Greek President Requests Germany Acknowledge Greek Holocaust

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Mr Holmes
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Greek President Requests Germany Acknowledge Greek Holocaust

Post by Mr Holmes » 03 Oct 2005 13:41

At work, periodically, I am directed to cut out newspaper clippings for future reference (long story). The following article that I will translate was from the Greek-Australian newspaper "Neos Kosmos". Admittedly, the article is about a month old now, but I only came across it today.

Αναγνώριση των Ελληνικών ολοκαυτωμάτων

ΑΘΗΝΑ, Κυριακή. - Την αναγνώριση των ελληνικών ολοκαυτωμάτων από το γερμανικό κράτος ζήτησε ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας, Κάρολος Παπούλιας μιλώντας στις εκδηλώσεις μνήμης, για τα 61 χρόνια από τη σφαγή 149 Ελλήνων στο Χορτιάτη της Θεσσαλονίκης.

Ὀπως επεσήμανε ο κ. Παπούλιας τα αντίποινα σε βάρος του ελληνικού πληθυσμού στη διάρκεια της Κατοχής «είχαν συστηματικό χαρακτήρα, ακολουθούσαν αυστηρούς κανόνες λογικής και εξυπηρετούσαν συγκεκριμένους στόχους» και κάλεσε το γερμανικό κράτος να δείξει έμπρακτα τον αποτροπιασμό του για τις ναζιστικές θυριωδίες.

Στο ίδιο κλίμα και οι δηλώσεις του δημάρχου Χορτιάτη, Μιχάλη Γεράνη, ο οποίος εκτίμησε, ότι θα έπρεπε να υπάρξει και καταβολή αποζημιώσεων στις οικογένεις των θυμάτων. «Δε ζητάμε εκδίκηση, δε ζητιανεύουμε, απαιτούμε το δίκιο και την απόλυτη κάθαρση στις σχέσεις των λαών της Ελλάδας και της Γερμανίας, που καλούνται να συμβιώσουν υπό την σκέπη της ΕΕ χωρίς ηθικά χρέη», δήλωσε χαρακτηριστικά.


Source: NEOS KOSMOS, Monday 5 September, 2005, p. 2.


Now my translation (please accept my apologies in advance for any mistranslation, the text if anything, is more of a transliteration)

Text in square brakets, as thus [ ], are my own and not part of the original text.

Recognition of the Greek holocausts

ATHENS, Sunday.- The recognition of the Greek holocausts[sic] from the German Government was requested by the President of the [Greek] Republic, Karolos Papoulias whilst delivering a keynote speech at memorial proceedings, for the 61st anniversary of the massacre of 149 Greeks at Hortiaty [closest rendition I could make], Thessaloniki.

As was noted by Mr Papoulias the reprisals upon the Greek population throughout the duration of the Occupation "had a systematic character, following rules of logic and served specific purposes" [bold mine] and called on the German Government to show in praxis its revulsion at the nazistic [closest rendering of the word I could make] brutalities.

In the same climate were the statements made by the mayor of Hortiaty, Michael Geranis, who made the assessment, that a payment of compensation would need to be made to the families of the victims. "We are not asking for revenge, we are not begging, we are demanding justice and the absolute catharsis of relations of the people of Greece and Germany, who are called upon to co-exist in the EU without ethical debts", he stated characteristically.


The media does have a tendency to sensationalise certain facets of life, but it is somewhat worrisome when the President makes such statements as that outlined in bold.

Now the reprisals were made against my own kinsmen and I should be fully supportive of this move, but I felt moved to write after that particular statement:

had a systematic character, following rules of logic and served specific purposes


The reprisals were many, sometimes at the instigation of the Greek resistance factions, and sometimes due to bad circumstance as in the Distomo (I hope that's right) massacre (or is the Hortiaty massacre and the Distomo massacre the same thing?), or as was the case in Crete, the civilian population being caught in the middle of the fighting (or as in the case of the aerial bombing of Chania).

But I have never read, anywhere, of a systematic campaign to kill Greek citizenry, as part of policy, let alone the audacious claim of the media to a Greek "Holocaust".

If somebody could point me in the right direction, I would be most grateful as this has upset me today.

Thanks in advance.

