Greek Heiress Sues After Chalet’s Picassos, Monets Vanish

A Greek heiress is fighting a legal battle in Switzerland to find out what has become of a collection of PicassoVan Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Cezanne and Degas art that she says should be part of her inheritance.

Aspasia Zaimis’s uncle, Basil Goulandris, was a billionaire shipping magnate who spent the winter months in the Alpine resort of Gstaad with his wife Elise. The Greek couple amassed a billion-dollar collection that they displayed in their chalet.

'Still Life: Coffee Pot'

“Still Life: Coffee Pot” by Vincent Van Gogh. It is among the paintings that belonged to Basil and Elise Goulandris and was exhibited in 1999 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Andros. Source: Wikipaintings via Bloomberg

 Basil and Elise Goulandris

Basil Goulandris, a Greek shipping billionaire, and his wife Elise Goulandris, who with her husband built up an art collection including works by Van Gogh and Monet. One of Elise Goulandris’s nieces is trying to track down the collection, saying that she believes she should have inherited a part of it. Source: Aspasia Zaimis via Bloomberg

The chalet belonging to Elise Goulandris, where she hung the paintings until her death in 2000. A Swiss court is examining the claim of her niece for a share of the inheritance. Source: Aspasia Zaimis via Bloomberg

Elise Goulandris Chalet

The chalet belonging to Elise Goulandris. A Swiss court is examining the claim of her niece for a share of the inheritance. Source: Aspasia Zaimis via Bloomberg

Aspasia Zaimis

Aspasia Zaimis stands in front of the Vincent Van Gogh painting “Olive Picking” in her aunt Elise Goulandris’s chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. The photograph was taken in the late 1980s. Source: Aspasia Zaimis via Bloomberg

Basil Goulandris died in 1994; his wife Elise in 2000. Zaimis, a legatee in Elise Goulandris’s will, contends that one- sixth of the collection should be hers after her aunt’s death.

“I am determined to find the paintings which were in the Gstaad home before my aunt’s death,” Zaimis said by phone from Greece. “I believe with all my heart that the paintings were part of my inheritance.”

Her quest has uncovered a paper trail leading from the Aegean island of Andros to Swiss depots; from a Panama trading company to a Liechtenstein foundation, according to two people familiar with the lawsuit who declined to be identified by name.

The case now winding through a Lausanne court is examining whether a sale contract dated 1985 for 83 masterpieces — at a price far below their value — is genuine, the people said.

“I do not believe that Basil sold his collection,” Zaimis said. “They were so proud of it. I cannot imagine he would have sold it for this price.”

Documents Claim

Swiss prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the Elise Goulandris Foundation — Elise’s main heir — and the executor of her will, the art historian and curator Kyriakos Koutsomallis, on suspicion of falsifying titles of ownership, passing on false documents and duplicity in executing the will, the people said. They declined to be identified by name because of privacy restrictions in Swiss lawsuits.

“The proceedings in Switzerland are still in their initial stages,” Zaimis’s lawyer, Ron Soffer of Cabinet Soffer in Paris, said in a telephone interview.

When Elise Goulandris left Gstaad for the summer, the paintings were packed up and stored in a depot, according to the two people familiar with the case. Zaimis said she hasn’t seen them since Elise’s death.

A beauty who had counted the former French President Valery Giscard D’Estaing among her friends, Elise died while summering on the Aegean in her yacht. She had written her will in Greek and in code, according to the two people.

Art Museum

The Elise Goulandris Foundation, the chief beneficiary of her will, plans to finance the construction of a contemporary art museum in Athens, according to Koutsomallis’s lawyer, Jean- Christophe Diserens of Etude Villa Olivier in Lausanne. Goulandris also named six legatees including Zaimis, Diserens wrote in a response to e-mailed questions.

Diserens denied any wrongdoing by his client.

“The manner in which Mr. Koutsomallis fulfilled his mission as executor of the will has been approved by the heirs and Mrs. Zaimis’s co-legatees,” Diserens wrote.

The critical sentence in Elise’s will is that all her personal property that is not antique and fit for a museum should go to her nieces and nephews, said the two people, who have seen the will. Zaimis says the paintings aren’t antiques and should be part of her inheritance.

Panama Connection

After she filed suit, Diserens produced a contract dated 1985 showing that Basil Goulandris sold 83 masterpieces to a Panamanian company called Wilton Trading SA for $31.7 million, the people said. The company belonged to Goulandris’s sister-in- law Maria Goulandris, according to testimony given by her son Peter John Goulandris, the two people familiar with the court case said. Maria Goulandris died in 2005.

Yet a report commissioned by the Lausanne prosecutor found that the contract was printed on a type of paper that didn’t exist before 1988, according to the two people, who have seen the report. Zaimis also said she doubts that Basil Goulandris, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, would have been capable of signing the contract after 1988.

“He couldn’t lift plates and glasses,” she said.

The Lausanne prosecutor handling the case, Nicolas Cruchet, declined to be interviewed for this article. Diserens said he wouldn’t comment on the disputed contract, as he didn’t wish “to put into the public arena an inheritance conflict which should only be of interest to the judges.”

Shipping Fortune

Basil Goulandris took over the family-owned Orion Shipping & Trading Company in 1950, according to the website of the foundation established by the couple. He was honorary chairman of the Association of Greek Ship Owners and a member of the board of directors of the American Bureau of Shipping, the website says.

In 1992, Fortune magazine estimated his wealth at $1.5 billion. In 1995, the year after his death, Forbes estimated the family’s fortune at around $1.6 billion.

The art historian Nicholas Fox Weber remembers visiting the Goulandris’s Gstaad home in 1991 to research his biography of the French painter Balthus, a friend of the couple. Goulandris was weakened by illness and deteriorating physically and mentally, Fox Weber said.

“Elise Goulandris was very beautiful, very warm and welcoming and likeable” when he arrived at the chalet, Fox Weber said by telephone from San Francisco.

“Then I saw this Cezanne painting from 1906 of his gardener, and I was knocked off my feet,” he said. “Every painting they had was of that caliber. They weren’t just works by famous artists, they were the very quintessence of those artists.”

Chagall, Manet

Among the artworks in the list of 83 attached to the disputed sales contract are 11 by Picasso, three by Braque, five Cezanne paintings, three by Marc Chagall, two by Degas, two Gauguins, two Max Ernsts, two Manets, two Miros, two Monets, three Renoirs, two Jackson Pollock oils, a Matisse, a Klee and a Kandinsky, two people familiar with the document said.

An evaluation of a third of the works by Armand Bartos, Jr. Fine Art Inc., put their worth at $781.4 million. That evaluation includes a Van Gogh painting of olive pickers which Bartos said could alone be worth $120 million, and a Cezanne self-portrait that he valued at $60 million.

Peter John Goulandris, the son of Basil Goulandris’s brother, told the court his uncle wanted to raise money to pay debts and was therefore happy to agree to the $31.7 million price for the entire collection, two people familiar with the suit said.

