A New Film
In the late '40s and early '50s quite a few young Greek leftists had to flee their country to avoid at best torture and long prison terms and at worst execution in the hands of the US appointed local puppet Greek Government.
Some of them fled to Paris; in a traditionally tolerant society towards political refugees. Of them, three, Cornelius Castoriadis, Yiannis Xenakis and Costas Gavras, not only survived in an unfamiliar social environment, but they became internationally famous in their chosen fields.
Castoriadis "used" his leftist background to become kind of a French philosopher who opposed (!) the left through an incomprehensible "philosophical" system of the "fantasiako" (the "imaginary"), etc. Castoriadis thrived in the rather silly French cultural environment that produced the post-modern type of funny "philosophical" texts.
Yiannis Xenakis as a young student in the Athens Polytechnic took part in the Resistance against the Nazis and then their British successors. In December 1944, during the struggle of the Greek left to socially liberate the Greek society, part of the left side of his face was blown off by a British mortar shell. In Paris Xenakis worked as an Architect and also invented a kind of "mathematical" musical system. (My opinion is that besides the need for survival in Paris, through his musical compositions, Xenakis was "trapped" by the beauty of mathematics, as he was part of the generation of the late 1930s that grew in an intensely rich mathematical environment in the Athens Polytechnic of that time. Again, this is my personal judgement about his music.) Xenakis died recently. He was a very decent person.
Costas Gavras became a film director. He is a gentle and polite person but also he is an example of Chomsky's view that the "victims (of the US foreign policy) tend to remember." And Gavras "remembered" through his films; "Z", "Missing", and "State of Siege."
(Note: "Z", the story of the murder, in 1963, of Lambrakis, a member of the Greek left and a deputy in the Greek Parliament, is perhaps one of the most important political films of the 20th century.
Two were the protagonists of the Lambrakis case: Emanuelidis, the man who killed Lambrakis, and the "tiger" a then young construction worker who jumped on the 3-wheel vehicle from which Emanuelidis killed Lambrakis. If the physically strong and agile -hence the nickname "tiger"- construction worker had not jumped on the moving vehicle the Lambrakis murder would have been covered up.
The "tiger" died of cancer a few days ago, on the First of May, '01, at the age of 72. He died a very bitter person. As expected, for the Greek state and its US patrons he had interfered with their plans, therefore he was their enemy for the rest of his life after his heroic and historic deed.
Emanuelidis, the killer, died a few hours (!) after the "tiger", also of cancer. He was 75 and according to a Greek journalist he was the "garbage" of the Greek society: a killer paid by the state.
Documentary evidence has shown that the killing of Lambrakis, of "Z" fame, was planned and carried out by Papadopoulos, the dictator of 1967. Papadopoulos was a paid CIA asset since the early '50s. End of Note.)
Gavras is making a new film. The English title of the film will be: "The Eyewitness." The script of the film is based on the well-known play by Rolf Hochhuth "The Deputy", that appeared in New York in 1964 and which was "the earliest and most notorious attack" on the conduct of Pope Pius XII towards the Nazis during WWII.
In the Gavras film version of the play the dominant figure is not the Pope but KURT GERSTEIN, an officer of the Nazi SS. Gerstein was born in Muenster, Germany, in 1905. By profession he was an engineer. >From 1925 he was a member of a Protestant youth movement. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933 but continued to be an active member of Pastor Niemoeller's Confessional church.
Niemoeller was a submarine Commander during WWI After the war he studied theology and in 1933 he wrote his autobiography, "From U-Boat to Pulpit', which was widely praised for its patriotism in the Nazi press. Niemoeller shared the anticommunism of the Nazis and their detestation of the Weimar Republic, which he himself had branded as "14 years of darkness." By 1934 Niemoeller, however, was disillusioned with Hitler as the latter began to "co-ordinate" the Evangelical Church and subordinate it to state authority. Niemoeller started "resisting" Hitler (because Hitler did not prefer Niemoeller's version of Christianity?). Enraged by Niemoeller'r rebellious sermons and his widespread popularity, Hitler ordered his arrest in 1937. Tried before a special court he was given the relatively mild sentence of 7 months in a fortress. Following his release, he was re-arrested and spent 7 years in concentration camps in "protective custody," until his liberation by Allied forces in 1945. He died in 1984.
In 1936 Gerstein was arrested by the Gestapo for distributing religious tracts and expelled from the Nazi Party. After a second spell in a concentration camp in 1938, Gerstein managed in 1941 to join the SS, where few questions were asked about his past. This time Gerstein joined the Nazis as "Spion Gottes" (a Spy for God) according to the historian Pierre Joffroy, Gerstein;s biographer.
In 1942 Gerstein was put in charge of the Technical Disinfection Department and was responsible for handling "poisonous disinfectant gases". In the late summer of 1942 he was sent on a mission by the SS to persuade Globocnik and Christian Wirth to introduce "Zyklon B' gassing into Polish death camps, in place of gas engines.
Odilo Globocnik was born in 1904 in an Austrian Croat family and was a builder by profession. He joined the Nazi Party in 1930 and entered the SS in 1933. Dismissed in 1939 from his SS position for illegal speculation in foreign exchange was pardoned by Himmler and appointed by him as SS and Police Leader for the Lublin district in Poland.. Globocnik founded four death camps in Poland; Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek and Treblinka. He was responsible only to Himmler. Globocnik did his "job" with brutal efficiency by November 1943 he had completed his task by slaughtering nearly three million Jews. According to Globocnik's final report to Himler, the overall value of the cash and valuables accruing to the Reich between 1 April and 15 December 1943 from Globocnik's handiwork came to 180 million Reichsmarks. For helping himself too liberally to some of this plunder, Globocnik was transferred to Trieste. At the end of the war, Globocnik succeeded in evading arrest. He 1100 was eventually arrested by the British in 1945 but committed suicide by a cyanide capsule a few minutes after his arrest. According to other versions, he was hunted down and killed by partisans or by a Jewish vengeance squad in June 1945. A pity. He was so competent a business entrepreneur and fervent believer in western values.
