03.06.

1941: The Germans Destroy Kandanos Village on Crete as Reprisal

1941: The Germans Destroy Kandanos Village on Crete as Reprisal
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ One of the signs which stood at the entrance of Kandanos by The original uploader was Apeto at German Wikipedia - Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 3 June 1941
  • To punish the Greek population of Crete because of their resistance, Luftwaffe Colonel General Kurt Student ordered the villagers of Kandanos to be killed and the village razed to the ground.

On this day in 1941, Colonel General Kurt Student ordered the destruction of the village Kandanos in Crete, in retaliation for the resistance of the local population to the German invaders.

Namely, during the previous month the Germans had carried out the invasion of Crete (Operation Mercury). It was the first invasion in the history of warfare that was made with widespread use of airborne troops, famous German elite Fallschirmjäger units (German: Fallschirm = parachute, Jäger = hunter, light elite soldier).

At the same time, it was the first German invasion in which they encountered considerable resistance from the local population, mostly farmers. The German army had the mentality inherited from the Prussian tradition, according to which only professional soldiers can fight, and that is why they disdained the resistance from civilians so much.

Despite the resistance, the Germans managed to conquer Crete, but the losses were such that Adolf Hitler forbade any future airborne invasion. To punish the Greek population of Crete because of their resistance, Luftwaffe Colonel General Kurt Student ordered the villagers of Kandanos to be killed and the village razed to the ground.

German soldiers carried out the order, killed about 180 people in the village, slaughtered all the cattle and burned and demolished houses. At both entrances to the former village they placed signs in German and Greek: “Here stood Kandanos, destroyed in retribution for the murder of 25 German soldiers, never to be rebuilt again.”

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