German Deputy FM pays tribute to those executed at Kaisariani firing range

Kaisariani, German Deputy FM pays tribute to those executed at Kessariani firing range
German Deputy FM pays tribute to those executed at Kessariani firing range
*Image Credit: Michael Roth

During his visit to Athens, German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth laid a flower at the firing range of Kaisariani on Wednesday.

The historical site at Kaisariani is "one of Greece's most emblematic places of martyrdom during World War II," Roth said.

The German minister was welcomed by Kessariani Mayor Christos Voskopoulos, who underlined the significance of the visit, adding that "we can use history to move towards a better future."

"Our heroic city has already invited other cities across Europe to join a network of solidarity, preserving the memory, but also scientific and historical research. We owe it to future generations to explore the reasons why humanity may often take extreme paths to resolve political, economic and social problems," Voskopoulos continued.

German Deputy FM pays tribute to those executed at Kessariani firing range
*Image Credit: Michael Roth

"We are obliged to tell the stories that happened in our country, to remember those who sacrificed their lives defending the values ​​and ideas that make us human... We must work together for peaceful coexistence, for sustainable development, for equal opportunities for all, for democracy, justice, freedom," he concluded.

On his part, the German Deputy Foreign Minister stated that the place "reminds us of the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust and the terrorism of Nazism. Most of the victims fought against the Nazi occupiers. They resisted the brutality and lost their lives for it. Many belonged to the Left and were forced to endure the prison at the concentration camp in Haidari, Athens, before being brought to this place. Some were killed simply because they were Jews. The importance of fighting for one's ideas and justice is more relevant than ever."

"Today I am here to honour the memory and express my respect to those who fought against Nazism," he added.

Nazi occupation forces executed 200 Greeks at Kaisariani on May 1, 1944, in reprisal for the killing of a German general by Greek resistance forces.

"It is very important to me that we encourage young people to learn from the horrors of the past and to fight together for European unity and peace. Let us work together to ensure that Greece and Germany fight side by side for a sovereign, strong and united Europe, which is the best way to ensure lasting peace and prosperity," Roth concluded.

Greek Drama Film ‘The Last Note’ based on the 1944 Kaisariani executions

‘The Last Note’ (Το Τελευταίο Σημείωμα) is a gripping historical drama based on true events, directed by Pantelis Voulgaris and co-written with his wife Ioanna Karystiani.

The film which was released in 2017, portrays one of the most important chapters of Modern Greek history: the execution of 200 Greek resistance fighters by the German occupiers on May 1st, 1944 in Kaisariani, as reprisal for the Greek Resistance ambush against Nazis.

The leading character of the story is Napoleon Soukatzidis (played by Andreas Konstantinou), an inmate of the Nazi’s Chaidari concentration camp. When news reaches Chaidari that a Greek resistance ambush in Laconia claimed the life of a high-ranking German official and his escorts, Kommandant Karl Fischer orders 200 inmates be executed. One of those inmates is Soukatzidis. But then, on Labour Day, 1944, Fischer offers Soukatzidis both an opportunity and a conundrum: he can nominate another prisoner to take his place, and thus be spared death.

Cineuropa stated that “this is ultimately how we should be leaving screenings about the history of war and broken lives: with tears in our eyes.”

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.