The Kalavryta Holocaust: One of the darkest days in modern Greek history

·

By Billy Patramanis

The gruesome massacre of innocent Greek people in Kalavryta occurred in 1943, at the time where the Axis had Greece occupied (April 1941-October 1944) by German, Bulgarian and Italian armed forces.

The operation to massacre the Greek village of Kalavryta began in October 1943, after Greek resistance forces captured 80 German soldiers during a battle in the village of Kerpini, near Kalavryta. 

After the soldiers were captured and held as prisoners, Nazi forces threatened to massacre nearby villages out of revenge if the Greeks didn’t release the prisoners. 

However, despite the church in the village trying to reason with the resistance forces to free the German prisoners, the leaders all refused. 

kalavryta holocaust

After the Greeks refused, the German 117th Jäger Division took action. On December 8th 1943, the German troops entered nearby villages of Kerpini and Pogi, killing the entire male population of both villages. 

The Greek forces retaliated by executing the German prisoners, with one German soldier managing to escape. 

By December 13th, 1943, The German troops entered Kalavryta, demanding they speak with the Greek forces who held the Germans captive, however, the Greek soldiers had already left the area once the execution was completed. 

Despite the villagers pleading with the German soldiers to leave, telling them the Greek soldiers already left, the Germans refused.

The Nazis ordered everyone living in Kalavryta to go to the town’s school. From there, the Nazis locked the women and children in the schoolyard, meanwhile forcing every male aged over 12 to walk up to Kapi Hill. They were ordered to the top of the hill because the men were forced to look down to the city of Kalavryta, and see the women and children locked in the schoolyard. 

From there, the gruesome massacre began. The Nazis lit the school on fire with the women and children trapped, waiting to be burnt alive while the men would watch the horror unfold. As the school was being burnt down, the men on the hill were brutally massacred, shot dead by the Nazis.

Of the 700 odd men that were standing atop of the hill, only 13 managed to survive. 

Fortunately for the women and children, they managed to escape from the burning school, it is believed that an Austrian soldier freed them, while the some other Nazi soldiers also allowed them to be freed. 

The days after Operation Kalavryta were horrific. The wives, sisters and children of the men who were brutally murdered were now forced to bury their beloved loved ones.

Despite being granted the right to live, Kalavryta had been completely burnt down and ransacked by the Nazis. The women and children were left homeless and starved. 

Unfortunately, the Germans didn’t stop there. They continued their onslaught of nearby Greek villages, as well as the monastery of Agia Lavra, an important landmark of the Greek War of Independence. 

The town’s cathedral was eventually rebuilt once the German occupation was over. The clock that is on the cathedral shows the time of 2:34pm, and will remain that way forever. The time is stopped to mark the exact time the murdering of the men had begun. 

Moreover, the site of the schoolyard where the women and children were locked up, became the Kalavryta Holocaust Museum in 2005. The museum has objects on display from the Nazi occupation, photographs depicting the events, as well as newspapers and documents from that specific dark time in Greek history. In the museum, some of the floors are still burnt to remember the horrific events of that fatal day. 

The Kalavryta massacre remains one of the darkest days in modern Greek history. 

Advertisement

Share:

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH TGH

By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Advertisement

Latest News

Greek court drops migrant shipwreck case against nine Egyptians

A Greek court has dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men suspected of creating one of the Mediterranean's deadliest shipwrecks. The deadly boat tragedy saw over 600...

Eight Australians hospitalised after deadly Singapore Airlines flight

Eight Australians are in hospital after severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight left one person dead and more than 70 injured.

Kytherians in Australia celebrate legacy and philanthropy at annual Debutante Ball

The Kytherian Association of Australia hosted their Annual Debutante Ball on Saturday, May 18, at the Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.

Sydney’s Pontian community gather to remember lives lost during Greek Genocide

On Sunday, 19 May 2024, Pontoxeniteas NSW held a poignant commemoration of the Greek Genocide. Read more here.

Panarcadian Mother’s Day focuses on health, Hippocrates and heritage

On Sunday, May 19th, the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, "O Kolokotronis," held their successful annual Mother's Day event

You May Also Like

10-year-old Melbourne runner Archie Sideridis sets unofficial world record

Melbourne runner, Archie Sideridis, has set an unofficial world record for a 10-year-old boy in the 1,500 metre race.

Wedding joy for Greek Australian couple in final hours before Sydney lockdown

A Greek Australian couple managed to spend the dying hours of pre-lockdown Sydney celebrating one of the most special days of their lives.

Victorian coroner, Paresa Spanos, calls for ‘urgent’ public drug testing after deaths of five men

Victorian coroner, Paresa Spanos, has recommended the state government urgently introduce drug testing for the first time.