Sale Terms

The paintings continued to hang in the Gstaad chalet until Elise’s death, Zaimis said. Peter John Goulandris told the Lausanne court that under the terms of the sale, his mother Maria Goulandris allowed her brother-in-law to borrow paintings for the chalet, the people said.

Yet Zaimis said that right until her death, Elise Goulandris treated the paintings as her own.

“Everything was in Switzerland, in Gstaad, but not all of it was on show,” Zaimis said. “She used to change the display from one year to the next and she had some of the paintings in France. She considered the collection as hers, and made a point of telling everyone it was hers.”

Asked whether there was any suggestion that the paintings he saw in the Gstaad chalet in 1991 were on loan to the Goulandris couple, Fox Weber, who said he gave testimony in the Lausanne court in 2010, replied “absolutely not.”

Sold Monet

Long after the date of the sales contract, Basil Goulandris continued to dispose of the artworks on the list as though they were his own, the people familiar with the lawsuit said. Included among the 83 works are two Claude Monet oils-on-canvas of Rouen cathedral.

Goulandris sold one to Galerie Beyeler AG in 1990, the people said. Claudia Neugebauer, a spokeswoman for the Basel gallery, confirmed that Goulandris sold a Monet in 1990 and that Beyeler in turn sold it to Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo that year. She declined to reveal the price, saying the gallery archive “does not indicate further information.”

Goulandris also loaned the paintings for exhibitions. The Villa Medicis in Rome confirmed in a 2009 letter that he lent a painting by Balthus for an exhibition there in 1990, according to the two people, who said they had seen the documents.

In 1993, the Museum of Modern Art in New York borrowed a Miro painting, “Paysage (La Sauterelle)” for an exhibition. Though the painting is on the list of works sold to Wilton Trading in 1985, insurance documents give the name of the assured party as Basil Goulandris, the people said.

Bonnard at Auction

Since Elise Goulandris’s death, some of the paintings have been sold, the people said. An oil byPierre Bonnard, “Jeune fille s’essuyant” (Young Girl Drying Herself) was offered at Sotheby’sImpressionist and Modern Art auction in London in 2005.

In the provenance section, the catalog named Basil P. Goulandris as a previous owner and said the work came from a private European collection. That description would apply neither to Panama-based Wilton Trading, nor to Maria Goulandris, who lived in New York.

Peter John Goulandris told the court that in mid-1992, his mother Maria donated part of the collection to a foundation registered in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, called Fondation Sirina, the two people said. The foundation’s purpose is described in its statute as “promoting art in Greece and financing charitable organizations in Greece,” the people said. Goulandris said his mother also gave some works to him and his sister, they said.

Andros Exhibition

In 1999, the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation held an exhibition of 29 of the artworks on the list at their Museum of Contemporary Art on Andros. Elise Goulandris wrote a foreword for the catalog, “Classics of Modern Art,” which makes no mention of lenders, though she does thank those who contributed texts for the catalog and her colleagues.

Peter John Goulandris directed an e-mail enquiry to his lawyer, Dennis Glazer of Davis Polk in New York. Glazer declined to answer questions about the 1985 sale contract. He said he considers Zaimis’s claims to be “baseless.”

“Elise’s other nieces and nephews have not joined in Mrs. Zaimis’s actions, considering her claims to be invalid,” Glazer wrote in an e-mail. Elise Goulandris’s “widely known wishes” were for some artworks to be displayed in a museum to be constructed in Athens, Glazer wrote.

“Property has been acquired for this museum and advanced plans and preparations are under way for its construction,” he wrote. “The paintings in question were part of a private sales transaction agreed between Mr. Basil Goulandris and Wilton Trading S.A. almost ten years prior to his death.”

Family Opposition

Zaimis and her sister, Evanthea Veroutis-Anastasadi, together inherited a third of Elise Goulandris’s private estate, the people familiar with the will said. Co-legatees are Fleurette Karadontis, another niece of Elise, who inherited one- third. The three Canada-based children of Elise Goulandris’s brother, Robert and Edward Karadontis and Elise Karadontis Oliveira, together account for the last third.

Jacques Haldy, a Lausanne lawyer, wrote in an e-mail that he represents all the legatees aside from Zaimis. His clients, he said, oppose Zaimis’s legal endeavors. “They condemn them strongly and consider them completely unjustified,” he wrote.

Zaimis’s legal action is being partly financed by a New York art dealer, Ezra Chowaiki, who described himself as a friend and said that in return for his aid he has “a right of first refusal to purchase paintings that she might obtain.”

The case has “stripped her of all her resources,” Chowaiki said by e-mail. His gallery, Chowaiki & Co., specializes in Impressionist and modern art.

“Aspa is fighting against very wealthy adversaries,” he said. “I am not surprised that her adversaries are upset about the fact that they were not able to incapacitate her.”

Zaimis said she can’t understand why her sister and cousins are not joining her quest.

“It’s a big mystery,” said Zaimis. “Nothing makes any sense.”

Muse highlights include: Martin Gayford on London exhibitions, Jorg von Uthmann on Paris culture and Guy Collins on wine.

To contact the reporter on the story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff

Greek Cypriots choose their president

Source: NICOSIA – Agence France-Presse

Right-wing opposition leader and presidential candidate Nicos Anastasiades. AP photo

Right-wing opposition leader and presidential candidate Nicos Anastasiades. AP photo

Greek Cypriots went to the polls Feb. 17 to choose a new president after a heated election campaign focused on rescuing the recession-hit E.U. member state from bankruptcy.

Nicos Anastasiades, 66, of the rightwing main opposition Disy party, is tipped to win the first round in which 550,000 Cypriots are eligible to vote, perhaps managing to cross the 50-percent threshold that would avoid a run-off a week later.

Asked after voting in the southern town of Limassol what the stakes were in the election, Anastasiades said it was about “survival of the country and nothing else.”

His closest challenger for is former health minister Stavros Malas, 45, an independent backed by the currently ruling communist AKEL party. “This is a day for the most important chapter in the history of the Cypriot people to be written,” Malas said after voting in the capital.

Jim Gianopulos, Alexander Payne at the Leadership 100 Conference

Dana Point, Ca.- Photos.- Dimitrios Panagos

The 22nd Annual Leadership 100 Conference with more than 300 attendees culminated in a celebratory Grand Gala on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California. Featured speakers included Jim Gianopulos, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Twentieth Century Fox Film, who presented a memorable audio-visual show on “Hollywood and Hellenism”; Fr. John Bakas, renowned Dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles; Alexander Payne, the Academy Award winning film director, screenwriter and producer, who was introduced by his former pastor in Omaha, Nebraska, Very Rev. Fr. Eugene N. Pappas, now of Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn, New York; and Nia Vardalos, the Academy Award nominated screenwriter, actress and director. In addition, two prominent Leadership 100 members also spoke, Michael S. Johnson, the pioneering petroleum geologist and a member of the Board of Trustees, and Mary J. Mitchell, the fashion illustrator and author of Drawn to Fashion.

Archbishop Demetrios and Charles H. Cotros, joined by Fr. Eugene Pappas, far left, present Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence to Alexander Payne, second from right; Charles H. Cotros and Archbishop Demetrios present Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100.

