The Sunday 3 October 1943 was a divinely sunny autumn day.

To the Lingiadites it was a day of lighter peasant works. They would mostly see to walnut trees and collect walnuts in the vicinity of Moglius. The way was not long but it became the way of salvation. Those, who took the usual road, survived.

The day followed its routine. Nobody had a foreboding of the coming disaster. It was about the mid-day when the peasant women driving mules laden with large water-drums (since the village had no water wells) took the road back to the village. On the way they kept knitting or spinning the wool, since country women never let a minute go without a work. As they were approaching to the village, they found themselves under machine-gun fire from the Island (on the Lake Yannina). Here we owe one explanation: As the GESTAPO came to Yannina, the Wehrmacht command installed itself not in the town, but on the Island, in the house of the Lappas, on the Drabovota side. The Germans had laid under water a telephone cable, that connected them with Yannina, and maintained the motorboat communication with the town. Security was maintained through the sentries deployed around the Island. From there were coming the orders. The sentries were placed in such a way, that they had an insight into the slopes of the Mitsikeli (the GESTAPO in Yannina did not appear to have it). As soon as they spotted the women on the road to the village, they opened a machine-gun fire at them. The women ran to the woods seeking cover behind fallen trees. They were not hurt; only the animals were. That was it. But right after that there were set off 5 lorries from Yannina, all laden with the soldiers bearing the EdelweiЯ badges of the Alpine rifles on their caps, as well as two ambulances following them. Shortly, the motorized column turned into the street leading towards Struni. No more than a quarter of an hour had past since the first machine-gun salvoes. The soldiers leaped from the lorries and formed three platoons. The first platoon took the path from Lako-Murafa, the second platoon took the path to the Kamar-Seloma bridge, and the third one took the path in the hills that led to Drabatova (Ftelia).

The troops approached to the village at secure distance and installed sentry outposts right away. One of the outposts was near the school in Agnantio, one by the pyrgos (tower), and another one in the area of Lykotopi. Other soldiers surrounded the village "as if they were going to dance", as one of the surviving women put it. Artillery from Yannina shelled the area to make sure nobody could flee the cauldron.

As the Lingiadites saw coming Germans, some of them fled, but others were caught in surprise. The children, however, and young girls remained in the village at the mercy of attackers, who soon turned everything into ruins and ashes.

As the troops that marched to Lykotopi arrived there, they shot a flare. The Nazis stormed into the village and herded the villagers towards the school, where they were gathered. They would leave nobody indoors; not even breast-feeding mothers, who had to attend their infants. Everyone had to move under the butt-blows and kicks. Altogether up to 90 persons were brought together in one place; among them were oldies and women with three-month old babies. The Nazis left the inmates under the guard, and then went back to the village for looting and pillaging. The booties from the plunder were stashed in the schoolyard: clothes, wallpaper, linen, cheese, butter, wool, walnuts, hens, utensils and anything else that was left in full sight.

Meanwhile there came a commanding officer. As the plunder was coming to its end, he had a short conversation in their language the officer made a gesture with his hand, without a word or order said, but everybody knew what to do. They formed groups of two or three, and each group took with them a dozen of women and children and walked them out of the village. The oldies were herded under the butt-blows and kicks into the house of P. TSIRIKI, where they were finished, read murdered, by pistol shots in the basement.

Meanwhile others murdered the women and children with the shots from sub-machine guns. They would not spare anybody, not even infants clung to their mothers' breasts. When the Nazis could hear children's cry, they would shoot the whole pile of bodies. One wounded mother rose to her knees, while trying to silence her baby; then one German came back to finish the both. Barbarians know no compassion.

Each basement was filled with bodies, and then the houses were set on fire.

In one of the batches of the unfortunates had found herself Nik. Rouskas with her father and her two-years old daughter in arms. The basement where they were gathered was full, and so they would be taken to a strow-hut where they would be executed with pistol shots before the hut would be set on fire. N. Rouskos remained uninjured and she crawled to a hole in the back. As the fire was approaching, she crawled on until hid herself behind a huge pile of wood, which took some time to burn. Under the cover of smoke she hid in the bush where she waited about a week until the guards of the "Castle" came and rescued her. (The full account can be found in the newspaper Charavgi No. 7.)

