Towards a restorative politics
: unrecognised wounds and the struggle for Greek-German reconciliation in the case of the Distomo massacre

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


On June 10, 1944, Waffen-SS troops slaughtered 218 inhabitants of Distomo, killing primarily children, women, and the elderly in a reprisal for partisan activity nearby. The Distomo massacre represents one of the most brutal war crimes perpetrated by German forces during the German occupation of Greece (1941-1944).

Drawing on qualitative in-depth interviews conducted in Distomo in 2018, this thesis explores the lived experience of the massacre by people in Distomo. It seeks to understand how the violence has affected this community, both intra- and inter-generationally. Further, it explores how they have experienced the German state’s response to the massacre. Whilst Germany has come to be regarded internationally as a model of coming to terms with a history of political injustices, the case of the Distomo massacre was met with political denial and evasion of responsibility by the German state and continues to strain Greek-German relations. Drawing on Daniel Philpott’s Ethic of Political Reconciliation (2012) as a theoretical framework, particularly on his differentiation between different dimensions of woundedness inflicted by political violence, this thesis offers a theoretically informed and empirically grounded contribution to what may explain the absence of genuine Greek-German reconciliation in the case of Distomo.

Whilst the notion of the ‘intent to destroy’ is a defining feature of genocidal violence, people in Distomo perceived an explicit intent to destroy on the part of the German forces with regard to the violence inflicted on them. This finding arguably has significant implications for the types of political response such violence warrants in its aftermath, and the avenues of redressing the multidimensional wounds inflicted. In short, this thesis argues that the German state’s response to the Greek chapter of its Nazi legacy and the absence of a restorative politics has not only curbed Greek-German reconciliation but proven injurious in and of itself.
Date of Award3 Dec 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorJeffrey Stevenson Murer (Supervisor) & Karin Marie Fierke (Supervisor)


  • Distomo massacre
  • German occupation of Greece
  • Transgenerational trauma
  • Memory
  • Reconciliation
  • Greek-German relations
  • Reparations
  • Mass atrocity
  • Martyred villages Greece
  • Political violence
  • Daniel Philpott

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 23 May 2029

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