Archbishop Demetrios and Charles H. Cotros, joined by Fr. Eugene Pappas, far left, present Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence to Alexander Payne, second from right; Charles H. Cotros and Archbishop Demetrios present Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100.

The program, which also included the traditional Bible Study and Lecture by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, was highlighted with the presentations by His Eminence and Charles H. Cotros of the distinguished Archbishop Leadership 100 Award for Excellence to Gianopulos, Payne, Vardalos and Johnson and Mitchell.

Cotros said: “The roster of such distinguished and accomplished speakers made this Leadership 100 Conference exceptional and memorable.”

The host was His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, who was joined by Metropolitans Iakovos of Chicago, Methodios of Boston, Nicholas of Detroit, and Savas of Pittsburgh.

Entertainment featured musical performance by the sisters, Lexy and Stephany Prodomos, vocalist Georgia Veru, and Dean Vali & Keffe.

Conferees participated in a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy and Memorial Service for Leadership 100 Members celebrated by Archbishop Demetrios, the Very Rev. Apostolos Koufallakis, Chancellor of the Metropolis of San Francisco, and Fr. Bakas, on Sunday, February 10 at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles.


The unanimous approval of new grants by the Executive Committee meeting Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at the 22nd Annual Leadership 100 Conference brought the total of grants allocated by Leadership since its founding in 1984, to a record $35 million, while membership reached 902, according to Charles H. Cotros, Chairman of Leadership 100.

Cotros also reported an increase of 41 new members in 2013, reaching the historic total membership of 902 toward the ultimate goal of 1,000 members by our 30th Anniversary of the nation’s major Greek Orthodox charitable membership organization in 2014. Included in the new membership total, fulfilled memberships reached 501 and Leadership 100 Partners and Junior Partners increased to 118.

The new grants for 2013 total $1,319,592. The total to be distributed in 2013, including the ongoing grants, is $2,376,192. Leadership 100 has ongoing grants of $1 million per year to Holy Cross/Hellenic College for scholarships to students in the Theological School preparing for the Priesthood, $50,000 per year toward our $250,000 commitment to the Office of Vocational Ministry, and $6,600 per year for our retired Clergy.

Citing growth in the Endowment Fund portfolio, which stood at $75.4 million with total assets of $88.3 million, Cotros said, “The link between our robust growth in membership and the increase in grants is demonstrated in the growth of our portfolio and assets and is evidence of the vitality of Leadership 100 and a hopeful sign of our future in perpetuating our cherished values and heritage.”

The new grants approved for 2013 included the following:

Greek Orthodox Telecommunications – $270,000 to produce 26 half hour original programs – 13 Bible lessons and 13 talk shows – so that Orthodox Christians and viewers of other faiths can undergo more rigorous religious education about the Greek Orthodox faith in the United States and around the world.

GOA Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministries – Metropolis Camping Ministries – $270,000 to be distributed at $30,000 per Metropolis/Direct Archdiocesan District to be used for registrant financial assistance as first priority, but also for programming, supplies, transportation, and youth protection training and background checks for staff members.

GOA Center for Family Care Grant – $163,500 – over two years – for Men’s Ministry Group -$27,500 over two years to create a formal group for adult male members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; for Seminarian and Clergy Couple Care- $34,000 to support seminarian couples as they prepare to enter into a life of ministry and to clergy couples as they navigate the challenges of parish life; and for Renewal of Family Ministry – $102,000 to publish and disseminate new family ministry resources, ongoing development of current family ministry programs and resources, and the creation of a Family Ministry Flagship Program, identifying one lead parish in each Metropolis to streamline the Center for Family Care’s training programs.

Strategic Plan Grant: a cooperative effort between the Holy Eparchial Synod and the Executive Board of the Archdiocesan Council, under the leadership of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios – $125,000 for 2013 with an option for the next two years pending review of first year progress report. The Strategic Plan Grant is designed to address the seven initiatives outlined by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios in his 2012 Clergy-Laity Congress address: interfaith marriages, youth, vocation, disconnected Orthodox Christians, inter-Orthodox relationships, stewardship, and the preservation of Hellenism.

GOA Department of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism – Home Mission Parish Grant  – $101,400 to help establish new Greek Orthodox parishes and to help support small Greek Orthodox parishes striving to become self-sufficient during their critical first years of existence. Assigned priests are able to offer much-needed consistency in leadership during critical stages of parish formation and renewal, increasing the likelihood of a parish becoming self-sufficient.

Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations – $180,000 ($90,000 a year for two years). The office seeks to “promote and strengthen the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America within the Orthodox Christian community of the United States and also in the Inter-Church and Interfaith arenas, the coordination of pan-Orthodox ministries, through the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and in greater American society.”

GOA National Forum of Church Musicians – Enhancing the Church Music Ministry of Our Parishes – $75,000  to develop Archdiocesan-wide liturgical musical activities and resources to enhance the music ministries of individual parishes by drawing young Orthodox Christians more deeply into the faith by teaching them the hymns of the Church and involving them in liturgical worship; implementing a program to train current and new choir directors to better understand their liturgical role; and providing parishes with correct English texts of common hymns so they are more properly sung by youth, chanters, choirs and congregations.

GOA Office of Vocation and Ministry – $61,600 ($30,800/year for two years) to expand the successful CrossRoad Summer Institute, a ten-day program for sixty (60) high-achieving Orthodox Christian high school juniors and seniors to help cultivate the next generation of clergy and lay leaders for the Greek Orthodox Church and for American society.

GOA Department of Marriage and Family – The Intermarriage Challenge: Opportunity for Outreach – $54,400 and option of $60,000 next year pending review of first year progress report to create an outreach program for intermarried couples and their families predicated on the development and formation of an outreach committee in each local parish in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

GOA Department of Family and Ministry – $50,000 to create and publish an Orthodox Wedding and Family Bible designed in the Orthodox tradition, produced for purchase in the Orthodox marketplace and geared to Orthodox married couples and their families.

International Orthodox Christian Charities – Orthodox Community Action Network – $178,941 over two years ($82,870 in 2013 and $96,071 in 2014) to expand the first phase of the formal creation of a national Orthodox Community Action Network (Orthodox CAN!) to nurture and activate the Orthodox Christian value of philanthropy by promoting Orthodox Christian volunteerism across all age groups in the United States by  responding effectively to natural and man-made disasters in the United States, effectively engaging in Orthodox social action initiatives in local communities, and preparing Orthodox Christian youth to serve.

Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) – $20,372 to provide pastoral care to hundreds of Orthodox Christian men and women in prison partly because of the lack of recognition of Orthodox Christianity as a legitimate faith in some areas but mostly because there is a shortage of priests trained in how to make visits to prisons, targeting OCPM 12 cities where there is a need for trained priests to attend to their flocks in prison.


