15 May, 2006
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias issued a message against war and barbarity, addressing on Sunday an event in memory of the 318 victims of Nazi atrocities in 1944 in the village of Pyrgoi, in Vermio municipality, Kozani prefecture.
Peace cannot be imposed by war, Papoulias told reporters at the event, adding that it was everyone's duty to resist barbarity and the school of thought that maintains that only through violence can there be progress and democracy.
"It is a duty for me, as a man who lived 15 years in Germany and still cannot reply to the question: Why this barbarity, why this inhumanity? The new generation of Germans is, of course, consoling. The political class of Germans has come to overcome this heavy past. I believe it has overcome it," Papoulias said.
Germany, he continued, "is a progressive, democratic country that is fighting for its future".
"I believe, though, that we have the duty of resisting barbarity. Of resisting the thought, the school, that maintains that only with violence can there be progress and democracy," Papoulias said, adding: "Progress and democracy presuppose peace, and peace cannot be imposed by polemic means. We, all the peoples, must fight (for peace), on a global scale, and the political class must be at the forefront.
The struggle for peace is the ultimate ideal of the land and, through peace, all the virtues of a humanitarian civilization will arise."
At a lunch hosted later in his honor, the President called for vigilance against barbarity, stressing that knowledge of history was the safe way to political maturity.
"The horrendous and callous crimes committed in the name of the Hitlerian principle of 'collective responsibility' comprise a dark page in the history of the 20th century, to which we have the duty to return in our effort to interpret that abhorrent phenomenon so that it may never be repeated," Papoulias said.
Today, we express our respect to the victims of the Nazi barbarity who, on that morning of April 24, 1944, became martyrs in the struggle for freedom, the President continued.
He said the collective experience of the Nazi occupation was another side of the collective duty: to never allow time to cover up these crimes and to be on a constant vigilance so that the world may not fall again into barbarity.
"For me, personally, my presence in every corner of Greece that suffered under the occupation and vindictiveness of the occupiers is a great honor and duty. And for every generation of our country, the knowledge of history is, I believe, a safe path to political maturity," Papoulias continued.
President Papoulias attended a Te Deum at the Archangellon (Archangels) Church, followed by a memorial service at the Momument of the Fallen, where he laid a wreath.
Also attending the events were Macedonia-Thrace minister George Kalantzis, MPs, Vermio mayor Sophocles Sidiropoulos, and representatives of the local authorities.
Source: Athens News Agency