In an atmosphere fraught with emotion, the ceremony to bestow the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” upon Constantine Giannitsis was held in the Athens College Theater on Monday, February 11th. The title was in recognition of Constantine Giannitsis’ pivotal role in saving the lives of members of the Asher Raphael Moissis family during the Holocaust. This honorable distinction is awarded by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum of Israel to non-Jews who saved Jews during the Occupation. The event was co-organized by Athens College, the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affair, and the Embassy of Israel.
The title was accepted on behalf of the late Constantine Giannitis by his children: his son, former Minister Tasos Giannitsis, and his daughter, Ms. Eleni Kappetou. The Moissis family was represented by Athens College alumni, Messrs. Raphael Moissis, and his son, Alexandros Moissis.
Greeting speeches were given by Mr. Richard Jackson – College President, The Honorable Kostas Gavroglou – Minister of Education Research and Religious Affairs, Her Excellency Irit Ben-Abba – Ambassador of Israel to Greece, and Mr. David Saltiel – President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.
Following their addresses, the audience was shown a video clip in which Raphael Moissis gave a personal testimony of events that took place during the Occupation of Greece.
Former Prime Ministers, The Honorable Lucas Papademos and The Honorable Panagiotis Pikrammenos; MPs, Mr. Nikos Dendias, Ms. Niki Kerameus, Mr. Giorgos Koumoutsakos, Ms. Olga Kefalogianni, Mr. Giannis Kefalogiannis, Mr. Kostas Karagkounis and Giorgos Mavrotas; The Mayor of Amarousion and President of KEDE, Mr. Giorgos Patoulis; The Mayor of Filothei – Psychico, Mr. Pantelis Xyridakis; the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Mr. Yannis Stournaras; The Honorable Petros Doukas, former Minister; His Excellency Geoffrey Pyatt, Ambassador of the USA to Greece and His Excellency Lucian Fatu, Ambassador of Romania to Greece; Chief Rabbi of Athens, Gabriel Negri; as well as members of the Church, the Armed Forces and businessmen honored the event with their presence.
In their speeches, the speakers stressed the educational nature of the event as a means of combating Fascism, Nazism and anti-Semitism at a time when such phenomena are resurfacing in Europe. At the same time, they pointed out that the stories of the “Righteous” serve as a reminder to the elders and as a lesson to younger people that the fight against discrimination and prejudice is a conscientious choice. Speaking from personal experiences, Mr. Alexandros Moissis, son of the rescued, and Mr. Tasos Giannitsis gave a deeper meaning to the Ceremony.
College students gave special meaning to the event by performing musical-theatrical pieces that centered on the themes of the Holocaust, diversity and anti-discrimination.
To date, over 23,000 people have been honored with the title “Righteous Among the Nations” worldwide, including 352 Greeks. Among those are the late Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Damaskinos, Greek resistance heroine Lela Karagianni, former Chief of the Hellenic Police Force Angelos Evert, former Mayor of Zakynthos Loukas Carrer, late Metropolitan of Zakynthos Chrysostomos, late Metropolitan of Dimitriada Ioakeim, and many more unsung heroes and heroines from World War II.