The town of Kalavryta, in Western Greece, is now chiefly known as a mountain resort. On December 13, 1943, it was the site of the greatest massacre perpetrated by the occupying German troops in Greece.
A few days earlier, Greek partisans operating in the area had executed 78 German soldiers they had held captive since October.
More than 500 males aged 12 and over were machine-gunned, while the women and children only managed to escape a school set ablaze reportedly because a German soldier disobeyed orders and allowed them to get out. Including operations in nearby villages, about 700 civilians were killed, 1,000 houses looted and burned and 2,000 livestock seized.
A memorial has been built on the site of the massacre. On April 18, 2000, then German president Johannes Rau visited the site to express his peoples’ feelings of sorrow and remorse for the massacre. Years earlier, German schoolchildren had visited and helped clean up the memorial.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Monday, has revived the issue of German compensation for crimes like these. The Germans have responded that the issue of reparations has been conclusively settled.
Text by Petros Giannakouris
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