Jason Antos’ Lecture at the Pan-Macedonian Center

Source: New York.- By Catherine Tsounis

“Whitestone became an idyllic spot for celebrities and upper class citizens,” said Jason D. Antos, author of the book  Images of America: Whitestone. “The quiet country setting by the seaside just 10 miles outside of Manhattan was the perfect combination…In the years that followed, Whitestone experienced an expanding population…Whitestone’s cultural landscape has changed since the time of the Dutch. The town consists of Irish, Greeks, Koreans and Italians. Many families have lived there for generations, since before the time of the 1939 New York World’s Fair.”

In a unique lecture on Friday evening, February 1, author Antos presented his exceptional book to an audience that filled the hall. The Pan-Macedonian Studies Center, in collaboration with the Queens Gazette newspaper, hosted the lecture on the history of Whitestone.  A reception and book signing followed.  Prominent persons from the community attended. The Pan-Macedonian Studies Center, Inc. is located at 149-14 14th Ave., Whitestone, N.Y.

Jason D. Antos represents the emerging Greek-American youth. Many of our youth has either a Greek father or mother and an American parent. They who want to remember their roots. Author Antos explained “my great grandfather came from the Peloponnese. The family name is Antonopoulos shortened to Antos. They immigrated to Corfu and later to Othoni. There are no police on Othoni near the Albanian border. I know the whole town of Corfu and love it.” He understands Modern Greek and opened his speech with the greeting “Kalispera” (Good Evening). The Whitestone resident has written four books, including: Whitestone, Images of Baseball; Shea Stadium, Queens: Then and Now and Flushing: Then and Now. He is currently the associate editor and a reporter at the Gazette.

“Today, Whitestone is a town caught in a battle between preserving its past and the creation of a new modern suburb,” he said. “The latter is currently winning. Historic places, due to fact that they are not listed as a historical or national landmark, have met their fate with the bulldozers of real estate companies that are tearing up these structures at an alarming rate. New structures are rapidly dotting the landscape: on average, three homes a month have a date with the wrecking ball, causing the Whitestone of the past to slowly slip into the darkness of obscurity. That is the reason for this book. Its publication is not only to serve as a time capsule for those who remember, but for the future generations of Whitestone and New York City who otherwise would never have known about the glorious days gone by.”

Elias Nefytides, a founder of the Pan Macedonian Studies Center and President Kostas Hatzistefanidis, expressed the sentiment that “promoting our youth is promoting our future and Hellenism in the United States.” Dr. Vasiliki Filiotis, President of the Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, said (Mr. Antos book is well written on the history of Whitestone. His knowledge of old houses, mansions and famous people is unique.”  Zoe Alikakou, from the island of Evia, congratulated Mr. Antos “for his exceptional books, making him a famous author in the United States. He is famous in our neighborhood of Whitestone for his books.”

Today’s Macedonian is dedicated to his/her homeland. Many are the descendants of the ancient Greek communities of Asia Minor and the Pontus who came to this homeland after the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe. Their industriousness and business ability has brought about the phenomenal prosperity of Macedonia.

Links: – New York Resolution

Το αποτρόπαιο πρόσωπο του φασισμού

Source: Αναδημοσίευση από την εφημερίδα «6 Μέρες»

Η Γιώτα Κωνσταντοπούλου

Η Γιώτα Κωνσταντοπούλου

Εκείνη την αποφράδα μέρα της 13ης Δεκεμβρίου 1943 ξεκίνησε από το σπίτι της έχοντας στην τσέπη της «μιας μέρας ψωμί», σύμφωνα με τη διαταγή των Γερμανών. Το πρωί έφτασε στο δημοτικό σχολείο των Καλαβρύτων μαζί με τα τέσσερα αδέλφια της και τους γονείς της. Λίγες ώρες αργότερα αντίκρισε τα άψυχα κορμιά των αδελφών της Σπήλιου και Τάκη και του πατέρα της, Κωνσταντίνου. Ήταν τότε 12 χρονών κορίτσι.

Η Γιώτα Κωνσταντοπούλου βρίσκεται ανάμεσα στους επιζήσαντες του καλαβρυτινού ολοκαυτώματος, ανάμεσα σε εκείνα τα παιδιά που οι Γερμανοί κράτησαν αιχμάλωτους μαζί με τις μητέρες τους στο δημοτικό σχολείο, όσο εκτελούσαν τους άντρες στη Ράχη του Καππή. Μέχρι σήμερα δεν κουράζεται να αγωνίζεται προκειμένου να κρατήσει ζωντανή τη μνήμη των 500 θυμάτων της εκτέλεσης των Καλαβρύτων από τη γερμανική 117η Μεραρχία Καταδρομών. Παρά τα αθεράπευτα τραύματα που σκάλισαν στην ψυχή της τα γεγονότα, κατόρθωσε να σταθεί στα πόδια της, να δημιουργήσει τη δική της οικογένεια, να προσφέρει σημαντικό έργο στην ιστορική έρευνα σχετικά με τη σφαγή των Καλαβρύτων και το Δεύτερο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο εν γένει. Χάρη στη δική της πρωτοβουλία και τις ακαταπόνητες προσπάθειες της έγινε πραγματικότητα το Δημοτικό Μουσείο Καλαβρυτινού Ολοκαυτώματος στο μαρτυρικό σχολείο της πόλης ενώ το νέο δημοτικό σχολείο που δημιουργήθηκε ονομάστηκε την περασμένη Τετάρτη, κατά την παραμονή της ιστορικής επετείου σε «Αγλαΐας Κόντη και Ελένης Χάμψα» στη μνήμη των δύο δασκάλων που περιέθαλψαν τα παιδιά μετά την καταστροφή.

Η ίδια ακολούθησε το επάγγελμα της μαίας και, σαν να ήταν γραφτό, προσέφερε τις υπηρεσίες της ώστε να γεννηθούν 500 παιδιά…  όσες και οι ψυχές που χάθηκαν στον μαρτυρικό της τόπο…
Το ολοκαύτωμα των Καλαβρύτων μπήκε πρόσφατα στο κέντρο του ενδιαφέροντος όταν η κοινή γνώμη σάστισε με το εκλογικό αποτέλεσμα για τη Χρυσή Αυγή στην περιοχή. Η προσωπική μαρτυρία της κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου στις «6 Μέρες», 69 χρόνια αργότερα, δεν αποτελεί μόνο μια συγκλονιστική παρακαταθήκη για την ιστορική μας μνήμη αλλά ένα αδιάψευστο ντοκουμέντο για το αποτρόπαιο πρόσωπο του φασισμού ανεξάρτητα από τόπο και χρόνο.


«Τα σήματα της Χρυσής Αυγής, αυτή η σβάστικα, με έχουν κάνει δυστυχισμένο άνθρωπο. Όταν έμαθα πόσοι ψήφισαν τη Χρυσή Αυγή στα Καλάβρυτα έμεινα με ανοιχτό το στόμα. Έπειτα, όμως, σκέφτηκα ότι αυτοί οι άνθρωποι που ζουν στα Καλάβρυτα δεν είναι αυτοί που πέρασαν το μαρτύριο, είναι ξένοι. Καλά-καλά ούτε οι νέοι που κατάγονται από εκεί δεν ξέρουν ότι χάθηκαν 500 άνθρωποι στη Ράχη του Καππή. Σε κάθε περίπτωση όμως το καταδικάζω. Μόνο και μόνο που ζουν σε αυτόν τον τόπο θα έπρεπε να ξέρουν…» λέει η κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου.

