October 28: The dramatic first days of the war in the villages of Konitsa


The first minutes, the first hours of the Italian invasion at dawn on October 28, 1940, and the days that followed, were written in indelible letters about the villages of Epirus, on the Greek-Albanian border.

In the book-documentary, “EXHIBITION OF THE DAMAGES IN GENERAL EPIRUS FROM THE DECLARATION OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN WAR (28-10-40) until the end of 1944” of the villages from the hostile behavior of the invaders. All the data presented in detail in the book, are what were recorded by the special committee set up on May 31, 1945 by decision of the cabinet, on a trip to the villages of Epirus in July of the same year. The memories were fresh. The wounds were not closed.

The inhabitants of the villages of Konitsa, lived minute by minute the Epic of 1940. They were waiting for the invasion. Some hid in the woods or followed the paths to reach Zagorochoria. They left their houses, their belongings, their animals north in the hands of the conquerors. Those who did not manage to leave had a nightmare and were taken hostage during the retreat of the Italian troops after the great Greek counterattack. The town of Konitsa and its 26 villages were tested. Typical are the cases of some villages, which are mentioned in the Report with the names they had before 1953.

Stratsiani-Pyrgos in the valley of Sarandaporo

On October 28, 1940, the Italians, led by Albanians, invaded Stratsiani, where they remained for 3 days looting.

On November 11, the village was bombed by Italian planes, killing 8 people, injuring 7, and destroying 7 houses and the school. 28 houses and 2 shops were damaged. During their stay in Stratsiani, in May 1943, the Italians “brutally attacked the population, and George Panousis did not die from the beating. “Two residents of the village were taken hostage, returning six months later, from Italy.”

Peklari – Konitsa spring, on the western slopes of Smolikas

During the invasion, the Italians bombed the village and destroyed 10 houses. “Aided by Albanian rioters, they looted. “1,500 sheep and goats, 15 plowing oxen and 17 horses and half-horses were abducted in Albania.”

During the retreat the Italians took 6 hostages who returned after 6 months.

Sanovon- Aetopetra, a mountain village in the Aoos Valley next to the Greek-Albanian border

With the declaration of war, Italians, accompanied by Albanian rioters, invaded the settlement. The Albanians looted and beat. Most of the residents fled, leaving everything at the disposal of the raiders and returned after a week.
When they retreated, the Italians took 180 inhabitants hostage until Premeti. There, many escaped, some were taken to Shkodra, Albania, and others to Italy, where they remained until July 1941, when they were allowed to return to Epirus.

Countryside in the Sarandaporo valley

On November 8, 1940, the retreating Italians gathered all the inhabitants and took them to the School. They kept them there for 10 days. During this time, they looted the village. As the Greek Army approached, they released most of them, but took 42 hostages with them and set fire to 12 houses. From the kidnapped hostages, Vasiliki Stavrou and Apostolos Tsamis died.

The letter to the General Staff of the Army, on 31-5-1945

Former Minister of Education D. Balanos states:

“We have the honor to announce that, by decision of the Council of Ministers, a Commission has been set up, so that going to Epirus will find out the damage caused there during the last five years.

The members of the Committee are Messrs.

Vassilios Melas Lieutenant General
Vassilios Voilas doctor
Nikolaos Georgiadis Treasurer of Piraeus Bank
Ioannis Trikkalinos University Professor.
Therefore, please, as we have agreed with the above gentlemen, provide the means for the fulfillment of the above purpose ».”


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