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martyred places in greece

Photographer: Orestis Panagiotou


Kandanos, Distomo, Kaisariani and Korai 4. These are the names of four of 95 places in Greece that were haunted by the atrocities committed by Nazi troops during the German occupation from 1941 to 1945.


On 03 June 1941, a German Corps Aviation invaded the village of Kandanos on Crete island and in retaliation for the losses they suffered fighting against local guerrillas, they blew up and burned down the whole village. A few days later, they placed an engraved marble sign at the entrance to the destroyed town as a warning for other villagers of Crete.


On 10 June 1944, a regiment of the notorious Waffen SS invaded the village of Distomo and as part of reprisals for acts of resistance by partisans, killed 47 children, including babies, 101 women and 70 men before setting the village on fire.


In the town of Kaisariani, east of Athens, Nazi troops executed some 750 people, mostly communists, who Greece’s dictatorship regime in 1936-1940 had handed over to the Germans.


Korai 4 was a prison in the basement of a former insurance building in the heart of Athens that the Nazis commandeered from 1941 to 1944. Hundreds of thousands of city residents were imprisoned and tortured in the underground cells; often for no reason. About 200,000 starved to death during the 1941/42 winter.


During the German occupation, approximately 150,000 Greeks were violently killed, around 400,000 died of hunger while the total population decreased by 12 percent. Greece had 7.3 million inhabitants in 1940.


According to a report by a special committee of the Greek Finance Ministry in May 2015, the claims for German reparations and a forced occupation loan amount to 280-340 billion euro.Relatives of the victims of the martyred villages are engaged in an ongoing legal battle to claim war reparations from Germany.