Επισημαίνει ακόμη ότι χρειάζεται η κατάλληλη πολιτική για να βγει προς τα έξω τι πιστεύουν αυτοί οι άνθρωποι και τι κακό μπορούν να κάνουν: «Εγώ τους φοβάμαι τους χρυσαυγίτες γιατί δεν είναι μόνο εδώ, έχουν κι απ’ έξω στηρίγματα. Θα ήθελα να τον δω το Μιχαλολιάκο και να τον ρωτήσω: «δεν υπάρχουν άλλες ιδεολογίες να βοηθήσεις την πατρίδα σου;». Θα ήθελα να τον ρωτήσω αν έχει πάει καμιά βολτίτσα μέχρι το Άουσβιτς, αν έχουν σκοτώσει τον πατέρα του και τα αδέρφια του, αν όλα αυτά τα δικαιολογεί» λέει η κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου, ενώ τονίζει ότι θεωρεί πια επικίνδυνο να βγει τώρα εκτός νόμου η Χρυσή Αυγή. Όπως λέει, αυτό θα έπρεπε να έχει γίνει εγκαίρως πριν αποκτήσει κοινοβουλευτική δύναμη, όπως γίνεται στη Γερμανία όπου δεν επιτρέπεται η συγκρότηση ναζιστικού κόμματος. Αναφερόμενη, δε, στις ρατσιστικές επιθέσεις της Χρυσής Αυγής σχολιάζει: «Λένε ότι οι μετανάστες σκοτώνουν. Όμως όποιος δεν έχει πεινάσει δεν μπορεί να καταλάβει αυτούς τους ανθρώπους. Όποιος πεινάει μπορεί και να σκοτώσει. Καλό θα ήταν να έχει φροντίσει το κράτος από πριν γι’ αυτούς τους ανθρώπους αλλά δεν μπαίνει τάξη έτσι. Η βία μόνο βία φέρνει».


Η αφήγηση της κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου ξεκινά από την Κυριακή, 12 Δεκεμβρίου 1943, την παραμονή του ολοκαυτώματος. Όπως λέει, όλη η πόλη ήταν ανάστατη. Από την Πέμπτη είχαν έρθει στα Καλάβρυτα από την Πάτρα περίπου 1.000 Γερμανοί με κάπου 250 μηχανοκίνητα, αυτοκίνητα και μοτοσικλέτες, αλλά και ζώα. Το απόγευμα της Κυριακής ο γερμανικός στρατός ανακοίνωσε ότι την επόμενη το μεσημέρι θα φύγουν. «Οι κάτοικοι είχαν αρχίσει να φοβούνται εξαιτίας των γεγονότων που είχαν προηγηθεί και λόγω της συμπεριφοράς των Γερμανών. Σε κάποιους που είχαν συναντήσει τα παιδιά τους που ήταν αντάρτες είχε διαρρεύσει από την Παρασκευή και η πληροφορία ότι οι Γερμανοί θα εκτελέσουν τους άντρες πάνω από 14 χρονών. Κάποιοι είχαν φύγει από την Πέμπτη που είχαν μπει στην πόλη οι Γερμανοί αλλά αρκετοί επέστρεψαν να δουν τις οικογένειές τους. Από το Σάββατο όμως οι Γερμανοί δεν επέτρεπαν την έξοδο από την πόλη, μόνο την είσοδο».

Αντίθετα με απόψεις που έχουν εκφραστεί ότι η σφαγή αποτέλεσε καθαρά αντίποινα από τη γερμανική πλευρά για τους 83 Γερμανούς στρατιώτες που είχαν χτυπήσει οι αντάρτες, η κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου υποστηρίζει ότι η «επιχείρηση Καλάβρυτα» ήταν ενταγμένη στο ευρύτερο στρατηγικό σχέδιο των Γερμανών να ελέγξουν την περιοχή στα νοτιοδυτικά της Πελοποννήσου καθώς, εκτός των άλλων, είχε διαδοθεί ότι αναμενόταν εκεί απόβαση του συμμαχικού στρατού. Όπως λέει η ίδια, από μέρες συγκεντρώνονταν στην περιοχή Γερμανοί από όλα τα μέρη της Πελοποννήσου.

«Την Κυριακή ακούστηκε ο επιθανάτιος ρόγχος των Καλαβρύτων, όλα έδειχναν ότι κάτι πολύ κακό θα συμβεί. Προκάλεσε αναστάτωση και ο γερμανικός στρατός με τις ενέργειες προετοιμασίας. Ακούγαμε χτυπήματα, μοτοσικλέτες, τις φωνές τους να δίνουν παραγγέλματα όλη νύχτα, βλέπαμε τους φακούς τους και όλα αυτά μας αναστάτωναν ειδικά επειδή είχαν πει ότι θα φύγουν. Μερικοί λένε σήμερα “γιατί δεν φεύγατε;” Πού να πάμε; Ήταν πολύ αργά για να γλιτώσουμε. Θυμάμαι ότι όλα τα τζάκια κάπνιζαν όλη τη νύχτα γιατί οι οικογένειες κάθονταν και συζητούσαν. Θυμάμαι που η μητέρα μου είχε φωνάξει κάποιον γείτονά μας να φτιάξουμε ένα καταφύγιο για να καλύψουμε πράγματα αξίας. Φοβόντουσαν την κλοπή και τη λεηλασία όχι ότι θα τους σφάξουν».
Με το ξημέρωμα οι Καλαβρυτινοί άκουσαν την καμπάνα κι ύστερα τη διαταγή των Γερμανών να συγκεντρωθούν όλοι στο σχολείο, αφού προηγουμένως πάρουν μαζί τους μια κουβέρτα και μιας μέρας ψωμί.

«Εκείνο που θυμάμαι ότι ένιωθα σαν παιδάκι ήταν ότι η φύση η ίδια είχε αγριέψει. Μέχρι και το νερό στα ρυάκια ήταν θολό, ένα άσπρο σεντόνι καταχνιάς είχε σκεπάσει την πόλη. Μεγαλώνοντας, είπα ότι αυτό ήταν το νεκροσέντονo των Καλαβρύτων. Τους έβγαζαν όλους από τα σπίτια μέχρι και τους κατάκοιτους, τους ηλικιωμένους, κάποιους τους μετέφεραν πάνω σε πόρτες. Αλλιώς είχαν πει ότι θα τους κάψουν μέσα στα σπίτια».
Όταν οι Καλαβρυτινοί έφταναν στο σχολείο οι Γερμανοί στρατιώτες χώριζαν τα γυναικόπαιδα από τους άντρες. «Στις δεξιά αίθουσες οδηγούσαν τις γυναίκες και τα παιδιά, στις αριστερά τους άντρες. Τα αγόρια αν ήταν κάτω από 14 πήγαιναν με τις γυναίκες αν ήταν μεγαλύτερα πήγαιναν στους άντρες. Κάποια αγόρια όμως που είχαν ανάστημα χάθηκαν κι ας ήταν μικρότερα. Και άλλα γλίτωσαν, όπως ο αδερφός μου ο Γιάννης που ήταν 14 χρονών, επειδή δεν έδειχναν την ηλικία τους. Είδα τον πατέρα μου που έκλαιγε, ήταν φανερό που πάνε…»

