An article about Distomo massacre by the Nazis

Hello everyone!

I found an article the other day, written by LIFE magazine on 1944. The article is about some incidents that took place in Greece during that time, focusing on the Distomo massacre and I decided to make a post, showing it to you.

In the first photo we see Maria Pantiska still weeping, four months after the Germans killed her mother in massacre in the Greek town of Distomo, as the LIFE magazine states.

The upper right pictures:

1. Five relatives of Katina …(can’t see the surname) were killed in Distomo. Many of the town’s big families were entirely wiped out.

2. Six relatives of Maria Karouzou (if I can see well) her father, mother, brother, sister, son-in-law, three-year-old nephew were killed by Germans.

3. Her baby was in Zoi’s … (can’t see the surname) arms when Germans shot it in the head. The scar is where the bullet went through the shoulder.

I managed to make out what was written in this article back in 27th of November 1944. Take a look.

“As British troops completed the occupation of Greece, the cold unnasnilable evidence of German cruelty and Greek suffering began to reach the world. It was evidence in terms of living and dead people and people who were somewhere in between. It was too much to tell in words so the most precise testimony was in pictures. The pictures on these pages taken by LIFE war photographer Dimitri Kesael, show in detail what the Germans did to Greece.

The most damaging German crime in Greece was murder. The new order had no place for the Greeks and at first the Germans seemed bent on their extermination. In the winter of 1941-1942 they let 450.000 Greeks starve to death. Later, when it became apparent that the new order was a less pressing job than the war, the Germans seemed to abandoned their starvation plan. But the wanton, unplanned killing of Greeks went on as before.

(Frank Harper, 160 Canongate, Edinburgh (left), and BAC Edward Carswell, Ivy Cottage, Stanley, Stoke-on-Trent, members of the RAF Regiment, share their early morning breakfast rations with a little Greek boy. Source:

Other human damage in Greece will never be measured accurately. Nearly all Greeks are suffering from some form of malnutrition. Hardship has made many Greek women barren. In some places the tuberculosis rate among Greek children is as high as 80%. Material damage has also been heavy. More than 2.000 Greek villages have been destroyed. The machines have been looted from the textile and chemical industries of Athens, Salonica and Eleusis. Added to all this, the Greek currency hopelessly inflated.

The Greeks fought back with courage and brains. Their most effective fighting organization was the ELAS, military arm of EAM majority Greek political front. During the Occupation, ELAS had about 30.000 armed men. The EDES, a much smaller right-wing group also fought the Germans. Between them the ELAS and EDES kept six German divisions busy.

One thing the Greeks may have won in the last three years is democracy. When the war began they were governed by the dictatorship of Premier John Metaxas who had abolished the Greek party system and parliament in 1936. The present middle-of-the-road Greek government headed by Premier George Papandreou has promised that plebiscite will soon be held on the question of King George II’s return. After that the government promises a general election, the first the Greeks will have had in 10 years.

Partisan girl from Epirus, Greece.

One of the last official German acts in Greece, was the murder of Distomo, a town about 60 miles North-West of Athens.

Last June a passing German detachment, asked Distomo’s priest Father Sotirios Zissis if there were any partisans in the area. The priest said he knew of none. The Germans, however, were attacked in the town. At first they came back and killed Father Zissis. A few days later a group of spruce, black-uniformed SS men, rode into Distomo, ordered the townspeople into their houses, went from house to house shooting everyone they could find. In one hour they killed 1.000 of Distomo’s 1.200 people. The few survivors happened to be away in the hills and fields.

After the Germans had finished with the slaughtering they looted and burned the little town. Fifteen days later they came back again, but this time the villagers were warned and fled to the hills. The Germans could only loot again what they had already looted once.”

The masacre in Distomo was just one crime that the Nazis committed in Greece. So many extremely awful incidents occurred. As the WWII Wrecks says, the genocidal effects of German occupation of Greece reached a macabre climax in June 1944.

If you have a story to share about your country or relatives during that time, please feel free to do so.

Thank you for reading! I’ll see you on my next post which will most likely be the What’s my era third part!

A Vintage Athenian💋


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