Historical story

Annihilation of Kandanou:The German butcher who went unpunished

Last updated:2022-07-25

On June 3, 1941, the German invaders completely destroyed the village of Kandanos in Chania and executed 180 of its inhabitants, in retaliation for the resistance they showed during the Battle of Crete (May 20-31, 1941). This is one of the most serious war crimes committed by the Germans in Greece.

Kandanos or Kandanos is located in the center of the Prefecture of Chania, on the road that connects Chania in the north with Paleochora in the south. It was bombed from the first days of the German invasion of the big island, because the area was considered strategically important for their operations. On May 23 a motorized detachment tried to capture it, but locals with improvised weapons managed to repel them. The next day the Germans returned with superior forces and on May 25 occupied the village, while the Cretan fighters dispersed in the surrounding mountains.

On 3 June, a force of the 3rd Parachute Battalion under Lt. Horst Trembes arrived in the village to retaliate for the death of 25 German soldiers during the fighting to capture Kandano (23-25 ​​May). The German paratroopers were carrying out the orders of their leader, General Kurt Student, and the previous day they had started reprisals in Crete, executing civilians in the village of Kondomari, Chania.

Immediately, the Germans started setting fire to Kandano's houses and within a few days they literally razed it to the ground. They killed all the remaining inhabitants, about 180, and forbade the visit of the site, as well as its reconstruction, under penalty of death. The destruction of Kandano and the killing of civilians is one of the many crimes committed in Greece by the Germans.

To justify their act, they posted signs in Greek and German in the destroyed Kandano that read:"Here was Kandanos. Destroyed to atone for the murder of 25 German soldiers.

Kandanos was destroyed as a reprisal for the armed citizens, men and women, from behind the murdered German soldiers.

Due to the brutal murder of German paratroopers, alpinists and the Engineer, by men, women, children and priests together and because they dared to resist the Great Reich, on 6-3-1941 Kandanos was destroyed from its foundations never to be rebuilt again . »

After the capitulation of Germany, General Kurt Student was arrested by the British and in May 1947 he was court-martialed for Wehrmacht war crimes in Crete and sentenced to five years in prison. The request of the Greek authorities for his extradition to Greece was rejected by the Allies. Student did not stay long in prison and was released for health reasons in 1948. He died aged 88 in 1978.