Damian Mac Con Uladh

Liberation of Corinth, October 1944

In Corinth, Greek history on 10 October 2016 at 12:15 am

Today (9 October) I attended an historical walking tour of Athens, excellently guided by Menelaos Haralabidis, of sites and buildings in central Athens connected to the wartime occupation of the Greek capital from 1941 to 1944 and the resistance of the Greeks against the German, Italian and Bulgarian occupiers and their Greek collaborators.

Athens was liberated on 12 October 1944, an event that is only now being marked, largely due to  the efforts of Haralabidis and other historians. 2015 saw the first official commemoration of the city’s liberation.


Women wave from the offices of the National Liberation Front (EAM) in Corinth during the city’s liberation in October 1944 (Screengrab: British Pathé)

I was aware that a few days earlier in October 1944, the Germans evacuated my adopted city of Corinth. The wonders of Google led me to a fascinating report in the Sydney Morning Herald of 16 October 1944, filed by Terry Southwell-Keely, the paper’s war correspondent in Greece. I’m posting it here in full below as, whatever the average Athenian remembers about the liberation of their city in 1944, the average Corinthian knows even less about the liberation of theirs.

Accounts differ as to when Corinth was liberated: some say 7 October 1944 but Southwell-Keely suggests it was three days later.

His report describes the destruction and privation the Germans left in their wake and the euphoria of the population that they were finally rid of the Nazis. Here’s his report:

Mariam’s story: one Syrian girl’s journey to Europe

In Greece on 5 May 2015 at 6:31 pm
Mariam in Athens, December 2014

Mariam in Athens, December 2014

I met and befriended Mariam (who was then 9 years old) and her father, Mohammed (40), on Syntagma Square, Athens, in November 2014 during the weeks-long protest by Syrian refugees for better treatment from Greece and the European Union. They had left Damascus two years before after their home was destroyed in a bombing, in which Mariam’s mother lost her life. After a two year odyssey that took them through Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and just over the border into Bulgaria, they made their first attempt to cross from the Turkish coast to a Greek island, nearly drowning on the way. Later, they were beaten by the cold trying to walk through forests at night in the Republic of Macedonia. Mariam, who insists on her rights as a child to life, health and education, was keen that her story be recorded. The text was written by her father and translated from the Arabic by @HanaaAbusedu, Gaza, Palestine.

This is the story of Mariam, who’s now ten years’ old, who is looking for a life or, to put it simply, to avoid experiencing the same pain and suffering for the second time.

When Mariam was in the first grade at school, she was creative, pleasing and an excellent pupil, who used her academic superiority to appear older. She was best in her class at reading in English and Arabic; learning to read and write in both Arabic and English came naturally to her.

All that time, she and I (her father) were trying to overcome and pretend to forget the catastrophic events, which had started to besiege Damascus, where we lived.

She finished the first grade and moved up to the second, but the flames were approaching our area of Yarmouk in Damascus. It was as if it was raining fire on the area, and our biggest loss was when a bomb hit our house. That was a disaster that cannot be forgotten.

Nevertheless, Mariam and I were outside the house. Events began to overtake us until eventually all Yarmouk’s residents were forced to leave it after rebel forces entered it and regime aircraft started to bomb the district, sparking a mass exodus. Sometimes abbreviation is necessary, not in an attempt to exclude certain events, but to avoid painful memories.

Mainstream antisemitism

In Greece on 10 February 2015 at 11:20 am
The term

The term “Jewish origins” is highlighted in this article in Ta Nea, 9 February 2015, p. 15.

The Lagarde list is back in the news in Greece, not only because of the new government’s pledge to investigate the names it contains for possible tax evasion but because of SwissLeaks, an international corroborative project to investigate the full extent of the how HSBC in Switzerland helped clients around the world dodge taxes and hide millions

This week, media outlets associated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), including the Guardian, Le Monde and BBC Panorama, began publishing findings from their research on a trove of almost 60,000 leaked files from HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary that provide details on over 100,000 clients and their bank accounts.

The new data shows that there were at least 2,148 Greek clients with accounts at the HSBC, which is 86 more than is contained in the Lagarde list held by the authorities. A former finance minister, Yiorgos Papakonstantinou, is facing trial for removing the names of three relatives from the version of the Lagarde list originally received by the government from the French authorities.

In Greece, the ICIJ’s local partner in the SwissLeaks project is Ta Nea, one of the country’s biggest mainstream newspapers.

Ta Nea is in possession of the additional Greek names, 41 of which it says have deposits of over €1m euros.

For reasons only known to itself, Ta Nea has decided to specify the religious background of one family and one individual among these large depositors.

The piece refers to a “well-known family of Jewish origin, whose members were born in Athens, Thessaloniki and Tel Aviv” as well as to a “rentier of Jewish origin who was born in Thessaloniki”.

It’s important to point out that the religious affiliation of the other account holders on the list is not provided. So, readers are not informed if the “businessman involved in shipping and born in Chios” or “three brothers born in Greece” are Orthodox, Catholics or atheists. Not that this information would be of any relevance.