One of the last survivors of the Aqua Division’s massacre in Kefalonia has Died

The massacre of Kefalonia: 75 years since the execution of 5.200 Italians by the Nazis

In 1943  the Nazis executed about five thousand Italian soldiers on the island

One of the last survivors of the Nazi-fascist massacre of Italian troops in the battle of Kefalonia in 1943, Giuseppe Beninza, left life at the age of 97. Benincaza was born in Kastrnów, Sicily, but lived in New Jersey’s Kliffside Park in the United States. 

In 2016, the municipality of Kefalonia had honored him

Until last year, Benincaza returned to Sicily and participated unceasingly on the day of memory of the end of the war in Italy on April 25th. In one case he was invited by the University to give a lecture.
Although he was a farmer, he was very interested in culture, poetry and archeology. He even told his experience, Kefalonia, in a book titled “Memories of Kefalonia”, where he portrayed the events of the Battle of the Akui Division, which after the conquest of September 3, 1943, refused to continue the war with Nazist Fascists. 

In retaliation, the Nazis executed about five thousand Italian soldiers. Benincaza was saved because he was present at the dead among the bodies of his fellow-villagers who had lost their lives.

“I was deprived of pain and despair. When I woke up, it was dark, I found bloodshots, with corpses sinking over and around me. Even painful and soiled by the blood and the pain in the tibia and fever, I barely stood on my feet. I tried to move forward, but my thorns hurt my hands. I had no other choice, I had to reach Valsamata if I wanted to be saved, “he writes in his book about his martial adventure.

Benincaza then found shelter and hospitality in Greek families, including the mayor of Valsamata, who helped him by issuing a fake ID in the name of Yorgos Giannopoulos. Benincaza then joined the ELAS guerrilla division and married Greek woman Maria, who after the war followed him to Sicily and then to the United States.

Benincazas was known in the circles of the resistance as “Jupiter Pipino” and was always willing to spread his experiences of war and the struggle against fascism while still not hesitating to fight in the courts for the ideals of the Republic . 

The Chronicle of Horror

On a hill in Argostoli lies the monument to one of the most bloody chapters of the island’s history. In 1943, after a break between Nazi Germany and Italy, Vermack executed 5,200 soldiers of the Italian Acqui division. The massacre of Kefalonia is considered one of the largest war crimes in Vermouth in southern Europe.

Klotilde Perrotta is president of the Greek-Italian cultural club “Mediterraneo” in Kefalonia. “We initially organized mainly exhibitions and concerts,” he said, pointing out that the aim was to preserve the island’s dual cultural identity. But then the club focused more on history, mainly on the 1943 massacre. “We have set up a small museum in the meantime. Visitors often come and get updated. And in 2003, we had a conference where scientists from Greece, Italy and Germany were there, “says Clatilde Perrotta.

After Greece came under military occupation initially from fascist Italy and later from Nazi Germany, Kefalonia and the other Ionian islands were originally under Italian control. When on September 8, 1943, it became known that Italy capitulated to allied forces, the Hitler-Mussolini axis broke. The German troops, which were partly parked in Kefalonia, were strengthened and took control of the island. Italian Governor Antonio Gadin, a warm supporter of Hitler, has decided to join the German troops.


The Italian commander allowed his soldiers to vote and they decided to fight against the Germans. Later fights followed with Wehrmacht. Altogether, 1300 Italians and some 40 German soldiers fell. Since September 21, Vermack has decided to execute ruthlessly and without any legal procedure those Italians who have been surrendered. Until 24 September, 5,200 Italian soldiers were executed. For Italy, these events mark a historic turning point in Kefalonia, says Clatilde Perrotta. “For us, these events were the beginning of Mussolini’s resistance to fascism by Italian soldiers.”

The capitulation of Italy and the Nazi massacre changed the warring routine for the Greeks in Kefalonia. After relatively calm years under Italian occupation, the invasion of the German conquerors changed everything. “When people saw the Germans running cold Italian soldiers, they were stingy,” says Castro. Greeks began offering shelter to Italians to save them from execution. Up to now, enemies have become allies. Up to now, relations between Greece and Italy are obviously less complex than Greek-German.

The German translator, Doris Ville, has been living in Kefalonia for the last 30 years and is dealing with the Nazi massacre in Kefalonia as part of her work. However, she learned the bloody event by coincidence, she says. “I have lived for some years here, until at the end of the 1990s I accidentally learned something about the massacre for the first time. Then I had seen and translated a travel guide for the island, which contained in the Italian version a chapter on slaughter, which was simply absent in the German version. Then I asked and the (Greek) writer replied that this can not be done to German tourists. That’s why he just missed it. ”

Since then, much has changed. Most notably, the film “The Mandolini of the Count Korli”, which concerns the period of Occupation and has references to the massacre, made it more widely known at that time. Some of the older people who lived during that time and partly participated in the resistance were among the supporters. That period was brought closer by Greeks and Italians, Doris Ville says, adding that friendships have been born, which in some cases still hold.

The German translator points out that the drama of the Greek population has not been adequately addressed after the Italian Nazi massacre was massacred. “In the 12 months of the German occupation that followed the massacre, villages were ravaged and people were executed,” he said, inter alia, observing that despite recent publications on the issue, Germany still has a lot of work to do in terms of years of Occupation in Greece.

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