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Meligalas

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Meligalas

Meligalas
Μελιγαλάς
Meligalas is located in Greece
Meligalas
Meligalas
Coordinates:
Country Greece
Administrative region Peloponnese
Regional unit Messenia
Municipality Oichalia
Population (2013)
 • Municipal unit 4,040
Community
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Vehicle registration ΚΜ

Meligalas (Greek: Μελιγαλάς) is a town and former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Oichalia, of which it is a municipal unit.[1] Population 4,040 (2001).

The Battle and 'Massacre' of Meligalas

After the Germans left southern Greece terminating the occupation of Kalamata and surrounding Messinia area, Axis Occupation of Greece (1941–1944), the town became the site of a battle between the Greek Resistance forces of EAM-ELAS commanded by Aris Velouchiotis and the Security Battalions that had been stationed in the town during German occupation.

The Security Battalions were forces set up by the collaborationist Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis, with the approval of the German authorities, to aid in the control of the Greek people.[2] Under the terms of the Caserta agreement, signed by the British, the Greek Government in Exile, and Greek resistance leaders, (1e) ‘The Security Battalions are considered as instruments of the enemy. Unless they surrender according to orders issued by the GOC [General Officer Commanding] they will be treated as enemy formations’.[3]

In September of 1944, consequent on the German forces evacuating from Messinia in the Peloponnese, ELAS disarmed the majority of collaborationist forces in the Messinian capital Kalamata. Some Battalionists, however, broke out of Kalamata and retreated to the town of Meligalas. According to one eye-witness, on the way they killed 30 inhabitants of the village of Aprochomo, as well as four ELAS operatives who were fixing the village’s telephone system.[4]

ELAS arrived in Meligalas on 11 September. The Battalionists refused to surrender. On 14 September the Battalionists executed all hostages they held.[5][6] After a three-day siege of the town beginning on 11 September, Meligalas fell to the hands of the Resistance forces. Following the fall of the town, some Battalionists were kept as prisoners while a disputed number were executed for treason and collaboration with the occupation forces. The bodies of those who had fallen in the battle, including some ELAS fighters, and those executed were thrown into a well shaft known as "pigada". Apart from the executions, some prisoners were lynched by angry inhabitants of Meligalas and other villagers round about, who had lost family members to the Battalionists.[7] Aris Velouchiotis ruled subsequently that extra care must be taken to protect prisoners from locals.[8]

A British Foreign Office memorandum notes: 'Ares (Velouchiotis) arrives in Kalamata from Meligalas, at the head of the III Division of ELAS, with 1000 antartes and his officers. He transfers to the city a number of prisoners, members of the Security Battalions. On the road to Kalamata a mob of non-combatants string up 12 of the prisoners and knife 14 others'.[6][9]

ELAS lost approximately 200 fighters. There is however considerable dispute about the number of Battalionists killed in the fighting, in subsequent executions and in the lynching by villagers (mostly female or elderly), with figures ranging from 700 to several thousand. In 1945. the coroner’s office of near-by Kapsadaki announced that it had exhumed 708 bodies. On the memorial there are inscribed 787 names from 61 towns and villages. The Meligalas Victims Association gives a figure of 1,144, of whom 108 are from Meligalas, including 18 women, 18 elderly people, one youth and no children – the remaining 96.8% are men of fighting age.[10] In the same publication of the Victim’s Association that gives a figure of 1,144 bodies, there are also references to 1,550 and more, 2,000 and 5,000.

The aftermath of the battle of Meligalas is frequently termed 'the Massacre of Meligalas' by right-wing groups, referring to the alleged execution of combatants and non-combatants by ELAS after the battle (not to the lynching of Battalionists by villagers). After the Occupation and the end of the Golden Dawn, hold a memorial service every year at Meligalas.[10][11][12]

Security Battalions cemetery, Pigada, Meligalas

References

  1. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  2. ^
  3. ^ C.M. Woodhouse, Apple of Discord (London: Hutchinson, [1948], pp. 306-7.
  4. ^ Stathis Kannavos, Ματωμένο και ένδοξο χρονικό [=Bloody and glorious chronicle], published in the periodical Εθνική Αντίσταση [=National Resistance], vol. 21, 1979.
  5. ^ Rizospastis, 11 September 2005 [1]. The article quotes from Stathis Kannavos, Ματωμένο και ένδοξο χρονικό [=Bloody and glorious chronicle], published in the periodical Εθνική Αντίσταση [=National Resistance], vol. 21, 1979.
  6. ^ a b This is confirmed by a Foreign Office report of 18/9/1944: 'the British officer / liaison Captain Gibson, who forwarded information about the incidents with the men of the Security Battalions in Kalamata on 17 September, reports that the latter were responsible for the massacre of non-combatant Greek hostages in Meligala and Kalamata, during its clashes with ELAS' (F.O.371/43693/R 16026).
  7. ^ Antonis Antonopoulos, Μνήμες ενος Αντάρτη του ΕΛΑΣ [= Memories of an ELAS andarte] (Athens: Alfeios, 1993), p. 90-91.
  8. ^ Loukas Goulatas, Prologue to Antonopoulos, p. 11.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ enetenglish, Saturday 15 February 2014, http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.article&id=1474
  12. ^
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