Why this project?
From Gregory C. Pappas, President & Founder
This collection of items was sparked by decades of family stories told by my father who was a teenager when the Germans invaded his native island of Crete with thousands of “umbrellas” falling from the sky in May 1941. This project is also inspired by my mother who, although born after the Germans surrendered, remembered growing up drinking ‘American milk’ and receiving boxes with various food items for many years after World War II ended. Through my personal collection of rare historic items — accumulated over many years — my hope is to share the important role that Greece played in arguably the most important war in modern history.
The World War II Pappas Collection
On long-term temporary loan to the Greek America Foundation is the private collection of Gregory C. Pappas which features more than 300 items pertaining to Greece’s role during World War II and the American response.
Assembled over 20 years, the collection includes the largest known collection of original Greek War Relief posters dating to the 1940s, as well as newspapers, cartoons and photographs — all of which have been lent gratis to the foundation by Pappas in order for proper display and to raise awareness for both the collection and the foundation.
The Pittsburgh native began collecting the items when he learned of his own family’s role during the invasion and ensuing occupation of his parents’ native Crete.
Dr. Alexander Kitroeff, Professor of History, Haverford College
Greece’s entry into World War II on October 28, 1940 stands out as one of the finest hours in the country’s 20th-century history. That date was also a major turning point in the relations between Greece and the United States and the status of the Greek immigrants in America. It brought about a newfound, stronger appreciation of both modern Greece and the Greek Americans on the part of the American public and its government. The news that the Greek people were enthusiastically going to war against Fascist Italy was greeted with great enthusiasm in the United States.
The collection is comprised of more than 300 items including original news photographs, various ephemera, original posters and a collection of hundreds of pages of de-classified war reports.
“The Hour of Greece”
October 24 – December 20, 2019
Hellenic American University
Under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the exhibition was inaugurated in Athens by U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, President of the Hellenic American University Leonidas Koskos and Gregory Pappas. The full details of the exhibition can be found here (in Greek).
The exhibition opening in Athens received extensive coverage in the national media, including front page stories in the Greek and English editions of Greece’s most widely-circulated newspaper, Kathimerini, and extensive television coverage via an entire episode of Attica TV.