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Post Cephalonia Massacre, 1943
Created by John Eipper on 07/28/20 7:52 AM

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Cephalonia Massacre, 1943 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/28/20 7:52 am)

In response to Harry Papasotiriou, Cephalonia 1943 was a badly mishandled situation by all parties--the Allies, the Italian Command safely in Brindisi, the Italians in place, the Greek resistance, and of course, the Germans to whom the Italians on the spot paid for this mishandling as sacrificial lambs.

The full story of Cephalonia is very long, even if the events themselves lasted just a few days. It is used for political reasons by many.

JE comments: To me the Germans are solely to blame, as the slaughtered Italians had become legitimate POWs.  Executing POWs is a universally accepted war crime.  Eugenio, are you saying the Allies had the chance to evacuate the Italians trapped on Cephalonia, but cruelly chose not to?

Yesterday I speculated that Cephalonia was the largest mass execution of surrendered enemy combatants in WW2. Several WAISers have suggested otherwise. Next, Ed Jajko on the Warsaw uprising.

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  • Cephalonia Massacre; Reprisals after Warsaw Uprising (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/30/20 4:40 AM)
    Regarding the 1943 Cephalonia massacre, it is easy to blame the bloody (and in reality they were) Germans, but the story is too complicated to reduce it to "the Germans are solely to blame."

    If the situation had been properly handled according to General Gandin, without interference from the Rome government and the Allies, the Italians could have been saved as in many other places. According to some reports General Gandin, commander of Cephalonia, could have been the first choice of Mussolini for the command of the forces of the RSI

    Of course, the arrival of help from the Allies or from the so-called co-belligerent Italian Navy would have saved the Italian personnel trapped on Cephalonia, but this was not permitted. Some historians give the "excuse" that the landing of the Allies in Salerno was not proceeding well enough to divert forces to Cephalonia. (Is this BS?)

    The slaughter of the Italians at Cephalonia was sadly useful to many parties, even now.  At the Nuremberg Trials, the slaughter was remembered and condemned, but how many other episodes were forgotten or believed not to be pertinent?

    The situation in Warsaw on 2 October 1944 may be different from what one generally hears. The end of the insurrection was decided by four leaders of Polish blood: the German Commander von dem Bach-Zelewski, the commander of the Russian SS General Kaminski, the leader of the Armia Krajowa Tadeus Komorowski (the mythical commander "Bor" became a prisoner then joined General Anders in exile), and the Russian General Rokossovski.

    After the Armia Krajowa lost 15,000 combatants, the remaining 12,000 surrendered and were considered prisoners of war (not partisans subject to death). The civilians were also guaranteed safety, however during the fight it is believed that 200,000 civilians died.

    Practically it was the first major instance of an irregular army recognized as combatants.

    I should add that the Germans tried to convince the Polish AK to fight with them against the USSR with not much success. It was too damn late. however, the NSZ (Narodowe Sily Zbronjne--National Armed Forces) and the WIN (Freedom and Independence) collaborated against the USSR and continued to fight heroically until 1951.

    Another forgotten thing: there was the Polish SS Polizei which operated also in the West while the 20,000 men of the Polish Polizei operated inside the Governorate in agreement with the occupiers. There were also Jewish collaborationists, mostly Orthodox, with the Germans as police forces in Warsaw and other main towns

    The communists instead were in the Armia Ludowa, plus the Polish Army of Zygmunt Berling attached to the Soviet Forces.

    JE comments:  This one will get my phone lines buzzing.  The surrendering Poles may have been "guaranteed" safety, but did they receive it?  The luckiest ones (if we can say that) were shipped to concentration camps.  As for Poles serving in the SS, there was no specific "Polish" division I know of, unlike nearly every other European nationality.  The general figure for Poles in the Wehrmacht (not SS) is 500,000, almost all of whom were conscripted.  Am I painting too rosy a picture?  We are 50% Polish at WAIS HQ, so I'm not impartial.

    Strangely, General Bach-Zelewski was never tried for his atrocities in Warsaw or elsewhere.  He actually testified for the prosecution at Nuremberg.  He later ended up in prison, where he died in 1972, for political murders committed in the 1930s.

    Eugenio, what can you tell us about the Germans inviting the AK to join forces against the Soviets?

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