While the atrocities committed by Nazi forces against civilians in World War II are vast and resulted in the most sweeping war-crime trials in history, one of the least-known Nazi war crimes was the massacre of civilians in Kalavryta in Greece. 

In early December 1943, the German Army’s 117th Jäger Division began Operation Kalavryta, which was trying to encircle and eliminate Greek resistance fighters in the mountains surrounding the area of Kalavryta. The Jäger Division specialized in anti-partisan operations and had arrived in Greece after the fighting insurgents in Yugoslavia.

Operation Kalavryta began in October after the Greek resistance captured 80 German soldiers during a battle in the village of Kerpini, near Kalavryta. The Germans threatened to raze nearby villages and massacre civilians if the resistance didn’t release their soldiers. 

The church tried to reason with the resistance to release the German prisoners, but they refused. In response, on December 8th, the 117th Jäger Division troops entered nearby villages of Kerpini and Pogi, killing the entire male population of both villages. The resistance then executed 78 German prisoners.