The exhibition “1940 | Faces and Images. Cyprus – Greece,” honouring the unseen heroes of World War II, a milestone moment for Cyprus and its people, was inaugurated last night at the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation by the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades.
Of particular importance was the presence of veteran combatants and of women who took part in the war who were visibly moved as they reminisced about the glory and self-sacrifice on the altar of freedom.
The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Embassy of Greece in Cyprus and is supported by the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media of Greece and the British High Commission in Nicosia.
In his speech addressing the inauguration of the exhibition, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, paid particular importance to the Cypriots who volunteered to the epic struggle to resist fascism. As he stressed “Their contribution cannot be understated: on the one hand they fought heroically and selflessly on the war front, on the side of the Allied Forces, and on the other hand they supported the war effort in any way they could – materially, financially and morally – within the initiative of the Ethnarchic Church that enlisted the entire nation, including women, farmers and labourers.
Mr. Anastasiadis also said that “in this context that they succeeded in placing Cyprus on the map as the country with the highest per capita participation in World War II.”
Christos Simos, Secretary General for Media & Communication, representing the Greek government, stated, inter alia, that “we cannot forget the faces of the 17,000 Cypriot volunteers who enlisted in the “Cypriot Regiment” under the then-colonial administration of Great Britain”.
Mr. Simos went on to say that “It is our duty to keep alive the memory of all those who gave their lives. And the best thing we can do to honour them is to strive to create a democratic Europe, a Europe of solidarity, at a time when the forces of the Far Right threaten to rise up again.”
In his own address, the Greek Ambassador to Cyprus, Mr. Elias Fotopoulos pointed out that “we are very pleased to be attending the opening of a special exhibition today which has particular symbolism and meaning”.
He went on to say “Through photographs and memorabilia of the era, there is an effort to reconstitute a sense of the heroic but also painful events of that global conflict, since very few people who took part are alive today to tell their story. In the framework of the exhibition, we seek to convey a particular facet of World War II, focusing on the participation of Greece and Cyprus.”
In his address, Mr. Symeon Matsis, Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, noted: “This exhibition aims to talk about the war victims, highlighting the power of the human will as it clashes with the inevitability of history and its all-engulfing and uncompromising violence. As he said “World War II was ‘ground zero’ for European and global civilization. Greece and Cyprus paid a heavy price in the war, sacrificing thousands – combatants and civilians alike – in the name of freedom.”
For his part British High Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Lillie said of the exhibition that it “is a positive step towards raising the awareness of the participation of Cyprus in the two World Wars”.
“Learning about and from the past is important for every nation. Cyprus has a number of impressive stories to tell from this chapter of its history: for communities working together side by side for the common good, defending freedom, providing protection to those in need, and getting distinguished for their industriousness.”
In her own welcoming speech, Catherine Loui Nikita, who curated the exhibition, said “This exhibition aims not to extol the victories on the battlefield, nor to laud the victors and disgrace the vanquished. Rather, its main purpose is to talk about the community of the victims, highlighting the power of the human will as it clashes with the inevitability of history and its all-engulfing and uncompromising violence.”
The exhibition also presents Dimitris Vattis’ photographic project “The War’s Forgotten”, which presents Cypriot veterans who joined in the struggle against Nazism.
The texts were written by Dr. Petros Papapolyviou, Historian, Associate Professor at the University of Cyprus, and Stelios Kymionis, Historian.
Duration: 10 April 2019 – 31 December 2019
Visiting hours: Mon – Sun 10:00 – 19:00
Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation
86-90 Faneromeni Str., Nicosia
For information: tel. 22 128157