Photograph by Harvey's Grandad to feature on German TV almost a century after it was taken

Last year I posted in the Great War Forum a number of photographs which were taken by Harvey's grandad during World War I. I wanted to see if any of the forum members could identify the places and indeed they were extremely helpful.

Amongst Cyril Ellen's collection was a series of photographs of the Lower Struma in Greece, believed to have been taken by him when he was an Observer Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service, based at nearby Stavros. At the time, the River Struma formed the Front Line between the Allied and Central Powers.

Series of Photographs of the Lower Struma, September 1917
Series of Photographs of the Lower Struma, September 1917
(Click the image above to view a larger version.)

Six pictures were glued onto some paper to form a panorama and, at one end, a village called Kato Krusoves/Krusovo is to be seen overlooking the river. This area is now known as Kato Kerdylia because the village was destroyed by the Germans in 1941 and the male population was massacred. Only the church was rebuilt, and the original bell tower still stands as a memorial to the 230 dead of Ano and Kato Kerdylia. A forum member informed me that photographs of the village before its destruction are rare and that the picture could be of historical interest.

Zoom of the village of Kato Krusoves during the First World War
Zoom of the village of Kato Krusoves during the First World War
(Click the image above to view a larger version.)

This brings me on to an unusual request which came via my family history website last week. A German television network called Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln or WDR (West German Broadcasting Cologne) got in touch and asked for permission to use Cyril's photo of the village in a major documentary about the atrocities committed by German forces during the Greek occupation in World War II.

Eager to find out more, I wrote back and learnt that the purpose of the documentary is to educate the German public about the atrocities in this partly forgotten aspect of the war. The background to this is the recent controversy over Greek demands for compensation relating to the time of the occupation, amounting to billions of Euros, and the programme will serve to inform people of the facts.

The TV crew visited Kerdylia a few months ago and went up to the former village, together with one of the few survivors of the massacre, the village being the first of more than 1000 completely destroyed with thousands of innocent people killed in the action to take revenge for partisan attacks.

Cyril's photographs were originally taken in 1917 when they were used together with a trench map and lists of enemy positions. The map can be viewed here and the observation post, from where the picture was taken, is clearly marked as a blue dot in Sector 47 H. More on the photographs can be seen here.

The programme, called Schuld und Schulden (Guilt and Debt), is due to be broadcast on 27th April 2016 and I understand it will also be available to watch online. As I don't speak German, I doubt I shall know what is being said which is a pity as it sounds like an interesting documentary.

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Category: Making Memories

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Annie, How interesting and very sad that Cousins falling out should have led to this!
How timely we are again reminded of the threat of wars in Eastern Europe. Hope the Germans can find it in their hearts to pay compensation as Greece could do with it!
Lets we forget the terrible things Russia and Germany did not only to each other buy to others.
I believe a lot of compensation was paid by Germany several decades ago and I fear the current political situation isn't quite as straightforward as it may at first seem. Nevertheless, I agree that any war is futile and it never hurts to be reminded of the terrible consequences for some when war does occur.

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