Greek survivors and descendants of the victims of the Kalavryta massacre during the German occupation have expressed their anger at a film showing a Nazi soldier saving women and children from a school in flames.
The long-awaited movie “Kalavryta 1943,” which is due to be released in Greek cinemas on November 11, revives the horrific massacre on December 13, 1943 perpetrated by the Nazis.
A five-second scene in the trailer of the movie was enough to trigger the outrage: An Austrian Nazi by his own initiative — and disobeying the orders of his commanders — opens the door of a burning school to save the women and children there.
The Association of Survivors and Victims of Kalavryta are now threatening to sue the film producers — with the Greek state broadcaster ERT being one of them.
According to the newspaper Peloponnisos, the Association accuses the filmmakers of falsifying historical events and reviving myths that serve other people’s purposes.
It claims that nothing of the sort actually happened during the bloody invasion of the Nazi army in their town. It adds that the particular scene is no more than a myth, which has been refuted by all the eyewitnesses during the massacre.
Kalavryta massacre one of worst atrocities of World War II
The Kalavryta massacre was one of the worst atrocities committed in the World War II, as more than 500 innocent civilians were executed, and the entire town was burned to the ground.
It was carried out by the German Army’s 117th Jäger Division. The extermination of the male population of Kalavryta was in retaliation for the execution of 68 German soldiers who had been captured by the Greek Resistance.
“Operation Kalavryta”, or “Unternehmen Kalavryta”, was a typical German act of retaliation in areas where there was heavy guerrilla activity. Directed solely against the civilian population of the region, it was one of the most barbarous carried out by the Wermacht, not only in Greece, but anywhere in Europe.
On December 13, the Germans rang the town’s church bells and ordered all the people to gather in the elementary school, bringing with them a blanket and food for one day.
There, they separated the men from the women and children.
The women and children were told to stay in the school, while all males over 14 were led in groups to the nearby field called Kapi Rake. The field was on a slope, and had the shape of an amphitheater, offering a full view of the town. This also meant it was a difficult area to escape from.
The Germans proceeded to set the school on fire so that the men could see.
Moments later, after they had been forced to watch the horror, the Nazis machine – gunned all the men on the spot. According to German historian Hermann Frank Meyer, the head of the German forces, General Karl von Le Suire, had given clear orders to accurately record all the names of the execution victims.
In total, 499 people were murdered that day in Kalavryta. Twelve men actually managed to survive without the Germans knowing, while the total number of victims reached 677 in the wider region of Kalavryta and the neighboring villages.