Annual Review 2020 of RfG Campaign

2020 Annual Review of the RfG Campaign on War Guilt and Obligations

Hilde Schramm

Annual balance 2020 of the RfG campaign „German war guilt and obligations towards Greece“.
Reports about

I Public relations and educational work in Germany with the film The Balcony-Memories of Occupation
II Support of four projects in Greece, in Lyngiades, Kamares, Pente Ekklisies and Kommeno
III Grant to three projects in Greece
IV Funding.

I. Work with „The Balcony – Memories of Occupation“
The Extermination of the Village of Lyngiades on 3.10.1943. A film by Chrysanthos Konstantinidis, Greece 2018, 101 min.

I.1 Public relations

Screenings of the film in: Berlin (3x), Dresden, Halle (Saale), Cologne-Deutz, Mainz, Saarbrücken, Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern, Bielefeld, Cuxhaven, Oldenburg. With different cooperation partners on site. A representative of RfG was always involved in the subsequent discussion, usually together with Christoph Schminck-Gustavus, on whose research the film is largely based. Further screenings were planned, but could not take place because of Corona.

Financing: The costs of the events were covered predominantly by the local cooperation partners.

Visitor donations: Participanrs at events featuring the film The Balcony were asked to contribute to the establishment of a museum in Lyngiades by making a donation. Visitor donations amounted to (rounded) 3,000 Euros.

I.2 Educational work

In order to facilitate educational work with The Balcony in schools, in youth institutions and adult education, the director shortened the film from 101 minutes to 43 minutes. A subgroup of Respect for Greece produced back-up material as an offer to teachers and learners.

The evaluation of the film and back-up material (in a preliminary version) began in the fall of 2020 and will continue until the end of 2021. Next February, we plan to present a report, which, however, will only be based on feedback from about 15 school classes due to the restrictions of schools and the additional workload for teachers during Corona. One Federal State of Germany, Rheinland Pfalz, has already acquired the licenses for the distribution the film and the additional material through media centers and the local Agency for Civic Education. Corresponding agreements with other Federal States of Germany are being prepared

Expenses for 1.1 and 1.2: Since all work was done on a voluntary basis, expenses were low. The costs incurred for public relations and travel subsidies are included under Rncidental costs (see IV).

II Support for projects in rural areas, primarily in „victim communities“

Lyngiades: RfG’s commitment to financially support the establishment of a cultural center/museum in Lyngiades dates back to October 2019. It could be realized only slowly due to various reasons – despite of good cooperation with the Cultural Association of Lyngiadas and the support from the mayor of the Municipality of Ioannina, in which the village of Lyngiades is incorporated. In the meantime, an agreement on the procedure has been reached. As a first step of support, RfG has purchased the technical equipment for the screening of films in Ioannina. The necessary objects had been selected by an expert, the director of the film The Balcony. In the meantime, the technical equipment has been gladly accepted by all persons and agencies involved as a donation in kind „for use in the Cultural Center / Museum in Lygiades only“

On October 3, 1943, German troops had committed a massacre of eighty-three villagers, mostly children, women and old men, and had destroyed almost all houses of Lyngiades.

Kamares: In 2020, the equipment of the Communal Medical Center in Kamares (Northern Peleponnese) could be significantly improved. It provides medical care to 12 villages from the water to the mountains. Several new or used medical devices, including a sonography machine, as well as various medical aids now facilitate patient care. The energy and sanitary renovation of the practice rooms has been completed. „For the first time in many years, we are no longer freezing in the doctor’s office “ (from an email from the senior physician dated Dec. 24, 2020). The local association in formation „Friends of Kamares Municipal Medical Center“ is submitted for official registration. In 2021, a photovoltaic system will be installed on the roof of a local school. The sale of the energy produced will benefit the patients of the Center in social and medical terms for years to come. It is already apparent that RfG’s support will have a lasting effect beyond the medical equipment. In the meantime, teachers and the head of the school are interested in a cooperation project with RfG on green energy production and climate protection.

The whole region between Kalavrita and Patras suffered from war crimes committed by the German occupation.

Pente Ekklisies: The small village in Epirus is located west of Ioannina with scenic and historical attractions. Although the number of permanent residents there has continued to decline in recent years, we encountered energetic and open minded villagers. At their request, RfG 2020 gave a grant to the local Cultural Association to transform the vacant school into a multi-purpose building for hiking tourists but also for meetings and workshops.

On August 23, 1944, German soldiers had shot or burned fifteen villagers.

Kommeno: From loose contacts since 2016, a project idea emerged in 2020, which was well accepted by the local Cultural Association, the offical representative of village and other citizens. The project idea consists in a decentralized design of commemoration with steles and other markers, connected by an „audio walk“. Further information is given by an open air exhibition, right next to a renovated, but empty, small reception building, which was originally intended as a museum. The first planning steps on site were firmly agreed upon, but had to be postponed because of Corona.

On August 16, 1943, troops of the German Wehrmacht had destroyed the entire village and murdered three hundred and seventeen civilians.

III Further support

Grant to a book project on victim communities in Epirus. Case studies of selected places will illustrate the range of destruction and war crimes during the German occupation, as well as developments thereafter. The book in Greek will be published in 2021 by the publishing house Isnafi of Panos Vadaloukas in Ioannina. A partial translation into German is planned.

Grant for the film production of „The Students of Umberto Primo“. The feature film starts with the daily school life in 1943 of nine Jewish students of the Italian school in Thessaloniki and tells about their fates after the German occupation. Some of the young people managed to escape, others were murdered in Auschwitz. The film is based on research into the biographies as well as documents recently found in Thessaloniki.

Grant to translate Aris Radiopoulos‘ book on Greece’s reparations claims against Germany, published in Athens 2019. In addition to a factual report, the book contains numerous previously unpublished documents from the archives of the Greek Foreign Ministry.

IV Funding

Funding for the projects listed under I, II and III was made possible exclusively by private individuals. We thank the donors.

  • Transferred funding to the projects in 2020 (rounded) 24.000 Euro

  • RfG- Incidental costs for I, II and III for printing, film copies, translations, travel grants, office supplies, etc. (rounded): 1,500 Euro

  • RfG- Account balance 12/31/2020: (rounded) 29,500 Euro

  • Earmarked reserves for the continuation of the sponsored projects in 2021 (rounded) 25,000 Euro

  • Additional donations required in 2021 (rounded) 20,000 Euros

The above projects are based on the voluntary work of numerous activists of Respect for Greece.