Domenikon Massacre

Massacre Domenikon means the destruction of the village of Domenikon in the region of Thessaly in Greece, carried out by the Italian army on the night of 16 to 17 February 1943 and the killing of its male population of fourteen to eighty years: ie 150 victims.


Greece invaded

At the end of 1940, the army of Nazi Germany occupies most of Western Europe.  The Italian dictator Mussolini jealous of the victories of his ally – - wants to prove he can lead the Italy to similar military conquests.  Considering the South-East as part of the Italian sphere of influence, he invaded Greece in effect, be considered a pushover.

Occupied Greece

At the end of the invasion, when the Italian army occupied most of Greece, relations between the Greek and Italian people involved are not conflicting.  It maintains the image data including the “nice Italian” and a peaceful people hating war.  But soon the Italian army requisitioned more resources including Thessaly – the “breadbasket of Greece” – causing a famine.  The population undergoes a deadly famine and thus account for the winter 1941 – in 1942 more than 40,000 people, mainly in Athens.  In addition to these requisitions, Greece is also required to pay the costs of occupation.

This untenable situation then causes a rapid deterioration in relations between the population and the army of occupation.  What causes including the creation of resistance movements that relate to two groups: the nationalists and communists.  These groups attack many Italian convoys.  Faced with this situation, the Italian occupation authorities take repressive measures: in this sense, the general Cesare Benelli, the commander of the Italian armies of occupation based in Larissa, not far from Domenikon, wrote a circular ordering that after each attack convoy neighboring populations of the place where the ambush occurred will be held accountable, and all consequences will be executed and their villages destroyed.  In Yugoslavia counterpart gives a similar circular.

The massacre

The ambush

On the morning of 16 February 1943 resistant, arranged in two groups on two hills surrounding the road, attacked an Italian 1 km from Domenikon military convoy, killing nine Italian soldiers.

The destruction of the village

A few hours later, General Benelli is informed of the attack and therefore ordered the destruction of Domenikon in retaliation.  The aircraft then bombed the village, and then in the evening, a regiment of the army (consisting of young people from eighteen to twenty years) arrives in the village and surrounding.  Then they gather all the people on the main square.  Soldiers Place incendiary charges in all the houses, barns and stables in the village and detonated, reducing the village to the ground.

The separation of the population

The village population is then brought to the place where the ambush took place.  The soldiers separated the children under fourteen, women and elderly people over eighty years the rest of the village men.  Each category is placed on one side of the road.  Then, under the pretext of taking men to Larissa order of questioning, the Italian military take them 150 men who will actually all shot by soldiers before placing them in mass graves.

In the night and the next day the Italian kill in the streets and surrounding fields Domenikon, shepherds and farmers who had hidden.  The balance of the massacre of 150 people.


After the massacre

The massacre Domenikon is the first killing of civilians in Greece.  He has served as a “model” for other massacres of civilians soon followed during the rest of the Italian occupation in the country, until the withdrawal of the Italian Army during the summer 1943.  The massacre was dubbed by the Italian “little Marzabotto. ”  The second massacre of civilians took place thirty days later in the village of Tsaritsani where sixty people are slaughtered, followed massacres in other areas of Thessaly and internal Greece, as Domokos, Pharsalia or Oxine.  There are a total of several thousand civilians massacred throughout Greece and nearly 400 villages partially or totally destroyed.

An Italian officer who protested against the massacre was pursued by the army and sent to an internment camp.  The German Embassy in Macedonia itself protests against the genocide.

1500 Italian war criminals – including those responsible for the massacre – have never been tried this with the intention that Italy can maintain after the Second World War, a good international position, there has been no of “Italian Nuremberg”.  Italy has never asked for trial of war crimes against Nazi criminals – such a trial would have allowed for Greece and Yugoslavia to obtain a judgment in good and due form against criminals Italian.  Most responsible for the massacre were actually killed during the German occupation of Greece in 1943 and throughout the majority of Italian war criminals who were survivors continued to work for the Italian government.  The secret crimes Italian war was encouraged by the United Kingdom and the United States.


This page of the Second World War was forgotten for many years, according to historian Lidia Santarelli, Italian massacres in Greece are “a black hole in history.”  It was updating the documentary Giovanni Donfrancesco sporca La guerra di Mussolini (The Dirty War Mussolini) broadcast from 14 March 2008 on History Channel.  This documentary was never aired in Italy due to the lack of interest on the project by the Italian broadcaster RAI.

The village was recognized Domenikon martyr village in 1998.  The Italy, meanwhile, apologized to Greece for the massacre on 16 February 2009, through its ambassador in Athens.


Lidia Santarelli, Kostis kometis Donfrancesco and Giovanni, The Dirty War Mussolini European TV documentary produced by GA & A, 2007, broadcast on the History channel in France.

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