Archive for Saturday, October 21, 2006

Legislator reunited with dad lost in war aftermath

October 21, 2006


— A 62-year-old Austrian legislator who found his father decades after he had returned to Greece in the aftermath of World War II arrived Friday for an emotional reunion.

Volkmar Harwanegg's questions about his father were met with stubborn refusal from his Austrian mother. Only after her death in 1995 did the first clues emerge, and the trail finally led this year to a village in northern Greece.

Giorgos Pitenis, now 87, was one of tens of thousands of Greeks forcibly transported to Austria and Germany by Nazi occupation forces between 1941-44.

Selected as a slave laborer in 1941 as punishment for his left-wing politics, Pitenis worked as a car mechanic in Vienna. It was there that he met Harwanegg's mother.

Harwanegg was born in 1944. Pitenis was repatriated to Greece shortly after the Nazi defeat and the couple never met again.

They corresponded for a few years, but Pitenis' last letter, dated 1957, never got a response. It was Elizabeth's unposted answer, found in her affairs after her death, that gave Harwanegg a name to match with his father.


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