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Post by spiro » 03 Oct 2005 21:49

GREECE

KALAVRYTA ( December 13, 1943 )

Due to partisan activity around the town of Kalavryta in southern Greece, a unit of the German army 'Kampfgruppe Ebersberger' the 117th Jager Division, surrounded the town on the morning of Monday, December 13. All the inhabitants were herded into the local school. Females and young boys were separated from the men and youths, the latter being marched to a hollow in a nearby hillside. There the soldiers took up positions behind machine-guns. Below, they witnessed the town being set on fire. Just after 2pm a red flare was fired from the town. This was the signal for the soldiers to start firing on the men and youths who were huddled in the hollow. At 2.34pm the firing stopped and the soldiers marched away. Behind them lay the bodies of 696 persons, the entire male population of Kalavryta. There were 13 survivors of the massacre, the town itself totally destroyed. Only eight houses out of nearly five hundred, were left standing. It was not until late afternoon that the women and young boys were released to face the enormity of the tragedy. Today a memorial stands on the site of the massacre on which are carved the names of 1,300 men and boys from Kalavryta and 24 nearby villages who were murdered that day. (Around 460 villages were completely destroyed and approximately 60,000 men, women and children were massacred during the occupation of Greece)

THE KOS MASSACRE ( October 4, 1943 )

When the island of Kos in the Aegean, fell to the German forces, a total of 1,388 British and 3,145 Italian troops were taken prisoner. Italy had signed an armistice on September 8 and the Italian troops were now fighting on the British side. On September 11, Hitler gave the order to execute all Italian officers who were captured. The officer in charge of the Italian troops was Colonel Felice Leggio. He, and 101 of his officers, were marched to a salt pan just east of the town of Kos and there, shot in groups of ten. They were buried in mass graves. When Kos was returned to Greece after the war, the bodies were dug up and transported back to Italy for burial in the Military Cemetery at Bari.

CEFALONIA MASSACRE ( September, 1943)

Almost unknown outside of Italy, this event ranks with Katyn as one of the darkest episodes of the war. On the Greek island of Cefalonia, in the Gulf of Corinth, the Italian ‘ACQUI DIVISION' was stationed. Consisting of 11,500 enlisted men and 525 officers it was commanded by 52 year old General Antonio Gandin, a veteran of the Russian Front where he won the German Iron Cross. When the Badoglio government announced on September 8, 1943, that Italian troops should cease hostilities against the Allies, there was much wine and merriment on Cefalonia. However, their German counterparts on the island maintained a stony silence and soon began harassing their Italian comrades, calling them 'traitors'. The German 11th Battalion of Jäger-Regiment 98 of the 1st Gebirgs (Mountain) Division, commanded by Major Harald von Hirschfeld, arrived on the island and soon Stukas were bombing the Italian positions. The fighting soon developed into a wholesale massacre when the Gebirgsjäger troops began shooting their Italian prisoners in groups of four to ten beginning with General Gandin. By the time the shooting ended four hours later, 4,750 Italian soldiers lay dead all over the island. But that was not the end for the Acqui Division, some 4000 survivors were shipped to the mainland for further transportation to Germany for forced labour. In the Ionian Sea a few of the ships hit mines and sank, taking around 3,000 men to their deaths.

The final death toll in this tragic episode was 9,646 men and 390 officers. Major Harald Hirschfeld was later killed by a bomb splinter during the fighting at Duklapass in Warsaw in 1945 after he was promoted to Lieutenant General. General Hubert Lanz, commander of the Gebirgsjäger troops, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. He was released in 1951. In the 1950s, the remains of over 3,000 soldiers, including 189 officers, were unearthed and transported back to Italy for proper burial in the Italian War Cemetery at Bari. Unfortunately, the body of General Gandin was never identified. In 2002, the investigation into this massacre was reopened in Germany and ten ex-members of the 1st Gebirgs Division, of the 300 still alive, have been investigated and may be charged. The youngest is 81 and the oldest is now 93. There is no Statute of Limitations for murder

MASSACRE AT DISTOMO (June 10, 1944)

Four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, a most despicable atrocity took place in the village of Distomo in the province of Boeotia in Central Greece. A unit of the SS Police Panzergrenadier Regiment No 7, on an antipartisan sweep, massacred 218 Greek civilians in the village. Packed into seven trucks, the unit drove through the village without incident but a short distance beyond the village the convoy was ambushed by a guerrilla band that resulted in the killing of seven SS soldiers. The SS unit doubled back into the village and in a last ditch effort to crush partisan activities, the reprisals, including looting, burning and rape, began. When a Red Cross delegation visited the village some days later they found bodies hanging from trees along the main street. One survivor, Yannes Basdekis, recalled, "I walked into a house and saw a woman, stripped naked and covered in blood. Her breasts had been sliced off. Her baby lay dead nearby, the cut off nipple still in its mouth".

