June 2nd in German History: The Massacre of Kondomari

German soldiers preparing to fire on civilians.

Nazi Germany committed many atrocities during the Second World War. One of the lesser-known ones is the Massacre of Kondomari, in which German troops killed civilians from the Greek village of Kondomari, located on the island of Crete.

In 1941, Germany invaded and occupied the island of Crete, as I discussed here Link. Following the invasion of the Greek mainland, German paratroopers and seaborne troops landed on the island, securing it by May 31st. However, during the invasion civilian partisans inflicted heavy losses on the Germans. Thus, on May 31st, immediately after the island’s surrender, German General Kurt Student ordered reprisals against the Greek population. Soon after, the bodies of German soldiers were found near Kondomari and the village was blamed for their deaths. On June 2nd, several truckloads of German soldiers arrived in the village and selected dozens of hostages from the male population. The civilians were then taken to nearby groves and shot. German sources say 23 were killed, but other sources report numbers as high as 60. The event was photographed by Franz-Peiter Weixler, a war correspondent, who was later imprisoned for leaking material including photographs of the massacre.

Bodies of civilians killed during the massacre.

History is full of atrocities both great and relatively small. Even though the Massacre of Kondomari did not leave as many dead as the Katyn massacre or the Malmedy massacre, those who were unjustly killed should not be forgotten.

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