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German Embassy Celebrates Bicentennial of Greek War of Independence

Greek War of Independence
The Battle of Navarino. Credit: Ambroise Louis Garneray from Domain

The German Embassy in Athens will begin its year-long commemoration of the Greek War of Independence on Friday with a celebration of 21 famous German philhellenes.

The commemoration, using the hashtag #germanphilhellenes2021, will take place across all the social media accounts of the German embassy and will appear every Friday, highlighting the lives of these well-known Germans who were devoted to Greece.

Some of the figures to be remembered in this commemoration include the amateur painter — and full-time military officer — Karl Krazeisen, whose depiction of Greek War of Independence hero Theodoros Kolokotronis was used on Greece’s old 5,000 drachma bill.

Germans sustained highest number of casualties among all foreigners in Greek War of Independence

Another German who gave his talents to the cause of the Greek revolution was Heinrich Treiber, who embalmed the body of the first head of state of the modern country of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias.

The German embassy pointed out that of al the philhellenes all over the world who flocked to Greece during its war to overthrow Ottoman occupation, Germans sustained the highest number of casualties overall.

As was also true in Great Britain and the young United States at the time, the cause of Greek liberation swept through the ranks of men who were willing to sacrifice their lives so that Greeks could establish their own nation as free men.

Leipzig University professor Wilhelm Traugott Krug also published a pamphlet in support of the Greek cause called “The Rebirth of Greece,” which became a rallying point for intellectuals who were interested in the establishment of a modern Greek nation.

Romantics across Europe idolized ancient Greece

German romantics, much like the Englishman Lord Byron, had long idolized Ancient Greece as an ideal, almost a Utopia, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had likewise written about his support for a new Greek nation in his seminal work “Iphigenia in Tauris.”

But it wasn’t only Greece that was impacted by Germans’ love for their country — back home, Germans took heart from the establishment of the new Greek nation origin out of the darkness of Ottoman rule.

The Embassy says in its announcement on the commemoration that the Greek War of Independence and the new state “were a source of inspiration both for public discourse and the arts and affected the creation of a nascent German identity.”

The statement goes on to say that “it is undeniable that the Greek War of Independence is an important milestone and inspiration for the development of democracy and parliamentarianism both in Europe and much farther away.”

The commemoration is a collaboration between the German embassy, Greece’s National History Museum, the Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism, and the Philhellenism Museum in Athens.

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