine, and from 1955 to 1957 was news analyst and then editor of Radio Free Europe's Daily News Bulletin. Subsequently she freelanced as a magazine writer and a publicity agent. She covered the 1958 visit of Queen Frederika of Greece to the United States, and interviewed Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty for the United Press International. Soon after the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the West German government invited her to Bonn for intensive briefings on the Berlin question; while there she also covered the Socialist-Democratic Party convention and interviewed Willy Brandt. In the late 1960's Zotos worked as a public affairs officer for the U. S. Department of Commerce and edited Sunday Feature, a publication concerning activities within the Department of Commerce and its various divisions.

Since 1951 she has been active in the Overseas Press Club (OPC), serving on its Board of Governors, 1955-1957. The OPC sent her as a delegate to the International Biennial Information Congress sponsored by the French government which assembled journalists from 54 countries in 1954. Her script “The George Polk Story” was presented on the OPC's television series Exclusive in the early 1950's.