On May 1, 1944, 200 Greek communists were executed by the German Nazi forces occupying Greece during the Second World War. The executions were initiated as a reprisal for the killing of a high-ranking German officer by Greek resistance fighters just a few days before.
The prisoners were taken by truck to the Kaisariani firing range, a suburb of Athens, and executed by firing squad.
The Kaisariani massacre continues to be commemorated in Greece, having taken on renewed political meaning under shifting contexts. The execution was dramatized in 2017 in the film The Last Note, directed by Pantelis Voulgaris.
Greek communists executed during the Second World War
The resistance fighters were members of the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), the military arm of the left-wing National Liberation Front (EAM). The partisans were led by 2nd Lieutenant Manolis Stathakis. Three other German military officers were also killed in the ambush.
The German reprisals were brutal and quickly enacted. On April 30, orders for executions were made known by the press, which was controlled by the occupying forces.
In total, 200 Greek communists were rounded up by German forces and executed at the firing range in Kaisariani. They executed them in batches of 20 at the firing range.
Letters and notes of the deceased
Many of those who went to their deaths wrote notes for their families and loved ones left behind, or dedicated final messages to their cause.
“I never forgot you. I gave my life for you and for the Greek people. Today, May 1, 1944, I kiss you for the last time,” wrote another victim whose name was lost. His note was only marked with the initial “A”.
The execution of the communists is remembered today as one of the most important moments for Greece in the Second World War. The event continues to be commemorated but has also attracted controversy within sensitive political contexts.
It was dramatized in the historical drama movie The Last Note, released in 2017 that was directed by Pantelis Voulgaris and starred Andreas Konstantinou, André Hennicke, and Melia Kreiling.
The protagonist of the film is the historical figure Napoleon Soukatzidis portrayed by Andreas Konstantinou.