Meanwhile the atrocities continued in another village. There B. Lolo found himself in the house of K. Katsarou. He was severely beaten and then his head was burnt from a flame-thrower. Marina Papa was kept in the house of the Rouskas, where she was found bayonetted and with her fingers cut off. Next to her lied her son Stathis still alive. There took place a drama that only a mother's love could bring up. She tried to grab with her bare hands the bayonet of the gun the "Hun" used to drive into his victim, and the brave Lyngniotissa lost her fingers before she fell on the floor next to her beloved kid. The German left her to die. Before she died, she left her child to the villagers.

The massacre in the village ended. Women and children, who were locked in the basements, were looking for escape. The Nazis chased escapees in a wild shooting spree. A German officer (?) grew impatient. He wanted to finish the job as soon as possible and ordered his men to hurry up. Lambrini Liouri saw them bayonetting and burning from the flame-throwers everyone in the house of G. Siafaka.

Four children of the village teacher - Xanthi, Paraskevi, Sevasti and Nikola, - aged 3 to 9 years, were left at home when their mother went to bring some water from the wells. When the father saw Germans coming, he wanted to leave the house together with the children, and flee.
Father, you go alone, said the eldest daughter, and take the Germans with you. We will stay to look after the house, then they will find the house empty.
The father left the house in great confusion. The Germans searched the house, found the children, bayonetted them and then set the house on fire. The mother survived hidden in the wells.

The unchristened child of Christos Lolis was left in hurry by his mother. The Germans found the infant in the cradle, took them both and tossed in the fire set to the neighbours' house. One could hear screams, and squeals, and cries of the wounded children burnt alive. Such was the sacrifice on the sadistic altar of the Nazism.

The basement of the house of Alexandros Cholevas became the biggest mass grave. There found the shelter Nikitas Siafakas, Marina, Vassilis and Maria Fouka, Nikolaos and Alexandra Choleva, Eleni, Evdoxia. Fani, Manthos, Marina and Dimitroula Avgeri, as well as others, whose bodies could not be identified, among them - children.

Eleni Choleva has left the following account:

A number of women and children from the end of the village where we lived were herded in like a cattle. On the way, if any of us broke the ranks, she would be grabbed by her braid and dragged back to the batch. Small children clung to our dresses and wept silently. The Germans were beating them and pulling their ears. Finally, we came to the Cholevas' house. They crammed us in the cellar and shot the crowd from machine-guns. One bullet hit my purse; another one hit my kid Alexis' scull. His brain splashed over my face and chest. I flung on the floor with my decapitated kid in my arms. I was covered in blood head over heels. The Germans came again many times when they could hear cries and shot blankpoint children trapped under the corpses. In another corner I saw my other kid Nikolakis dismembered. The Germans searched the house thoroughly. It was like a blow of wind, and then the cellar got full of smoke. They set the roof afire. The flames reached the cellar and the bodies started to swelter. One big tongue of flame reached my kid's head. The stench of my kids' burning flesh filled the room. I could not stand it and I sprang towards the exit... someone pulled my dress. I thought that was my son, whom I had forgotten at that moment. But no. That was Charilaos Liouris! My kid lied on the floor with the split scull. My nose was full of stench of my kid's charred body. It was also as if I took a part of his flesh with me. I tried to flee, but the stench followed me. I tried to hold my breath but, I could not either.

Let us end Eleni Choleva's story here. It was enough for her. She got half-insane.

Together with her survived Anastasia Manthou and Thomas Foukas, who later, in August, perished in a bomb blast.

The village stood in flames and shooting ceased; only occasionally those, who were still alive, were shot.

There were more frightening things happening in our village. But there are only few survivors left as the eyewitnesses to the Nazi occupation of our county.

Meanwhile, the drama went on. After shooting people, there came the turn of the animals. It claimed three horses, two oxen and the postman's donkey.

