Sometimes you find places that touch your heart, it can be for many reasons, sheer beauty, a moment shared, a personal memory that will live with your forever, or in this case the tragedy and horrors of the past inflicted on a place of beauty in an island known for its tranquility. This is Anogia.
While most of my blogging nowadays is about recipes and food sometimes I just want to share with you something that is important to me. This post is my little way of sharing my love of Crete and the amazing people there.
Although picture postcard views of places, cats, pretty doorways and snippets of information on history, mythology and lifestyles often pop up in my recipes and posts, sometimes you feel you have to share something so heartbreaking it would move the most stoic of sorts to shed a tear.
I speak of the village of Anogia in the mountains of Crete about an hour away from the northern city of Rethymnon. Anogia looks like any other pretty mountain village with steep narrow roads that only just let the local bus pass within centimetres of taking out the odd flower-pot or tourist with their chair too far back in a cafe, white-washed houses and flowers everywhere.
But Anogia his not all it seems. None of the buildings you see now were built before 1944, this is a new village built on the horrific ruins of the old.
Nowadays Anogia is well known for the intricate lace and woven work that many of the women of the village produce by hand, but it is also known for the devastating cruelty that was inflicted on this beautiful place by the German army during WW2.
Anogia was the centre for the Cretan resistance, brave men who fought tooth and nail for their beloved island and country. They also helped the two British soldiers who had kidnapped the German General Kreipe helped them to pass through the mountains and be smuggled in a boat to Africa where he was tried for crimes against humanity.
But Anogia had to suffer for this and for the fact that it’s people would not bow down to Nazi rule. So on the 13th of August 1944 the Germans ordered the women and children (approximately 1500) to leave the village and that every man within the area would then be murdered and the entire village be razed to the ground on the 14th of August. Some of the men and young boys managed to escape into the mountains but the rest were killed in cold blood. This horror lasted until the 5th of September. Every animal was either slaughtered or removed and those few women who would not leave were murdered along with their menfolk and even those who were crippled or mentally ill suffered the same fate.
Anogia bears the scars of this war so bravely. There is a calmness and a beauty to this place and brings one to tears even if you haven’t read the heartbreaking words on the monument in the square and read the endless list of name of those who died.
History brought back to shocking life in a modern age where we seem to be enduring all manner of atrocities worldwide. One would have hoped that man had learned kindness and humanity over the years but alas it seems not.
From this place that suffered so much I wish you peace wherever you are.