September 5, 1944: Greek 17-Year-Old Heroine is Executed by Nazis

The name of Hero Konstantopoulou will remain in Greek history as synonymous to bravery and patriotism, as the 17-year-old girl was killed by the Nazi conquerors on September 5, 1944, only a month before the liberation of Greece.

Hero Konstantopoulou was born to a wealthy family of Spartans in Athens on July 16, 1927. She was only 14 years old when in April 1941 the German army invaded Greece to establish three and a half years of tyrannical rule that left hundreds of thousands of Greeks dead.

Konstantopoulou was a high school student when she joined resistance organization EPON. Despite her young age, she was active in the resistance against the occupying forces, defying the danger that entailed.

In early July 1944 she was arrested at home by the Security Battalions, the Greek Police that cooperated with the Germans. However, her rich parents used the connections they had and managed to have her released.

The second time the 17-year-old girl was arrested she was not so lucky. This time she was apprehended by the SS on July 31, after she participated in a sabotage act on a train carrying ammunition for the Wehrmacht.

Konstantopoulou was jailed in the Kommandantur detention facility on Merlin Street where she was tortured for three weeks to name her comrades in the resistance. The Germans also tried to tempt her to betray her colleagues, but to no avail. Finally the Nazis put her on death row at the Chaidari concentration camp.

On September 5, 1944, she was led along with 49 other prisoners to the Kaisariani Shooting Range, a place used by the Nazis as an execution grounds. She was shot 17 times, one bullet for each year of her life, to set an example for other resistance fighters, the Germans said. The young heroine fell only 37 days before the Nazis left Athens (October 12, 1944).

On December 29, 1977, the Academy of Athens honored the heroine with a posthumous award for her supreme sacrifice, with the recommendation of Professor of Philosophy Ioannis Theodorakopoulos, thus recognizing the contribution of EPON to the liberation struggle.

In 1981, scriptwriter Nikos Foskolos made a film about her short life, “17 Bullets for an Angel: The True Story of Hero Konstantopoulou”, starring Mary Vidali.