Πέμπτη, 1 Μαΐου 2014

The Execution

"1st of May. Goodbye. We are all going into battle" 
was written in the small note of Kostis Tsirkas (Κωστής Τσίρκας), one of the executed of that day...  

V. Semertzidis, 1st of May 1944
It was early in the morning, Monday, 1st of May 1944. Ten tracks full of prisoners started their deadly route from the German prisoners camp in Chaidari to the execution place, the heroic neighborhood of Athens, Kaisariani. 200 prisoners, 200 communists, 200 heroes. All of them were imprisoned or exiled since the years of Ioannis Metaxas' dictatorship (1936-1940). The Greek fascists delivered them directly to their fellow German companions when they took over the administration of Greece in May of 1941. 

They were the price that Greek resistance movement had to pay. Three days earlier, on 27.4.1944, guerrillas of ΕΛΑΣ (ELAS, Greek People's Liberation Army) had killed in an ambush near the village of Molai in Laconia a German general and three German officers among others. 

On their way to the firing squad none of them yielded, none of them showed fear. In their last notes you could see only the need to say one last goodbye, to ask for revenge...



"I never forgot you. For you and for the Greek people i gave my life. Today, 1st of May 1944, i kiss you for one last time" writes one of the prisoners who signs only with the letter A

"It's better for a man to die fighting for freedom than live as a slave" Nikos Mariakakis (Νίκος Μαριακάκης)

"My beloved ones, my death should not make you sad, but it has to "steel"/strength you more in this fight you are engaged in. "Tight" your hearts and come out stronger from this new trial. That's the best way to honor us. When man gives his life for higher ideals he never dies. With lots of love. I kiss you, Dimitris Rempoutsikas" (Μήτσος Ρεμπούτσικας)

The place of execution, Kaisariani May 2005
"Dear father, i am going to be executed. Be proud for your one and only son. To love and adore your little daughter, my sister, both of them great people. Goodbye, goodbye father" 

That was the last goodbye of the hero Napoleon Soukatzidis (Ναπολέων Σουκατζίδης), member of the KKE (Communist party of Greece), prisoner in Akronauplia before the war. He was a very noble and educated person and highly appreciated among the others prisoners. Because he knew the German language, Nazis were using him as an interpreter.
Napoleon was the number 71 out of the 200. The German officer who was in charge of the camp, while reading the list of the ones who were about to be executed, offered him his life. "Napoleon no, not you". "I accept only if no one else replaces me" Soukatzidis replied. Germans denied so he consciously took his place in front of the firing squad among his comrades. Free.

The place of execution, Kaisariani May 2005
The 200 are Immortals. They were executed but they didn't die. Til our days, 70 years after, we hear them saying:

"Here is where we fall. Children of the People. You know why. Naked, covering our flesh only with flags, Hellas sewed them out of sky and white Cabot. You heard the broadsides in the secret-lighted dawns  of Attica. You saw the birds flying against the bullets, touching the rising sun with their wings. You saw the windows of the neighborhood being wide open to the future. We, didn't ask a share... Nothing... Only remember this: If freedom dοn't follow the footprints of our blood, here they will kill us every day. Goodbye."

1st of May 1944. Engraving, of A. Tassos
Εδώ πέσαμε. Παιδιά του λαού. Γνωρίζετε γιατί. 
Γυμνοί, κατάσαρκα φορώντας τις σημαίες, η Ελλάδα τις έρραψε με ουρανό και άσπρο κάμποτο. Ακούσατε τις ομοβροντίες στα μυστικόφωτα αττικά χαράματα. 
Είδατε τα πουλιά, που πέταξαν αντίθετα στις σφαίρες αγγίζοντας με τα φτερά τους, τον ανατέλλοντα πυρφόρον. Είδατε τα παράθυρα της γειτονιάς ν’ανοίγουνε στο μέλλον. 
Εμείς, μερτικό δε ζητήσαμε...Τίποτα...
Μόνον θυμηθείτε το: Αν η ελευθερία δεν βαδίσει στα χνάρια του αίματός μας, 
εδώ θα μας σκοτώνουν κάθε μέρα. Γεια σας. 

Γιάννης Ρίτσος "Σκοπευτήριο Καισαριανής"

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