Οι Γερμανοί απομόνωσαν τα γυναικόπαιδα για να οδηγήσουν τους άντρες στη Ράχη του Καππή. Όπως λέει η κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου ήθελαν να τους κρατήσουν αιχμάλωτους στο σχολείο για να απειλήσουν τους αντάρτες ότι θα τους κάψουν ζωντανούς στην περίπτωση που κατέβαιναν στην πόλη. «Άλλοι έκλαιγαν, άλλοι προσεύχονταν, εγώ φώναζα. Από τα παράθυρα αρχίσαμε να βλέπουμε τις φωτιές που άρχισαν μαζί με τις εκτελέσεις. Το μυαλό μας άρχισε να σαλεύει. Η ατμόσφαιρα άρχισε να γίνεται και μέσα στην αίθουσα αποπνικτική. Σπρώχναμε τις πόρτες για να βγούμε έξω».

Λίγες ώρες μετά τον απεγκλωβισμό τους οι γυναίκες με τα παιδιά άρχισαν να εντοπίζουν τους νεκρούς. Η τελευταία πράξη της σκληρότητας διήρκεσε πολλές μέρες με την ταφή. Η κ. Κωνσταντοπούλου θυμάται: «Φυλάγαμε τους νεκρούς μέσα σε κουβέρτες να μην τους φάνε τα σκυλιά, κάτι άγρια σκυλιά που κατέβαιναν από το βουνό. Πήραμε το ψωμάκι από τις τσέπες τους και το φάγαμε. Ανοίξαμε με τα χέρια μας και με ξύλα τους τάφους τους γιατί μας είχαν κάψει τα σπίτια μας και δεν είχαμε εργαλεία. Η μητέρα μου με άφησε να προσέχω τον αδερφό μου, το Σπήλιο, στο νεκροταφείο. Είχε βάλει ένα φιρίκι στα χέρια του για να το πάρει μαζί του στον κάτω κόσμο. Ήμουν τρεις μέρες νηστική, το πήρα από τα παγωμένα χεράκια του, ύστερα τα σκέπασα με την κουβέρτα να μην το δει η μάνα μου και το έφαγα…»

Inconvenient truths about Turkey’s religious cleansing in occupied Cyprus need to be addressed


The illusion of occupied Cyprus



The illusion of occupied Cyprus

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s final weeks at the helm of the State Department were a tour de force of her unrivalled capacity to confront inconvenient truths when it comes to protecting US strategic objectives. As John Kerry now begins his new post as America’s diplomat-in-chief, he will need to address some stubborn facts about US relations with Turkey, a country whose value as a partner for US geostrategic interests in Eurasia will remain compromised until Ankara commits to international human rights standards and halts its decades-long policy of cleansing Christianity in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.
Turkey’s steady eradication of Christianity in the north of Cyprus is an ugly reality embedded in the larger, inconvenient truth of Ankara’s occupation since 1974 of 37 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. An EU member-state, Cyprus is a critical asset for Transatlantic intelligence and security activities at the nexus of three continents, and the only stable, democratic friend to Israel in an otherwise hostile regional security environment.
The story of Turkey in Cyprus has been deftly excised from the grand narrative of Turkey that has long been peddled in US foreign policy circles. Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stayed on message over the last decade in building Turkey’s brand as a secular “model for Muslim democracy,” thereby adroitly augmenting the perpetual political trope of preceding Kemalist governments that Turkey was a “secular democracy” with a special friendship with America and Israel. Yet, there’s a ridiculous quality to these story seeds in the face of the evidence and ramifications of Turkey’s occupation record of religious cleansing in Cyprus.
Turkey’s estimated 43,000 troops, together with Ankara’s Turkish-Cypriot client administration in northern Cyprus, have taken only 38 years to erase two millennia of a vibrant Christian presence in the occupation zone in Cyprus. Turkey’s two-pronged assault-designed to rid northern Cyprus of living Christians and to destroy the historical patrimony of Christian religious and cultural sites-has been widely documented by the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights, and the European Commission’s Annual Progress Reports on Turkey’s Accession Negotiations. Some basic data are instructive. Of the 20,000 Christians (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, and Maronite) in the northern part of Cyprus when Turkey ended its invasion of the island, today, only 330 Greek Orthodox and 109 Maronites remain. There is no freedom of worship for Christians in northern Cyprus, as Christian religious leaders must undergo a convoluted permission process to cross the UN-patrolled Green Line to conduct religious services; requests for religious services for Cypriot citizens wishing to cross to the north to use their churches and monasteries and to preserve their cemeteries, are regularly denied by the Turkish-Cypriot administration. The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has detailed the 500-plus Christian religious sites (churches, chapels, and monasteries) that have been vandalized, desecrated and destroyed in northern Cyprus, the bulk of which are Greek Orthodox sites of the Church of Cyprus, but the same fate has befallen the Armenian, Maronite, and Roman Catholic sites. The Turkish military uses churches as storehouses for materiel, and stands watch as the Turkish-Cypriot administration converts Christian places of worship to casinos and stables, bulldozes ancient chapels for hotel and mosque construction, and fails to prevent disinterments in Christian cemeteries by vandals.
US government agencies have begun to take notice of Turkey’s religious crimes in occupied Cyprus. The 2012 designation by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) of Turkey as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its systematic and egregious violations of religious freedom included Turkey’s actions in occupied Cyprus, and the US Helsinki Committee (CSCE) recently identified Turkey, as an occupying power, as responsible for the crimes against Christian religio-cultural patrimony in the north of Cyprus.
But it’s been a series of events beyond Turkey’s religious cleansing in occupied Cyprus that has provoked US foreign policy makers to reconsider the parameters of US-Turkey relations. Erdogan’s trend towards authoritarianism, centred on the use of judicial fiat and the state security apparatus to silence all domestic opposition to the AKP, has been a wake-up call about his manipulation of constitutional reform to serve his ambition to become the first head of state in a new presidential system in Turkey. Meanwhile, Erdogan’s strident anti-Israel rhetoric, a move that has opened the floodgates of societal and media anti-Semitism within Turkey, has provided cover for regional anti-Semitic tropes that are corrosive for the already-endangered liberalizing impulses of the Arab Spring.
Here again, US foreign policy makers would have been smart to realize that Turkish saber-rattling when Nicosia announced plans to move ahead with developing vast natural gas and hydrocarbon reserves in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) could easily devolve into Turkish threats against Israel. Given Turkey’s abject disregard for international human rights standards in occupied Cyprus and for the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereignty over its energy reserves, there was predictability in Ankara’s bellicose response to Israel and the Republic of Cyprus when they announced plans for collaborative exploration of energy reserves in their contiguous EEZ’s.

