Identification of WWII Victims: Closure for Families of Executed Civilians on Crete

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Eighteen civilians who were executed on Crete by the Nazis during World War II have been identified 83 years later through DNA analysis conducted by the Comparative Genomics Lab at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH).

The 18 male victims, aged 16 to 60, hailed from the village of Adele and were executed on June 2, 1941, following the Battle of Crete, by soldiers of the Third Reich under the orders of German paratrooper commander General Kurt Student.

Nikos Poulakakis, the research director of the project, informed Kathimerini that the Nazis provided the victims with shovels. Their families believed they were being transported to a concentration camp or forced labor, but they were taken to the area of Sarakina and forced to dig their own mass grave. Several days later, their relatives discovered their remains and relocated them to another grave. In 1960, the remains were exhumed, but individual identification proved impossible at the time.

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