German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid a visit to the Haidari concentration camp, west of Athens on Thursday, which was operated by the Nazis during the Axis occupation of Greece in World War II.
Steinmeier and his wife laid flowers at the entrance of the main building in memory of the thousands that perished in the largest and most notorious concentration camp in wartime Greece, becoming known as the “Bastille of Greece”.
Operating from September 1943 until it was shut down in September 1944, it was a transit camp established on the grounds of a Greek Army barracks, and it is estimated that in the one year of its operation, some 21,000 people passed through it, including Jews, Italian POWs and Greek political prisoners.
The majority of those who passed through the camp were transported north, to Auschwitz in the case of the Jews, or to forced labor in Germany, while others were detained for questioning by the Gestapo. It is estimated that around 2,000 inmates were executed there during the camp’s operation.
Steinmeier and his wife are carrying out a two-day visit to Greece at the invitation of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos.