Tom Souleles is a Chicago-based, first generation Greek-American, whose recent film project illustrates the inspiring passion of the Greek Diaspora for the homeland, and the desire to see the Greek story told.
Tom’s pride and interest in Hellenism runs deep, but when it came to telling the world about what happened in Kalavryta, it was personal. As he told an interviewer, “my parents are both from a small village outside of Kalavryta. I grew up hearing the story of what the Nazis did to the innocent people of Kalavryta and the nearby communities in 1943.” The Nazis massacred 677 people, in retaliation for the capture of German soldiers, including all of Kalavryta’s men over 14 years of age. The village’s women and children were trapped in a local elementary school which was set on fire. The massacre is the worst in Greece in World War II and was a signal sent by the Nazis to other Greek resistance fighters of the dangers of uprising.
Tom explained that “when my own kids were old enough, my wife and I visited Kalavryta, so that our kids could see the history themselves. This trip occurred in the summer of 2013. When my wife and I returned home to Chicago, we decided we wanted this story told both for those still alive who remember the event, and for the next generations to understand the horrors of war and fascism.”
He said he was fortunate at that time to meet with gifted writer/producer Dimitrios Katsantonis, who told a reporter that “Tom and Cia Souleles’ financial contribution was instrumental and got the ball rolling in a big way.”
“In time,” Tom continued, “this beautiful piece of work was created.”
Tom has noted that, “the film is one of the most expensive productions ever mounted in Greece… the production employed over 600 extras, including some of my relatives.” The actors included Max Von Sydow, the renowned actor who portrayed Christ in “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Katsantonis has said that he wrote the part of ‘Nikolaos Andreou’ with the revered actor in mind.
The film, entitled “Echoes of the Past,” directed by Nicholas Dimitropoulos, opened with box office success in Greece in November 2022 and is now available on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and other platforms.
Thomas S. Souleles earned an AB at Princeton University, and a JD/MBA at Harvard University. He joined Madison Dearborn Partners in 1995, and in 2022 was named the firm’s Co-President. Cia Souleles is a practicing Clinical Counselor. Cia and Tom Souleles have two children and reside in Chicago.
Tom concluded with the following remarks about the film, a labor of love. “My father was over 90 years old when we began production of the film. Not to add to the pressure, but I promised myself that I would make this film before he passed. My father watched the film on Amazon Prime. It was a painful and emotional experience for him, but he was happy the history is remembered.”
(Material from The National Herald and NEO Magazine were used in this article)