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40 years of active presence

Sunday, May 28, 2023


    Central Greeceor “Roumeli” was at the heart of “Free Greece”. It was where the ELAS General Headquarters was based, along with five guerrilla regiments and a vast organisational network. Over a period of 15 months, the Germans launched 20 anti-partisan operations using special mountain troops (1st Mountain Division, 4th Waffen SS Division, Brandenburg Division). The region from Parnitha to Karpenissi was marked by countless battles, civilian massacres and the destruction of villages.

    The local ELAS units recorded high concentrations of Jews, mostly refugees from Athens who fled topartisan-controlled areas. They offered a huge amount in terms of bravery and quality. The Thessalonians Ido Shimsi (“Makabis”) and Alvertos Benroubi, a partisan medical officer and interpreter, held executive positions as quartermasters in the ELAS V Brigade and XIII Division, respectively. Loui Koen (“Kronos”) from Xanthi and David Brudo from Thessaloniki performed miracles as officers of ELAS Logistics Arm (ETA) in the Parnassida Battalion. Manolis Aruch and Alvertos Koen (“Vladimiros”) were renowned for their role as partisan medics in Fokida. “Vladimiros was all the time on foot, laughing. He only lost his laughter when he had to work on difficult cases, when he devoted himself entirely to saving the injured” (Dimitris Dimitriou-Nikiforos).

    Among those who distinguished themselves were Salvator Bakolas (“Sotiris”), Yomtov Moshe and Rafael Maltis from Ioannina, Maslach Koen, Alvertos Valenstein from Athens EPON, the Athenian Iakovos Yussurum and the Thessalonian Tzako Karasso in the 36th Regiment and Loui Koen’s 16-year-old brother Yitschak (“Kronakos”). The reservist Lieutenant Johanas Hatzis (“Skoufas”) from Arta, along with Leon Meir, Moshe Koen, Aris Kazes (“Kolokotronis”), Viktor Bati, Slomo Matsil and an unidentified gunner named Kamon (or Kapon), fought in the II Battalion of the 34th Regiment. Almost all were injured in battle, while “Skoufas” fell in the great Battle of Amfissa (2 July 1944) as a platoon commander. Three other Jews made the supreme sacrifice: Rovertos Mitrani (“Ippokratis”), a medical student from Serres, David Koen from Preveza and David Rousso from Athens were killed along with 29 more partisans of the Parnassida Battalion in a German ambush at Ayia Triada, in Kaloskopi, Fokida (5 January 1944) . Their bones are now buried in the same place, mixed with those of their Christian comrades, a perennial reminder of a heroic and universal ideal.

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