Kaisariani Shooting Range in Kesariani, Greece

Kaisariani Shooting Range

When the German Army invaded and occupied Athens in April 1941, it began enacting laws to control the local population. Many Greeks resisted these laws, and the Greek Resistance Movement was soon organized. When the resistance began having an impact on the occupation, the Germans sought retribution, with the Nazi leadership issuing several executive orders. One order, signed by Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in September 1941, directed that for every German soldier killed 100 Greek civilians were to be executed. Despite that order, the Greek resistance continued their attacks on German forces and relevant infrastructure.

One of these attacks occurred in April 1944 when Greek partisans killed a group of German officers in a guerilla ambush near Molaoi in the Peloponnese. This group included Major General Franz Krech, commander of the 41st Fortress Division of the Wehrmacht. In retaliation, the Nazi leadership issued a proclamation for the execution of 300 Greek citizens. The Germans selected 200 Greek communists that were imprisoned at the Haidari concentration camp, and left the decision on the remaining 100 in the hands of Greek collaborators.

On May 1, 1944, the 200 prisoners were moved in trucks from Haidari to the Kaisariani shooting range. These prisoners were then lined up in groups of 20 and executed by firing squad in front of family and friends viewing from the surrounding hills. Their bodies were then transported to the 3rd Athens Cemetery and buried in a mass grave. These prisoners were among the thousands of Greeks that were executed between 1941 and 1944 in retaliation for partisan attacks.

This eerie place is now a monument that tells the story of this dark chapter in human history that should not be forgotten.

Posted by Contributor