Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Dhistomo Massacre (10 June 1944)

Located in central Greece some 85 miles northwest of Athens, the small village of Dhistomo was one of many villages during World War II that suffered reprisal for providing aid and cover to Greek guerrillas fighting the German occupying forces. On 10 June 1944, Waffen-Schutzstaffel (Waffen-SS) soldiers under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer F. Lautenbach entered Dhistomo and systematically put the villagers to death. A total of 214 people from babies only a few months old to men and women in their eighties were killed. Lautenbach reported that his troops had first come under fire from the village, but agent G. Koch of the Geheimene Feld Polizei (secret field police, a branch of the SS), who was also present, filed a conflicting report stating that these were reprisal killings. Nonetheless, a subsequent investigation by German authorities cleared Lautenbach.

The brutality of this particular attack, during which the village priest was beheaded and infants were reportedly bayoneted in their beds, is widely acknowledged. It is also representative of other similar German attacks, such as those on the village of Kalavrita and on Kondomari on Crete. The Dhistomo massacre is commemorated in the village by a monument that lists the names and ages of all those killed. Their bones were collected and rest in the monument.

The current inhabitants of Dhistomo, including families of survivors, have made repeated attempts to gain reparations in both German and Greek courts. The most recent such claim, apparently the final appeal, was rejected in June 2003 by the German Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe.

Timothy F. Winters


Further Reading
Hondros, John Lewis. Occupation and Resistance: The Greek Agony, 1941–1949. New York: Pella Books 1983.; Mazower, Mark. Inside Hitler's Greece. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993.; Woodhouse, C. M. The Struggle for Greece, 1941–1949. London: Ivan R. Dee, 1976.
 

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