The United States is a major stakeholder in the massive geostrategic interests at play in the Near East. John Kerry’s vision and mettle as Secretary of State could shine quickly by applying John Adam’s observation that “facts are stubborn things” to persuade Turkey to stop cloaking its denial and actions of cleansing of Christianity in the occupied part of Cyprus under the mantle of the supposedly intractable Cyprus Problem. Committing US diplomatic assets to assist endangered Christians in Turkish-occupied Cyprus is smart foreign policy.
* Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou is the Director of International Affairs for the Hellenic American Leadership Council and Affiliate Scholar at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies.


Now published in Greek, Phil Kafcaloudes’ novel Someone Else’s War, is the story of his grandmother: a brave woman, a spy, and a British war agent

Olga’s War

Olga's War

Greek women take up arms

Greek women take up arms during the war. Picture: Archive News Ltd Source: The Australian

It was in 1988, when, for the first time, Phil Kafcaloudes started writing the story of his maternal grandmother, Olga Stambolis. A busy life style and frequent trips as an ABC journalist, broadcaster and radio presenter, had stopped him, as he says, from full time writing. But, Olga waited patiently on his shoulder for her story to be told.
And she has never left. In 2002, Phil wrote the original draft of what became a successful novel, Someone Else’s War, published in Australia in August 2011. Whilst working on the book, the author approached everyone alive who knew Olga. His mum and aunties, Olga’s children, all participated in long workshops, telling him the stories they remembered.
“There were times when I was living in Blue Mountains, when I was sitting at the desk and writing, and almost felt someone slapped me across the head and said – ‘don’t put that down, it’s wrong’. And it was like Olga was there,” Phil tells Neos Kosmos.
Now, based on true events, the story of a brave woman, mother, spy and British agent in WWII, Olga Stambolis, is finally being told in Greek.
A few days before Christmas, the book Olga’s War was published in Greece, by Psichogios publications.
It was Cathy Alexopoulos, the President of the Greek-Australian Cultural League, who after the launch of the book in Australia suggested sending it to a publisher in Greece. Only one month later, Phil was notified about the publisher’s positive decision. The title has been changed to something shorter and clearer: Olga’s War.
“They changed the cover design as well, to what they thought would appeal to the Greek audience,” Phil says.
The Greek edition of the book is also richer for one photo, the wedding photo of Olga and her husband. The reason why the photo was not included in the English edition of the book, was an unexpected meeting that happened on the day the book was launched by Bob Karr, in Sydney, September, 2011.
“On the day, a man came up to me, and asked ‘Are you Phil Kafcaloudes? My wife grew up with your grandmother’. And then, from his pocket, he took out the wedding photograph that no one in the family has ever seen,” explains Phil.
One or two sequels about Olga’s life could be Phil Kafcaloudes’ next projects. The first would deal with Olga’s life in Greece after the war, when she worked for the US ambassador. The third book would bring her back home, to Sydney.
“What happens is that this book ends in 1943, when Olga had to get out of Greece. But from this point onwards, I know very little about what she did. Except that after the war, she worked for the American ambassador, and this was during the whole communist loyalist conquest, the civil war,” Phil says.
Writing a book about his maternal grandmother, involved four trips to Greece and to the war records office of the British government. Even though the English version was published almost two years ago, Phil talks about the Greek edition with enormous enthusiasm. He wants to market the book widely, believing that the more people who know about these stories that haven’t been told before – the better.
“I want the world to know what went on. I’m glad that through this book we became acquainted, Olga and I, because I didn’t know her. She died when I was a baby.
“It’s the thing about the Greek war that hasn’t been told. So many Greeks lost their lives helping the British that were there, in Crete, Athens… All these people died, but yet everyone is talking about what happened in France, Russia, Singapore… Nobody, outside of Greece, seems to talk about what happened in the Greek war. Those were amazing stories of bravery. Olga was brave, but in a way, she didn’t have that much to lose, except her life, as her family was in Australia. Her kids were on safe. Every Greek that helped Olga, and worked with her on the escape line, they had families that could be killed if they got caught. They were the really brave ones.”
The character of Olga was based on oral history, and documents of where she worked and what she owned. Important facts were woven into the narrative. Also, the author created Olga’s character on the basis of a resemblance with one of his aunties. When Olga’s daughter, and Phil’s mother Nellie, read the book, she said: “You have got it exactly the way she spoke”.
“I started with an ego thing – I want to be an author – and I wanted to tell a story about my family. But as I moved on, things moved away from that. It wasn’t about my family anymore. It’s a tribute to Olga, and not just her, but to all those who never had their story told, those Greeks who were killed by the Nazis. Those Greeks who worked hard. These stories happened 70 years ago. If they aren’t told now, the story dies and they die, and that’s just wrong,” Phil says.
“For me, it will be a joining together – the Greek population here, and there, in Greece”.
The Greek diaspora in Australia are not the only readers that are living Olga’s life through Kafcaloudes’ book. Greek Americans from Michigan, USA, contact Phil regularly – every week – to express their gratitude for sharing a story that many of their parents and grandparents went through, but was rarely told.
The book made Phil Kafcaloudes a better journalist, and a better radio and TV writer, he admits.
“What they have in common is storytelling,” he explains. “People read the story and start to see it in their eyes, and they just can’t stop reading it. It reads like a film script.”
With great faith in his Greek publisher, who saw the potential in Kafcaloudes’ book, the author expects there will be a market in Greece who want to read the novel. But most of all, he emphasizes how proud he is that there are people in Greece, like the publisher Psichogios, “who are willing to invest in an author, unknown to them, even in this difficult period that the country is going through”.

Phil’s next big plan is to get the book adapted to a film. Even though it’s still in an early development stage, a Hollywood director is already looking into it. Phil is keen on George Miller, well-known Greek Australian film director, to bring Olga’s story to the screen.
*Someone Else’s War (English) and Olga’s War (Greek) are available on eBook

Someone Else’s War

Phil Kafcaloudes



With daughters Freda (top…

Olga the young bohemian (…

Olga in an acting troupe …

Olga’s husband, Michael S…

The shy teenager about to…

Olga and her Mother Hadji…

Olga the new mother with …

Olga in training (Greece …

Speaking at the launch in…

With my producer and good…

With ‘Uncle’ Bob Sessions…

During the signing at Rea…



Australia’s Ambassador to Greece, Jenny Bloomfield marked Australia Day 2013 in Athens by celebrating the work of the Professor Alexander Cambitoglou

Australia Day tribute paid to Professor Cambitoglou

Australia Day tribute paid to Professor Cambitoglou

Honouring the Australian Archaeological Institute: President of the Hellenic Parliament, Mr Evangelos Meimarakis and Ambassador Jenny Bloomfield with the Institute’s Director, Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, and the President of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Dimitrios Pantermalis.

