OPINION

Joining hands

With the inauguration of the monument to the 694 hostages who were executed by German occupation troops at the firing range in Kaisariani, eastern Athens, early in 1944, the modern Greek state finally has fulfilled a historic obligation. In his inauguration speech, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a strong message: «[The modern state] at last functions free from the dividing lines that have caused bitterness and harm to all Greeks,» the conservative premier said during his speech. Indeed, the monument is a symbol of the faith in joint efforts toward a shared vision. It took Greece 60 years to build a monument to the hundreds of Greeks that were executed by the Nazi occupiers during the Second World War. The prime minister was obviously moved, as it was thanks to his own political impetus that the state finally came to fulfill its duty toward society and history. By paying homage «to those who stood up against the leveling forces; those who sacrificed [their lives] in combat, in occupation and in the national resistance,» Karamanlis underscored that the history of national resistance against the foreign invaders, against Nazism and fascism has actually been written by thousands of anonymous individuals. Without a doubt, it is a sign of the times that Kaisariani, traditionally a left-wing stronghold, heard a conservative premier describing it as a place «of struggle and sacrifice, an area where history was written with the blood of hundreds of patriots.» This was not just about inaugurating a monument. Karamanlis’s politically charged speech was aimed at turning the recognition of a great historical event into a springboard for rallying the greatest possible number of people to accept the challenges of the present. «We are united by society’s expectations of a better life. We are united by an experience that once divided us and made us all suffer… All of us together, regardless of our ideological backgrounds; we are capable of making the visions of our society real,» Karamanlis concluded, inviting people to join hands in the face of the coming challenges.