Argyris Sfountouris

(born 1940 in Distomo, Greece)

"Remembrance can however only begin after one has recognised the events, after one has accepted the whole truth of what has happened."*

Argyris Sfountouris has committed himself to fostering Geman-Greek relations as well as to the recognition and compensation of victims of German war crimes. Argyris Sfountouris grew up in the Greek village of Distomo, near Delphi. In 1940, as a four-year-old, he was forced to witness his parents’ and two of his siblings’ murders, alongside the murder of some 200 neighbours, at the hands of German soldiers in an act of revenge. From then on, he lived with relatives and in children’s homes. At the age of eight, he was placed in a home in Switzerland. Later, Sfountouris worked as a teacher, physicist, aid worker, writer and translator. As far as the situation permitted, he fought against the Greek military junta of the 1960s and 70s, and later received Swiss citizenship. To this day, he is committed to recognising the suffering of victims of the Wehrmacht (armed forces of Nazi Germany) in the Second World War. Not least, he sued the Federal Republic of Germany before international courts. In 2015, he held the Möllner Rede im Exil (Mölln Speech in Exile) in memory of the victims of the right-wing extremist arson attack in Mölln in 1992. In 2022, Sfountouris was honoured with the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit). He has however still not received compensation as a victim of the Wehrmacht.

* • Sfountouris, A., Trauer um Deutschland. Reden und Aufsätze eines Überlebenden (Mourning for Germany. Speeches und Esssays of a Survivor), Würzburg 2015, p.

Argyris Sfountouris
Credits: Annick Ramp, NZZ