Rome To Prosecute Ex German Officer for Massacre on Italian Officers in Kefalonia

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 A Rome military prosecutor on Tuesday called for the indictment of an 89-year-old former German officer for alleged involvement in the massacre of thousands of Italian soldiers on the Greek island of Cephalonia (Kefalonia) during the German and Italian Occupation of the island and whole Greece in World War II. In September 1943n the Italian Acqui Division had refused to surrender and fought the Germans for nine days before running out of ammunition. Some 1,500 Italian soldiers died in the fighting, 5,000 were massacred after surrendering and the rest shipped to Germany, although 3,000 drowned when the ship carrying them hit a mine. The massacre of the Italian soldiers was part of the Holywood film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

The suspect, ex-corporal Alfred Stork, should be called to trial for ordering the execution of “at least 117 Italian officers” after they surrendered, said Rome Prosecutor Marco De Paolis, who claimed to have material evidence for his case.

Among his evidence is an alleged 2005 confession in which he told German prosecutors he was a member of one of the two execution platoons.

The incident was just one episode amid a much larger massacre which came after the 1943 armistice between Italy and the Allies that instructed Italian troops to switch sides.

After news of the September 8 armistice filtered across to the island on September 14, 1943, General Antonio Gandin told each of his men in the Acqui division to follow his own conscience and choose between three alternatives: fight on alongside the Germans, surrender his weapons, or keep them and resist German attacks.

Over the next eight days, 1,300 men died in battle, 5,155 were shot after being taken prisoner, and 3,000 drowned when a ship carrying them to Nazi concentration camps sank.

The bodies of 200 men were tossed down a well, from which they were only recovered and sent back home a few months before former Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi’s visit in 2001.

To the outrage of Italy, a German court cleared then 86-year-old former lieutenant Otmar Muhlhauser of war-crime charges in 2006.

Deceased in 2009, he was believed to be the last survivor of the Werhmacht regiment which carried out the massacre, and he reportedly admitted he had personally ordered the execution of hundreds of soldiers including General Gandin.

The incident forms the backdrop to the best-selling 1994 novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which became a film in 2001 starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. (source: ANSA via Life in Italy).

PS I remember WWII eyewitness stories, when Italian soldiers were trying to escape the Germans, when Italy surrundered to the switched sides. An episode, where a Greek family in Athens was hiding an Italian soldier for a very short time. But the solider was caught, and they never saw him again. The father of the family, who was a kid back then, still remembers the story…