Survivors and descendants of victims of the Massacre of Kalavryta by the Nazis are furious about the film “Eyewitness – Kalavryta 1943” over a scene showing a supposedly “good Nazi rescuing children.” The Association of Survivors and Victims threaten to sue the film producers with state broadcaster ERT being one of them.
Even though the film is not in the movies yet, a 5-second scene on the trailer was enough to trigger an outrage.
Official trailer in English: Controversial scene at 1:50
Local bodies and descendants of the Massacre victims accuse the filmmakers of “falsifying historical events and reviving myths that serve other people’s interests,” local newspaper “Peloponnese” reports.
The Association of Victims of the Kalavrita Holocaust announced through “P” that it will file a lawsuit against the filmmakers.
The controversial scene a “supposedly good Austrian Nazi who on his own initiative and disobeying orders opened the door of the burned down primary school to save women and children.”
“This is a provocative myth that has been refuted by all eyewitnesses – those trapped in the school – and officially by the city council of Kalavryta, said the President of the Association of the Victims of Kalavryta Holocaust and former deputy major of the city Harilaos Ermeidis.
Speaking to newspaper “Peloponnese” Ermeidis said he personally and other local residents had pointed this out to filmmakers who had visited the area 2.5 years ago that it was only an unfounded myth.
He claimed that filmmakers had promised to not include it in the film, “however, they did and the reasons are unknown.”
Ermeidis said further that back then they had sent an official document to the filmmakers warning them that the Association would sue them “if the film would not respect the memory of the victims and their descendants in any way.”
“Kalavryta 1943” is a fictional drama, a Greek production starring Swedish actor Max von Sydow playing old man and massacre victim Nicholas Andreou, who survived the horrible Nazi atrocities in Kalavryta as a child.
The Holocaust of Kalavryta or the Kalavryta Massacre refers to the near-extermination of the male population and the total destruction of the town of Kalavryta in Peloponnese by the 117th Jäger Division (Wehrmacht) during World War II, on 13 December 1943.
Germans machine-gunned and killed 438 men and older boys for reprisal to Greek resistance.
Only 13 male survived 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.
Citing a source as ‘dubious” wikipedia refers to the “good Nazi” writing: “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.”
In total, 693 (actual memorials in Kalavryta 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.
Film premiere in Greek movie-theaters i scheduled on November 11.