The murder lust was not gone yet. They caught Eleni Babusika with her two kids Iannis and Panajotakis, barely one year old, and dragged her to throw into a blazing house. As she tried to escape, she was shot. She brought with her the little Panajotikis, and there she fell with him on the ground. There they were found two days later by a villager, the kid still clung to his mother breast. The child was then taken to the partisan hospital in Grevena and rescued. Today he lives in good health. The destruction meanwhile claimed more victims. Three women were taken to different stow-huts belonging to the Tsirikis and the Cholevas, and there they were raped and murdered. The huts then were set afire. Later there were found three desecrated and charred corpses.

As soon as the village fell in flames, the Germans took to the slopes of the Mitsikeli Mountains. There one could hear seventeen shots. What happened there? There was a wedding service (panigiri) under way on the east side of the Mitsikeli, near the hut of Lambros Chasakis. As the wedding procession walked to the west side, they were all shot there. The gruesome story of their massacre was told us by the village teacher.

In the evening, before the sunset, as the massacre was finished, and the arson work completed, the Germans set off.

They took with them the booty just like an ordinary gang: clothes, linen, furniture, cheese, butter, three hundred walnuts, six hundred potatoes, ten horses, seventeen oxen, and a hundred of sheep and goats. Anything that had any value was taken. The church was not overlooked, and the school was plundered, although not set in fire.

Finally they were gone. They left behind ruins and ashes, and lifeless bodies.

This was the New Order of the Huns.

At the eve of the massacre the village numbered 273 inhabitants; 85 were killed and 152 survived (the error in the numbers comes out of uncertainty, whether there were 273 or 237 original inhabitants). Today the village has 172 inhabitants. This is how many former Lingiadites Rev. Papachristodoulou of Chrisovitsa managed to gather together.

We know the exact number of victims: 42 children of age 0 to 20, and 43 adults of age 21 to 90. The number of smaller children is still comparatively bigger, because many mothers left for the field-works and were absent during the massacre, while small children were left under the care of the elder ones. Out of 49 houses 41 were burnt. Eight houses avoided burning, since the fire failed to consume them. The huts are not included in the figures.

Out of 44 families remaining in the village, 10 have installed themselves in Moutsiades, and 2 in Monglius. One family was wiped out entirely. Of six families only one person survived per family. At night on 3 October 1943 those, who hid sneaked into the village to discover the tragedy that took place a couple of hours before. As soon as by night the women from the wells came only to discover burnt houses and blood-stained Mitsikeli paths. Here and there one could hear moaning of those, who still clung to their lives.

After the massacre nobody dared to stay in the village during the daylight. Men used to come to the village by night to collect those few effects that were left from the destruction. Also by night the dead left in the streets were buried without a priest or proper ceremonies. Others were soon buried in a common grave.

But that was not all that happened to the unlucky village. The Nazi destruction lust was not yet satisfied. On the third Sunday after the massacre, late in the evening, the anti-aircraft artillery from Kiafa fired at the village. The same happened on the fifth Sunday, but there were no casualties obviously, since there was not a single person in the village.

On 15 July there came a Wehrmacht detachment from the observation post at Driskos (Ai-Sotiras). They plundered the school, as well as arrested K. Siafaka and G. Gerko, and took them to Metsovon. There they were put before a martial court, but returned alive.

On 1 September 1944 a heavy machine-gun fire conducted from the mosque set in fire Ath. Baboussika's cowshed. The same day the Wallachians camp around Iannos was shot at too. One Wallachian woman was shot and was later secretly buried.

Once a flying-over aircraft dropped a large bomb. It did not explode. But later (7-8-1944) as curious children helped themselves to it it exploded and claimed two more unlucky victims.

Finally there shone the sun of freedom. The Germans retreated. Till 15 October 1944 they were entrenched in Yannina. Their rearguard, entrenched in Ambelokipi near Agios Iannis, conducted artillery fire in the surrounding mountains. There were more casualties, also in Lingiades, where the partisans operated. And as far as I know there were casualties among the civil population too.

Late in the evening there was the last shot fired, and then the darkness fell, as everything was loaded on lorries and departed...

At the midnight there was blown up the road bridge between the 17th and 18th kilometres. A red flame flung high in the sky, and as it retired there was darkness again. May the demons remain in that darkness in their hell.

The Germans were gone, but their deeds have remained.

© Second World War

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