Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Karakolithos Memorial



While we were driving to Galaxidi we came upon the Memorial to the victims of the massacre in Karakolithos.




 
One hundred and thirty four men were executed by the German Nazi occupiers of Greece in Karakolithos on the 25th of April, 1944.
 
 
 


The monument is the work of sculptor Aggelika Korovesi.  You can see more of Aggelika Korovesi's work here .

 
 
 

During WWII Greece lost 13% of its population, some of it in battle, but mostly from the famine and from German war crimes. The Germans murdered the population of 89 Greek villages and towns, burned to the ground over 1,700 villages and many of their inhabitants were also executed. The country was reduced to rubble and its archaeological treasures were looted.

The area we were driving through suffered particularly badly from the Nazis, especially in the village of Distomo which is nearby. For over two hours, on June 10, 1944, Waffe-SS troops under the command of SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Fritz Lautenbach went from door to door and massacred Greek civilians as part of a 'retaliation measure' for a partisan attack upon the unit. A total of 214 men, women and children were killed in Distomo.  According to survivors, SS forces bayoneted babies in their cribs, stabbed pregnant women and beheaded the village priest.

One of the survivors was four year old Argyris Sfountouris. Sfountouris lost both his parents and 30 relatives in the massacre. As a war orphan he was sent by the Red Cross to Switzerland. Even though as an adult he obtained a PhD in Mathematics and Physics, he has dedicated his life to humanitarian  and developmental aid projects. In 1944, fifty years after the massacre,  he organised a conference in Delphi. Under the heading 'Memory - Mourning - Hope' the issues of compensation, of overcoming hate and of reconciliation were discussed.

In 1995, Sfountouris and his three sisters submitted a legal claim for compensation. It was rejected. They then went to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg where the complaint is still pending. Above all, Sfountouris is indignant about the fact that the German government called the massacre of Distomo a 'measure in the context of war', although it is clearly a war crime.

'A Song for Argyris', a documentary film by Stefan Haupt recounts what happened in Distomo.



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