Lyngiades massacre

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Lyngiades massacre
LocationLyngiades, Ioannina, Greece
DateOctober 3, 1943
TargetPopulation of the village
Attack type
Mass murder, burning of village
Deaths92
Injuries
5 (and sole survivors of the massacre)
PerpetratorsGerman 1st Mountain Division
MotiveVillage was arbitrarily chosen due to the killing of a German officer by the Greek resistance

The Lyngiades massacre, which took place on October 3, 1943, was a Nazi German war crime perpetrated by members of the 1st Mountain Division of the Wehrmacht Heer during the Axis occupation of Greece. The village of Lyngiades, near Ioannina in northwestern Greece, was arbitrarily chosen as a target for reprisals by the Wehrmacht due to the killing of a German officer by members of the Greek Resistance. The vast majority of the victims were children, women and elderly.

Background[edit]

Greek resistance groups were active in northwestern Greece (Epirus) during World War II. On one occasion a unit of the National Republican Greek League (EDES) ambushed a German convoy near Preveza. As a result of this action, regiment commander Col. Josef Salminger was shot by Greek resistance fighters. Salminger was notorious for orchestrating various attacks against civilians, such as the massacre of Kommeno which resulted in the death of 317 villagers.[1]

The village of Lygiades could not be clearly linked with any resistance activity by German intelligence. One of the reasons it was chosen as a target might be the fact that the village was visible from the nearby regional capital of Ioannina, thus its destruction would likely spread fear among the local population.[2]

The attack[edit]

Everyone who could not escape was dragged by the German soldiers to the central square of the village. After the dwellings were extensively searched and looted, all civilians were divided into small groups and driven into the cellars of various dwellings. There they were shot down by machine guns. Apart from the church and the village school, all the buildings in the village were set on fire.[3] The vast majority of the 92 victims were children, infants, women and elderly.[1]

Five civilians managed to survive: two adults and three children.[1] They pretended to be dead among the corpses and then escaped from the burning buildings by ascending from the fireplace. Most of the local adults were not in the village at the time of the attack because they were working in adjacent villages, and thus they escaped death.[1][4]

Memory[edit]

On March 7, 2014, German President Joachim Gauck visited Lyngiades together with his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias. Gauck became the first official representative of Germany to visit the site, and expressed his apologies for the atrocities committed by the Wehrmacht troops:[5][6]

With shame and pain I ask in the name of Germany the families of the victims for forgiveness... I bow in front of the victims for this monstrous crime.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Hermann, 2008, p. 423
  2. ^ Meyer, 2009, p. 483
  3. ^ Meyer, 2009, p. 485
  4. ^ Meyer, 2009, p. 473
  5. ^ Kambas, Mitsou, 2015, p. 51: "... Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck. Bei seinem Versöhnungsbesuch... bat er als erster Repräsentant Deutschlands um Verzeihung für die Besatzungsverbrechen."
  6. ^ "Gauck visits site of WWII massacre in Greece on final day of trip". Deutsche Welle. March 7, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2017.

Sources[edit]