The unit commander, SS Hauptstrumführer Lautenbach, was later charged with falsifying a military report on the massacre but the charges were dropped as the massacre was judged a 'military necessity'. Today, the skulls and bones of the victims are displayed in the Mausoleum of Distomo. In 1960, Germany paid the Greek government 115 million marks as compensation for the suffering of its citizens during the German occupation but as yet no payment is forthcoming for the victims of Distomo. It was not until 1990 that members of the German embassy first took part in the wreath laying ceremony on the annual anniversary of the massacre. (It is somewhat ironic that other massacres took place on a same date, the 10th of June, Lidice in 1943, Oradour-zur-Glane and Distomo, in 1944.

KOMMENO (August 16, 1943) The eight hour massacre by the First Alpenjäger Division 'Edelweiss' commanded by General Stetner, started early in the morning at 5.30 and finished at 12.30 midday. Of the 680 inhabitants of the village, 317 were murdered, 74 of whom were children aged between one and ten years old. In the house of Thedoros Mallios, a wedding reception was taking place for his son Spyros and his new bride. In the early morning, after a celebration that lasted all night, the bride and groom and all guests were confronted by the machine guns of the Edelweiss soldiers and shot to death. The house was then burned to the ground. In all, 34 persons died. Both priests of the village were shot and after the massacre the rest of the houses in Kommeno, about 180, were put to the torch.

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Mr Holmes
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Post by Mr Holmes » 03 Oct 2005 22:00

Hello Spiro,

I know of these events/tragedies, but were they part of a systematic campaign? Can these atrocities be called a Holocaust?

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Post by spiro » 03 Oct 2005 22:07

The systematic campain was to wipe of villages that were close to ressistant acts.
No i do not think that it was a holocaust.

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Post by nny » 08 Oct 2005 08:56

So the people that were murdered, due to Nazi policy of 'wiping out villages near to resistance activities' in Greece, are not entitled to compensation in the way that people whom were murdered due to 'Nazi racial policy' were entitled compensation? Interesting.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 08 Oct 2005 10:27

Hello nny,

I am not certain I understand you.

If the post was directed at me, I'll ask you to re-read what I wrote:

I know that Greek people were slaughtered, but I do not think that this constitutes "genocide" or indicative of a Greek "Holocaust" (although I am certain that the good folk of this forum will be able to shed some light). This is why I wrote of the "acknowledgement" and not of a compensation in my thread title.

I hope my post causes no offence. :-)




-edit-

I remember one of the mods had posted some clauses to do with the defining parametres of what constitutes genocide.

I can't remember where though.

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Post by michael mills » 08 Oct 2005 13:29

The Greek Civil War, fought between the Communist partisans of ELAS and various Greek anti-Communist forces, including both forces of the Greek collaborationist government and Royalist resistance fighters, commenced in 1943, instigated by ELAS.

Many atrocities against the Greek civilian population were committed by both sides, and it is probable that far more Greek civilians were killed by Greek partisans of one faction or another than were ever killed by German occupation forces.

The partisans of ELAS became notorious for their atrocities, particularly in the Peloponisos. The worst ELAS perpetrator was a person who adopted the pseudonym Aris (= the Greek god of war), plus a surname based on the name of a mountain range which I have forgotten (Veloukiotis?). He was considered a sadistic psychopath by Christopher Woodhouse, the British liaison officer working with the ELAS partisans.

So perhaps the Greek Government, rather than demanding an apology from Germany, should recognise that if a "holocaust" occurred in Greece, it was perpetrated by Greeks on other Greeks.

