Kontomari – Crete

By , June 11, 2011 11:42 am

The Massacre at the Cretan Village of Kontomari, June 2, 1941

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On June 2nd, 1941, the Germans, two days after they prevailed in the battle of Crete, executed all the man of the Cretan village of Kontomari in the district of Hania as a reprisal for their resistance to the German invasion of Crete.

A unit of paratroopers under the command of lieutenant Horst Trebes entered Kontomari, gathered all the inhabitants of the village and executed all the men from 18 years to 50 years of age. On the same day, the same German troops killed 49 men in Alikianos, 12 in Ayia, and 25 in Kyrtomado. The next day the Germans executed the inhabitants of the Cretan village of Kandanos, about 180 people, they slaughtered their animals and burned down all the houses.

After the end of the war it was said that the order to massacre the men of Kontomari was given by the German General Kurt Student. At the Nuremberg trial General Student claimed that the order was given by Herman Goring, the chief of the German air force.

The massacre of Kontomari was captured by the camera of lieutenant Franz-Peter Weixler who was serving as a correspondent of propaganda for the Wehrmacht. Later the same year lieutenant Weixler was dismissed from his position, and he was charged with high treason for having leaked material related to the paratroopers’ activities in Crete including the pictures of the massacre at Kontomari. In November 1945, during Goring’s trial in Nuremberg, Weixler gave a written eyewitness report on the Kontomari massacre.

Horst Trebes, the commander of the executioners of the men of Kontomari was awarded the Cross of the Knights for his service in Crete. He was killed in 1944 in Normandy.

After the end of the war Greece requested from the British the extradition of General Kurt Student, but the request was denied. Student was tried by the British for mistreatment of prisoners and the murder of prisoners of war in Crete. He was found guilty for three out of eight charges. He was sentenced five years in jail, but he was freed in 1948 for “medical reasons’. He was never charged for crimes against civilians, like the massacre at Kontomari.


  1. Beevor, Antony. Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, John Murray Ltd, 1991. Penguin Books, 1992.
  2. MacDonald, C.A. The lost battle–Crete, 1941, Free Press, 1993.
  3. Kyriakis, Manolis, Editor. I Mahi tis Kritis, Peninta Hronia [The Battle of Crete, Fifty Years], Editions- Bookstore Manoli Kyriaki, Iraklio, 1991.
  4. Hill, Maria, Diggers and Greeks: the Australian Campaigns in Greece and Crete, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2010.

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