On February 16, 1943, the Italian occupation forces slaughtered the civilian population of Domenikon, a rural village situated on the hills of Thessaly in central Greece. The massacre of Domenikon marked the onset of Fascist Italy’s large-scale counterinsurgency operations in central Greece. Mass killing, war rape, forced displacement of population, and other atrocities turned the Italian military repression of the Greek resistance into methods of total war. When on September 8, 1943 the Italian army capitulated, hundreds of villages lay in ruins across Epirus, Thessaly, and Aetolia-Acarnania. The inquiry into the apparently forgotten massacre of Domenikon unfolds broader historiographical debates on the Fascist war, its rapport to modern notions of total war, and its impact on the occupied society. Also, the survivors’ claim for historical recognition prompts us to ask in our own time contemporary questions about the meanings of historians’ history vs. non-archival memories of war crimes, as well as the controversial relations of memory, silence, and transitional justice in postwar Europe. 

Lidia Santarelli (Ph.D., European University Institute) is a historian of modern Europe specializing in the study of Italian fascism and colonialism, and its impact in the Mediterranean world, from North Africa to the Balkans. Central to her research work are the entangled histories of modern Italy and Greece, with a major focus on WWII and the Holocaust. Her book manuscript, currently under completion, focuses on “Fascist Italy’s occupation of Greece during WWII.” She was the recipient of postdoctoral research fellowships at Princeton University, Columbia, Harvard, and the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Washington, D.C.; and taught at New York University and Brown University. Presently, she serves as academic librarian with Modern Greek Specialty at Princeton University; and adjunct faculty at Rutgers University.

Respondent: Philip Nord, History