RKS Film: “Eleftheromania”: Greek Prisoners in Auschwitz Face Moral Dilemma

A well acclaimed short film “Eleftheromania” is based on 4 years of research by Gregory C. Pappas through firsthand evidence and research of the Auschwitz archives.

Greece was occupied by the Germans in the Second World War and the Greek population suffered atrocities when their resistance fought the Germans. Villages were decimated by mass executions. In one instance hundreds were locked in a church which the German army set on fire. So forth and so on.

Greek Jews were rounded up and transported primarily to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. In 2018 I visited the Jewish Museum in the city of Thessaloniki in Northern Greece. Having visited previously and knowing there was a large Jewish population of some 50,000 there I paid a visit to the Jewish Museum where I learnt that in 1943 almost the entire population of Jews in Thessaloniki were loaded up on trains and transported to Birkenau and Auschwitz. Today there remain only 1,000 Jews in Thessaloniki.

In “Eleftheromania” a group of Greek men in Auschwitz are to be sonderkommandos with the responsibility to lead prisoners to the gas chambers the prisoners being told they are undergoing “sanitization showers”. Their job at this point is to ensure calmness. Then when safe to enter the gas chambers they are to look for hidden jewelry and gold teeth amongst the corpses. Sonderkommandos were usually executed a few months after they assumed their ghoulish tasks.

The Greek men become involved in an intense discussion about the morality of their role all distilled to a question of ethics and morality versus survival. A vote is taken and they refuse to become sonderkommandos. They are then executed.

Academy Award winning actress Olympia Dukakis plays the role of a survivor who survived by sleeping with German soldiers. She delivers her role as a women decimated by sadness.

A short film yes but very intense and revealing the courage and conviction of these Greek Jews. You might want to call this unarmed moral resistance.

You can watch the short here   https://vimeo.com/493344794/4e94e04e63

The closing song for the credit roll is by Glykeria entitled “Minore Tis Avgis”. Those familiar with the more traditional Greek music know how contemplative and heart rendering it can be. In the context of this short film its sadness in virtually overwhelming. If you have the stamina you can listen to her song here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkr6tTDV47M

“Eleftheromania” in Greek means a human’s innate desire to be free.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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