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After the 12th Army under General List had overrun Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941, it was used to control the German-occupied zone. On January 1, 1943, it was renamed Army Group E (Heeresgruppe E) and command shifted to Air force General Alexander Löhr, an Austrian who had proven his ruthlessness when he ordered the heavy bombardment of Belgrade which lacked any air defense system and had been declared an “open city” prior to the attack. Army Group comprised of around 300,000 troops. After the occupation of Greece in 1941, anti-Jewish measures were introduced in the German-controlled areas. In July 1942, all Jewish men between the ages of 15 and 45 were ordered to register for forced labour and were publicly humiliated by army personnel on Thessaloniki’s Freedom Square in what became known as the "Black Sabbath". When the forced labourers, who were underfed and overworked, became too exhausted to work later on, the army pressed the community to pay a huge sum, the equivalent of several Million Reichsmarks, for their release. Ghettoization began in January 1943. From March, deportation trains took the Jews to their deaths. The Army Administration department under War Administration Councillor Max Merten assisted the relatively short-staffed Security Police in every aspect of the persecution – from aryanization, to ghettoization and deportation. Regular troops cooperated actively with the Security Police and Special Representative of the Reich, Günther Altenburg. From the beginning of 1943, the pressure on the Italian command to transfer the Jews under its jurisdiction increased. The commander of Army Group E, General Löhr, contacted the local Italian high command under General Carlo Geloso and lobbied for their transfer into German hands. But his attempts were unsuccessful. Following the capitulation of Italy in September 1943 and the occupation of the Italian zone by German troops, anti-Jewish persecution expanded. New orders at the beginning of October required that all Jews in the newly acquired areas register with the authorities. But the Jewish communities, aware of what had happened in Thessaloniki, did not comply. Assisted by Partisans, Christians, and the Greek authorities, many went into hiding. The Army reacted with a sequestration order for all property belonging to unregistered Jews and – in March 1944 – assisted the Commander of the Security Police in a manhunt for all those who had gone into hiding on the Greek mainland. Thousands of Jews were arrested, assembled in Athens and Larissa, and shipped off to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train. After the manhunts and deportations had ceased, persecution was focused on the Islands. As the Security Police had no units stationed there, the arrest and transfer of the Jews in these areas depended exclusively on army units. The local commanders of Korfu and Rhodes, Emil Jäger and Ulrich Kleemann, both initially voiced concerns, but were overruled by their superiors and went along with the deportations. On Crete, the Security police received full cooperation. All Jewish communities on the Islands were completely wiped out, except for the one on the small island of Zakynthos where the mayor and the local Metropolitan refused to comply with the order to produce a list of the local Jews and the entire population took part in a hiding operation until the Germans were forced to withdraw from Greece. The withdrawal began in late August 1944 and concluded at the beginning of November. At the end of the war, large parts of Army Group E were caught on Yugoslavian territory. The unit was eventually disbanded. Its commander, Colonel General Alexander Löhr, was extradited to Jugoslavia where he was tried for the bombing of Belgrade in 1947, found guilty of war crimes, and executed on February 26, 1947.

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