The Holocaust Museum, Kalavrita, Greece.

© Jean-Marc Pierard/Shutterstock

Museum of the Kalavryta Holocaust

Top choice in Peloponnese

This is a powerful tribute to the residents of Kalavryta who perished in the 13 December 1943 slaughter perpetrated by the German army. It’s a dignified, understated, yet extremely evocative account of the struggle between the occupying forces and partisan fighters in the area, and the events running up to the massacre. The immensely moving and sobering visit is brought to life by personal video testimony from survivors.

Located inside the restored old schoolhouse that was set on fire with women, children and the elderly inside, the museum depicts the history of 19th- and 20th-century Kalavryta, the advent of the rack-and-pinion railway and the region's suffering during WWII through evocative photographs and personal effects.

ELAS, the Greek resistance movement, was very active in the Kalavryta region during WWII. On 17 October 1943 partisans captured 80 soldiers from a German battalion. Negotiations stalled when the Nazis launched 'Operation Kalavryta', designed to crush the resistance. The partisans killed the German prisoners and in retaliation, on 13 December 1943, the Nazis herded nearly 500 men and teenage boys to the nearby Kappi Ridge and gunned them down. Thirteen survived; 465 were killed. The women and children who managed to break out of the burning schoolhouse were left with the task of gathering and burying the dead, as commemorated by the statues behind the schoolhouse. They then had to find food and shelter in freezing winter conditions, as the Germans had burned down the village.

Take some time to watch the video that is on continuous loop dotted throughout the exhibition (only one screen was subtitled in English at our last visit). These are the accounts of surviving townspeople who escaped death, some of whom were children at the time. The final room, walls covered with pictures of the dead Kalavryta villagers and their names, is an especially stark memorial.

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