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Post by Kim Sung » 08 Oct 2005 13:46

michael mills wrote:The partisans of ELAS became notorious for their atrocities, particularly in the Peloponisos. The worst ELAS perpetrator was a person who adopted the pseudonym Aris (= the Greek god of war), plus a surname based on the name of a mountain range which I have forgotten (Veloukiotis?). He was considered a sadistic psychopath by Christopher Woodhouse, the British liaison officer working with the ELAS partisans.

So perhaps the Greek Government, rather than demanding an apology from Germany, should recognise that if a "holocaust" occurred in Greece, it was perpetrated by Greeks on other Greeks.


His name is Aris Velouchiotis(Άρης Βελουχιώτης). But what we have to keep in mind is that, without German invasion, there might not have been such a bloody civil war in Greece.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 08 Oct 2005 13:59

@killchola

You mean Italian invasion. The Germans came to secure their southern flank. Not that it makes it excusable or anything. I'm just saying.

But there were festering tensions prior to the war anyhow. Fascist-type government, and downtrodden (for the most part) urban classes.

@Michael

The name is as killchola also writes it. And yes, you are right, his "surname" is the name of a mountain in near the town Karpenisi, the mountain is named Βελούχη which is today a ski resort of sorts.

The ELAS brigades wrought much destruction and terror in apeople who had suffered much. The continuous Balkan Wars, economic instability, a more open to the "West" approach contrasted with the traditional rural setting, the Fall of Smyrna/Izmir, the subsequent resettlements should have seen everyone unite against the invaders. The ELAS folk did cause much terror and more often than not fought against the other partisan groups and sometimes forgot the Germans were even there!

During the Civil War, ELAS committed many terrible acts (I really need to bring out some of those books I have on this subject)... the name problem with Macedonia (not wanting to stir up the pot here) can actually be traced to this group's policies...

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Post by David Thompson » 08 Oct 2005 16:16

The topic here is the German occupation of Greece in WWII. Please stay on it. Readers who wish to discuss atrocities arising out of the Greek civil war are invited to start a new thread on that topic.

Readers interested in more information on German reprisal policy in Greece during WWII may find these threads helpful:

Greeks press Nazi damages claim
viewtopic.php?t=1528
Distomo case
viewtopic.php?t=48086
Greek court rules against Nazi victims
viewtopic.php?t=7816
Distomo massacre
viewtopic.php?t=7825
Greek civilian casualties and German policy towards them
viewtopic.php?t=20987
Documents on German reprisals in WWII Greece
viewtopic.php?t=61241

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Post by michael mills » 09 Oct 2005 05:32

Sepp Dietrich started this thread, and I am sure he can determine what he wants it to be about.

The real topic of the thread, the question asked by Sepp Dietrich, was whether there really was a "Greek Holocaust" perpetrated by Germany during the period of its occupation (which was really only in 1943, when the Germans took over from the Italians who had surrendered).

The answer to the question is that, if there was a "Greek Holocaust", it was perpetrated by Greeks against other Greeks, in a civil war between Left and Right that actually began while German forces were still in occupation.

It is entirely legitimate to question the motive of present-day Greek politicians in giving the name "Greek Holocaust" to a number of atrocities committed by German occupation forces against Greek villagers believed to have participated in or assisted attacks on those forces. It is legitimate to wonder whether the motive is to cast a smokescreen over the real "Greek Holocaust" which continued for several years after the Germans had left.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 09 Oct 2005 09:11

Hello David,

Please, I don't want anyone getting in trouble on account of me.

It was I who opened up the can of worms in my original post when I wrote this:

The reprisals were many, sometimes at the instigation of the Greek resistance factions, and sometimes due to bad circumstance as in the Distomo (I hope that's right) massacre (or is the Hortiaty massacre and the Distomo massacre the same thing?), or as was the case in Crete, the civilian population being caught in the middle of the fighting (or as in the case of the aerial bombing of Chania).


I believe that the article contains many facets of the Occupation period as well as of the ensuing Civil War. I thought it would have been an injustice to limit it to only one subject area, whether it be the partisan conflicts or of the Italo-German Occupation on their own.

If it is a problem, then I will comply with your rulings. No problem. :-)

@Michael Mills

Ah, the quagmire that is Greek politics (which still ensues to this day). The current President, Karolos Papoulias, is a great man and of much integrity. He is an old socialist so I can see how it would be befitting to make these statements as shown in the article. As for his claims (which were mirrored by the local mayor there), it is those which are up for debate.

