A sad flight of Haanity over a place of untold atrocity, which is one of the darkest pages of World War II in Greece. We fly over the hill where 218 civilians were killed, in Distomo Fokida by the Nazi German forces on 10/06/1944.
The following are the facts in detail:
On June 10, 1944, Fritz Lautenbach, then twenty-six-year-old SS captain of the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Battalion of the 7th SS Police Armored Regiment, was ordered to move his battalion from Livadia to the villages of Distori and Kytomo to Distomo. guerrillas on the west side of Elikon. As bait, the Germans had two commanded Greek trucks full of SS men disguised as villagers, who were ahead of the main phalanx. At the same time the 10th and 11th battalions of the 3rd battalion from Amfissa were heading towards Distomo to meet the 2nd battalion. The three battalions met without finding any guerrillas except for 18 children hiding in nearby flocks. Six of the children who tried to escape were executed. The Germans entered Distomo and, frightening the villagers, learned that there were guerrillas in Steiri. The 2nd Battalion headed there and at Litharaki, in the area of Sterio, fell into a guerrilla ambush of the 11th Battalion of the 3rd Battalion of the 34th ELAS Regiment. The battle of Steri was fierce and lasted until about two in the afternoon, forcing the Germans to retreat.
Although the German troops from the village of Distomo did not accept any provocation (although the German defendants in the massacre claimed this after the war), for reasons of revenge the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Police Armored Division of the Grenadiers of the Grenadiers at the village. Their rage was so great that neither the women nor the children and the elderly could be distinguished from the massacre. The village priest was beheaded, infants were executed and women were raped before being killed. The slaughter stopped only when night fell and they were forced to return to Livadia, after first burning the houses of the village. The executions continued when the Germans returned to their base, killing any civilians they found on their way. The death toll in Distomo reached 228, of which 117 women and 111 men, among them 53 children under 16 years old. The testimony of the Swiss Red Cross envoy George Wehrly who arrived in Distomo a few days later speaks of 600 dead in the area, with corpses hanging even from trees around the road leading to the village.
On June 24, 1944, the Germans returned and burned the houses and the haystacks in the threshing floors of Sterio, without any human losses since its inhabitants had managed to hide in inaccessible areas adjacent to the village.
SS Captain Fritz Lautenbach is the man who carried out the order to kill Distomo. on the side of Distomo “. Lautenbach’s report was immediately disputed as Georg Koch, an undercover agent who also accompanied the battalion, submitted a separate report stating that the battalion had in fact ambushed several miles outside Distomo. Koch also adds that only after the battalion had effectively repelled the “guerrillas” did he make a change to Distomo to carry out the massacre.
In the interrogation that followed, Lautenbach defended his choices, saying that he consciously preferred to follow the spirit of the orders, rather than the letter. He also said that he knew that his choice could be considered disobedience, however he hoped to be approved afterwards, based on humanitarian and military ideals. It is noted that in the military court that followed, no Greek witness was called.
One of the leaders who was also considered responsible for the Distomo massacre, Hans Zampel, was arrested in France after the end of the war and extradited to Greece. In the process, he was requested to be transferred to Germany for the investigations there, where he remained. According to some information, he still lives free today.
Members of the same regiment had carried out the Kleisoura Massacre just a month before, with 273 civilians dead, including children and infants.
“I saw my sister in the middle of the house on her back, naked from the middle down. Her dress was turned upside down and covered her torn and torn breasts, her face was deformed, her whole body was torn. But the worst and most horrible spectacle was when I realized from her posture that the Germans had raped her lifeless body. Next to her was her four-month-old baby girl with a spear, with his head broken, and in his mouth was the nipple of his mother’s breast that those cannibals had cut. Her other little girl, 6-year-old Eleni, was on the doorstep of a house in a pool of blood with her viscera removed. They had disemboweled it with a knife. I found her boy, 3-year-old Giannis, dead in the yard with a melted head “.
– Narration of slaughter survivors