Greek resistance heroine made Righteous Gentile

By Stylianos Perrakis, September 6, 2012

Lela Karayanni, a heroine of the Greek resistance who was arrested in July 1944 and executed by the Germans two months later, has been recognised by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations.

The recognition was based on testimonies by Holocaust survivors, who she helped escape from occupied Athens to resistance-controlled areas or abroad. She hid some in safe houses in the city, and never asked for money for the help that she provided.

In May 1941, at the start of the occupation, Karayanni was a 43-year-old housewife in a prosperous middle-class family. She had seven children and no prior involvement in public affairs.

Karayanni began her resistance activities when she sheltered British soldiers who had been cut off in Athens, eventually progressing to traditional intelligence, espionage and sabotage work.

She worked with the British Secret Services as an unpaid agent, ran her own organisation, came into contact with resistance leaders in the ranks of the Athens police, and was entrusted with important political assignments.

Last updated: 11:51am, September 6 2012