Getting Away With Murder, German Atrocities on Crete

The ferocity of resistance on Crete against the invading German paratroopers became legend very quickly, but sadly led to the retaliatory killings of many civilians, especially at the villages of Kondomari and Kandanos. Reports from General Julius Ringel, Commander of the 5th Mountain Division, stated that Cretan civilians were picking off paratroopers or attacking them with knives, axes and scythes. Even before the end of the battle, unproven and exaggerated stories had started to circulate, attributing the excessively high casualties to torture and mutilation of paratroopers by the Cretans.
When these stories reached the Luftwaffes High Command in Berlin, Commander Hermann Wilhelm Goring commanded General Karl Student to undertake inquiries and reprisals. Student issued an order for launching a wave of brutal reprisals against the local population right after the surrender of Crete on May 31, 1941, launching a wave of brutal reprisals against the local population.
At The Massacre of Kondomari, some 60 male civilians were executed by firing squad of German paratroopers. The shooting was the first of a long series of mass reprisals in Crete orchestrated by Student, in retaliation for the participation of Cretans in the Battle of Crete which had ended with the surrender of the island only two days earlier. At Kandanos the next day, the Germans killed about 180 residents and slaughtered all livestock; all houses were torched and razed. Nearby villages such as Floria and Kakopetro met a similar fate. After its destruction, Kandanos was declared a “Dead Zone” and its remaining population was forbidden to return to the village and rebuild it. Finally, inscriptions in German and Greek were erected on each entry of the village. One of them read: “Here stood Kandanos, destroyed in retribution for the murder of 25 German soldiers, never to be rebuilt again.” Today, Kandanos has been rebuilt and is the seat of the homonymous municipality.
After the surrender of Germany, Student was captured by the British. In May 1947, he came before a military tribunal to answer charges of mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war by his forces in Crete. Greeces demand to have Student extradited was declined. Student was found guilty of three out of eight charges and sentenced to five years in prison. However, he was given a medical discharge and was released in 1948. He was never tried for crimes against civilians.