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A "cousin" of Michelle Pfeiffer’s "flew over the Nazi's nest"

10 February 2011 / 16:02:22  GRReporter
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Yakovos Kabanellis I’ve met for the first time at the “Balkan Film Festival” where I showed the “shortest short film of all times” titled the “Crash” and there was an exhibition of my work titled “... and they invented wings”. He talked to me and asked me if perhaps one day I would like to do the decoration for one of his theatre plays. A few years ago he published a map of the “Kastro of Naxos” I did (until then there was no actual map of the Venetian/Frankish Castle), for a book titled “Naxos” initiated by the municipality.

QUESTION: The subject of the reparations owed by Germany to Greece for the atrocities - physical, moral and material damage - caused by the Nazis during the Occupation is a sore point in German-Greek relations, preoccupying politicians, historians, diplomats, artists. Recently the Greek state-owned channel ET1 screened twice the powerful documentary ‘A Song for Argyris’ (Ena tragoudi gia ton Argyri), the story of a Greek man, now a Geneva-based scholar who as a child during the Occupation fell victim of the massacre of the village of Distomo. His family was killed and he grew up in orphanages in Greece and Switzerland, his personal story becoming an universal symbol of coping with traumatic war-time memories and suffering transformed into creative energy for world peace. What is your attitude on the subject of German guilt, do Germany owe moral (and eventually) financial retribution to Greece?   

PFEIFFER: Being born in Germany and having lived for such a long time on Naxos I’m still quite astonished how tolerant the Greeks are about what happened here during the Second World War and not only in Kalavryta and Distomo. I do remember being in Amsterdam, I was sixteen years old and accused by an elderly Dutch man about the atrocities done by the Germans in the Netherlands. He accused me for killing 6 million Jews, not accepting my reply that my father suffered too in concentration camps.

This has never happened to me in Greece though. Anyway, my personal opinion is that this burden of organized killing – the methodical extermination of human beings in the Third Reich is still frightening many people around the world. Concentration camps were invented by the English in South Africa, genocides have taking place since Cain and Abel - under Stalin, in Biafra, in Turkey against the Armenians . . . there is no end, but never with such a method and organisation as the Nazi Germans did it and this frightens people until the present day! The financial retribution to Greece, which is mentioned in the media nowadays so often (and Manolis Glezos has gone to the highest German court in Karlsruhe) has in my opinion nothing to do with the actual financial crisis here in Greece.
To bring the financial retribution to Greece and the actual financial crisis in Greece in context is in my opinion wrong.

QUESTION: In our brief conversation at the Benaki museum you mentioned Michelle Pfeiffer is a cousin of yours (or distant relative of yours?), that your family (as hers) originally comes from Besançon in France. Would you like to tell the readers of www.grreporter.info more about your family history?

PFEIFFER: This is my “running gag”: It happened the first time when I arrived in Tokyo 1999 to organize my first solo exhibition in Japan. I didn’t know that Michelle Pfeiffer was in Tokyo at the same time. The custom officer asked me if I was related to her and I replied “Yes” – it was a joke! What I do know is that the “Pfeiffers“ with three fff are originally from France – the name than was “Siffleur” as flute-player (“Avlitis” in Greek), this comes from “le siffle” i.e. the flute or pipe (in Greek “avlos”), (“Peter piper pecked the pepper” remember Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘Lolita’). In high school I had a teacher who was very interested in genealogy and he searched and found out that our family from my father’s side came originally from Besançon in France, settled in Hessia near Frankfurt and translated their name into German. So it could really be I’m in a way related to Michelle, because the family root is for sure French – anyway it’s a joke – a running gag, because I was asked so often about my relationship to Michelle – I always say “Yes”! Actually the name is very old from medieval times when the “Pipers and the Drummers” were going in front of the Herald who announced the news from the King, the Duke let’s say the authorities.

Tags: Klaus PfeifferPrinzhornthe island of NaxosNazisMental patientsVisual arts
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