Christian Wirth, the other associate of Gerstein's, was born in 1885 in Oberbalzheim in Germany. In WWI he was decorated with one of Germany's highest decorations for bravery. He, also, worked as a builder. In the 1930s he worked as a Nazi police officer and became notorious for his special methods of investigation (i.e. torture) in criminal matters. At the end of 1939 he carried out the first known gassing experiments on Germans certified as incurably insane. Wirth, a gross and brutal individual, whose verbal coarseness and cruelty richly earned him the nickname "the Savage Christian", prided himself on the efficiency of the methods of gassing which he designed. He also claimed to have pioneered the use of "Sonderkommandos"- thereby forcing physically stronger Jews to bury their own people, they, too, were killed. According to one account, the brave Wirth was killed in street fighting by Yugoslav partisans. He, also, might have been killed by a Jewish vengeance squad.
Now, back to Gerstein and Gavras. According to his own account, left behind in a prison confession, Gerstein had "but one desire , to gain an insight in the whole machinery (of the Nazi death camps) and then shout it to the whole world. Returning from his inspection tour of Belzec in late August 1942 (!), Gerstein recounted what he had witnessed to a chance companion travelling on the same Warsaw-Berlin express, Baron von Otter. Gerstein requested that the diplomat 'report at once to his government and the Allies... (The Swedish government ... never passed on the information.) Gerstein also urged his friends in the Dutch underground to broadcast his information by radio to Great Britain, but though the British Foreign Office knew it to be correct, the news was rejected by British officials.. Gerstein also tried to report to the Papal envoy to Berlin, but the latter, most reluctant to offend the Nazis, showed him the door." (Source for the text in quotation marks and much of the bio data: Robert S. Wistrich, "Who is Who in Nazi Germany," Routledge, 1995).
The Jewish historian Saul Friedlaender, whose work on Pope Pius XII and Gerstein is considered as fundamental, considers Gerstein as "a man of the Resistance... His 'fault' is found in that he was alone."
After the war, on July 17, 1945, Gerstein was found hanged in a French prison cell. Whether Gerstein committed suicide or was killed by Nazi fellow- prisoners is unknown to this day. The Gavras film- Gerstein commits suicide under SS-arrest in Rome in 1943.
The Vatican refused to cooperate with Gavras, so he had to go to Romania and use the spectacular Ceausescu palace in Bucharest to film the Vatican scenes!
Let us hope that Gavras' "tendency to remember" is as effective as that for "Z".
The March 16 Commentary, titled "The Archbishop," ended with the following words:
"The latest episode of the Christodoulos series has to do with his archenemy: the Pope! A few weeks ago the President of the Greek Republic, Kostis Stefanopoulos, while visiting Italy invited the Pope to visit Greece. Christodoulos said NO ! He claims that if the Pope wishes to visit Greece he can do that as any other person (as a tourist?). Will Christodoulos prevail?"
Now we know the answer. Here it is:
Of course, Christodoulos, the Greek Archbishop, could not prevail. Gregory Niotis, the Greek deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs (and a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C.) probably saw to that. Christodoulos did an 180 degrees turn and was ready to greet the Pope. However, there was the difficulty of silencing the fanatic crowds that the Archbishop himself had incited earlier.
So, the Archbishop a couple of weeks before the visit of the Pope, while celebrating mass in front of the TV cameras at Gysi, a middle-class Athens neighbourhood, with tears in his eyes asked the Virgin Mary to enlighten the Orthodox Greeks to desist from demonstrating in the streets against the Pope, etc. The trick worked perfectly! A text-book case of successful western propaganda methods in contrast to the Stalinist barbarity of the Soviets. So, only a fringe of the crazy fanatics continued to shout against the "Satan", "the tow-horned monster of Rome," "the Antichrist," etc. in the streets.
Thus on May 4, '01 the Pope arrived in Athens, took off that cute little circular hat (or something) in deference to the Greeks, kissed some Greek soil (offered to him on a platter, because he could not kneel) and met all the Greeks that matter, mainly Christodoulos, the Archbishop.
Christodoulos, playing his role as a professional that he is, addressed the Pope in front of the TV cameras and in an aggressive and insulting manner "demanded" that the Pope apologize for the behaviour of the Catholics for the last one thousand years and also in an equally insulting manner required that the Pope stop being silent about the Cyprus problem and start talking about it.
And the Pope (humbly) apologized (!!) for the Crusades, etc. (one can read about it in the New York Times), but he skipped Cyprus. Yet, Cristodoulos became the hero of the Greek Orthodox patriots.
(Note: Was this childish charade the culmination of one thousand years of glorious Christian history? Who knows? The fact is that the day after the Pope-Christodoulos meeting, Christodoulos flew to Moscow bringing a Pope message to the recalcitrant and powerful Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexios, while the Pope flew to the... Golan Hights ! This seems not to be part of the charade.)
(Interesting) PS : A few days before the Pope visit to Athens there was a general strike in Greece. The Simitis government had announced that it had prepared a law to cut down the pensions and extend the age for eligibility to get a pension to 65. The ENTIRE country was demonstrating in the streets, during the day of the general strike. This scared the piss out of the Simitis government and they took back everything. The Pope visit was a welcome diversion, but another general strike is planned for May 17, The interest lies in how is the Dubya US Embassy in Athens going to react now that once more (after Kosovo) the Greek population are not following orders!