October 17 Marks The First Nazi Atrocity in Northern Greece



Ano Kerdylia and Kato Kerdylia; two beautiful Macedonian villages, built in the mountains of the district of Serres, near the ancient city of Amfipolis.

The two villages saw their history marked forever by the untold atrocity conducted by the occupying Nazi German army on the morning of October 17, 1941.

The mountains of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace were a place where hundreds of guerrillas were trying to sabotage and fight the occupying forces of Wehrmacht.

The two villages near these areas were Ano and Kato Kerdylia, thus many of the operations involved, either deliberately or not, the village locals.

After a series of events of hostility between the guerrillas and the occupying forces, the German administration in Thessaloniki took the fateful decision to burn the villages off of the map.

In the early morning of October 17, 1941, 250 German soldiers went from the village of Stavros in Thessaloniki  to Ano and Kato Kerdylia.

They left their cars on the outskirts of the villages and blindsided the locals, who didn’t hear them coming.

The soldiers gathered every man aged between 16 and 60-years-old in Alonia and Koutres near the villages.

Ruins of the village, after the Nazis destroyed it.

The women and children were put at first in the schools of the villages, and then later were told to leave and go to the nearby village of Kastri.

What followed was terrifying. At 9 o’clock in the morning the first shot was fired.

According to Greece’s National bureau of war crimes, 222 people were killed, shot cold-blooded.

Memorial of Ano and Kato Kerdylia. Photo by Wikimedia commons

Around 10 elderly people, among whom was a teacher and the priest of the villages, were assigned with the awful task of the burial of the dead bodies.

In the meanwhile, the two villages were destroyed by the fire. Hundreds of children were left orphans with their families being emotionally wounded forever.

And this was just one of the many atrocities that were about to occur over the over the Nazi occupied territories of Greece…

Mass grave in Kato Kerdylia. Photo by Wikimedia commons