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Kalalvryta Holocaust Monument of the Kalavrita Massacre 13. Dec. 1943, Image taken by Konstantinos Dafalias,8. Sep. 2004

The Holocaust of Kalavryta (Greek: Ολοκαύτωμα των Καλαβρύτων), or the Massacre of Kalavryta (Σφαγή των Καλαβρύτων), refers to the extermination of the male population and the subsequent total destruction of the town of Kalavryta, in Greece, by German occupying forces during World War II on 13 December 1943. It is the most serious case of war crimes committed during the Axis Occupation of Greece during WWII.

German soldiers of the 117th Jäger Division in the burning town of Kalavryta

On a mass murder mission named Unternehmen Kalavryta (Operation Kalavryta), which began from the coastal area of Achaea in Northern Peloponnese, Wehrmacht troops marched to the town of Kalavryta burning villages and murdering civilians on their way. When they reached the town they locked all women and children younger than 14 in the town's school and ordered all male residents 14 and older to a field just outside the village. There, the German troops machine-gunned down 1258 of them. There were only 13 survivors. The women and children managed to free themselves from the school while the town was set ablaze. The following day the Nazi troops burnt down the Monastery of Agia Lavra, a landmark of the Greek War of Independence.

Today the Place of Sacrifice is kept as a memorial site and the events are commemorated each year. Despite the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany has publicly acknowledged the Nazi atrocity at Kalavryta, war reparations have yet to be paid. On 18 April 2000, the then-president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau, visited the town of Kalavryta to express his feelings of shame and deep sorrow for the tragedy; however, he didn't accept responsibility on behalf of the German state and did not refer to the issue of reparations.

Kalavryta, Resistance 1941/44

Kalalvryta Holocaust Monument for the victims of German Occupation. "The grieving Mother" sculpture by Anna Vafia.

Further reading

Article of 16 April 2000, To Vima Sunday edition
SOE, the Irish Agent and the Greek Massacre by Conal O'Donnell

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