Many people don't know - or are only beginning to know - that among Hitler's first victims were gay men. More than 100,000 gay men from around Europe suffered imprisonment and torture, many died. At least 15,000 were sent to the camps (the number is an estimate because many men were imprisoned for other reasons as well.)
Because of the discussions about Greece during World War II at Saint Sophia, Gus has an idea of what happened. He'll be learning more in the next few years. As he does, I also hope he'll hear the stories of the brave men and women from every corner of Europe, who risked their own lives to save those of others.
The Greek island of Zakynthos is off the northern coast of the Peloponnese.
The two implored the islanders to hide their Jewish neighbors in the villages throughout the island. In retaliation, the Nazis took the children of the island as labor - thankfully, not slaughtering them. Yet, the people of Zakynthos stood strong. Not one Jew left the island during the occupation.
His Eminence, Metropolitan ChrysostomFor the generations born after the Holocaust, understanding it, relating to it can be difficult. With each passing year, more of the victims and heroes of this dark period of time pass on. It becomes as distant as any other part of history. But I wonder, as Gus continues to learn more about the Holocaust, and the various groups persecuted by the Nazis, will he ever stop to think, "That could be my dad."
Gay prisoners were forced to wear pink triangles.
I hope that we are raising our children to understand that the world is a place of light and goodness. I hope that as he delves into this part of the human experience more deeply, he will hear the stories of the thousands and thousands of Germans, French, Danes, Italians, Poles, Greeks and every other nationality, who risked their own lives to protect others.
We can never forget this horrible, dark period of our shared history. But we must also remember that even in the darkest times, there were brilliant bursts of light.
The Wall of the Righteous Nations in Israel - Greek section.