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Research for a Memorial in Greece

Veroniki Finitsi has been investigating the fate of prisoners from Greece in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen. Making more complete or exact the data available on the approximately 400 men deported from Heracleon/Crete at the time is the main focus of her scholarly research. “This study allows me to contribute to Heracleon’s laying the foundation for a memorial in its town wall”, rejoices Finitsi.

In June 1943, all male residents of the Greek island of Crete who had dared to put up resistance against National Socialism were arrested. Prior to their being forcibly shipped off, they had been concentrated and confined in the passage way of Heracleon’s town wall. “My grandfather was one of these men”, relates the Greek national. “Most of the prisoners were taken via Athens, Salonica and Yugoslavia to their ultimate destination, Concentration Camp Mauthausen“, Finitsi continues their story.

The few Cretans who were fortunate enough to outlive the camp could give first clues and compile lists showing their own names and the names of their deceased fellow deportees. Finitsi’s father who is primarily involved in breaking the ground for the memorial established contact with victims and other memorials. “From Mauthausen, the main locale of incarceration, we have received a list with the names of Greek internees”, narrates 39-year-old Finitsi. “This list is the basis of my investigative groundwork at the ITS this week.” Studying the files, she comes across new traces or links with almost every electronic move she makes. “The existence of subsidiary labour commandos and the period of time over which the prisoners were kept and recruited for work there are a novelty for me“, so Finitsi.

Sifting through the ITS archives, she also succeeds in finding documents on her grandfather Stefanos. Born in the Greek town of Alatsata, he was 33 years of age when the Germans caught and deported him to Concentration Camp Mauthausen. After being taken to labour commando Schlier and assigned to forced labour there, he died only one year later at so-called “Erholungslager” (recovery camp) Schloss Hartheim. “Erholungslager” was a euphemistic term used by the SS to play down and cover up that such camps in reality were euthanasia institutions.