On today, March 3, 1891: Archbishop Damaskinos who challenged the Nazis was born
Dimitris Papandreou was born on March 3, 1891 in a really poor household in rural Greece.
He nonetheless managed to attend the college of theology and regulation concurrently, graduating from each earlier than being drafted to struggle within the Balkan wars of 1912-1913.
He was ordained minister in 1917, taking the identify Damaskinos.
His profession till the time of the German occupation reveals a person of dedication to the Church, in addition to his position in serving to and uplifting the Greek folks.
Damaskinos chaired for 3 years a company aimed toward creating the next stage of schooling within the Greek clergy.
As Bishop of Corinth through the disastrous earthquake there in April 1928, his deep dedication to his flock was widely known.
He took a management position in aid and redress efforts, touring to america the place he galvanized the Greek Diaspora to contribute to those efforts.
In 1938, Damaskinos was elected by the Greek Orthodox Church as “Archbishop of Athens and all Greece”.
Nonetheless, fearing his democratic sentiments and his assist for former Prime Minister and Liberal Get together chief Eleftherios Venizelos, the then dictatorship overturned the courts’ resolution.
Damaskinos was underneath home arrest in Salamis through the dictatorship and the Greco-Italian battle of 1940-41.
If nothing else had occurred in Damaskinos’ life, he could be remembered as an vital determine in twentieth century Greek historical past.
However there was a lot extra to return.
The Archbishop boldly challenged the Nazi authorities.
The federal government that arrested Damaskinos fell with the German invasion of Greece in 1941.
The Church took the chance to reinstate Damaskinos as Archbishop.
In the meantime, the occupying forces imposed a really tyrannical order, leading to widespread famine, mass shootings and different reprisals in opposition to Greek patriots.
The inferior males would have been silenced (or silenced), however not the Damaskinos.
He believed that his sworn responsibility as a cleric was to be the shepherd of all his flock, which he considered all residents of Greece, not simply these of his Church.
The Archbishop used his affect to get the UK and Turkey, particularly the latter, to ship meals to the ravenous Greeks.
Then, when the German occupation forces introduced the conscription of Greek residents with the intention of sending them to the Russian entrance or to pressured labor in German factories, he organized a widespread staff’ strike.
His love for his flock and his deep perception within the holiness of all life was strongly manifested through the darkest occasions of 1943.
The deportation of Jews, Gypsies and different minorities had reached a climax, not solely in Greece however all through occupied Europe.
At a time when even many non secular voices have been appeased, the Archbishop bravely challenged the Nazi authorities.
On March 23, 1943, Damaskinos walked into the workplace of SS Normal Jürgen Stroop, the person who had personally overseen the whole destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the deaths of tens of 1000’s of Jews in Warsaw, and introduced him with a letter.
The identical letter had already been submitted to the Prime Minister of the occupation authorities.
He was studying:
Mr. Prime Minister:
The Greek folks have been rightly stunned and deeply saddened to study that the German occupation authorities have already began to implement a program of gradual deportation of the Greek Jewish group from Salonika to locations past our borders. nationals and that the primary teams of deportees are already on their technique to Poland.
The grief of the Greek folks is especially deep due to the next:
Below the phrases of the armistice, all Greek residents, no matter race or faith, have been to be handled equally by the occupying authorities.
Greek Jews have confirmed not solely to be beneficial contributors to the nation’s financial development, but additionally law-abiding residents who totally perceive their duties as Greeks.
They made sacrifices for the Greek nation and have all the time been on the forefront of the Greek nation’s struggles to defend its inalienable historic rights.
The law-abiding nature of the Jewish group in Greece a priori refutes any accusation that it is perhaps concerned in actions or acts that might even barely endanger the safety of the occupying army authorities.
In our nationwide consciousness, all the kids of Mom Greece kind an inseparable unit: they’re equal members of the nationwide physique no matter faith or dogmatic variations.
Our Holy Faith doesn’t acknowledge superior or inferior qualities primarily based on race or faith, because it says, “There’s neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28) and thus condemns any try at discrimination or creation of racial or spiritual variations.
Our widespread future, each within the days of glory and in occasions of nationwide calamity, cast inseparable bonds amongst all Greek residents, with out exemption, with out distinction of race.
