Burnings of Kali Sykia
The Burnings of Kali Sykia (Greek: Πυρπολήσεις της Καλής Συκιάς) is one of many atrocities perpetrated in Greece by Fritz Schubert and his men during the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II. On October 6, 1943 12 women and an elderly man were killed by being burned alive in the mountainous village of Kali Sykia (Greek: Καλή Συκιά), in Rethymno, Crete.
Crete had fallen to the Germans after a fierce, ten-day battle in May 1941. Soon after, resistance groups were formed by the Cretans and begun to harass the German forces till the end of the war. In response to the resistance activities, the Germans formed the Jagdkommando Schubert, a paramilitary force led by Sdf. Fritz Schubert, whose aim was to terrorize the civilian population.
In late 1943, after the destruction of the Viannos villages, the partisan group of Manolis Bandouvas fled westwards, being chased by the Germans. In October 1943, Bandouvas and his men were hiding at Mt. Tsilivdikas (Greek: Τσιλίβδικας). They were supplied provisions by the dwellers of the village of Kali Sykia which is located nearby. On October 4, 1943 Bandouvas and his group clashed with and eliminated a German detachment near their hideout.
Soon after the discovery of the dead Germans, Schubert and his men were sent to the region upon an order for punitive operations by Bruno Bräuer. On October 6, 1943, they surrounded Kali Sykia and gathered everyone they could find for questioning. Only women and children were still at the village, as the men had fled to the mountains for fear of reprisals. A few houses were set ablaze and the women were beaten and threatened with death. Despite these threats, none of the women gave any information about the whereabouts of the village men. Outraged by their defiance, the Schuberai dragged several women in a few houses, locked them in and set the houses on fire, burning the women alive.
The murders, while by no means the most numerous carried out by occupation forces in Crete, were unique in that they almost exclusively targeted women. Twelve women were burned in total, eight from the village of Kali Sykia and four from the nearby Rodakino. One of these women was eight months pregnant. Furthermore, an elderly man who could not leave his house was also burned in it. Schubert and his group moved further west and two days later took part in the execution of around 30 civilians in Kallikratis.
The only person to be brought to trial for the killings of Kali Sykia was Schubert, who was executed in Thessaloniki on October 22, 1947.
In 2017, Kali Sykia was declared a martyred village (Π.Δ. 49, 1/6/2017).
- Beevor, Antony. Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, John Murray Ltd, 1991. Penguin Books, 1992.
- Μαρνιέρος, Σπύρος. Τα Ρεθεμνιώτικα ολοκαυτώματα 1941-1945, σελ.22-23, Ρέθυμνο 1991
- Καλογεράκης, Γεώργιος Α. Καλή Συκιά, 6 Οκτωβρίου 1943. Το χρονικό της Γερμανικής βαρβαρότητας, μέσα από ανέκδοτες αρχειακές πηγές, e-mesara.gr, 2017; archived here
- Κρήτη: Η Καλή Συκιά Ρεθύμνου αναγνωρίστηκε επίσημα από την πολιτεία ως "μαρτυρικός τόπος", Πρώτο Θέμα, 4 Ιουνίου 2017