On this day in 1941, Koukidis sacrificed himself to prevent the Nazis from dishonoring the Greek flag
It is Sunday April 27, 1941. A military procession, made up of two motorcycles, a Kubelwagen and a truck, ascends from Thissio towards the Acropolis. At the Acropolis, the flag flies high on the pole. The Greek flag with the large white cross in the middle on a blue background.
The soldiers who kept the flag every day since October 28, 1940 no longer exist! Under the terms of the truce between Greece and Nazi Germany, there should be no soldiers. An order has already been given to all the soldiers to report to the garrison to surrender.
So there are no soldiers to keep the flag. And yet a guard is there! It is the first day that he is given this position and he is very proud. He is only 17 years old and is a member of the National Youth Organization. Just yesterday, the local youth committee of Thissio decided that its young members should act as standard bearers, until the occupying state decides – with the cooperation of the occupying forces – what will happen next. .
He thinks that his responsibility is great, that of protecting the flag of his country. He had carefully made his uniform early in the morning and walked to the Acropolis on his own, approached the flag and greeted it. Then he took steps – instinctively – to the right and to the left to know the place, then he looked at it again and felt satisfied. From the walls of the Acropolis, he could see German military cars coming and going and people moving slowly. He also heard the bells of many churches, meaning it was Sunday.
He was worried about the Germans who had entered Athens, a heartbreak for his brother, who had not yet returned from the front lines. However, the waving flag warmed his heart, the eternal Acropolis and the Attic sun.
That person is Konstantinos Koukidis (Κωνσταντίνος Κουκίδης).
At 8:45 a.m., a German detachment led by Captain Jacob and Lieutenant Elsnic had reached the sacred rock of the Acropolis to hoist the German flag.
At that time, German officers ordered his soldiers to lower the Greek flag. The young Greek could not bear the humiliation of our national symbol. He got the flag, wrapped himself in it, and threw himself off the top of the Acropolis on the northeast side of Plaka. He was killed instantly.
The action of the Koukidis made a great impression on the Germans and especially on their leader, who reported the incident a little later to the High Military Administration.
Many say that Koukidis’ sacrifice was the reason the Greek flag was allowed to be displayed, along with the German flag, which is said to have only happened in Greece and nowhere else in occupied Europe.
It is striking that while in the early years there were oral and written testimonies of the sacrifice of Koukidis, for about 50 years this matter had been forgotten or silenced. The Germans did their best to hide this story in an attempt to prevent the patriotic fever of the occupied Greeks.
However, eyewitnesses have given their own testimonies to the authenticity of this story, and Koukidis’ sacrifice will not be forgotten.
Kyriakou Giannakopoulos, who witnessed the events, testifies.
“I, Giannopoulos, a child in the years of the Occupation, remember the inhabitants of the area around the Acropolis, talking about the event and a candle with an icon there for the soldier who fell with the flag the day the Germans came, ”he said.
And another, Stathis Arvanitis, also a small child, remembers:
“I was seven at the time. We lived just below the Acropolis. That day, April 27 – a sunny day with a very clear sky – my father had forbidden my brother and my mother to leave the house. I was on the patio and I was playing with my car. Suddenly I see a body, they must have creaked, fell from the Acropolis and hit the rocks. The Germans didn’t believe me, ”he said.
A commemorative plaque near where he died.
A true patriot for Greece.