Memories of the Occupation in Greece

Reprisals

Women in Kalavrita in front of the graves of their relatives. Municipal Museum of the Kalavritan Holocaust.

Women in Kalavrita in front of the graves of their relatives. Municipal Museum of the Kalavritan Holocaust.

The Shooting Range of Kaisariani in 1944 with the slogans of the resistance calling to an uprising. Private collection Stergios Gkioulakis

The Shooting Range of Kaisariani in 1944 with the slogans of the resistance calling to an uprising. Private collection Stergios Gkioulakis

The implementation of the so-called collective responsibility was a trait of the German Occupation. Tens of thousand of civilians, including women and children, were killed by members of the German occupation forces in Greece, in a series of deliberate reprisal actions, that were nothing more than war crimes against innocent people, in direct violation of international laws. According to German calculations, about 30,000 Greeks were “killed in action” between June 1943 and September 1944, that means civilians murdered or shot on account of real or imagined partisan activities. According to a report submitted by the Greek government during the Nuremberg Trials, approximately 91,000 Greeks were murdered or shot as hostages by the German occupation forces.

This brutal retaliation policy swept at least 800 villages and towns that witnessed total destruction, mass killings or both. Among many places the following stand out as milestones of the Nazi terror in Greece: Kalavryta, Distomo, Giannitsa, Viannos, Kondomari, Alikianos, Anogia, Chortiatis, Kommeno , Klissura, Mesovouno, Kerdyllia, Paramythia und Lingiades. The most massive execution took place on December 13, 1943 in the town of Kalavryta. All men between 16 and 65 were shot and the town was burned to the ground by troops of the 117 Jäger Division. A total of 700 men, including 22 women and children, lost their lives during the “Operation Kalavryta”, while 24 villages and three monasteries in the whole region were destroyed. The massacre in Kalavryta is one of a series of similar crimes committed by German troops, such as the Czech Lidice, the French Oradour and the Serbian cities of Kraljevo and Kragujevac.