Seventy years since Mayday Kaisariani executions

Seventy years since Kaisariani executions

Communist Party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas went today and paid homage at the rifle range of Kaisariani, where seventy years ago Nazi occupiers executed 200 Greek prisoners

Euthimis Tsiliopoulos
ΓΡΑΦΕΙ: EUTHIMIS TSILIOPOULOS

Before attending the rallies for Mayday held in downtown Athens, Communist Party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas went and paid homage at the rifle range of Kaisariani, where seventy years ago Nazi occupiers executed 200 Greek prisoners in reprisals for the killing of a German general.

The town of Kaisariani was founded in 1922 as a refugee camp for refugees driven from Asia Minor, most of whom came from Smyrna. Formerly part of the city of Athens, Kaisariani was established as a municipality in 1933.

A dark part of the modern history of Greece was written at the Kaisariani rifle range. There, on 1 May 1944, 200 Greek political activists were executed by the Nazi occupiers as a revenge for the death of German general Franz Krech, who had been killed in a guerrilla ambush near Molaoi a few days before.

Seventy years since Mayday Kaisariani executions
Woodcut by Tassos depicting the execution

On the 30th of April 1944, there was a rumor at the prison camp at Chaidari, on the other side of the Attica basin, that the S.S. intended to execute two hundred prisoners as counter-measure to the killing of a German general and three officers near Sparti by “communist bandits”.

Seventy years since Mayday Kaisariani executions - εικόνα 2
The modern monument


The commander called some of the persons in charge of working groups, all prisoners from Akronauplia since the days of the Metaxas regime. Fischer asked them to point out which prisoners were not from the time of Metaxas and could be replaced by others, since these prisoners were to be transferred to another camp. He also ordered the prisoners from Chalkida to pack up their personal belongings and present themselves behind the cooking area the following morning, in order to be transferred to a different camp. Given the execution rumor, all ordered believed that they were going to be executed. The Akronaupliotes said goodbye to all the people they could. Then they gathered in Room 1 of Block 3 and started a goodbye party with music from two guitars and a violin.
The following morning and before the morning gathering, they got the Chalkideans on two tracks and took them away from the camp. After breakfast, Fischer read out a list of two hundred prisoners that were going to be executed in reprisal for the killing of the German general. This list included all but sixteen Akronaupliotes, the people from Anaphi and some prisoners of the Germans. They gathered in front of the cooking area and before getting on the vehicles they started singing the national anthem, the song of Akronauplia and the Zalonggo in front of the astonished Nazis that did not dare to react. Z. Zografos was there, saw and described the scene. The oldest went first.
Makedos, a tobacco worker from Kavala went up front. The youngest followed. Manasis (Papadopoulos) led them. They started singing and the rest of the prisoners started crying. When the vehicles came, Anestis Lazaridis shouted “Attention!” The Germans did not dare to react to the singing of the national anthem. Then they all got on the vehicles.

Seventy years since Mayday Kaisariani executions - εικόνα 3
A German machine gun left in situ at the Kaisariani Rifle range


The two hundred from Chaidari were taken across the city to a firing range in a ravine on the side of Mount Hymettos, at Kaisariani. There they all decided that they would not undress, as victims were always required to do, but would go to their deaths fully clothed and with dignity. Families and friends gathered on the nearby hillsides and watched helplessly as the hostages were executed in batches of twenty

Their corpses were transferred to the 3rd Cemetery and were buried in group tombs.

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