By Emmanuel MAVROS


Documentary - Completed 2019

Humanity has never experienced such crimes without culprits!

& Awards

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (online) 2021
Greek Docs
    • Year of production
    • 2019
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • GREECE
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 86 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Emmanuel MAVROS
    • Writer(s)
    • Emmanuel MAVROS, Dimitris VLAHOPANOS
    • Producer(s)
    • Synopsis
    • The "317" feature documentary describes the massacres of the 1st Mountain Division of Wehrmacht in 16th of August 1943 in Kommeno Village.

      “Retaliation” was the typical response of the German occupier against damages caused by the Greek partisan side to personnel or facilities of the occupational forces. But the case of Kommeno village, a few kilometers outside Arta in Greece, was much different. Those days, until August the 16th of 1943, when the holocaust of Kommeno happened, Greek resistance was not present or any German soldiers’ deaths were caused from partisans, neither from the village itself, nor from any neighboring villages. Based on the military rules, in order to obtain reprisal approval, especially in the area of Epirus, it had to pass through the Italian occupation forces that commanded Arta or Ioannina. But the Germans and the German regular Wehrmacht army never valued anyone or anything, by not obeying any rule except their blood-stained ideology and Hitler's principles.

      The commander of the Wehrmacht 98th Mountain Regiment, Joseph Zalmiger, who belonged to the well-known for its blood-borne operations 1st Mountain Division, had camped in the area of Arta with the objective of hindering a possible invasion by the alliance forces on the Greek mainland coasts of Epirus. Colonel Joseph Zalmigker, a fanatic supporter of Fuhrer’s ideology, on August 12th, 1943, wanted himself to overview Arta’s south area, in order to ascertain what the conditions are and see if there is any hostile (resistance of partisan) power in the region. The road, by mistake, leads him to the main square of the Kommeno village and faces several gathered villagers arguing about food grant with partisans who had set their weapons by a water well located at one side of the square. In a panic, Zalmiger's driver makes a sudden turn to drive away from the village, but the car fell into a ditch. Some residents of the village rushed to help him uncover the car from the ditch and drive undisturbed back to Philipiada, a small town near Arta, where 98th Mountain Regiment had camped. Zalmiger himself never submitted to an investigating magistrate or a court of law, when and why he made the decision to destroy Kommeno. Most likely, he took this decision immediately after visiting the village because he saw the partisans and their guns by the water well and he assumed that the village of Kommeno was a base of rebels and partisans. He took this decision on his own initiative, as he used to, without asking and obtaining the approval of the Italian authorities.
      Zalmiger assigned the operation to his existing commander of the 3rd Order, Major Reinhold Klembe who in turn conveyed it to the 12th Company of the Order, one of the harshest and bloody Companies of the Regiment, known for their massacres in the Balkans and later in Cephalonia, commanded by Lieutenant Williband Röser.

      The 16 of August 1943 dawn finds the village of Kommeno burnt down and with almost all its inhabitants slaughtered; 317 non-combatants, regardless the gender or the age. Military vehicles of 12th Company returned late in the afternoon of the same day at their base, loaded with whatever they could plunder.
      Until today, the German Justice system accepts that the act of the German massacre of Kommeno does not constitute a murder, but self-defense. This is why the German investigators do not consider it appropriate to press charges against any of the soldiers and officers of the 12th Company for their crimes in Kommeno. The mistakes of the Greek governments are many, over the years, one is enough to reflect, when they accepted the deposition of a non-eyewitness in the most important trial, the one of Nuremberg, ignoring the Greek survivors, those who lived the true events, were saved by a miracle and saw with their own eyes the Nazi’s atrocities.

      Truths, pain and nightmarish memories bring the horror to their eyes again, through the survivors’ testimonies of the disaster, wondering if any of the Nazis has ever paid the price or has been punished for the abominable murders. Who? When? And How? The survivors always have a bitter smile on their lips and their eyes are screaming a mute terror, when memories become words.