Survivors and descendants of the victims of the Nazi massacre in Kalavryta are furious because of the film “Eyewitness – Kalavryta 1943” because of the scene in which allegedly “a good Nazi rescues children.”
The Association of Survivors and Victims is threatening to sue the film’s producers, including the state broadcaster ERT.
Although the film itself had yet to be released, the 5-second scene in the trailer was enough to spark people’s outrage.
Official English Trailer: Controversial scene at 1:50. A German soldier knocks down the lock on the door and lets people out of the burning house.
Local authorities and descendants of the victims of the massacre accuse the filmmakers of “falsifying historical events and reviving myths that serve the interests of others,” according to the local newspaper Peloponnese. The Kalavrita Holocaust Victims Association announced through P publication that it would file a lawsuit against the filmmakers.
Controversial scene: “a kind Austrian Nazi who, on his own initiative and disobeying orders, opened the door of a burning elementary school to save women and children.”
“This is a provocative myth that was refuted by all the eyewitnesses – those who were in this school, and officially by the Kalavrita city council, – said the president of the Kalavrita Holocaust Victims Association and former deputy mayor of the city, Harilaos Ermeidis.
In an interview with the newspaper “PeloponneseErmeidis said that he personally and other local residents pointed this out to filmmakers who visited the area 2.5 years ago that this is just an unconfirmed myth. He claimed that the filmmakers promised not to include him in the film, “however, they did, and the reasons for this are unknown.”
Ermeidis also said that then they sent the filmmakers an official document warning them that the Association would sue them “if the film somehow does not respect the memory of the victims and their descendants.”
“Kalavryta 1943” is a fictional drama in a Greek production in which Swedish actor Max von Sydow plays the old man and the victim of the massacre of Nicholas Andreu, who survived the terrible atrocities of the Nazis in Kalavryta as a child.
In November 1943, the German 117th Jaeger Division, consisting mainly of Austrians and Germans from Alsace, Romania and the Sudetenland, launched Operation Kalavryta to encircle the partisans around the city. During the operation, many German soldiers were killed, 78 of them were taken prisoner. According to the German command, all the prisoners were shot on the spot.
The German command decided to respond with brutal and massive repression. The executions began in the coastal zone and then, going deeper into the mountains on the way to Kalavrita, the Germans shot 143 people and burned a thousand houses in 50 villages.
Entering Kalavrita on December 13, 1943, the Germans locked up all women and children in school, and gathered the entire male population over 13 on a hill above the city. After the plundering of the city and its arson, mass executions took place.
According to various sources, out of 488 hostages, only 13 people were saved, because they were hidden under the bodies of the dead. Then the Germans set fire to the city, but women and children managed to escape from the fire and take refuge in the mountains.
In total, in the course of these repressions, according to the Greek historian Leonidas Blaveris, 1,436 people were killed. German historian Hermann Mayer, based on Wehrmacht documents, gives a figure of 677 killed.
Referring to the source as “dubious”, Wikipedia describes the story of the “good Nazi” as follows: … He was later executed for high treason, but the victims fled. “
In total, during this operation, 28 communities were destroyed – cities, villages, monasteries and settlements. In Kalavrita itself, about 1000 houses were looted and burned, more than 2000 head of cattle were captured by the Germans.
The premiere of the film in cinemas in Greece is scheduled for 11 November.