There is much anecdotal and imperial evidence pointing to crimes committed by both the Right and Left during the Occupation period (the Poulos verband for one). However, during the Civil War, the Communists did commit heinous crimes almost indiscriminately. They truly terrorised the countryside. I have spoken to fair few people about this period of Greek history... little have fond memory of the Leftist guerillas. As this is a research forum, I won't state what has been said to me (lest it becomes accused of being hearsay and therefore of no historical value), but I do not think that the President's remarks hold much ground when put into the context of a "Greek Genocide" claim.

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Post by Peter H » 09 Oct 2005 10:34

As the historian Edgar O'Ballance relates in his history of the Civil War there was no comparasion between the punitive actions of the Germans in Greece and later actions in the Civil War.Under the Germans whole villages could be destroyed and all the inhabitants massacred.Both sides in the Civil War aimed for control of the populace.Rural villages would be fired but the inhabitants generally became refugees.The selective assassination aspect of the Civil War should also be considered,with around 10,000 in total assassinated by both sides.ELAS concentrated on 'class enemies' and 'American puppets',the Royal Army and police on the Communist infrastructure.Much the same happened in the Vietnam War.Civilians were caught in the crossfire and died from their refugee ordeal.
O'Ballance estimates civilian losses as around 40,000,1943-49.

To equate any wartime killings,deaths between 1941-49 in Greece as holocaustic in nature demonstrates some misunderstanding of Greek modern history.That most of the conflict post 1945 also occurred in northern Greece also ignores the fact that the slavic Macedonian minority there bore the brunt of the conflict,a minority that today still see themselves oppressed by their Hellenic masters.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 09 Oct 2005 11:13

Peter H wrote:As the historian Edgar O'Ballance relates in his history of the Civil War there was no comparasion between the punitive actions of the Germans in Greece and later actions in the Civil War.


Hello Peter,

Could you please provide the publisher name of that book, I should like to read it.

Under the Germans whole villages could be destroyed and all the inhabitants massacred.Both sides in the Civil War aimed for control of the populace.Rural villages would be fired but the inhabitants generally became refugees.The selective assassination aspect of the Civil War should also be considered,with around 10,000 in total assassinated by both sides.ELAS concentrated on 'class enemies' and 'American puppets',the Royal Army and police on the Communist infrastructure.Much the same happened in the Vietnam War.Civilians were caught in the crossfire and died from their refugee ordeal.
O'Ballance estimates civilian losses as around 40,000,1943-49.


I can see the differentiation you make between the German Occupation and of ELAS actions. But I am not sure of the accuracy of ELAS's focus. For instance (I will divulge this experience, not mine obviously... I was born some 30 later):

a) My mother's family (prior to her being born) fled the fighting (Civil War) and left for a cave that they knew of for security. My gandfather had fought on the Albanian front and being a simple farmer (poor, but also entirely disinterested in politics), still possesed his rifle. A group of Communist militia found the family and spotted the foodstuffs and rifle. They began to accuse my grandfather of being loyal to the Government of the time. He vehemntly denied this, stating that he had fled the troubles to protect his family. They then began to demand that he join them... at gunpoint. I don't know what arguments he put forth, and the pleading made by my grandmother and aunt and uncle) but he was lucky to be left alive. The food was taken, as was the rifle.

Perhaps this was an exception to the rule?

To equate any wartime killings,deaths between 1941-49 in Greece as holocaustic in nature demonstrates some misunderstanding of Greek modern history.


With that, what would your assessment be of the current President's remarks? Not forgetting he comes from the PASOK ranks.

That most of the conflict post 1945 also occurred in northern Greece also ignores the fact that the slavic Macedonian minority there bore the brunt of the conflict,a minority that today still see themselves oppressed by their Hellenic masters.


Were the members of the Slavic Macedonian minority pro-socialist? I ask, as they would have an affinity Yugoslavian politics, or am I wrong in asking that?

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Post by Peter H » 09 Oct 2005 12:15

With due respect for David's request not to divulge from the WW2 topic on hand I think this discussion could be split to one concerning the Greek Civil War as well.

I'll let David decide.

Regards,
Peter

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