Athens, June 14
Yesterday, we climbed the Acropolis (glaring hot, crowded, thrilling).
An hour later, unexpectedly, somewhat unwillingly, courtesy of an Athenian friend, Euphrosyne Konti, who worked on the restoration and on management of the space, we descended to the basement and sub-basement of The Memorial Site, Korai 4 (cool, deserted, frightening).
Built as a bomb shelter in 1938, it was used as a detention center by the German Occupation from 1941 to 1944. Men, women and children were detained there for the usual reasons, resistance, religion, random (including hitching a free ride on a tramcar) before being taken elsewhere for interrogation, torture and execution.
The walls were originally painted a soft ochre and then painted head high in dark gray, creating a scratchboard surface. Upon which one could draw, possibly using a nail from a shoe. Because the Nazis destroyed all records before departure, the walls and a few survivors provide all the information available about the unknown numbers of people that were held there.
Though I attempted to rigidly control my imagination from making me prisoner or guard, I couldn’t help asking myself, “What would you draw on the wall?” A woman? A man? A ship? A bottle of wine? A flower? And how hard would you fight to remain by that picture in the dim, crowded, airless filthy hole?
For more pictures an information about the Memorial Site, 4 Korai St. :