Participation of Slovenes in the antifascist struggle in Kefallonia

During World War II the Slovenes from the coastal region of Primorje were mobilized by the Italian Army. Some of them who were mobilized in October 1942, were sent to Asti in Piemonte. Those Slovenes comprised a special punitive battalion consisting of the 215th, 216th and 217th special punitive squads.

Within the battalion a movement of the Liberation Front was launched with a view to escaping from Asti and joining the partisan movement in Slovenia. This was probably the reason for the decision of the Italian Command to send the batallion to Greece in March 1943.

The three squads were separated and send in different direction: to Kefallonia, Corfu and Pylos in Peloponnese. According to the available information (mostly from the book by Srecko Likar “Boj pod Olimpon” The Fight under Olympus”) those who were sent to Kefallonia were assigned to the 215th special punitive squad within the 17th infantry regiment of the Italian division Acqui.
The squad which had 158 members was used for works on the construction of the coastal fortifications, maintenance of roads etc. The members of the squad were armed but without ammunition, because the Italians would not trust them. They were divided into four plattons. The first was initially based in Castro near the village Peratata, the second near Lixourion, the third near Sami and the fourth near New Scala.

They quickly established contacts with the local population (among them with a miller Stamatis form the village Peratata near Castro, who helped them to establish contacts with a lawyer Miliaressis, an officer – Kavadias- and Diomidis Thanos, all members of ELAS) and later even with the antifascists among the Italian forces – like captain Amos Pampoloni. After the capitulation of the Italian Army in September 1943, they established their own squad Priporje (in English: the Coastal Region) under the command of Srecko Likar. The said squad fought together with the Italian Forces and the Greek partisans against the German Army in battles from 15 to 22 September 1943. Twenty –five Slovenian combatants died in the battles. There is no grave in Kefallonia marking their death.

After the German occupation of Kefallonia the squad did not formally exist. Germans also transported some of the Slovenes to the land and out of Greece. However, the remaining members –around 100- continued with smaller actions of sabotage. According to the said book, a group of 3 Slovenes in cooperation with 3 Italian P.O.W. saved the port of Argostoli from the destruction at the time of the German departure in September 1944. Namely, Germans planted mines and the Slovenes deactivated them. The squad Primorje was reestablished in September 1944 (Commander Srecko Likar, his deputy Tone Goskik) and it joined the Greek ELAS. The mutual relations were determined by the Chart which was signed in Argostoli on 15 September 1944 by Srecko Likar (for Primorje) and Diomidis Thanos and S. Zacharias (for ELAS). At that time the squad consisted of 56 members. The squad got a liaison officer who was Christos Frangoulis from Lefkada. The participation of Slovenes in the antifascist struggle in Kefallonia is briefly described also in the book “The years of the Italian and German Occupation and National Resistance in Kefallonia and Ithaki” by Spyros Dim. Loukatos, published in 1981.
Even though the squad wanted to join Yugoslav partisans, it left the island only on 3 December 1944. There were moving together with other units of ELAS VII brigade near the Pindos Mountains. They also fought together on the island Lefkada. In February 1945 the squad received the green light for its departure from Greece. Its members crossed Albania and entered Yugoslavia (former).
The Slovenes also cooperated with the Greek resistance on Corfu as well as in Peloponnese; however this act is not documented. On Corfu like in Kefallonia, they fought together with the Italian forces and members of the Greek Resistance against German forces in September 1943. A number of Slovenes died in those events.
The Slovenian survivors are nowadays registered as an association with seat in the city of Izola.

source – FB post of Ευρυδίκη Λειβαδά

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