18 Feb 2013

Australia’s Ambassador to Greece, Jenny Bloomfield marked Australia Day 2013 in Athens by celebrating the work of the Australian Archaeological Institute and its Director, Professor Alexander Cambitoglou.
Speaking at the Acropolis Museum, Ambassador Bloomfield told guests at the Australia Day event that the Institute was a proud reflection of the Australian spirit – a nation “of opportunity for all those with the resolve, the commitment, the work ethic and the determination to make a better life for themselves, for their community and for future generations”.
Ms Bloomfield said that for over 30 years the Institute has helped forged a profound connection between Australia and Greece, facilitating fieldwork and research, and helping to preserve and showcase Greek civilisation and “its incalculable contribution” to the world.
The Ambassador paid special tribute to the Institute’s Director, Emeritus Professor Alexander Cambitoglou AO, who she described as “a great Australian, as well as a truly special Greek”.
Born in Thessaloniki, Professor Cambitoglou arrived in Australia in 1961 and was the first person of Greek background to be appointed a university professor in Australia, when he became Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Sydney in 1963.
“Since coming to Australia, Professor Cambitoglou has worked tirelessly, and from the heart, to promote Australian research in Greece,” said Ms Bloomfield.
Professor Cambitoglou’s achievements include conducting excavations at the Geometric settlement of Zagora on Andros in 1967, a collaboration between the Athens Archaeological Society and the University of Sydney.
Excavations at Zagora, said Ms Bloomfield had been “fundamental for understanding life in the Aegean during the eighth century BC – the period to which many scholars date Homer, the beginning of the Greek city-state and democracy in Athens”.
In the mid-seventies Professor Cambitoglou led the Australian expedition to Torone in Chalkidiki, before providing the greatest legacy to Australian scholars working in Greece; in 1980 he established the Australian Archaeological Institute in Athens.
Ambassador Bloomfield said that Professor Cambitoglou was not just a world-renowned scholar and a distinguished professor and practitioner, but “a mentor and a friend, who has given so much to both of his homelands…a man who, through consistent effort, lifelong passion and hard work, has made all this possible and offers a significant legacy for future generations of Australians and Greeks.”
Professor Cambitoglou’s personal contribution to the relationship between Australia and Greece in the field of archaeology, said Ms Bloomfield, was “immeasurable”.
The Ambassador also congratulated Dr Stavros Paspalas and Dr Wayne Mullen and all the Institute’s staff for their work in enhancing young Australians’ appreciation of Greece’s historical and cultural legacy.


Archbishop Stylianos says allowing Catholic priests to marry will put an end to the sex scandals rocking the Vatican

Do it like the Orthodox!

Sex scandals in the Catholic Church can be avoided if priests are allowed to marry, stated Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Australia Stylianos. The Archbishop said if the Catholic Church follows in the Greek Orthodox Churches footsteps and allows their priests to be married, then the sex scandals that have been rocking the Vatican will go away.
His comments were made following the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI , and believes that the pope’s sudden resignation was brought on by the sex scandals.
In an interview with the Greek Language Program of SBS Radio Archbishop Stylianos spoke very highly of the academic Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and described him as the “best lecturer”.
Archbishop Stylianos said that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was also a friend of the Orthodox church, “but once he became a Pope he made a U-turn”.
Archbishop Stylianos was engaged in many dialogues between Orthodoxy and other Christian groups, most prominently as co-chairman of the Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, but also as co-chairman of the dialogue with the Anglican Church. He also started teaching Orthodox Theology and Spirituality at Sydney University.
In his capacity as a co-chairman of the Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, he worked very close with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who he admired as a theologian.
Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I also expressed his sadness over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, saying the head of the Catholic Church had “built bridges.”
“I am really saddened by news of the resignation of the pope, who was doing his utmost to connect the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and overcome differences,” Bartholomew said in a media release on February 11.
Bartholomew praised Benedict, describing him as “a highly influential figure in the Church, not only as a Pope but also as a theologian”.
“He was a person who could solve problems not only in religion, but also in the problems that we are facing today,” Bartholomew said, adding that he believed the pontiff would continue to be a prominent figure even after stepping down as pope. “He was an important reference to everyone. Thus, I believe he will continue to add value to the world with his research and articles,” he said.
“As the Fener Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate, we hope the new pope will also contribute to the fraternity between the Churches,” Bartholomew added.
Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis) also serves as the inaugural and permanent Chairman of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Churches in Australia, and Dean of St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College and is a world-renowned theologian, specialising in ecclesiology. He is also a well-regarded poet. He completed postgraduate studies in systematic theology and philosophy of religion in Bonn, West Germany, during 1958 to 1966, numbering among his lecturers Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger).


Philly’s Greek community, celebrates “100 Years of Independence” for Ioannina, Greece






February 17th, 2013. Philadelphia.- “Today is a great day in history, not only for the people from Ioannina, but for all Greeks and freedom lovers all over the world”, declared President Kostas Kravaris of The Epirotes Society of Philadelphia, “The Omonia”. With those words the afternoon event honoring the “100 years of Independence of Ioannina” began. Hosted at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia, members of the Greek community of Philadelphia listened as guest speakers from all over the Delaware Valley took turns and spoke on behalf of this historic day in Greek history.

Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state on 21 February 1913 after the Battle of Bizani in the Balkan Wars. The city’s formal name, Ioannina, means “Town of John” in Greek. There are two name forms in Greek, Ioannina being the formal and historical name, while the colloquial and more commonly used Jannena or Jannina (Greek: Γιάννινα) represents the vernacular tradition of Demotic Greek.

Following Sunday liturgy service (at St. George Greek Orthodox cathedral) and a brief swearing in of several new year board members; Pastor Costas reflected on the glorious and long history of the region, Epirus. He spoke about Ioannina’s contributions to the world and Greece in general. “During the 18th century, every author of the Greek world, was either from Ioannina or was a graduate of one of the city’s schools”, said Father Kosta. He followed with, a brief description of the “Greek Enlightenment” era (1647–1830). Ioannina’s inhabitants were known for their commercial and handicraft activities which allowed them to trade with important European commercial centers, such as Venice and Livorno, where merchants from Ioannina established commercial and banking houses. The first three Greek owned printing presses that were operating in Venice and published thousands of books for the Ottoman ruled Greek people were established by members of the Ioannite diaspora, he added.

He also said, freedom was made possible by the contributions of our fellow brothers (Hellenes). The countless dedicated Greeks from Cyprus and Crete who joined forces and fought with their fellow Hellenes to liberate the city of the Ottoman yoke.

Following lunch in the main hall and a short black and white historical film about Ioannina the singing of the national anthems of Greece and America (sung by: Maria Angelis and Kosta Angelis of St. George), initiated a series of speeches. Kravaris introduced several speakers from the Greek-American community who spoke on behalf of Hellenism, both in Greece and the various diasporas.

Local chapter President of the Cretan Society, George Chronakis and President of the Cyprus Society, Dr. Stelios Tsinontides both came forward and were awarded plaques by the Epirotes Society of Philadelphia (The “Omonia”),in honor of those who fought in the liberation of Ioannina.

President Kravaris closed out the day with an emotional thank you to all of the members who attended and participated in celebrating The 100 years of Independence of Ioannina

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