Kondomari - Then and Now.

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by Jonathan Ball, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Last month I had the chance to walk the ground at the site of the massacre of unarmed civilians at the Village of Kondomari on 2 June 1941 by men of the Luflande-Sturm-Regiment commanded by Oberleutnant Horst Trebes. The following is a look at events on that day from a 'then and now' perspective.

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    Despite the fact that the Fallschirmjager had dropped on top of two NZ Battalions the Germans were of the opinion that their high number of casualties in the area were in a large part due to the local population, hence the decision to carry out reprisals against the villagers. On 2 June 1941 two trucks arrived in Kondomari carrying German paratroopers. They were accompanied by a Wehrmacht photographer, Franz Peter Weixler who recorded the following events, starting with a review of the ‘evidence’ retrieved.

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    The Germans began a systematic search of the houses in Kondomari, some like this one still contain outhouses from 1941. They were looking for all the men of the village of a ‘fighting age’.

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    The villagers were pulled from their homes and marched to a point at the northern edge of Kondomari. The route is easily traceable today.

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    Weixler went ahead to the point the villagers were being brought to before turning his camera back southwards towards the village.

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    More were being brought in from the north of Kondomari, closer to the coast. The trucks that brought the Fallschirmjager to the village can be seen in the distance. Also, note the already wounded Cretan with his head bandaged.

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    The men of the age the Germans were looking for were sat on the roadside. The German officer on the extreme left is Trebes. Directly across the road from them the Paratroopers began to gather.

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    One can only begin to wonder at what point the local men began to realise what fate the Germans had in store for them. Note the Soldiers moving away to take up position in the secluded olive grove behind.

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    At this point the rest of the villagers who had gathered were marched south back in to the village with anxious glances back to their menfolk.

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    The men were ordered in to the olive grove. It’s now someone’s home but they very kindly allowed us in. The Fallschirmjager were lined up here...

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    ...and the 23 men of the village who subsequently murdered, fell here. Those not killed instantly finished off with a pistol at close range.

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    23 men. The youngest was 21, the eldest was 47. Thirteen of them came from just four families.

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    Today at the site the men are remembered by a superb memorial garden. The photos are on glazed tiles.

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    A tribute to Cretan resistance against the invader in Kondomari. They’ve been doing it for 500
    years.

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    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The memorial with the tiled photographs is remarkable (as is the frieze itself).
    Funny how those pictures tend to bring quiet when people get outraged about the state of the FJ memorial...

    Looks like the frieze is an amalgam from Weixler's pictures rather than one specific shot?
    Left hand figure from here, etc.
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    (Double-checking Weixler's name spelling led to his written testimony at Nuremberg. Part of the case against Goering: Information supplied by Franz Peter Weixler / GOERING CASE )
     

    Attached Files:

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  3. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Thanks for that, Adam.
    For those interested there is an excellent and detailed study of the massacre at Kondomari in After the Battle magazine.

    ISSUE No. 181 - After the Battle
     
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  4. Shane Greer

    Shane Greer We're Doomed

    Great thread Jonathan... horrific that it was carried out unflinchingly and was pictured!
     
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    The Professor of Conflict History & Archaeology Tony Pollard, from the University of Glasgow, tweeted today:
    The four photos in the tweet are familiar.

    I did look for his course reading list for Crete and it is not available. It could be in this, but for others to look: University of Glasgow - Schools - School of Humanities | Sgoil nan Daonnachdan - Our staff - Professor Tony J Pollard
     
  6. slick

    slick Junior Member

    The B+W pics are still extremely eerie. Up to about ten years ago I thought the FJ`s were one of the German units which had an unblemished record, but after coming across pics of the massacre my eyes were opened.
    Thanks for posting the then and now pics.
     
  7. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    It happened on this day in 1941.
     
  8. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Been looking for these for a while and finally found two photos on the internet. Note the Fallschirmjager in the top right in Weixler's photo with the camera. These are two of the shots he took in addition to those photos shot by Weixler.

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  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Chatting about this with a workmate today. He said the reason the Germans shot the Cretans was because the locals had used farm implements to butcher the German paras that were caught up in their harnesses in the olive trees & were unable to defend themselves.
    Is that true ?
     
  10. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Trebes used the bloated corpses that could be seen decomposing in the fields on the drive to Kondomari as a justification for the massacre. However, it has been pointed out that they'd be lying out in the open in extreme heat and had been picked at by Buzzards in the intervening period of nearly two weeks.
    It's certainly correct though that there were many incidences of the local population across the Island attacking isolated and wounded FJ after they'd dropped. The 1941 section of the Maritime Museum in Chania has a cabinet of 'traditional' Cretan weapons from the battle which includes, clubs, rocks, knives etc.
    The local, often repeated artwork depicts the fight the Cretans put up
    I can also think of two separate, documented occasions when the Germans discovered comrades nailed to barn doors. One was in Maleme and the other one outside of Heraklion.

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  11. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Mutilations certainly occurred, but considering the absolute losses, they were hardly representative. Psychologically, however, they could have considerable explosive power. However, the real reasons for the killing of civilians in "retaliation" lay elsewhere:

    The actual strength of the defenders of Crete had been completely underestimated
    The paratroopers were constantly fired upon from ambush by the well entrenched and numerically superior defenders - Since they had not expected such intense resistance, they believed that they would also be massively attacked by Greek civilians. That did happen, but it was not the normal case.

    Anyway, German command authorities, since the old Prussians, were basically extremely sensitive to attacks by civilians, real or imagined...especially when things were not going well. This was the case in Belgium in 1914 and even more so in Crete in 1941: they tried, with extreme harshness, to discourage the population from guerrilla activities.

    Personally, I don't know that this ever worked very well - mostly it was the escalation that was really set in motion.
    But the thought structures of the Prussian-influenced military hardly allowed for anything else, because they didn't bother with "civilian" matters like diplomacy, let alone empathy. And if your only tool is a hammer, then every problem becomes a nail.
    Stir in a good portion of Nazi ideology and it becomes toxic.
     
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