People who should inspire our youth today – Lela Karagianni (Bouboulina) 1898-1944 murdered by Nazi’s in Greece.

To often in this day and age our youth seem to idolise people who frankly should not be considered role models at all. My 15 year old nephew absolutely worships and idolises a football player and his girlfriend has the same feelings toward a female singer. Both the singer and footballer have lead lives that in the public view seems “acceptable” because of who they are yet fall very far from the tree when you compare their antics, frivolities and sexual exploits in the newspapers and television to the people who gave their lives for their faith or their country unreservedly yet barely made their local obituary column.

Yet more and more often this is becoming the norm. Which is, to be honest, somewhat disquieting. My nephew would rather spend an hour in front of the television watching his idol and 21 other spoilt millionaires kicking a ball for £ 50,817 per week than going to church for an hour edifying his soul.

Allow me to tell you about Bouboulina – Lela Karagianni, [she inspires me to be selfless] who until World War II, was a housewife who lived with her seven children in Athens.  She had no involvement in politics. In April 1941, the German Army invaded Yugoslavia and moved Southeast to Greece. The country was divided into Italian and German zones with Athens coming under the control of the Italians. During the same year, Karagianni joined an underground cell of the Greek resistance movement EDES. The cell was code- named Bouboulina and cooperated with British intelligence. Karagianni and her fellow resistance fighters falsified papers and helped smuggle people into the areas under the control of the partisans.

A number of Jews were included among the people that Karagianni rescued. In 1947, in a letter written in 1947 to Lela’s husband, Solomon Cohen described her altruism: “In the most dangerous of times, when we thought all was lost and that there was no more hope for us, we turned to Mrs. Karagianni. We were in deep despair, and this was our last resort. I will never forget the moment when she opened her door to us. This was at a time when even our closest friends avoided us. She sheltered us in her home, although she knew that she was already under heavy suspicion”.

Solomon Cohen, his wife Regina and his daughter Shelly (Cohen) Kounio, born 1932, had fled to Athens from their native Salonika at a time when Athens was still relatively safe. However, when the Germans invaded the southern part of Greece in September 1943, the Cohen family decided to disobey the orders and not to register. Instead, they went into hiding. In April 1944, they were desperately looking for a safe-house and arrived at Karagianni’s home. Karagianni hid them for some time, and then helped them find a better location.

In July 1944, Lela Karagianni was arrested by the Germans. She was executed two months later, in September 1944.

On September 13, 2011 Yad Vashem recognized Lela Karagianni as Righteous among the Nations.

Honouring this exceptional story of courage and self-sacrifice, do you not think she would be a far better role model for your children as they grow up?

My prayers and blessings are with you all, in Jesus and Mary.

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