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A Promise of Remembrance

A Promise of Remembrance

By: Harry J. Karapalides
Publisher: Cosmos Philly Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1520496146
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: November 20, 2021

A father and son must make crucial decisions in order to save themselves and others, in this emotionally charged depiction of Greek citizens facing the chaos of World War II, by author Harry Karapalides.

In the late 1930s, Argyri Karas, a well-to-do shop owner in Thessaloniki, has formed an unusual business partnership with Assael - unusual because Karas is a Christian, Assael a Jew. The working bond is based on their combined skills - Assael is an accurate accountant while Karas is a talented salesman. The relationship is one of trust and is underpinned by what seems a gently blooming romance between Assael’s daughter Mira and young Vangelis Karas.

As a Nazi invasion seems inevitable, everyone must take steps to flee or stay. Argyri, an honorable man of genuine faith, wants to aid the Assael family, so he hides them in his home. When they are discovered by the sadistic Nazi Sturmbannfuhrer Klaus, they will be separated and Argyri will suffer greatly for his act of conscience. He is imprisoned, gets a terrifying, sickening view of how Jews and others are being treated by Hitler’s regime, and may pay with his life for his guardianship of his friends. It is up to Vangelis to do the seemingly impossible – free his father and save his Jewish companions who have been shipped away – but to where? Just as the Germans are beginning to lose in Greece, a new faction arises – communism, invoking a civil war. The struggle of Greek against Greek will prove as savage as the battle against the Nazis, and for the Karas clan, will include the intense, insane hatred of one rabid communist. Through all of this, Argyri maintains his remarkably rational religious core beliefs, seeing all wars as destructive and evil. And he will continue, for many years to come, to seek any news of Assael’s fate.

Based on his family lore and factual documentation, author and attorney Karapalides (the “Karas” of his fictionalized creation) makes history come alive. For those less schooled in the events in Greece during World War II, he offers a wide panorama of actual happenings enhanced by his vivid imagination. His depiction of battle, betrayal, and brutality are horrific, bringing the reader to experience the deeply disturbing shocks of war’s turmoil, the outrage of blind nationalism, and the heartless antisemitism – factors that gripped so many and resulted in the slaughter of millions of innocents in battle, captivity, and unfeeling torture. Through the eyes of his well-drawn, empathic heroes Argyri and Vangelis, this tale, spanning more than sixty years, offers triumphs, sorrows, and a gentle resolution found in the symbolism of a small, precious heirloom.

Quill says: By enmeshing his own family recollections with historical fact and rich fictional characterizations and settings, Harry Karapalides has constructed a deeply moving account of war and loss contrasted with loyalty, respect, and abiding love.

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