The murders of the Germans in WWII are so varied and carried out on so many victims that it surprises. At the moment it is fashionable, induced by several German historians, to reflect that the allies also committed crimes in the WWII, to try to exculpate the German crimes.
Of course the allies committed crimes, from the rapes of women by the African soldiers of the French army to robberies or also rapes by American and Russian soldiers, but trying to compare them with those committed by the Germans is like trying to compare an ant and an elephant.
From the creation of destined fields to exterminate those who entered, the first time in the history of mankind that something similar has been done, to the meticulous planning of the extermination by fame of the occupied cities, not to mention the vans that gassed to which they went in them, extermination of cities and villages with all their inhabitants, etc, in contrast the Russians fed the Berliners the day after occupying Berlin.
Currently in a European Union dominated by Germans, all important positions have a German holder or his second is German, mentioning German atrocities is not well seen.
But it is curious that the more we investigate in the history of WWII, we find different victims.
In the case that we are going to relate, it is about Italian soldiers. After the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 by the Allies, the Italian government signed the armistice with the allies on September 8, 1943, so that the Italians ceased to be officially allies of Hitler, although Mussolici supported by the Germans maintained in northern Italy a certain time.
In the Cephalonia Island in Greece the 33rd Acqui Infantry Division resisted to the German attempt to disarm them after the armistice of Italy with the allies, operation Achse.
The General Antonio Gandin was the commander of the 33rd Acqui Infantry Division , and on 11 September, the Italian High Command sent two explicit instructions to Gandin, to the effect that "German troops have to be viewed as hostile" and that "disarmament attempts by German forces must be resisted with weapons"
The situation was confusing. Gardin did not want to fight with the Germans who had been his allies but he did not want to disobey the terms of the allied armistice.
Some German ships were sunk when they approached to the island.
Gandin presented his troops with a poll, essentially containing the three options presented to him by Barge (Lt Colonel Johannes Barge arrived with 2,000 men of the 966th Fortress Grenadier Regiment, including Fortress-Battalions 810 and 909 and a battery of self-propelled guns and nine tanks.)
The response from the Italian troops was in favour of the third option by a large majority.
Despite help for the Italians from the local population, including the island's small ELAS partisan detachments the Italians were defeated.
At the end of the battle the Italians had 1200 dead and the Germans 300, although at the beginning of the battle the Italians took 400 German prisoners, the Italian soldiers were conscripted against the German professionals, something similar to the Malvinas war decades later.
The massacre started on 21 September, and lasted for one week. After the Italian surrender, Hitler had issued an order allowing the Germans to summarily execute any Italian officer who resisted "for treason", and on 18 September, the German High Command issued an order stating that "because of the perfidious and treacherous behaviour [of the Italians] on Cephalonia, no prisoners are to be taken."[The Gebirgsjäger soldiers began executing their Italian prisoners in groups of four to ten.The Germans first killed the surrendering Italians, where they stood, using machine-guns. When a group of Bavarian soldiers objected to this practice they were threatened with summary execution themselves. After this stage was over, the Germans marched the remaining soldiers to the San Teodoro town hall and had the prisoners executed by eight member detachments. General Gandin and 137 of his senior officers were summarily court-martialled on 24 September and executed, their bodies discarded at sea.
Alfred Richter, an Austrian, and one of the participants in the massacre recounted how a soldier who sang arias for the Germans in the local taverns was forced to sing while his comrades were being executed. The singing soldier's fate remains unknown.Richter stated that he and his regiment comrades felt "a delirium of omnipotence" during the events. Most of the soldiers of the German regiment were Austrians. This event reminds me of the events of the holocaust by bullets in Poland and the USSR, when the Germans forced a young Jewish girl to dance naked on a table while they were machine gunning her people and with her parents.
|Harald Von Hirschfeld|
"When people saw how cold-bloodedly the Germans slaughtered Italian soldiers, they were horrified," Perrotta explains. Enemies became allies as Greeks hid Italians to save them from death. Even today, the relationship between Greece and Italy is much less complicated than the relationship between Greece and Germany.
In the 1950s, the remains of about 3,000 soldiers, including 189 officers, were exhumed and transported back to Italy for burial in the Italian War Cemetery in Bari. The remains of General Gandin were never identified.
German translator Doris Wille has lived in Kefalonia for almost 30 years. For many years, the massacre has accompanied her in her work and in her contact with people, though she learned about it by chance: "I had been living here for a few years before I heard about the massacre for the first time by chance at the end of the 1990s. I translated a travel guide about the island and saw that the Italian version contained a chapter about the massacre that was simply missing in the German version. When I asked the (Greek) author about it, she said that you couldn't expect German tourists to be able to deal with it. That's why she left it out."
Wille believes, one thing is neglected when focusing on the massacre: "What is often forgotten about when it comes to the horrific magnitude of this war crime is that there was also a lot of suffering among the Greek population. In the12 months of German occupation that followed the massacre, villages were torched and people executed." In recent years, there has been an increase in publications on the subject, Wille emphasizes. But Germany still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of understanding the years of occupation in Greece.
As usual the killers were not punished or they were punished very lightly. Only Hirschfeld’s superior commander, General Hubert Lanz, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment at the so-called "Southeast Case" of the Nuremberg Trials for the Cephalonia massacre, as well as the participation of his men in other atrocities in Greece like the massacre of Kommeno on 16 August 1943.He was released in 1951 and died in 1982. Lt Colonel Barge was not on the island when the massacre was taking place. He was subsequently decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his service in Crete. He died in 2000