• Distomo Memorial
A memorial located on a hilltop overlooking the village of Distomo commemorates the massacre that took place here on June 10, 1944. Members of an SS unit killed almost all of the village residents on that day in a »retaliation operation«.
Image: Distomo, undated, The village before the war, AP Archive
Distomo, undated, The village before the war, AP Archive

Image: Distomo, 2004, Memorial with ossuary, Alexios Menexiadis
Distomo, 2004, Memorial with ossuary, Alexios Menexiadis
The central Greek region of Boeotia was under German occupation from April 1941 on. Beginning 1944, partisan attacks of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) on German units became more and more frequent in the region. The German troops retaliated by repressing the civilian population. Greek hostages were executed for each killed soldier, and entire townships were burned down. On June 10, 1944, a reconnaissance unit of the 4th SS Police Panzergrenadier Division was ambushed by partisans not far from the village of Distomo. Several soldiers were killed or injured. That same day, unit commander SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Lautenbach single-handedly and without authorisation ordered »retaliation« on the village of Distomo. Towards the evening, the unit entered the village and massacred civilians. The soldiers were particularly brutal in their conduct. After the killings, the soldiers set fire to the houses. Lautenbach justified the haphazard »sanctions« in a report to his superior. He claimed his unit had been fired at from machine guns and mortars by the village residents.
Image: Distomo, undated, The village before the war, AP Archive
Distomo, undated, The village before the war, AP Archive

Image: Distomo, 2004, Memorial with ossuary, Alexios Menexiadis
Distomo, 2004, Memorial with ossuary, Alexios Menexiadis
218 residents of Distomo died in the massacre of June 10, 1944. There were many women, children and elderly people among the victims.
Image: Distomo, 1945, A survivor of the massacre tending to a grave, Benaki Museum - Photographic Archive, Voula Papaioannou
Distomo, 1945, A survivor of the massacre tending to a grave, Benaki Museum - Photographic Archive, Voula Papaioannou

Image: Distomo, 2004, Interior view of the ossuary and chapel with victims' skulls, Alexios Menexiadis
Distomo, 2004, Interior view of the ossuary and chapel with victims' skulls, Alexios Menexiadis
The memorial was erected in the 1980s on a hill overlooking Distomo. A chapel and ossuary, which contains the skulls of the victims, are part of the memorial site. Engraved in a marble wall are the names and ages of the victims. Every year, on June 10, a commemorative ceremony takes place here; the German ambassador to Greece regularly participates in it.
About 10 kilometres to the east, along the road to Athens, another memorial was set up to commemorate the victims of the massacre. It was created by the sculptor Aggelika Korovessi.
In the 1990s, survivors of the massacre and relatives of victims went to court in Greece demanding restitution from the Federal Republic of Germany – the issue created an international stir. Despite a final adjudication by the Greek supreme court, Germany refuses to accept the verdict pointing to state immunity in international law.
Image: Distomo, 2004, Interior view of the ossuary and chapel with victims' skulls, Alexios Menexiadis
Distomo, 2004, Interior view of the ossuary and chapel with victims' skulls, Alexios Menexiadis

Image: Distomo, 2011, Memorial alongside the road to Athens, Albtalkourtaki
Distomo, 2011, Memorial alongside the road to Athens, Albtalkourtaki
Name
Mnimio Sfaghis Distomou
Phone
+30 (0)22670 22 492
Fax
+30 (0)22670 22 492