As i promised, here is the second part of my summer adventures.
If you want to check my first post click here.
Remains of Kerdylia after Germans burned the villages.
This time i will take you to a small village called New Kerdylia
(Nέα Κερδύλια - Municipality of Amphipolis) in Serres, Macedonia, Greece.
But since i love history i will take you also many many years back.
In the past there were two villages, the Upper and the Lower Kerdylia.
Known from ancient times (Thucydides - Athenian historian) the two villages were located
in high and panoramic mountain called Vertiskos (current Kerdylio) beside the river Strymonas
(you can spot it in the above picture) and opposite from Amphipolis (post is coming!).
The modern history of the town is just as important as the ancient.
Kerdylia was the village that began an organized armed resistance against the Germans and
placed one of the biggest executions in Northern Greece during WW2. On the hill between
the two villages stands the Monument of the Fallen,
an impressive tribute for the executed people in 17 October 1941.
Strymonas river (Greek: Στρυμώνας) Serres, Macedonia, Greece.
Chronicle of the tragedy
Morning of October 17 , 1941, two battalions of the 220th Sapper Battalion of Wehrmacht
with a force of 250 men under the command of captains Ventler (Wendler) and Srainer
Srainer started by Stavros (village), for Kerdylia having with them prisoners from Kerdylia.
Arriving near the villages, they left their cars behind and they surrounded the Upper Kerdylia
village from Strovolos and the Lower Kerdylia village from Livadia.
The timing of the event and the fact that they left their cars away from the villages shows
that German soldiers wanted to surprise the villagers.
And indeed almost all the residents of the two villages were arrested.
Nobody tried to escape because the residents, as there was no similar event in the past,
did not take seriously the German threats.
The soldiers of the Wehrmacht gathered the male inhabitants between 16 and 60 years
in positions Alonia and Koutres. Women and children first gathered in schools and then,
after they had removed the men, allowed to gather some of their belongings and leave
for Castri and Eukarpia while Germans locked in the Community building 23 elders
(who later risked get burned while Germans set the villages on fire.)
At 09.00 in the morning German soldiers execute all the male villagers.
They did not include in the execution about seventeen people over sixty years old,
including the priest and the teacher. They used those people to bury their dead afterwards.
The buildings of the villages except the churches were burned...
The reports from the police and then the General Administration of Macedonia said
for about 211-212 executed people. The report of the post-war
Greek National War Crimes Office reported that the dead was 222.
Finally John Papasymeon publish a list of 230 people.
The two villages are not repopulated since then and the remaining inhabitants built later in 1955
the present village of New Kerdylia. The slaughter of Kerdylion recognized by the Greek State
in 1998. The Holocaust of Kerdylia considered the first mass execution of civilians
by the occupying forces in northern Greece during the Second World War.
This is the monument and the massive grave (with the cross)
in the abandoned Upper Kerdylia village. At this point Germans executed the inhabitants
of Upper Kerdylia.
At least is peaceful now up there...
Execution spot of the villagers of Lower Kerdylia and the massive grave.
Aside all the historical facts, the books and the story tallers, the witness,
the photographs and the inhumanity of the war, yes life still goes on for the living.
But the least we can do while we are breathing some peaceful days, is to pay our deepest respects
to those who gave their lives during war. We need to learn from our mistakes, learn from history
and try not to repeat dreadful things again...
We will learn one day?
Take care everyone.