On June 2, 1941, a brutal massacre took place in the village of Kondomari, 18km west of Chania.
The Massacre of Kondomari was an execution of male civilians from the village of Kondomari in Crete, by an ad hoc firing squad consisting of German paratroopers, during World War II.
The shooting was the first of a series of reprisals in Crete. It was orchestrated by General Kurt Student, in retaliation for the participation of Cretans in the Battle of Crete which had ended with the surrender of the island two days earlier.
On 2 June 1941, four lorries full of German paratroopers from the III Battalion of Luftlande-Sturm-Regiment 1 under the command of Oberleutnant Horst Trebes, surrounded Kondomari.
Trebes, a former member of the Hitler Youth, was the highest-ranking officer of the Battalion to have survived the Battle unwounded.
Men, women and children were forced to gather in the village square. Then, a number of hostages were selected among the men, while women and children were released. The hostages were led to the surrounding olive groves and later fired upon.
The massacre was photographed by a German army war propaganda correspondent, Franz-Peter Weixler.
After the summer of 1941, Franz-Peter Weixler was dismissed from the Wehrmacht for political reasons. He was later accused of high treason against the III Reich for having leaked uncensored material related to the paratroopers’ activities in Crete that included photographs taken in Kondomari, and for having helped some Cretans flee. Weixler was arrested by the Gestapo, court martialed and imprisoned from early 1944.
After the surrender of Germany, Kurt Student was captured by the British. In May 1947, he went before a military tribunal to answer charges of mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war by his forces in Crete. Greece’s demand to have Student extradited was declined. Student was found guilty of three out of eight charges and sentenced to five years in prison. However, he was given a medical discharge and was released in 1948. Student was never tried for crimes against civilians and lived until 1978.
Weixler’s negatives from Kondomari were discovered in 1980 in the federal German archives by the Greek journalist Vassos Mathiopoulos, who was unaware of the actual location of the shootings they depicted. The negatives’ connection to the events at Kondomari was later established via extensive research by journalist Kostas Papapetrou, after which Weixler’s photographs became widely known.
Kondomari has been declared a martyred village with the Presidential Decree 29, ΦΕΚ Α 54/2.4.2019. A memorial in the village list the names of the victims.