Survivors of the Massacre in Kalavryta during World War II are furious about a scene in the soon to be released film Echoes of the Past (KALAVRYTA 1943) portraying Nazis as rescuing Greek women and children in the village.
The Association of Survivors and Victims are threatening to sue the film producers along with Greece's national broadcaster ERT who is one of the producing partners.
Even though the film is not in cinemas, a scene on the trailer was enough to cause outrage in the close-knit community.
The provocative scene shows at 1:50 seconds
In the controversial scene, an Austrian Nazi who on his own accord and disobeying orders opened the door of the burned down the primary school to save women and children.”
“This is a provocative myth that has been denied by all eyewitnesses and officially by the city council of Kalavryta who is the President of the Association of the Victims of Kalavryta Holocaust and former deputy mayor of the Greek city Harilaos Ermeidis.
Speaking to the local newspaper “Peloponnese” Ermeidis said he personally along with other local residents had pointed this out to filmmakers who had visited the area 2.5 years ago that it was only a baseless story and was not true.
Ermeidis also insisted that filmmakers had promised to not include it in the film.
Ermeidis said in addition that back in good faith sent official documentation to the filmmakers warning them that the Association would prosecute them “if the film did not respect the memory of the victims in any way.”
The movie Echoes of the past states on IMDB
A fictional drama inspired by true events, the "Massacre of Kalavryta" committed by invading German troops in December 1943. When the Greek government launches a multi-billion legal claim for war reparations, Caroline Martin, a high-flying lawyer representing the German government visits Kalavryta to investigate. An unexpected encounter with the last survivor of the tragedy, Nikolaos Andreou, leads them both down a dark chapter of history as the traumatic past comes to light once again, its painful echoes stronger than ever.
To find out what really happened on December 13th, 1943 in Kalavryta which was the day the Germans committed the largest single massacre in occupied Greece.
RESOURCE | ABOUT THE KALAVBRYTA MASSACRE
The Kalavryta massacreor the Holocaust of Kalavryta refers to the near-extermination of the male population and the total destruction of the town of Kalavryta, Greece, by the 117th Jäger Division (Wehrmacht) during World War II, on 13 December 1943.
In early December 1943, the German Army's 117th Jäger Division began a mission named Unternehmen Kalavryta (Operation Kalavryta), intending to encircle Greek Resistance guerilla fighters in the mountainous area surrounding Kalavryta. During the operation, 78 German soldiers, who had been taken prisoner by the guerrillas in October, were executed by their captors. In response, the commander of the German division, General Karl von Le Suire personally ordered the "severest measures" — the killing of the male population of Kalavryta — on 10 December 1943.
Operation Kalavryta was mounted from six cities: Patras, Aigion, and Corinth on the Gulf of Corinth and from Argos, Pyrgos and Tripolis in central Peloponnese.
All "Battle-Groups" were aimed at Kalavryta, although the divisions from Pyrgos, Argos, and Corinth returned to their bases soon after. Wehrmacht troops burnt villages and monasteries and shot civilians on their way. The Germans reached Kalavryta on December 9. In the early morning of December 13, 1943 the Germans rounded up all residents of the town and forced them into the school building where they separated the older boys and men from the women and children.
They moved the men to a field owned by Thanasis Kappis, a school teacher, just overlooking the town. After looting the town and setting it ablaze, the Germans machine-gunned the men. 438 men and older boys were killed.
There were only 13 male survivors, saved because they were hidden under the bodies of the dead. Austrian soldiers were part of the contingent. The next call of order was to lock rounded up women and children into a primary school. After doing so the Germans set the school on fire. There was one Austrian man who disobeyed orders & opened doors to the blazing school, knowing he would sacrifice his life, for women and children to escape. He was later executed for his acts of treason, but the victims escaped. The following day the Nazi troops burned down the Agia Lavra monastery, a landmark of the Greek War of Independence.
In total, 693 (actual memorials in Kalavrita and other villages name every one) civilians were killed during the reprisals of Operation Kalavryta. Twenty-eight communities—towns, villages, monasteries and settlements—were destroyed. In Kalavryta itself about 1,000 houses were looted and burned, and more than 2,000 livestock seized by the Germans.
Today the Place of Sacrifice is kept as a memorial site, and the events are commemorated every December. On 18 April 2000, then-President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau, visited Kalavryta and expressed shame and sorrow for the tragedy.