… At the moment we have an interest and deeply involved concerning the destiny of 60,000 of our fellow residents, who’re Jews.
For a very long time, we lived collectively in slavery and freedom, and we got here to understand their emotions, their fraternal perspective, their financial exercise and, above all, their unwavering patriotism.
The proof of this patriotism is the big variety of victims sacrificed by the Greek Jewish group with out remorse and with out hesitation on the altar of responsibility whereas our nation was in peril.
Pricey Prime Minister, We’re satisfied that the ideas and emotions of the federal government on this matter are in accord with these of the remainder of the Greek nation.
We additionally hope that you’ve got already taken the required steps and referred to as on the occupation authorities to reverse the intense and futile measure of expelling members of the Jewish group from Greece …
We hope that the occupation authorities will understand in the end the futility of the persecution of Greek Jews, who’re among the many most peaceable and productive components within the nation.
If, nonetheless, they insist on this deportation coverage, we consider that the federal government, because the holder of any political authority that continues to be within the nation, ought to take a transparent stand in opposition to these occasions and let foreigners take full accountability for it. commit them. apparent injustice.
Allow us to not neglect that every one actions achieved in these troublesome occasions, even these that are past our will and our energy, will at some point be evaluated by the nation and would be the topic of a historic investigation.
On this time of judgment, the accountability of the rulers will weigh closely on the conscience of the nation if in the present day the rulers don’t boldly protest on behalf of the nation in opposition to such unjust measures because the deportation of Greek Jews, which is an insult. to our nationwide unity and to our honor.
Archbishop of Athens and Greece
Normal Stroop was outraged and threatened to shoot Damaskinos.
The Archbishop’s response, partly, was: “In keeping with the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church, our prelates are hanged and never shot. Thanks for respecting our traditions!
This comment shocked the final a lot that he didn’t perform his risk.
His braveness was a transparent name to the Greek individuals who took up the duty of defending the Jews.
The letter didn’t yield outcomes, however the Archbishop insisted on his requests elsewhere.
Damaskinos referred to as Athens Police Chief Angelos Evert, who had the same thoughts and disposition, and instructed him:
“I’ve spoken to God and my conscience tells me what to do. The Church will problem false baptismal certificates to any Jew who requests them and you’ll problem false id playing cards. “
Greater than 27,000 false id papers have been issued.
“I took up my cross,” mentioned the archbishop. “I spoke to the Lord and determined to avoid wasting as many Jewish souls as potential.”
He urged the clergy to take shelter and supply help to any persecuted who requested it.
Many Jewish households survived in hiding on the Archbishop’s request.
His braveness – and that of the clerics who adopted him – was a trumpet name to the Greek folks generally, who took it upon themselves to guard the Jews.
Probably the most telling tales was that of the island of Zakynthos, the place the Nazi SS requested the mayor and bishop handy over the names of resident Jews for deportation to Auschwitz.
In an act of brave defiance, the checklist given to the Germans contained two names: the mayor and the bishop!
Of the 275 Jews on the island, not a single Jewish identify was handed on and each Jew was hidden through the occupation.
The identical sentiment was echoed by Joachim, Metropolitan of Volos, who, when requested for a listing of Jewish residents, replied: “I’m a Jew.”
Then he mobilized native resistance to evacuate the 702 Jews from town to the mountains and adjoining villages.
In the course of the Nazi occupation, greater than 600 Greek Orthodox clergymen have been arrested and deported for his or her actions, impressed by the braveness of Archbishop Damaskinos.
He’s universally often known as a hero to all mankind.
The Archbishop was positioned underneath home arrest in 1944, and there was discuss of deporting him to focus camps.
Happily, this by no means occurred and the Damaskinos lived to see Greece liberated from the Nazis.
The truth is, Damaskinos briefly served because the nation’s regent after the battle.
He lived till 1949, when he died on the age of 59.
The legacy of Archbishop Damaskinos has not been forgotten.
He was honored by Yad Vashem, the Israel Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, as “Righteous Among the many Nations,” an vital designation given to non-Jews who risked their very own lives to avoid wasting Jews through the Holocaust. .
The Archbishop is featured prominently in a everlasting exhibit on the Worldwide Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC
In Greece in the present day, Damaskinos is universally often known as a hero to all mankind.
READ MORE: Commemoration of the Jews of Greece: Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Day.